Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!
Produced By: Warner Home Video
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Being a tremendous Peanuts fan, it was with much surprise that I had to admit having never seen the animated television special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! Based on a comic strip series that I read when I was much younger, the special first aired on January 1, 1986 and has aired sporadically since then. I sat down in front of the television the other day to see one of many Peanuts strip series brought to life.
It's time for Christmas vacation and Charlie Brown is excited. His teacher has yet to assign the class a project for over the holidays and he remains hopeful that she might somehow have forgotten to do so. Unfortunately, his hopes are soon dashed - his teacher assigns the class to read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and return to school with a book report.
Charlie Brown can't believe his misfortune. How will he ever be able to finish a thousand-page book and write a report on its contents by the end of the Christmas vacation? Even worse - how will he survive the distraction of Peppermint Patty's recently announced New Year's Eve party, especially when he has not only decided to go, but to invite the Little Red-Haired Girl? Good Grief!!
After all these years, the Peanuts gang never fails to elicit chuckles from me. I laughed as I saw the strip I read so long ago brought to animated life with Charlie Brown struggling to even carry the book, much less read it. I was hysterical as I watched Snoopy and Woodstock get into their full New Year's Party regalia, including top hats and coat tails. I loved watching Snoopy playing the trumpet at the party and Pigpen on the bass in accompaniment to Franklin's guitar and Schroeder's piano.
It was even nice to see Charlie Brown having a good time for a while before reality sets in and Charlie Brown misses the most important parts of the grand affair. The cartoon wraps up with Charlie Brown's return to school, his grade on his hastily written paper and the next assignment.
ABC aired a second cartoon in connection with Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! In She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty takes the lead, learning how to ice skate professionally from a tough instructor, Snoopy. As she prepares for a local competition, I remembered reading this series of comic strips as well and was prepared for Woodstock's heroic endeavor's and the hysterical moments regarding Peppermint Patty's competition dress and music.
All-in-all, I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching these episodes and would recommend them to any parent with young children or any fan of Peanuts. Sure, these cartoons are not exactly on par with the most traditionally watched specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wondered why this particular special has only received sporadic airing over the years. This is one special that should be televised every year.