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The Original Christmas Specials Collection Blu-ray Steelbook Review

Good ol’ Rankin/Bass.

It wouldn’t be the Christmas season without Rankin/Bass specials being released on home video. This time around, The Original Christmas Specials Collection Blu-ray Steelbook release allows viewers to watch 5 holiday favorites from Rankin/Bass with “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “Cricket of The Hearth,” “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” and “The Little Drummer Boy.”

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is arguably the best of the stop-motion animation Christmas specials. Expertly narrated by Burl Ives. the tale revolves around the red nosed reindeer who is different from the rest. This one is loaded with great characters like Abominable Snowman and the entire Island of Misfit Toys.

“The Little Drummer Boy” is a rather dark story for a holiday special as the titular child loses his parents and is essentially forced into the circus. With that said, this classic story has more depth than most and is ultimately rather emotional.

We all know “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” is an iconic song but this special is really goofy. Fred Astaire as the narrator and stop-motion animation are both note perfect, but this tale that chronicles the life of Kris Kringle is littered with oddball characters like Winter and Burgermeister Meisterburger (don’t ask).

“Frosty The Snowman” is the GOAT of the Rankin/Bass specials. Animated in 2D, Jimmy Durante sings and narrates this timeless special involving a magician, a rabbit, a magic hat, a living snowman, Santa and the North Pole. I’ve loved this one ever since I was a kid and it still holds a special place in my heart.

“Cricket On The Hearth” is another 2D animated special, but it’s not one that tends to get mentioned much. The adaptation of the Charles Dickens story follows a cricket helping a toymaker and his daughter. It has its heart in the right place, but it’s not the best adaption.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: Fullscreen 1080p. How do they look? ‘Frosty,’ ‘Cricket,’ and ‘Rudolph” look exquisite. ‘Santa’ has some noticeable print defects while ‘Drummer” fares the worst here with a fuzzy print.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Original 2.0 DTS-HD MA. ‘Rudolph,’ ‘Frosty,’ ‘Santa’ each have 5.1 and 2.0 tracks that are decent. ‘Drummer’ has a 2.0 track while ‘Cricket” contains an unspecified audio track. Both tracks are solid enough.

Extras:
* “Frosty The Snowman” original pencil test
* “The Animagic World Of Rankin/Bass”- A 47 minute documentary about the Rankin/Bass specials and their lasting appeal. Filmmaker interviews (like Jon Favreau and Henry Selick) and clips. This extra appears on all 4 discs.
* “Restoring The Puppets Of Rudolph”- A featurette on the restoration of the Rudolph puppets.
* “Reimagining Rudolph In 4D”- A look at the 4D special.
* “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Attraction Film”- The full nearly 11 minute special.
* “T.E.A.M. Rudolph And The Reindeer Games”- A video storybook.
* Commentary on “Frosty The Snowman” by historian Mark Evanier.
* Commentary on “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” by historian Greg Ehrbar.

November 2, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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