Although the difference in the Peanuts specials may not be immediately apparent to the casual viewer, ardent fans listening in will notice an audible change from the trio of remastered episodes served up on this collection’s first disc compared with those included on its second DVD that together wrap up the televised adaptations of Charles M. Schulz’s comic strips in the ‘70s.
As this set contains the three final episodes featuring the Peanuts trademark jazzy scores from the legendary composer Vince Guaraldi who passed away in 1976, Peanuts 1970s Collection Volume 2 marks a bittersweet farewell to the maestro whose music supplied more than just a small share of the specials’ heart.
And while those skipping around randomly from special to special may miss the subtle change, Guaraldi’s impact becomes all the more apparent for its absence in the disc’s weakest and least engrossing entry, “What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown,” which intriguingly not only makes its first appearance on DVD (for an obvious reason of quality, you’ll quickly discover) but also marks the series’ first installment following the composer’s death.
Fortunately however, the drop in worthwhile content is short-lived as the Peanuts quickly pick up momentum in the ultimate romantic payoff episode “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown,” which finds our lovesick lead finally getting the chance to make an impression on “the little red-haired girl” he’s been obsessing about since the ‘60s.
Sadly for “Chuck,” his date with the girl comes several episodes after he experiences the youthful twinges of heartache when Valentine’s Day doesn’t go as planned not only for Charlie but his equally bewildered friends whose misguided crushes find Linus chasing his beautiful teacher at the Birchwood School where the students are all in an uproar.
However, our series favorite lead is soon given the opportunity for “hero time,” in one of two sports-themed titles -- the dialogue-light and musically heavy Emmy award winning "You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown." Concluding the action with Peppermint Patty’s adventurous brainchild in the form of a rousing charity motocross race, Charlie must overcome a group of fierce competitors including his own dog Snoopy masquerading as the “Masked Marvel” to make it to the finish line.
Normally you’d assume that with the topic of Arbor Day, the series creators had officially run out of ideas for holiday specials, but luckily Guaraldi’s final score and an ingenious premise of Lucy, Sally, Snoopy, Woodstock and Linus deciding to conserve the team’s baseball mound helps salvage an admittedly less inspired subject.
Wrapping up the two-disc set that also contains a decade themed historical featurette on the Peanuts with a final Emmy winning entry that lands Charlie Brown back in the sporting mindset as a contestant in the school’s Junior Olympics decathlon, the gang realizes that even though they figured nobody would be dumb enough to enter ten events, Charlie, the Masked Marvel and Marcie decide to prove them wrong by aspiring to win the event for their school.
Preserving the original mono sound and full screen standard television aspect ratio for which the animators, editors and technicians originally created the specials in this roughly 148 minute collector’s edition, Warner Brothers continues to impress with their Peanuts releases, regardless of the fact that content-wise, 1970s Volume 2 isn’t nearly as dazzling as the original ‘60s collection.
Yet with enough wholesome fun and colorful new additions for the series like Snoopy’s appearance as the Masked Marvel and a conscientious effort to move the comic strip into a more modern era with the appearance of teenagers from other schools in one episode and embracing motocross in another, it’s still an entertaining continuation of the characters we’ve come to love, including those like Guaraldi who take their final bow in this collection.
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