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Peanuts Specials DVDs Reviewed:Peanuts 1960's Collection Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 2
Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection (It's the Great Pumpkin / A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving / A Charlie Brown Christmas)
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown
You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown

Peanuts 1970s Collection, Vol. 2 DVD Review

Buy the Peanuts 1970's Collection Volume 2 DVD set from Amazon.com Specials & DVD Details

Writer/Creator: Charles M. Schulz

Directors: Phil Roman, Bill Melendez / Producers: Lee Mendelson, Bill Melendez

Voice Cast: Duncan Watson (Charlie Brown), Liam Martin (Linus, Schroeder, Charlie Brown), Stuart Brotman (Peppermint Patty), Melanie Kohn (Lucy), Bill Melendez (Snoopy, Woodstock), Arrin Skelley (Charlie Brown), Daniel Anderson (Linus, Schroeder), Michelle Muller (Lucy, Frieda, Heather), Gail M. Davis (Sally), Greg Felton (Schroeder), Dylan Beach (Charlie Brown), Laura Planting (Peppermint Patty), Patricia Patts (Peppermint Patty), Stephen Shea (Linus), Lynn Mortensen (Sally), Jimmy Ahrens (Marcie), Casey Carlson (Marcie), Sarah Beach (Lucy), Vinnie Dow (Rerun, Pig Pen), Ronald Hendrix (Franklin, Shermy, Pig Pen), Tim Hall (Freddie Fabulous), Linda Ercoli (Violet), Scott Beach (Announcer)

Features:
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975), You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (1975),
It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1976), It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (1977),
What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown (1978), You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979)


Running Time: 167 Minutes (148 - specials, 18 - bonus) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Aspect Ratio)
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese
Not Closed Captioned; Featurette Subtitled in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese
DVD Release Date: June 1, 2010 / Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (DVD-5s) / Clear Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Box

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Many things changed for the United States in the middle of the 1970s. The Vietnam War ended. For the first time, a president resigned, amidst scandal. Not everything changed, of course. One consistency was the ongoing presence of Charles Schulz's Peanuts in newspaper comic strips and animated television specials. The latter continued to be produced at the quasi-yearly rate with which they began in the mid-1960s.

By 1975, kids who enjoyed A Charlie Brown Christmas in its first airing were now off at college and the children who discovered Schulz's uniquely witty world in its print infancy were in their thirties, perhaps with kids of their own. And yet, there was nothing to threaten the series' existence in either of these mediums.
Peanuts boasted far too wide appeal to fade away with audiences' coming-of-age, a natural reality for many things with youthful fanbases. The Peanuts gang even continued to appear in movie theaters, headlining their third Paramount feature film in 1977's Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown.

The TV specials, arguably the franchise's best known form today, didn't stray from the simple style and characterizations with which they won over viewers while sometimes faithfully adapting comic strip storylines. Schulz controlled just about every major aspect of his creation. With his original TV collaborators Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson still handling the producing side and jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi scoring until his death in 1976, Schulz continued to bring his cast of precocious yet innocent children and their emotive yet speechless animal friends to the small screen.

Lucy's classic football kick fake-out sends Charlie Brown flying a record number of times in "It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown." Believing that big heart-shaped box of chocolates is for her, Sally proudly presents her homemade valentine card to her disinterested crush Linus.

The six half-hour specials that comprise Peanuts 1970's Collection, Volume 2, the third release in Warner Home Video's line of chronological 2-disc DVDs, are less iconic than the last bunch, which themselves were less iconic than their predecessors.

Most of these late-'70s programs seem to have a direct ancestor after which they're modeled. Often bringing out the series' best, holidays are once again given the Peanuts treatment. With four of the most celebrated occasions already observed in the first dozen shows, we must settle for Valentine's Day and the little-known Arbor Day here.

The Arbor Day special balances characters' calls to planting with the start of the baseball season. It is far from the only time that Peanuts gets sporty in this era. Tomboyish Peppermint Patty introduces her friends to motocross, setting up a big race against Charlie Brown. Despite its title, It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown spends most of its time on the football field, allowing Lucy to torment Charlie Brown with her favorite pigskin prank. Another special enters Charlie Brown, Marcie, and Snoopy in a decathlon.

