Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Peanuts: Holiday Collection
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM ALL 3 FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
I was honestly flabbergasted when I heard that Warner Brothers was releasing the Peanuts collection on 4K UHD. On one hand I was ecstatic to find more 4K content, but at the same time I was wondering “why these titles?” as the hand drawn animated films from the 1960s didn’t scream demo material to me. Well, I wasn’t going to complain, even if I was a bit perplexed, and excitedly chose to review the titles when they came out. It doesn’t hurt any that I am a lifelong fan of the Peanuts world created by Charles M. Schulz. I don’t think I know of anyone whose life hasn’t been touched or influenced by these sweet and kindhearted comics. I’m not in my 20s or teens anymore, and no matter how old I get, I find I’m still attracted to the little cartoons and animated shows, as they have a strange appeal that seems to bridge ages and generations.
A Charlie Brown's Christmas
Getting right into the films, lets start with the first one of the bunch. A Charlie Brown Christmas. The disc is actually a combination of three different 25 (ish) minute shorts that included the title film, and It’s Christmastime Again Charlie Brown. The second two are technically considered extras, but do place from the main menu. A Charlie Brown Christmas is the real treat here though, and for good reason. It’s one of the best childhood Christmas specials known to man.
Charlie Brown is frustrated and depressed this time of year. He knows he’s supposed to be happy and cheerful because its Christmas time, but the young man feels that maybe the season isn’t worth as much hype and energy as his friends and acquaintances are putting into it. The commercialization of the holiday makes it feel like an effort in futility, and the whole “reason for the season” is completely lost as everyone gets angry and frustrated at any mistakes made in “celebrating” the holiday. When good old Chuck gets a chance to direct the school Christmas play he feel like he may have some purpose in the holiday, but there still seems to be something missing.
While it’s a childhood classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas is anything but a kid’s only feature film. In fact, most of the Peanuts comics and films are meant for adults as much as they are for children. The religious influences of Charles M. Schulz are obviously seen through the trappings of the children’s comic, and makes some pretty important points about WHY we celebrate Christmas. Even if you aren’t Judaeo-Christian based, there’s enough emphasis on the commercialism that the holiday has turned into rather than the intention of the original gift giving ideal.
A Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving
The second disc in the set is actually a step back in the time period. A few months prior it’s Thanksgiving that means A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is in order. Much like A Charlie Brown Christmas, this thanksgiving tales deals squarely with the greed and selfishness that the holiday seems to be about instead of the original intent of giving thanks for what we have. We’re so used to stuffing ourselves to the gills and falling asleep while watching NFL football. Or just watching Uncle Ned drink himself under the table with Champagne and then pick a fight with mom while you just wait and PRAY that you can find a way to slip out early and make up an excuse to go home. Gone are the family gatherings where we discuss what we’re thankful for, and just simply ENJOY each others company and celebrate our continued existence.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is not AS great as A Charlie Brown Christmas, but it’s still a fantastic piece of nostalgic childhood enjoyment, with a story worth telling. This entry goes a little lighter and more humorous, with Peppermint Patty (who’s a veritable bull in a China shop) inviting herself over to Charlie’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner. Now, Charlie has not ability to say no (he’s a bit too giving) and now has to figure out a way to have thanksgiving dinner with his friends, AND a separate dinner with his family. Luckily the panicking bald headed boy is bailed out by Linus and Snoopy, who help him ransack the kitchen and figure out a way to make a great dinner for his friends (despite the impromptu situation).
The themes of kindness and camaraderie run deep throughout the little children’s flick, but it also just has fun with Snoopy, Linus and Charlie getting into all sorts of hijinks as they try and make up a Thanksgiving dinner for friend. The Mayflower Voyages special that’s also on the disc deviates from the standard crew, and re-enacts the first thanksgiving and Mayflower voyages across the sea with famous Peanuts characters. It’s a bit less fun and fluffy as the first title, but it is more geared towards educating the youngsters about what really happened, and does so with a certain Peanuts flair that is unmistakable.
And we save the best for last. Back in 1966 this was a huge risk for CBS. They told Schulz that despite winning big with A Charlie Brown Christmas they were going to pull the plug if he didn’t deliver another smash hit. So, instead of dealing with another Christmas special, or just another Peanuts adventure, Shulz went ahead and tackled one of the best loved little inside jokes of the cartoons. The Great Pumpkin and Linus. As a result he created a smash hit that is probably the most loved, and most fun of all the Peanuts films.
Linus, the all famous philosopher and level headed one of the group, has a bit of a change of pace every year. He gives up his normal straight laced discussions and gives into wild flights of fancy every year around Halloween, and sits in a pumpkin patch waiting for The Great Pumpkin to arrive and shower them with gifts. Even Charlie Brown doesn’t believe in the fuss, but Lucy and everyone around Linus shower him with insults and jeers, asking him why he continues to wait year after year, despite nothing every coming of his devotion. Despite not seeing the purpose, Sally and offers to sit with him this year, waiting all night for the great pumpkin to arrive. However, her devotion to Linus is most likely due to the torch she carries for him, rather than any faith in a magical pumpkin. Meanwhile, Lucy leads a group of trick or treaters around the neighborhood, including every one of the lovable gang of miscreants that we all know and love.
Just like every other Charlie Brown film before it, there’s a method to the madness of Schulz. He dips very heavily into the concept of sticking to your beliefs, even in the face of persecution and disbelief by others. You can see the themes of believing in your faith no matter what OTHERS say around you, especially when they believe in Santa Clause, and cling to their beliefs despite Linus not agreeing. Then there’s good old battle ax Lucy. She spends every moment of her existence just TRYING to stamp out Linus’s belief even though it doesn’t affect her. The desire to be right and destroy what she doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe in over rides her sense of humanity and love for Linus. All themes that are very applicable to each and every one of us today. It's Magic isn't the great classic that the other films are, but it is an enjoyable little extra nonetheless and works as a fun 25 minute distraction.
