So, Frosty The Snowman, Santa Claus, and Rudolph all walk into a box set. Have you heard this one?

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Christmas Classics Rudolph Frosty Santa

Growing up, the holiday season was a time to look forward to for all of the obvious reasons.  Receiving gifts was a huge part of childhood, all the decorations, visiting Santa, and spending time with extended family was something to look forward to.  Another big thing were all of the holiday specials on television.  When I grew up, especially in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, you didn’t get but one chance to see these shows each year.  It might seem impossible to people even a little younger than me, but there was no DVR, and I didn’t have a VCR until 1983, so I had to check my TV GUIDE and get my arse in front of the television at the appropriate time.  If you missed your favorite there simply wasn’t a second chance!

What specials am I talking about specifically, well there are a bunch, but many of them are on THE ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS CLASSICS ANNIVERSARY COLLECTOR’S EDITION.  I don’t think you can go wrong when you consider the set includes seven different programs for just $15 on Amazon.  

Let’s begin with what may be the greatest of all the holiday specials FROSTY THE SNOWMAN.  How many people need to be sold on this one, right?  Based on the song originally recorded by Gene Autry this is a super speedy tale of a little girl and her quest to get Frosty to the North Pole before he melts away.  The narration and singing by Jimmy Durante is absolutely heartwarming and Jackie Vernon is iconic in his performance as the titular snowman.  I say it again, come on, who doesn’t love this one!  Also included is the follow up FROSTY RETURNS, but it doesn’t have the same charm or magic of the original.

Flying down to join that fella with the corncob pipe is RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER, and a special that is another absolute must-watch for the holiday season.  Much like Jimmy Durante’s amazing work singing and telling the tale of Frosty, here we have Burl Ives doing the job for Rudolph.  While Frosty has conventional animation, Rudolph comes to life through beautiful stop motion work of Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin.  There’s something amazing and beautiful in the way the puppets move and the nose shines at key moments.  

The final key piece of this collection is SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, which is also based on a hit Christmas tune just like the first two shows.  This one is brought to life in similar fashion to Rudolph with the wonderful puppeteering of Rankin/Bass.  Of all the specials, this one probably boasts the greatest performers.  You get Fred Astaire narrating, Mickey Rooney as Santa, and Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock.  I don’t like this one quite as much as Frosty and Rudolph, but it holds up very well.

The cover of the set only shows images from these three films, but there’s actually quite a bit more.  Filling out the collection is the THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY, CRICKET ON THE HEARTH, and MR. MAGOO’S CHRISTMAS CAROL.

Let’s talk about Mr. Magoo, which was one of my favorite programs growing up, so it was a real treat to see his version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale again.  With all the reboots in modern society, why hasn’t the nearsighted Magoo returned yet?  Staying on the Dickens bent, CRICKET ON THE HEARTH is another of his holiday stories, but I have no memory of ever seeing this one as a child.  It’s yet another Rankin/Bass production, so you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect.  Not on the par with the other efforts by the puppet masters, but not a terrible movie either.

The final story, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY, continues the Rankin//Bass system of adapting a beloved Christmas song into a stop motion adventure.  This one is highly religious as it recounts the birth of Jesus and the the title character’s time playing for baby Jesus.  There is a also a tremendous amount of backstory where we see how Aaron, the titular character, and how he grew into a proud young man.  Following the previous map of success, Hollywood legend Greer Garson lends narration to the production.

I think it’s best to think of this set as the three key features with four extra films.  Those other films almost work as a set set of “Special Features”, but there are several other items on the disc as well.  You get sing-a-long versions of the major songs, fun fact shows that children may enjoy, and a nifty little How-To-Draw Rudolph, Santa, and Frosty.  I don’t think most adults will care about the extras, but you can probably get a few nice nights of entertainment for the little ones in your life.    

Sure, most of these specials are shown on TV every holiday season, but there’s no reason not to own this set.  Each feature looks great on Blu-ray and you’ll get many years of seasonal enjoyment from the set.  Considering the three specials I led the piece with, if you buy this set, all you really need are HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS and CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS to make your children’s Yuletide video library complete.

4.5 / 5.0