Five of these cartoons are presently available on other Warner Peanuts DVDs, those branded Remastered Deluxe Editions and typically holding two half-hour programs. The sixth, Snoopy-centric show What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown, has never before been released on DVD and is therefore understandably obscure. It is most similar to 1974's It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown in allowing the eponymous boy's popular beagle to claim the spotlight at length.

Wrapped up in his library photocopying of amusing dog obedience tips, Snoopy realizes he's also accidentally Xeroxed his best friend Woodstock. Charlie Brown reaches all the way back into his mailbox to make sure he's not missing any Valentine's Day cards. (He's not.)

The late-'70s Peanuts specials give us more of the defining moments and themes from previous shows. Charlie Brown's notorious lack of luck continues. Snoopy does further battle with ordinarily inanimate objects. Sally maintains her unrequited affection for Linus, and Lucy holds hers for Schroeder. Even the improvements over the series' past cartoons in visuals and continuity are minimal and practically unnoticeable.
Two of the most remarkable things about these contents may be that Linus' younger brother Rerun makes his brief debut and that in a couple of shorts, Charlie Brown stops sounding like himself (the inevitable recasting going less smoothly than the series' many successes).

Despite one Emmy win and three others being nominated, none of these six specials approaches the ridiculous heights of Charlie Brown Christmas or even the cleverness of other top-tier shows. This may not be Peanuts at its very best, but I've yet to encounter an unenjoyable special in this series, let alone a bad one. The worst we find is forgettable or routine and considering the number of animated specials produced from 1965 to present, that is a pretty impressive feat.

Once again, there is no question that Warner is using two discs to exaggerate value rather than to respect the limits of DVD capacity. This time, both discs are single-layered ones with space to spare, meaning the contents easily could have fit on a single dual-layered platter (DVD-9) with no additional compression. As output reached a new high in the 1980s, the next set should actually require two discs, but here as on the two previous sets juggling discs is an unnecessary inconvenience. Also placing uniformity above common sense, the set's unneeded/grammatically unsound titular apostrophe is consistent with the two previous sets and also upheld in the naming of this DVD's featurette.

And now, a closer look at the six specials...

Charlie Brown proves he's a "Good Sport" by enduring a pumpkin helmet and dodging tennis balls in the big motocross race. Charlie Brown is not pleased to see the Arbor Day makeover his friends have given the baseball field they've named after him.

Disc 1

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (25:13) (First aired January 28, 1975)
With an empty briefcase in tow, Charlie Brown waits hopefully for Valentine's cards. Linus takes a liking to his teacher Miss Othmar. Thinking the large heart-shaped candy box he's bought is for her, Sally tries to make a Valentine for Linus. Snoopy performs an immersive puppet show for Lucy.

You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (25:07) (First aired October 28, 1975)
In one of the first Peanuts specials to center on an activity, Peppermint Patty tells the gang all about motocross.
Clip from You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown:
Charlie Brown and The Masked Marvel (a.k.a. Snoopy) join her in a big race. As announcer, Marcie won't let any of her interview subjects get a word in edgewise. Also, Snoopy plays tennis with a ball machine and a small but formidable foe.

It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (25:04) (First aired March 16, 1976)
Inspired by Sally's report on Arbor Day, the gang gives a makeover to the baseball field on the eve of the new season, planting trees and flowers all over, even on the pitcher's mound. In spite of the new vegetation, Charlie Brown's team faces Peppermint Patty's as scheduled. Just when things seem to be going Charlie Brown's way, precipitation stands in the way of victory. By focusing on one of the least-observed holidays, this special by default becomes television's definitive celebration of the spring day.

Piano-playing Snoopy checks out the arctic saloon he's entertaining to see if this sandwich is really his for the taking. Charlie Brown is a nervous wreck to be standing next to homecoming queen Heather, the fabled little red-haired girl herself in "It's Your First Kiss."

