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

"On Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises out of his pumpkin patch and flies through the air with his bag of toys for all the children."
- Linus van Pelt (Christopher Shea)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 25, 2000

Stars: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Kathy Steinberg, Tracy Stratford
Other Stars: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Bill Melendez, Karen Mendelson, Geoffrey Ornstein
Director: Bill Melendez

Manufacturer: PDSC
MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 00h:25m:27s
Release Date: September 11, 2000
UPC: 097361561141
Genre: family


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB+A- C

DVD Review

I'm sure Charles M. Schulz had no idea when he drafted his first four panel comic strip in 1950 that 50 years later his work would be translated into 21 languages and be published in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries. Originally titled L'il Folks in its single panel form, the United Feature Syndicate changed the name to Peanuts (a name which Schulz disliked) after signing Schulz to a five year deal. Peanuts became the most successful comic strip in newspaper history. His beagle character, Snoopy, whom the newspapers at one time asked him to feature less often in the comic, is now one of the most widely recognizable comic characters in the world. A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first television special produced of the series, which was released in 1965 on the CBS network, sponsored by Coca Cola. It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown came out the following year as the third prime time Peanuts special (Charlie Brown's All Stars had aired in June of '66), airing October 27, 1966, and has been showing annually since then.

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

October 31st has arrived again, and the night of Halloween is upon us. Lucy (Tracy Stratford) gets brother Linus (Christopher Shea) to carry home her carving pumpkin, much to his eventual dismay. While the kids are busy readying their costumes for an evening of trick or treating, Linus is busy scribing his annual letter to the Great Pumpkin, hoping to entice him to rise from his pumpkin patch and bring toys for all the kids. Lucy shirks in embarrassment as her brother is ridiculed by the other kids. However Linus patiently explains the merits of the Great Pumpkin to Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins), but dismisses Chuck's non-belief as a matter of religious differences. Sally (Cathy Steinberg) must decide whether to participate in her first trick-or-treating, or keep vigil in the pumpkin patch with the apple of her eye. As the kids go about their door to door activities, not everyone is impressed with their spoils.

Of note in this episode is Charlie Brown's now famous ghost costume, which was originally assigned to Linus in the comic strip. Also, note who is on the cover of the TV Guide Lucy is holding. This episode was routinely edited for television, with several of the "I got a rock" sequences missing. These have been restored for the DVD release, though I think there may still be a sponsor promo edited off the end of one of Linus' speeches.

This Peanuts special has become an annual Halloween ritual in many homes, and is a program the whole family can enjoy.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: As impressed as I was with the other features in the Peanuts Classics Holiday Collection box, I am a bit disappointed with the video on the Great Pumpkin episode. Although colors are good and there aren't any glaring artifact problems, on several occasions pieces of the outlines on the characters became erratic and disappeared, as though there were problems in the compression or interlaced source. There is also a bit of grain in a few scenes, especially the ending which also has a couple of source anomalies. I can't be sure, but I also think that some of the colors are off on this disc, as I'd be surprised to find out Linus was eating a magenta apple in the opening scene. The supplemental feature is somewhat over saturated in places, noticeably areas of blue like Lucy's dress, or the chairs during the final candidates speeches. The disc still looks great overall, but I have to adjust the marks for these few items.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Like the other Peanuts releases, audio is presented in its original mono. The tracks generally sound pretty good, though there were a couple of instances of distortion on the supplementary feature, which could be source related.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown
Extras Review: You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (00h:25m:39s)

It's time to elect a new class president, and Linus (Stephan Shea) suggests our man Chuck (Chad Webber) should be the candidate. Lucy (Robin Kohn) promotes herself to campaign manager and decides that a poll should be taken before submitting a candidate. However, after his initial excitement over the idea, Chuck's hopes are dashed when the poles indicate no hope of a victory. Lucy then decides to conduct another poll for the next contender, brother Linus. Using a bit of female persuasion, the votes come in positively, and Linus is running for president. Things are going well until the big debate when Linus must make his speech. Does he know when to keep quiet, or will he blow his chances by bringing up certain taboo subjects?

While not as strong as some of the specials, this 1972 release still holds up as an entertaining half hour. We get a favorite song included in Joe Cool, (written and performed by Vince Guaraldi) with our favorite beagle donning shades while trying to attend class. The show was originally titled You're Elected, Charlie Brown, but was changed at the last minute (not only is he not elected, he doesn't even run), hence the caret on the title sequence and the chorus singing the original title. TV Guide even ran the original title in its advertising for the special. Also note that Charlie Brown's house is a dual level, rather than single as it most often is. Todd Barbee, who voiced the original Charlie Brown, now plays Linus' opponent Russell, and Stephen Shea replaces brother Christopher as Linus.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

While it is great to see these Peanuts episodes come out on DVD, I must say that I was disappointed on this disc that there were any flaws in the presentation, given the barely 50 minutes of programming included. Still, this gets my recommendation, as It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is an endearing classic that can be watched over and over again, and enjoyed by young and old alike.

 


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