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The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 28, 2015 by  



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“The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is a wonderful collection of Classic Christmas animated TV specials that generations have grown up with and love.  Is it a perfect set?  While that question is subjective, I do feel that there are numerous Rankin/Bass Christmas specials that could be included with this set to make it a definitive collection.  But on its own, with seven timeless classics, it’s hard to say anything bad about it at all.  If you are looking for these classic holiday TV specials on Blu-ray, then “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2015 Classic Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition

YEAR OF FILM: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970), The Little Drummer Boy (1968), Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962), Cricket on the Hearth (1967), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964), Frosty the Snowman (1969), Frosty Returns (1992)

DURATION: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (50:47), The Little Drumer Boy (25:14), Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (52:28), Cricket on the Hearth (49:21), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (51:44), Frosty the Snowman (25:23), Frosty Returns (23:08)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:34:1), English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD MA

COMPANY: ClassicMedia

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2015


Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol

Directed by Abe Levitow

Based on the story by Charles Dickens

Adaptation by Barbara Chain

Produced by Lee Orgel

Executive Producer: Henry G. Saperstein

Music by Jule Styne

Edited by Earl Bennett, Sam Horta, Wayne Hughes, George Probert

Production Design by Corny Cole, Lee Mishkin, Marty Murphy, Tony Rivera, Shirley Silvey, Bob Singer, Dick Ung, Sam Weiss

Cricket on the Hearth

Directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Based on a story by Charles Dickens

Written by Romeo Muller, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Produced by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Executive Producer: Aaron Spelling, Danny Thomas

Associate Producer: Shelley Hull

Music by Maury Laws

Production Design by Paul Coker Jr.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Directed by Larry roemer

Written by Romeo Muller

Story by Robert May

Song by Johnny Marks

Produced by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Music by Jules Bass, Maury Laws

Production Design by Paul Coker Jr.

Frosty the Snowman

Directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Written by Romeo Muller

Produced by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Edited by Irwin Goldress

The Little Drummer Boy

Directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Written by Romeo Muller

Produced by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Music by Jules Bass, Maury Laws

Production Design by Paul Coker Jr.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Teleplay by Romeo Muller

Produced by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Music by Jules Bass, Maury Laws

Production Design by Paul Coker Jr.

Frosty Returns

Directed by Evert Brown, Bill Melendez

Based on the Story by Jim Lewis

Written by Oliver Goldstick

Produced by Eryk Casemiro, Bill Melendez

Executive Producer: Lorne Michaels

Co-Producer: Dinah Minot

Music by Mark Mothersbaugh

Cinematography by Nick Vasu

Edited by Chuck McCann, Warren Taylor


Featuring the Voices of:

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol

Jim Backus as Ebenezer Scrooge/Mr. Magoo

Morey Amsterdam as Brady/James

Jack Cassidy as Bob Cratchit

Royal Dano as Marley’s Ghost

Joan Gardner as Tiny Tim/Ghost of Christmas

Cricket on the Hearth

Danny Thomas as Himself/Caleb

Marlo Thomas as Bertha

Hans Conried as Tackleton

Roddy McDowall as Cricket Crocket

Ed Ames as Edward

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Burl Ives as Sam the Snowman

Billie Mae Richards as Rudolph

Paul Soles as Hermey

Larry D. Mann as Yukon Cornelius

Stan Francis as Santa Claus/King Moonracer

Paul Kligman as Donner/Clarice’s Father/Comet

Janis Orenstein as Clarice 

Alfie Scopp as Charlie-in-the Box

Carl Banas as Head Elf

Corinne Conley as Doll

Peg Dixon as Mrs. Donner/Mrs. Claus

Frosty the Snowman

Jimmy Durante as Narrator

Billy De Wolfe as Professor Hinkle

Jackie Vernon as Frosty the Snowman

Paul Frees as Santa Claus

June Foray as Teacher/Karen

The Little Drummer Boy

Jose Ferrer as Ben Haramed

Paul Frees as Aaron’s Father, The Magi

June Foray as Aaron’s Mother

Ted Eccles as Aaron

Greer Garson as Our Story Teller

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Fred Astaire as S.D. Kluger (narrator)

Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus

Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock

Robie Lester as Jessica/Mrs. Claus

Frosty Returns

Jonathan Winter  (narrator)