Disc 2

What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown (24:20) (First aired February 23, 1978)
After getting Charlie Brown to pull him on a ride and eating a bunch of pizzas, Snoopy dreams what life would be as a cold, hungry arctic sled dog who spends a night in a saloon and then gets tough.
Boasting very little opening and closing dialogue from Charlie Brown, this is a fascinatingly atypical Peanuts special. It includes a song performed by Larry Finlayson that proclaims Snoopy "overly civilized and underly dog-ified."

It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (24:16) (First aired October 24, 1977)
Snoopy officiates a football game in which Peppermint Patty is one team's coach and star player. Placekicker Charlie Brown has trouble with Lucy holding the ball in her typically unhelpful fashion. His mind is elsewhere, anyway, when he learns that he has to escort homecoming queen Heather, the little red-haired girl, to the dance.

You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown (24:22) (First aired March 19, 1979)
When his family decides not to go away on vacation, Charlie Brown signs up for the only open track and field event: the decathlon. After training vigorously with Peppermint Patty, "Chuck" competes against Marcie, Masked Marvel Snoopy, and braggadocious Freddie Fabulous from Freemont. Each event is shown in this athletic special.

Snoopy's Valentine's Day "pawpet" show covers paying audience member Lucy with mud. One of these dogs is not like the others. Snoopy enjoys neither the life of a sled dog nor the company of huskies in his pizza-fueled arctic nightmare.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The six specials are correctly exhibited in their original 1.33:1 "fullscreen" aspect ratios. For the five shows already on DVD, you would assume that Warner would recycle the presentations found on their Remastered Deluxe Editions. Because I'm thorough to a fault, I checked to be sure and was surprised to discover that wasn't always the case.

The colors on Arbor Day, You're the Greatest, and It's Your First Kiss are drastically updated, with this '70s Collection's brighter, richer, more vibrant hues being preferred. The specials here seem to boast bolder lines and cleaner, more solid elements. First Kiss was the most dramatically redone, with its pale, splotchy old look being replaced by bold colors and a clean appearance. The improvement is very unexpected, as the specials' earlier Warner DVDs are just one to two years old and were specifically designated "Remastered" (though all B-sides were clearly less polished there than the title attractions they accompanied).

Charlie Brown struggles with the shot put part of his training with Peppermint Patty and Marcie in "You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown." Screencap from 2009's You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown: Remastered Deluxe Edition DVD. (Click to view full 720 x 480.)Charlie Brown struggles with the shot put part of his training with Peppermint Patty and Marcie in "You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown." Screencap from 2010's Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 2 DVD. (Click to view full 720 x 480.)

Screencap from You're a Good Sport 2009 RDE DVD

Screencap from 1970's Collection V2 DVD

Barely a year after its DVD debut, former "B" special You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown undergoes
slightly modified framing and more noticeable improvement of colors and lines for this '70s Collection.

Good Sport didn't look any different here than it did on the DVD it shared with Greatest. Nor did Be My Valentine when compared to its eponymous DVD release.
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I guess that establishes the trend that the popular specials are remastered for their titular Deluxe Editions, but bonus specials are newly spruced up for these decade collections.

On the whole, picture quality is practically perfect. Two of the specials that were improved still looked a little weaker than the rest; Arbor Day showing some specks, scratches, and the occasional faded or fluctuated color, while Greatest simply features an earthier, downcast look. These minor concerns are about all you can find. The video is clean and vibrant, not overly scrubbed to remove the tiny bit of innate grain, but likely better than these shows have ever looked before.

I have much less to say about the 1.0 monaural soundtracks. They're dated, simple, and not always consistent, but generally fine and presumably true to original broadcasts. Once again, Warner recognizes the series' global appeal with a slew of foreign language dubs and subtitles, although Thai has been dropped from the mix.

Animation of Peanuts characters (including two dancing Snoopys) is laid over this home movie of Charles Schulz at work in his office from the featurette "You're Groovy, Charlie Brown." Peanuts merchandise from over the years is surveyed in the DVD's bonus featurette.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Adhering to Warner's Peanuts tradition, this second 1970s Collection provides one bonus featurette not found anywhere else. Following decade set pieces on composer Vince Guaraldi and the character Woodstock, this set's extra, "You're Groovy, Charlie Brown: A Look at Peanuts in the 70's" (18:24) seems less specific. In fact, it mainly offers another discussion of writer/creator Charles Schulz.
Newly interviewed here are widow Jean Schulz, son Craig Schulz, executive producer Lee Mendelson, cartoonist Alexis E. Fajardo, and Schulz company creative director Paige Braddock.

