Turn Back the Clock
A Charlie Brown Christmas CD/DVD
Distributed By: Starbucks Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Last year, I was in Starbucks and noticed this Collector’s CD of A Charlie Brown’s Christmas featuring a bonus DVD. I passed it up that year. But this year, after the ABC network destroyed the Peanuts cartoon holiday special I’ve been watching since I was a little girl by cutting out some of the most important scenes, I decided to pick up the CD/DVD set so I could at least own the original special in its entirety and never rely on a television network showing the proper version of A Charlie Brown Christmas ever again.
As soon as I got home I popped the DVD in the player and watched the holiday special that I remembered as a kid, with no commercial interruptions and absolutely nothing deleted. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is dismayed at how commercialized the Christmas season has become. No one celebrates the true meaning of Christmas anymore. They’re more concerned with holiday light competitions, partying and presents. No one remembers what Christmas is all about.
In an effort to end his holiday depression, Charlie Brown agrees to direct the Christmas play. When things get out of hand, Charlie Brown decides that a Christmas tree might be just what is needed to bring the Peanuts gang a taste of a little Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, the tree Charlie Brown picks out is not what the gang expects. Distraught over the feeling that all of his friends have lost the meaning of Christmas, he turns to Linus who reminds everyone by reciting the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke.
Charlie Brown decides to take the tree home and decorate it himself. Not being very handy at such things, Charlie Brown thinks he has killed the tree, but his friends come together to lovingly bring the tree back to life. The gang then gathers around the tree and sings Christmas carols.
This is one of the best animated Christmas specials to date and definitely the best Charlie Brown holiday special. The message is very clear and extremely pertinent in today’s day when Christmas items are put on display in stores long before Thanksgiving has even taken place; when Christmas tree lightings are less about the lighting and more about the latest CD the performers have out.
Jazz has long been a part of the Charlie Brown special and I’m fairly certain it was through these cartoons that I first began to appreciate the music genre. The music found on the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas was composed in 1964 by Vince Guaraldi, an amazing jazz musician and pianist. The music he composed for A Charlie Brown Christmas was a blend of traditional music like O Tannenbaum, What Child is This, Hark, The Herald Angels Sing and The Christmas Song, performed in a complex jazz style. The rest of the soundtrack features original jazz music created for Guaraldi especially for this Christmas special. These track, above all have become the timeless classics we hear on the radio over and over during the holiday season. Every time I hear the children singing Christmas Time is Here, I picture the Peanuts Gang skating at the pond. Each time they play Linus and Lucy, that rich jazz piano with background drums and bass have me thinking of Schroeder and his amazing toy piano that is capable of performing as a piano, organ and more. A smile comes to my face as I imagine Snoopy dancing. I also enjoy Christmas is Coming, another track which highlights the jazz piano and isn’t played enough over the airwaves.
The music performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, featuring Vince Guaraldi on piano, Fred Marshall on bass and Jerry Granelli on drums, is exciting and filled with such a joyous spirit that each and every track is perfect for the holiday season. I was happy to discover that they also included Schroeder’s Beethoven performance on this CD. I’ve always enjoyed the beauty of Beethoven’s works and Für Elise is one of my favorites.
As I write this review, I am listening to the soundtrack for what must be the sixth time since I purchased it. The music on this CD is so clear it sounds as if the tracks were laid out just yesterday. The DVD of the Christmas special is a perfect digital remastering of the original cartoon. The colors are rich and the sound is perfectly in synch. The CD/DVD set of A Charlie Brown Christmas found exclusively at Starbucks makes a perfect gift for any fan of Peanuts. It also makes an excellent addition to my holiday movie and music collection!