Just in time for Halloween comes a reissue of a holiday classic--It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. This Emmy-nominated special, the third Peanuts cartoon to be produced, comes to us on a DVD reissue with new remastering and features.
It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was based on the seasonal "Great Pumpkin" saga from Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strip, where Linus, under some confusion about holiday traditions, begins to espouse belief in "the Great Pumpkin" who rises from the pumpkin patch on Halloween night to bring toys to children. Many of Schulz's original jokes from the strip appear here, including Lucy and Linus's attempts to carve a jack-o-lantern ("You didn't tell me you were going to kill it!") and Snoopy's daydream of being a World War I flying ace. The content of the DVD has been significantly remastered, making the colors much sharper and allowing the viewer to see Bill Melendez's loving transfer of Schulz's art to animation. Also, Vince Guaraldi's score is fully heard in this new remaster, and most of the familiar themes are here. (For those who are interested, Apple iTunes has bundled a code with this DVD that allows you to download the score pieces "Great Pumpkin Waltz" and "Oh Good Grief" from the iTunes store for free.)
The DVD also includes a featurette on the making of Great Pumpkin and another special entitled It's Magic, Charlie Brown, a somewhat lesser offering which has Snoopy attempting to be a magician and accidentally turning Charlie Brown invisible. This feature is a far cry from the best of animated Peanuts, but significant for one scene where an invisible Charlie Brown finally kicks the football away from Lucy, then proceeds to get revenge for many years of football pranking. The glory does not last, of course, but this one scene is priceless; if you get tired as I did from the opening with Snoopy's inexpertly performed magic show, which reads less like a real story than a string of sight gags, just fast-forward to this scene. On the whole, I would have preferred You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (which was included with the original DVD release of this special) to be included rather than this. Still, this DVD is worth having simply for the wonderful treat of the Great Pumpkin special, so the aforementioned trick's no biggie.
For true Peanutophiles, the book It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making Of A Television Classic, which includes the original script, animation artwork, storyboards and other goodies is available from Amazon.com. Click the image to procure and enjoy.