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VINE VOICEon January 8, 2008
Classic Media brings us 7 Christmas specials in one gorgeous package in its "Original Christmas Classics" DVD collection. The headliners of this set are the three greatest Rankin/Bass Christmas TV specials of all-time: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town! In addition to these, we are treated to "The Little Drummer Boy", "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol", "Cricket on the Hearth", and "Frosty Returns". Plus, a CD of holiday music selections is even included as a bonus!

Disc One features everyone's favorite Rankin/Bass special, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Based on the beloved song, it's the stop-motion "animagic" classic from 1964 about a little reindeer born with a nose that glows red! Teased about his nose as a child, Rudolph runs away from Santa's village and makes new friends along the way but also encounters the frightening Bumble snow-beast! Then, when a fog comes up to threaten Santa's Christmas Eve flight, it's only Rudolph's nose that can save the day! Featuring unforgettable songs from Burl Ives (who plays Sam the Snowman) and others, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" has become a holiday tradition loved by millions!

Also on Disc One is "Cricket on the Hearth." Introduced by Danny Thomas and starring the voices of himself, his daughter Marlo, Roddy McDowall, Hans Conried, Paul Frees, and more, this 1967 traditionally animated special is a musical version of Charles Dickens' classic. It's the story of a toymaker and his daughter who befriend a helpful cricket that saves the day after the family falls on hard times. "Cricket on the Hearth" is a lesser known Rankin/Bass production and not as endearing as their bigger hits, but it is still a nice holiday viewing you probably haven't seen before.

Disc Two holds a classic that is nearly as beloved as Rudolph, "Frosty the Snowman". This 1969 classic is traditionally animated and probably Rankin/Bass's best work in 2D. The charming character designs, voices, music, and simple story are absolutely wonderful. Based on another classic song, this is the story of a snowman that comes to life when the children who built him add a discarded magic hat. Unfortunately, snowmen can't last forever unless they are in a place that is always snowy, and the nasty Professor Hinkle, the frustrated magician who threw out his hat, wants the hat back now that he knows it holds real magical power! Hosted by an animated Jimmy Durante, "Frosty the Snowman" is such a treat that it even inspired three 2D sequels so far, though only "Frosty's Winter Wonderland", from the same creators and with Jackie Vernon back as Frosty's voice, is really good. Disc Two also includes the only DVD bonus feature in this set, a Frosty pencil test.

Also on Disc Two is one of the more recent and very disappointing sequels, "Frosty Returns." Truthfully, I don't think this can be called an official sequel, as I don't think Rankin/Bass had anything to do with this 1992 rip-off. Surprisingly, this one is from the creators of the wonderful Peanuts specials, sans Charles Schulz, but it has none of that magic. "Frosty Returns", which depicts a Frosty voiced by John Goodman and with nothing in common with the original aside from being made of snow, is hosted by an animated (and for some reason miniature) Jonathan Winters in an attempt to mimic the host-character style of the Rankin/Bass faves. He presents the story of a town that is becoming snow-free thanks to a businessman's spray can invention, "Summer Wheeze." Frosty and his friends go on a mission to prove to the townsfolk that snow can actually be a good thing, but all in all it's a story that is pretty uninvolving and forgettable. What a shame they never couple the original Frosty with "Frosty's Winter Wonderland". Unfortunately, you have to buy the other boxed set to get that one.

Disc Three features what is, in my opinion, the definitive version of how Santa became Santa. Well, along with "Santa Claus, the Movie" anyway. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" is the name of the special, and it's the third of the three big-name classics in this DVD set. The 1970 animagic film, hosted by a stop-motion Fred Astaire, gives us the story of Santa being left at the doorstep of a toymaking elf family when he was a baby, being raised by them and amongst the forest animals, going on missions to deliver toys to the children of Sombertown, meeting Winter the warlock and Jessica, the future Mrs. Claus, and going up against the awful Burgermeister Meisterburger. This charming take on Santa's origins includes the voices of Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus, Keenan Wynn as Winter, and the great Paul Frees in several roles. Like most Rankin/Bass holiday classics, this is based on a classic song.

The remaining two holiday specials are also included on Disc Three. They are the lesser known but still much loved "The Little Drummer Boy," a somewhat dark Rankin/Bass animagic tale from 1968 about an orphaned drummer boy who hates people and only loves his animal friends until a visit to the original nativity scene shows him the light, and 1962's "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol," which presents the classic, nearsighted cartoon character as an actor in a Broadway production of his own version of "A Christmas Carol." Both specials are charming and appreciated inclusions in this DVD set.

Lastly, there's the CD, which is a mixed bag of 7 Christmas songs. They include a very brief "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" from Burl Ives, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" from Bobby Rydell, "A Holly Jolly Christmas" from Burl Ives, "Silver and Gold" from Burl Ives, "Let it Snow" from Chicago, "Winter Wonderland" from Jewel, and "Merry Christmas Baby" from Otis Redding. The CD is an okay addition, but a 4th disc of more holiday specials or more DVD bonus features would have been preferred, or even a genuine soundtrack to one or more of the included specials.

