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Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Jimmy Durante, Billy De Wolfe, Jackie Vernon, Paul Frees, June Foray
Writing Credits:
Romeo Muller

A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman's magic hat.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Runtime: 25 min.
Price: $29.93
Available As Part of “The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collection”
Release Date: 9/8/2015

• “Frosty Returns” Special
• “Be An Artist and Create” Featurettes
• “Holiday Melody” Singalong
• “Frosty Snowflake Surprises” Featurette


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Frosty the Snowman: Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] (1969)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 25, 2015)

Although the public perception of 1969’s Frosty the Snowman places it in the category of “Christmas classic”, I think it falls into a second tier. The show displays some charm but lacks the quality necessary to be stronger than that.

Set on Christmas Eve, a school class receives “entertainment” from inept magician Professor Hinkle (voiced by Billy DeWolfe). When he tries to pull rabbit Hocus Pocus out of his hat, the gag doesn’t work and Hinkle decides to throw away his headwear.

Class lets out and the kids use the new Christmas snow to build a snowman they call “Frosty”. When Hocus Pocus flees Hinkle, he hops out in the discarded hat, and it ends up on Frosty’s head. Magically, this briefly brings the snowman to life, but when Hinkle sees the power of the hat, he reclaims it. The kids protest but he ignores them.

Hocus Pocus intervenes, however, and steals back the hat. He returns it to the kids and Frosty (Jackie Vernon) again comes to life.

After a few minutes of fun, Frosty runs into problems because the temperature starts to escalate. This means his imminent demise via melting, so young school kid Karen suggests they transport him somewhere colder, and they choose the North Pole. The rest of the show follows their attempts to keep Frosty frosty as well as Hinkle’s efforts to retrieve his hat.

The best parts of Frosty come from its voice artists. Both DeWolfe and Vernon offer lively takes on their characters. Their roles are the most interesting of the bunch, though the wacky Hocus Pocus also is fun and likable. Jimmy Durante’s narration offers quirky charm for that element. The young actor cast as Karen is neither good nor bad, but I suppose she does fine in the role. (June Foray originally played the voice, but along the line, the producers redid her voice with an unknown actual child.)

Actually, Karen is one of the show’s weaknesses. At best, she’s a bland personality, and at worst, she’s annoying. She comes across like a smug know-it-all. When we first meet her, she builds the snowman’s head, and she declares “The head is the most difficult part - ask anyone!” She seems like she’s full of herself and she doesn’t create a likable personality.

I didn’t think a lot of the animation or art of Frosty, though some parts work okay. The character design for roles like Hocus and Frosty seems good, but many of the participants have an unpleasantly crude look. The animation is stiff and awkward. It’s not worse than what we usually get for cheap TV specials, but it doesn’t look good in any case.

Too erratic to present a really great experience, Frosty the Snowman does impart some fun. Obviously folks like it since it continues to prosper after more than 45 years. I just don’t think it compares favorably with the best efforts in the genre.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Frosty the Snowman appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Nothing about the visuals excelled, but they seemed satisfactory given the show’s age and origins.

Sharpness mostly fared well. A little softness interfered at times, but not much. Instead, the program usually came across as acceptably concise and well-defined within the crude parameters of the original art. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to interfere, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws seemed absent. Outside of a little sloppy clean-up work, the project looked to be free from defects.

Colors didn’t dazzle, but they consistently looked respectable. The tones were basic but fairly bright and clear. Blacks were also more than satisfying, with dark and deep elements, and the occasional low-light shot was appropriately defined. The nature of the source meant it lacked much pep, but the end result seemed pretty positive.

To my surprise, the Blu-ray boasted a remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. To be honest, this seemed like an odd choice for a 46-year-old TV cartoon with monaural roots, but the 5.1 mix worked okay.

The soundscape remained modest in scope. Music showed decent spread across the front; I wouldn’t call it true stereo, but the score and songs blended well enough. Effects failed to add much; a few minor components like wind appeared to move across the front, but these elements essentially remained monaural.

Surround usage was negligible. I think the back speakers added mild reinforcement of music – maybe. Any material from the rear failed to make an impact; if the track used those channels, I couldn’t discern any obvious presence from them.

Speech lacked much naturalness, but the lines were acceptably concise and distinctive, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Effects sounded clean and accurate, though they also lacked range. The score failed to deliver much in the way of dynamics, but I still thought the music was adequate for an older show. I remain perplexed at the decision to create a 5.1 remix for Frosty, but the end result worked fine.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the prior DVD? Audio seemed a bit warmer and clearer, and the Blu-ray also gave us a 5.1 track instead of the DVD’s monaural. I prefer original mixes, but since the 5.1 track offered clearer audio and didn’t do much to violate the single-channel soundscape, I felt happy with it.

As for visuals, the Blu-ray offered mild improvements over the DVD. The Blu-ray seemed a bit better defined and more vivid. It also looked cleaner. The limitations of the source held back the Blu-ray, but it gave us the more satisfying Frosty.

When we shift to extras, the most substantial component presents 1992’s Frosty Returns special. It lasts 23 minutes, eight seconds as it tells the tale of unhappy Holly DeCarlo (Elizabeth Moss) and her friendship with Frosty (John Goodman).

The original special boasted a true sequel via 1976’s Frosty’s Winter Wonderland; Vernon reprised his title role there, and he’d also play Frosty once more with 1979’s AniMagic Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.

However, Returns doesn’t enjoy much of a connection to the 1969 show. Really, it’s closer to a Charlie Brown special, probably because director Bill Melendez helmed many examples of that franchise.

Surprisingly, Returns might be superior to the original. It shows more of a hipster attitude, with a form of humor that doesn’t appear in the original, and it offers a fairly similar plot.

What makes it better? The characters are better drawn and more likable, as sad, friendless Holly presents a substantially more endearing role than the smug Karen. John Goodman’s Frosty isn’t quite as good as Vernon’s, but he adds his own spark to the part. Add to that solid support from performers like Andrea Martin and Jan Hooks and Returns presents a surprisingly entertaining show.

Be An Artist and Create splits into three areas: “Frosty” (8:16), “Santa Claus’ (10:47) and “Crafts with Frosty” (6:51). In the first two, DreamWorks Animation Director of Character Art Joe Vance teaches us how to draw the 1969 Frosty and the Santa from 1970’s Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. For the final segment, Vance’s wife Joanie joins him to show how to make various arts and crafts. All three offer some fun material.

Under Magical Melody, we see a one-minute, 53-second singalong. Various tone-deaf children sing “Frosty” and invite us to croon with them. Have a blast!

Finally, Frosty Snowflake Surprises runs 19 minutes, 30 seconds. It mixes comments from kids about Frosty and related elements as well as production notes, connected factoids, and Frosty pencil tests. I could live without the Art Linkletter-style chats with the kids, but the rest of “Surprises” manages to offer decent details.

Frosty the Snowman endures as one of the more popular Christmas specials, but it’s not one of the best. It moves briskly and has some good moments. However, it suffers from a number of flaws that make it only moderately above average. The Blu-ray provides mostly positive picture and audio plus a few useful supplements. Frosty remains a spotty holiday show.

Note that you can find Frosty on Blu-ray in a couple of releases. The one I reviewed comes from a package called The Original Television Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition. That box packages Frosty/Frosty Returns with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, The Cricket on the Hearth, and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. With a list price under $30, it’s a good deal.

To rate this film, visit the DVD edition of FROSTY THE SNOWMAN

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