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Site created 12/15/97.

reviews added: 10/19/00

Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection

review by Erin Lindsey of The Digital Bits

A Charlie Brown Christmas

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Film Ratings (all 3 discs): A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras - all 3 discs): A/B/C

A Charlie Brown Christmas / It's Christmas Time Again, Charlie Brown
1965/1992 (2000) Paramount

Specs and Features

25 mins (each), G, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (6 chapters for A Charlie Brown Christmas and 8 chapters for It's Christmastime Again), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown / You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown
1966/1972 (2000) Paramount

Specs and Features

25 mins (each), G, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (7 chapters for each short), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving / The Mayflower Voyagers
1973/1988 (2000) Paramount

Specs and Features

25 mins (each), G, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (6 chapters for each short), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection
Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection

With programs like That 70's Show already achieving cult status and reruns of Charlie's Angels on TV Land, I do believe I am in 70's heaven. This is almost as great as when KISS put their makeup back on... ummmm, sweet precious make up…arrrrrr. Anyway, I have no idea who these new shows are appealing to, other than people like me who live for nostalgia - especially the nostalgia that I surrounded myself with as a kid. So if you want, you can take your Dark Angel and Sabrina the Teenaged Witch (which missed a good opportunity by not being sixtified). I'm all about 70's memorabilia, and with so much of it in high gear, this is the right time to discuss Paramount's release of a DVD boxed set containing probably the three most popular Charlie Brown Specials ever made.

'Tis the season and nothing sells better than Charlie Brown at Christmas. Now... I may be offending some of you if I don't acknowledge that, although a couple of these shorts were released in the late sixties, I was alive in the seventies and that's when they showed them on TV the most (so please don't e-mail me correcting me about the proper time period they were released in, or I'll be forced to remind YOU of how old you are). I must say, sitting down and watching these discs all at once was like experiencing moments from my childhood that I'd shelved away in an old closet and forgot I had. I found that I remembered each one of these shorts so vividly. To give you all some perspective on how much I value these specials, I must compare these DVDs with the re-release of the Star Wars films. Even though they're not exactly what they were when you saw them the first time, they brought back all the same memories. That's the kind of journey that I had with Charlie Brown on these discs.

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

"Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."

Every Halloween, when I was little, I knew that after trick or treating, there was going to be something better than getting candy from strangers. While my Mom was checking the Halloween candy for razor blades, there was It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on TV. This being one of the first Charlie Brown specials I ever saw, it indeed became my favorite. And after all these years, I truly believe it's responsible for my great love of Halloween. It's probably the perfect Peanuts special, and includes all the old favorites required in every special. There's Lucy (pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown), Snoopy (kissing Lucy and thoroughly disgusting her), Charlie Brown (being in some way humiliated) and, of course, the real focus of this special, Linus (the philosophic, blanket-toting boy).

You remember the story. It's Halloween and the Peanuts gang are getting ready by carving pumpkins and making costumes (although the kids should have gotten a little bit of creative help - they're all ghosts except for Lucy, who dons a witches mask AND a sheet). This year, Linus tells all of his friends about the Great Pumpkin, who will fly over the pumpkin patch on Halloween with his big bag of toys and distribute them to all the good girls and boys (think Santa Claus, but instead of a belly like a bowl full of jelly, he's got a belly filled with pumpkin pie). Of course, they do what any good friends would do in this situation - they mock him and make fun of him. Unfazed, and full of faith, Linus goes off and waits in his pumpkin patch, thus providing us with the great message of the short - always believe in yourself, even if your friends don't (and especially if you are wrong). In-between Linus' waiting, we see luckless Charlie Brown struggling as usual, showing the world that ghosts have many eyes and there is such a thing as rock candy. Snoopy also puts in an appearance, as he does battle with the Red Baron in his flying ace duds. It's cute, it's sweet and it's the perfect Halloween special. Don't worry, Linus... I'll be there waiting with you in the pumpkin patch this year. Be good kiddies - the Great Pumpkin's a watchin'.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

"It's your fault, 'cause you're so wishy-washy."

We're having Thanksgiving dinner at Charlie Brown's house... or are we? Peppermint Patty thinks so when she invites herself, and a few of Chuck's closest friends, over for Thanksgiving dinner. There is only one small problem - Charlie Brown and little sister Sally (along with their imaginary parents) are going to their Grandmother's condo for dinner. Low and behold, Linus once again has the solution - have two dinners. They'll just have one earlier at Charlie's house before they go to their Grandma's. The problem there is, just like everything else Charlie Brown can't do, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he can't cook either. Never fear, the wonder team is here - Chef Snoopy, along with his trusty sidekick the little birdy, Woodstock, cooks up a feast of buttered toast, popcorn, pretzels, jellybeans and something for dessert with whipped cream and cherries on top. Mmm-mmm... that's my kind of Thanksgiving dinner (minus the dog hair). This is my favorite scene from all of the Charlie Brown shorts, as it seems to capture everything Snoopy is about. Ultra-cool under pressure, and yet there's a bit of humanity under all of that dog fur. Anyhow, Charlie Brown's visitors arrive and are none too thrilled with the cuisine, especially (wouldn't you know it) Peppermint Patty. Somehow, though, it all works out in the end for Chuck and his friends, as they all head to Grandma's house in a mysterious van driven by an unseen force. We also see Snoopy can cook more than toast and popcorn when, during the end credits, he and Woodstock chow down on another "little birdy" named turkey, complete with some pumpkin pie. You have to love a dog that doesn't do table scraps. This short also features more of the groovy sounds of Vince Guaraldi, who gave us the little ditty so many of us equate with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang (and who sounds suspiciously like the guy who sings School House Rock tunes in his loving tribute to Woodstock, Little Birdy).

