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It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Blu-ray and DVD)

Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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I love Halloween! It's probably my favorite holiday. Why? Because it has nothing to do with politics or religion. It may have meant something different a long time ago, but today, it's all about fantasy and fun. Kids get to go out trick or treating and adults get to go out partying (without feeling guilty about it). Of course, Halloween wouldn't be the same without all the great and scary television programming, including Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a Halloween classic and now everyone can enjoy it in high-definition on Blu-ray.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
I'm sure you must be familiar with the story, but just in case you're not… this title is actually a collection of skits put together to form one 25-minute TV episode, but it's tied together with the overall theme of Halloween and the story of the Great Pumpkin. You see… Linus (Lucy's little brother) believes that someone called the Great Pumpkin travels around the world on Halloween night bringing presents to boy and girls who have the best and most sincere pumpkin patches (sort of like Santa Claus on Christmas). Every year, Linus holds an all-night vigil in his pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear, but every year he's disappointed. However, he never gives up hope, and so every year he misses out on Halloween candy and parties. This year, he even convinces Charlie Brown's sister Sally to wait with him.

All the while, Charlie Brown and the gang go out trick or treating, but Charlie Brown has his usual bad luck and gets nothing but rocks in his candy bag. After they're done visiting all the homes in the neighborhood, the kids have a Halloween party with music, bobbing for apples, and more. One of my favorite segments of the show, however, is the skit that Snoopy plays. He is a World War I flying ace and he's hot on the trail of the Red Baron… that is until he gets shot down and has to hide behind enemy lines until he can make it safely back to the Halloween party. It's a fun diversion from the overall theme of the show and the best part is when Linus and Sally see Snoopy in the pumpkin patch… you'll never guess what happens.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Blu-ray
If you're looking to see It's a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in all its glory (better than the DVD and definitely better than its original TV presentation), then you'll want this Blu-ray edition. There aren't any technical issues to speak of… on the contrary, the colors are beautifully vibrant and the hand-made watercolor backgrounds really stand out. The experience is finally like seeing the original comic strip come to life.

The audio is also improved, but not as much as the video. The Blu-ray provides a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix, but unfortunately, the material doesn't take full advantage of the surround environment. The Vince Guaraldi musical score sounds wonderful in surround, but the voice-acting and sound effects mostly take place in the center of the soundfield. So I would say the audio reproduction could have been better, but then again, I don't know the technical aspects regarding the original material, so maybe Warner had no way of converting the original mono audio into surround.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Bonuses
The Blu-ray edition includes updated packaging (in bright orange) to match the colors of Halloween and you also get a copy of the feature on DVD. In addition, there are two bonuses – another Peanuts episode called It's Magic, Charlie Brown and a featurette called We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown. In the It's Magic, episode, Snoopy becomes a magician and accidentally turns Charlie Brown invisible. Two great things about this episode are that we finally get to see the inside of Snoopy's doghouse and we also get to see Charlie Brown kick the football out of Lucy's hands. The Blockbuster featurette provides a brief look into the making of the Great Pumpkin. The only downside to the bonuses is that they are old material originally released on DVD, so if you've seen them before, you're not really getting anything new. For me, it was great because I hadn't seen either one, although the Blockbuster featurette was a bit too short and I would've liked to have seen more in-depth information about how the Peanuts episodes are put together.

It's not Halloween without the Great Pumpkin
For fans, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on Blu-ray is a definite treat and something to add to your collection. For those that already have it on DVD, you'll have to decide if you want to spend the extra money for the same material, albeit at a higher quality. For anyone that doesn't have this title in their library yet, you should get it because Halloween just isn't the same without watching and waiting with Linus to see if the Great Pumpkin will finally appear.

For more information: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Blu-ray and DVD)
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