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Peanuts summer specials

Friday 7/10/20

This is cheerier. I was interviewed the other day about two Peanuts specials related to summer. People usually don't know these specials, so I thought I'd put them up, since you can stream them for free, if you know where to look--at least for now. The Peanuts specials rose or fell on the collective back of the voice actors. The original group they had--and I'm not sure how much thought or time was invested in other groups going forward--was integral to the success of the specials. Think of how Charlie Brown talks, Lucy, Linus. Those three especially.

Clearly, the Peanuts team made more of an effort on A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, than on the other specials. They're pretty much note perfect. Every line works, and especially with the latter, the animation is beautiful. Truly artful. When Linus and Lucy leave their house to get a pumpkin at the local pumpkin patch, note the changing colors of the sky--those pinks which become the purples. Not as much went into the other specials, and a lot of people think the second one was that Halloween installment, but there was one from July of that same year of 1966 that was, in fact, special #2. It's the original voice cast, and it's called Charlie Brown's All Stars. Baseball theme. What I really like about it is that you never see the opposition squad. Even during the game sequences. I thought that was clever. When you're a kid, you're in the backyard, you're throwing pop-ups to yourself, pretending someone hit a fly. There's that component of imagination to summer, which I think is perhaps the cornerstone of the season. Yes, you're playing with your little friends, and yes, whether as a child or an adult, you gather with people, your peers, you relax in groups. But there's still an imagination aspect. The summer fires imagination.

So here's that one.

And then, in 1969, we have It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. A lot of the original voice cast has changed, but it's still the original voice actor for Charlie Brown himself, who was going to go to have quite the checkered life. This special aired in late September, so everyone was back at school for a while. I liked that they dropped this episode about the summer at that time, even though the summer must have seemed forever ago. The gist is that the kids have to write a 500 word "essay" on their summer vacation, which for all of them is going to focus on their time together at camp. I imagine this is wrong now--though it's still what kids are going to do, reality being reality--but at this camp, the girls and the boys battled in various activities, and the girls destroyed the boys at everything. Peppermint Patty is in this one, but no Marcy. And you see Woodstock for like a second. He's not named Woodstock yet--he's just yellow bird dude. His name comes from the festival, and that had only happened the month before. Watch the special here.


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