"Good grief, a home run."
It begins with an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show (1983). Snoopy thinks he’s a vulture for a moment. Linus tries to get rid of his blanket, then Snoopy tries to get his Linus’s blanket. Then Linus uses his blanket as a hammock. Then Snoopy tries to get Linus’s blanket again. Marcie and Peppermint Patty skip school because Patty thinks she’s stupid. Why does Marcie keep calling Patty “Sir”? Then Charlie Brown tries to get some baseball practice in on a Rainy Day. It doesn’t go well. Good God.
It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown! (1992). Chuck wants to start practice for the next baseball season while there’s still snow on the ground. When spring actually arrives, Leland wants to try out for “the big leagues.” They’re pretty bad and they don’t even have uniforms. But they can get uniforms from the hardware store as their sponsor if they win a ball game. There’s also a black kid who has brought some funk to the group. Spoiler: They win the game. And these new uniforms don’t turn out to guarantee the success the gang expected.
When reviewing, one should take up the goals of those making the book, film, or television show and address their success in achieving these goals. Surely, the goal of anything Peanuts is to entertain children and give them some kind of moral. Go Snoopy Go (2012) has two opportunities to do so. One an episode of television from the early 80’s and the other a special from the early 90’s. Neither hold the wit or emotion of the two great Peanuts specials A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966). Note the year of those programs. Perhaps it is unsurprising that after twenty or thirty years, the essence has been used up somewhat.
Like most else in the show, the music in It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown is terribly out of theme. It’s early 90’s techno pop. The shameless tokenism on display is quite painful. Franklin first appeared in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) (or 1968 in the comic strip) and as his presence is unremarkable, is presumably an attempt to let white children know that black people exist and are to be tolerated if not addressed directly. We can even dance to those fresh beats they lay down. It was quite laughable.
The greatest benefit of this experience has been to help me understand a number of allusions in Arrested Development (2003)—namely Franklin and Mr. Manager (Linus and Charlie Browns were obvious). There is no real excuse for so limited a collection as this to exist. One episode of a mediocre program and a mediocre special. These things ought only to be found in full collections for diehard fans and stoners who find the art to be either humorous or entrancing. Children should read books or watch the other excellent specials already named above.
Bonus Features Trailers (Peanuts Holiday Collection, Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Peanuts Halloween/Elected)
"Happiness is... Peanuts: Go Snoopy Go!" is on sale October 9, 2012 and is not rated. Directed by Bill Melendez. Written by Charles M. Schulz.