Following a 1960s collection and the first volume of a 1970s collection comes the Peanuts 1970s Collection Vol. 2, which gathers six remastered half-hour TV specials featuring Charlie Brown and the gang.
There aren't any undeniable Peanuts classics on this two-disc volume like there are on the previous two sets (A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on the ’70s set and A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin on the ’60s set), but these specials are plenty charming, retaining Charles Schulz’s inimitable blend of empathy and humor. Peanuts TV specials were a pretty regular occurrence by this point, but none of these feel too much like the product of a cartoon assembly line.
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
Easily the most recognizable special of the set, Be My Valentine finds an unusually optimistic Charlie Brown excited about all the valentines he’s sure to receive — and maybe even one from the little red-haired girl. Of course, the truth is far more disappointing. Meanwhile, Linus is excited about his Valentine’s present for his teacher, but Sally thinks it’s for her.
You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown
Exploring the oft-used theme of Charlie Brown’s athletic prowess, or lack thereof, You’re a Good Sport transposes the action to a motocross race, where Charlie’s pathetic little bike looks to be no match against those of Peppermint Patty and Snoopy’s alter-ego, the Masked Marvel.
It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown
Arbor Day doesn’t exactly scream story possibilities, but this special is one of the best of the set, featuring a well-intentioned Sally planting an orchard on Charlie’s baseball field in an attempt to better understand the holiday. Unfortunately for Charlie, the first game of the season is right around the corner, but the newly planted trees might just do what his team usually cannot.
What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown
This special makes its DVD debut in this collection, and it’s the highlight of the package — not only because of its newfound availability, but because it’s a wonderfully realized, almost wordless episode. Snoopy is getting a little too big for his britches, and Charlie despairs over his too-civilized dog. But that night, Snoopy has a dream where he’s transported to Alaska where he’s a woefully unprepared sled dog. Snoopy’s adventures have always been a high point of Peanuts, and this humorous escapade is no exception.
It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown
As little sense as it makes for elementary kids to celebrate homecoming, the worst part of this episode is its disregard for Schulz’s handling of the little red-haired girl. Rather than being the unseen dream-girl that Charlie pines for, here she gets a name — Heather — and is clearly shown many times. Charlie has to play in the homecoming football game, where Lucy’s placeholding ensures he’ll never make a field goal, and later escort Heather and give her a traditional kiss. Apparently, Schulz didn’t consider this special canonical, and I don’t blame him.
You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown
There are more athletic challenges for Charlie in this special, which has him competing in the decathlon for the Junior Olympics. The Masked Marvel is back to compete alongside him, as well as Marcy, who Peppermint Patty puts in the competition as a back-up in case Charlie can’t do it.
Also included on the set is a 20-minute featurette on Schulz’s work on Peanuts in the ’70s. It’s more about the comic strip than the TV specials, but with interviews with Schulz’s family and colleagues, it’s an excellent look into his creative process. The Peanuts 1970s Collection Vol. 2 doesn’t quite represent the best of the TV specials, but it has enough charming moments to belong in any Peanuts collection.