April 12, 2019

A bird by any other name...

Many American newspapers currently have been re-running the lengthy 1972 storyline that begins when Snoopy starts to read Tolstoy’s War and Peace — one word at a time — and climaxes when, after a silly spat with Woodstock, Snoopy bravely hops the fence in order to save his little bird buddy from the vicious cat next door … only to wind up “rescuing” an old yellow glove.

Fellow Peanuts fan Derek Tague just called our attention to an existential hiccup that pops up midway through this sequence, in the strip originally published April 7. (And boy, we love to get mail like this!)

The “cat and dog fight” has drawn the attention of the entire gang, at which point Linus hastily explains that “Snoopy is rescuing Woodstock!”

So … how does Linus know Woodstock’s name?

We take for granted that Snoopy and Woodstock communicate with each other, via thought balloons and chirps, but they certainly don’t talk to people. And it’s not as if Woodstock’s nest is equipped with a mailing label.

We’d be inclined to dismiss this as a single slip on Charles Schulz’s part, except that — as we discovered via some quick research — it happens several more times, with Charlie Brown: in a weeklong January 1973 sequence, when Snoopy gets annoyed after receiving a bill for items he broke during Woodstock’s New Year’s Eve party; when Charlie Brown encourages Snoopy to put an orange in Woodstock’s Christmas stocking (12/23/75); when Charlie Brown chastises Snoopy for getting out of control at another of Woodstock’s New Year’s Eve parties (1/1-3/76); and when Snoopy, traveling to Kansas City, sends Charlie Brown a letter and asks him to say hello to Woodstock (6/22/76).

Although the latter offers an explanation for how Charlie Brown would know Woodstock’s name — rather late in the game — it does beg another question; one is forced to wonder how Snoopy penned this missive.

No doubt there are other examples of Charlie Brown and his friends somehow knowing Woodstock’s identity; we leave their discovery to our readers. Logically, we can assume that word spread after Linus’ initial announcement, but that still doesn’t explain how he found out.

Mention also should be made of 1977’s big-screen film, Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. Recall that when Woodstock wins the race, he’s honored with a trophy that’s presented to him, by name. Granted, we’ve long insisted that the TV specials and movies are “non-canonical,” but still … it remains part of the same droll mystery.

Was Schulz aware of this delightful anomaly? Did he do it intentionally, or did he not realize the whimsical muddle he made of his own continuity?

We’ll never know…

February 25, 2019

Peanuts by Schulz: Springtime DVD - Very little is "all new"

As mentioned in the previous blog post, on February 26, 2019, Warner Home Video released another "Peanuts by Schulz" DVD containing a selection of 6-7 minute-long shorts based directly on the Peanuts comics strips. These shorts originally aired on the Boomerang Channel here in the United States.

After the previous four releases, 14 of those shorts remain unreleased on DVD. The last DVD release, Peanuts by Schulz: It's Only Love, claimed "18 all-new shorts," but really only had 10 new shorts.

This new DVD, Peanuts by Schulz: Springtime, says "15 all-new shorts" on its cover... which is an even more egregious falsehood, since in reality only 3 of the 15 shorts are new to DVD. The other 12 are repeats from previous DVD volumes. That's an abysmal value for the price of $9.99.

When the It's Only Love DVD was released with only half of the shorts being new, I was willing to consider that it perhaps it was just sloppiness. But with the release of the Springtime DVD, having only 3 new shorts while claiming they are all new, it's difficult to accept sloppiness on Warner Home Video's part as an excuse, and instead one has to consider if there are less charitable explanations as to why the cover misleads potential purchasers.

If Warner Home Video's goal is to provide themed collections of these shorts, that would be fine, if they didn't say "all new" on the cover. While we would be disappointed that they didn't include the last of the unreleased shorts, at least the cover would be honest. But instead the repeated use of "all new" when neither DVD has been all new is... suspect.

My recommendation is to avoid buying the Peanuts by Schulz: Springtime DVD, or cancel or return your order if you've already placed one. And refuse to buy any future releases in this series unless it can be proved they truly include all-new shorts.

For reference, the 3 new-to-DVD shorts on Peanuts by Schulz: Springtime are:
Being Nice
Birds of a Feather

January 24, 2019

Two new Peanuts by Schulz DVDs with some (but not all) new-to-DVD Boomerang shorts

Readers will recall that back in 2016, the Boomerang channel aired 104 shorts based directly on Peanuts comic strips, each about 6-7 minutes long.

In 2017, Warner Home Video released three Peanuts by Schulz DVDs that compiled those shorts. Between them, the DVDs contained 80 of the 104 shorts. The last DVD went on sale in October 2017... and for 15 months, there have been no further releases, leaving 24 shorts unreleased on DVD.

The good news: Warner has released a fourth Peanuts by Schulz DVD, and a fifth is on the horizon.

The bad news: We may still not get the shorts on DVD, even so.

The first new DVD, Peanuts by Schulz: It's Only Love, came out on January 8, 2019, and proclaims "18 all-new shorts" on its cover. (Unlike previous volumes, this one is a single disc.)

The problem is... that's false. Only 10 of the shorts on the disc are new. Eight are repeats, already released on the previous DVDs.

That makes Peanuts by Schulz: It's Only Love a pretty poor value, even at the normal sale price of $9.99, and it leaves 14 Boomerang shorts unreleased.

(Note that Amazon lists this DVD's title incorrectly... they call it Peanuts by Schulz: The Complete Series, which is most certainly isn't.)

The 10 new shorts on Peanuts by Schulz: It's Only Love are:
The Little Red Haired Girl
The Mysteries of Love
Nobody Likes Me
Not Your Day
Love is in the Air
It's Only Love
Go for It, Charlie Brown
A Fascinating Friend
Just for Love
(For a complete list of all 104 broadcast episodes, and a few additional details about the shorts and other DVDs, visit the Peanuts Animation & Video Page.)

The next DVD, Peanuts by Schulz: Springtime, is due out on February 26, 2019. Its cover claims "15 all-new shorts"... which can't actually be true, since there are only 14 new ones left to release. Will all 14 of those really be on this DVD? We don't know, since a list of the shorts that will be on the disc hasn't been announced yet. But given that It's Only Love didn't really contain 18 new shorts, and we already know that a claim of "15 new" for the February disc can't be correct, it would be wise to be skeptical.  [And indeed, it turns out this DVD is even worse: only 3 of the 15 are new.  See this blog post for more details and commentary.]

Memo to Warner Brothers: it's not that hard to keep track of which shorts you've already released, and you shouldn't be making fans buy repeats just to get some new ones.

Meanwhile, all 104 of the Boomerang shorts are available from iTunes and Amazon as digital streams/downloads, in four separate Peanuts by Schulz collections (or one big complete one). However, the shorts not released on DVD yet are spread out across each of the four digital collections, so you'd have to re-buy everything to get the rest of the shorts; and of course, you can't put the digital downloads on DVD. (For what it's worth, the digital downloads are available in high definition as well as standard definition.)

In fact, in another apparent attempt to confuse or mislead consumers, Warner has now added a fifth digital collection, matching the It's Only Love DVD, even though it just repeats shorts that are already in the other digital collections. Sheesh!

January 23, 2019

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown & A Charlie Brown Valentine to air Friday, February 8, 2019 on ABC

Have a big, heart-shaped box of chocolates on hand on Friday, February 8, 2019 for ABC's annual Peanuts Valentine's Day double-feature of Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975) and A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002) from 8 - 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific).