Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it showed its age, the show offered pretty good visuals.
Sharpness didn’t excel, but it rarely faltered. The show exhibited a decent sense of accuracy and looked reasonably concise. Nothing appeared razor-sharp, but nothing looked fuzzy, either. 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. Occasional examples of marks and spots showed up, but these were minor, and I believe they came from the source. I suspect the “flaws” stemmed from lackluster clean-up of the original product, so the transfer appeared to eliminate actual print damage. In the end, this wasn’t an impressive presentation, but it became a satisfactory reproduction of the program.
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 50-year-old TV special, but Rudolph nonetheless offered lackluster sound.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the prior DVD from 2004? Audio showed minor improvements. I thought the lossless DTS-HD MA mix was a wee bit clearer, but not much. Both DVD and BD sounded thin and harsh, and the so-called 5.1 reworking was pointless.
The image offered more obvious improvements. The Blu-ray offered better definition, stronger colors and a cleaner image. Even with the limitations I saw, the Blu-ray became the superior presentation.
The Blu-ray opts for different extras than those found on the 2004 DVD. Rudolph Pop-Up Book runs two minutes, 48 seconds and offers a brief recap of the special’s story in a format that resembles a pop-up book. It’s painless but unnecessary.
Next we find Sing-Alongs for two songs: “Holly Jolly” (1:22) and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (0:53). These mix shots from the show with the songs and lyrics. They seem semi-pointless – can’t we already sing along with the songs during the special?
After a one-minute, 14-second intro, Learn to Draw breaks into three tutorials: “Rudolph” (11:14), “Hermey” (11:32) and “Abominable Snow Monster” (9:25). In these, DreamWorks Animation Head of Character Animation Dave Burgess teaches us how to sketch those personalities. This becomes a fun little enterprise.
Finally, Rudolph Unwrapped lasts 16 minutes, 42 seconds and gives us 50 factoids about the special. These offer interesting little tidbits.
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 minor 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.
Note that you can find Rudolph 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 Rudolph with Frosty the Snowman, Frosty Returns, 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 RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER