The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner Bros. - 1965
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 25 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 1.37:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Violet, Sally, Pig Pen, and Snoopy
Directed by: Bill Melendez
Music by: Vince Guaraldi
Written by: Charles Schultz
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 6, 2009
"Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer...."
Christmas lights may be twinkling red and green, but Charlie Brown has the Yuletide blues. To get in the holiday spirit, he takes Lucy's advice and directs the Christmas play. And what's a Christmas play without a Christmas tree? But everyone makes fun of the short, spindly nevergreen Charlie Brown brings back - until the real meaning of Christmas works its magic once again in this Remastered Deluxe Edition with Improved Picture and Audio. Happy Holidays!
The holidays just wouldn't be the same without Charlie Brown's bittersweet story about his trying to find the true meaning of Christmas. First broadcast in 1965, the timeless A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special instantly became a critical and commercial success. Winning an Emmy and Peabody Award this classic follows Charlie Brown as he suffers from a case of the holiday blues after he realizes how commercial Christmas has become. While visiting Lucy at her psychiatric booth, she advises he direct the school's Nativity play as a means to cope with his frustration. When he arrives at rehearsals, he's further aggravated when all the kids want to do is modernize the play. Charlie Brown remains steadfast in keeping the play traditional. The gang decides to include a Christmas tree as a way to capture more of the holiday spirit however Charlie Brown opts to pick up a short, spindly tree, which prompts criticism from everyone when he returns. As he begins to second guess himself, Linus saves the moment when he takes the spotlight, recites verses describing the Nativity and effortlessly manages to capture the true essence of the holiday.
Sigh. I just love A Charlie Brown Christmas. When I was young the only time we were able to see classics like this were around the holidays when they came on TV. If you somehow missed it you were out of luck until next year. It was rarely a problem because there was always plenty of advanced notice. Of all the wonderful yearly classics this is one that we never missed. The advent of home video changed all of that. I don't want to say that made it less special but kids growing up in the age of home video don't understand the excitement/anticipation of waiting each year to see The wizard of Oz, West Side Story, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer or A Charlie Brown Christmas. It has probably been forty years since I first saw it and I still enjoy it very much the same. This was the first time creator Charles Sparky Schultz's Peanuts characters were animated and brought to life. Voiced by children, most of whom were not professional actors, the outcome worked marvelously. Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown) and Tracy Stratford (Lucy) were the only experienced members of the cast however they all added something that made it special. Personally, my favorites are Chris Shea (Linus) and Kathy Steinberg (Sally). Producer Lee Mendelson nailed it when he called upon Vince Guaraldi to compose the music for the special. His jazz themed score plays as integral a role in the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas as do its characters. His Linus & Lucy (you know, the theme) is as catchy as catch can and is a piece that is not only identified with Peanuts but is renown. I don't know about you but after watching the special I always find myself whistling or humming it or the beautiful Christmas time is here. Favorite moments; the group dance onstage (yeah the kid with shoulder shrug move), Linus' moment in the spotlight onstage, Lucy and Schroeder, Lucy and Snoopy, the group sing in the finale. To say that A Charlie Brown Christmas is special would be an understatement. To those of us who grew up watching it I would say that it is a part of our culture. Watching it now brings back warm nostalgic feelings from my childhood. I am thrilled that it has been released in high definition on Blu-ray Disc.
This program is appropriate for all ages.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
A Charlie Brown Christmas comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 mbps and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio that has a constant bitrate of 640 kbps.
This presentation clearly represents this made for TV special in its finest light and looks great. The print is decent shape however there are visible specks and debris that pop up. It didn't reach a point where I found it overtly distracting. Resolution is excellent as the video is rendered with discernible clarity and stable sharpness. The range of colors retains the Crayola crayon style palette that is distinctly Peanuts. They don't appear strikingly vivid but balance and definition is spot on. Blacks, such as those found in Charlie Browns pants/yellow shirt striping, Lucy's hair, or Snoopy's spots aren't infinitely deep but look appreciably dark next to the lighter elements onscreen. I didn't see any obvious signs of compression related noise or video artifacts. I was very pleased with the overall quality of this video presentation. I wasn't happy to see the exclusion of a lossless audio option however like the video presentation I believe that this 5.1 channel mix presents this TV special in its finest light. Dialogue is prominently delivered through the center channel speaker with the music score spread to the left right channels. This generates a fairly open front soundstage that compliments the dated elements in the recording. The rear channels contain ambient information that is bled from the front channels which consists primarily of music but some of the dialogue is mixed in at times which enhances perception. Dynamics aren't especially noteworthy but the Jazzy music score sounds silky smooth and wonderfully airy. Like the video I found this 5.1 channel surround mix very pleasing.
- A Christmas miracle: The making of A Charlie Brown Christmas - 16 minute documentary
- (HD) Bonus Episode: It's Christmas again Charlie Brown - 1992 TV Special (23 minutes)
- Trailer: Classic Christmas favorites - DVD collection
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc - A standard definition version of A Charlie Brown Christmas that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable media playback device
It is a treat to see this beloved TV Special that is so near and dear to many brought to high definition Blu-ray. The included making of documentary which features vintage photographs and interviews with producer Lee Mendelson, director Bill Melendez and Peanuts historians/aficionados is both informative and interesting. The bonus Christmas episode (presented in high definition) and digital copy are welcomed additions as well. A Charlie Brown Christmas has never looked or sounded better than this and comes highly recommended as your next Blu-ray purchase. Enjoy!
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package