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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Charlie Brown Valentine (Paramount DVD)

A Charlie Brown Valentine


A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002)   B

There’s No Time For Love Charlie Brown (1973)   B+

Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown (1981)   B-


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: D



The outstanding DVD versions of all the great animated Peanuts Gang programs continue with A Charlie Brown Valentine, which offers a set of three smart, colorful installments of the various specials produced over the years.  Though even the latest productions have been high quality programming for children that respects their intelligence, an increasingly rare thing these days, United Features Syndicate and the Charles Schultz Estate (after the passing of the genius himself) have been extremely consistent over many decades.  That is not an easy achievement in an era of empty, degrading, tired franchises, but the creators never forgot what counted, which is why each DVD release is a true event.


A Charlie Brown Valentine is the newest of the three, a second Valentine special after the brilliant Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975, also on DVD with two additional programs).  Though not quite as good, it still has some funny moments.  The newer voices for the characters as featured on this program are not bad, but lack the softspokeness of the original animated classics.  Not that these kids sound like they are auditioning for Annie or a bad Pringles ad, but it is just not as good in that respect.  The art is colorful, but not quite like the older programs, though the newer the program, the clearer the transfer.  This one feature Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with respectable Pro Logic surrounds.  As for the story, it makes the arguable error of allowing the world of the characters to be too self-enclosed, so they land up not quite inhabiting the world we live in, just the Peanuts one.  This was one of the last programs Schultz ever wrote.


There’s No Time For Love Charlie Brown is the real gem of the set, achieving the total opposite.  To show how extremely smart these early shows were in addressing the real world and dealing it in real terms, catch Peppermint Patty in the grocery store.  When she tries to explain to Marcy that a high stack of tomato cans is Pop Art and that she needs to “get with it” to know what is going on, it is pure genius.  There is also one of the great Snoopy moments when he kicks into his Joe Cool persona.  We do not see this enough in the newer programs.  Furthermore, the demands of schooling and society are charming beyond words.  The drawings also offer more space and larger backgrounds for the characters to appear in, which keeps the fact that they are children in perspective.  The picture may be a touch soft, but it still looks really good otherwise, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is pretty good for its age. The richness of the gags and vignettes are always at their highest in these early installments, and Charlie Brown is looking for a redhead girl to be with.


Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown is of a later vintage and has Charlie Brown looking for a girl he saw for a second on a TV football broadcast.  The quest produces a few funny moments, if not always a riot.  It is also one of the early shows where it the characters are getting a little louder.  The picture is sharper than There’s No Time For Love Charlie Brown, but you can tell it is an analog transfer from very slight noise in the transfer.  In all cases, the animation is never that complex, so any transfer problems are minimal.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 here is simple stereo that is not bad for its time.


The color is nice on all of the shows, so it looks like the Peanuts archive is being taken care of very well.  You can even see the cell dust here and there, and that is a sign of no digital manipulation.  Sometimes, the urge to digitize each animated frame of a given animated work backfires.  Fortunately, these are just fine and it will not be until High Definition that these transfers will be able to be topped.


Each show is designed for a commercial TV half-hour slot and you can sometimes not just see, but feel where the breaks are.  Older viewers will remember the great ad campaigns that backed up this quality programming of long ago.  I also refuse to count the additional programs as extras, since they are just as long and worth our time.  There is a long preview about 9 minutes long covering the various titles available and on the way from the Peanuts collection and Paramount/Nickelodeon.


If you are used to only seeing these shows on broadcast TV or have not seen the older ones for years, then you are in for a pleasant surprise.  Charles Schultz may be gone, but his legacy survives beyond the comic strips and often amazing memorabilia.  The Peanuts Gang lives and A Charlie Brown Valentine is a strongly recommended DVD.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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