Jan Hooks as Lili

Andrea Martin as Miss Carbuncle

Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Twitchell

Elisabeth Moss as Holly

Michael Patrick Carter as Charles

John Goodman as Frosty the Snowman


Includes 7 Holiday Favorites: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Whos got a nose for Christmas? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Just in time for the holidays, here comes Rudolph in the most beloved special of all time! Packed with a sleigh full of memorable songs and unforgettable characters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer lights up the hearts of young and old alike. Santa Claus is Comin to Town Where does Santas suit come from? Why does he slide down the chimney? Why does he live at the North Pole? The answers to all these questions and the origins of our favorite holiday traditions are revealed in this delightful classic about Kris Kringle, the world s most famous gift giver. Frosty the Snowman Look at Frosty Go! Whats become a bigger holiday tradition than building a snowman? Watching the original Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman! Grab your scarf, bundle up, and get ready for the incredible adventure of a magical snowman whos got enough personality to win over the whole family. You can t go wrong with Frosty! Frosty Returns Mr. Magoos Christmas Carol Bah Humbug, Mr. Magoo! In this first-ever animated holiday TV special, the bumbling and loveable Mr. Magoo is Ebeneezer Scrooge in a hilarious and heartwarming musical retelling of Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. The Little Drummer Boy This story has touched the hearts of families everywhere. In this holiday classic, the true spirit of Christmas is revealed when a lonely orphan stumbles upon the birth of the baby Jesus and affirms what the holidays are really about giving and love. Featuring a beautiful soundtrack by the Vienna Boys Choir, this timeless tale of generosity makes the perfect addition to your holiday collection. Cricket on the Hearth A delightful, animated musical version of Charles Dickens classic tale, Cricket on the Hearth, tells the story of a poor toymaker and his daughter whom a helpful Cricket named Crocket befriends on Christmas morning. When tragedy strikes the family, it s Crocket who comes to the rescue and restores peace and happiness.


For generations, many Americans have been entertained by the yearly Christmas animation now deemed as classics.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”, “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Frosty Returns” and “Cricket on the Hearth” have been part of America’s pop culture.  From stop-motion animation to classic animation, many of these classics are long and dear to many.

And what best to celebrate the holidays with all seven series collected into one Blu-ray volume (featuring two Blu-ray discs), “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is now available.

Back in 1962, “Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol” aired on television and helped lead to creation of “The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo”.  The story is a loose adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.  Mr. Magoo is cast as Scrooge who is cold and uncaring for his employee and people who do business with him. But when the Ghost of Christmas Past visits him, Scrooge decides to change his ways.

In 1964, a stop-motion animation titled “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was produced.  Based on Johnny Marks song of the same title (which was based on the 1939 poem by Robert L. May), the animation has aired every year on television and is a Christmas classic.

The story begins with an introduction by Sam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives) who tells the story of a young reindeer with a glowing red nose.

Donner’s wife has given birth to a male fawn named Rudolph (voiced by Billie Mae Richards), and to their surprise, he was born with a glowing red nose.  But when Santa (voiced by Stan Francis) comes to visit and says that Rudolph would not be able to pull his sleigh if his red-nose continues through adulthood, Donner (voiced by Paul Kligman) tries to his Rudolph’s red shining nose by placing dirt over it.

A year later, Rudolph’s parents take him to meet all the other young bucks who will be trained to fly and pull Santa’s sleigh once they get older.  He meets Clarice (who is attracted to him) and becomes friends with Fireball.  But when they all start playing, the dirt comes off Rudolph’s nose and everyone makes fun of him.  Also, he is no longer allowed to join in on any reindeer games.  To make matters worse, Clarice’s father forbids her from hanging around Rudolph.

Rudolph runs away and meets an elf named Hermey who also wants to run away because his parents want him to make toys, while he prefers to become a dentist.  Both consider themselves misfits and team up and run away together.

Another Dickens story was adapted into an animation.  “Cricket on the Hearth” (1967) is a loose adaptation of Charles Dickens 1845 novella.  The story revolves around Bertha (voiced by Marlo Thomas), who lives with her father Caleb (voiced by Danny Thomas).  Bertha is in love with Edward but one day, as a soldier, he had to go out on sea.  But after news arrives that Edward  (voiced by Ed Ames) has died, Bertha who is devastated, goes blind.

