The second collection of Charlie Brown films, assembled according to the decade of their release (in this case it’s the 1970s), suffers from a lack of well-known Charlie Brown classics. Making the whole set even more unfortunate is the fact that it’s made up of little films which were typically used as accompaniments on the main rereleases of the big hitters. For example, You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown can be found as the extra for the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown disc. For the fans of Schulz’s work who’ve bought up the discs and VHS tapes as they were released, this is going to feel like an extras disc without a main features package to back it up.
Play It Again, Charlie Brown (1971)
There is a point in Charlie Brown lore where having the main character’s name in the title just doesn’t really fit and this is one of those instances. The story focuses on Lucy’s crush on Schroeder despite his single minded love for his classical musician love: Beethoven. Lucy attempts to work her way into Schroeder’s heart by offering him an opportunity to play Beethoven at a PTA meeting only to have a wrench thrown into the cogs when the PTA asks for a rock concert instead. Will Schroeder play in the impromptu rock band? Or will he remain loyal to Beethoven?
You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)
It’s hard not to think to the election-oriented episodes of West Wing with this one; lots of polling and public perception issues arise as it’s revealed that no one wants Chuck to be the new student body president. Linus, however, is a different story. Sally rallies behind Linus and launches a highly successful campaign until Linus makes a critical error. Can Linus’s image survive his final speech blunder? Will he keep his promises? It’s politics as usual in this fun little short.
There’s No Time For Love, Charlie Brown (1973)
All the rumors and ruminations surrounding the relationship between Peppermint Patty and Marcie (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up) start here. The final project of the school year has arrived and Charlie Brown needs a good grade on a paper about the art museum to keep from falling into academic disarray. Unfortunately for them, they wander into a supermarket and mistake it for the art museum (go public school systems, go!). Through it all a love triangle between Marcie, Patty and Chuck arises leading to an odd relationship between the trio that outlives the story.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
If there’s one heavy hitter in the bunch it’s this one. Easily the one in the group that begs to be watched annually, the gang imposes a Thanksgiving feast upon Charlie Brown by inviting themselves over to his place. However, it should come as no surprise to you that Chuck is ill-prepared to provide a Thanksgiving quality meal and his guests find themselves sorely disappointed by his offerings (namely Peppermint Patty) until they remember that it was never Charlie Brown’s idea that they come over. Just as things begin to settle, Charlie Brown has a solution dropped into his lap.
It’s A Mystery, Charlie Brown (1974)
Snoopy’s little bird friend Woodstock has his home (a nest, for the nature-ignorant) stolen and the canine-bird duo go off in Sherlock Holmes apparel looking to find the thief. After pestering all the typical Charlie Brown characters, the two sleuths discover the perpetrator of the home burglary and steal it back. However, when the accidental thief complains to Charlie Brown about their missing science project the black-zigzag shirted boy puts the pieces together and so begins the life lesson.
It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)
Here we have what could have been the set’s second qualifying heavy-hitter, but it just lacks the same wit and parallelism that makes its other holiday counterparts so memorable. The Great Pumpkin had a really great, albeit heavyhanded, analysis of faith but the Easter Beagle never comes close to anything deep. The kids are preparing for Easter and in the process mess up boiling eggs for dying (Marcie), building birdhouses (snoopy) and begging people to relax so the Easter Beagle can handle it for them (Linus). There’s no single purpose for this one and it feels rather disjointed compared to the others on the set. This should have been the other annual installment in the set, unfortunately there’s little reason to ever watch it after the first run.
DVD Bonus Features
Just as the 1960s set had an excellent featurette on Vince Guaraldi, this one take a close look at one of the more amusing background characters: Woodstock. Like Snoopy, Woodstock manages to convey all his thoughts through physical humor and chicken scratches which bear a striking resemblance to binary. It’s a really nice and deserved piece but as the only extra it leaves the set feeling somewhat barren – making it even more noticeable that it’s lacking in featured cartoons.
It doesn’t seem fair to blame the set. After all, if you’re going to do it by decade the 70s are going to suffer in comparison to the 60s sets, but in which case you might wonder why not group them in a different way so that each box will be worth purchasing.
"Peanuts: 1970's Collection" is on sale October 20, 2009 and is rated NR. Animation, Children & Family, Comedy. Directed by Bill Melendez, Phil Roman. Written by Charles M. Schulz. Starring Bill Melendez, James Ahrens, Linda Ercoli, Lynn Mortensen, Melanie Kohn, Stephen Shea, Todd Barbee.