September 26, 2016

A History of Redwood Empire Arena's Peanuts Ice Shows

(This special post is by 5CP Associate Editor Gayna Lamb-Bang.)

A recent trip to Knott’s Berry Farm featured a wonderful Peanuts ice show, called Blockbuster Beagle.  I was reminded immediately of the fantastic Christmas ice shows once held annually at the Redwood Empire Ice Skating Arena, in Santa Rosa, California.

1983 summer show program 
Redwood Empire, a lovely, Swiss Chalet-style skating rink, was a gift to the Santa Rosa community from Charles M. Schulz, who’d been distressed over the closure of the city’s only other ice rink.  The opening gala, on April 28, 1969, starred 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist Peggy Fleming, with music provided by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.
Schulz’s beloved Christmas ice shows didn’t begin immediately; indeed, the venue catered mostly to local families and hockey teams for the first decade. Starting in 1979, Redwood Empire’s schedule began to feature professional ice shows, presented in the summer and autumn.

1985 summer show program
The first, in July 1979, honored the rink’s 10th anniversary.  That show, called Ice Decade, also starred Fleming, in keeping with the earlier opening day celebration.

For the next several years, such professional productions alternated with spring ice shows provided by the Santa Rosa Figure Skating Club; the first of these was presented in 1980, followed by others in ’82 and ’84.

In July 1981, Love Is Here starred  British competitive figure skater Robin Cousins, a 1980 Olympic Gold Medalist and 1980 European champion.

1986 holiday show
July 1983’s show, Perhaps Love, also starred Cousins.

Flashbeagle, in July 1985, featured American figure skater Scott Hamilton, a 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist, and winner of four consecutive World Championships.

The following year, 1986, marked the debut of the beloved Christmas shows.

Schulz truly loved producing all of Redwood Empire’s shows.  As he noted, in a quote supplied by The Charles M. Schulz Museum, “The thing I enjoy most of all, even more than drawing cartoons, is putting together an ice show… I think that is the ultimate in happiness.”  He produced all the ice shows until he died in February 2000.  His daughter, Jill Schulz, took over for the final four ice shows, from 2000-03.

September 6, 2016

A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home Blu-ray discs out now

The US Blu-ray releases of the first two Peanuts theatrical films, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) and Snoopy Come Home (1972), are now in stores and shipping from online retailers.

A double-feature set, with both films on two discs in one case, will be released on November 1. This release is much cheaper than buying the two films separately, so if you haven't picked the films up yet, wait for the double-feature set. (Releasing a cheaper, double-feature set less than two months after the first release is quite the insult to those of us who supported CBS/Paramount by buying the films in September.)

It turns out that the advance information about these high-definition releases was incorrect - unlike the DVD releases of these movies, on the Blu-rays the films are presented in the 4:3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio. This is how the movies were originally animated; the widescreen aspect ratio used on the DVDs cut off the top and bottom of the picture, and resulted in a very cramped look. So this is a welcome change.  Audio options on each disc are 5.1 surround (DTS-HD Master Audio) and 2.0 stereo mixes. Alas, no bonus features are included.

Even though the back covers of the discs say that the "music has been changed for home video," there is no evidence of any music changes - probably this was just boilerplate text that someone forgot to remove.

Also worth noting is that the A Boy Named Charlie Brown Blu-ray includes the full 86-minute version of the film (as was the case with the DVD). A shortened 79-minute version had been released on VHS, Laserdisc, and was used for TV broadcasts for many years. It's good to know that when CBS/Paramount went back to master the film in high definition and 4:3, they also used the unedited version of the movie.

(And while the Australian Blu-ray release of A Boy Named Charlie Brown was incorrectly stretched out and distorted, fortunately this is not the case with the US release.)

The list price for each disc separately is $24.99; the double feature disc lists for just $29.99. For reviews of the Blu-rays, visit The Aisle Seat, written by entertainment critic and fellow Peanuts fan Andre Dursin.  (Spoiler: he says they look good and recommends them.)