Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The show offered pretty good visuals.
Sharpness didn’t excel, but it worked fine. The show exhibited a decent sense of accuracy and looked reasonably concise, with some scenes better than others.
One will definitely find more detail than ever, especially as the show progressed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes.
As with the sharpness, colors were good but unexceptional. The tones demonstrated reasonable distinctiveness and became satisfactory.
Blacks were acceptably deep, while the occasional low-light shots looked fairly clean and visible. Print flaws didn’t become a distraction. “B+” feels a little high for this presentation, but I can’t imagine it’ll ever look better so I went with that grade.
Though Rudolph came with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix, the results appeared to be extremely limited in scope. Honestly, the audio was “broad mono” at best. Elements spread in a loose manner to the side speakers but I noticed no stereo music or unique information in those channels.
In addition, the surrounds seemed to be passive. Any material that cropped up from the rear speakers was negligible at best. I don’t know why the disc’s producers bothered to create a 5.1 track for a monaural special from 1964, and the soundscape came with little to justify that remix.
Audio quality showed its age. Speech was consistently thin and could be somewhat edgy at times. Music lacked range and seemed tinny and harsh.
Effects showed similar tones, with mediocre clarity at best; distortion occasionally crept into the audio as well. A little background noise came through, but not much. I didn’t expect much from the audio of a 57-year-old TV special, but Rudolph nonetheless offered lackluster sound.
How does the 2018 Blu-ray compare to the prior BD from 2015? Both appeared to present the same lossless 5.1 remix – if they differed in any way, I didn’t notice it.
As for visuals, the 2018 Blu-ray seemed cleaner and a bit more vivid than the 2015 version. This never turned into a dazzling upgrade – mainly due to the limitations of the source – but the 2018 presentation offered the more satisfying image.
Note that the 2018 disc included the show’s original monaural audio, which the 2015 BD lacked. This appeared on the DVD from 2004, where the mono mix sounded edgy and thin.
Unfortunately, those issues continued with the DTS monaural audio of the 2018 Blu-ray. As lackluster as the 5.1 remix seemed, it provided superior clarity when compared to the flawed mono track.
The 2018 release opts for different extras than those found on the 2015 Blu-ray. A documentary called The Animagic World of Rankin/Bass runs 47 minutes and includes comments from animation historian Greg Evanier, filmmakers Henry Selick, Jon Favreau, Kevin Lima, Chris Butler, Graham Annable, Seamus Walsh, Mark Caballero, and Brenda Chapman, writer Allan Neuwirth, pop culture podcaster Adam Murdough, animation historians Jerry Beck and Greg Ehrbar, stop motion animation producers Stephen Chiodo, Charles Chiodo and Edward Chiodo, critic Will Friedwald and producer Lee Mendelson.
The special discusses the history of the Rankin/Bass partnership, aspects of various productions, and impressions of the shows. While we learn a bit about Rankin/Bass, most of “World” focuses on the participants’ appreciation for their work.
A little of this goes a long way. While we learn some decent notes about the different specials, too much of “World” just praises the productions, so it lacks as much substance as expected.
Restoring the Puppets spans three minutes, 40 seconds and includes info from Walsh, Caballero and Screen Novelties puppet designer Robin Walsh. They obtained some original Rudolph puppets and we hear about those and attempts to bring them back to their original appearance. This becomes a short but interesting reel.
Next comes Reimagining Rudolph in 4D, a 10-minute, 54-second featurette that offers notes from director Chel White, executive producer Ray Di Carlo and key animator Jerold Howard.
They give us notes about the 2016 “4D” updated version of Rudolph. We find some useful notes about the animation processes.
After this we see the full 10-minute, 51-second Rudolph 4D Attraction Film. Unfortunately, we don’t get it in 3D – much less with the added 4D effects, of course – but even as a 2D presentation, I like our chance to see this short modern-day adaptation of the 1964 special.
Finally, TEAM Rudolph and the Reindeer Games offers a cartoon version of a storybook. It goes for 13 minutes, 45 seconds and offers limited animation, with the focus on a narrator who reads the tale. It becomes a decent addition.
Probably the best Christmas special of them all, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer remains a lot of fun. It delivers its message in lively manner, with appropriate anger and a lot of quirky humor. The Blu-ray brings us generally positive picture along with lackluster audio and decent array of supplements. While I can’t say the Blu-ray impresses me, it’s the best version of the special to date, and I like Rudolph too much not to recommend it.
This “Deluxe Edition” of Rudolph can be purchased on its own or as part of a set called “The Original Christmas Specials”. Along with Rudolph, it includes Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, The Little Drummer Boy and Cricket on the Hearth.
To rate this film, visit the DVD edition of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER