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Bill Melendez, Phil Roman
Todd Barbee, Robin Kohn, Stephen Shea
Writing Credits:
Charles M. Schulz

Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to Charlie Brown's for Thanksgiving, and with Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he attempts to throw together a Thanksgiving dinner.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 25 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/24/2017

• “The Mayflower Voyagers” Special
• “Play It Again, Charlie Brown” Featurette
• “Popcorn and Jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving Classic” Featurette
• Bonus Blu-ray


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving [4K UHD] (1973)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 16, 2017)

In the eight years between the first Peanuts TV special - 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas - and 1973's A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, they churned out quite a few other programs in the series. Ten Peanuts tales were told in the interim, most of which were TV productions, but two provided feature films.

Dozens more specials and movies would follow, and not even the death of creator Charles Schulz in early 2000 stopped the parade, as more specials have come out since then. Though it doesn’t stand as the series’ best, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving offers a winner.

I'm surprised it took them eight years to get to such a major - and obvious – holiday. Then again, as far as I can tell, the Fourth of July never got its own special, so I suppose Thanksgiving should count itself lucky.

In any case, Thanksgiving offers a fairly fun look at the day. Essentially Peppermint Patty invites herself and some friends to Charlie Brown's house for Thanksgiving dinner, and he's too wimpy to tell her that he has other plans. Linus and the others help him create an alternate feast for the interlopers, but some complications inevitably arise along the way.

Overall, the show seems modest but entertaining. It feels less substantial than some of the better shows – such as the Christmas special - but it has some moments and largely appears successful.

One odd aspect: this is one of the Peanuts episodes in which the lack of adults seems more noticeable than usual. The fact that Charlie makes all of these decisions and actions without any parental consultation just feels weird.

Even with that oddity, I like the show. Chalk up A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving as a good but not great Peanuts special that provides a generally fun experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C-/ Bonus B-

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The show provided an inconsistent but usually satisfactory picture.

Sharpness seemed fine. The program presented good definition and clarity at all times, as I noticed very little softness. Nothing here seemed razor sharp, but the image showed nice delineation.

I detected no signs of moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. The show suffered from weak clean-up animation, so it looked “dirty” even though the “flaws” stemmed from stray marks and spots that no one fixed in the first place. The show also tended to be fairly grainy.

Colors came across well, as the tones usually presented nice vivacity. Black levels remained deep and shadow detail - already not much of a concern in a brightly-lit cartoon - was fine. Probably the least attractive of the three classic Peanuts holiday shows, this one looked good but not great.

Instead of the show’s original monaural audio, the disc provided a DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix – not good. Earlier DVDs went with the old mono track and it worked just fine. Why reinvent that particular wheel?

I guess the folks behind the release figured that 5.1 tracks sell discs. Unfortunately, the results weren’t positive, and the soundfield was a mess.

The track went with broad mono, so it simply spread the audio across the various speakers without any localization or clarity. Dialogue remained centered, and every once in a while, I thought it almost sounded like panning occurred.

But it didn’t. Music lacked any stereo presence, and effects didn’t emanate from any logical places. The material simply mushed together into a big blob without definition.

The poor soundfield harmed the quality of the audio. Dialogue still worked fine, as the lines were concise and crisp – usually. A few vocal effects tried to come from the sides, and those sounded unnatural and strange.

Music lacked any form of vivacity. The score seemed blobby and bland, as the way it spread to the various speakers robbed it of life.

Effects fell into the same trap, as they failed to deliver much punch. Granted, the material was never going to sound great, as the source was recorded decades ago. Nonetheless, the show would’ve been better served if it simply stayed with the original mono mix – or at least offered it as an option on the disc.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray from 2010? Audio was identical, as the 4K reproduced the same flawed 5.1 track.

Visuals showed an upgrade, though not an immense one. Though brighter and more vivid, the 4K remained held back by the restrictions of the source. It’s the best the show has looked, but it’s not exactly demo material.

Note that the 4K provides Thanksgiving - and the disc’s two bonus specials - in both the original 1.37:1 aspect ratio as well as a “widescreen” 1.78:1 rendition. I only watched the 1.37:1 version but I wanted to note the presence of the other one as well.

Two extras appear on the 4K UHD disc itself, and we get a Peanuts special called The Mayflower Voyagers. This 1988 show retells the story of the original Pilgrims and their harsh journey. Although it tries to stick to some historical material, it also tosses the Peanuts gang into the mix and shows their reactions to the experience.

I find this 24-minute, 22-second program to provide a very unsatisfying mix of historical drama and cartoon comedy. The show can't quite decide what it wants to be and the tone changes dramatically throughout the program.

Actually, it sticks more strongly to the serious side of the story, which makes the levity seem all the more unpalatable. One minute we see corpses being buried, while the next shows more Charlie Brown wackiness.

Possibly the oddest aspect of the show stems from the fact it presents adults. Since I haven't seen all of the Peanuts specials, I don't know if Voyagers is alone in this distinction, but it feels vaguely jarring. Admittedly, it would have been exceedingly difficult to tell this tale without showing grown-ups, but the way the show violates the Peanuts universe seems strange and unsettling.

Since I originally discussed the special, some helpful readers have provided additional information on this show. It turns out that Voyagers was part of an eight-show "miniseries" during the 1988-89 TV season. Called This Is America, Charlie Brown, this project covered a variety of historical topics such as the Wright brothers' invention of the place and the 1787 Constitutional Convention.

These shows also displayed adults, as did 2000's It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown. For more information on the "Peanuts" shows, visit Scott McGuire's excellent website.

Ultimately, The Mayflower Voyagers is a dud. The program is dull and talky, with tone changes that feel forced and gratuitous. I like Peanuts a lot but this show did absolutely nothing for me.

From 1971, Play It Again, Charlie Brown goes for 25 minutes, 17 seconds. Lucy becomes more frustrated by Schroeder’s lack in romantic interest in her, so she connives to find a way to make him love her.

Even by the loose standards of Peanuts specials, that’s a pretty thin plot, and Play doesn’t do much with it. Much of the show focuses on interactions at Schroeder’s piano, many of which come straight from the original comics.

Of course, that’s true of many Peanuts specials, but Play less dynamic than usual, largely because it focuses on music so much. This removes many comedic opportunities and makes Play a mediocre show.

The package includes a Blu-ray copy of Thanksgiving, and that’s where we find a 12-minute, 27-second featurette entitled Popcorn & Jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving Classic. It provides remarks from Peanuts historian Scott McGuire, producer Lee Mendelson, Charles Schulz’s wife Jeannie and son Monte, director/animator Bill Melendez, animator Phil Roman, animation writer/historian Mark Evanier and actors Todd Barbee, Chris DeFaria, and Hilary Momberger.

“Popcorn” looks at aspects of the story, cast and performances, character design and animation, and some other thoughts about the special. While “Popcorn” doesn’t present the most concise recap of Thanksgiving, it throws out plenty of nice observations.

We learn a lot about the special and get good background. It’s great to hear from the former child actors, and as mentioned by Mendelson, I’m glad to hear someone else felt disturbed by the sight of a turkey-eating Woodstock. This is a brisk and enjoyable featurette.

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. The 4K UHD offers generally good picture with a mix of bonus materials, but the remixed 5.1 soundtrack disappoints. The special looks better than ever but the lack of original audio makes this product a tough sell.

Note that Thanksgiving can be purchased on its own or as part of a three-show package called the “Peanuts Holiday Collection”. This includes It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas. It retails for $44.98, which makes it a deal, as that’s half the cost of the three specials on their own.

To rate this film visit the Deluxe Edition review of A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING

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