Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales 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. Despite a few attractive shots, some major problems marred the presentation.
The main – and pretty much only – complaint related to jagged edges. Some shots looked smooth, but others displayed severe levels of jaggies. The image jumped around a lot, so even within the same scene, the edges would vary; sometimes they’d be smooth, but often they’d like absurdly rough.
Which was too bad, as without all the jaggies, the show would look good. Sharpness was positive -–well, except for those awful edges, that is. When not so serrated, the picture was concise and distinctive. I saw no shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. I also didn’t witness any source flaws.
Colors looked pretty good. The show went with the usual primary tones and made them seem bright and appealing. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows – which were rare – appeared fine. Though the transfer included many appealing aspects, the severe examples of jagged edges crippled it.
At least the stereo soundtrack of Tales was more consistent. Not that it excelled in any way, however. Music broadened gently to the side speakers and boasted decent stereo presence. Otherwise, this was a monaural piece. Dialogue stayed focused in the middle, and the occasional instances of effects seemed rooted there as well. The soundscape went with modest goals.
Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and natural, so don’t worry about edginess or other concerns. Music seemed warm and full, and effects were fine. The latter elements barely registered as a factor here, but I found no fault in their reproduction. Though nothing special, the soundtrack satisfied.
In terms of extras, we find a bonus program: Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? from 1983. The father of Lucy and Linus gets transferred, so they deal with issues related to their imminent departure.
While “Goodbye” doesn’t deliver a great special, it’s pretty good, and it’s certainly more interesting than Tales. It comes with a convincing melancholy tone as well as some enjoyable gags. Snoopy gets the best of those, such as his Freudian turn as the new therapist in town. Toss in some other nice bits – and a goofy Citizen Kane reference – and “Goodbye” entertains.
The disc opens with ads for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown. Under Trailers, we locate promos for Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and the “Peanuts 1970’s Collection”.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better animated holiday special than A Charlie Brown Christmas, but it wouldn’t take much effort to locate something stronger than the forgettable Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales. It delivers a brief, erratic piece with nothing more than minor entertainment value. The DVD offers flawed visuals, adequate audio and a pretty good bonus special. If you’re desperate for Peanuts holiday material, Tales will do, but I think you can find better fare.