A Charlie Brown Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer was inconsistent but acceptable for its age.
Sharpness was usually acceptably clear and crisp. Some mild softness interfered with the image from time to time, but not to a significant degree. Moiré effects and jagged edges did not present concerns, and I noticed no edge enhancement.
The source material showed ups and downs, as the print betrayed specks and a few blotches. I also detected more than a few "frame jumps", which showed jitter for a split-second at a time. Note that some of the flaws appeared to stem from sloppy animation, so I couldn’t blame all of the distractions on the transfer. Nonetheless, some better clean-up would make the image more satisfactory.
Colors were fairly strong and pleasing, with pretty good hues throughout the movie. The tones showed their own inconsistencies, especially in terms of flesh colors; those changed without much logic. Nonetheless, the colors were usually positive. Black levels also look deep and rich, and shadow detail was just fine. Overall, this was a watchable transfer but not a great one.
Christmas provided relatively satisfying monaural audio. Dialogue sounded clear and crisp, with no edginess or dull qualities. Effects were sporadic and cartoonish but seemed acceptably clean and accurate. Vince Guaraldi's music was fairly lively and even offered some mild bass at times. The overall production showed some thinness commonly found in recordings of the era, but I found it to provide pretty nice sound as a whole.
In terms of extras, we only find one. 1992's It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown offers a long-delayed sequel to the 1965 original. Wisely, it doesn't attempt to emulate that classic. Instead, it takes a looser and glibber look at the holiday through a series of minor vignettes.
In essence, Again feels sort of like a bunch of comic strips cobbled together into one piece. There's no coherent plot. We find various brief stories that are stuck together in a fairly smooth manner but which don't attempt any kind of overall message or tale; one minute we see Charlie Brown as he tries to sell wreaths, the next finds Snoopy as a street corner Santa.
It's all loose and semi-random but fairly fun. Clearly the show's lack of coherence makes it less memorable than the original special, but that doesn't mean it's not a lot of fun. Actually, Again may be one of the more amusing of the Peanuts specials, which surprises me given its recent vintage. Peanuts wasn’t very funny for the last decade or two, and I didn't expect much from a 1992 offering.
Despite that possibility, It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown functions as a nice complement to the earlier classic. It offers a fun experience that seems rewatchable and clever. The show probably would function best as a "warm-up" to A Charlie Brown Christmas, so you may want to view it first if you decide to take in both during one sitting.
While I also liked the It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown disc, this package probably offers the best of Peanuts shows. A Charlie Brown Christmas remains a classic after more than 40 years. Picture and audio are acceptable, and the bonus special gives us good entertainment. The biggest concern related to this DVD comes from its relatively high list price: the disc runs $19.95, which seems pretty steep for roughly 50 minutes of material. I enjoyed both specials but I'm not sure the content merits the cost.
Note that this DVD also can be purchased in a boxed set called The
Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection. That package also includes It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown/You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and it lists for $59.95. Yes, your math is correct: there's no discount for purchasing all three DVDs together, and the only bonus is that they come in a nice slipcase.