Correct me if I’m wrong, and I’m not, but by my count there are only two Rankin/Bass Christmas specials not yet available on video. The last few years have been kind to us RB enthusiasts as we’ve slowly been able to make our way down the checklist. Not every special has gotten it’s own DVD release but we’ve been lucky enough to see some of the more obscure specials partnered up with the headliners as bonus features.
There are a number of other RB specials not in print right now but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick with the Christmas-themed shows. You can’t find these specials on an officially licensed and in-print video anywhere (bootlegs can be found at various places & prices). These prints aren’t “lost”, Warner Bros. owns them and they air every year on ABC Family but yet there’s no DVD/Blu-ray release to be found. As the Backstreet Boys once said — tell me why.
The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow (1975)
This one airs EVERY year on ABC Family yet Warner won’t release it on DVD for some stupid reason. If they’re willing to release stuff like Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey as a bonus feature for a DVD, they can at least make The First Christmas a bonus feature as well!
Narrated by Angela Lansbury, the story isn’t about the literal first Christmas (or the literal first Christmas snow for that matter) but about a Christmas pageant at an orphanage and a young blind boy by the name of Lucas. Is it a classic? No, but it is done in the usual heartwarming Rankin/Bass “animagic” way. Probably one of the better obscure Rankin/Bass specials.
The Little Drummer Boy, Book II (1976)
I’m sure I saw this once or twice when I was a kid, but honestly, I don’t remember it. All I know is it’s a Rankin-Bass Christmas special so I want it !! The story has Aaron, the Little Drummer Boy himself, teaming up with one of the Three Wise Men in order to retrieve some silver bells from corrupt Roman soldiers. Sounds like a good plot for an action thriller, right?
In rotation during the holidays at ABC Family and it was actually (mistakenly?) advertised in 2008 to be a part of Warner’s “Classic Christmas Favorites” DVD box set but never showed up on disc. Since then, there has been no talk of a DVD release. Thanks, Warner Bros.
Hopefully next year both of these specials will get some kind of release. If Warner doesn’t want to worry about putting the time and effort into getting these video onto the shelve, they could offer them up on their Warner Archives site (DVD-on-demand — you order it, they put it on disc for you) like they did for Yogi’s First Christmas last year.