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Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Original-Christmas-ClassicsDo you recall when you were small…and reindeer flew, snowmen spoke, and Santa came to town?  On November 3rd, kick off the holidays with the family favorites from the Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collection featuring the Blu-ray release of THE ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS CLASSICS ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR’S EDITION GIFT SET featuring all-new bonus material, including singing, fun facts, crafts and more!  The holidays will be here before we know it, there’s no use in fighting, there’s no way to slow it! While you’re making those lists and checking them twice, don’t forget to add the classics – THE ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS CLASSICS ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR’S EDITION GIFT SET on Blu–ray to be precise!  These beloved Christmas classics have warmed the hearts and hearths of families for 45 years. Whether you are celebrating lasting family traditions or making new memories, no holiday is complete without gathering your family around the living room for the most popular holiday specials in television history!

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Shows 

Growing up and celebrating Christmas, every time the holiday season came around I looked forward to all the special programming on TV that celebrated that day.  Most importantly was the Rankin Bass material that had been airing since the 1960s.  As a matter of fact, its still going.  The stop motion animation both captivated me and was sort of haunting at the same time.  I loved these, mainly because I was big on the animation style, and I’d make sure my parents would let me know they were on.  And almost always, I would forget to tape them.  And then whenever the next year would come, I would try and remember every one.  I still have memories of certain ones that I’m not sure I ever saw again.

I think one of my favorites was always Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.  There was a time I remember, when I’d actually remembered it as three separate specials.  I thought there was one about Rudolph, one about an elf wanting to become a dentist and another about an explorer tracking down the abominable snowman.  To my surprise one Christmas season, that they were all undoubtedly the same special.  Going back to Rudolph, it has some funny, dated revelations.  For instance, Santa Claus is kind of a huge bigot.  Check it out and watch in horror as the many is a complete ass to our favorite cherry blinking sleigh guider.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, as well as seven other classics (Including Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town and Frosty The Snowman) are available in this set.  Six of them are of the Rankin Bass ilk, but Frosty Returns is not.  The “Big Three” of these specials are available separately, but if you break it down, its pretty silly not to just go in for the whole thing, even if you’re just a fan of one or two of them.  By getting the set, you also get four extra specials.  This set has been available before, but this edition has been revamped to include the other specials as well as new bonus material.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-2 AVC (Cricket On The Hearth)

Resolution: 1080p, 480i (Cricket On The Hearth)

Aspect Ratio: 1.34:1

Clarity/Detail:  All of the previously released shows on here contain the identical transfer to what has come before.  They all look quite good for their respective animation styles and age.  The new specials look quite good or up to snuff with those, except The Little Drummer Boy.  That one looks like complete garbage.  The print is in bad shape, and is incredibly dingy and not a pretty sight.

Depth:  Most of these feature their adequate looking amounts of depth.  Movements are pretty much in line with all types of stop motion animation from their period.

Black Levels:  Blacks come pretty accurate to form.  Detail is sorta just decent on the felt creatures when they feature black, as well as surfaces.  Some extra grain may come with darker areas.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look pretty good.  Reds are strong, whites impress.  Unless we’re talking about The Little Drummer Boy.  Everything about it looks pretty gross.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts: All of these are good except…you guess it, The Little Drummer Boy.  That one has heavy grain, compression and blocking issues abound.  I hate to keep knocking on it, but it really looks bad.  The SD quality Cricket On The Hearth puts it to shame even.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA (The Little Drummer Boy & Frosty Returns only), English 2.0 Dolby Digital (Cricket On The Hearth)

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  In the previous release, these carried TrueHD mixes.  Everything now has been switched over to DTS-HD MA.  From my peering around, it appears the sound quality on them is damn near identical.  Cricket On The Hearth‘s Dolby Digital track is solid and sounds good enough.  Even The Little Drummer Boy sounds good here.  There are some sourcing and age distortions here and there, but I would think those are kind of to be expected with these.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not much to say about the subwoofer’s participation here.  Its on the lighter end of things when it comes to its work.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Not much to write home about here.  Some sounds do come from behind, but mostly this is just ambiance.  The front channels are the stars here.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud and clear.  Some analog sourcing sounds are evident, but its really no bother.

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Extras 

Disc 1

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

  • Be an Artist and Create (HD, 25:36) – Joe Vance of Dreamworks Animation guides through an instructional piece on drawing the characters from these Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.  This has a little craft piece as well.
  • Kringle Jingle (HD, :56) – Children sing “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”.
  • Santa Special Delivery (HD, 17:23) – Kids answer questions while also giving out trivia on the television special.

Disc 2

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

  • Rudolph Pop Up Book (HD, 2:48) – The snowman tells the story as you see a pop-up book flip through its pages.
  • Holly Jolly Sing-Along (HD, 1:22)
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Sing-Along (HD, :53)
  • Learn To Draw (HD, 29:25) – Dave Burgess from Dreamworks does a how-to draw on some of the characters from Rudolph.
  • Rudolph Unwrapped (HD, 16:42) – This is a video that goes through a lot of factoids and trivia on the film.

Frosty The Snowman

  • Frosty Returns (HD, 23:08) – While selectable from the main menu, this special is also listed here.
  • Be an Artist and Create (HD, 25:53) – Joe Vance returns to draw Frosty characters and do another craft.
  • Magical Melody (HD, 1:53) – Kids sing “Frosty the Snowman”.
  • Frosty Snowflake Surprises (HD, 19:30) – Another trivia video.  This one is like Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, where kids answer questions during it.

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Summary 

Here is a majority of all the Rankin Bass Christmas specials right here in one cheap and pretty complete set.  Aside from The Little Drummer Boy, these look and sound pretty terrific.  There are some really cool and information drawing exercises here for kids which I understand are new to this release.  The other extras are kind of whatever, but those are very strong.  No need to set the DVR or wonder if and when they’re going to show these specials again.  Just keep this stocked and you can do it all on your own time!  Definitely a must own for the holidays, nostalgia, tradition and for the kids.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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