As the Peanuts gang continues through the 70s, Charlie Brown keeps getting humiliated, and Lucy is still a bitch. But we love it!
I was ready to dismiss this second collection of Peanuts cartoons from the 1970s, knowing full well that they did not contain any of the shows that more than generations consider classics. There’s no Christmas special, nor the Great Pumpkin, or even the Thanksgiving special. What you will find are some second-tier holidays, as well as some other bizarro entries. But they all still manage to be entertaining (which is not so true when the gang shows up in the 1980s).
Most of the episodes in the collection have been available on other discs, sometimes as the main attraction with some extra, lesser episodes thrown into the mix. This is true, for instance, of “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown” (1975) where Charlie Brown is humiliated as usual, this time for not receiving a valentine in class (is this cruel custom still allowed in schools these days?). Scraping the bottom of the holiday is evident with “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown” (1976), where in the spirit of tree-planting, the gang plants a tree on the pitcher’s mound in the baseball field. Oops.
Speaking of baseball, sports ends up being a dominant theme in this collection. “You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown” (1975) has Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty racing in a motocross competition, against a mysterious contestant named The Masked Marvel (aka Snoopy). In “You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown” (1979), Charlie Brown gets volunteered to participate in the grueling decathlon at the school’s track and field event. Those of us of a certain age will appreciate the Bruce Jenner reference, plus this episode has a nice message that even if you can’t be good at ten things, you are probably good at at least one of them. In “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown” (1977), Charlie Brown gets to kiss the Little Red-Haired Girl as her escort at the big football game… that is after he humiliates himself again and again as the kicker, losing the game for the team (why does Lucy have to be such a bitch, pulling the ball away each time?).
Newly available in this collection for the first time is the rather bizarre “What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown” (1978), which is a Snoopy-centric episode where Snoopy fantasizes that he is a fierce, beastly Alaskan sled dog, à la White Fang or Call of the Wild. I found this entertaining, because of my interest in the Iditarod and such, but I can imagine some viewers kind of scratching their heads.
The 2-disc collection certainly had room to pack in more goodies, but they left it with only one extra: a new documentary called “You’re Groovy, Charlie Brown: A Look at Peanuts in the ’70s”. But it IS a very good documentary, with lots for fans to enjoy, including lots of interviews with Charles “Sparky” Shultz’s family, as well as co-workers. I like the story about Shultz’s panic that his favorite drawing pen company was going out of business, so he bought out all the remaining pen nibs that they produced in their factory. Good stuff!