Written by Hombre Divertido
It’s Halloween and Linus is in the pumpkin patch anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. Sally is enamored with Linus and thus gives up her first trick or treat outing to spend Halloween in the pumpkin patch. Charlie Brown manages to get invited to a Halloween party and struggles with making a ghost costume. He also has a run-in with a football-pulling Lucy. Snoopy is a flying ace off to battle the Red Baron. That’s a lot to cover in twenty-five minutes and this story is quite busy. Though generally considered a classic, when you really break this one down, it is a collection of scenes, many of which contain storylines that raise questions and remain unresolved.
We never really understand where Linus gets the idea that there is a Great Pumpkin, or why Charlie Brown is receiving rocks from people instead of candy. The Snoopy adventure never really goes anywhere, and as always, the parents are missing, so it is Lucy that gets up in the middle of the night to put Linus to bed. Add to that, Linus appears to be balding and Charlie Brown is bald.
This new remastered release certainly looks and sounds great, but the memories brought back may leave you wondering why you ever enjoyed this outing as it fails in comparison to the far superior Thanksgiving and Christmas Peanuts classics.
The new release contains some enjoyable special features including a Peanuts adventure entitled It’s Magic, Charlie Brown, which is simple and cute, but lacks the quality vocal talents of earlier endeavors. The best part of this set is a documentary entitled “We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown” that chronicles the pressure that Charles Schultz and producers Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez were under to follow up the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The pressure may have been too much as they seemed to have struggled to fill the entire twenty-five minutes.
Recommendation: The documentary alone makes this new release worth owning, and a true Peanuts fan needs to have this in their collection. On the surface this is simple fun with a classic score that will thrust you back to your childhood. Once engulfed in the memories, it will be easy to overlook the flawed storytelling.
This new deluxe edition was released on September 2, 2008. On this same day the Peanuts family lost a valuable member. Bill Melendez died at the age of 91. Aside from his work on Great Pumpkin, he went on to produce, direct, or animate some 70 Peanuts TV specials. He was an extremely versatile and talented artist who will be sorely missed.