Thursday, February 14, 2013

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

First aired January 28, 1975

Charlie Brown is hanging around his mailbox, hoping to get a Valentine from someone.  Lucy sarcastically wishes him "good luck", believing he won't get any Valentines. 

Meanwhile,Linus has a crush on his teacher Miss Othmar.  When she calls his name (while taking the roll), he sees it as a sign of affection.  Sally reckons he's just another kid as far Miss Othmar is concerned.

Linus gets excited when Miss Othmar asks if he can pound the erasers after class, calling it an "honor".

Linus decides he will get a Valentine present for Miss Othmar to express how he feels.  He goes to the store and buys her a large heart-shaped box of candy.   Linus runs into Violet at the store, she tells him falling in love with his teacher is a bad idea.  Linus says he doesn't love Miss Othmar, but he is "very fond of the ground on which she walks." 

Sally witnesses this and presumes the candy is for her.  She feels like she needs a Valentine for Linus, so she attempts to make one.  It does not go well.

When Valentine's Day arrives, Charlie Brown brings a brief case to school.  He tells Schroeder he can carry his Valentines in it, in case he gets a lot of them.  

Sally has a homemade Valentine for Linus.  She presents it to him and expects candy and a kiss in return.  Linus ignores her and hurries off to give Miss Othmar her candy heart.  Violet says the teacher is outside waiting for her boyfriend.  Linus freaks out a bit and chases after her. 

Sally puckers up for Linus' kiss, while he ignores her.
All the Valentines have been deposited into a box, and Schroeder is handing them out.  Charlie Brown waits expectantly, but Schroeder does not call his name.  

Will Charlie Brown get any Valentines?  Will Linus get the chance to present Miss Othmar with her gift? 

J.A. Morris says:

This is generally a very good special, but because we're talking about Charlie Brown, it doesn't have a very happy ending.  But it is a realistic (maybe even pessimistic) take on Valentine's Day.  While I enjoy giving candy hearts as much as anyone, I've never had a lot of use for this "greeting card" holiday.  It's also a day where single people are often made to feel like losers.  

Snoopy shows Sally how to make a Valentine.
Charlie Brown gets no Valentines.  Like many other kids, I felt so sorry for him when I first watched this.  Someone could've given him a Valentine!  According to Charles Schulz, kids all over the country sent Valentines to Charlie Brown.  

Charlie Brown gets no Valentines and gets insulted by a candy heart!
I never had a crush on a teacher, but I'm sure many viewers sympathized with Linus too.   Not to mention Sally, who is once again denied a kiss from her "Sweet Baboo".  

There are two scenes involving Lucy that don't relate to the main plots.  She attends a puppet show put on by Snoopy where she is the victim of a "special effects" attack.  This is one of the rare times Lucy gets her comeuppance in a special.    Lucy also gets a scene with Schroeder where she tells him the history of Valentine cards.  This ends with her trashing his piano.  

I liked the scene at the end that featured Charlie Brown and Linus discussing their respective Valentine experiences at the end.  It was a reminder that these two are good friends, and in spite of their lack of success on Valentine's Day, at least they could vent to each other about their respective Valentine "disasters". 

Linus & Chuck reflect upon their Valentine's Day experiences.
This special also features a reading of the poem "How Do I Love Thee" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  Sally gets a candy heart that contains the text of the poem (in very small print!), she reads it while Snoopy acts it out behind her.  That's a great way to introduce kids to one of the greatest love poems of all time.

Sally reads "How Do I Love Thee" while Snoopy "interprets" the poem.
It's also nice to see a minor character like Violet get some lines.  Violet wonders what to get for a "man teacher" for Valentine's Day, she gets him some "heart-shaped shaving lotion"!

Linus has his heart broken by Miss Othmar & and takes it out on a defenseless box of candy.
There's one weak point near the end.  Charlie Brown wishes "that little red haired girl" would send him a Valentine.  She is not mentioned before or after that line and it seems to come out of nowhere.  

During the credits, the people who worked on the special are depicted as puppets, here's Charles Schulz.
I believe there is a bit of a continuity error in this special.  In past specials, it's been mentioned that Peppermint Patty, Franklin and Marcie go to a different school than Chuck, Linus and the rest.  But all three are present during the Valentine's Day Party.  I suppose the creative team felt like they had to be there because the viewers expected to see them.

Snoopy flashes his trademark smile!
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown certainly captures the darker side of Valentine's Day, but it's also funny and will likely remind most of us of a Valentine's Day (or two) gone awry in our own lives. 
J.A. Morris' rating:

4 Valentine Hearts.

RigbyMel says: 

This is a great, albeit a bit heartbreaking, special that demonstrates how Valentine's Day frequently doesn't go according to our own plans for it.   I remember watching this special when I was younger and being quite outraged at Charlie Brown's treatment by others.     Now I watch it and am still sad for him, but also touched by his optimism in bringing a briefcase to collect all the Valentines he hopes to receive!  
(I also remember being kind of grateful that when Valentines were exchanged at my school, since we were always required to give cards to everyone in the class to prevent exactly the situation poor Charlie Brown experiences!) 

Favorite scenes include Snoopy's "Pawpet Show" performance - the deliberately melodramatic story and added special effects never fail to crack me up.    

"Pawpet" Show with added "4-D" effects!
 I also love the scene where Snoopy creates super elaborate 3-D Valentines with just a few snips of his scissors! 

Snoopy's Valentine handiwork
 There is one thing that J.A. Morris touched upon above that always bothered me a bit though ... if Peppermint Patty and Marcie are at the Valentine exchange at Charlie Brown's school (despite going to a different school themselves),  surely one (or both) of them would have given Charlie Brown a Valentine??   
See?  Peppermint Patty and Marcie are both there!!
 The overarching theme of unrequited feelings on Valentine's Day is poignant and this plus the deft touches of humor in this special make it a "classic" in my estimation, even if Valentine's Day isn't one of my favorite holidays! 

RigbyMel's rating: 

 4 Valentine Hearts