In my review of Happiness is…Peanuts: Go Snoopy Go! in October, I mentioned that the disc included an episode of the 1980s series The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, containing short segments revolving around the abridged adventures of various characters. Though this episode was admittedly somewhat bland, it was nonetheless the highlight of that particular DVD (as the featured presentation, It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown, was relatively underwhelming in comparison).
Although several other episodes of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show have also been released previously on DVD as special features on the various Happiness is…Peanuts compilations, Warner Archive has now released the entire series in a comprehensive two-disc Manufacture-on-Demand set. The series originally spanned the course of three years—running from 1983 to 1985 on CBS—but in the end, only 18 half-hour episodes were produced. Despite an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Animated Series, the show was canceled after a severely shortened second season.
This show was a staple of my childhood, as it re-ran on Saturday mornings for years after its cancelation, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that certain segments from the show have long lingered in my memory. Drawn directly from the panels of creator Charles M. Schulz’s beloved comic strip, Peanuts, each episode is comprised of five or six standalone cartoons (which are sometimes loosely connected by theme). The shorts in each episode range from hilarious to sentimental to predictable, depending upon the characters involved. All of the familiar, funny tropes are here: the kids play multiple games of baseball (poorly); Schroeder immerses himself in Beethoven while fending off Lucy’s amorous advances; Peppermint Patty irritates the other kids with her never-ceasing obnoxiousness; Lucy dispenses advice from her red psychiatry booth; and the gang does battle with the infamous and deadly kite-eating tree, among many other escapades.
The series as a whole remains hit-and-miss: while some of the vignettes incorporate great sight gags and wordplay, others are merely filler. Still, The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show is greatly redeemed by the presence of the titular beagle, whose exploits tend to be the most enjoyable elements of any given episode. Whether Snoopy is flying through the air as the World War I Flying Ace or sneakily snatching Linus’ iconic blue blanket, the mischievous pooch is never less than entertaining.
Though these episodes have not been remastered, the presentation is crisp and clear. Per usual with the MOD discs from Warner Archive, the set does not include any extras. One thing to note: I was initially confused that the opening theme song in the first batch of episodes I watched in this set did not include the lyrics that I recalled so well from childhood. I soon discovered that the lyrics are only included in the opening credits for the second season of the series, which comprises the last five episodes on the second disc of this set (good thing, too, because I was beginning to think I'd just imagined that song!).
Though you won’t find anything here matching the impressive and ubiquitous Peanuts holiday specials, The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show is nonetheless a welcome (and long overdue) release for fans of “Chuck” and the gang. While there are a few duds among the episodes, overall, these cartoons are fun diversions that capture the gentle and humorous spirit of Schulz's work. Whether you’re looking for a gift for the Snoopy fan in your life or just want to revisit these episodes for yourself, you can find the set on DVD now.