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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 has burned that simple, but marvelous music into my brain. In addition to having the music on CD, I can now watch A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS ($20) on DVD anytime I want thanks to the fine folks at Paramount Home Entertainment.

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 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 three 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.

Paramount Home Entertainment has nicely transcribed A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS to the DVD format. Image quality is quite good on this decades old television production, which appears to have been given a bit of digital restoration for its presentation on DVD. Almost all age related makings have been eliminated from the picture, plus there is almost no perceivable film grain to be seen. Colors seem stronger than the have in the past, so they too may have received a bit of help within the digital domain. Overall, this presentation is very pleasing; with A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS looking better than it has during its annual run on broadcast television. ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN also delivers pleasing image quality, but then again, this program is less than a decade old. There are no signs of digital compression artifacts on either program. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack for A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS does have some of the frequency limitations one would associate with a television production of this type. However, the classic music by The Vince Guaraldi Trio sounds pretty darn good when amplified. Additionally, dialogue is cleanly reproduced, without any signs of distortion. ITíS CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN CHARLIE BROWN doesnít have any appreciable sonic flaws. Through the basic interactive menus, one has a choice of program, as well as scene access within each. English subtitles can also be accessed through the menu system.

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is a must own holiday classic made even more collectable by Paramount Home Entertainmentís fine DVD presentation.

Note: In addition to the individual release, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is available as part of the Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection ($60), which also includes IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN and A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING.





 A Charlie Brown Christmas

Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 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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