Premiered February 1, 1974.
Woodstock (Bill Melendez) has built a brand new nest and is very proud of it.
However, disaster soon strikes when his nest disapears! Woodstock's best friend Snoopy (Melendez again) puts on his detective costume and helps the bird investigate the case of the missing nest.
At the same time, Sally Brown (Lynn Mortensen) is cracking up due to pressures at school. Her science teacher has assigned Sally to bring in "something from nature" to be used in a science exhibit. Sally vows to show the teacher "the best exhibit she's ever seen!"
Snoopy and Woodstock begin their search for the nest by interrogating Charlie Brown (Todd Barbee).
When that proves fruitless, they visit the homes of Lucy (Melanie Kohn) and Linus (Stephen Shea), Peppermint Patty (Donna Forman), Pigpen (Tom Muller) and Marcy (Jimmy Arens).
Their search comes up empty at every house, and Snoopy is terrorized by Peppermint Patty, who thinks the beagle wants to play "Cops and Robbers."
Their exhaustive investigation leads them to Birchwood School. They find Woodstock's nest in the science lab. They learn it was taken by Sally because she needed it for her assignment.
Snoopy rescues the nest and returns it to its proper place. Woodstock has his nest, but now Sally has nothing for her science class.
Sally decides to sue Woodstock and force him to return the nest. Woodstock hires Snoopy to represent him as his attorney. The presiding judge in the case will be none other than Lucy Van Pelt! Lucy converts her psychiatrist booth into a court of law.
How will "Judge Lucy" rule on the case? Will Woodstock lose his home? Will Sally flunk her science assignment?
J.A. Morris says:
The plot of It's A Mystery, Charlie Brown is pretty thin, but it's fun and entertaining enough. This is one of those specials that consists of "Peanuts characters do funny stuff" and that's about it. But that's okay.
Snoopy's "Sherlock Holmes" costume is amusing. His interactions with Marcy, Peppermint Patty and the Van Pelt siblings is humorous. Peppermint Patty is depicted as being a bit crazier than usual and their "Cops and Robbers" game is a high point of the special.
Woodstock gets put through the ringer in the first few minutes. He loses his nest and is nearly washed away in a rain storm, which might upset some younger viewers.
It's worth noting that Snoopy and Woodstock are the only characters onscreen for the first five minutes. This means that the only "dialogue" during that time consists of bird and dog noises made by Bill Melendez. This didn't bother me, but some viewers might find this a bit unnerving.
The animation is excellent, the animators and production team were really hitting their stride when It's A Mystery, Charlie Brown was produced. The rainstorm that Woodstock encounters is particularly gorgeous. I love the way storm clouds are drawn to look like they were drawn by a child using the edge of a pencil lead.
The voice actors here are mostly good. Since Woodstock and Snoopy are the leads, that means Bill Melendez has to do a bit more squawking than usual. He is more than up to the task.
It's A Mystery, Charlie Brown was created near the end of Vince Guaraldi's life, when his music was changing. The soundtrack features lots of funky, electric guitar and electric keyboard. Some of it was later re-used in It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown. It's not the same music Guaraldi was playing in the early specials, but I love it!
This special has been released on the DVD titled Peanuts:The 1970s Collection Vol. 1. It also streams on Amazon video.
It's a Mystery Charlie Brown is hardly a classic, but it's got enough funny moments and great Guaraldi music to warrant repeated viewings. Especially recommended for die-hard fans of Woodstock.
J.A. Morris' rating:
3 and a half Sparkys.