Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a trending topic on the Internet on Tuesday night when CBS aired the classic Christmas special two days before Thanksgiving.

While shows on other networks, such as Fox’s popular sitcoms Brooklyn Nine Nine and New Girl, were celebrating the holiday season with special Thanksgiving episodes, CBS decided to skip straight to the Christmas cheer, airing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in primetime before new episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles and Person of Interest. In choosing to air the Christmas classic, CBS essentially dominated the social media activity of the evening – Yukon Cornelius, a beloved character from the film, is still currently trending on Twitter (over 12 hours after the special aired).

The 1964 classic television special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer follows the adventures of Rudolph and his misfit friends as they search for a place that will welcome them despite their differences. The made for TV movie, narrated by Oscar-winner Burl Ives who stars as Sam the Snowman, was such a hit when it originally aired in 1964 that it spawned a sequel, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976) and began a title-wave of Christmas specials using similar animation techniques, including 1970’s Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town which stared Fred Astaire as the narrator and Mickey Rooney as the voice of Kris Kringle (Santa Claus).

While the special garnered CBS quite a few viewers, some were upset at the network’s decision to air the Christmas-themed film before Thanksgiving – a traditional benchmark for when Christmas season officially begins. Mike DiMauro of Florida started a petition on asking CBS to re-air the film on either Dec. 14 or Dec. 21, closer to Dec. 25.

“This petition is being sent to restore a great Christmas tradition for millions of families across America and air the episode near Christmas,” reads the description.

The petition currently has 8 supporters.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer originally aired on NBC in 1964, but has aired on CBS since 1972. And fans might be surprised by the fact that the original broadcast did not include the ending in which Santa returns to the Island of Misfit Toys. In the original version of the film, Santa never returned to collect the Misfit Toys, and the ending was changed after NBC reportedly received an abundance of angry letters from viewers and children who wanted to know what happened to the toys.

The Island of Misfit Toys has, of course, become one of the signature features of the beloved holiday movie, and producer Arthur Rankin Jr. believes it to be one of the things that has made Rudolph remain relevant all these years.

“I think all kids are looking for guidance. I think all kids feel slightly inferior… Kids have problems, whatever they may be, and to see other characters that also have problems they can associate with them. And kids love to see someone of their own stripe, their own age, or their own inferiority, achieve things. It makes them feel good, and I think that’s probably the reason these films [have lasted] so long.”

– Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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