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Bill Melendez
Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Gail DeFaria, Lisa DeFaria, Glenn Mendelson
Writing Credits:
Charles M. Schulz

It sure is fun when Charlie Brown and his Peanuts pals get together for the big Halloween celebration. In fact, it's downright spooktacular in a feature whose bag of treats overflows with "charm, wit and wisdom" (Hollywood Reporter).

This Halloween is very special for good ol' Charlie Brown. He's finally been invited to a party! Snoopy gets to join the fun, so look out, Red Baron! Linus will find out once and for all if the Great Pumpkin will rise up out of his pumpkin patch "with his bag of toys for all the good children."

Nominated for an Emmy Award, It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is digitally mastered for excellent sound and picture quality.

Bonus Feature: You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown; The people have spoken (and Lucy's spoken even louder): you're out of the running, Charlie Brown. But can Linus win the class election? Seems so…until he talks about the Great Pumpkin. On election day, the vote is 83 to 83 and only one person has not yet voted: Linus's opponent!

Rated NR

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

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

• “You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown” Special


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It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 10, 2008)

Peanuts was arguably the best comic strip of all-time. Personally, I preferred Calvin and Hobbes, but I think Charles Schulz's creation gets the nod as the superior piece just because it was so original and ground-breaking. Calvin - and many other strips - never could have existed without the trail blazed by Peanuts.

Calvin also retired before it grew old, which wasn't so for Schulz's strip. Unfortunately, Peanuts went into a slow, long decline before Schulz finally pulled the plug in early 2000. I'm happy he did what he enjoyed for so long, but I must admit the continuation of the cartoon for so long after it became inane hurt its legacy with many folks. People who never witnessed prime Peanuts probably don't think it was a very good strip.

Find some compilation books – Fantagraphics is working on a terrific series to reproduce all Peanuts - and you'll discover the truth. Some of the high quality of classic Peanuts also comes through in a few of its animated TV specials.

The prime attraction here is It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, a fine program from 1966. Of all the many Peanuts specials, this one probably offers the most "laugh out loud" funny moments as it shows the crew's reactions to Halloween. The show lacks much of a coherent plot as it simply focuses on a few different aspects of the day, from costume creation to trick or treating to Linus' famed crusade to meet the Great Pumpkin. It's all clever and witty and makes for a very entertaining episode.

I also feel Pumpkin features one of the "Peanuts" series better vocal casts. A few years ago, I watched six of these specials back-to-back but this one came first, and I noticed that later Charlie Browns weren't nearly as strong as this show's Peter Robbins. He performed as Charlie Brown from 1965 through 1969 and remains the definitive voice for the part. Others have filled in effectively for the rest of the characters, but none of the subsequent Charlies seem to do the trick. A substantial portion of the show's laughs come from Robbins' line readings, and he helps make the program work even better than it would. Pumpkin remains among the very best Peanuts specials.

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

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown 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. Considering the source of this material - a TV broadcast older than I am – I expected little from this presentation but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the picture.

Sharpness generally appeared clear and crisp, though some mild softness interfered with the image from time to time. The show suffered from only mild instances of definition problems, as it usually looked fine. Moiré effects and jagged edges did not present concerns, and I noticed no edge enhancement.

In terms of source defects, it often became difficult to separate actual print flaws from sloppy clean-up animation. It became clear that most of the “defects” resulted from stray marks that didn’t get erased. However, I still noticed occasional specks, marks and dust. These were minor, at least. On the other hand, the show demonstrated a wobbly feel at times. A very distinct jitter affected the image at the two-minute, 55-second mark and lasted about two seconds. Minor frame jitter also occurred at times, but those instances lasted only a portion of a second and weren't as significant as the other event.

Colors were quite strong and pleasing, with nicely replicated hues throughout the show. All of the oranges and other tones were reproduced cleanly and accurately. Black levels also looked deep and rich, and shadow detail was just fine. The occasional softness and mild dirtiness of the print kept it from offering a really great image, but overall I was reasonably pleased by the appearance of this show.

Pumpkin also 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 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.

Only one extra appears here: 1972 special called You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown. You'll earn no bonus points for figuring out why Elected hit the airwaves in 1972, but in case you're not sure, it's because that was an election year. The program offers a mild satire of the ways of the politicos as Linus runs for class president. With Lucy as his campaign manager and Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Woodstock assisting, events are sure to be wacky.

And they are for the most part throughout this mildly entertaining special. Elected suffers slightly from its pairing with the superior Halloween show, but it nonetheless holds up fairly well on its own. The program deftly and subtly looks at the silliness of the electoral process and can be amusing and entertaining. As I earlier mentioned, this and all post-1969 Peanuts shows suffer somewhat from the lack of Peter Robbins as Charlie Brown, but it's still a pretty fun and effective special.

The third Peanuts special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown remains one of the best. It demonstrates many funny moments and entertains well through its short running time. The DVD provides decent picture and audio along with a good bonus program. This is a perfectly decent release for a classic holiday cartoon.

Note that this DVD also can be purchased in a boxed set called The Peanuts Classic Holiday Collection. That package also includes A Charlie Brown Christmas/It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving/The Mayflower Voyagers 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.

To rate this film visit the Deluxe Edition review of IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN

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