A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home Studio: Paramount Home Video Year: 2006 (1969 and 1972 Releases) Rated: G Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays (see Video section) Audio: English DD 5.1 on “ABNCB”; English stereo on “SCH” Subtitles: English; Spanish Time: A Boy Named Charlie Brown: 86 minutes; Snoopy Come Home: 80 minutes Disc Format: DVD-9 Case Style: Keep case DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006 Since these two releases are coming out at the same time and combined they total 166 minutes, I chose to combine the reviews. Charlie Brown is the eternal loser that resides in all of us. He has issues with flying a kite (his smart ass dog can even do it better), he keeps getting his clothes knocked off by baseballs, the girls thinks he’s fat, and his psychologist is a sadomasochist. For good ol’ Charlie Brown, nothing comes easy. In “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”, Charlie finally finds something he can do: spell. He takes this ability on the road to the spelling bee accompanied by his friends, all of whom have their own individual issues (fear of loss, separation anxiety, performance anxiety, group mentality, etc.). Charlie Brown maintains hope even when everyone is against him, and he should be a model to us all. Snoopy takes the spotlight in “Snoopy Come Home”. When he arrives home late one night from the beach, Charlie Brown becomes irritated. He goes to feed his dog and when he cuts his finger, Charlie Brown expresses his dismay at Snoopy’s recent independent streak. Snoopy ignores him and promptly returns to the beach with Peppermint Patty to find a no dogs allowed sign. When Snoopy goes to the library, he finds the same sign adding to his frustration. Snoopy receives a mysterious and distressing letter from a little girl in the hospital, Lila, so he and Woodstock head off to see her. Along the way they are caught by another little girl and subjected to various humiliations, such as dress up. Once Snoopy reunites with Lila, we find out about Snoopy’s past, and he is confronted with a big decision. I suggest you keep the Kleenex handy for the last fifteen minutes of the film as we see Snoopy make agonizing and potentially life changing decisions. I have not seen these pictures since I was a kid, so looking at them with an adult eye was, well, eye opening. I was instantly transfixed by the underlying psychological issues; they seem so blatant now even while they are cleverly hidden in these rudimentary cartoons. At the same time, it was a welcome return to my childhood where I could look at them through the lens of innocence. For those of you who want to see where Peanuts began, Fantagraphics is doing an exceptional reprint series of the original strips. The pictures utilize a stylized form of animation that was common for the time, with sidetracks into musical numbers and imaginative flights of fancy. Director Bill Melendez also uses split screen effects to great effect, such as when Snoopy dreams of being a fighter pilot while his sleeping form lays on his doghouse. Video: Both DVD’s provide us with an anamorphic image. However, I have to question the aspect ratio. The baseball scene at the beginning of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” and Snoopy’s letter to the editor in “Snoopy Come Home” seems to be cut off, and there are several other scenes that look like they have been squeezed in. The bright, animated color detail is good but it tends to stray towards red in many scenes. There is also minor color bleeding in some scenes. Characters skin tones go from pink to almost brown depending on the scene. There is noticeable film dirt throughout the pictures and I saw some darkening of a couple scenes at the beginning of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” when Charlie Brown is trying to fly his kite. “Snoopy Come Home” suffers from very noticeable video noise and compression artifacts. Even sitting back thirteen feet from the screen it was still noticeable. Blacks are suitably deep and there is some edge enhancement. Audio: I watched “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. It is a fair presentation, but it does not utilize the extra channels for much. Most of the audio stays in the center and it occasionally spreads out to open up the sound field. The soundtrack is clear and I did not notice any hiss or noise. LFE is barely utilized, usually coming up during the musical numbers that have lower chords or a standing bass. The stereo track (the only one provided) on “Snoopy Come Home” shares the same traits of the audio of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”. Bonus Material: There are no bonus materials on either release. Conclusions: After a long wait, CBS and Paramount have begun releasing their Peanuts library on DVD. Unfortunately, we are given discs that are apparently misframed, show noticeable dirt and noise in the picture and lack any extras. I hope the studios decide to take future “Peanuts” releases more serious. Still, these are classic stories that should be shared by young and old alike.