The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show premiered on CBS in September of 1983, lasting as a Saturday morning cartoon for two seasons of original episodes, with a third season that included re-runs. Each episode included three vignettes that were adapted from the popular comic strip Peanuts, created and written by Charles M. Shulz. The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1986 for Outstanding Animated Program. All 18 episodes are contained on two discs.
Before watching my screener of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, I had never seen this series. I worried I was about to witness a bastardized version of my favorite Peanuts characters, like in It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown. [Shudder] However, I was pleasantly surprised to see my beloved characters behaving as I would expect them to, wearing their usual attire and not something screaming neon colors. (It was the '80s, you know.)
Producers Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez, along with comic creator Charles Schulz, were smart to take the stories straight from the comic strip. The Peanuts comic strip had already captured the nation's heart, so why mess with a winning formula?
Adding to that formula is the soundtrack for each episode. Composers Ed Bogas Desirée Goyette use Vince Guaraldi's jazzy themes as background for The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Using another style of music would have been jarring, like setting Darth Vader's entrance in Star Wars to a flute quartet. The music lends itself so naturally to the motion of the characters, as well as the pastel color palette.
My favorite vignettes tell continuing stories we've seen from other Charlie Brown cartoon: Charlie Brown pining for the red-haired girl in "Snoopy's Cat Fight;" Peppermint Patty annoying Charlie Brown when she sleeps over in "Lucy vs. the World;" Lucy teasing Charlie Brown with the hope of kicking the football in "Linus' Security Blanket," and Lucy treating Charlie Brown and Snoopy at her psychiatry stand in "Lucy Loves Schroeder."
The only time an episode threatens to veer away from its simpler setting is in "Snoopy's Robot," when the gang attends a computer camp and Snoopy comes up against a robot. However, Snoopy's successful battle tactics and winning charm keep the vignette from becoming anachronistic.
While other reviewers have complained that the episodes don't show lengthy stories, like the ones in the holiday specials, I loved the short vignettes. Perhaps my brain was fried, but watching snippets of the Peanuts gang was refreshing and very entertaining, rather than becoming a chore to sit through a longer storyline that I might not have enjoyed. Even better, my children (who thrive on the compact times of commercials and previews) were never bored by the DVDs because the stories switched up so frequently.
My only complaint is that no extras were included with this DVD set. How about quick bios on the producers or Charles Schulz? Or even galleries of the comic strip? Surely there are interviews or photos in the archives of the cast we could have seen. Bonus features on The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show: The Complete Animated Series would have raised my rating on this enjoyable DVD set.
Trivia buffs will be pleased to find out the cast of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show has a few interesting members.
- As always, producer Bill Melendez provides the voice of Snoopy, the few times he's needed to howl, laugh or bark.
- Rerun is played by Jason Muller Mendelson, no doubt related to the producer, Lee Mendelson.
- IMDB.com lists Stacy Ferguson, a.k.a. Fergie of the Black-Eyed Peas, as playing Sally Brown in four episodes. However, The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons lists Fergie's little sis', Dana Ferguson, as the voice of "Little Girl."