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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

'Hanna-Barbera Christmas Classics Collection:' Some of the Best Holiday Specials You Never Saw

The WB Archive Collection came through once again in releasing the DVD set of "Hanna Barbera Christmas Classics Collection" at a time in which world events, frantic holiday activity, and a stormy pattern over the northeast is contributing to some folks not minding so much if the Mayans are right about the world ending in a few days. These three specials provide a nice (and legal) mood elevator.

These three 30-minute cartoons were a nice treat last night, and tomorrow night's viewing will include the companion DVD set of "Rankin/Bass TV Holiday Favorites Collection." Friday's posting will report on that one.

Discovering the three Hanna-Barbera specials from my childhood that I do not recall watching during that period was a nice surprise. Another delight was hearing the voices of Elroy Jetson, Snagglepuss, and many other Hanna-Barbera classic characters coming out of new animated friends. 

The trademark elements of the perpetual loop backdrops that Hanna-Barbera particularly used in "The Flintstones" and the sound effects that children of the '70s will recognize from "Scooby-Doo" and similar classics added to the fun.

"A Christmas Story," not to be confused with the hilarious film that a Turner network station loops endlessly every year, tells the tale of Goober the dog and Gumdrop the mouse frantically searching for Santa on Christmas Eve to deliver the waylaid Christmas list of the boy of the house. This tale is a MUCH kinder and gentler version of the the plot of the "The Road to the North Pole" episode of "Family Guy in which a randy alcoholic pompous dog and maniacal foul-mouthed baby go in search of Saint Nick.

Goober, who bears absolutely no resemblance to the Hanna-Barbera paranormal investigator of the same name, is very similar to one of the canine detectives in Hanna-Barbera's mid-70s Saturday morning show "Clue Club." My Christmas wish is that WB Archive Collection release that one.

Goober and Gumdrop are quite entertaining, and the chase for Santa is more exciting than one would have thought. I especially liked the homage to "101 Dalmatians" by using a twilight bark (which has nothing to do with hairless sparkly vampires) like technique to track down Big Red.

The second offering is a faster-paced and more humor-oriented Dick Van Dyke narrated fable entitled "The Town Santa Forgot." This one revolves around a cartoonishly greed boy named Jeremy Creek who already has enough toys for 442 children but sends Santa a 1/2 mile long Christmas list. 

Jeremy's plan is foiled in a funny and kid-friendly manner, and everyone lives happily ever after. The outcome of that part of the story is somewhat predictable, but I missed the twist at the very end. However, I still do not always guess the correct villain on "Scooby-Doo."

"Casper's First Christmas" is the third offering. I anticipated this one the most, which may be why it is was a slight disappointment. The main story revolves around Casper the Friendly Ghost and his equally life-impaired companion Hairy Scarey facing the holiday season condemnation of the abandoned house in which they reside.

The classic Hanna-Barbera '60s cartoon characters, Yogi and BooBoo Bear, Quick Draw MacGraw, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, and Auggie and Doggie Daddy show up on Christmas Eve to take shelter after getting lost on their way to a ski lodge.

The main problem is that '60s gang simply is not very animated (pun 100-percent intended) and do not really reflect their individual characteristics. They honestly do not add anything to the otherwise decent Christmas tale about Hairy Scarey getting into the Christmas spirit. (Pun also intended.)

Anyone with questions or comments regarding this set is encouraged to email me. I will respond assuming that the world does not end.