Not every Peanuts TV special was centered around a holiday. Halloween and Christmas do feel incomplete without Charlie Brown and the gang on TV. However there were quite a few half hour prime-time specials that didn’t celebrate days that the banks closed and mailmen stayed home. Snoopy did have normal animated activities that reflected storylines and punchlines featured in the daily comic strip. Four of the six specials on Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 1 don’t require you to check the calendar before hitting the play button.
Play It Again, Charlie Brown (1971 – 25:10) gives the spotlight to Schroeder. He plunks out the Beethoven on his toy piano. Lucy flirts hard, but he doesn’t care. He’s about the music. She asks Peppermint Patty for relationship help. Patty’s booking acts for a PTA program and suggests Lucy gets Schroeder to make his professional debut. She does. The pianist is joyful and Lucy thinks she’s made headway in the romance. Things go sour when PTA wants rock instead of classical. Is he willing to forgo his art to jam with a band consisting of Pig-Pen, Charlie Brown and Snoopy? I think they went on to become Phish. You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972 – 25:13) was a political special during the time that Nixon defeated McGovern. There’s no Watergate reference. Charlie Brown considers running for student body president, but Lucy’s polls show that he has no chance. The best bet for the position is Linus. Things look good until during a speech Linus goes off message to ramble on about the Great Pumpkin. Will his unorthodox beliefs sink the campaign? For a little kid cartoon, it does a fantastic job at exposing the dirty work of elections. We’re introduced to Snoopy’s Joe Cool persona complete with funky theme song. If you’re a Joe, this song should be on your iPod.
There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown (1973 – 24:59) captures Charlie Brown in a love triangle. In the crunch of a major school project, the wishy-washy superstar finds his heart under attack from Peppermint Patty and Marcie. But romance must take a backseat to academic jeopardy. In order to keep from flunking, the gang have to do a report on visiting a museum. Through a bit of confusion, they end up inside a supermarket. Thankfully the teacher thinks their report is about an Andy Warhol exhibit with the talk of soup cans. Will Charlie Brown put the moves on either Peppermint Patty or Marcie? Can he deny his love for the Little Red-Haired Girl? Weren’t Peppermint Patty and Marcie a couple already?
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973 – 25:16) brings us back to the holidays. As a kid, this one didn’t quite click at the same level as the Halloween and Christmas. It has grown on me with this early version of the Orphan’s Thanksgiving. Charlie Brown and Sally are packing for a trip to grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner when the phone rings. It’s Peppermint Patty and she invites herself, Marcie and Franklin over for Thanksgiving lunch. Spineless There’s no turkey and Charlie Brown’s not much of a chef so he makes a non-traditional menu. The ping pong table is set with toast, pretzels and popcorn. Peppermint Patty is disappointed in the feast, but a happy solution is reached. The underlying message is simple: invite friends over for Thanksgiving dinner if you have enough chairs, plates and stuffing.
It’s A Mystery, Charlie Brown (1974 – 25:15) is a Woodstock oriented special. The poor bird gets flooded out of his nest. Snoopy rescues and revives his little pal. When he returns to the tree, his nest is gone. What a nasty home invasion. It’s up to Snoopy to dress up as Sherlock Holmes and track down the criminal. There’s even a trial with a formerly sweet innocent girl being as mean as Lucy. It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974 – 25:02) lets Linus rewrite another holiday icon. In addition to swearing the Great Pumpkin is the Santa of Halloween, he now declares the Easter Beagle exists. Marcy has an issue with how to prepare eggs for the holiday dye job. She even uses a waffle iron. Peppermint Patty can’t believe that her glasses wearing friend isn’t a true egg head. A major gag is that as the Peanuts gang prepares for Easter, the local department store is already having their pre-Christmas sales. George Schultz didn’t realize that this joke is almost a reality in today’s mall culture. There are fake Christmas trees now on display before Labor Day. I won’t spoil the fun by saying who plays the Easter Beagle.
While the holiday specials are familiar, the normal episodes are a revelation. They reflect the sensibilities of the Peanuts comic strip that featured serial themes during the week. It’s A Mystery, Charlie Brown was a bit of a mystery since I don’t remember seeing it. It’s just easier for a network to rerun the holiday specials when that time of the year rolls around. For fans of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang, Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 1 is like the panels from the newspaper coming to life.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers look crisp and clear. The colors are bright on the transfers. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You might have to turn down the volume when Lucy gets fussy. There are dub tracks in Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Interesting to hear Linus sounding like he’s going to get attacked by Godzilla. The subtitles are in English, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai.
Woodstock: Creating Snoppy’s Sidekick (12:43) follows the evolution of the little yellow bird. He was a nemesis in the early comic strips. Various folks chat about the cohort. He did name the bird after the rock festival. They show off various Woodstock toys.
Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 1 brings together the first six TV specials from the decade that gave us The Pet Rock, Watergate and the Oakland As. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is important since it seems to be the only TV special that embraces the holiday instead of making us think it’s the start of the Christmas shopping season. The non-holiday specials bring the magic of the Peanuts strip to the small screen. Don’t be wishy-washy and commit to buying this before you start defrosting the turkey.
Warner Home Video presents Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 1. Starring: Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy and Woodstock. Boxset contents: 6 specials on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: October 20, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: charlie brown, peanuts, Reviews, snoopy