Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer.
The third collection of Peanuts by Schulz shorts has arrived on DVD from Warner Bros. The two-disc set collects over three hours of material from the recent show on Boomerang in 29 shorts. It's interesting that Warner Bros has gone against form to release the episodes by theme instead of the order in which they aired. Previous volumes based around Snoopy and Sports have earned high marks in previous reviews of mine. Mostly, I have been struck at their faithfulness to the comic strips. The shorter story, as compared to the movies or the TV specials, lends to more of a newspaper-strip flavor. The characters are known and there's no need to develop traits or explain settings. Most of the shorts serve to string together a few jokes and end with very little closure. And it works.
The collection set of shorts is called School Days and revolves around the kids at school or on the bus or doing homework. Along with the baseball field, the school played a large part of the comic strips. It's a very identifiable location that everyone can identify with and relate to. But whereas the sports disc could vary between tennis and hockey and baseball, the school is a pretty concrete setting (so to say).
Some of the highlights:
"Have A Nice Day, LInus" - I have always loved Linus. The TV Specials have really varied how they portray him. He is much more manipulative in the comics than he is usually shown. This special shows two areas that I really miss - his complex relationship with Snoopy and his love for his teacher, Miss Othmar. The episodes work well like this when they are more shorts within the short.
"Technical Difficulties" - If you are going to concentrate on one type of story, then it has to be Sally's disenchantment with everything to do with school. Her learning to draw circles was a short piece in the strips that translates really well to this format.
"The School of Hard Knocks" - This short only hints at one of my favorite stories in the comics. It was already done as a short in one of the TV specials but Peppermint Patti wanting to find a new school and choosing an Obedience School never gets old. I still think it needs a full 30-minute special.
"Too Cute" - Of course, it's Sally in the title. There are a few different stories within this story. The best take directly from the strips. I love this one because it explores the sibling relationship with Charlie Brown and Sally. The two of them going to buy school supplies was a yearly feature in the strips and never failed to make me laugh. The scene of Charlie Brown writing Sally's book report for her is funny and touching at the same time.
I still highly recommend this series. It's not something you sit and watch all at once. And because of that I'm not sure it wouldn't work better to just mix the stories the way they are in the TV series. The themes are obvious but I'm not sure what that leaves us. Will we just have Volume 5: Pot Luck? As a fan of all things Schulz, this is a great addition to the Peanuts family especially considering it's the only new material coming out.