Warner Bros. // 1965 // 150 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 22nd, 2010
Good Grief, Charlie Brown!
Celebrate the holidays with all three "Peanuts" holiday specials! In It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the aforementioned Mr. Brown is invited to a Halloween party (much to his shock and excitement) and Linus awaits the arrival of the fabled "Great Pumpkin" in the local pumpkin patch. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving finds Charlie Brown discovering the meaning behind the holiday, even if he hasn't got a clue how to make a proper Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, A Charlie Brown Christmas finds old Charlie Brown down in the dumps and contemplating the real meaning of the season. A wimpy little Christmas tree and a child's theatrical production later and the Peanuts gang realizes that gifts and lights are not the most important aspects of the holiday season.
Without sounding too clichéd, what can be said about the
"Peanuts" holiday specials that hasn't been said a million times
before? These are some of the most beloved TV specials ever. How many one-off
holiday cartoons can you count that are still around generations later? There is
a reason these specials have become perennial favorites: the creators decided to
give depth and weight to not just the characters but also the themes and ideas
behind each story. This is never more prominent than in A Charlie Brown
Christmas where Charlie Brown has to discover for himself the meaning of the
holiday. In fact, at the end of the episode Linus actually quotes from The
Bible...you know, the book that contains the story with the reason and
meaning behind the Christmas holiday. It's rare that a live-action
anything touches upon the story of Jesus Christ, and much rarer for a
kid's 'toon to do so. I truly believe that's one of the reasons this episode has
resonated with fans all over the world.
On the other end of the spectrum you have It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown which is far lighter in tone than the holiday episode. Even so, Schultz seems to be trying to say something about faith and what it means to believe in something, even when everyone around you thinks you're absolutely nuts (my favorite Linus quote: "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."). Charlie Brown seems especially downtrotten in this epsiode, finding only rocks in his candy bag and having the back of his head used for the model of how to make a jack-o-lantern. While there isn't as much to it as A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown stands as a wonderfully tight, amusing and nostalgic Halloween special.
Finally there is A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which I remember
seeing as a kid but don't feel as connected to as the other two Charlie Brown
shots. We get some iconic moments (Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football) and
some nice interaction between the always intrusive Peppermint Patty and Charlie
Brown. The impromptu meal at the end is kinda sortta-kinda funny (popcorn,
jellybeans and some toast) and the message -- that we should be thankful for
what we have, not what we want -- is never so overbearing as to become syrupy
sweet. Although it is my least favorite of the three, A Charlie Brown
Thanksgiving is still worth the watch.
Collectively all three of these TV specials are worth owning. Charles Schultz created endearing character in Charlie Brown, Snoopy and company, and kids of all ages will giggle and be moved by their fun and often moving exploits.
All three of these Deluxe Edition Blu-rays have been reviewed previously. To recap: all three of these films are presented in 1.37:1 full frame 1080p hi-definition. The transfers for all three films are very, very good if not great. There is only so much you can do with cartoons that are decades old. That being said, Warner has done a great job with these transfers featuring solid black levels and crisp, bright colors. The sound mixes are less impressive with Dolby Digital 5.1 for A Charlie Brown Christmas and DTS-HD Master Audio for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The mixes are good on their own and in relation to the source material, but don't expect a lot of dynamic surround sound range out of any of these mixes.
The extra features aren't bountiful, but what you do get should please fans. On A Charlie Brown Christmas there is a 16 minute 'making of' featurette titled "A Christmas Miracle" and a bonus TV special titled "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown" (in HD). It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown features a short making of supplement titled "We Need A Blockbuster, Charlie Brown" as well as well as a bonus TV special, 1981's "It's Magic, Charlie Brown!" includes a short featurette titled "Popcorn & Jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving Classic" and a bonus episode titled "Mayflower Voyagers." Finally each title includes a standard DVD copy as well.
You really can't go wrong with a Charlie Brown holiday special. Unless a pretty black haired girl in a blue dress asks you to kick around a football. In which case, politely decline.
Review content copyright © 2010 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus TV Specials
* DVD Copies
* IMDb: A Charlie Brown Christmas
* IMDb: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
* IMDb: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving