It's Christmastime again and the Peanuts gang is preparing for the usual holiday activities. Charlie Brown is selling wreaths so that he can buy a gift for Peggy Jean, Sally is getting trying to find the meaning of Christmas, and Peppermint Patty and Marcie are both getting ready for the school play.
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown was released on CBS in 1993 (the last time a Charlie Brown special would debut on that network) and was hoped to be another hit like the first.
The plot is very loose and choppy due to this whole special just being an animated collection of various Christmas themed Peanuts strips. It doesn't have the same flow as the original nor does it have the same charm. It doesn't deal with the same kind of important themes that the original does which is what won over millions in the first place. In fact, Charlie Brown doesn't even have a big part in this special. Instead, Sally, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, some of the more modern characters from the strip, are showcased. Even Snoopy only really has one scene!
But enough about the story; let's touch on the animation, acting and music.
The thing I have liked the most about the Charlie Brown specials is that they have been consistent in style and quality. The animation has improved over the years but it hasn't lost the look and the techniques that make it distinct. A friend of mine who works for Bardel Entertainment told me that they have been hired to produce a new Charlie Brown special. This will be a drastic departure from the style since Bardel animates using the Adobe Flash computer program rather than pencil and paper.
Another consistent part of the Charlie Brown specials is the voice acting. Producer Bill Melendez has always insisted on actual children providing voices for his cartoons which gives the acting a very distinct flavour. Hopefully this tradition will remain with this upcoming Bardel special. I should note that the voice of Sally Brown is Jodie Sweetin who is best known for her role as Stephanie Tanner on Full House.
Fans of the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack will recognize many of the Vince Guaraldi Trio songs in Christmastime Again. Vince Guaraldi died of a heart attack in 1975 and every television special made after his death used new music. It wasn't until 1992 and the production of Christmastime Again that the crew decided to resurrect his famous score. However, they remixed the tunes making them more rock and roll, which many feel is a bastardization of a masterpiece.
All in all, every part of this special adds up to a let down. This Christmas special is actually not that special at all. You can find it as a special feature on the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD.