THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA
In THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS, Shirley Booth lends her voice to the role of Mrs. Santa and tells of the year that Santa Claus was feeling too tired to make his Christmas Eve trek. Hoping to change his mind, Mrs. Santa sends two trusty elves out into the world to find some Christmas spirit, which she hopes will put Santa in the holiday mood. Of course, the two elves run into problems, which requires the efforts of both Mr. and Mrs. Claus to set things right. By the way, THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS is the special that includes appearances by the characters known as Snow Miser and Heat Miser, as well as their signature songs. Other vocal talents include Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, George S. Irving, Bob McFadden, Rhoda Mann, Bradley Bolke, Ron Marshall, Colin Duffy and Christine Winter.
In addition to the main program- THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS the DVD also offers NESTOR THE LONG-EARED CHRISTMAS DONKEY and RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR.
NESTOR THE LONG-EARED CHRISTMAS DONKEY tells the story of the very first Christmas from the point of view of the title character. Although a donkey, Nestor is a character who has a lot in common with another character immortalized in a Rankin/Bass holiday special- namely Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Like Rudolph, Nestor is an outcast because of his non-conformity. Nestor's ears continually trip him up, so nobody wants him, until a man named Joseph decides that he is the perfect donkey to carry his wife Mary, who is with child, to Bethlehem. When they do arrive at their destination, they discover no room at the inn, so Nestor leads them to a place that has always brought him comfort. NESTOR THE LONG-EARED CHRISTMAS DONKEY features the vocal talents of Roger Miller, Brenda Vaccaro, Paul Frees, Don Messick, Linda Gary, Iris Rainer, Shelly Hines and Eric Stern.
In RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR, Red Skelton plays the role of Father Time, in addition to narrating this tale of a runaway Baby New Year, which threatens to stop time from moving past December 31st. Of course, the only individual for the job of finding the missing Baby New Year is Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. With his shiny red nose to guide the way, Rudolph searches through the archipelago of last years to find the infant before he falls into the clutches of Eon- an evil giant bird whose time is almost up. In addition to Skelton, RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR includes the vocal talents of Frank Gorshin, Morey Amsterdam, Harold Peary, Paul Frees, Billie Mae Richards, Don Messick and Iris Rainer.
Warner Home Video has made THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS, NESTOR THE LONG-EARED CHRISTMAS DONKEY and RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR available on DVD in their original 4:3 full screen television ratios. These programs look great on DVD, especially THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS. Image sharpness and detail are great for these types of stop-motion animated programs. Colors tend to be very bright and highly appealing. THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS has a very clean appearance, but there are a few very minor print flaws in the other programs. Film grain creeps in, in places, but it is hardly bothersome. Digital compression artifacts remain under the radar. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks are typical of television productions of decades past with limited fidelity. Dialogue is always fully intelligible, while the songs sound pleasant enough at average listening levels.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra featurettes: We Are Santaís Elves (profiles of Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass) and Stop Motion 101 (the Chiodo Brothers demonstrate how its done).
Iíve always been fond of THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS with the Snow Miser and Heat Miser songs getting stuck in my head for weeks after each viewing. Warnerís DVD looks great. If you donít already have it, youíll want to pick up the Deluxe Edition of THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS, or better yet, the CHRISTMAS TELEVISION FAVORITES collection, in which this program is also contained.
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