The Original Christmas Classics: Anniversary Collector’s Edition [Blu-ray]


For most fans of Christmas and the holiday season, every year comes with two regular guests: Charlie Brown and Rankin Bass. For folks that love the Rankin Bass stop motion and animation features that feature a wide universe filled with characters like Frosty and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Classic Media unleashes a wonderful box set of some of their best and most aired animated classics that celebrate the spirit of Christmas and the holidays. There are seven specials total, all of which have been celebrated since their release, and they’re given another release on Blu-Ray for the sake of posterity.

Disc one features the classic “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” Clocking in at an hour, this epic animated adventure is narrated by Fred Astaire as a trusty Special Delivery man named Kluger who regales us with the origin of Santa Claus. Orphaned as a child and named simply Cringle, he is accidentally thrust in to a family of elves, all of whom raise him in to a good spirited young man. When the local burgermeister is injured by tripping on a toy, he puts a ban on any and all toys in his town. Kris sets out on a quest to defy him and magically begins creating the rituals we know Santa by, as the film explains his clothing, his beard, his magical laugh, and how his reindeer learned to fly. It’s a wonderful short film and still excites. “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” is an hour long classic with the titular Magoo playing the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who gets a look in to his past, present, and future thanks to three wise ghosts.

It’s yet another adaptation of the Dickens novel, and one of the best yearly specials. “The Little Drummer Boy” is the exciting twenty five minute stop motion story of the Christian Christmas classic song, about a young boy named Aaron who gives the new born Jesus Christ the gift of a song. While the song itself is still touching, the half hour special is very slim on story line, doing little to discuss the song itself, and is more based around Aaron’s adventures with carnival personalities and bandits. That said it’s still a fine special that has its heart in the right place. Featured on the first Disc in the way of bells and whistles, is the Cricket on Earth segments. There’s also “Be an Artist and Create,” a twenty five minute tutorial for kids with Joe Vance, who teaches audiences how to draw various characters.

“Kringle Jingle” is a sing along, and “Santa Special Delivery” is a seventeen minute trivia section with historical facts about Santa Claus, the original show, the song, and even garners interviews with kids. Disc Two features the hour long “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” the epic fantasy about the titular reindeer who goes from reject to inadvertent hero by going on a quest through the North Pole to help Santa save an island where misfit toys live. While on the quest, he meets a heroic prospector and a mean old Abominable Snowman, ultimately showing he’s worthy of guiding Santa’s slay. “Frosty the Snowman” is a fun and sweet tale of a group of kids that find a magic hat that brings their snowman to life. When they travel to the arctic to keep him from melting, they’re chased by an evil magician who wants his hat back and will do anything to get it.

“Frosty Returns” is the pretty okay sequel from 1992, narrated by Jonathan Winters, and stars John Goodman as the magic snowman, who, with the help of friend Holly (a young Elizabeth Moss) must battle a woman who creates a magical spray that can melt snow, and ultimately winter from the planet. The features on Disc Two include “Rudolph Pop Up Book,” “Holly Jolly Sing Along,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Sing Along,” “Learn to Draw” with Dave Burgess, and so much more. The “Frosty” features include “Be an Artist and Create,” yet another drawing lesson from Joe Vance, sing along “Magical Melody,” and “Frosty Snowflake Surprises,” which explore the original special with facts, trivia, and interviews! For folks like moi who grew up on these stories, this is a two disc Blu-Ray set you’ll want to indulge in for nostalgic and sentimental value.