These cartoons made Appellate Judge Tom Becker feel like a maniac, and not the dancing kind.
Not to come across like one of those lamentatious jugheads who believes rock and roll died with Buddy Holly and the Deisgnated Hitter rule destroyed the core of baseball, but there's a lot to be said for keeping the purity of the Peanuts franchise.
Any Peanuts animated special is going to pale in comparison to the classics. A Charlie Brown Christmas is arguably one of the best half hours of animation of all time, and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is only a few rungs behind. Even lesser Peanuts such as It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving have a lot more charm than the average cartoon.
The appeal of the Peanuts cartoons has, naturally, created a demand for more Peanuts cartoons. Unfortunately, and typically, filling that demand has taken its toll on the quality of the product.
Here we have two Peanuts cartoons of particularly low quality. Even though Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz is credited as the writer on both, it's hard to really see his influence.
Snoopy's Reunion tells the story of how Charlie Brown came to own his famous beagle. We open at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, where its owner, an old man with a white moustache, is talking to Snoopy's mother.
Yes, you read that right: "An old man with a moustache was talking to Snoopy's mother." Sorry, folks, you lost me at "hello." Why do we have adult characters in a Peanuts story? The whole thing is just wrong.
The rest of the story involves Snoopy and his seven brothers and sisters. I knew he had siblings, but only Spike and Olaf ever made it into the series, as I recall. Evidently, there's also Marbles, Molly, Belle, Rover, and Andy. When they're not nursing, the pups all play in band, complete with drums, guitars, and an ol' whiskey jug. Eventually, Snoopy is adopted by some never-before-seen child and her chatty mother. He is returned because their building gets a "No Pets" policy, and then adopted by Charlie Brown. The usual jokes ensue (CB tries to teach Snoopy to sit, Snoopy gets a Barcalounger), and at the end, they contact Snoopy's siblings for a reunion. Dogs play country music on instruments. The End.
Next up is 1984's It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown, the Peanuts homage to Flashdance. Disappointingly, Lucy does not get a bucket of water dumped on her head. There's really not much of a story here, mainly just segments in which characters sing early '80's dance music-inspired ditties about physical fitness and "Simon says" games while everyone does callisthenic-looking dances. At one point, Snoopy goes into a disco and becomes Flashbeagle, busting his moves while all the grownups at the disco cheer him on.
Yes, you read that right: "grownups at the disco." Since the Peanuts kids, through the years, have been allowed to do things like make meals and direct school plays without adult supervision, why not let them populate a disco as well? Instead, we get men with bad haircuts and women with breasts, as though Snoopy crossed over to an episode of Josie and the Pussycats. Beyond that, there are some typical jokes about Peppermint Patti falling asleep at school and Sally Brown's increasingly Fatal Attraction-like feelings for Linus.
Snoopy's Reunion doesn't look too bad, transfer-wise, but Flashbeagle seems awfully worn. Audio is fine on both. Flashbeagle is listed as an extra, so I'm listing it that way here, even though it's really a double feature. The other extra is another reunion, that of various actors who voiced Peanuts characters through the years. We see clips and stills of them as children, and we see them now, signing autographs at a convention. It's a pleasant featurette, and it also offers some background on Schulz and how he worked.
Neither of these Peanuts cartoons looks like my recollection of Peanuts cartoons. The artwork is very typical Saturday morning, and even though Schulz is credited as the writer on both, neither has the kind of inventiveness or wit that you'd expect from a Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy's Reunion sports an odd country soundtrack and Flashbeagle, as noted, is a watered-down dance track.
Breasts and moustaches have no place in Peanuts land. I know not every entry in the Peanuts oeuvre is going to be a classic, but even by the low-bar standards of something like It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, Snoopy's Reunion and It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown are bottom of the barrel.
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