“No more nice. Now you’ll get ice!”
Cartoon Network has long been known for putting out holiday-themed collections. And their latest, Cartoon Network Holiday Collection, offers up a sampling of shows both old and new. This collection is a great example of counter programming. While traditionalists may veer towards Charlie Brown and Frosty for their holiday animation cravings, those who want to subvert the norm will find this assortment to be fulfilling. Fair warning: there is some cartoon violence so parents should be aware. This isn’t all carol singing and messages of peace on earth. But that’s hardly a surprise for those familiar with Cartoon Network. If you know and love Cartoon Network, chances are good those feelings will translate to this offering.
* Adventure Time “Holly Jolly Secrets Part I and Part II” — When Finn (Jeremy Shada) and Jake (John DiMaggio) find a bunch of VHS tapes containing recordings by the Ice King (Tom Kenny) they become determined to discover the evil secrets they are sure lurk within.
* Regular Show “The Christmas Special” — Mordecai (J.G. Quintel) and Rigby (William Salyers) must grant Santa’s (Ed Asner) dying wish: to destroy a Christmas gift created by dark magic.
* The Amazing World of Gumball “Christmas” — When Gumball’s dad (Dan Russell) runs over a homeless man who then awakens with amnesia, Gumball (Logan Grove) and Darwin (Kwesi Boakye) become determined to help the man remember who they think he really is: Santa Claus.
A familiarity with the shows contained within will definitely heighten your enjoyment, though to be fair that familiarity may prove a double-edged sword as well. None of the episodes are making their debut — instead they have been part of the pantheon for a while, in some cases years. So devoted fans will have definitely seen these offerings and that may dissuade a purchase. If you’re a casual or even rare viewer you may find yourself especially tickled by these episodes as no prior knowledge is essential to understand the stories or characters.
Cartoon Network Holiday Collection does a nice job assembling a variety of episodes. My only qualm is wishing there was more to watch here. The entire runtime including bonus episodes runs less than an hour and a half. Perfect for someone with a short attention span, while annoying for someone who wants to feel as though they are getting a good value. Depending on where you fall on the spectrum a purchase may seem essential or passable.
The 1.78:1 transfer is free from any technical glitches. In fact, it’s clear enough I have to wonder how much better a Blu-ray could possibly be. It seems as though this transfer hasn’t left much room for improvement. The audio track is a bit more disappointing, as it’s only a Dolby Digital 2.0. While serviceable, you’d like to have a richer soundscape than the one provided when the episodes contain songs.
The lone special feature is a couple of bonus episodes, one from the show Clarence (“Money Broom Wizard”) and one from the show Steven Universe (“Together Breakfast”). Neither one has anything to do with Christmas or even winter, but rather serve as introductions to the series in question.
Cartoon Network Holiday Collection could be just the ticket for those looking outside the traditional box for their animation needs. It’s a bit irreverent and at times downright silly but harmless. I may want there to be more here, but I am happy with what I get to watch. Unless you already picked up a Chia Pet, you may want to add this to your list of stocking stuffers.