It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Review
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For more than four decades, kids and grown-ups alike have eagerly anticipated the coming of each holiday—and, with it, its corresponding Peanuts TV special. While the Christmas special is arguably the most cherished of the bunch, Number Two on my list has always been the Halloween special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

While most Peanuts specials tend to focus on poor, downtrodden Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) and the antics of his beagle, Snoopy, It’s the Great Pumpkin instead turns to Linus (Christopher Shea). Though he tends to spend most of his time in the background, bullied by his big sister, Lucy (Sally Dryer), or chased by would-be girlfriend, Sally (Kathy Steinberg), this time, Linus takes center stage. While the rest of the kids plan for the big neighborhood Halloween party, Linus prepares for the coming of the Great Pumpkin, who rises each Halloween night from the pumpkin patch that he deems the most sincere.

Also making a special Halloween appearance is the great World War I flying ace (a.k.a. Snoopy), who crashes both the Halloween party and Linus and Sally’s pumpkin patch.

Though Linus and Snoopy steal the show in the Peanuts Halloween special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown features all of the lovable old Peanuts characters—from Halloween party host Violet to Pigpen in his grubby ghost costume. The story is simple yet cleverly written, and although it’s been around since 1966, it’s a timeless holiday classic that just never gets old.

The Great Pumpkin DVD also features a non-holiday Peanuts special, It’s Magic, Charlie Brown (1981)—in which Snoopy learns magic from a library book and transforms himself into The Great Houndini. But his act goes awry when he makes Charlie Brown invisible—and he can’t get him to reappear. This extra special is filled with more magical fun—and any Peanuts fan is sure to cheer when invisible Charlie Brown finally gets his chance to kick Lucy’s football.

Both Peanuts specials have been remastered—and it definitely shows. The sound is much clearer from the stratchy, old-record-player sound that I remember as a kid—and the colors are once again bright and vibrant. If you didn’t know better, you’d think they were brand-new cartoons—instead of decades-old classics.

Also included on the disc is a making-of feature, entitled We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown, which discusses the pressure that the Peanuts creators were under as they tried to create the Halloween special. Their mission was clear: make it another blockbuster, or there won’t be any more Peanuts TV specials.

If you’re a fan of the old Peanuts holiday specials (and, really, who wasn’t?), It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a must-own. Pick up a copy to share with your family—and you won’t have to wait for that one chance each year to hang out in the pumpkin patch with Linus.

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