by Dustin P. Anderson
In this collection we view the Peanuts television specials that have nothing to do with any major holidays. Instead this collection focuses on lesser known episodes that center around other values that should be important in a person’s life. These episodes cover the Olympics, a trip to France, a first crush, and much more. Charlie Brown and the gang are presented here to make the audience laugh and learn, with valuable lessons for kids and classic moments for adults.
This collection is an important one to own if you are a Peanuts fan, and even a great thing to have if you aren’t a Peanuts fan. This holds the best,that this show has to offer, away from the holidays, and does not disappoint. The only unfortunate part about this being filled with episodes that hold no holiday value is that those who are unfamiliar with the series are less inclined to buy it. The great part about this having little to no affiliation to the holidays is that it has more replay value than anything that only comes out during a certain time of year. Even if I owned It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! I would still only watch it around holidays. I can watch Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown at any time and not get tired of it. The other great thing about this collection is that it is filled with the same Peanuts values that viewers are used to. Instead of the lesson of the story being hidden under layers of subtext, the creators like to take a direct approach. Normally this doesn’t work, and most animated series that try to make it work are remembered as “too childish” like The Muppet Babies or Teamo Supremo. When the Peanuts make their lessons more evident it seems endearing, and the lessons presented in this disk are great for kids to try learning. Lessons like how to deal with a crush that doesn’t like you, being a supportive opponent or a “good sport” as it is known, dealing with a friend leaving, or even teaching the youth about history. This is a show that every generation can enjoy, and I am glad to be treated to the best that this series has to offer.
If the newer generation has a problem with anything, it will be the dated animation. This show is running on mainly on 3’s which gives us a very low framerate production. There is nothing inherently wrong with a show that runs on 3’s (since a lot of my favorite shows run on 3s, like Dragon Ball Z), but since most of the currently airing television shows that are appropriate for children run on 2s, 1s, or are computer-animated, this would be archaic in comparison. I do love the art style of Peanuts as a whole. It is very simplistic and good at creating a lot of material easily. Even when the art gets more involved the true Peanuts framework shines through. One scene in particular I can think of is in the episode What Have we Learned, Charlie Brown? The creators show us old footage of WW2 (like some of us may have seen in history class), but they color it. Not only do they color it, but they color it as if it was being colored in by a child, and seeing that animation come to life is a perfect fit for this series. It’s beautiful to see splashes of color as opposed to carefully-drawn pieces come to life.
My favorite episode in this collection was What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? Given my military heritage and background, it is easy for me to relate to this episode; however, even if I wasn’t affiliated at all with the military, it would still be fascinating. The art may have been amazing, but Linus’ words spoken over the interesting visuals were masterfully executed. There is something about how childlike and innocent Linus sounds that made him the perfect candidate for a grueling history lesson. The words sink in more, and it doesn’t sound quite like a lecture. It sounds more like admiration. Even the concept of “learning something” didn’t exactly have to mean “what did Charlie Brown (aka the audience) learn about WWII and WWI respectively”; it could mean more about “what has Charlie Brown learned about the freedoms he has or the sacrifices that were made?” The knowledge is great, but the lesson is powerful.
In the end, I can’t suggest this collection to audiences enough. If you are trying to teach your child values early, and they haven’t gotten too used to more advanced animation, then I would buy this. I can’t wait to watch these episodes over and over again.