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Synopsis: It’s a cool collection, Charlie Brown! 6 animated Peanuts TV specials remastered and together in a deluxe 2-disc set: Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown, It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown, It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, and You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown. Enjoy these 6 wise and wonderful all-family primetime animated specials that made enduring TV favorites of Charlie Brown and his friends! One is marking its DVD premiere.
Review: The Peanuts cartoons are some of the most enduring family television specials of all time and this is due in large part not only to the popularity of the characters but to the timelessness of the situations. The latter, of course, springs from the former. Much has been written about how keenly Charles Schulz was able to so simply and elegantly capture not only the spirit of childhood but the entire human experience in his classic comic strip, and the best of the specials based on his strip were able to expand on these ideas and make the characters even fuller and better rounded (as if the characters weren’t already round enough, cranially speaking). The new DVD set available from Warner Bros, Peanuts 1970′s Collection Vol. 2, is a fantastic celebration of these landmark cartoons. Some of the most popular specials, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving have already been released in the 1960′s set and the first volume of the 1970′s, but that isn’t to say that this set isn’t full of quality Peanuts material, as well.
The set’s first and best special is Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, which perfectly encapsulates the themes of longing and despair that run throughout this often bittersweet series. Charlie Brown patiently waits for his first Valentine’s Day card, hoping that the Little Red-Headed Girl will finally notice him, but what makes this installment truly special is that practically every character joins him in pining for unrequited love. Lucy fawns over Schroeder, who, of course, doesn’t even notice she’s alive. Linus falls for his teacher, Miss Othmar, and feels bitter rejection when he learns she already has a boyfriend. Meanwhile, Sally expects that the big box of chocolates Linus bought for Miss Othmar is actually for her, and feels hurt and betrayed when she discovers the truth. The only characters who emerge unscathed from love are Snoopy and Woodstock, who gleefully torment Lucy during an “interactive” piece of theatre–a love story, naturally–and happily munch down all of the pieces of chocolate that Linus dejectedly tosses over the edge of the bridge. In many ways, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown is the quintessential Peanuts special, in how it deals with the highs and lows of a typical rite of passage, and sensitively puts all of the characters at least temporarily in Charlie Brown’s typical “loser” position.
Other classics on the disc include You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown, in which Peppermint Patty soundly thrashes “Chuck” in all forms of sports, It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, in which the kids’ enthusiasm for environmental preservation ends up adversely affecting Charlie Brown, the previously-unreleased-on-DVD What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown–an interesting episode, almost completely devoid of dialogue, in which Charlie Brown scolding Snoopy for his cushy existence inspires our favorite beagle to have a nightmare about being forced into being an Alaskan sled dog–It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, in which Charlie Brown learns he is to be the Little Red-Headed Girl’s escort to the Homecoming Dance, a sweet story that only loses a few marks for being one of the episodes to reveal what the LRHG looks like, something which Schulz himself never did in the strip, and You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown, another sports-themed episode, this time about the Junior Olympics.
The set also includes a fascinating documentary, You’re Groovy, Charlie Brown: A Look at Peanuts in the ’70s, including interviews with Charles Schulz’s widow, Jean, his son, Craig, Lee Mendelson, the executive producer of the TV specials, and cartoonists/Peanuts experts, Alexis Fajardo and Paige Braddock, and footage of Charles Schulz doing his work, back in the day. The producers of the special make an interesting choice in not focusing on the TV specials but the strip itself, so people interested in the TV shows might be disappointed, but the material about Schulz himself, as well as his creative process, is absolutely indispensable for fans.
If you’re a Peanuts fan, this set is a must-have, as are the previous two sets in the series, not to mention the only way to get every single one of the specials from both decades on DVD. Classics like these episodes deserve to be treasured, and these sets are a great way to do just that.