- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Video Codec: VC-1
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 2
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Release Date: October 6, 2009
- List Price: $29.99 [amazon-product align=”center”]B002HQZX9I[/amazon-product]
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A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first-ever televised special based on comic strip artist Charles M. Schulz’ world-popular Peanuts characters. From the moment it went into production, however, it was faced with many challenges. The show’s original sponsors, Coca-Cola, were adamant against many of the choices that Schulz and Warner Bros. animator and director Bill Melendez made for the adaptation of the famous comic strip. Their use of amateur child actors to voice the roles, choosing jazz artist Vince Guaraldi to score the soundtrack, and the choppy animation and sound mixing that were a result of the low budget and short production time were just a few of the contentions.
But, in December of 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas aired to much critical and commercial acclaim, regardless of all the challenges it had faced. It went on to garner an Emmy and a Peabody award. The jazz score that executives thought would be so detrimental to a cartoon aimed at children is now so indelibly linked to the Peanuts legacy, it seems impossible to even dream of Charlie Brown without hearing “Linus and Lucy” shuffling away in the background.
The story tells of poor Charlie Brown who is depressed, despite the oncoming Christmas festivities. He just can’t seem to break out if his doldrums. In fact, something about the whole holiday has him down. On the advice of Lucy, he takes on the task of directing the school’s Christmas play to help cheer him up and teach him the true meaning of Christmas. The result, at first, is that the commercialism of the holiday starts to get him down even more, as does the reluctance of the rest of the kids to follow his instructions. It takes a particularly moving recitation by Linus on the true meaning of Christmas to help Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang to see past the commercialism of Christmas and get to the heart of it all.
A Charlie Brown Christmas has been spruced up for release on Blu-ray in a 1.33:1 1080p/24 VC-1 encoding from Warner Home Video. Apart from some source damage that creeps in from time to time, the 1965 animated production looks solid with strong color reproduction, detailed line art, and relatively clean color fills. Compression noise is nonexistent and there are no noticeable issues from any post-processing effects.
A Charlie Brown Christmas has been given an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640kbps) soundtrack that doesn’t do much more than open up the sound a bit with some low level ambience in the surround channels and a nice little boost of bass in the LFE to help carry the Vince Guaraldi jazz soundtrack. Dialogue is intelligible, but the sound overall is a little muffled and dull. High frequencies, such as cymbals in the drum kit of the jazz ensemble are barely noticeable.
The supplements are strong on this release. Apart from an entertaining fifteen-minute documentary detailing the production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, a whole extra Charlie Brown holiday television special has been provided in high definition.
The supplements provided on this release are:
- Behind the Story:
- A Christmas Miracle: The Making of A Charlie Brown Christmas (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:15.59) — The creators of the Charlie Brown Christmas Special recall doing the special under pressure of time and the sponsors Coca-Cola.
- It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1.33:1; 1080p/24; VC-1; Dolby Digital 5.1; 0:23.00) — The Peanuts gang do their best to get into the Christmas spirit in this Charlie Brown television special.
- Classic Christmas Favorites (1.78:1; 720p/60)
- DVD — Digital Copy for download to Mac/PC or iTunes/Windows Media-compatible device.
The Definitive Word
A Charlie Brown Christmas has been an annual favorite for many from the time it first aired on CBS in 1965. The rights are now held by the ABC network who air it annually around the Christmas holiday. For many kids, it is a right of passage, a tradition to be passed down. Now you no longer have to wait for that commercially interrupted version to air. You can see it whenever you want to, even if it’s not Christmastime.