I don't care how many Germans he's shot down, no dog is better than Judge Daryl Loomis.
Our review of Peanuts 1970s Collection: Volume 2, published May 26th, 2010, is also available.
Peanuts is the standard bearer for comic strip quality and Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the strip, was an unmitigated genius of the form. For half a century, Schulz entered the hearts and minds of three generations, four panels at a time, and has become an indelible part of pop culture. Beginning in the 1960s, producer Bill Melendez turned Schulz's strips into animated television productions, the finest comic strip adaptations ever made (unless you count the greatness of the Garfield Saturday morning extravaganza) many of which have become classics in their own right.
Here we have the first of two collections for productions that aired during the 1970s. While none of these specials are the timeless classics that It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas have become, each represents brilliant family entertainment that appeals to both an adult's intellect and a child's sensibility. Six Peanuts specials are spread over two discs, making up the first half of the disco decade:
Play It Again, Charlie Brown (1971)
You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown
There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown (1973)
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown (1974)
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie
These Peanuts specials retain their appeal for the same reasons the comic strip has. For kids, the antics of the gang—especially Snoopy and Woodstock—are frantic and funny. For adults, these characters are some of the most anxiety-ridden personas in history. Our worries haven't changed all that much over the years, and the themes of loneliness, failure, and heartbreak resonate just as profoundly today as they did in 1970. Charlie Brown, history's most lovable loser, fails and fails, yet we continue to root for him through countless cringe-inducing situations. Lucy's the girl we all love to hate, the big sister who antagonizes everybody and then expects their help when the chips are down. Linus, with all his Freudian issues, carries his blanket and sucks his thumb, but still can lend shockingly correct philosophical advice; if only he wasn't going on about his weird holiday ideas. Snoopy and Woodstock live in their own world, as a Laurel and Hardy style pair. Their plots, while often completely separate from the kids, are the most traditionally funny and a good break from some very uncomfortable situations.
This first collection of specials are uncut and, despite their age, look fantastic, full of brilliantly saturated colors. There is some dust and grain on the prints, but they are three decades old and look better than ever before. The sound is equally fine. Though presented in mono, the single channel dialogue is perfectly clear and the music of the great Vince Guaraldi sounds fantastic. This is especially true for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, where the composer—taking a nod from Miles Davis—turns electric for Snoopy's fight with an anthropomorphized lawn chair. The only bonus feature is a short featurette entitled "Woodstock: Creating Snoopy's Sidekick," an excellent look at the creation of that little bird, from his origins as a hippy antagonist for Snoopy to his evolution into the beagle's only confidante. It adds a lot of depth to a character who is generally only heard speaking in sound effects. I would like to have seen more on the extras front, but the programs are so good it doesn't really matter.
Are you kidding? Peanuts 1970s Collection: Volume 1 is near perfect family entertainment. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• IMDb: Play It Again, Charlie Brown
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