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DVD Review: Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 2

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This two-disc set completes the run of television specials that aired during the decade. Disc 1 opens with two previously reviewed specials, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975) and the Emmy Award-winning, motocross-based You're A Good Sport, Charlie Brown (1975). Rounding out the disc is It's Arbor Day, Charlie, Brown (1976), which is notable for being the last special for which Vince Guaraldi created music. He died shortly after completing his work. Arbor Day is very amusing as it draws attention to a minor holiday that encourages the planting of trees.

Sally has to give a complete report on Arbor Day after mistakenly identifying it as when "all the ships come sailing into the 'arbor." After she and Linus go to library and learn the holiday is about the future rather than the past like so many others, they decide to build a garden. At the encouragement of Lucy, they and others build it in an open lot, which is where they play baseball.

Charlie Brown had already made plans to play Peppermint Patty's team, which regularly beats his team. They go ahead with very funny results as the plants have an effect on the game. For the first time ever, Charlie Brown's team is up by one run with a chance to win. When someone mentions rain being the only thing that could stop them, Peanuts fans can guess the weather report.

Disc 2 opens with What A Nightmare, Charlie Brown (1978) making its DVD debut. Charlie Brown tries to turn Snoopy into a sled dog, but fails. After a dinner of pizzas and a milkshake he made for himself, Snoopy dreams he is a member of a pack of Alaskan sled dogs. He finds life harsh. When he tries for a scrap of food or a place at the watering hole, the other dogs put him in his place. After a stop at a tavern, Snoopy gets something to eat but ends up causing a riot when he is found cheating at poker. He eventually takes over as lead dog, but wakes up soon after. This special is different from the others because it only features Snoopy in the lead and Charlie Brown appears in a limited role, yet that makes it no less enjoyable.

The disc also offers the previously reviewed specials: the Homecoming-themed It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (1977) and the Junior Olympics-themed You're The Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979). Containing interviews and archival footage, the featurette "You're Groovy, Charlie Brown: A Look at Peanuts in the '70s" (18 min) reveals the strip's evolution.

Other than the misstep of First Kiss, the creative team maintains a high degree of quality throughout the decade, offering great laughs and insight. If you haven't bought the majority of these specials previously on DVD, then this set is a must-have.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Snoopy’s nightmare about Alaskan sled dogs is accurate. Dogs who forced to run in the Iditarod have a brutal existence. Six dogs died in the 2009 race, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer’s team who froze to death in the ferocious winds. What happens to the dogs during the Iditarod includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the race.

    During training runs, Iditarod dogs have been killed by moose, snowmachines, and various motor vehicles, including a semi tractor and an ATV. They have died from drowning, heart attacks and being strangled in harnesses. Dogs have also been injured while training. They have been gashed, quilled by porcupines, bitten in dog fights, and had broken bones, and torn muscles and tendons. Most dog deaths and injuries during training aren’t even reported.

    Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. “Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don’t pull are dragged to death in harnesses……” wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska’s Bush Blade Newspaper.

    Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, “Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective…A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective.” “It is a common training device in use among dog mushers…”

    Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, “He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death.”

    During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running. The Iditarod’s chief veterinarian, Stu Nelson, is an employee of the Iditarod Trail Committee. They are the ones who sign his paycheck. So, do you expect that he’s going to say anything negative about the Iditarod?

    The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.

    Margery Glickman
    Sled Dog Action Coalition

  • Thanks for drawing attention to the issue, Margery