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Winstar Home Video presents
Anne Murray's Classic Christmas (1995)

"May your days be cheery and bright / And may all your Christmases be white."
- Anne Murray

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: September 17, 2000

Stars: Anne Murray, Elvis Stojko
Other Stars: Roch Voisine, Barenaked Ladies
Director: David Storey

Manufacturer: Nimbus
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (no objectionable content)
Run Time: 00h:46m:28s
Release Date: November 24, 1998
UPC: 720917302027
Genre: holiday


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- B-D+B- D

DVD Review

Anne Murray's Christmas Special was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the 1995 holiday season, featuring Nova Scotia's famous chanteuse hosting and performing a number of Christmas tunes. Her guests include other famous Canadians—Olympic skater Elvis Stojko, alternative band Barenaked Ladies, Canadian pop singer Roch Voisine—and her own talented family. Songs include Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, O Holy Night and other favorites, as well as Rita McNeil's contemporary Christmas Is Coming (mistitled and miscredited as Roch Voisine's work on the DVD package copy.)

The program suffers from the usual shortcomings common to Christmas specials—we know most of these songs by heart, and it's often more fun to sing them ourselves than to watch someone else do so. The show is also visually uninventive, full of generic Christmas trees, "snow"-covered studio sets, and cheerlessly flaming hearths—there's not much to look at, just different camera angles of the performers which soon grow repetitive. Ms. Murray seems uncomfortable in her role as hostess—her scripted banter is stilted and sometimes painfully unfunny, and she too frequently ignores her guests while seeking the safety of the teleprompter. The show's range is also limited by its intended audience and ostensibly sacred material; even the often-irreverent Barenaked Ladies are reduced to mild jokes and a conventional presentation.

On the other hand, there are some appealing performances here—Elvis Stojko skates gracefully to Murray's O Holy Night and has fun with a dynamic approach to Elvis Presley's Santa Claus is Back in Town, and the Barenaked Ladies seem genuinely thrilled to be sharing the stage with a "big star." Ms. Murray retains her musical chops and delivers cheerful (though sometimes empty) renditions of holiday favorites, and she seems to enjoy singing with her husband, son and daughter during the show's final numbers. There's an intimate, small-scale flavor to the special that works well, without any overblown trappings to interfere with the simple pleasures of the material. I think the appeal of this title will depend largely on one's interest in Anne Murray and fondness for Christmas music. There's nothing new here, but nothing terribly wrong either.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Anne Murray's Classic Christmas is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio as broadcast on Canadian television. The DVD transfer is taken from a videotape master, with significant scan-line artifacting (visible "stairstepping" in some scenes) and some color bleeding and smearing. The image is soft throughout, with distracting edge enhancement (although hair and fabric detail is passable) and the end credit roll appears to be mis-interlaced somehow as it races by. Even considering the shot-on-video source, this is a marginal transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: D+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: WinStar presents Anne Murray's Christmas in a Dolby Digital 2.0 format, though no Surround activity is present. The soundtrack is largely centered in character, with a faint echo of the music audible in the left and right speakers (possibly a side effect of Dolby ProLogic encoding rather than an intentional effect) and weak bass. The digital audio transfer fares pretty well compared to the video, generally clean and comprehensible, and in-studio "live" recordings are well-engineered, though several numbers are presented "music video" style with a disappointing lip-synched feel. Perfectly passable audio for the holiday season, but not an enveloping or exciting soundtrack by any means.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Anne Murray Discography
  2. Production Credits
Extras Review: Anne Murray's Classic Christmas features the usual minimal WinStar supplements—a mere 6 chapter stops (albeit with full-motion menus); a screen of Production Credits (for the CBC TV special, not the DVD itself); a well-written Biography of Ms. Murray (eight screens of text); and a comprehensive Discography. Nothing to shout about, but a sufficient set of extras for this lightweight music title; the only major flaw is the lack of song-specific chapter stops.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Anne Murray's Christmas Special should please Anne Murray fans, though most will find it generic holiday fare. WinStar's DVD transfer is just passable, with mediocre video quality, but the disc should serve well as "background" material for those inclined to leave the DVD player running while opening presents and such. If you see a gaping hole in your DVD collection where a Christmas special belongs, you might want to check this title out; I hesitate to recommend it, but I may be low on Christmas spirit at this September writing.

 


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