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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > TV > Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown (Paramount DVD)

Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: D     Episodes: B-



One thing Charles Schultz did well with his Peanuts Gang was to take on that kids' institution of sports and the new DVD Lucy Must be Traded, Charlie Brown features three cartoons from three different ears about the sport.  As has been the case with the previous Paramount DVD offerings from the animated shows, the title show is the new one, and two other older matching shows with matching themes are included.


The newest show, released in 2003, is the weakest and oddest of the three, dealing with the reality of women in sports and dodging it at the same time.  Lucy is out of her element as someone not so good at baseball who keeps insisting she’ll be there for all the games, when it is apparent she is ruining the Peanuts Gang’s team chances of winning even a single game.  It is one step above a zombied rehash of what we have already seen and done with barely more energy than sleepwalking.  The voice actors are not the problem, but the teleplay is pointless.  The bonus shows fare better.


Charlie Brown’s All Stars was out back in 1968 and it was always one of the weaker early Peanuts specials, but the idea that a local business will not sponsor Charlie Brown’s team if it has “girls and dogs” on it is a sad reminder of how very recent explicit discrimination in sports was.  Schultz was, as usual, way ahead of his time in dealing with this without being preachy.  Though not one of my favorites, at least it is authentic Schultz and that is better than most “bests” form the same genre and field.


That brings us to It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown, a 1992 program that is a comeback after over a decade of specials that were not living up to the classics.  It deals with all the issues Charlie Brown’s All Stars was starting to take on, but actually improves on the approach, execution and comedy.  For many years before of the Peanuts cartoons, if it was not enough his piers were not nice to him, there have always been the visiting kids who were even meaner to Charlie Brown and the gang.  They were especially venomous to “Chuck” and a scene occurs that is a quiet triumph with profound dignity.  Franklin, the African-American friend in the gang, who previously lead breakdancing in Flashbeagle, stays totally in character when joining the gang at the baseball field.  He brings a portable stereo (aka boom box) and in support of the gang and especially Charlie Brown, plays a Rap song celebrating their friendship, supporting the team, and defying the visiting kids who have been so mean to all of them for decades.  It is a joy-filled moment that also serves as a point of unity and defiance against hate, racism, and rejection like few you will veer see anywhere in children’s animation.  It is a cute, innocent, unangry piece of Rap that ultimately is more subversive and defiant than Eminem or “Cop Killer” could ever dream of being and it is also one of the greatest moments of support Charlie Brown ever gets in Peanuts history, worthy of the conclusion of A Charlie Brown Christmas or his other handful of triumphs.  Charles Schultz was a genius and it shows he could even understand the power of a new musical artform before it became mainstream.  That alone is reason enough to see this DVD.


The full frame, color image has slight differences in the grain and color, with each show.  The oldest (Charlie Brown’s All Stars) has the most grain, cell dust and the color is not as good as some others from the time.  The best (It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown) turns out to be one of the last great color installments ever made, while the latest main program seems color odd.  It is not color weak, but the color that is there looks atypical of what we usually see.  All three have Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, but only the new program has stereo sound and it has no surround information of any kind.  The plus is that the older titles have clearer than usual monophonic playback, which is nice.  There are no extras.


So you get another high-quality installment of Peanuts cartoons that will especially appeal to fans of Baseball.  Schultz and company deal with it when it was still a real game, which might be a complication of the title program, distance from the real thing.  Those who love the game will especially appreciate it, whereas this critic is a passive fan.  With its honestly and moral center, it is a trio of tales for children of all ages to appreciate about sportsmanship and life.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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