Friday, August 27, 2010

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 9.32 GB
Film Sizes: 4.45 GB/4.25 GB
Film Ratings: Not Rated
Release Date: September 7th, 2010
Region: ABC
The Video
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ and ‘The Mayflower Voyagers’ come to Blu-ray with 1080p VC-1 video presentations. The high-def encodes are small, but they get the job done nicely, and without technical issues I might add.

‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ is first. The video presentation looks quite good, although quite dated as well. The film features plenty of grain (which is a good thing), but also plenty of dirt and specks which pop up from time to time.

‘Mayflower Voyagers’ came years later and of course looks years better. The print is much cleaner and the animation looks much more recent. The presentation does feature dirt and specks on occasion as well, but not nearly as much.

Colors on both films are very nice, but they do stand out much more in ‘Mayflower Voyagers.’ The character outlines also get a significant boost in high-definition and they look much more natural and sharp compared to the DVD.

Overall I think both provide excellent high-def presentations considering the material. These are made for television specials, not even ‘feature’ films so I actually think they look much better than they could have.

I do hope one day that Warner properly can remove the remaining dirt and specks present, but I am glad they left the grain intact. Both specials are noticeable improvements from their DVD counterparts and ultimately do look quite good considering age. 8.5/10.

The Audio
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is the lossless and only audio option included for both specials. Optional subtitles include English (SDH) and French.

I am so incredibly happy that Warner has included a lossless mix, a big improvement from Blu-ray releases last year and hopefully this is a trend that continues with all future releases, regardless of the type of the content on Blu-ray.

The audio does sound significantly better, particularly dialogue. Dialogue has a nice level of clarity which just isn’t there on the DVD versions. Dialogue does have a few small issues with ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ in which it cracked a little. I did expect this so it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Both films are very front heavy, but expectantly so. There is some light surround use from time to time, notably from ‘Mayflower Voyagers’ but it is all very light and fitting, The music is also quite nice, although plays second to the dialogue/effects.

The mixes will sound very dated to those used to mainly new release animated films in which surround use is incredibly robust. Neither special stands out among lossless mixes whatsoever, but if you take age and source elements into consideration it is easier to appreciate them. I really don’t think they can get any better than they are now despite some disappointing aspects, the lossless tracks are an improvement. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1: (Blu-ray Disc)

Mayflower Voyagers (HD)
I did include the video/audio portions in my review, considering this release is basically a double feature. The second TV special is technically a ‘bonus’, although it is a respectable TV special.

Popcorn & Jellybeans: Making a Thanksgiving Classic (12:27) (SD)
I love this featurette. The voice cast and crew share their memories from working on the special as well as unique challenges that came with the production.

Disc 2: (DVD)

DVD copy of the film

The ‘Popcorn & Jellybeans’ feature is the only option under features on the Blu-ray disc, although technically ‘Mayflower Voyagers’ is a bonus as well included separately on the menu as well as in a play all option with ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.’

The addition of a DVD copy of the film is also a nice addition, making the price point a bit easier to accept. Like with the Blu-ray release of ‘It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,’ my favorite extra is the inclusion of a second TV special. 5/10.

The Films (TV Specials)
Both ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ and ‘The Mayflower Voyagers’ are included on this release. ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ first aired as a television special on CBS in 1973. ‘The Mayflower Voyagers’ is the first part of an eight-part mini-series called ‘This is America, Charlie Brown,’ which aired between 1988 and 1989.

I am a BIG fan of ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.’ Growing up it is something I watched every year in elementary school before Thanksgiving break and then again on Thanksgiving Day. The story is cute and fun like previous holiday specials ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

What I especially love about ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ is how well it has stood the test of time. Plenty of animated classics just don’t appeal to children like they used to, but I find that Charlie Brown always captivates even the newest and youngest of audiences to this very day.

‘The Mayflower Voyagers’ may be just part of an eight-part mini-series, but can definitely be enjoyed on its own as each part was a different American adventure, from NASA to the Transcontinental Railroad. The story is a cute and harmless story in which the Pilgrims (Including Charlie Brown and crew) first meet the Indians and share their first Thanksgiving together.

‘The Mayflower Voyagers’ is far less memorable than ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,’ but I suppose that is why it is more of a bonus instead of a major selling point on the packaging. Like ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ I am sure most of you have already seen ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.’ It is a classic and I love it. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ is a classic TV special with a very good Blu-ray release. The video and audio presentations are true to the source, and while not perfect they do impress overall. The extras are lacking, but the second special and DVD copy are nice additions. Overall this Blu-ray release is easily ‘Recommended’ to all.

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