ITíS THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN
ITíS THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN is a childhood favorite, which Iíve watched 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 ITíS 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 usually leaves him alone in the pumpkin patch waiting for his toys, while everyone else spends the evening Trick Or Treating. However, this year Linus doesnít 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 ITíS THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN a very long time ago, there is something about the Charles M. Schulzís imaginative story and delightful characters that makes it appealing to all age groups. ITíS THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN features the vocal talents of Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Tracy Stratford, Kathy Steinberg and Bill Melendez.
In addition to ITíS THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN, the DVD includes the bonus feature ITíS MAGIC, CHARLIE BROWN, another half-hour special featuring the Peanuts gang. In ITíS MAGIC, CHARLIE BROWN, we taking the stage name The Great Houndini and performing a magic show that leaves his master in a less than tangible state.
A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING
A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING isnít quite the classic that the Peanuts Halloween and Christmas specials are, but it is definitely a holiday treat nonetheless. In this outing, Charlie Brown finds himself facing the Thanksgiving holiday with a number of uninvited guests, all thanks to Peppermint Patty, who takes advantage of "Chuckís" wishy-washy nature. Although Charlie Brown is set to have Thanksgiving dinner at his grandmotherís house, he tries his best to prepare a quick holiday feast with the aid of his dog Snoopy, his pal Linus and "little birdy" named Woodstock. Of course, toast and popcorn is no oneís 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 him 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 faÁade. Of course, that may just be my twisted mind working overtimeÖ
In addition to A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING, the DVD includes the bonus feature THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGES from the THIS IS AMERICA CHARLIE BROWN series. THE MAYFLOWER VOYAGES places the Peanuts gang in a recreation of the Pilgrimís 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.
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
In A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, we find the 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 commercialization. Charlie Brown visits Lucyís psychiatry stand for a nickelís 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 Christmas pageant. Of course, no one is willing to take direction form 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 isnít what any of his highly commercial friends would consider ideal. Eventually, everyone finds the true meaning of Christmas, after a few words of wisdom from Charlie Brownís pal Linus. Although produced in 1965, Charles M. Schulzís 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.
In addition to the main program, this DVD release also includes the bonus feature ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN. Produced in 1992, ITíS 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 ITíS 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 line in the schoolís holiday play.
Warner Home Video has made all the programs that comprise the PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION ($45) available on DVD in their original 4:3 full screen television ratios. All three of the main holiday specials have been given a significant upgrade in their visual quality over the previous DVD releases. Across the board, the image appears crisper and better defined. Colors are also significantly improved, coming across as less muddy with more appealing palettes. Blacks are stronger and the whites are more accurate. The elements from which the specials have been mastered appear relatively clean. The secondary programs also look quite good, but not always as good as the main attractions. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern.
All the programs featured in the PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION come with good quality Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. 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. The music usually sounds pleasant. Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese language tracks have also been encoded onto the DVDs, as have English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Thai subtitles. Note: Thanksgiving doesnít have a Spanish language track, while Christmas adds Chilean subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as Making-Of Featurettes for each of the main programs. A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS also includes a CD sampler.
The PEANUTS HOLIDAY COLLECTION is a must have for fans. The improved visual quality will make many of the die-hards, who already own the set, want to upgrade. Recommended.
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