As Caleb raises his blind daughter, they go through rough times as Caleb is unable to work.  So the two are forced to leave their home and worked with the spoiled and cold Tackleton (voiced by Hans Conried) who hires Caleb.  But a bearded man arrives to visit and he is reminiscent to someone…who could it be?

But what happens when the two, along with a prospector named Yukon Cornelius come in contact with the Abominable Snow Monster?

In 1968, a stop-motion television special produced by Rankin/Bass titled “The Little Drummer Boy” aired on television.  While the special is no longer aired on public television, it still airs on cable now on ABC Family.

The special begins with the narrator (voiced by Greer Garson) telling a story of a young boy named Aaron, who is a misanthropic orphan who loves to play the drums.  His friends are Samson the donkey, Babba the sheep and Joshua the camel.  His story of his youth was not the best as at a young age, bandits who tried to steal the family’s sheep killed his parents and burned down his house.  Having looked down on humanity since then, he is hired to join Ben Haramad’s circus to play the drum.

But disenchanted with working with the circus, what happens when Aaron comes across Three Wise Men who are making their journey to Bethlehem?

In 1969, the animated Christmas TV special “Frosty the Snowman” aired on CBS.    A seasonal Christmas classic, the special is set on Christmas Eve and a schoolteacher hires a not-so-good magician named Professor Hinkle to perform magic for the Christmas party.  But when he fails in his magic tricks, he throws his hat away.

As the kids go outside to build a snowman, a girl named Karen names the snowman, “Frosty”.  She finds a magic hat and places it on Frosty the Snowman and suddenly, Frosty comes to life.

In 1969, the animated TV special “Frosty the Snowman” aired on CBS.  The special marked the first use of cel animation for Rankin/Bass (who often used stop-motion) and

Who can forget “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (1970) made by Rankin-Bass and featuring voices by Fred Astaire as the narrator, Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus, Keenan Wynn as Winter Warlock and Paul Frees in various roles.

Originally created in Japan using stop-motion technology called “Animagic” featuring characters made of wood and plastic, the special was telecast back in December 1970.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” revolves around a mailman named S.D. Kluger introducing a newsreel and reminding children to prepare for the arrival of Santa Claus.  His tale begins in the city of Sombertown as Burgmeister Meisterburger has a baby arriving on his doorstep.  The baby’s name is Claus which he orders his lawkeeper Grimsley (both Burgmeister and Grimsley are voiced by Paul Frees) to take the baby to the “Orphan Asylum”.

As the wind blows the sled and baby to the mountain of the Whispering Wind, the animals hide the baby from Grimsley from the Winter Warlock (voiced by Keenan Wynn).  The animals end up taking the baby to the Elfish family, Kringle.

Tanta Kringle (voiced by Joan Garnder), the elf queen, adopts the baby and names him “Kris” and as Kris grows older, he wants to restore the Kringle family as the “First Toymakers to the King”. And when he gets older, he volunteers to deliver the elves toys to Sombertown, in which toys are outlawed by the Burgermeister.

Can Kris Kringle bring love and peace to the town?  And how will he win the heart of Miss Jessica (voiced by Robie Lester).

In 1992, “Frosty Returns” produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video was created with the help of Peanuts director Bill Melendez (thus having a little similarity to the Peanuts animation).

The special begins with a musical being canceled at Beansboro Elementary School due to a seven-inch snowfall.  As parents complain about the snow and ice, the children in school often are seen playing with it.

For young and often alone, Holly DeCarlo, she and her one friend, Charles try do a magic act. But when her hat flies off her head out the window, it lands on the snowman outside and it comes to life.

The snowman reveals himself to Holly as “Frosty”.

But as the complaints of the snow and ice grow, Mr. Twitchell is brought in to bring his “Summer Wheeze” product to eliminate the snow, which Holly wants to do all that necessary to protect Frosty.


VIDEO:

“The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:34:1 aspect ratio).  Considering the age of these animated films, I will preface to say that one should not expect perfection when it comes to picture quality.   There is grain, there are scratches and slight markings but for the most part, the colors look very good.

But considering the film’s age and the fact that you’re not going to get perfect picture quality, I will say it looks better than what one would see on television.  And for those who have treasured these Christmas animated classics, they are definitely worth owning and showing the children and the entire family during the holiday season.


AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is presented in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS Master Audio.  Audio for the most part is clear and no sign of significant hiss, while “Frosty Returns” does have a few moments of audio degradation but slight crackling at times.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” includes the following special features (split into two discs):

Disc 1 (you must click on “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” to access the special features):

  • Be An Artist and Create – (25:36)  Featuring Joe Vance (director of Character Art at DreamWorks) on how to draw various characters.
  • Kringle Jingle – (:56) Kids singing the Kringle Jingle.
  • Santa Special Delivery – (17:23) Kids are interviewed about Santa and also historical facts about Santa.

Disc 2 (Special features can be found on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman”):

  • Rudolph Pop Up Book – (2:48)
  • Holly Jolly Sing Along – (1:22)
  • Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Sing Along – (:53)
  • Learn to Draw – Dave Burgess of DreamWorks Animation teaches viewers how to draw Rudolph, Hermey and the Abominable Snow Monster.
  • Be An Artist and Create – (25:53) Joe Vance of DreamWorks Animation teaches viewers on how to draw a variety of characters.
  • Magic Melody – (1:53)
  • Frosty Snowflake Surprises – (19:30) Interviews with children and facts on “Frosty the Snowman”.

EXTRAS:

“The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” comes with a slipcase.


 

When it comes to Christmas specials on TV, myself and my siblings had the opportunity to grow up and watch classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”, “The Little Drummer Boy”.

And decades later, our children are now growing up with these animated classics.

Timeless, entertaining and family friendly, these classic stop-motion specials long with other classic animated TV specials have been collected into one Blu-ray collection titled “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition”.

A perfect gift to keep the children busy throughout the holiday season, it’s really hard to beat a set that contains seven classics in one Blu-ray set.

Is it perfect?  Well, the question is subjective.  For me, it would be wonderful to have the Rankin/Bass 1979 stop-motion special “Rudolph and Frost’s Christmas in July” and the 1976 stop-motion (sequel to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” included with the set.  It would also be nice to see other Rankin-Bass Christmas specials such as the 1974 stop-motion TV special “The Year Without a Santa Claus”,  the 1975 stop-motion animation “The First Christmas: The Story of First Christmas Snow” and the 1976 sequel to “The Little Drummer Boy” titled “The Little Drummer Boy, Book II”.

So, there is room for a “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” Vol. 2 or releasing a new set in the near future containing these other Christmas classics.

And unfortunately, due to the Rankin/Bass library being split into two parts after the company’s dissolution in 1987, one of the casualties is “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland” being separated from “Frosty the Snowman”.  And so, the sequel (for now) will never be included alongside “Frosty the Snowman”.

But the 1992 Christmas animated TV special “Frost Returns” is included and while more modern and may fit out of place compared to the other animated specials included in this set, but it’s still a rather enjoyable animated series that children will enjoy.

One of the biggest questions that purists will probably want to know is if the original and various edited versions are included.  They are not.  What you see on television today, is what is on the Blu-ray release.

I don’t think we’re going to get any multi-versions of a special in a Blu-ray release and for now, I don’t think we are going to get those cut scenes included as a deleted scene.  So, for those who watched “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and prefer the song “Fame & Fortune” (which was used from 1965-1997), you’re not going to get it with this release as the original 1964 “We’re a Couple of Misfits” replaced that version in 1998 and is retained in this 50th Anniversary version on the Blu-ray disc.

And it’s important to note that in terms of picture quality, for those expecting pristine versions of these specials, unless one is willing to spend a lot of money to make it happen, I think the best that fans are going to get is just an HD remastering for now.  It’s also great that the soundtrack is now in lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA and there is no major hissing or crackling that I heard (“Frosty Returns” has slight crackle) and as for special features, you get sing-alongs but also cool creative featurettes featuring DreamWorks animators, so one can learn how to draw Rudolph, Santa, Frosty and more.

Overall, “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is a wonderful collection of Classic Christmas animated TV specials that generations have grown up with and love.  Is it a perfect set?  While that question is subjective, I do feel that there are numerous Rankin/Bass Christmas specials that could be included with this set to make it a definitive collection.  But on its own, with seven timeless classics, it’s hard to say anything bad about it at all.

If you are looking for these classic holiday TV specials on Blu-ray, then “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition” is highly recommended!

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