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Published: Wednesday, 12/8/2010

Is updating your holiday collection necessary?

Should fans of the classic TV Christmas specials upgrade to Blu-ray or simply stick with the DVDs they have? Should fans of the classic TV Christmas specials upgrade to Blu-ray or simply stick with the DVDs they have?
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Sorry, Bill. To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question -- at least, for every Blu-ray owner.

The holidays only exacerbate that 4-year-old dilemma with multiple releases of new-to-Blu-ray fare.

One such offering is The Original Christmas Classics by ClassicMedia, which features three beloved holiday TV staples: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and Frosty the Snowman.

Let's dispense with the story synopses and assume most anyone reading this review doesn't possess a heart three sizes too small and has indeed watched these Christmas specials at least once in the last 40 or more years during their annual network TV appearance.

Many have invested in the DVD versions of these classics. But is it necessary, then, to upgrade to high definition to get the most out of your holiday viewing?

Yes and no.

Yes, buy the set if you crave the best-possible picture. Just realize that by "best-possible picture" you're also seeing the flaws and imperfections of jerky Rankin-Bass claymation enhanced at 1080p. Do you really need to see the wires used to make an elf leap? Hopefully not. That said, it is kind of fun, for instance, at the beginning of Rudolph to fully read the newspaper clippings heralding the worst winter blizzard in decades, which nearly canceled Christmas.

This set also is for those who haven't bought the movies and have grown tired of watching them live on TV or are negligent in setting their DVRs.

Otherwise, those who own DVD copies of these shows are better off skipping this three-disc set.

You're missing nothing in the way of extras, other than the bonus special Frosty Returns, a 1992 Lorne Michaels-produced update with John Goodman as the snowman, and featuring the voices of Jonathan Winters, Andrea Martin, Jan Hooks, and Brian Doyle-Murray.

There's a reason it never became a holiday must-see.

The set also comes with a CD featuring a small collection of favorite Christmas songs. All this for $30 to $45.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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