Unlike other Christian animated shows that are often really terrible (including the Hanna-Barbera series The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible), this special has some great stop-motion animation and is one of the most elaborate of the classic Rankin/Bass productions. The human characters are built to appear more human than other productions and the Middle Eastern sets bring a realism to the show.
The Little Drummer Boy will probably be the only Christmas special that I will review that doesn't have to do with Santa, Frosty, Rudolph or other commercial Christmas gimmicks. The fact that this show deals with the actual Christian celebration makes it extra special. In this consumer driven era it is nice to see a show that is not trying to sell anything and just wants to honestly promote good will toward mankind.
This is a very different production for Rankin/Bass. It is a serious drama rather than the fun-filled humourous adventures of other specials that we are used to. At times it moves a little slow, but it is only a half hour rather than the usual hour long program.
The Little Drummer Boy can be found in the Original Television Christmas Classics DVD box set.