An update on a classic, and one from the archives
The series' best days may be in the past, but it continues to tell new stories, as seen in this DVD's 2003 special "Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown." As usual, Mr. Brown is a failure, this time on the baseball field, where his team is a miserable mess, but no one is worse than his right fielder, Lucy. And to make matters worse, Charlie can't get his point across to her that no one wants her around. So since he can't get rid of her, he tries the next best thing, trading his dog to Peppermint Patty's team. The story plays out through a series of gags, as Lucy continuously frustrates Charlie Brown (and everyone else for that matter.) While it can be funny to see CB get his clothes knocked off by a line drive, the special goes to the well too often, and runs out of gas early on.
The disc's sports theme continues in The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, an early-'80s Saturday-morning cartoon, represented here by episode number 15. It starts with "The Pelicans," which sees Peppermint Patty ask Charlie Brown to help out with her baseball team, but not in the way he hopes. As one can expect from a born loser, he manages to screw up even the simplest task, driving Patty nuts. If anything proves how rote the series is, it's seeing the shared jokes in two episodes made approximately 20 years apart.
Unlike so many kids cartoon DVDs, this one makes a genuine attempt to stick to the theme, as the episode continues in "Great Pumpkin," which revisits the theme of Linus waiting in the pumpkin patch on Halloween to catch a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin. This time however, it's mixed with some bowling, as CB and Peppermint Patty take to the lanes to knock over some pins. Shorter than the main episode, this one doesn't have a lot to it, basically spending the whole time setting up a final gag. The episode wraps with another quick short, this time introducing Snoopy's cousin Spike, who's visiting from the desert. Looking gaunt, he's cared for by Lucy, to her brother Linus' chagrin. Spike was never than interesting in the comic strip, and there's no difference here.
The sound doesn't differ that much between the early 1980s and 2003, as Peanuts has never been a slam-bang audio affair, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks sound good, if simplistic, delivering the sound right down the middle. The classic Peanuts music has good separation from the voices, and there's no distortion present.
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