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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Bill Melendez
Cast:
Peter Robbins, Tracy Stratford, Christopher Shea, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Ann Altieri, Bill Melendez
Writing Credits:
Charles M. Schulz

Synopsis:
'Tis the season to be jolly, but Charlie Brown, feeling that the Christmas message is lost amid all the seasonal glitter, has the blues. Psychiatrist Lucy suggests a cure: get involved with the Christmas play! When our hapless hero sets out to find a Christmas tree to use as a stage prop, he unknowingly takes a step toward discovering the holiday's true meaning. The scraggly tree that thrives on a "little love" and a timely assist from Linus make the message of the season come shining through. Winner of the Emmy and Peabody awards, A Charlie Brown Christmas is digitally mastered for excellent sound and picture quality.

Bonus Feature: It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown; Snow on the ground, goodwill in the air and - good grief! - another Christmas play to perform! Have fun (and keep an eye out for a sidewalk Santa that looks suspiciously like a bearded beagle)!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 25 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 9/12/2000

Bonus:
• “It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown” Special


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 2, 2008)

And here's where it all began! Over the decades, more than 40 Peanuts TV specials and movies have appeared, but 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first. It remains arguably the best and it also deserves a spot as one of the all-time great Christmas programs.

Christmas takes a gentle and non-preachy look at the "real meaning" of the season. Even as long ago as 1965, the forces of commercialization had taken over the holiday, and this show makes a mild attempt to reclaim it for its actual purpose.

It's well-known that many folks get pretty depressed at the holidays, and Charlie Brown is no exception; the festive nature of the period shows him more clearly than ever the problems of his life. He takes on the job of director of a Christmas pageant to boost his emotions, but as with most of his undertakings, it goes awry. How he and the others deal with this is what adds the depth and spark to the production.

Christmas straddles the line between silly comedy and preachy "message piece". However, it does so quite cleanly and never falls too harshly into one category. Even when we hear Linus read from the Bible, the actions fit the tone of the program and don't become excessively dull or serious.

A Charlie Brown Christmas has endured this long for one reason: it's a very solid special that offers pretty much everything you'd want from a Christmas show. All that packed into 25 minutes makes it a taut and concise gem.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 47
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