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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

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

Synopsis:
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.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Portuguese Monaural
Japanese Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Portuguese
Japanese
Thai
Korean
Chinese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
Japanese
Chinese
Korean
Portuguese
Spanish
Thai

Runtime: 25 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 9/2/2008

Bonus:
• “It’s Magic, Charlie Brown” Special
• “We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown” Featurette
• Previews


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.

RELATED REVIEWS


It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Deluxe Edition (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 fairly good quality of the picture.

Sharpness generally appeared clear and crisp, though some mild softness interfered with the image from time to time. Those issues were rare and not a significant concern. Moiré effects and jagged edges did not present problems, and the image lacked 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. I did think grain was a bit heavy at times, however, especially during the closing chat between Linus and Charlie Brown.

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 quite 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 perfectly acceptable sound.

How did the picture and audio of this 2008 “Deluxe Edition” compare to those of the original 2000 release? To be honest, both were pretty comparable. I noticed no changes in the audio of the two DVDs, and the visuals were usually similar as well. I thought the 2008 was a little tighter and it lacked the old one’s occasional jitter, but any improvements remained modest at best. The two transfers really looked and sounded a lot alike.

The main extra here comes from a 1981 special called It’s Magic, Charlie Brown. In this 24-minute and 15-second show, Snoopy reads a book about magic and turns into a magician called “The Great Houndini”. Yes, that’s a pretty bizarre concept, especially after the generally more grounded Pumpkin.

It’s also a pretty flimsy framework for a show, though it’s not like Pumpkin exists as more than an excuse for some Halloween-related gags. Nonetheless, there’s something more substantial to Pumpkin that doesn’t exist here. An invisible Charlie Brown prompts some laughs, but it doesn’t remotely compare with the better Peanuts specials.

Next we find a 13-minute and 55-second featurette entitled We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown. It provides remarks from former CBS programming executive Fred Silverman, producer Lee Mendelson, Peanuts historian Scott McGuire, director/animator Bill Melendez, Charles Schulz’s wife Jeannie and son Monte, and animation writer/historian Mark Evanier. “Blockbuster” looks at the first two Peanuts specials and how they led to Pumpkin. From there we hear about the story’s development, cast and performances, the music, art and animation, and some other show specifics.

My main complaint about “Blockbuster” stems from its brevity. It rips through the show’s creation in such rapid order that it doesn’t offer the depth we’d prefer, and it’s too bad the producers couldn’t offer some notes from the voice actors. Still, we find some nice details here along with more than a few good stories. It’s a short but enjoyable piece.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for the Rankin-Bass special Jack Frost, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. The disc also includes trailers for Wiggles: You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and Scooby-Doo And the Goblin King.

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 pretty nice picture and audio along with some minor extras. This is a perfectly decent release for a classic holiday cartoon.

If you don’t have the original 2000 DVD, I’d recommend you give this one a look. I’m not as sure that owners of the old release need to “double-dip” for this one. I think both offer pretty similar picture and audio, and the 2008 version’s new extras aren’t especially remarkable. I like this set but it doesn’t blow away its predecessor.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3225 Stars Number of Votes: 31
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