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'Tis the Season for Holiday Videos

20 Oct, 2004 By: Meryl Schoenbaum

December's just around the corner, and along with enjoying their traditional holiday celebrations, customers will be coming to stores to get into the spirit by taking home the latest holiday videos for their families to enjoy.

Like snowflakes during a heavy snowfall, there's a seemingly endless rush of kid-friendly titles available to stock up on.

One of the most enduring and beloved holiday stories, The Nutcracker, comes to video in a new adaptation this season from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The Nutcracker and the Mouseking, streeting Oct. 19, is a full-length, animated production featuring voice talent from Leslie Nielsen, Fred Willard, Robert Hays and Eric Idle ($16.98 DVD, $12.98 VHS). Anchor Bay also has The Animated Passion, which tells the entire story of Christ's life, from Christmas through the Resurrection, and is geared for young children who may find Mel Gibson's big-screen rendering disturbing ($14.98 DVD, $12.98 VHS).

Perhaps the most famous animated character in the world, Mickey Mouse, joins his friends, including Donald Duck and Goofy, in an all-new Disney holiday story, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, a collection of five heartwarming tales streeting Nov. 9 ($29.99 DVD, $24.99 VHS). This marks the first time Disney is using just computer animation for its characters. The DVD also features Disney's FastPlay technology, which enables young children to load and watch the disc without needing to use the remote control. Disney has a holiday treat for little girls with Eloise at Christmastime, streeting Nov. 16. The story follows the precocious 6-year-old girl's adventures at New York's swanky Plaza Hotel ($24.99 DVD, $19.99 VHS).

For animation with attitude, that brat cat, Garfield, brings his mischievous sense of humor to the season in Garfield Holiday Celebrations from Fox Home Entertainment, which includes three 30-minute holiday TV specials, streeting Oct. 26 ($14.98 DVD).

Another famous feline, Felix the Cat, comes to the rescue courtesy of GoodTimes Entertainment in Felix the Cat Saves Christmas, available now ($14.95 DVD, $9.95 VHS). GoodTimes also has a newcomer on the holiday video circuit as a result of its recent collaboration with popular illustrator Mary Engelbreit, with the artist's first animated DVD based on her children's book, The Night Before Christmas. The book was a New York Times children's best seller for 11 weeks in 2002 and was the second-best-selling children's book in the country for holiday seasons 2002 and 2003. The DVD, which includes CG animation and targets kids ages 4 through 8, is available now ($14.95 DVD, $9.95 VHS).

Paramount Home Entertainment has new holiday offerings featuring some of kids' favorite characters, including Rugrats Holiday Celebration Gift Set, a two-disc set available now ($19.99 DVD). New entries streeting Oct. 26 are Dora the Explorer: Dora's Christmas ($16.99 DVD); Peanuts: I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown ($14.99 DVD); Max & Ruby: Max & Ruby's Christmas ($16.99 DVD); Cyberchase: Starlight Night ($16.99 DVD); and Boohbah: Snowman ($16.99 DVD).

Chanukah gets a humorous sci-fi spin from SISU Home Entertainment in Chanukah on Planet Matzah Ball, which was nationally broadcast on PBS during Chanukah 2003 and is scheduled to air again during the holiday this year ($18.95 DVD or VHS). Also from SISU is There's No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein ($19.95 VHS only) and Shalom Sesame: Chanukah, featuring the “Sesame Street” characters and cast as they celebrate the Jewish holiday in Israel ($16.95 VHS only).

MGM Home Entertainment offers four new DVD holiday gift sets Nov. 16. Each set includes three family classics priced at $24.98. For example, The Christmas Fare DVD Gift Set includes Prancer, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Also from MGM on DVD for the first time comes the holiday classic Babes in Toyland, streeting Nov. 2 ($14.95).

Warner Home Video debuts What's New Scooby-Doo? Vol. 4: Merry Scary Holiday ($19.97 DVD, $14.94 VHS); Nine Dog Christmas ($19.97 DVD, $14.94 VHS); and Cartoon Network Christmas: Yuletide Follies ($14.97 DVD), a compilation of nine Cartoon Network episodes.

For preschoolers who want to get into the spirit with music, there's Santa's Rockin'! from Hit Entertainment, featuring The Wiggles singing a mix of classic and new Christmas songs ($16.99 DVD, $14.95 VHS). Singer John Fogerty and Barry Williams of “The Brady Bunch” are guests.

Young children will also be dancing to holiday tunes in Raggs Kids Club Band Holiday Jam, Rockin' the Rockies from Raggs LLC ($12.95 DVD, $9.95 VHS).

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