A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered in 1965, was the first holiday special to feature Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" characters, but it certainly wasn't the last. Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, several more specials were created. Then, there was a hiatus, during which the characters had their own short-lived TV show. Following Schulz's death in 2000, a new special was created and aired in 2002, entitled A Charlie Brown Valentine, which is now available on DVD.
A Charlie Brown Valentine focuses on that most romantic of holidays. As usual, Charlie Brown (voiced by Wesley Singerman) is enamored with the "Little, red-haired girl", but he can't muster the courage to speak with her. So, he recruits Linus (voiced by Corey Padnos) to help him. Meanwhile, Lucy (voiced by Lauren Schaffel) is attempting to woo Schroeder (voiced by Christopher Ryan Johnson), while Sally (voiced by Nicolette Little) hopes to get a Valentine from her "sweet babboo", Linus. All the while, Snoopy (voiced by Bill Melendez) wanders in and out of scenes, helping where he can. As in the original Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, our hapless hero waits to see if he'll finally get a Valentine.
The late Charles Schulz is credited as the writer for A Charlie Brown Valentine and it's clear as to why. While Valentine's Day is clearly the overriding theme of the show, the script is made up of scenes taken from individual "Peanuts" comic strips. So, every few moments, the focus/scene changes, and we get another joke. This approach makes A Charlie Brown Valentine feel more like a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker movie than a "Peanuts" special, as we are basically bombarded with jokes. Some of these are quite funny, the best coming when Snoopy helps Charlie Brown rehearse talking to the "Little Red-Haired Girl". As in the comic-strips, the humor is a mixture of poignant social commentary and pure slapstick. The lack of a true cohesive storyline is a bit jarring, but A Charlie Brown Valentine is well-paced (unlike some of the older specials) and the sheer amount of material guarantees that there's something for everyone to like.
The only bonus features on the DVD are two extra Charlie Brown shows, which (ostensibly) deal with romance. The first is called There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown from 1973. Here, Charlie Brown (voiced by Chad Webber) and the kids are struggling with "new math" in school and the bulk of the show's first half is made up of strange math jokes. Charlie Brown learns that he's making straight-Cs and that his report on an upcoming field trip to a museum must be perfect in order for him to pass. (?) But, when he arrives at the museum, he runs into Peppermint Patty (voiced by Kip DeFaria), and things go awry. This show doesn't really do with love, save for the fact that Peppermint Patty mistakenly thinks that Charlie Brown has a crush on her, but doesn't that happen on every Charlie Brown show? This one is quite odd and very boring.
The other extra show is Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown from 1981. In this show, Charlie Brown (voiced by Grant Wehr) ignores all state and federal anti-stalking laws and begins pursuing a girl that he saw on TV. She was attending a football game and was shown in a "Honey Shot". (Can I say that? This is beginning to sound like a Don Houston review!) Anywho, Charlie Brown has Linus (voiced by Earl Reilly) assist him in tracking down the girl by going to the football stadium and obtaining season ticket info. (Because confidentiality doesn't exist in the Charlie Brown universe.) This leads them all over town trying to find the girl. Meanwhile, Snoopy and Woodstock are wandering around town and eventually cross paths with Charlie Brown. Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown is mildly entertaining, but one has to buy the concept that Charlie Brown would pursue this girl he saw on TV. The last ten minutes are the best, when Snoopy becomes involved.
A Charlie Brown Valentine is wooed onto DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment. All three shows on this DVD are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio. A Charlie Brown Valentine looks fantastic. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source material or grain. The colors are very vibrant, lending the image a true depth. There is some minor artifacting, but it's nothing distracting. The two older specials, There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown and Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown both show their age, as they display grain and defects from the source material, such as black and white specks. Still, they don't look bad and the colors aren't washed out.
The shows on this DVD all carry Dolby Stereo audio tracks. These tracks provide clear and audible dialogue with no overt hissing. The stereo effects are discreet, but are effective when used. Overall, the audio isn't overwhelming, but it's very serviceable.
The extras are There's No Time For Love, Charlie Brown and Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown, which are discussed above.
This DVD offers a mixed bag. A Charlie Brown Valentine is a cute and entertaining show, which can't measure up to the "classic" "Peanuts" specials, but certainly does a good job of paying homage to them. The other two shows on the disc are OK, and will appeal to "Peanuts" fans. Now, I must go back to convincing my daughter that Peppermint Patty is female.