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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Melodrama > Dogs > Telefilm > Holiday > Comedy > Satire > Animation > Comic Strip > TV Specials > Depr > A Belle For Christmas (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/Cartoon Network Holiday Collection (2014/Warner DVD)/Frozen In Time (2014/Arc DVD)/Garfield Holiday Collection: Collector's Edition (1983 - 1994/Anderson DV

A Belle For Christmas (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)/Cartoon Network Holiday Collection (2014/Warner DVD)/Frozen In Time (2014/Arc DVD)/Garfield Holiday Collection: Collector's Edition (1983 - 1994/Anderson DVD)/Little House On The Prairie: A Merry Ingalls Christmas (1974, 1981/NBC/Lionsgate DVD)/Lost Christmas (2011/Inception DVD)/Pawn Stars: A Very Vegas Christmas Special (2014/History Channel/Lionsgate DVD)/Tickety Toc: Christmas Present Time (2014/Anchor Bay DVD)

Picture: C/C+/C+/C+/C+/C+/C+/C+ Sound: C+/C+/C+/C/C/C+/C/C+ Extras: D/C/D/C/D/C-/D/C Main Programs: D/C+/C/B/C/C+/C+/C+

Is it Ho! Ho! Ho! or No! No! Nooooooooo! for these first batch of holiday releases? Read on..

Jason Dallas' A Belle For Christmas (2014) is the big, boring lump of coal on this list, with everyone looking bored in a noring story with a boring script where even the animals wish they could could go to an Animal Friends shelter for the holiday instead of being nearly bored to death here. Dean Cain plays a father (very badly and boringly in a bad performance, even for him) who is a widower with two children. The holiday blues are making things worse, but the kids have something else in mind and then Kristy Swanson shows up.

Unfortunately, this is not a Buffy Christmas and Hayley Duff also shows up to weight down this dud. Note that only a dog is on the cover, thus this is such a yawner. Don't ringa this belle!

There are gratefully no extras.

The Cartoon Network Holiday Collection (2014) has four similarly themed episodes of three of the network's hot shows: Holly Jolly Secrets (Adventure Time in two parts), Regular Show: Christmas Special and The Amazing World Of Gumball: Christmas. These are amusing and this set also promotes the shows while showing their common denominators in humor and approach. You could do worse and it is not bad overall.

The only extras are bonus episodes of the Clarence (Money Broom Wizard) and Steven Universe (Together Breakfast) series.

Alec Leung's Frozen In Time (2014) is another CGI animated feature with children on a journey that lands up with themmeeting Santa Claus. Patty And Eric are stuck on the same day, Christmas Day, but need to figure out how to allow it to finish and have time move on. But how? This is at least amusing in its very short 46 minutes and the CGI is not bad, but there is only so much to this one and voices by Mira Sorvino, Ed Asner and perrennital new animted voice Drake Bell help. Just don't expect much and you'll likely get somehting out of it if interested.

There are no extras.

The Garfield Holiday Collection: Collector's Edition (1983 – 1994) is a new collection of five specials including three to cover Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which mighht be the first time they have been brought together. Phil Roman directed these handdrawn animated classics that hold up surprisingly well that also includes Garfield On The Town (1983) and Garfield In Paradise (1986). Creator Jim Davis was very hands-on here, Lorenzo Music (Rhoda) did the title cat's voice to perfection and Peanuts veterans Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson did the Town special and Mendelson also Executive Produced the later TV series. That did not hurt.

I like the use of color in these shows and other voice actors include Thom Huge, Gregg Berger, Pat Harrington Jr., Lindsay Workman, Allyce Beasley, Hal Smith, Wolfman Jack, Pat Carroll, David Lander and George Wendt are in great form throughout the shows they worked on. Though the CGI animated shows and two feature films are not bad, these are still the best Garfield shwos of all.

Extras include a set of stills, a trailer for Garfield Living Large and a vintage tour of Jim Davis' home for Garfield productions, et al, that lasts about 22 minutes.

Little House On The Prairie: A Merry Ingalls Christmas (1974, 1981) simply collects two similar shows, Christmas At Plum Creek and A Christmas They'll Never Forget, with nothing else. It is adequate at best and now that the first few seasons have been issued on Blu-ray, an odd afterthought. This only a sampler for fans and not much else. Otherwise, skip it.

There are no extras, unless you count digital copy, which we will not.

John Hay's Lost Christmas (2011) is our one feature film, made in England with an interesting, simple storyline that is a bit dark. A yong man hides his father's keys so he cannot go to work as a fireman, but the mother dirves him there with fatal results. A disaster, a stranger (Eddie Izzard) who seems ot know some secrets comes into the young man's life and tries to help him, but can he be trusted?

Jason Flemying and Geoffrey Palmer also show up in this quietly ambitious work that has some mixed results, but at least is serious about entertaining its audience and getting them to think and feel. It may not be a total success, but it is an honroable release when we get so many phony ones on the subject. See it for yourself to decide.

A trailer is the only extra.

Pawn Stars: A Very Vegas Christmas Special (2014) strings together two hour-long specials that don't always get shown, plus feature cast memebrs from the American Restoration and Counting Cars series. Though not as good as the season sets we have covered of any of those shows, it is a fair sampler of what we get in all of them and an American Restoration episodes rounds out the single.

There are no extras.

Tickety Toc: Christmas Present Time (2014) also involves clocks like Frozen In Time, but simply offers five similarly-themed episodes that fit nicely together (Christmas Present Time, Winter Time, Snow Time, Igloo Time & Leaf Sweeping Time) that children can enjoy. One of the better entries on the list, it is a good holiday release that will hold its own against most this season and mny from years past.

DVD-ROM accessible PDF Coloring & Activity Sheets, plus a surprise, iunlisted Welcome to Tickety Town full color booklet inside the DVD case are the extras.

Considering half-decent Blu-ray sets of Little House On The Prairie keep getting released by Lionsgate, you might think that the low-def 1.33 X 1 image on the two episodes on their holiday DVD would be the poorest performer or softest here, but color is more consistent than expected thoughh definition is a little weak, so it is a little surprising that the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Belle is the weakest of all 8 releases here. Soft and flat throughout, it looks weak and that is not form any holiday soft-styling, it is just a weak shoot.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Lost and anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the rest of the DVDs more than tie Prairie, though Garfield is interesting in being a little inconsistent and windowboxing its 1.33 X 1 color specials in the 16 X 9 frame (though the Thanksgiving presenation is more like 1.66 X 1) and we may get aliasing errors, but color is very consistent. Hope these come out on Blu-ray with older episodes at some point.

As for sound, the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Belle, Time and Lost may not be stunning, but have relatively the best sound of the releases on this list, joined by the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Network and Tickety. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Pawn is weaker than it should be, as well as the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in Prairie, which we expected to not perform well. They are joined by the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo & Mono on the various Garfield specials, a few of which are a little off and the On The Town special has music that is drowning out the dialogue a bit. Hope that gets fixed for Blu-ray.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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