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Paramount Studios presents
I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)

Lucy: What are you doing?
Rerun: I'm writing a letter to Santa Claus.
Lucy: Forget it, Rerun. He doesn't have time to read all those letters. I mean, he stands on the corner all day ringing that bell. When he gets home, he's tired. He doesn't want to read a bunch of whiny letters... Tell him Lucy says 'hi'.

- Ashley Rose Orr, Jimmy Bennett

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: October 24, 2004

Stars: Adam Taylor Gordon, Ashley Rose Orr, Jimmy Bennett, Hannah Leigh Dworkin, Corey Padnos, Nick Price, Bill Melendez
Director: Bill Melendez, Larry Leichliter

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (loud-mouthed Lucy, some Christmas whining)
Run Time: 00h:41m:10s
Release Date: October 26, 2004
UPC: 097368797246
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BA-B+ B

DVD Review

When Charles M. Schulz died, his characters, the loveable Peanuts gang, were to die with him. He didn't want anyone else taking up the reigns, drawing new adventures for Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus and Lucy. In order to keep producing the popular Peanuts television specials, Schulz' longtime collaborators Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson went back to the source, using the already published comics to create programs that are really more a collection of gags and jokes than a new, complete story.

The new specials, of which 2003's I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown is the latest, don't hold together as well as classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas or It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, but they're still a treat for lifelong Peanuts fans like myself (particularly since I often missed reading the daily strip in the newspaper, the "plot" source for these newer programs).

In the last few years of the strip, Schulz elevated Rerun, Linus and Lucy's little brother, to main-character status, and he's the star of this program, too. He's the one who wants a dog—as the lonely younger sibling of a thumb-sucking outcast and a sister he calls "the crab grass in the lawn of life," Rerun's only real friend is Snoopy. He wants his own dog, but his mother won't let him get one ("Wah wah wah!" she says, making a good point). The main story is broken up with short scenes of the rest of the cast in familiar situations: Lucy bothering the piano-playing Schroeder, Snoopy tormenting Linus. Keep an eye out for a cameo from Snoopy's brother Spike and brief snippets of lesser-known siblings like Olaf and Marbles, first seen in 1990's animated Snoopy's Reunion.

The voice work and animation is vintage Peanuts, thanks to the efforts of Mendelson and Melendez. Four years after Schulz death, the characters still feel alive, even if they're repeating the same old adventures (heck, the Chicago Tribune is still reprinting, uh, reruns of the strip). But I wish Paramount would start releasing these specials a bit faster (there are still more than 20 not on DVD). And I wouldn't mind seeing the films (Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Come Home, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and especially Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown) again, either.

Audio and video for this recent feature are quite good. The only fault in the transfer is a bit of breakup on the black outlines on characters' mouths in one or two scenes. The audio is presented in a serviceable stereo mix.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno
Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English Stereono
Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Candy Land, Weebles, The Tonka Tough Truck Movie, Peanuts Collection, Charlotte's Web 2, Curious Buddies
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales
Extras Review: Rather than the typical bonuses (a classic television special or two), I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown includes a few new treats (well, new to video/DVD, anyway). The Making of A Charlie Brown Christmas, about the 1965 special that introduced the world to the animated Peanuts gang, is a real treat. Aside from the fact that it's hosted by Whoopi Goldberg (hugging her little Snoopy doll the whole time, as if she's not fulfilling a contractual obligation to Paramount but doing it for love), this 16-minute documentary from 2001 is great. Through interviews with Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez, the original vocal cast, and archival footage, the piece quickly tracks the program's journey from troubled project to perennial classic. A lot of this stuff I've never seen before—early footage of Linus and Lucy in a car commercial, clips from a never-aired 1962 biography of Schulz, and clips from the creator's speech at the 1966 Emmys, where the Christmas special picked up an award for best animated program. Mendelson even reveals that he thought the program was a disaster the first time he screened the finished version.

Also fun is the 17-minute Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales, which could almost serve as deleted scenes from the main feature. Christmas vignettes with Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Sally (taken directly from Schulz's comic strips) offer more holiday comedy.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

While it's not quite A Charlie Brown Christmas, this new special has its own charms. Good for Peanuts fans, better for those who enjoyed the last few years, which often featured Rerun's adventures with Snoopy.

 


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