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IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN is a childhood favorite, which I’ve watched repeatedly on television long into my adulthood. Based upon the Peanuts comic strip, created by Charles M. Schulz, this animated television special features Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Sally and Snoopy, who gather together to celebrate that wonderful childhood holiday- namely Halloween. The plot of IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN finds Linus at odds with the rest of the gang due to his belief in The Great Pumpkin, a creature that supposedly rises up out of the pumpkin patch every Halloween to bring toys to all of the good little girls and boys. Of course, no one but Linus believes in The Great Pumpkin, which always leaves him alone in the pumpkin patch waiting, while everyone else spends the evening Trick Or Treating. However, this year Linus doesn’t spend Halloween alone, thanks to one little girl, who is smitten with our blanket-carrying hero. While Linus does his thing in the pumpkin patch, Charlie Brown ends up screwing up his Halloween by making himself a ghost costume, which looks more like Swiss cheese than anything else.

Even though I should have out grown IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN a very long time ago, there is something about the Charles M. Schulz’s imaginative story and delightful characters that makes it appealing to all age groups. IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN features the vocal talents of Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Tracy Stratford, Kathy Steinberg and Bill Melendez.

In addition to IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN, the Blu-ray includes the bonus feature IT’S MAGIC, CHARLIE BROWN, another half-hour special featuring the Peanuts gang. In IT’S MAGIC, CHARLIE BROWN, Snoopy takes the stage name The Great Houndini and performs a magic show that accidentally leaves his master in a less than tangible state.


A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING isn’t quite the classic that the Peanuts Halloween and Christmas specials are, but it is definitely a holiday treat nonetheless. In this outing of the Charles M. Schulz characters, Charlie Brown finds himself facing the Thanksgiving holiday with a number of uninvited guests, all thanks to Peppermint Patty, who takes advantage of "Chuck’s" wishy-washy nature. Although Charlie Brown is set to have Thanksgiving dinner at his grandmother’s house, he tries his best to prepare a quick holiday feast with the aid of his dog Snoopy, his pal Linus and a "little birdy" named Woodstock. Of course, toast and popcorn is no one’s idea of holiday fare, but Charlie Brown does the best that he can. At the end of the program, when everyone else heads off to enjoy a proper Thanksgiving repast, Snoopy whips out a turkey dinner for himself and Woodstock to enjoy. Somehow, watching this "little birdy" enjoy his turkey, makes me think that their may be a bit of Hannibal Lecter hiding under that cute yellow façade. Of course, that may just be my twisted mind working overtime…

In addition to A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING, the Blu-ray includes the bonus feature THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGERS from the THIS IS AMERICA CHARLIE BROWN series. THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGERS places the Peanuts gang in a recreation of the Pilgrim’s journey to America, showing how they came to celebrate the first Thanksgiving with the Indians that helped them survive their first year in the new world. While containing all the important historic facts, this program is unusual since it depicts the Peanuts characters interacting with adult characters.


Of all my Christmas albums, the soundtrack to A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, featuring The Vince Guaraldi Trio, is probably my favorite. I guess watching A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS on television about thirty times, plus on DVD numerous times has burned that simple, but marvelous music into my brain. In addition to having the ability to listen to the music on CD, I can now watch A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS in high definition anytime I want thanks to a pretty terrific Blu-ray Disc release from Warner Home Video.

In A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, we find Charles M. Schulz classic Peanuts characters getting ready to celebrate the Yuletide season. Everyone is happily going about his or her business preparing for Christmas, all except Charlie Brown, who is somewhat depressed that the holiday has lost its meaning due to crass commercialization. Charlie Brown visits Lucy’s psychiatry stand for a nickel’s worth of advice, where she determines that our hero needs some seasonal involvement to overcome his holiday blahs. This leads to Charlie Brown being made the director of the annual Christmas pageant. Of course, no one is willing to take direction from someone as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown, so he ends up instead, having to secure a Christmas tree for the pageant. As one might expect, the tree that Charlie Brown selects isn’t what any of his highly commercial friends would consider ideal. Eventually, everyone finds the true meaning of Christmas… that is, after a few words of wisdom from Charlie Brown’s pal Linus. Although produced in 1965, Charles M. Schulz’s story has lost none of its relevance. In fact, the plot of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS seems to become more relevant with each passing year. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS features the vocal talents of Peter Robbins, Tracy Stratford, Christopher Shea, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Ann Altieri and Bill Melendez.

Like previous DVD editions, this Blu-ray release also includes the bonus feature IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN, which is also presented here for the first in high definition. Produced in 1992, IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN does have a lot of amusing moments, however it lacks that special magic that has made A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS a holiday favorite for over four decades. The plot of IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN still has our hero searching for the meaning of Christmas, while his sister Sally tries desperately to remember her single, one-word line in the school’s holiday play.

Warner Home Video has made all the programs that comprise the PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION available on Blu-ray Disc in their original 1.37:1 television aspect ratios, with the presentation having been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. All three animated programs come with very nice 1080p presentations, which are certain to delight fans, but are somewhat limited by their modest television special origins, which was never intended to view beyond standard definition. Never have any of the three specials appeared crisper, more precisely drawn or more vivid than they do in the PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION. However, I do have to mention that the flaws that were present in the original productions are more noticeable in high definition, but they don’t detract from one’s overall enjoyment of each of these beloved specials. Colors are quite vibrant on A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN, while A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING has a more pastel appearance. Across the board, Blacks appear inky, which enhances the sharpness of the animation, while the whites are stable. Contrast is very pleasing in each. As I mentioned, flaws in the original animation are noticeable, but were part of the original photography and are not age or transfer related. Grain is variable across the three primary programs ranging from modest to moderate. All three secondary programs have been given impressive upgraded to high definition.

IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN and A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks, while A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a Dolby Digital 2.0 192kbps soundtrack. Originating in monaural, IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN and A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING have been nicely re-purposed to the multi-channel format. Of course, the sound remains largely within the forward hemisphere, with mild stereo imaging. Despite the lossless encoding, the age of the recordings is undeniable and reproduces somewhat thinly. Most signs of background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up during the mastering process, so the sound is free of distortions. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. As for A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, the sound is competent, but unremarkable. Most signs of background hiss and other audible flaws have been cleaned up during the mastering process. Dialogue is clean and fully understandable. Fidelity has some age related limitations, but nothing beyond expectations. Personally, I wish they could have juiced up the music from The Vince Guaraldi Trio and offered it in a lossless encode, but as it stands the music sounds pleasant enough. IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN also contains a Spanish Dolby Digital monaural track, plus English, French and Spanish subtitles. A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING has English and Spanish subtitles. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS has English subtitles.

The interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras for each of the programs. We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown, a sixteen-minute look back at the production of IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN, also included is the afore mentioned IT’S MAGIC, CHARLIE BROWN. Popcorn & Jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving Classic, a twelve-minute look back at the production of A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING, also included is the afore mentioned THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGERS. A Christmas Miracle, a sixteen-minute look back at the production of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, also included is the afore mentioned IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN. A DVD and Digital Copy of each primary program is also provided. The PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION is available in two separate releases. The disc only version retails for $43, while an Ultimate Collector's Edition with extra swag retails for $70 and includes snowglobe lucite lenticular and window clings.

The PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION is a must have for fans. On Blu-ray, each program looks better than it ever has before. Recommended to fans transitioning to high definition.


Peanuts Holiday Collection (A Charlie Brown Christmas / It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown / A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving) [Blu-ray]

Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection (Ultimate Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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