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Frosty’s Winter Wonderland

Rankin/Bass Productions (1976), Warner Home Video (October 4 2011), single disc, 25 minutes, 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Dolby Digital 1.0, Rated G, Retail: $19.98

Storyboard:

Frosty returns in the animated sequel to Frosty the Snowman with his wife Crystal, while Jack Frost grows jealous.

The Sweatbox Review:

When it comes to favorite Holiday characters, Frosty the Snowman ranks amongst one of the most beloved by children. The 1969 Rankin/Bass Christmas special, Frosty the Snowman, has become a perennial holiday favorite ever since its original television debut. Based on the hit Gene Autry and The Cass County Boys song of the same name, Frosty the Snowman tells the story of a snowman that comes to life after a magic hat is placed upon his head. Frosty then goes on to play with the local children and they have a great time before he has to go away. The television special was so successful that it spawned a sequel in 1976 called Frosty’s Winter Wonderland which has just been re-released by Warner Bros. on DVD in time for the Holidays.

In this sequel, Frosty keeps his promise from the end of the original special and returns to visit the children who originally created him. Frosty has been living in the North Pole during the warm spring and summer and decides it is time to return when he hears the first snow of the season is about to fall. Upon his arrival, the children are very excited and they have a great time playing in the snow. However, after overhearing the children having so much fun playing with Frosty, Jack Frost becomes jealous of all the attention he is getting. Jack sees winter as his time of the year, and vows to reclaim his rightful place in winter celebrations. In the meantime, the children realize that Frosty is getting lonely and together they create a snow wife for him called Crystal. At first she does not magically come back to life, but after Frosty gives her a bouquet of flowers, his gift stirs her to life. Jack Frost then decides that he will spoil all the celebrations by stealing Frosty’s magical hat and ruining his plans with Crystal. Without giving everything away, I think it is safe to say that the story ends well with all sides happy in the end.

As sequels go, what sets Winter Wonderland apart is the participation of some of the same people who worked on the original special. Both specials were written by Romeo Muller. While the new special was narrated by Andy Griffith instead of Jimmy Durant, two of the main voice actors from the original returned for the special. Jackie Vernon returned as the voice of Frosty, and veteran voice actor Paul Frees returned as the Policeman and as the voice for Jack Frost. Rounding out the cast was actress Shelley Winters who provided the voice for Crystal. The creators also included a classic tune to the show to make it memorable with the cast singing “Winter Wonderland”. The song is played at Frosty and Crystal’s wedding which is fitting given the lyrics to the tune.

Is This Thing Loaded?

The disc opens up with a trailer for a collection of Peanuts Holiday Specials and for How the Grinch Stole Christmas: 50th Birthday Deluxe Edition. In the Special Features section of the DVD are also trailers for Dolphin Tale and Santa’s Magical Stories.

The only real feature on this DVD is a featurette called “Frosty and the Story of the Snowman” (9:22). The featurette mostly consists of author Bob Eckstein (“The History of the Snowman”) talking about the origin of the snowman and how it evolved over time. He also goes into how Frosty became the iconic image of the classic snowman. Apparently, Frosty was quite the trendsetter and popularized the building of snowmen by children around the world (at least where there was snow). Sprinkled throughout the featurette are some great historical photos and footage of snowmen in history and film along with some trivia. While short, the featurette is entertaining and provides some interesting commentary on the history of snowmen.

Case Study:

The movie comes housed in a standard black DVD keepcase. The cover features Frosty’s face prominently with the rest of the cast featured on the back. Across the top of the cover is a red band that reads “Remastered” and “Deluxe Edition.”

Ink And Paint:

According to the cover, this is a “remastered” edition of the special. It is included here in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The quality of the print is okay given the age of the show, but I am not sure what “remastered” has anything to do with it.. The animation on the show is vibrant and features character designs that are very reminiscent of the original special. The movie has a total running time of 25 minutes.

Scratch Tracks:

The movie is being released here with English and Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 tracks. The sound quality is just okay, especially when you consider they are calling this a “Deluxe Edition.” English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also available.

Final Cut:

Frosty’s Winter Wonderland does not rank high on my list of favorite Christmas specials. In fact, I did not even remember it at first when I heard the name of the special. However, while watching it, I realized I had already seen it before. It is not as charming as the original special, although it does try to recreate the magic. The story is cute, but ultimately not very memorable. I liked the idea of having the song “Winter Wonderland” as the backdrop to Frosty’s wedding as it fits completely with the story being told. My least favorite part of the story is the Jack Frost portion. While he initially is labeled as the villain for the story, he is really ineffective and the story resolves his jealousness towards Frosty much too quickly. After the conflict is resolved halfway through the show, the plot keeps evolving into a completely different movie which almost made it seem like another sequel. While this kind of works on television where you have commercials breaking up the plot, it is a bit jarring to watch as one continuous show. It is not a bad special by any means, but just does not rank as one of the best.

Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?



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