Overall, this set is a must own for the Christmas classics lover, and my only major complaint is how hard it is to remove the discs from the lovely packaging. I also highly recommend the following DVDs and DVD sets: Christmas Television Favorites (featuring other Rankin/Bass faves and the Grinch!), Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Disney's Classic Holiday Stories, Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection, The Happy Elf, Garfield Holiday Celebrations, Elf, A Muppet Family Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Warner Bros. Classic Holiday Collection, MGM Holiday Classics Collection, Santa Claus (1960), It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A Christmas Story, The Nativity, A Christmas Carol (1951), Scrooged, Santa Claus the Movie, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Scrooge (1935), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (live-action), One Magic Christmas, Babes in Toyland (Disney), National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Ernest Saves Christmas, A Chipmunk Christmas, the Santa Clause films, A Flintstones Christmas Carol, Benji's Very Own Christmas Story, Sabrina the Animated Series: A Witchmas Carol, and more! And don't forget the many specials only available on VHS! Also, if you're into the bizarre, seek out the Star Wars Holiday Special!
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on November 26, 2007
We all love "Rudolph," and "Frosty," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." "Little Drummer Boy" still makes me weep like a baby and the little known "Cricket on the Hearth" is a buried gem. I can even accept the odd addition of "Mr Magoo" (which is not a Rankin-Bass product) to the collection, but I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to put the NON-Rankin Bass Frosty special here instead of the "real" Frosty sequel: "Frosty's Winter Wonderland."

Don't be fooled. "Frosty Returns" is NOT by Rankin Bass and does not feature Jackie Vernon as voice of the venerable snowman or Karen the little girl or the story of Jack Frost trying to steal the hat so all the children will appreciate him instead of Frosty. "Frosty Returns" is a poorly written and poorly animated "special" and does not belong surrounded by these other true Christmas classics. But if you don't mind that and Magoo, it is a great collection of some of the TRUE holiday classics.Frosty's Winter Wonderland/Twas the Night Before Christmas
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on June 24, 2009
Just wanted to say that "Siver and Gold" is right in there where it's supposed to be, right after The Misfits meet Yukon Cornelius. Plus there's a cute little scene at very end (not included in the broadcast TV version) where Yukon discovers a peppermint mine...

...if your kids haven't seen these classics they're missing out!

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on December 11, 2007
This box set includes the four original classic Christmas specials from Rankin/Bass: RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY & FROSTY THE SNOWMAN. These are all without question excellent holiday productions that have not only stood the test of time, but, if anything, become more popular as the years go by and have been permanently woven into the perennial fabric of Christmas. There are also 3 extra specials on this box-set, the recently unearthed and long forgotten about Rankin/Bass special CRICKET ON THE HEARTH and two non-Rankin/Bass specials MR MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL and the horrendous sequel FROSTY RETURNS. MR MAGOO seems out-of-place on this box set but it is a nice special while FROSTY RETURNS is out-of-place and terrible and really should have been left off. But I'm not going to subtract any stars for additional material, as it is just that, and you can choose if you want to watch it or not. All of the specials look and sound great except for THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY which for some reason has a very grainy look to it and some audio issues as well. There is another box set available from Warner Home Video entitled "CHRISTMAS TELEVISION CLASSICS" which includes some other popular Rankin/Bass specials such as "Year Without A Santa Claus", "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" and "Frosty's Winter Wonderland". It would be nice if there could be a complete Rankin/Bass box set but seeing as how their catalog is owned by two seperate companies (the older ones by Classic Media and the newer ones by Warner) unfortunately, this will not be happening any time soon. Until then we will have Classic Media releasing these four classic with whatever add-on specials they can find, and Warner releasing their specials and trying hard to make the cover art look like they are actually these four specials.
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on November 29, 2007
I got this set for my mom for Christmas not only does she enjoy them but i do as well..growing up watching them on TV with her now i dont have to miss it when it comes get all the great classics plus a cd of songs i would recommend this set for everyone who enjoys watching these once a year now you get to watch them whenever you like..the box it comes in is beautiful as well :) 5 stars and you cant beat the price
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on December 7, 2007
I love this series! I'm 33 years old and it takes me back to being a kid when they played the cartoons on tv on Sunday nights. My son (he's 4) absolutely adores Rudolph.

This is great collection because it has the classic songs and cartoons. The Cricket on the Hearth is included in this set and it's a little bizzare, but all in all this is the greatest set I've seen yet.

There is also a music CD included. It's awesome.
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on November 27, 2007
I watched Rudolph with my wife and kids last night. They loved it! It looks great, but when Clarice sings her song ("There's Always Tomorrow"), a high pitched whine was audible throughout the song.(very high pitched, some people wont be able to hear it) I couldn't hardly believe my ears. The rest of the movie was flawless and has a few small scenes that I've never seen/noticed before.

All in all a great addition to my Christmas collection
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on August 6, 2011
I grew up watching these movies decades after they actually first aired. I can't think of Christmas without remembering these films. This is a very good collection for anyone who watched these as kids or are looking for wholesome holiday films to watch as a family. My only complaint is that the whole Rankin/Bass collection isn't here. It's not enough to not buy this collection (I've yet to find a complete Rankin/Bass collection anywhere), but it's worth noting that it is missing my favorite movie: The Year Without Santa Claus.
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on December 12, 2012
I used to watch these movies as a child, and they are as great as I remember. Cricket on the Hearth is the only one I never watched before (or even head of), and now I'm glad I haven't. It's incredibly depressing and boring. The other six are all wonderful Christmas classics and I will always enjoy watching. Also, as a bonus, this set comes with an audio CD of Christmas songs!
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on September 14, 2014
How can you not love these!? Grew up on them, love to share them with my kids. They love them as well, great holiday tradition. For me goes along with all of the holiday great cartoons. The Peanuts collection is great as well. There are a couple of these collections all from that Sam time period, good family fun. Bing Crosby narrating and names like burgermeister meisterburger I go back 30 years when they are on.
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