Before U.S. audiences were inundated by computer graphics and oversees animation, they reveled in the simple delight of hand-drawn cartooning. The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show harkens back to an era of childhood trials and tribulations. The subtle character voicing and prepubescent antics Charles M. Schulz famed comic-strip characters are as resonant and amusing today as they were in 1983. The 18-episode series has been released as a 2-Disc DVD Collection from Warner Archives.
The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show doesn’t rely on the typical 11 or 22-minute story arc of an animated series. Instead, episodes are broken down into brief segments – some focus on characters, while others focus on topics. For instance, segments may focus on Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, and her classroom. You’ll see quick bits of Sally delivering a speech in front of her classroom or bringing in an item (or Snoopy and Woodstock) for show and tell. While the language her teacher speaks may be incoherent to the viewer, you always get the gist from Sally’s response and expression. Peppermint Patty also gets several segments dedicated to her, most of which include her friend Marcie.
There are a few story arcs that continue throughout the course of the season. For instance, Charlie Brown’s lackluster baseball team often gets a segment dedicated to it. Although they usually lose, the humor comes from thinking that they actually might win for once. Then everything goes south. In one instance, he wins his first baseball game only for the win to be stripped away when it’s discovered that Re-un, Linus’ little brother was gambling.
Several of the bits used in The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show were made into longer TV specials. There are segments dedicated to the Great Pumpkin and Christmas as well as Linus and his security blanket.
The series also approaches children’s humor with an intelligent sensibility. In one episode, Charlie Brown is accused of stealing poetic love notes from the Song of Solomon. The reference may fly over some children’s heads like an episode of The Simpsons, but the joke is still funny and smart. It’s another reason why this series is so good; it doesn’t condescend to children.
About seventy percent through the series, the theme song changes and becomes more upbeat. A few of the voices also change, and become slightly irritating. On the positive side, Re-run gets a girlfriend and Charlie Brown’s friends all go to computer camp. Watching a 80s computer camp is always comical because it makes you look back on a time that’s almost inconceivable by today’s standards of iPads and smartphones.
The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show will be a delight for all children, as well as those adults who grew up watching the series.