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The It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - animated DVD / family and children's DVD / television special DVD review
IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Gail DeFaria
Creators: Bill Melendez Distributor: Warner Home Video
DVD release: 02 September 2008 Feature runtime: 25 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Animated, Color, DVD-Video, Original recording remastered, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital), Deluxe Edition, "We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown" documentary featurette, "It's Magic, Charlie Brown"

There are special moments in childhood shared among those of us raised in front of the tube. Occasionally, CBS would announce the regularly scheduled program would not be seen, the screen would go black and the word SPECIAL would whirl toward the camera in rainbow colors, accompanied by wild and exciting drum beats: the next program is most likely meant for kids. Dolly Madison pastries were advertised between segments of any Charlie Brown special, and I miss them today. Beware the Zinger Zapper.

It's Halloween, and Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) has - incredibly - been invited to a party hosted by Violet (Ann Altieri). The children will go out first for Tricks or Treats, then on to Violet's party for apple bobbing, pumpkin carving, and punch. Linus (Christopher Shea), however has different plans: he's going to wait in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin, who rises from the pumpkin patch each year to bestow gifts upon the worthy children. Sally (Kathy Steinberg) gets suckered into waiting with him. While the others go out for tricks or treats, Charlie Brown gets naught but rocks. Snoopy is in character as the WWI flying ace for some dogfights atop his house. He takes a few rounds, but gives as good as he gets.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is beautifully restored here and looks just as vibrant as it should. You can still tell that it's traditional cel animation, and they likely reuse the cels. There is a short making-of featurette called "We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown!" Included are interviews with director Bill Melendez, producer Lee Mendelson, Peanuts Historian Scott McGuire, Charles M. Schulz's wife and son, and more. This feature is full of interesting tidbits and trivia, and it makes an excellent companion piece to the feature.

Also included is the 1981 show "It's Magic Charlie Brown." Its purpose: to pad out the DVD. While mildly amusing, it lacks the magic suggested by its title. Skip it. Preferred would be a commentary track with Bill and Lee... or maybe a collection of old Dolly Madison commercials.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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