'It's a Wonderful Life,' other Christmas flicks on Blu-ray, DVD
Posted November 18
As October rolled out, Christmas Blu-rays and DVDs began to show up, but, hey, November is soon enough to alert you to what’s out there for the upcoming holiday season.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: Platinum Anniversary Edition” (Paramount, 1946, two discs, original b/w and colorized versions, featurette, trailer, six art cards). This is one of those movies that just seems to get better with repeat viewings. James Stewart is perfect as hapless George Bailey, rescued from a suicide attempt by an angel (Henry Travers) and shown what life for those around him would have been like if he’d never been born. It is filled with loads of memorable scenes and quotable dialogue, with great performances from Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Gloria Grahame, etc. Frank Capra’s Christmas staple is now available in a brilliant Blu-ray 70th-anniversary reissue.
“The Andy Griffith Show: Christmas Special” (CBS/Paramount, 1960/1961, b/w and colorized, two episodes). Fans of this still funny and warm sitcom know that in its eight-year run there was only one Christmas episode, and that one is here, along with another about Aunt Bee’s homemade pickles being replaced with store-bought pickles, just before the county fair. Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Frances Bavier and future filmmaker Ron Howard star.
“Murdoch Mysteries: A Merry Murdoch Christmas” (Acorn, 2015, one episode, featurette). A wealthy philanthropist is found murdered while dressed as Santa, and all of his gifts for hospitalized children have been stolen. Murdoch investigates. This is a good holiday episode of the Canadian series, which is set in turn-of-the-century Toronto. Edward Asner guests as a man claiming to be Santa Claus.
“Shaun the Sheep: We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas” (Lionsgate, 2009-10, seven episodes, interactive game, singalong). The title episode leads things off, as the animals help the farmer feel less lonely by decorating his house on Christmas. Other episodes of this very funny, stop-motion animated series have various winter themes, from being snowed in to getting the best spot next to the fireplace.
“Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze” (Lionsgate, 2016, deleted scenes). The latest straight-to-video animated feature (45 minutes) in this franchise has wolf pups Stinky, Claudette and Runt, along with a sleepy bear cub and a feisty porcupine, heading into the woods to track down their parents, who have failed to show up for the holidays.
“A Very Nick Jr. Christmas” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2014-16, six episodes). These are holiday/winter episodes of the Nick Jr. animated series “Blaze and the Monster Machines,” “Shimmer and Shine,” “Dora and Friends,” “Bubble Guppies” and “Wallykazam!”
“Peppa Pig: Sun, Sea and Snow” (Fox/eOne, 2004-12, 12 episodes). Peppa, little brother George, and their Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig enjoy a ski day, a trip to the seashore, muddy puddle jumping, etc., in this British animated show for preschoolers.
“PAW Patrol: Pups Save Christmas” (Nickelodeon/Paramount, 2013-16, six episodes). Ryder and his rescue dogs do save Christmas, but they also save penguins and sports day, among other episodes of this Canadian animated series.
“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel’s Winter Wonderland” (PBS, 2013-16, four episodes). This animated spinoff of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” has a snow-day theme as Daniel and Miss Elaina learn to wear proper clothing and plan before heading out in the cold.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.