Thursday, June 2, 2011


Cities may crumble; people may riot in the streets; civilizations may collapse, but I gotta do it. There's no choice in the matter. I have to recommend a CONTEMPORARY piece of pop culture.

But I only do so because it harkens back so faithfully to its classic origins. Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown is a brand new animated special that draws on several extended comic strip story arcs from the 1960s to create the best Peanuts special this side of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I think Charles Schulz' creative peak was from the late 1950s through about 1970 or so. He had gotten a lock on the personalities of his characters. Snoopy had evolved from a more or less real dog to the whimsical fantasy figure that best fits him. Linus (always my favorite character) had become the voice of wisdom and reason in the group, while simultaneously giving voice to all our insecurities and fears via his need for his security blanket.  The humor of the strip was at its funniest; the characters were at their most human; the emotions generated were real and sometimes a little heartbreaking.

Peanuts during the 1960s was a masterpiece in every way it could be.

This new DVD takes several story arcs from that time period revolving around Linus and his blanket--efforts to hide it from his blanket-hating grandmother; Lucy making it into a kite and accidentally letting it fly away; Lucy burying it in an unknown location.

These are all tied together into one coherent story, with other gags from that time period (dealing with Charlie Brown's kite-flying, Lucy's crush on Shroeder and a few others) interspersed throughout. It all leads up to a great finale that thematically ties all these elements together.

The animation is very faithful to Schulz's original art. The voice actors (all children) are perfect. Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown catches Peanuts at its best and reminds us all just how much of a genius Charles Schulz was.

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