Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown
B- Sound: B- Extras: D Episodes: B-
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- Nicholas Sheffo