The Santa Clause: Special Edition (1994)

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Released 27-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-So You Wanna Be An Elf?
Game-Santa's Helper
Featurette-Making Santa Snacks With Wolfgang Puck
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 93:09
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Pasquin
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Tim Allen
Judge Reinhold
Wendy Crewson
Peter Boyle
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Michael Convertino

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian Titling
German Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film was released in R4 in 2000 and, as can be seen in this review of that disc, it was released in 1.33:1 pan and scan. This release is headlined as a special edition. It is in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced and there are a couple of small special features, but nothing that I would say justified the special edition tag.

    Ok, I admit it, I am one of the TV generation. I grew up glued to the box and the only way I knew what time of year it was depended on what was on TV. As we approached the end of December certain shows and movies came on to tell me it was Christmas. The great stop frame movies like The Little Drummer Boy and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer were at the top of the list, along with movies such as Miracle on 34th Street, Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus and one of the many fine versions of A Christmas Carol. I have noticed that very sadly in recent years few of these appear on TV anymore and thus Christmas is a little less than it was.

    In 1994, a new film joined this illustrious crowd in helping to bring Christmas cheer into your home. Both very funny and heart warming, and with Tim Allen in the lead role, I am talking about The Santa Clause. I love all of Tim Allen's work. He is a great comic, and films such as Galaxy Quest and this film are now amongst my firm favourites. If they ever decide to bring out Home Improvement on DVD I suspect there may well be a very long list of reviewers queuing up to get their hands on that title.

    The Santa Clause is a very clever film and the fun starts right at the beginning with the title. Santa Claus becomes Santa Clause, and what a difference an 'e' makes (just like that other famous letter, the i (iota) in homoousian and homoiousian). In this case, it changes a name into a legally binding contract, one with magical enforcement.

    Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, an executive working for a toy manufacturing company. He is divorced and has one child, a son called Charlie. His son is spending Christmas night with him and things are not going well. With the Christmas dinner reduced to charcoal they end up in a restaurant. After returning home and going to bed they are awoken by strange noises on the roof. Scott runs outside and discovers a man in a red suit on his roof. When he shouts at the man he slips and falls off the roof onto the ground. Scott's son comes out and accuses Scott of having killed Santa. While looking for identification on the body, Scott discovers a card with instructions to take over the job of delivering the toys. Scott and his son end up delivering the toys and then arrive at the North Pole where everyone tells Scott he is Santa. A little confused by the whole episode, they bed down for some sleep but wake up back in their own beds back at home. Was everything last night just a dream? Charlie's Mum and her new partner (a psychiatrist), are not impressed that Scott has been filling Charlie's head with fairy tales. As the next Christmas nears, there are problems between Charlie's Mum and Scott as she thinks he is nuts, particularly as Scott starts to look like Santa. Only Charlie still believes in Santa, and Scott as Santa, and sticks by these beliefs to help save Christmas.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     Overall, this is not a bad transfer but I don't think that things have improved from the first release other than the aspect ratio.

    Presented at 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this is the theatrical release aspect ratio.

    Sharpness is not great but nothing too drastic is wrong. The transfer is a little disappointing if blown up to home theatre size. Shadow detail is acceptable and there is no low level noise. Overall luminance is down a little but again only slightly.

    There are lots of colours with good saturation but again sometimes just a little flat looking. We are spoiled these days with pin sharp, perfectly balanced transfers so that anything more than a few years old does suffer by comparison.

    There are no MPEG artefacts and only some minor aliasing in busy scenes. There were no film to video artefacts and only minor film artefacts These consist of some grain and the occasional fleck or spot.

    Subtitles are easy to read and accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc with the mildly distracting layer change at 62:57.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    While there is nothing spectacular about this audio track, it does work well for the film and has some good ambience.

    There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on this disc; English, Italian and German, all at 384 kbps.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.

    Christmas music abounds with guest appearances by many of the favourites.

    The surrounds contain mostly ambience and the music but there is the occasional split rear effect.

    The subwoofer supported the soundtrack and would have been missed if it was turned off, but did not draw undue attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    After the selection page for language we are presented with a computer generated 3D menu with the snow ball from the movie. There is an uncredited special feature on the left where you select a snow flake and press Enter which stirs up the snow in the snow ball. Presented at 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced, the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Featurette: So You Wanna be an Elf (6:31)

    A children's version of a quick making of, the kind that Disney used to produce. A combination of how to be an elf along with Bernard talking about the film being made but still mixed with the fantasy of the film - the elves are real and recruited for the film and so on. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Game: Santa's Helper

    A silly game where you watch Santa in sleigh flying over a town. Obstacles appear in front requiring you to select up or down on the arrow keys or Enter to drop a present. You can only select the control when a present appears in the bottom left of the screen and you only have a split second to react. A slightly slow remote will make this game unplayable.

Making Santa Snacks With Wolfgang

    Wolfgang Puck is a famous celebrity chef in the US. Here he helps a group of elves to make three different Christmas food items; Wolfgang Puck's Pizza (7:13), Christmas Cookies (4:42) and Hot Chocolate (3:48). Each segment is a typical TV cooking segment but with a focus on the kids with cute graphics and Wolfgang doing a great job with the kids (elves). It's a little American, but not too bad. The recipes are also given on some text pages along with a conversion page for the measurements to metric. All the segments are presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Looks like we slide in second to R1 yet again. This time, the difference is not nearly so pronounced but it is still a little bit of a disappointment.


    For kids and the young at heart, this film has lots of Christmas cheer. Even though it follows the old, old recipe of setup, problem and then happy resolution, Tim Allen carries the part off perfectly.

    The video is good.

    The audio is OK.

    The extras are a nice small inclusion.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Friday, December 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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