IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN: “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.”
A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING: “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a good but not great “Peanuts” special. It provides some fun but doesn't quite live up to the heights of better shows.”
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS: “A Charlie Brown Christmas remains a classic after 45 years.”
The Deluxe Holiday Collection Ultimate Collector’s Edition:
With this review, I’ll take an overall look at the six-disc “Deluxe Peanuts Holiday Collection Ultimate Collector’s Edition”. This awkwardly titled release includes Blu-ray/DVD combo packs for three holiday specials: 1966’s It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, 1973’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Because I already reviewed all three individually, I saw no reason to cut and paste those comments here. If you want to read the full reviews, go to the links provided above. As the brief notes indicate, I like all three programs; even the weakest remains entertaining.
As for the quality of the discs, that’s an issue. In terms of the Blu-rays/DVDs, the UCE includes the same versions available on their own. The grades I list offer an average of the marks for the individual releases. All three shows look pretty good, so I’m happy with the visuals. However, the three Blu-rays come only with multichannel remixes and lack the programs’ original monaural audio. These new mixes are fairly feeble and not as appealing as the mono tracks.
Which we can hear on the included DVDs, and that’s the rub. Do you go with the superior Blu-ray visuals or the better audio on the DVDs? I suppose it’s nice that this set includes both Blu-ray and DVD so you can decide for yourself, but I remain disappointed that I need to choose; the Blu-rays easily could’ve included the mono tracks and been the best of both worlds.
In terms of extras, obviously the various discs replicate the supplements found on the individual releases. Each special comes with a related animated special and a behind the scenes featurette. Again, for details, please consult the original reviews. I will say that 1992’s It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown - the companion to Charlie Brown Christmas - is the best of the three bonus shows; it’s not the equal of its predecessor, but it’s fun. 1981’s It’s Magic, Charlie Brown - paired with Pumpkin - is decent but forgettable, while 1988’s The Mayflower Voyagers - the partner of Thanksgiving - provides a somber dud.
As for the behind the scenes featurettes, all three are good. They’re too brief, but they throw in a lot of interesting details and document the various specials in a reasonably satisfying manner.
If you just want the three Blu-ray/DVD combo packs, you can buy the “Deluxe Peanuts Holiday Collection” in a basic six-disc package that retails for $42.98. If you opt for this $69.98 Ultimate Collector’s Edition, you get some non-disc-based components.
First we find three Peanuts Holiday Window Clings. Each window cling is about the size of my hand, and each of the three represents a different holiday. Halloween shows a Vampire Snoopy on a Jack O Lantern, Thanksgiving features a scarecrow Snoopy, and Christmas presents festive Charlie Brown and Snoopy. These are actually pretty nice little decorations that you can slap up to help commemorate the various holidays.
We also get a Snowglobe Lucite Lenticular. This takes a lenticular image and places it between two snowglobe-shaped pieces of lucite. If you shift the position of the item, you can see three different cartoon images from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s cute but nothing special, and the fact that magnets hold together the two pieces of lucite seems cheap; it’s too easy to “break” the item and it just feels unstable.
As TV specials, all three of the programs in the “Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection Ultimate Collector’s Edition” are enjoyable. They’ve entertained viewers for many decades and seem likely to continue to do so in the future.
As a release, however, this isn’t quite “ultimate”. The Blu-rays themselves suffer from flawed audio, which leaves the included DVDs as the preferred editions. I like the two non-disc-based components exclusive to the UCE, but given that they add $27 to the set’s list price, I’m not sure they warrant the additional cost; they’re cool but not that cool.
As I survey the available versions of these three specials as of mid-November 2010, I’d recommend the six-disc Blu-ray/DVD “Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection” as the most bang for the buck. No, I don’t like the remixed audio of the Blu-rays, but that package also includes the DVDs that I prefer, so you’re set either way. You can buy just the DVDs in their own “Holiday Collection”, but that lists for only $3 less than the Blu-ray set; for an extra three bucks, you might as well get the Blu-rays, too, and decide for yourself what you think of them versus the DVDs.
Don’t get me wrong: I think the UCE is a nice package. I’ve seen some crummy non-disc bonus materials in other UCEs, so I was reasonably pleased with the materials found here. I simply think this set is too costly for what you get. If you can locate it for a reasonable price, though, go for it. Otherwise, opt for the cheapest package that nets you what you want.