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With: (voices) Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Gail DeFaria, Lisa DeFaria, Glenn Mendelson, Ann Altieri, Bill Melendez
Written by: Charles M. Schulz
Directed by: Bill Melendez
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 25
Date: 10/27/1966

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

4 Stars (out of 4)

I Got a Rock

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Warner Home Video has spruced up this all-time TV classic for a brand-new 2008 DVD, and it looks amazing. For many years, this set the holiday mood for me. Though it was made before I was born, I must have seen this every Halloween for most of my life, and it holds up. It's certainly unique in the history of Halloween programming. Rather than anything spooky or horror-related, Linus (voiced by Christopher Shea) decides to skip the usual Halloween festivities to sit in a pumpkin patch and await the Great Pumpkin. Charlie Brown's love-struck younger sister Sally (voiced by Kathy Steinberg) joins him, missing out on candy, parties and costumes. But director Bill Melendez concentrates on atmosphere more than anything else; he sets up unrelated jokes, or simply enjoys watching the autumn leaves fall gently to the ground (to the tune of Vince Guaraldi's score, of course). For my money, Snoopy's sojourn as the World War I Flying Ace takes up too much time, but this never bothered me as a kid, and it's frankly quite beautifully done. My favorite part, however, is the strange melancholy the show projects as it ends; there's a sense of a special day gone, never to return, with an entire year to wait until it comes again. I always secretly hoped that Sally would learn her lesson and go trick or treating with her brother, but every year, she goes back to the pumpkin patch and waits in vain. This annual disappointment is part of the show's greatness; disappointment is a fact of life, but so is hope.

DVD Details: Warners' new disc comes with a second TV special, It's Magic, Charlie Brown (1981), which is fine, but not quite as special as the main attraction. Also included is a featurette, and optional languages and subtitles.

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