A Charlie Brown Christmas

"Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest."

Deserving winner of an Emmy and The Peabody award - this short marks the first appearance of the Peanuts gang in a holiday special. The over-commercialization of Christmas has got Charlie Brown down, so he sets out to find the true meaning of the day. First, he seeks advice from the ever-popular shrink, Dr. Lucy. Once she gets her fee, Lucy suggests Charlie get involved with the Christmas play and Charlie Brown goes straight for the directing chair. After being frustrated with his method actors, who want to do their own thing, he seeks solace in prop shopping for a Christmas tree. Of course, Charlie Brown picks a tree after his own personality - frail and breakable. But all's well that ends well, as the group receives the tree and shows it a little love, causing it to bloom.

You know, I think I'd really like to see the Schultz people get with times and develop other holiday Peanuts classics. We should see It's the Spirit of Elijah, Charlie Brown, It's your Kwanza, Franklin or, my personal favorite, A Charlie Brown Visakha Bucha, where Linus will give us a run down of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha inspired by Charlie Brown's fostering of a bodhi tree. The bottom line here is that everyone deals with the over commercialization of the holidays, no matter what religion you are or what holiday you celebrate.

An added bonus to each disc in this set is a second (and slightly less popular) Charlie Brown episode. But it's Charlie Brown, so they can't be too bad. There's You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown on The Great Pumpkin disc, which is the best bonus on any of these three. Having premiered in 1972, it's got that old school Charlie Brown feel. After finding out that Charlie Brown could never possibly be elected student body president, Lucy throws her brother, Linus into the campaign ring. After much bullying by Lucy of the student body, she gets Linus elected, but he has a rude awakening in the end. Joe Cool special guest stars. On the Christmas disc, you have a sequel of sorts entitled It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown. They always say the sequel is never as good as the first and once again they're right. But hey - if you like 80's saxophone electronica mixed in with your Charlie Brown, then this one is for you. Although somehow still revolving around a Christmas play, this short lacks all of the luster found in the original. It's almost as if someone took a series of Sunday comic strips with a common Christmas theme and animated them. Were they trying to fool us with this one or was there just not enough time to come up with a real Christmas story? Finally, good grief, where are all my favorite Peanuts characters in funny situations? Not in this short, that's for sure. On the Thanksgiving disc, the gang is giving us a history lesson of sorts. The Mayflower Voyagers follows our beloved characters (plus some more talking adults) on the Mayflower as they journey straight to Plymouth Rock, cook up the first Thanksgiving with our Native American friends and try to be cute (and fail miserably). Watching this reminded me of the days of elementary school, where you were rewarded for good work by being forced to watch educational films. What a treat. Remember Donald's Math Magic Land? That sure ruined my love for math. I guess we can all be looking forward to the next Charlie Brown colonial release, It's the Salem Witch Trials, Charlie Brown.

Anyway, all three discs are done up in their original full frame television format and look really nice. There are a few moments of noticeable edge enhancement, but for the most part, it's limited to the credits and a few moments in the animation featuring kids with squiggly hair. It's not distracting at all. The colors are very well represented and the image is clean and clear. All the discs seem to have been cleaned up digitally, but you'll notice a few dust specks here and there. The sound is also very nice, giving us the music we all love and know by heart. It's presented in the original mono, but Dolby Digitalized and free of pops, hissing and jumps. The extras are light, aside from the additional short contained on each disc. We all know there's plenty that could go on these discs. But it's Paramount, and they did a pretty good job this time around. Hopefully, there will be more discs in the future and maybe more effort will be put into them.

So what's in store for our Peanuts gang now that Charles Shultz has gone to the great beyond? This year saw the release of It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown on DVD, following in the footsteps of some of those later Charlie Brown disappointments mentioned above. Not only does it not capture the magic of the earlier episodes, but it breaks a major Charlie Brown rule - the adults can speak actual words. And worse than that, their faces are seen. Oh my - if this is any indication of the future of the Peanuts gang, count me out! We also had recent news of ABC stealing the holiday specials from CBS. All I can say is, I hope they advertise and promote the hell out of them. They need to be seen by everyone, DVDs or no DVDs. Actually, there's something about seeing them the way we did as kids - on TV, artifacts and all. But thankfully, for longevity's sake, those of us with players can have them on DVD. Either way it goes down, we should all make these our own children's favorites. That's what the world needs - a little Charlie Brown now and then. I mean, after all... who couldn't identify with the Peanuts kids?

Does this release mean that we can expect more Charlie Brown? Oh please say so Paramount. If anybody from Paramount's Mt. Olympus is reading this, please tell me that you will bestow upon us other features like Be My Valentine Charlie Brown, It's the Easter Beagle and Happy New Year, Charlie Brown. Hell... if you release all the shorts from the 60's and 70's, I'd be happy. But the ultimate Snoopy dream is if the movies were released on DVD too. You know which ones I'm talking about - Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, Snoopy Come Home and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. So put your discs in and get out your bean bag chairs, you blockheads. Let's all hum along with that famous overture of piano and flute that so clearly defines Charlie Brown. Whonk-whonk-whonk-whonk-whonk-whonk!

Erin Lindsey

A Charlie Brown Christmas

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection

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