STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $29.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 150 minutes

  • Featurette

The Pitch

A gang of local youths terrorize a small town with their conservative views on life. They were last seen in the company of a dog taking orders from a small yellow bird.

The Humans

Todd Barbee, Melanie Kohn, Stephen Shea, Donna LeTourneau, Jimmy Ahrens

The Nutshell

Charles Schulz entered the 1970s on a personal high. Merchandising, television specials and various ways of whoring out his beloved comic strip had turn the man into a millionaire. As his annual animated Specials continued to dominate the Big Three Networks, Schulz  began to realize that he was nearing the end of applicable Holidays. Fearing that he might repeat himself, Schulz started to step away from the specials and allow more outside direction of where the specials should go. Naturally, the push was for generalized themes of responsibility and learning how to play well with others. It was to be safe kiddie stuff that wouldn’t offend parents or tug at the minds of kids.

I don’t care what The Great Pumpkin has been telling you, Linus. The blanket at your age makes you look like a mongoloid.

The Lowdown

Peanuts had a strong television debut that was followed by several classic Holiday specials. Unfortunately, this streak dried up around the release of 1975’s Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown. Seriously, people. Name a Peanuts Special after this period that you can recall. The gang had a ten year golden streak that started with the Christmas special and ended with the really sad Valentine special. By this time, Schulz seemed to be pouring his creative juices into the Peanuts motion pictures that actually seemed to be improving with every offering. What about those flicks, Warner Brothers? I want to see a Peanuts Motion Picture collection, since we’re getting into the lackluster television specials.

The other five specials presented on the disc go to show why the Peanuts franchise began to falter in later decades. The themes began to become more generic and more holidays were mined for material. Honestly, no child gives a damn about Arbor Day. The rest of the specials don’t really focus on Holidays, but they tackle crap like being a good sport and getting your first kiss. The first kiss special when followed by the Valentine’s Day special makes you shrug. The Valentine’s Day special was so well-written, that the quick fix happy ending of First Kiss is annoying. Valentine’s Day teaches Charlie and the other Peanuts that love isn’t always easy and that you might get your feelings hurt. But, a few years later and it doesn’t matter. Love is grand and everyone gets to have some in their life. What happened to consistency?!?

What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown was a surprising effort that allowed for Charlie and Snoopy to take the main stage. One night, Snoopy gets into Charlie Brown’s food and gorges himself. What follows is a delirious dream where Snoopy has become part of an arctic sled dog team. Realizing that he has to forgo his juvenile ways to stay alive, Snoopy grows nastier and lashes out at Charlie Brown. From the softer specials of the late 1970s, this release stands out as an odd middle finger to the complacency of the Schulz Institution. This creative period also marked Schulz’s divorce from his first wife and how bitter he seemed to grow with the material. If you want to go more in-depth about this period, I’d recommend reading Schulz and Peanuts. David Michaelis got pretty detailed with this period in Schulz’s life and there’s even a few sections that detail where Schulz seemed to lose that spark with the television offerings.

The A/V Quality for the release is relatively impressive for a standard definition release of animated material that hasn’t been seen in some time. It pales in comparison to Warner Brothers’ HD clean-up of the classic Peanuts Holiday trilogy, but it’s not like we’re expecting to see these shorts on Blu-Ray. In the end, you have to be a really big fan to purchase this release, as there aren’t a lot of must-have moments with this release. I appreciate that Warner Brothers is continuing to take a chance on these decade-based releases, it’s just that they would be rise to spread the wealth around. The Peanuts legacy is more than the Television Specials, which leaves a lot room for the motion pictures and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I’d be amazed if the powers that be released an 80s Collection, but if they do…I’ll watch it.

Well, Chuck. There can still be something between us. How far back can you tuck it?

The Package

comes with a single featurette about how the Peanuts made it through the mid 1970s, while staying true to their origins. Charles Schulz guides the featurette through a series of archival footage, where he explains how the characters were evolving into something bigger than he anticipated. It’s a short piece, but you almost seem to catch the feeling that Schulz was getting a little lost with his creations. It happens, so you can’t really fault the guy for trying his best to steer the ship. There’s something to creating an iconic series that almost seems to crush the humanity out of its genesis. Watching Schulz try to explain away his characters, while not mentioning their current state is kind of sad. He wants to remember as they were and not as what they were at that point.

6.5 out of 10