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Peanuts: 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 (1971-1974)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 10/20/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/1/2009

Timeliness and consistency are not a big thing, or clearly a priority when it comes to home video. Simply go to any DVD chat forum and count the number of "When is the next volume of _____ coming out?" discussions that you see. Companies will release one volume of a series (be that a television show or some other string of related productions) and then take a disproportionate amount of time to release another one. This inevitably leads to grumblings amongst DVD fans. However, you can't accuse Warner Home Video of doing that with their Peanuts releases. Peanuts: 1960's Collection came out in July of this year, and now, a little over 3 months later, we get Peanuts: 1970's Collection, Vol. 1. You can't complain about the short wait, and that "Vol.1" implies that more are on the way.

Peanuts: 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 contains six Peanuts specials, spaced out across two discs.

-- "Play It Again, Charlie Brown" (1971) -- Well, if you're going to have a bad entry in a set, you might as well get it out of the way quickly. This one is labeled "First Time on DVD!" and it's easy to see why. We are used to seeing Sally mooning over Schroeder while he plays his piano. In fact, this is an accepted part of the Peanuts universe. But to devote nearly all of a show to this is simply reckless. We have scene after scene of Sally harassing Schroeder, which is maddening. Then, Sally's friends suggest that she join a band in order to impress Schroeder, and this goes nowhere. Everyone involved in this one should be ashamed.

-- "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown" (1972) -- Following "Play It Again, Charlie Brown" anything would have seemed good, and this is a solid entry. If nothing else, it must be admired for the truth in its title. Within the first few minutes, Sally does a poll and decides that Charlie Brown shouldn't run for class president, and so, he doesn't. Therefore, he can't be elected. Good job, title! Instead, Linus runs for president, and given his strong moral code, there are some interesting developments. This show is clearly a reflection of its time in history and the Watergate scandals, as there are allusions to politicians being crooks. Also, you can't go wrong with an appearance of Snoopy as Joe Cool trying to fit in with the school kids.

-- "There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown" (1973) -- I didn't recognize the title of this one, but once it started, I immediately recognized it and realized that it's one of the weirder Peanuts specials. The kids go on a school field trip to an art museum. Once they arrive, Charlie Brown sees that Peppermint Patty's school is there as well. For some reason (illiteracy is the only real explanation here), Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Snoopy (what is he doing there?) go into a supermarket, thinking that it's the museum. Clearly referencing Andy Warhol's art, they mistake consumer goods for art. Meanwhile, Lucy and Linus are in the real museum, wondering where Charlie Brown is. While all of this is happening, Peppermint Patty admits that she likes Charlie Brown. (Really? Her? I always thought that...never mind.) There are some good moments here with Snoopy pretending that he works in the store, but on the whole, it's just weird. (And is the title the inspiration for the line from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?)

-- "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (1973) -- If there's anything that Peanuts does well, it's holidays and this is another classic. Charlie Brown is preparing to go to his grandmother's house of Thanksgiving dinner. Peppermint Patty calls to report that she doesn't have any specific plans for the day, and essentially invites herself to Charlie Brown's, despite the fact that he won't be there. (He's do fluster to argue with her.) She then calls back to say that she's brining Marcie and Franklin. Linus suggests that Charlie Brown throw together a Thanksgiving lunch, and he can then go to his grandmother's for dinner. With Snoopy's help, toast and popcorn are served, and the results are quite funny. The scene where Snoopy fights the folding chair is one of my favorites, and the toast making scene is a classic. (This show was recently reference on Greek, so I guess it's still relevant today.)

-- "It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown" (1974) -- I hadn't seen this one in years. Woodstock builds a nice, new nest. When he returns home from visiting Snoopy, he finds the nest to be missing. Snoopy dons a Sherlock Holmes outfit and proceeds to search for the nest. This one doesn't have much plot, as we (well, at least those of us who were paying attention at the beginning) already know where the nest went. The great fun here is watching Snoopy in action. Nearly all of this special is dedicated to Snoopy and Woodstock, so if you're a fan of this clever dog, you're in luck. Be sure to notice how Snoopy knocks on a door. This gets me every time.

-- "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" (1974) -- Having met with so much success with other holidays, the Peanuts team tackles Easter. The problem with this show is that it has too many echoes from the other specials. Peppermint Patty is very concerned with dying Easter eggs, an enterprise which Marcie keeps ruining. Linus tells her not to worry, for the Easter Beagle will take care of all of that. What? This special does focus on Snoopy quite a bit and it's our first chance to see Snoopy dancing with the imaginary bunnies. There is also a nice subplot with Snoopy getting a new house for Woodstock. Not a classic, but it has its moments.

Peanuts: 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 misses the football once again on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The six shows are all presented in their original full-frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio. For the most part, they look good. The images are sharp and clear, showing little grain. Some of the shows do display defects from the source material, but these are usually limited to black marks and small cuts. Only once did I notice something which looked like missing frames. The colors look very good and help to bring the shows to life. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital mono audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The sound is exactly what we would expect from these shows. The dialogue is always audible and never muffled and the music sounds fine.

Peanuts: 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 offers one only extra feature. "Woodstock: Creating Snoopy's Sidekick" (13 minutes) is a brief documentary which explores the history of the famous bird from the world of Peanuts. Several experts, cartoonists, and historians talk about when Woodstock first appeared and how he was intigrated into the comic strips. They discuss how the character changed and evolved, and how they effected Snoopy. The piece is interesting, but it is actually too deep at times -- sometimes a bird is just a bird.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long