11/03/2009

TV on DVD: Peanuts 1970's Collection, Volume 1



Now Available to Own



Read Jen's Review of Peanuts 1960's Collection




With Schroeder's confession that, “like everybody else, I've sold out,” Sally's decision that she doesn't want to return to school because she can't open her locker, and Charlie Brown's acknowledgment that his “anxieties have anxieties," we quickly discover that Charles Schulz's beloved Peanuts have come-of-age in the 1970s.

Of course, Schulz's comic strip-- which he repeatedly described was drawn more for adults than children-- was always filled with precocious dialogue. Still, being that the 70s also found our nation in the midst of Vietnam, Watergate, and the sexual revolution-- it was only natural that Schulz's characters began to adapt to the changing times.



And perhaps this is best appreciated by his creation of Snoopy's iconic yellow bird-kick, Woodstock, whose name-- as shared in the set's succinct documentary-- obviously hearkened to the yearning for peace, love, and music staged to drown out the chaos of the war torn society in 1969.

Therefore, in the strip-- and before he was utilized to stronger effect in the specials-- Woodstock took on an enigmatic life of his own. Essentially Schulz offered Snoopy a motherless companion (possibly a personal decision for Schulz who had a hard time getting over the loss of his mother), whose conversations were drawn using dashes or “hieroglyphic” shapes that only Woodstock's best friend could translate.



As such, some scholars felt that Woodstock's existence provided the ensemble (and Snoopy in particular) with an ideal Laurel and Hardy device whereas others felt it fit right into the absurdly creative hero's journey of a dog and his bird. Whatever the case may be, Woodstock and Snoopy's alter-ego Joe Cool were available to help keep the laughs flowing, as the pressures of school along with the-- then unnamed-- perils of multitasking began to invade the daily lives of the Peanuts gang.



Filled with more exquisite music from Vince Guaraldi (including the option of two free iTunes downloads) who provided the specials with a funky blend of jazz and rock along with the strains of Beethoven performed with gusto by the obsessive child prodigy Schroeder, the collection boasts six remastered TV specials including two that had never been made previously available to viewers on DVD.



Although the Thanksgiving and Easter Beagle episodes are instantly memorable to those of us who recall waiting for the TV air-date of Peanuts holiday programs throughout the calendar year, the first volume of the 1970's doesn't have the impact that the 60's volume did with such iconic classics as The Charlie Brown Christmas Special and the Great Pumpkin. Advantageously however, and similar to the 60's set was Warner Brothers' decision to release the definitive collection by decade with this initial installment of 70's classics that further enrich the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Shulz's Peanuts by including episodes which I previously hadn't seen.

This time around, we're treated to It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown along with the set's opener and my own music loving, new-found gem-- Play It Again, Charlie Brown. The amusing Play was as delightful as the 60's new-to-disc work He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, which centered on Snoopy's escape to Peppermint Patty's when he was sent to obedience school.



And while in the 70's Charlie Brown isn't dumbstruck by his 60's crush of "the little red haired girl," since schoolwork now demands that There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown, in the 70's set, Lucy's hormones are the ones raging as she steps up her efforts to lure Schroeder away from Beethoven. Enjoyably, once again the delightful scene-stealer Peppermint Patty acts as the wise-beyond-her-years advice giver who really should be running Lucy's psychiatric stand as she helps Lucy figure out a way to flatter Schroeder into noticing her by landing him a gig. And two episodes later Patty is back assisting Marcie in her field trip stage fright as half of the Peanuts gang unknowingly end up in a grocery store instead of the art museum.



Running roughly 175 minutes and nicely remastered to clean up the dated TV prints of the animated shows, the amount of care applied to each individual special in terms of a wonderful audio track and improved picture clarity makes this another must-own for fans.



Yet, nonetheless, I do wish that WB had release the entire decade in one set or perhaps had served up all of the decades as a all-encompassing collection to prevent excess purchase of the same specials since no doubt, they'll eventually be presented in some sort of compilation down the road. Still until then, I'm happy to enjoy these classic specials any way they're offered to us and doubly so when remastered to beautiful effect and made accessible with audio tracks and subtitles in as many languages as there are titles included in the 2-disc set.



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