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Larry Leichliter
Wesley Singerman, Serena Berman, Corey Padnos, Megan Taylor Harvey, Chrystopher Ryan Johnson
Writing Credits:
Charles M. Schulz

Tis the season for the cheer and charm of the Peanuts kids - and this delight special offers five segments full of unforgettable moments. Snoopy works as a bell-ringer to raise money and tries making peace with the ferocious cat next door. Linus strives to strike the right tone in his letter to Santa - and his friendship with an indecisive girl at school. Sally's idea about gift giving and the identity of Santa may be unusual - but her strange notion about how to obtain a Christmas tree surprisingly does the job. Lucy tries awfully hard to be nice...and still coax everyone around her to buy her presents. Charlie Brown and Sally wait up for Santa (a surprisingly short man), who spreads Christmas gift cheer further than they had thought. Make merry!

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 18 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 10/5/2010

• “Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?” Special
• Trailers


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 22, 2009)

Since 1965’s Charlie Brown Christmas stands as a bona fide holiday classic, anytime the Peanuts characters appear in other Yuletide offerings, comparisons will occur. And the comparisons will probably be negative, as it’s awfully hard to compete with a gem like Charlie Brown Christmas.

But that doesn’t mean the folks behind the Peanuts franchise will rest on the earlier show’s 45-year-old laurels. In 1992, It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown provided a decent follow-up; it wasn’t as good as the 1965 show, of course, but it entertained.

The Peanuts squad revisited the holiday again with 2002’s Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales. Rather than attempt one narrative, it delivers five segments, each of which shows random Christmas-related antics of different characters. In order, we follow Snoopy, Linus, Sally, Lucy and Charlie Brown.

What do the characters do? Not much. Snoopy skates and plays “Santa Claws” on the street corner, while Linus writes a letter to Santa and tries to send a card to a weird female classmate. Sally seeks a Christmas tree, and Lucy tries to get presents. Charlie Brown just muddles along as usual.

All of which adds up to a pretty spotty program. Though it came out nearly three years after its death, the show lists a sole writing credit for Charles Schulz. I would suspect that the creators simply lifted a bunch of Peanuts gags and cobbled them into this piece.

This means intermittent entertainment – even in his later years, Schulz still managed some good jokes – but not much depth or coherence. I don’t expect the level of emotion conveyed by the original Charlie Brown Christmas, but something vaguely coherent would be nice. Christmastime Again managed to provide a reasonably enjoyable romp, whereas Tales is just scattershot.

And awfully short too. Yeah, that seems like an odd complaint: if I don’t think much of the show, why would I want it to be longer? It’s like the joke about the woman who says a restaurant has awful food; along with agreement, her companion adds “and such small portions, too!”

The difference is that with a little more time, Tales could’ve explored its ideas better. Instead, it falls short of 18 minutes, which makes it terribly brief. The program rushes through everything in such a manner that none of the bits has enough time to really attract our attention.

Ultimately, Tales delivers a mildly entertaining diversion, but it does no better than that. Though I enjoyed some of the bits, their brevity frustrated me, and the gags failed to form anything memorable. This is a lackluster attempt at holiday entertainment.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D+

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.909 Stars Number of Votes: 11
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