Two new to DVD Peanuts specials on one DVD? That's what Happiness Is... Peanuts: Snow Days is all about! Unfortunately, it's far from the best that the series has had to offer over the decades, but let's take a look regardless...
She's A Good Skate, Charlie Brown (1980):
When the snow hits the ground and winter sets in, Peppermint Patty decides to start training hard for an upcoming figure skating competition. So seriously is Patty taking this that she's waking up at 4:30am each and every morning to put on her skates and hit the ice. She's going to need help though, so Snoopy steps up to help her as her coach and costume designer, with some help from Marcie who can't seem to get the costume the way Patty wants it. Eventually it's time to see if that training pays off or not and they all head to the competition - where disaster strikes, and the only one who can help is... Woodstock?
The show does succeed in showing how kids can start to bend under pressure from impending competition, demonstrated in a scene where Patty has to get off of the ice when a hockey team decides to take over. She knows she needs to practice, but also knows she's not going to be able to convince an entire hockey team to leave her alone on the ice and let her get her time in. Snoopy, in predictable fashion, gets back at them for her, but we also see Patty, normally the tough kid, crack under the stress when Marcie's attempt at making her costume fails.
This one is entertaining enough in its own right but doesn't have the same sort of heart that some of the earlier and better known Peanuts specials did - which obviously explains why it's not as well known or for that matter as well regarded. It is kind of fun to see Woodstock step up to the plate and save the day towards the finale, as he's usually just more of a background critter than anything else, but outside of that genuinely sweet and dare I say it cute moment, you get the impression that the writers were going through the motions here. We get to see Snoopy snap into tough guy mode as he barks and growls his orders at Patty during her training sessions and we get to see Charlie Brown deal with the fact that his dog is getting up very early in the morning whether he wants him to or not, but this is one you'll probably watch once and not go back to all that often.
The Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show (1985):
This anthology episode (the eighteenth episode of the series and the last one of the show's final second season) features three stories: The Play, Sweet Babboo! And Snoopy's Story, each revolving around a different winter holiday. In The Play, Charlie Brown thinks back on his different Christmas experiences, particularly last year's festivities in which the entire Peanuts gang wound up in their own strange Christmas play. In Sweet Babboo! Sally gets ready for Valentine's Day and you can guess who is going to be on the receiving end of her affections. In Snoopy's Story, we see Peppermint Patty prepare for and write an essay on everyone's favorite Beagle that winds up winning her an award.
Again, this is some decent harmless entertainment but not classic material by any stretch. It would be nice of Warner could get the entire Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show out on DVD rather than release an episode here and there but we'll take what we can get for now. As to the episode itself, it's fun, but fairly disposable. The characters act as you'd expect them to act and you get the impression that the writers were trying to capture the glories of the past Peanuts holiday specials with this last episode, but it just doesn't stand out or really grab you the way those earlier entries did. There are some good laughs to be had though, particularly in the third and final chapter of the episode where Snoopy is doing his macho best as the subject of Patty's essay.
Everything in this set shows up in 1.33.1 fullframe, just as it should be. The quality is very good and there's really very little to complain about. Colors look nice and bright without appearing overcooked and there are only minor instances of any noticeable serious print damage (just specks here and there). Some mild grain is visible in some spots but that's completely forgivable, it just looks more film like. There aren't any problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement to complain about and overall the material looks pretty impressive, though the fact that the transfers are interlaced is irritating.
The English language Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is clean and clear and as simple as it should be. Dialogue is always nice and easy to understand and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion. Levels are properly balanced and everything sounds fine. Optional 2.0 Mono dubs are available Dolby Digital Mono in Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese and Thai with subtitles provided in English SDH, French, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai.
There aren't any actual extras here, just some static menus and trailers for two other Warner Brothers releases - Peanuts Holiday Collection and Santa's Magical Stories.
Peanuts completists will want to add this to their collection simply because to the best of this writer's knowledge, this material hasn't made it to DVD before. With that said, while the material looks and sounds quite good, these are far from top tier selections and are probably more likely to be enjoyed by more diehard fans. The omission of any extras doesn't help much either, making Happiness Is... Peanuts: Snow Days one you'll probably be better suited off renting rather than blind buying.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.