IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN
Remastered Deluxe Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
Creator: Charles M. Schulz
Director: Bill Melendez
Audio: Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: Bonus TV special, Featurette
Length: 25 Minutes
Release Date: September 2, 2008
"I got a rock."
For my entire childhood, every holiday of the year had one thing in common, and that was the chance to sit down on a school night and watch a Peanuts classic program associated with that special day. And for me, like most kids, it didn't matter a bit if you'd already seen them a dozen times before. In fact, the more times, the better.
Charles Schulz' beloved comic strip creations had been delighting kids and parents in newspapers for decades, so it didn't seem like such a far jump for his characters to make their way into prime time. They did just that in 1965 with A Charlie Brown Christmas, still one of the finest holiday specials ever, and with a message that has grown more relevant with the passage of time.
Others would follow, and perhaps the next most beloved one was It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. In it, the Peanuts gang had a fun-filled and comically delightful night, taken straight from Schulz' own strips about Linus and Sally blowing through Halloween in search of the elusive Great Pumpkin.
The Great Pumpkin, the elusive source of Linus' ever-endearing but misguided faith, was supposed to rise out of the pumpkin patch on Halloween night and give presents to good children everywhere, but of course, no matter how many times we watched the show over the years, he never arrived. I always wondered if there was a cease-and-desist order from Santa Claus, but there it is.
Of course, that's only part of the story. The other is Violet's big party and the kids' night trick-or-treating, with poor Charlie Brown's memorable ghost costume ("I had a little trouble with the scissors"), and his terrible luck with holiday booty. Seriously, what sick son of a gun would give kids rocks on Halloween?
And then, there's Snoopy's ongoing battle with the Red Baron. Some people say that southerners never stop fighting the Civil War...I wonder what they would say about our favorite beagle's obsession with World War I?
All in all, it was great fun, and one of my favorite events to look forward to year after year. There may not have been a message, but dang it all, Halloween is just not as serious as Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. And if you remember this show from your childhood, chances are, you're ready to experience it again with your little ones. So pass the candy...and enjoy.
Many of these classic Peanuts shorts have been around my entire life, and The Great Pumpkin has aged better than me. Thanks to Warner's restoration efforts, this television special is looking pretty good, with decent coloring and definition, and very little in the way of debris or artifacts to belie the age.
The standard mono is serviceable for a decades-old television show...not much dynamic range, but fairly clean, and perfectly listenable.
The extras include another classic special, It's Magic, Charlie Brown...he always felt invisible, but in this story, he gets to experience it for real! There is also a featurette, "We Needed a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown!".
It's no tricks and all treats with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on a remastered DVD. This holiday staple is just as much fun as ever, so kick back and relax, but please...no rocks.