For as long as I can remember, the month of February has featured two pop-culture traditions known the world over. Every February 2, a group of Pennsylvania men in top hats hold aloft a large rodent against its will and attribute it with powers of meteorological prognostication, and every February 14, Charlie Brown is crestfallen from receiving zero Valentine’s Day cards. With the release of Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, Peanuts fans don’t have to wait until February to relive his disappointment.
The DVD contains three Peanuts specials that revolve around the theme of young love. First up is the title episode, thirteenth in the series, which premiered in 1975. Charlie Brown anticipates getting his first Valentine’s Day card, Linus tries to figure out what gift to get for his teacher Miss Othmar, Sally mistakenly thinks Linus’ gift is for her, and Lucy tries to get Schroeder’s attention. Charles Schulz appears to be a pessimist because everyone’s feelings end up being unrequited.
Next is 1967’s You're in Love, Charlie Brown, the fourth Peanuts special. Charlie Brown desperately wants to meet the little red-haired girl with whom he is smitten. He only has two days of school before summer break, but his shyness and fear are holding him back. This episode is notable because it marks the television debut of Peppermint Patty and the sound of the muted trombone in place of adult voices.
Peanuts seamlessly transferred to television. Schulz and the producers wisely chose to stick with what worked, incorporating storylines and jokes straight from the comic strips, and created the same magic. Schulz' ideas of young love are universal as is his sense of humor.
The third special on the DVD is It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, which first aired in 1977. I was surprised to find out Schulz was involved since it misses the mark widely. It is as if someone who didn’t understand the material got their hands on it. The storyline doesn’t seem based on the strips and a number of things happen that don’t ring true to Schulz’ world view. We see the little red-haired girl; she’s even given the name Heather. At the homecoming dance, Charlie Brown kisses her and is the life of the party, as if a producer felt sorry for him and thought viewers would finally want him to succeed.
Even odder is the football game. Charlie Brown is the place kicker and Lucy is his ball holder, a familiar scenario from the strip. Naturally, Lucy pulls the ball away and sends Charlie Brown flying, but everyone somehow blames him for the loss. Of course, the game comes down to Charlie Brown needing to kick the winning point. During the course of it, the team is later shown to have scored extra points after touchdowns, but there’s no explanation how it happened or who did it. Good grief, the ball was dropped by many people on this one.
The DVD includes a featurette about Schulz and Peanuts with interviews of family members, executive producer Lee Mendelson, director Phil Roman, and other notable speakers and admirers.
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (Deluxe Edition) has been remastered and the colors are vibrant; however there’s occasional dirt and in one scene an out-of-focus hair still remains. Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” plays during the menus. There’s no chapter-skipping feature during the programs. Even though one special doesn’t measure up to the Peanuts standard, the other two more than make up for it.