Charlie Brown spent the end of the ’70s dealing with romance, sports and trees. This was a marked difference to those denizens of the decade that were regulars in the basement of the Studio 54. Charlie and the Peanuts crew didn’t give in to the disco debauchery of the times. They didn’t get dragged down by oil embargo, Watergate, the Son of Sam and the Bicentennial. They existed in their own little bubble outside of constant pop culture references which is why you can enjoy a Peanuts special without reading a history book. Peanuts 1970’s Collection, Vol. 2 contains two more holiday specials along with four sporting events that aren’t stuck in an era.
“Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown” reminds of the burdens and heartbreak of love during grammar school days. Charlie retains his optimism that this will be the year he receives more Valentine’s Day cards than a briefcase can handle. Linus goes all out in buying his teacher a mega-size heart-shaped box of chocolates. He wants her to know she’s the only woman for him. Sally thinks the present is for herself. This is a holiday disaster special as reality beats their expectations with a baseball bat. “You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown” gets deep into the dirty world of motocross. Peppermint Patty believes Charlie Brown has the potential to rule in the hot new sport. He and Linus chip in to buy a battered used motorcycle with the dream of becoming the next Steve McQueen on two wheels. His biggest threat is the anonymous Masked Marvel. Don’t want to spoil the surprise, but it’ll be pretty obvious who is behind the mask. This has the most shocking ending of any Peanuts cartoon special. “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown” brings love to a forgotten holiday. This day that was devoted to tree planting has pretty much been pushed aside by Earth Day. When is the last time Arbor Day got any play in the media? It deserves more attention over the slickly produced and promoted Earth Day. Thankfully there is this special to make sure that act of planting a seedling is remembered as a celebration of this non-postal holiday.
“What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown” dares to turn Snoopy into a mean dog. After a heavy snowfall, Charlie Brown hooks Snoopy onto his sled, but the smart pup will have none of it. That night, Snoopy has a strange dream that turns him into a dog character from a Jack London novel. He’s part of sled dog pack in Alaska. The little dog quickly learns the ways of the pack. He transforms into a fierce alpha dog. This might be a little too much for small kids seeing Snoopy bare his fangs and go wild on the screen. There’s a near death experience that might induce a nightmare for non-Charlie Browns. There is a bit of comedy when Snoopy sneaks into a Yukon bar to play Poker with the grizzled prospectors. This is a big kid Peanuts special. “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown” combines football with romance for the Peanuts gang. Charlie Brown must prove himself on the field of play so he can impress the Little Red-Haired Girl. Turns out she’s homecoming queen at the rival school. After decades of unrequited love for this mysterious woman, will he blow his big chance to finally get a little affection out of her? “You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown” demonstrates how Peanuts can approach a current event without making an obvious pop culture reference. Right before the Junior Olympics, Peppermint Patty cons Charlie Brown into entering the decathlon. For a kid as wimpy as Charlie Brown, why not make him compete in 10 events. They figure there’s a chance that Charlie Brown can somehow level off his badness to score the most points over the two days. Marcy is his teammate even though she looks more butch on the track and field. His biggest rival turns out to be the Masked Marvel. Why must this disguised athlete constantly torment Charlie Brown? Oddly enough this special doesn’t mention Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Gold Medalist in the decathlon who eventually became a wimpy plastic surgery disaster on E!’s Keeping Up with the Karadashians.
Peanuts 1970’s Collection, Vol. 2 is a timeless batch of specials that deal with matters of the heart and the desire to compete. Will Charlie Brown finally be a winner and get the girl? While these were animated during the era of leisure suits and the Hustle, they don’t strive to make Charlie Brown hip to the times. Since Charles Schultz knew these specials were airing once a year, he knew there was no need to get bogged down in elements that would date his eternally youthful characters. What would be the point in having Snoopy chasing a fad? Thankfully these six specials appear as current as anything playing on Nick Jr. If you play “You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown” for a kid, they’re not going to roll their eyes as if you’re trying to inflict ancient entertainment on them.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers have been cleaned to give amazing detail on the screen. They washed up the wishy-washy Charlie Brown. The audio is Dolby Digital. It’s a clean mix of voices, effects and music. There’s a Spanish dub. The subtitles are in English, French and Spanish.
You’re Groovy, Charlie Brown: A Look at Peanuts in the ’70s (18:24) discusses Charles Schultz’s life during the decade and how it reflected in the script. There’s plenty of vintage footage of him working in his office space, There is a discussion of how Schultz stocked up on his art supplies.
Peanuts 1970’s Collection, Vol. 2 wraps up the decade with another six timeless specials. Arbor Day deserves to be given it’s day back.. Charlie Brown gets a major surprise at the end of “You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown.” Even though the specials have Charlie Brown in the title, Snoopy gets plenty of moments with dream of being an Alaskan sled dog, his exploits on the tennis court and his new persona. This is another fine boxset worthy of the DVD collection of any Peanuts fan.
Warner Home Video presents Peanuts 1970’s Collection, Vol. 2. Starring: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy. Boxset Contents: 6 Episodes on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: June 1, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.