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The Bootleg Files: The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians

BOOTLEG FILES 632: “The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians” (1970 Rankin/Bass animated television special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Most likely due to a rights clearance issue.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

During the 1960s, Rankin/Bass Productions enjoyed a skein of hit films and television specials, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Mad Monster Party?”, “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Frosty the Snowman.” In 1970, the studio put forth “The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians,” which turned out to be their highest rated television show.
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The Original Christmas Classics: Anniversary Collector’s Edition [Blu-ray]

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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.

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Rankin/Bass Festival Of Family Classics: Jack O Lantern (1972)

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I grew up watching Rankin Bass cartoons. I loved them, and watched mostly around the holidays. So every single Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent with the folks at Rankin Bass. Someone somewhere would air one of their numerous specials every year, so I love this company. “Jack O Lantern” though is very new to me, and one I was never really familiar with. Which is shocking considering “Jack O Lantern” is really quite a good adventure tale that I would have loved as a child.

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Mad Monster Party (1967)

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Rankin Bass’s “Mad Monster Party” (or “Mad Monster Party?”) is a monster bash of animated proportions that brings the great Boris Karloff aboard to lend credibility to an already fun animated film. Comprised of some excellent voice work and some classic stop motion animation from the Rankin Bass studio, “Mad Monster Party” sets down on the geeky and lovable Felix Flankin, a pharmacist with an allergy problem who is called to his old uncle Baron Boris von Frankenstein’s island for a party where he plans to announce to his monster community that he’s giving up the life of monster making and plans to hand over the business to his nephew.

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The First Easter Rabbit (1982) (DVD)

8839Rankin Bass are a humongous part of my childhood. Every single year during the holidays we were treated to their holiday specials on CBS and ABC here in America, and we’d tune in every single time. It was an event. Over the years Rankin Bass have shown that they’re really not the most original studio to have ever dabbled in animation. Stepping back to look over their specials, they’re all basically the same thing with an identical formula that is successful but kind of obvious. There’s the story of a holiday icon born out of coincidence, a supporting cast of children, the evil villain anxious to stop or tarnish the holiday, and of course most of the story is told by an older legendary film icon.

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The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town (1977)

easter-bunny-is-coming12So I sat here trying to think of reasons why I liked “The Easter Bunny…” and then after about three hours of sitting still and looking into a wall, I realized that I was being a little too easy on Rankin Bass. Even in this day and age, there’s a certain charm to Rankin Bass and their stop motion creations. “The Easter Bunny…” has a great visual sense with character designs and pastels that are aesthetically pleasing and rather appealing to the eyes, and they’re always nothing short of superb when providing special effects, even considering the time these movies were made.

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