Released in conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month, the He’s A Bully, Charlie Brown DVD presents the titular special (2006), It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969), both of which have been previously released, and an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show from 1983.
He's A Bully, Charlie Brown combines two stories that appeared in the strips. Joe Agate is from 1995, and Peppermint Patty chasing after Charlie Brown was in 1989. Charles Schulz had begun work on the special before his death in 2000 and producers Lee Mendelson and Bill Meléndez saw it to completion.
Charlie Brown and most of the gang head off to summer camp. Peppermint Patty has to stay home and go to summer school, but Marcie makes her so jealous over “Chuck” that she also goes. Before leaving, Rerun had gone into the family attic and discovered his grandfather’s marble collection. He brought them to camp, but didn’t know how to play.
There he meets Joe Agate, the titular bully, who teaches Rerun a hard lesson by not telling what playing “for keeps” means. After Rerun loses all his marbles, Charlie Brown is mad that Agate took advantage of a little kid and wants to win them back, but he doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, Joe Cool (Snoopy) is there to offer training.
He's A Bully, Charlie Brown is disappointing on a number of fronts, especially for older fans. Being children’s entertainment, the ending is expected, but it goes against the grain of what usually happens in Peanuts. Even Lucy didn’t believe what happened when they told her. As far as the bullying aspect goes, Joe seems more of a jerk than a bully. And even if he hadn't come around in the end, an adult could easily have fixed the situation, so I don't know that the special is the best to teach a lesson on bullying.
It Was A Short Summer, Charlie Brown finds the gang back at school and working on a theme entitled “What I Did This Summer.” Linus, Lucy, and Charlie Brown reflect back on their summer-camp experience, which found the girls clobbering the boys at every game. The boys have one final shot at redemption as the Masked Marvel (Snoopy) takes on Lucy in arm wrestling. The conclusion is very much in the Peanuts tradition. Unfortunately, there is an issue with the audio sounding very canned at the beginning.
Listed on the menu under “Snoopy: Team Manager” are four amusing shorts from The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. “Shoveling” is one of the tasks Linus and Snoopy do while tending Lucy’s garden. Young “Re-run” van Pelt reflects on life while riding on the back of his mother’s bike. Charlie Brown and Linus’ audio is poor here as well. Linus gets very anxious when he experiences a “Lost Blanket.” Snoopy takes over as “The Manager” of the baseball team and is tough on the team. All these stories seem to have roots in the strip, and if not, they certainly have the same sensibilities.
While I applaud Warner Brothers contributing to the efforts in preventing bullying, this double-dip release is not the best way to go about it. Peanuts fans will certainly want to add Short Summer to their collection, but I'd recommend the more comprehensive release Peanuts 1960’s Collection.