The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner Bros. – 1965, 1966, 1973
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 75 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 1.37:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Tracy Stratford, Todd Barbee, Robin Kohn, Stephen Shea, Hilary Momberger, Christopher DeFaria, Jimmy Aherns, Robin Reed
Directed by: Bill Melendez
Music by: Vince Guaraldi
Written by: Charles Schultz
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 5, 2010
"A collection of Peanuts favorites just in time for the holidays"
A Charlie Brown Christmas: 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!
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown: Will this Halloween be the one when the Great Pumpkin comes? Longtime believer Linus thinks so - and keeps watch all night in the pumpkin patch to welcome him. Charlie Brown gets into the spooky spirit too, dressing up as a ghost with more eyeholes than needed - but not scaring up the usual kinds of Halloween loot when trick-or-treating. Never fear, World War I fighting ace Snoopy is here to battle the Red Baron - and in doing so, crash Violet's Halloween party and Linus' vigil as well. Your whole family will be glad it crashed this party - a beloved perennial boasting a new jack-o'-lantern glow in this Remastered Deluxe Edition with Improved Picture and Audio. Good grief, you can't help but have a happy Halloween!
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: The story begins when Peppermint Patty and a group of hungry pals show up at Charlie Brown's house. So where's the food, Chuck? It's Thanksgiving! They know Charlie Brown is too wishy-washy to refuse -- and, of course, they're right. With the help of Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock, good ol' Chuck prepares a feast the first Thanksgiving celebrants could never have imagined. There's fun food for everyone and lots of thankfulness, too.
I was thrilled when this Peanuts Holiday Collection arrived yesterday from Warner. The only title from this collection that I hadn’t previously received for review was It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. I will review them as a set and include some of my remarks from A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to coincide with It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.
(A Charlie Brown Christmas) 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.
(It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown) Next to A Charlie Brown Christmas my favorite Peanuts film from childhood was It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Everyone is outfitted in their costumes, ready for trick or treating followed by Violet’s Halloween party. Charlie Brown gets an unexpected invitation and dons his ghost costume (with way more eye holes than is necessary) which nets him a rock at every house they visit while trick or treating. We get to see Snoopy’s World War I flying ace tangle with the Red Baron before being shot down behind enemy lines in France. Linus anxiously awaits the mysterious Great Pumpkin and convinces Sally to blow off trick or treating in favor of waiting for its anticipated arrival. We all know where that got her.
(A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving) In this Emmy Award winning Peanuts classic Peppermint Patty invites herself to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. She soon calls him back and adds Franklin and Marcie to the guest list as well. The dilemma for Charlie Brown is that he is going to his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner but is too “wishy-washy” to tell Patty. Linus comes up the solution and suggests that Charlie Brown have a dinner for his friends earlier in the day before leaving for his grandmother’s. With help from Snoopy and Woodstock they put on a spread consisting of popcorn, buttered toast, pretzel sticks and jellybeans. Everyone arrives and sits down at the table. Linus speaks about the pilgrims and the origin of Thanksgiving. Dinner arrives and Patty is less than enthusiastic about the contents on her plate and lays into Chuck for the non-traditional offering. A dejected Charlie Brown leaves the table. Marcie reminds Patty that Thanksgiving is about being thankful and not just a meal. She sees the light and apologizes to Chuck. The day is saved when Charlie Brown’s grandmother invites everyone to come to her house for Thanksgiving dinner.
Sigh. I just love A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. When I was young the only time we were able to see classics like these were around the holidays when they came on TV. It has probably been forty years since I first saw them and I still enjoy them very much the same. Christmas marked 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 quite special. If you somehow missed them you were out of luck until next year although it was rarely a problem because there was always plenty of advanced notice. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving came along later and has a bit of a different feel than the first two. Christmas and The Great Pumpkin came out in the mid sixties and were voiced (with the exception of Lucy) by the same cast while Thanksgiving came along in 1973 and featured new voices and a slightly different look. What makes Thanksgiving special is that it is the first to come from an original script rather than initially appearing in the comic strip.
Producer Lee Mendelson nailed it when he called upon Vince Guaraldi to compose the music for the Charlie Brown specials. His jazz themed music plays as integral a role in each of them as the characters themselves. 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 well renown. Favorite moments from A Charlie Brown Christmas: 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. Favorite moments from It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown: Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football, “I got a rock”, Snoopy battles the Red Baron, Linus and Sally in the pumpkin patch. Favorite moments from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: the opening with Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football, Snoopy and Woodstock preparing dinner, Snoopy/Woodstock and the garage door and Snoopy battling the chair.
To say that these Charlie Brown TV serials are special would be an understatement. To those of us who grew up watching them I would say that it is a part of our culture. Watching now brings back warm nostalgic feelings from my childhood. I am thrilled that this collection 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.
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 Mbps.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 17 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
In looking at all three of these restored video presentations I would say that the quality, with a few minor differences, is essentially the same. I found It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown to be a little grainer and in a few instances innately softer than the others. Otherwise I would conclude that these presentations are easily the best that these films have ever looked or sounded. Here is a summary of my thoughts on the video and audio quality of all three:
These high definition presentations clearly represent these made for TV special in their finest light. The prints are in decent shape however there are visible specks and debris that pop up. I wouldn’t describe it as being overtly distracting but clearly visible. Resolution is very good 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. Other than a few noisy backgrounds I didn’t see any deleterious signs of compression related issues or video artifacts and was pleased with the overall quality of each of these video presentations.
I was happy to see the inclusion of lossless audio soundtracks on the two newer films although I found nothing inherently wrong with the lossy track on A Charlie Brown Christmas. Each of these 5.1channel audio mixes do a nice job of rendering the originally recorded elements present in these made for TV films. Dialogue is always clear and prominently delivered through the center channel speaker with the music score spread to the left right channels. In the case of Christmas and Thanksgiving this generates a fairly open front soundstage that compliments various sounds and voices. In the case of the Great Pumpkin I felt that the soundstage was a bit more withdrawn. 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. The end result in all three cases is a satisfying presentation that bests anything previously available on home video.
A Charlie Brown Christmas:
- 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)
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown:
- Behind the story: We need a blockbuster Charlie Brown! – 14 minute featurette
- (HD) Feature: “It’s magic Charlie Brown” – Bonus episode featuring Snoopy, magic, and a disappearing trick of epic proportions. - 24 minutes, 1080p @ 19 Mbps, DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio @ 3.4 Mbps –
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving:
- (HD) Feature: “Mayflower Voyagers” From the This is America, Charlie Brown Series - 24 minutes, 1080p @ 20 Mbps, DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio @ 3.3 Mbps
- Popcorn and jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving classic featurette – 12 minutes
- Bonus DVD of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
- Bonus DVD’s for: A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
It is a treat to see these beloved Peanuts TV Specials brought to high definition Blu-ray and available both separately and in this Deluxe Holiday Collection. I found the documentaries to be both informative/interesting as they included interviews with the original production team, Peanuts historians/aficionados, and cast members. The additional episodes (presented in high definition) and bonus DVD’s are welcomed additions that enhance this solid Blu-ray offering from Warner Home Video. None of these classic Peanuts films has ever looked or sounded better than this. If you don’t already own them this collection comes highly recommended. Enjoy!
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