If you’ve watched A Charlie Brown Christmas in the last eight years or so, you may have noticed some extra scenes that weren’t in the special prior to this decade. With commercial times getting longer and longer, extra scenes were added in 2002 so that the original 30 minute special could be aired intact, with more footage, in a one hour time slot. Of course, a few weeks ago, the special aired with only some of those extra scenes. But like most holiday specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas has become fluid, aired many different ways.
For the first time on a solo-release DVD, the extra 18 minutes have been released as Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales. You do not get A Charlie Brown Christmas, but you get all of the bits added to that show this decade. The DVD was actually put out last year as a CVS Exclusive, but has recently been released at stores everywhere.
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tale includes several stand-alone segments, listed under five headings. It’s classic Peanuts, completely in line with the family-friendly humor you’ve come to expect from the name Charlie Brown. Sally writes a letter to “Samantha Claus”. Linus talks to a girl at school who keeps changing her name. Lucy tries to get her brother, Linus, and her crush, Schroeder, to buy her good gifts. There is no over-arcing plot, but that doesn’t really matter. If you enjoy Charlie Brown, or your kids do, it’s a good gift. The shorts are cute.
Also on the disc is a 24-minute “bonus feature,” “Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?” It’s the only bonus feature included, a special from 1983, and not Christmas related, but still, the Peanuts gang in character. Considering the longer length and the more cohesive plot, I’m surprised this wasn’t the main release, with Tales being the bonus feature. My only idea about why it would be released the way it is would be to better market it around the holidays.
In Is “This Goodbye, Charlie Brown?”, Lucy and Linus move away after their father gets a job elsewhere. Sally, predictably, is broken up, as is Charlie Brown. Schroeder is upset too, to his surprise. It will not be shocking to anyone who has followed the strip or the TV specials that the move does not last long. But you get more real, sad emotions from the main characters than practically any other Peanuts story. Plus, keep an eye out for a rare glimpse of Linus and Lucy’s parents!
A subplot involves Peppermint Patty’s crush on Charlie Brown. It’s a sweet story, an awkward, childhood romance. Poor Patty doesn’t know how to express herself to Chuck, and he, of course, sure doesn’t pick up on the signals. Even if one of those signals is a middle of the night phone call. Which begs the question, why didn’t his parents answer the phone? Surely, they heard it in the middle of the night and were upset! Though parents were never much of an element in the series.
If you like Charlie Brown and Peanuts, you’re going to like this DVD. If you don’t already, you probably won’t. It’s a fine example of classic Peanuts.