Saturday, December 31, 2011
Happy New Year, Charlie Brown
Premiered January 1, 1986
Charlie Brown (Chad Allen) and Linus (Jeremy Miller) are looking forward to Christmas vacation, but they're disappointed when their teacher assigns them to read War And Peace by Leo Tolstoy over the break, and write a book report about it. Charlie Brown feels that his vacation is ruined.
Peppermint Patty (Kristie Baker) invites Chuck to a New Year's Party and tells him it's a "boy invites girl" party. She says this is his chance to invite "the girl of your dreams," meaning herself. Charlie Brown tells her he can't do anything over vacation until he reads the book. Lucy (Melissa Guzzi) and Sally (Elizabeth Lyn Fraser) are also invited. Lucy enrolls them all in a dance class to prepare for the party. Charlie Brown also declines this, but he shows up to the dance studio, reading War And Peace on the side.
Charlie Brown eventually decides to attend the party, and invites Heather, better known as "that little red-haired girl" to the party, much to Peppermint Patty's disappointment. He slips an invitation through Heather's mail slot, getting his hand stuck in the process.
On the night of December 30, Heather still hasn't responded to Charlie Brown's invitation, which makes him sad. And he still hasn't finished War And Peace.
New Year's Eve arrives, Charlie Brown attends Peppermint Patty's party. He brings his book along and sneaks out to the front porch to read it. Charlie Brown waits there, hoping Heather will show up.
Will Charlie Brown finish his book review of War And Peace before the end of Christmas break? Will Heather show up to the party? Will Lucy get "dog germs" from Snoopy at the party? You'll have to watch and see!
J.A. Morris says:
I'll say upfront that I'm a huge fan of Peanuts. I own books of the comic strips and dvds of most Charlie Brown specials. But I hadn't seen nor heard of Happy New Year, Charlie Brown until 3 years ago. It's a good special, if not quite as good as the classic Peanuts specials of the 60s and 70s. Charlie Brown simply wants to enjoy himself on vacation and at the party, but things that are (mostly) beyond his control keep getting in the way. But we do get two rare scenes where Chuck gets to actually smile and seems to have a good time. And much of the story feels like it was taken straight from the comic strips.
Hardcore fans of Snoopy may be a bit disappointed, as he doesn't have a big role here. But we do get a classic confrontation between him and Lucy (spoiler alert:Snoopy gets the best of her). The voice actors do a pretty good job too.
I have two problems with this special: It's unlikely that a teacher would assign War And Peace to be read and reviewed over Christmas vacation. And I'm also not sure what age group Chuck and friends are supposed to be in this special. Elementary school? Middle school? How many kids of those age groups are assigned to read Tolstoy?
Beyond that, it's a fun special. There aren't many New Year specials, but this has become one I've watched every year since I learned about it.
Happy New Year, Charlie Brown can be found as a bonus feature on the dvd of I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown and it's also currently streaming on Hulu.
3 champagne flutes
Like J.A. Morris, this special was new to me until three years ago. It's quite a cute special, but I am mildly disappointed that Snoopy and Woodstock didn't have more to do in it.
Still, it's fun to see the Peanuts gang learning the foxtrot during the dance lesson scene and playing musical chairs at the New Year's Eve party. (Musical chairs seems much more of an age-appropriate activity than reading War and Peace over Christmas vacation for the Peanuts kids.) I find it interesting that Linus is in the same class as Charlie Brown yet he doesn't seem concerned about the hefty reading assignment at all (in fact, Linus seems to know a lot about Tolstoy and his wife already). Maybe he's a fast reader or has already read the book?
There are a lot of fun little side bits that feel episodic in a comic strip like fashion, my favorite is a sequence where Linus, Lucy and their little brother Rerun are blowing up balloons for the party. Rerun's balloons turn out in a very unique fashion.
As J.A. Morris says, this is an enjoyable special but not quite in the same league as many of the earlier Peanuts specials. That being said, it is good fun and well worth adding to one's regular holiday viewing!
3 champagne flutes (or should they be sparkling cider flutes since the Peanuts kids are underage?)