Warner Bros | 1975-1979 | 150 mins. | Not Rated

Since its debut as a comic strip on October 2, 1950, Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts has been regarded as one of the most successful cartoons in the history of the medium. Which is ironic, since the comic revolves around one of the most unsuccessful characters ever; Charlie Brown is everyone’s favorite lovable loser. Unable to catch a break, Charlie is meek, devoid of self confidence and nervous. Though Charlie Brown never seemed to come out on top, there’s something very real about him that makes you want to root for him, even though you know the outcome. Me, I always wanted a dog like snoopy!

Given the immense popularity of the comic strip, Charlie Brown has been joined by the rest of the Peanuts gang in a series of television specials that began airing in 1965. For the most part, these animated specials were based on original Peanuts comic strips, fleshed out to create 25-minute adventures. Featuring simple yet charming animation, a cast of young voice actors and music by Vince Guaraldi (until his death in 1976, though his music was often used posthumously), Peanuts animated specials have become a staple of American television for decades. Peanuts: The 1970s Collection, Volume 2 continues the trend set by The 1960s Collection and The 1970s Collection, Volume 1, pairing six vintage specials with remastered technical presentations.

By the time the 1970’s rolled around, the Peanuts specials where moving away from having some basis in the comic strip. This gave the characters a wider range of story possibilities, but it also put them in some unfamiliar situations that didn’t always click as well as one might have hoped.

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975) As one might expect, Valentine’s day has never been a very successful occasion for Charlie Brown. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this one is going to be any different. His class’ annual Valentine’s Party turns sour when no one comes through with a card (most importantly, The Little Red-Haired Girl), even though he brought a briefcase to cart everything home. A few members of the gang take pity on Charlie Brown the next day, but Schroeder comes to his defense in his own way. I love everything Peanuts, but this one was always a bit too cruel for me.

You’re A Good Sport, Charlie Brown (1975) After Peppermint Patty shows off her new dirt bike to Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang, she tells them about a forthcoming race: the winner gets two pro bowl tickets! Of, course, ol’ Chuck just has ti get in on this, he just needs a bike. However, since he doesn’t have much money, all he can afford is a rickety thing that looks like it’s held togethwe3r with scotch tape. Nonetheless, he’s determined to enter the race, even with the stiff competition of Peppermint Patty, some kid named “The Masked Marvel” and a gaggle of assorted no-names. As Charlie Brown’s pit crew (read: Linus) and the rest of the gang watch from the sidelines, just maybe our lovable loser has a shot. Though this is not one of the better known specials, it’s always been my favorite non-holiday one.

It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown* (1976) This special has the distinction of being the last one scored by Vince Guaraldi, who died a few hours after completing it. After Sally is humiliated in school about Arbor Day (she thinks it’s the day the ships sail into the “arbor”), she learns the real meaning of Arbor Day — tree planting and conservation — so she and some of the kids decide to plant a garden — on the site of Charlie Brown’s baseball field. Of course, their idea is to spruce up the diamond, but they end up ruining his field before the season opener against Peppermint Patty’s team of rough riders. A solid outing that features the debut of Rerun Van Pelt.

It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown* (1977) Charlie Brown is asked to escort The Little Red-Haired Girl to center stage at the post-game dance, and tradition calls for a kiss on the cheek. Unfortunately, he’s got to impress her on the field as well. Unfortunately, with Lucy holding the football before every kickoff, it’s going to be a tough job. This is the first Peanuts special to feature music by Ed Bogas and Judy Munsen; in fact, the former would contribute music for the next 12 years.

What A Nightmare, Charlie Brown! (1978) is new to Region 1 DVD and exclusive to this collection as of this writing. After a big meal, Snoopy dreams about the Iditarod sled dog race, where he’s surrounded by fierce canine teammates, cold weather and a fierce musher. After a surreal trip to a pub, Snoopy finally cowboys up and defends himself against his fearsome rivals. After he wakes up and pantomimes the entire dream to Charlie Brown, Snoopy helps himself to a huge sundae. I’ve always been a fan of Snoopy’s adventures.

You’re The Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979) Charlie Brown volunteers to represent his school in a decathlon, but quickly realizes he’s not very good at ANY of the 10 events—you really have to give this kid major points for trying. Peppermint Patty gamely serves as his trainer, while Marcie develops a little crush on him. Watch for a small vocal contribution by Mel Blanc.

Those who already own several of Warner Bros. Deluxe Peanuts releases will notice that five of these six specials have already been accounted for (the lone exception is What A Nightmare, which makes its Region 1 DVD debut here). Since none of the special features from the deluxe editions have been ported over, many will likely find the purchase of this set unnecessary.

*It’s Your First Kiss differs from the original broadcast presentation. Two lines spoken by Peppermint Patty during the game have been altered for DVD release. Both revolve around her blaming Chuck for blown kicks that were obviously Lucy’s fault; after the original broadcast, viewers complained and the lines were changed to shift the blame. Oddly enough, they’ve just been digitally garbled and seem more confusing than anything else. It’s Arbor Day also features one garbled line during the baseball game, but no explanation was available.

Presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratios, most of these six animated specials are surprisingly easy on the eyes. Each special boasts vivid color palettes, solid black levels and strong image detail. Fortunately, all six specials are progressively sourced and don’t seem to suffer from any noticeable digital anomalies.

Presented in the original Dolby Digital Mono (also available in Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese dubs), the dialogue and music cues are generally crisp and clear. Moments of hiss and crackling can be heard, but this is undoubtedly due to the source material. Optional English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Thai subtitles are included during the main features only.

This set comes with one special feature:

You’re Groovy, Charlie Brown: A Look at Peanuts in the ‘70s (18:24) Features short interviews with Schulz’ Widow Jean, his son Craig, producer Lee Mendelson, cartoonist Alexis Farjado and others. We also get to see footage of Schulz’ studio in California

[xrrgroup][xrr label=”Video:” rating=”4.0/5″ group=”s1″ ] [xrr label=”Audio:” rating=”4.0/5″ group=”s1″] [xrr label=”Extras:” rating=”0.5/5″ group=”s1″] [xrr label=”Film Value:” rating=”3.0/5″ group=”s1″] [/xrrgroup]