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Peanuts: 1960's Collection
Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 7/7/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/15/2009
I don't want to imply that I get too busy with this website (because that wouldn't be entirely true), but sometimes I hurry through things. When the announcement was made for Peanuts: 1960's Collection, I'll be honest, I didn't read the product description. I simply assumed that it was something that I would want to review and moved on from there. I wasn't around the in 1960s, but I was around in the 70s, and I clearly remember watching the Peanuts specials when they would air, so I was going to be familiar with everything in this package, right? Wrong, Warner Home Video has assembled an interesting line-up of old classics and forgotten treasures.
Peanuts: 1960's Collection contains six specials spread out across two discs.
-- "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) -- Just in case you've never seen this one, Charlie Brown just doesn't have the Christmas spirit, so Lucy suggest that he direct the Christmas play. But, no one wants to listen to Charlie Brown and they don't share his vision of Christmas. What can I say about this one which hasn't already been discussed in the past 40 years? It's a classic, plain and simple. From Charlie Brown's despair over Christmas spirit to the sad little tree to the music, it's full of memorable ideas and images. However, my favorite part is still Snoopy's audition to play various animals. It's also interesting to see how overtly non-secular this show is. I don't know if anyone would attempt that today.
-- "Charlie Brown's All-Stars" (1966) -- Following "A Charlie Brown Christmas", CBS (I assume) must have been clamoring for anything Charlie Brown related and this is what they got. Charlie Brown is excited about the upcoming baseball season, but the rest of the team is tired of losing and they decide to quit. Charlie Brown is able to secure corporate sponsorship for the team (I'm not making this up), but it comes at a price. This is easily the weakest offering in the set, as the story is pedestrian and the baseball jokes get old very fast.
-- "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" (1966) -- A lot of what we get in the Peanuts specials feels very autobiographical, and I don't know if anyone has ever accused Charles Schulz of being a creative genius. But, to this today, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" remains a singularly unique offering. It's Halloween and all of the kids are excited about trick or treating, save for Linus. Linus is convinced that something called "The Great Pumpkin", which appears to be the Halloween equivalent of Santa Claus, will arise from the pumpkin patch and bestow goodies upon the children. Of course, everyone else assumes that he's nuts. Charlie Brown attempts to make a ghost costume, and the result is something which resembles a potato. This is probably my favorite Peanuts special, if for nothing else, because of the "I got a rock." line, which I quote on a regular basis. Upon further inspection, this show has a strong subplot about the importance of faith which belies its simple holiday exterior.
"You're In Love, Charlie Brown" (1967) -- So, I guess that there weren't stalking laws in 1967, huh? It's the last week of school and Charlie Brown is obsessing over the "little red-haired girl", whom he loves from afar. With school ending, he's running out of chances to talk to her. How can he get her attention? This show is nearly as one-note as "Charlie Brown's All-Stars", but Charlie Brown's obsession does give it a sense of urgency. Of course, it's funny watching this ostensibly innocent show today, knowing that Charlie Brown would be sent to the school counselor if he exhibited these behaviors.
"He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown" (1968) -- I don't know if there's anyone who truly hates Peanuts, but I can see Snoopy being an acquired taste. Long before having "tude" became vogue, Snoopy was carving his own niche in the world. If you like Snoopy and revel in his anthropomorphism, then you'll love "He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown". Snoopy has been creating chaos all over the neighborhood, so Charlie Brown decides to send Snoopy back to Daisy Hill Puppy Farm for obedience training. In an odd story point, Snoopy is forced to walk there, and as it's a two-day journey, he's to spend the night at Peppermint Patty's. (This show perpetuates the idea that Peppermint Patty doesn't understand that Snoopy is a dog.) While there, Snoopy treats Patty as a servant, until she turns the tables on him. While this show doesn't make any sense and it's short on plot, seeing Snoopy in action is definitely worth it and there's something about seeing him in an apron which gets me every time.
"It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown" (1969) -- Of the more obscure specials offered here, all seemed familiar save for this one. I don't know if I've ever seen it before now. Charlie Brown and his friends recount their trip to summer camp in which the boys and girls were constantly competing in various activities. It's become an accepted practice that adults have no presence in Peanuts, but this show is especially odd as Lucy signs up everyone for camp -- whether they wanted to go or not! Most of this reminded me of the 1977 feature film Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. (Which needs to be released on DVD!)
So, Peanuts: 1960's Collection is a decidedly mixed bag. Fans will most likely already own some of these shows, so they may want to think twice before picking this one up. However, the hi-jinks in "He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown" make it a no-brainer for me.
Peanuts: 1960's Collection gets yelled at by a muffled trumpet on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The shows are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratios. They have all been remastered, which shows. The colors look very good, most notably reds and green, and the image is notably clear. There are still some minor defects from the source material, such as small scratches, but these aren't distracting. The DVD has a Dolby Digital mono audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As one would hope, the music sounds fine here. In addition, the dialogue is clear and the sound is free from hissing or popping.
The only extra on Peanuts: 1960's Collection is "Vince Guaraldi: The Maestro of Menlo Park" (37 minutes). This is a biography of the jazz musician whose music has come to define the Peanuts specials. The piece contains archival photos, old recordings, and comments from Vince's family, his contemporaries, and those involved in the creation of the shows.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long