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 1960s 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.
Now Warner Home Video has brought together a special collection of the cartoon specials that started it all. It includes a couple annual greats and a few that I don’t really remember so much. Now we get into the second volume of the 1970’s specials. The two discs include the following Peanuts specials:
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown: (1975) Poor Charlie Brown is dreading another Valentine’s Day. Will he get any cards this year? Will he finally have the nerve to talk to the little red-haired girl?
You’re A Good Sport, Charlie Brown: (1975) Charlie Brown enters a motorbike race. Linus is in charge of the pit crew. But once again, Charlie Brown ends up with sub-par resources. The only bike he can afford is a joke to the other racers. Snoopy is also in the race as The Masked Marvel.
It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown: (1976) When the gang decides to grow a garden for Arbor Day, the garden ends up in the baseball field. Charlie Brown is pessimistic when he is forced to play an important game in the converted diamond. Will it kill another game for the Peanuts gang? Or will it end up being a secret weapon?
What A Nightmare, Charlie Brown: (1978) Snoopy eats too much and ends up having a terrible nightmare. He is an arctic sled dog forced to endure the harshest of conditions and a not-so-friendly team of fellow dogs.
It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown: (1977) Charlie Brown ends up as the date for the school’s homecoming queen, who just so happens to be the little red-haired girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, he also gets blamed for the football team’s loss when a certain holder is up to her old tricks while Charlie Brown attempts to kick the ball.
You’re The Greatest, Charlie Brown: (1979) Charlie Brown and Marcie train for the decathlon and face The Masked Marvel in the final competition.
All of these specials are presented in the original full frame broadcast aspect ratio. The colors are actually pretty good here. I was overall impressed with the brightness and richness of the colors. Unfortunately, there were some significant print defects. You’ll find more than the occasional scratch or dirt speck. There is some variance between the episodes. There is considerable restoration here, and these look about as good as they likely ever will. Black levels are fine.
The Dolby Digital Mono 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. I think you’ll be somewhat disappointed here, as the music often carries with it some unpleasant distortion.
You’re Groovy, Charlie Brown – A Look At Peanuts In The 70’s: (18:20) This is really a profile of Charles Schulz. His wife and son join the discussion as well as a couple other participants. There’s some footage of “Sparky” at work on the strip in his office.
It’s another groundbreaking collection of timeless cartoons, Charlie Brown. Certainly a couple of these are a letdown, but not because they are bad pieces at all. The bar was set so high with the first specials that expectations are so much higher for these stories. All of your favorites are there. Don’t even think about passing it up. This finishes your 70’s collection. On to the 80’s, please. “Good grief! The whole world must be coming to an end!”
Warner has provided a clip of the peek at Sparky’s office. Bang it here to see a preview: Sparky’s Office