Not Rated by the MPAA
Now this also brings into account the fact that any of the little oddities and glitches of the Blu-rays are amplified on 4K. The backgrounds shaking, or the wavering of a badly drawn line around a character face is much more apparent than when A/Bing against the enclosed 1080p discs. Something else to note is the fact that the discs come with the standard 1.37:1 original aspect ratios, but some of the discs also give the option for a zoomed in 1.78:1 aspect ratio for those who want their whole widescreen TV filled. I would have to say that this is the LEAST enjoyable presentation of the disc as it’s just meant to appease the people who don’t like black bars and crops a goodly portion off the top and bottom to create the effect instead opening up the sides (which means there probably wasn’t any side material to open up to as it was likely drawn SPECIFICALLY for 1.37:1 TVs of the day.
Grain is nice in all of the pictures (it was hand drawn that shot on film in motion), and doesn’t appear obtrusive or problematic at all. You can see some print damage and speckles here and there, as well as some noisy shots (such as when Snoopy is fighting the infamous Red Baron) There’s some mild softness here and there due to the film stock and animation style, but overall it looks very reminiscent of the Blu-rays, just with a little more clarity and the advantage of deeper and richer colors thanks to HDR.
• It's Magic, Charlie Brown – This bonus episode finds Snoopy putting on a show after he checks out a book on magic tricks from the library. With Marcie and Sally as his assistants, he performs many tricks (some that work and some that don't) before an audience. The grand finale features the biggest trick of all, making Charlie Brown disappear. To everyone's amazement, Snoopy makes him invisible but doesn't know how to bring Charlie Brown back. Will Snoopy find a way to reverse the trick?
• Charlie Brown's All-Stars – Nominated for two Prime Time Emmys®, in this delightful special, Charlie Brown is faced with a difficult moral dilemma; should he accept brand new uniforms and give the rest of the gang a chance to be part of an official little league baseball team even if it means that due to policy, Snoopy, Lucy, Patty, Violet and Frieda must be kicked off?
• A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – In this Emmy® Award-winning special, Peppermint Patty invites herself to Charlie Brown's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Marcie and Franklin are soon added as dinner guests. Charlie Brown admits that his culinary skills are limited to "cold cereal and maybe toast." Snoopy and Woodstock transform the ping-pong table in the backyard into a dinner table. As the guests arrive, they are each served two slices of buttered toast, some pretzel sticks, popcorn and jelly beans. Peppermint Patty is outraged at the meal and berates Charlie Brown until embarrassed and dejected, he leaves the table and goes back into the house.
• The Mayflower Voyagers – In this bonus episode from the This is America, Charlie Brown series, the Peanuts kids become pilgrims sailing to the New World aboard the Mayflower and endure the first hard winter on Plymouth Plantation.
• Play It Again, Charlie Brown – Nominated for an Emmy Award ®, this special focuses on Lucy's undying and unreciprocated love for the piano playing child prodigy, Schroeder. In an effort to win Schroeder's affection, Lucy, under Peppermint Patty's advice, invites him to perform in a concert at an upcoming PTA meeting. Schroeder accepts and immediately begins rehearsing. Lucy, delighted with Schroeder's acceptance, thanks Peppermint Patty. Peppermint Patty however, mentions she forgot to tell Lucy that only rock music will be featured in the program and that Schroeder won't be able to play Beethoven. Lucy is left in anguish, knowing Schroeder will refuse to perform anything other than classical music and tries to find a way to break the news without his dropping out of the program.
• A Charlie Brown Christmas – In this Emmy® and Peabody Award winning classic, Charlie Brown is upset by how commercial the Christmas holiday has become. To coax him out of his holiday blues, Lucy suggests he direct the school's Christmas pageant and decorate a glorious tree. Charlie Brown concedes. The tree he finds however, is puny, prompting everyone to ridicule him.
• It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown – This bonus episode is the second Christmas-themed Peanuts episode since A Charlie Brown Christmas. Holiday preparations include Charlie Brown selling wreaths door-to-door to make extra money, Peppermint Patty sweating out an important book report and the entire crew appearing in a Christmas pageant.
• It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown – Originally broadcast in 1984, this special is comprised of several clever parodies inspired by popular early '80s dance trends ranging from disco to break dancing as well as a series of top 40 hit songs from the era. It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown earned an Emmy® Award nomination for Outstanding Animated Program.
This 4K UHD release of some of America’s greatest holiday animated shorts makes for fun viewing on 4K. They certainly do look better than I’ve ever seen them before, and while it is not leaps and bounds better than the 1080p Blu-ray set that was released a few years back, it certainly will appeal to those who want the best out of their videos. For those who already have the Blu-rays, upgrading will be a 50/50 choice. The upgrade is noticeable, but not wildly, meaning that it’s going to depend on how much you really want those HDR colors and extra lines of resolution. Those who haven’t purchased the set though? That’s a no brainer. It includes the Blu-rays as well as the 4K sets PLUS a new digital copy of the films. Easy choice. Recommended to check out.
Starring: Tom Laughlin, Elizabeth James, Clark Howat, Delores Taylor, E.G. Marshall
Directed by: Bill Melendez / Bill Melendez / Bill Melendez, Phil Roman
Written by: Charles M. Schulz
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 HEVC (all three)
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1 (all three)
Studio: Shout Factory
Rated: NR / NR / NR
Runtime: 50 Minutes / 50 Minutes / 50 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 10th, 2017
Recommendation: Check It Out