“You are invited to a reunion.”
I grew up on the Peanuts creations of Charles M. Schulz. Most of us have in some way or another. His newspaper comic strip is one of the longest running and most successful strips of all time. The work has been translated into every language currently spoken on the planet. The images of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang have appeared on just about any kind of product imaginable. Our pop culture contains too many references to the strip to mention briefly. For me, it was the television specials starting in the mid 1960’s that brought the gang into my life. The classics are running annually, still after nearly 50 years. A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown are the most mentioned and certainly beloved by generations of children and adults. I thought I never missed an airing. Somehow 1991’s Snoopy’s Reunion has managed to escape my notice all of these years. Why isn’t this particular special among the classic cartoons of that era?
First of all, Snoopy’s Reunion appears to break many of traditions of the Peanuts universe. To my recollection, adults were almost never fully depicted, and they never spoke in indentifiable language. We all remember the Wah Wah sounds that always came from the show’s adults. It didn’t matter if they were teachers or parents, it all sounded the same. In this cartoon adults are fully realized. They speak naturally and rather dominate the scene, at least for a time. The episode doesn’t make great use of the standard cast of characters. Only Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus make significant appearances, outside of Snoopy, of course. The special also appears to contradict elements from the superior Snoopy Come Home special from 1972. The show never really captures any of the charm and innocence that made these specials so attractive to children. In the end, this one plays out too much like a normal cartoon to fit comfortably, at least in my mind, with the Peanuts legacy.
It’s an origin story, of sorts, for everyone’s favorite beagle. We find ourselves at the famous Daisy Hill Puppy farm where a beagle is nursing her new pups. One of them is already showing a familiar attitude. As the puppies are sold, we find out that Snoopy was actually a secondhand dog. A girl bought him but was unable to keep him. We also find out that Charlie Brown did not name Snoopy; rather he was given the name at the puppy farm. The cartoon focuses on Snoopy and his siblings as a country band that was split up as each puppy found a new home. Jump to four years later, and Charlie Brown is noticing that his dog is looking rather melancholy. He deduces that Snoopy must miss his siblings and arranges a reunion at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. The dogs all gleefully gather at Charlie Brown’s to go to the reunion. Unfortunately, we discover that Daisy Hill is now a parking garage. But Snoopy’s little brothers and sisters won’t let that stand in their way. Out come the instruments, and they jam right there on the street corner.
Snoopy’s Reunion is presented in its original full frame broadcast aspect ratio. The colors are actually pretty good here. There were some significant print defects. You’ll find more than the occasional scratch or dirt speck. It looks pretty much like what you might expect from a 1991 cartoon. Black levels are fine. The Flashbeagle cartoon, however, is a different story entirely. It is loaded with grain and digital artifact. The image jumps and stutters to the point of distraction.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track does exactly what it was originally intended to do. It delivers dialog and some mid-range music. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to distract. A perfectly average presentation.
Flashbeagle: This 1984 cartoon was obviously inspired by the movie Flashdance. The story is simple and is really just a collection of 80’s style music videos of songs like Lucy Says, a Simon Says game, and The Pig Pen Hoedown.
Together Again – Voice Cast Reunion: This Comic Con reunion of original voice cast members is the best part of the disc. Unfortunately, it only runs 9 minutes. You get to meet the kids, now adults, who played these voices back in the 1960’s. Very cool.
I think I’ll stick to Snoopy Come Home. That show was made at a time when there was better consistency and charm left in the series. I won’t deny that my opinion is colored by the fact that I grew up on those original specials. There’s little doubt that they have created a certain vision of Charlie Brown and his universe inside my brain. “What’s his name was right. You can’t go home again.”