The Movie: 8/10.
It’s Charlie Brown. It’s from the 80’s, Saturday morning cartoons. What more do I need to say? Fair enough, I was in high school when this hit that old fashioned TV world before the Cartoon Network existed. I might have seemed to old to appreciate such animated goodness, but I was also watching the Smurfs, Punky Brewster (animated series), and others that came out when I was a Junior and Senior…live with it.
This series is funny, witty, and clever, sometimes. It’s also simple, basic, and old fashioned at times. All the favorites make lots of appearances Lucy is bossy and annoying. Linus is kind of weak and wise. Charlie Brown is pretty pitiful. He almost gets on my nerves with his defeatist attitude, but that’s just my aging mind wanting to encourage him to get some self esteem. Sally is my favorite, she’s bold and determined, and independent, most of the time. She does fall for some schemes in the name of love for her man, Linus. Linus loves that blanket, which is charming and yet after almost 30 years of growth we all know that kind of dependency isn’t good for a child’s development.
I can’t forget Peppermint Patty, the rough and tumble young lady who doesn’t take any flack from anyone and has a kind of sad crush on Charlie Brown. She, of course, calls him Chuck and he’s clueless about her longing for him. Marcy calls Peppermint Patty “Sir” all the time and that always makes me laugh. It reminds me of M*A*S*H when Radar calls Major Margaret Houlihan Sir all the time and she says what Peppermint Patty says with great annoyance, “Don’t call me SIR.” Radar and Marcy don’t listen and continue to give these strong women their own brand of respect.
I say that Sally is my favorite, but then I remember Rerun, Lucy and Linus’s little brother. He has his own little bit where he’s a little dude on the back of his mom’s bike, in danger, clearly a nervous wreck, often has to do his business but is not in a position to stop the daily ride to get any relief. His voice is cute and he just seems like a sweet little character to toss in there about once an episode, in the later part of the series.
Snoopy is Snoopy. He’s quite advanced for a dog, of course. He’s spoiled and demanding and takes great advantage of Charlie Brown’s people pleaser personality type. If Snoopy and Lucy would just get over the species thing they would make a lovely couple.
The layout of the show is just a mash up of several strung together cartoon shorts. There is sometimes a loose theme, but I think it was mostly accidental. They just put together collections of 1 – 5 minute mini-stories or even just jokey gags that end with a hopeful big laugh on our side of the TV screen. There is a lot of Snoopy being sneaky and a little odd for a dog. His behavior is questionable but always cute, of course. The episodes seem to go kind of quickly because of the broken up nature, but then sometimes they seem to last quite a while. I suppose it is down to the quality of the little shorts. Sometimes I was fully engaged, laughing, thinking how clever and grown up the humor really was, and sometimes I was thinking the writers and animators were going to the lazier side of things. There were moments when even the drawings themselves looked less toiled over, the stories just throw backs to vaudevillian skits. I do suppose a lot of the writers were in their 50’s at the time, a fair distance from the new generation’s vibe. Sometimes they hit the attitude just right, but it doesn’t really matter once you are there and watching and having fun. It all mostly blends together and as for me, I got lost in the mind of me as that teenager wrapped in a blanket on the couch eating left over pizza and longing for my youth (at the ripe old age of 16).
The them song deserves a note. It starts in the first few episodes as just a bouncy musical number. All of a sudden it gets lyrics and becomes a cheesy 80’s aerobics song fit only for bouncing and sweating too with Olivia Newton John. It’s funny though, so it’s worth listening to once or twice. After that I did the unthinkable, fast forwarded past it most of the time.
The voices change a bit now and then. I’m not sure why, I haven’t investigated it. I imagine something like the cast hitting puberty and their voices changing, or something like that. If not that, well, it doesn’t matter. The best Charlie Brown voice is the saddest, roughest one. I’m not sure who did that one, but it just SOUNDS like Charlie Brown should sound. I like the original Lucy voice as well. It seems to change a couple of times through the series, and that’s a bit disappointing when you get used to her. Again, I got used to each one, but it was noticeable when watching all these in a row…YES in a row over the course of just a few days:)
Overall I say buy this and enjoy it!! Get it for someone as a gift. Kids of today and grown up kids or teenagers of the 80’s will all appreciate it for what it is, stories about kids being kind of pathetic sometimes, kind of funny, kind of quirky, kind of too grown up for their age, but all in all a super good time.
Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
The cover looks great. It’s simple and straight to the point. It’s got that original 80’s look, which is fine with me. I might just have this as a poster, but maybe with less words. As for the menu…..it’s a DVD, so the menu is what it is. A static image with navigation, with the beloved “Play All” feature.
Audio & Video: 7.5/10
I’m not the person to judge a DVD on it’s video or audio quality. I can see it, appreciate it, and understand why some people get a little bit obsessed with the nit picky bits and pieces, but that’s not me. I think it looks great. It’s from the friggin’ 80’s and it’s a hand drawn Saturday morning cartoon. It looks amazing on my big flat TV. It’s like a dream come true for that younger me, longing for a TV big enough and cool enough to hang on the wall. The dream of a future, and a reality now. So, Charlie Brown looks fantastic. If you want someone to tell you about every pixel, every word and sound effect find another reviewer, someone who has no heart and soul.
At the moment this DVD complete set is about $30 online. If you find it cheaper, that’s excellent. If you pay the $30, that’s cool too. Other than the lack of extras, which would have made this an almost perfect “my childhood came to life in the future of my now, at age 45” experience. For the fun of watching it again, for the first time, with the kids, with your parents, whoever. It’s fun. It’s nostalgic. It’s CHARLIE BROWN!
Overall Score 8/10