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Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, Chip 'N Dale
Writing Credits:

Celebrate the season with classic holiday stories full of humor and heart! In "The Small One," a young boy discovers the true spirit of the season when he gives his beloved donkey to a very special passenger on a very special night. Then laughs light up the house when Pluto discovers Chip 'n' Dale living inside "Pluto's Christmas Tree." And in "Mickey's Christmas Carol," everybody's favorite mouse and a host of other Disney favorites present their delightful and uplifting adaptation of Dickens' beloved Christmas tale. Your whole family will love every minute of this classic collection of heartwarming holiday stories!

Rated NR

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Monaural
French Monaural

Runtime: 58 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 9/27/2005

• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Classic Holiday Stories: Walt Disney Classic Cartoon Favorites (Volume IX) (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 6, 2005)

Disney aims their “Treasures” collections at the serious fans and shoots for more casual admirers with shorter, cheaper compilation packages like this one: Classic Holiday Favorites. This one follows a Christmas theme via its three components.

The fans who bought all the “Treasures” will already own most of these shorts via a combination of sets. “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” and “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” both come from Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume 2 and Mickey’s Magical Christmas. This makes “The Small One” currently exclusive to this package. It may turn up on a later “Treasures” package, though since it doesn’t star one of the main Disney characters like Mickey, Donald or Goofy, this is questionable.

For each short, I’ll offer the following information: the year in which it was produced and its director. I’ll also provide a quick synopsis of the cartoon plus my number grade for each one done on a scale of 1 to 10.

The Small One (1978, D. Bluth): A boy (voiced by Sean Marshall) cares for an old, undersized donkey called “Small One”. When the kid’s dad (Olan Soule) decides Small One can’t carry his own weight anymore, he decrees that the donkey must be sold. The boy takes Small One into town to find a buyer.

It’s odd to see such obvious religious content in a Disney short. Granted, we don’t get this material until the very end; you get one guess who buys Small One, as this person’s identity comes as no surprise. The religious elements remain understated, at least, and this ends up as a reasonably warm and charming short. 7/10.

Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952, J. Hannah): Mickey brings back a Christmas tree with two inhabitants: Chip ‘n Dale. Pluto doesn’t cotton to their presence in his abode, and he wreaks gentle havoc as he attempts to evict them from the home. This program has gotten a great deal of exposure in the past, so it may look familiar. It’s a good little clip but not anything terribly special. 7/10.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983, B. Mattinson): The program casts Disney favorites in the main roles, with Scrooge McDuck logically put in the lead as Ebenezer Scrooge. Mickey himself plays Bob Cratchit, while Donald Duck portrays Scrooge’s nephew Fred. Goofy comes back as the ghostly Jacob Marley, while Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant, and Pete all perform as various Christmas ghosts.

There’s nothing new on display here, but the retelling of the classic works reasonably well. The program zips through the tale awfully quickly, and that leaves little room for nuance or detail. Nonetheless, our collective exposure to the story over the years helps fill in the gaps, and the brevity means that it becomes more suitable to shortened kiddie attention spans. Overall, “Carol” isn’t a classic but it’s an entertaining version of the narrative. 7/10.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Classic Holiday Favorites appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Unfortunately, I believe that only “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” appears in its original aspect ratio. “Christmas Carol” is 1.78:1 on Living Color but not here. In addition, I found no concrete information about the original dimensions of “Small One”, but it sure looked like a pan and scan job; some scenes showed obvious cropping and changes.

The quality of the shorts varied. “Small One” looked worst. It displayed acceptable definition, though it occasionally became a bit soft. Blacks were light and the cartoon appeared a little bright. Colors sometimes were bright and lively, but they also looked washed-out for some segments. Though not overwhelming, a mix of specks and marks showed up throughout the piece. This was a watchable transfer but an erratic one.

“Tree” looked great except for source flaws. Small specks and dust were obvious through much of the short. Otherwise, it was terrific, especially in regard to colors. The hues really popped off the screen and looked dynamic.

“Carol” was fine. It showed the fewest source flaws, as only a couple of marks appeared. Colors were subdued but solid, and definition also seemed good. A little softness occurred, but nothing too serious marred the presentation. Ultimately, I balanced out these various elements and thought the package deserved a “B-“ for picture.

When it came to the audio, both “Small One” and “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” offered monaural tracks. Both were perfectly adequate. Speech sounded acceptably concise and natural, with no edginess or other flaws. Effects could be slightly screechy but usually seemed clear and accurate. Music favored the high-end but also showed reasonable depth. Neither excelled in the auditory category, but both were fine.

The more modern “Carol” gave us a Dolby Surround 2.0 mix. It offered a pretty restricted soundfield. It broadened out for some mild stereo imaging of the music, and occasional effects also cropped up from the sides. The surrounds lightly reinforced the material as well. Nonetheless, this was a limited track that didn’t present much spread.

The quality of the short seemed fine. “Carol” sounded a bit wan, admittedly, especially via some lackluster speech; the lines were intelligible but somewhat thin. The rest of “Carol” also presented moderate accuracy but could be a bit flat. At least it sounded better than the other two, and I thought the set deserved another “B-“.

When we look at supplements, we get virtually nothing. A mix of ads appear under the Sneak Peeks banner. This area includes trailers for Lady and the Tramp, Kronk’s New Groove, Tarzan, Chicken Little, Old Yeller, Toy Story, Disney’s Timeless Tales, and Kermit the Frog’s 50th Anniversary.

Usually my recommendations for these Disney compilations follow the same pattern: I say that casual fans should grab them but serious aficionados should skip them and get the “Treasures” collections instead. The content of Classic Holiday Favorites complicates matters. It’s still a good buy for the casual fans, but die-hards will probably want to get it as well. They’ll already have two of the three shorts, but they’ll desire the exclusive “The Small One”. Since I don’t know when – or if – it’ll appear on a “Treasures” release, you may want to grab it here.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7142 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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