It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Considering the source of this material - a TV broadcast older than I am – I expected little from this presentation but I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly good quality of the picture.
Sharpness generally appeared clear and crisp, though some mild softness interfered with the image from time to time. Those issues were rare and not a significant concern. Moiré effects and jagged edges did not present problems, and the image lacked edge enhancement.
In terms of source defects, it often became difficult to separate actual print flaws from sloppy clean-up animation. It became clear that most of the “defects” resulted from stray marks that didn’t get erased. However, I still noticed occasional specks, marks and dust. These were minor, at least. I did think grain was a bit heavy at times, however, especially during the closing chat between Linus and Charlie Brown.
Colors were quite strong and pleasing, with nicely replicated hues throughout the show. All of the oranges and other tones were reproduced
cleanly and accurately. Black levels also looked deep and rich, and shadow detail was just fine. The occasional softness and mild dirtiness of the print kept it from offering a really great image, but overall I was quite pleased by the appearance of this show.
Pumpkin also provided relatively satisfying monaural audio. Dialogue sounded clear and crisp, with no edginess or dull qualities. Effects were sporadic and cartoonish but seemed acceptably clean and accurate. Vince Guaraldi's music was fairly lively and even offered mild bass at times. The overall production showed some thinness commonly found in recordings of the era, but I found it to provide perfectly acceptable sound.
How did the picture and audio of this 2008 “Deluxe Edition” compare to those of the original 2000 release? To be honest, both were pretty comparable. I noticed no changes in the audio of the two DVDs, and the visuals were usually similar as well. I thought the 2008 was a little tighter and it lacked the old one’s occasional jitter, but any improvements remained modest at best. The two transfers really looked and sounded a lot alike.
The main extra here comes from a 1981 special called It’s Magic, Charlie Brown. In this 24-minute and 15-second show, Snoopy reads a book about magic and turns into a magician called “The Great Houndini”. Yes, that’s a pretty bizarre concept, especially after the generally more grounded Pumpkin.
It’s also a pretty flimsy framework for a show, though it’s not like Pumpkin exists as more than an excuse for some Halloween-related gags. Nonetheless, there’s something more substantial to Pumpkin that doesn’t exist here. An invisible Charlie Brown prompts some laughs, but it doesn’t remotely compare with the better Peanuts specials.
Next we find a 13-minute and 55-second featurette entitled We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown. It provides remarks from former CBS programming executive Fred Silverman, producer Lee Mendelson, Peanuts historian Scott McGuire, director/animator Bill Melendez, Charles Schulz’s wife Jeannie and son Monte, and animation writer/historian Mark Evanier. “Blockbuster” looks at the first two Peanuts specials and how they led to Pumpkin. From there we hear about the story’s development, cast and performances, the music, art and animation, and some other show specifics.
My main complaint about “Blockbuster” stems from its brevity. It rips through the show’s creation in such rapid order that it doesn’t offer the depth we’d prefer, and it’s too bad the producers couldn’t offer some notes from the voice actors. Still, we find some nice details here along with more than a few good stories. It’s a short but enjoyable piece.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for the Rankin-Bass special Jack Frost, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. The disc also includes trailers for Wiggles: You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and Scooby-Doo And the Goblin King.
The third Peanuts special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown remains one of the best. It demonstrates many funny moments and entertains well through its short running time. The DVD provides pretty nice picture and audio along with some minor extras. This is a perfectly decent release for a classic holiday cartoon.
If you don’t have the original 2000 DVD, I’d recommend you give this one a look. I’m not as sure that owners of the old release need to “double-dip” for this one. I think both offer pretty similar picture and audio, and the 2008 version’s new extras aren’t especially remarkable. I like this set but it doesn’t blow away its predecessor.