A Charlie Brown Christmas became an instant holiday staple when it first aired in 1965 as the Peanuts animated tale reminds people that it’s time to move furniture around to make space for the tree. Over the decades the special that rails against the commercialization of Christmas has become a victim of networks adding more commercials to its half hour slot. The suits originally whittled out seconds until they butchered the gang singing, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Fans weren’t happy at this truncated tradition. A solution was found in 2002 when they created Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales to pad out an hour slot.
The new special compiles five cartoons based on original newspaper strips done by Charles Schulz. “Happy Holidays From Snoopy” has the dog get a gig as a sidewalk Santa. He doesn’t put up with gruff from the kids who didn’t get their gifts. Instead of ringing a bell, he plays the accordion. “Yuletide Greetings from Linus” includes his letter to Santa Claus that attempts to avoid outright asking for presents. “Season’s Greetings from Sally” takes off with her giving everyone paper airplanes as their present. Later she messes up by writing to Samantha Claus. “Peace on Earth from Lucy” lets her unload on Linus when he writes her letter to Santa. She doesn’t take his suggestions kindly. “Christmas from Charlie Brown” wraps up with Sally and Charlie getting ready for the big day. Sally wants to leave frozen broccoli under the tree for Santa. She does see Santa.
Ironically Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales became a victim of network slashing this holiday season. ABC halved the show in order to cram in their “Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa” short. Thus in a strange twist, the only way to view the complete special is to buy the DVD. Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales was originally a bonus feature on the I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown DVD, but was left off the recent Deluxe Edition release. This is the best place to get the complete special. Nobody wants to make it easy to enjoy Snoopy as Santa.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer quality is quite fine for the animation. Christmas Tales looks better since it’s more recent. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The levels are fine for a non-dynamic cartoon. The subtitles are in English and French.
Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? (24:16) dares to break up the Peanuts gang when Linus and Lucy move out of town. Their dad gets transferred and the kids must follow along. All the kids go through mourning at the departure. Even Schroeder misses Lucy. The special aired back in 1983.
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales is for the die-hard fan due to its rather short running time. The holiday shorts animate George Schulz’s old comic strips instead of making up new adventures in his style. This is a nice addition to the traditional A Charlie Brown Christmas. The bonus special of Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? brings to motion the most horrifying time for Peanuts. America feared Linus and Lucy really were splitting the funny pages.
Warner Home Video presents Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales. Starring: Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy. Running Time: 18 minutes. Released on DVD: October 5, 2010.
Tags: charlie brown, linus, peanuts, snoopy