So, I see a lot of DVD reviews here, but I'm reviewing the Amazon Video digital download. I had to leave a review because there are some surprises that aren't explained very well in the description. I thought the price was pretty steep for a single special, but I bought it anyhow because it's a classic, and my toddler loves Peanuts. Then it started playing, and I realized the running time was more than an hour long. Here's what you get in the download:
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). This is the very first Peanuts special, and it's just as charming and rough around the edges as you remember it. It's a perfect mood piece for Christmas; if anything, it's too short. I get a little choked up at the end when the gang decides to be nice to Charlie Brown and fix his Christmas tree (even though I've probably seen it 50 times). The video is well done; I have my stereo hooked up to my TV, and the music sounds great. The video is high-def, which maybe doesn't matter for a 1960s animated film, but it's nice to have. DVD quality at least, maybe better.
2. It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992). This one follows right after the first one's credits, with no indication that it's there until it starts playing. It's kind of a clunker, not one I'd rewatch often. There are some David Benoit covers of the Guaraldi Peanuts songs, but otherwise it's pretty forgettable.
3. It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984). !!! I have no idea why this is stuck on the end of the download, since it has nothing to do with Christmas, but don't overlook it. After a boring first five minutes, this one transforms into the best of the Peanuts musicals. There's virtually no plot, but there are five great songs in succession: "I'm in Shape," "Lucy Says," "Pigpen Hoedown," "It's Snoopy," and of course "Flashbeagle" (twice). Each song is about two minutes in length, perfect for kids with short attention spans. Great songs, great vocals. "Flashbeagle" is cheesy and dated (it probably was in 1984!), but it's undeniably catchy. Everybody in the family will be humming these tunes all day after watching this special. A bit of trivia: Stacy Ferguson (better known as Fergie) played Sally in this special.
So, there you go. One moderately-priced download gets you two fantastic specials and one throwaway. Not bad! I would've given this five stars just for the main feature, but the bonuses just pushed it over the top. Thanks, Amazon!