Their comments deal mostly with the techniques and utensils "Sparky" used on the strip. The '70s are occasionally mentioned, but less so than the series' characters and unusually successful merchandise licensing. The TV specials themselves receive notice only in the rare clip. Though the piece isn't focused enough not to be more thorough, it's another nice reflection on what (or rather who) made Peanuts so special. Whether you're coming to this DVD just from the 2-disc sets or having seen the bonus pieces of all the Remastered Deluxe Editions, you should appreciate this fine supplement and not find it repetitive.

As usual, the featurettes found on the specials' previous Warner DVDs are not carried over. While five of the six featured shorts have turned up on slimmer Remastered Deluxe Editions, only two were title attractions and subjects of featurettes. Be My Valentine contained "Unlucky in Love: An Unrequited Love Story", while You're a Good Sport was joined by the 11-minute "Dust Yourself Off and Pick Yourself Up, Charlie Brown." Both were as well-made as any of the companion retrospectives Warner and Trailer Park have put together. They're missed but now on the third release of this chronological series, expectedly so.

Disc One loads with promos for Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 and the Volume 2 1960s and 1970s Saturday Morning Cartoons DVDs. Somehow earning Special Feature designation on Disc 2 is a trailer for Bindi Irwin's Free Willy 4: Escape from Pirate's Cove.

The DVD's menus take the same uniform approach of past releases, in this case Warner's standard minimalism feeling appropriate. A variation on the "Linus and Lucy" theme plays on each disc's main menu, running for over two minutes in an endless loop.

1970's Collection, Vol. 2 is packaged similarly to its two predecessors, with a clear keepcase held in predominantly white cardboard box, on which Charlie Brown claims spine placement. One small but noticeable difference: the keepcase is of the cut-out ecologically friendly variety. Some plastic was saved, but will the exposed reverse cover artwork (which synopsizes the featured programs) hold up? Sadly, no iTunes codes for Peanuts song downloads are provided, halting a minor but welcome tradition.

Snoopy turns the tables during Charlie Brown's lesson on sled dogs at the beginning of the little-known 1978 special "What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown." In a team huddle, player-coach Peppermint Patty tells placekicker Chuck the plan, while teammates Franklin, Lucy, Shermy, and Pig Pen listen on.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 2 serves up another solid three hours of vintage animated goodness. These six specials may not be as memorable as most of those that have come before them,
but they still regularly entertain and hold up better than most television programming from their time.

Once again, the exclusion of a couple of recently-produced making-of featurettes keeps this collection from being the definitive DVD of this stretch of the Peanuts canon. Plus yet again, the contents could and should have fit on one disc. Still, as Warner seems destined to treat the entire canon to these kinds of releases, it's pretty clear that getting six shorts (half with improved picture quality) and a featurette for around $20 beats spending $15 on two shorts and a different featurette. It may not be perfect, but this is the way to go for serious Peanuts fans and those wanting to get acquainted with the less familiar specials.

From what I've seen, these shows don't go bad anytime soon (if ever), so let's hope that Warner continues to release them at this speedy rate and satisfying fashion.

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Related Reviews:
Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 Peanuts 1960's Collection Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection
You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown Classical Cartoon Favorites: Extreme Sports Fun
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
New: Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1980s Extraordinary Measures Nine Edge of Darkness Doctor Zhivago (Anniversary Edition)
Late '70s Television: The Muppet Show: Season One Happy Days: The Fourth Season The First Easter Rabbit Schoolhouse Rock!
Late '70s Movies: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Friendship Edition) Pete's Dragon Escape to Witch Mountain Freaky Friday
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Very First Alvin Show Forever Funny: T.V. Sets Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You

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Reviewed May 10, 2010 / Updated May 25, 2010.

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