The Peanuts television specials You’re A Good Sport, Charlie Brown and You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown have been remastered and released together on DVD. They go well together because both deal with sports. Nine-year-old Sobrino Poco Loco joins his 41-year-old uncle as they offer their thoughts.
Good Sport premiered in 1975 and received an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Special along with co-winner Huckleberry Finn starring Ron Howard. The episode starts with a bit that seems right out of the strips with Linus upset that the big kids are hogging the tennis courts. Sally warns the big kids they better let them on or Linus will clobber them, which freaks him out and he runs off. Snoopy is seen playing tennis against an unknown opponent who infuriates him. His intensity and anger are very funny and foreshadow John McEnroe antics.
Peppermint Patty informs the gang of a charity motocross race with the winner earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. Much like his Christmas tree selection, Charlie Brown’s bike looks in pretty bad shape. Snoopy “secretly” enters the race as the Masked Marvel. Charlie Brown and the Masked Marvel wipe out in the first turn. Both are taken to hospitals, except through a mix-up Charlie Brown ends up at the vet. It was a tad startling to find Snoopy in the hospital reading a copy of Playdog. They both return to the race. The rules state that every rider has to have a helmet and since Charlie Brown lost his in the wreck, Linus carves one out a pumpkin for him to wear.
The story jumps ahead and inexplicably the Masked Marvel, Peppermint Patty, and Charlie Brown are the only ones left in the race. She gets stuck in the mud and the story resembles Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare, but with Charlie Brown’s luck the end is never certain as witnessed by yet another attempt to kick Lucy’s football.
Both Sobrino Poco Loco and I liked this special a lot. We each found it funny and laughed throughout, especially when Snoopy got mad, which SPL noted was the first time he ever saw Snoopy like that. Being around young girls like Sally, he claimed he could picture a girl saying that to big kids. He learned a person “is gonna be good at one thing,” a message I didn’t take away, as well as things such as dogs can ride motocross bikes, birds can play tennis, and you can turn a tennis ball shooter into a motocross bike. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. Plus, when I was his age Pluto was a planet and we couldn’t eat meat on Friday, so what do I know? When asked about The Tortoise and the Hare, he got the connection.
You’re the Greatest premiered in 1979 and received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Animated Program. When no one volunteers, Charlie Brown gets signed up to represent his school in the decathlon at the junior Olympics. His training doesn’t provide much confidence, so his coach, Peppermint Patty, asks Marcie to join in. The other contenders are the Masked Marvel from Ace Obedience school and the previous year’s winner, Freddie Fabulous, who condescendingly calls Charlie Brown “Pumpkin Head,” which ties in with Good Sport.
After the first day, Charlie Brown is in third place, which surprises Lucy who informs everyone she expected him to be last. He wins some events on Day 2, and gains the lead in the 1500m run. He starts daydreaming about how well he is doing and winning the entire decathlon, but what outcome will Charles Schulz deliver?
SPL thought the specials were kinda similar, and he is right as they both retell Aesop's tale. He thought Good Sport was funnier, which I agree with, although Greatest certainly elicited laughs from both of us. Unfortunately, the decathlon and the training for it are all this special deals with, so many characters have reduced roles.
“Dust Yourself Off and Pick Yourself Up, Charlie Brown” is a feature similar to the ones that appear on the other Peanuts DVDs. It contains interviews with Schulz’s son and historians discussing the creation of Good Sport. Odd that Greatest was overlooked.