Friday, February 1, 2013

She's A Good Skate, Charlie Brown

First aired February 25, 1980.

"There's no one harder to please than a skating coach."
-Peppermint Patty

Peppermint Patty (Patricia Patts) is preparing for an upcoming Figure Skating competition.  She wakes up very early every morning to squeeze in some practice time.  Her coach Snoopy (Bill Melendez) is working her hard, demanding the best of Peppermint Patty.

Her early morning practices are taking a toll.  Peppermint Patty keeps falling asleep at school.  Her friend Marcie (Casey Carlson) does her best to keep her awake.

Peppermint Patty is skating well, but she takes a few falls during practice.  Things get more complicated when a group of hockey players show up and try to claim the ice for a game.

Peppermint Patty & Snoopy "face off" against some bullying hockey players.

They threaten her with their sticks, but Peppermint Patty and Snoopy stand up to them and put them in their place.

Peppermint Patty asks Marcie to sew her a new skating dress.  Marcie tells her multiple times that she can't sew, but PP pays no attention.  This results in a dress with no sleeves! 

After Marcie fails, Snoopy is able to fix it.

The day of the skating competition arrives.

Charlie Brown (Arrin Skelley), Linus, Lucy, Schroeder and Marcy are in the stands to cheer for Peppermint Patty.

The first few skaters have trouble and fall down.  But a girl named Evelyn skates very well and performs a difficult program.  Snoopy is impressed and a bit worried about his skater's chances.

When it's Peppermint Patty's turn to skate, disaster strikes.  Snoopy puts in the tape of her skating music...and the tape gets destroyed!

Peppermint Patty sees this and tries to keep her composure.  Charlie Brown says she will be "doomed" without her music and disqualified.  Only one member of the Peanuts gang can save Peppermint Patty:Woodstock!

Will Woodstock save the day?  Can Peppermint Patty win the competition?

 (Some SPOILERS appear below)
J.A. Morris says:

This is a very sweet special, and unique among Peanuts specials for multiple reasons.

Even though,  Charlie Brown's name appears in the title, he has a very small role.  Other characters such as Lucy, Linus and Sally appear only at spectators in the crowd at the skating competition.  As a kid, I remember thinking it should have been called "You're A Good Skate, Peppermint Patty". 

"How would you like to be force-fed a pair of goalie pads?!"

This is the first special I can recall that had only one plot.  Everything that happens is related to Peppermint Patty's skating competition.   Which is fine, because she's one of the more entertaining characters in the "Peanuts Universe".

Woodstock saves the day!
Yes, Woodstock does save the day by whistling Peppermint Patty's music.   It's a beautiful performance of Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" by virtuoso whistler Jason Serinus.  It's very beautiful, I get choked up every time I watch that scene.  And yes, Woodstock's whistling helps Peppermint Patty win the competition.

The animation here looks gorgeous.  I recently re-watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, I was surprised at how much better the animation looked in She's A Good Skate.  It should be noted that the ice skating animation was done with rotoscoped footage of ice skaters.  Among these skaters was Charles Schulz's daughter Amy.   

Some of the rotoscoped ice skating footage shows up in the credits.

Despite his small role, Charlie Brown gets to deliver a great line about Zambonis, while Snoopy uses one to clear the ice.

Snoopy resurfaces the ice with a Zamboni.

And Bill Melendez does a great job here voicing Snoopy.  I've never heard him "talk" quite the way he does in this special.  I (literally) laughed out loud every time Coach Snoopy barked at Peppermint Patty.  It sounds like Melendez may be aided a bit by tape loops, but it's still great.

Snoopy shows Peppermint Patty what he wants her to do.
Director Phil Roman deserves kudos for this special, as do Judy Munsen and Ed Bogas for composing the music.  Their soundtrack won't make you forget Vince Guaraldi, but it's very good, I found myself tapping my foot to the music.

I was a bit surprised to see hockey playing kids depicted as bullies in this special, since Charles Schulz was a big hockey fan.  His sons played youth hockey and Schulz ran an ice rink that has hosted hockey tournaments since it opened in 1969.  But the scene where Snoopy and Peppermint Patty stand up to the hockey players is great. 

But there's one problem I have with She's Good Skate.  In most specials, when we hear school teachers (or any adults) speak, we hear the "whah-whah-whah" sound that was created with a muted trumbone.  But here, Peppermint Patty's teacher (Debbie Muller) actually speaks with an adult's voice.  I remember this really bothering me the first time I heard it (when I was 8).  It still feels wrong. 

Marcie "helps" Peppermint Patty stay awake.
This special is available on a dvd called Happiness Is... Peanuts:Snow Days.  It also streams on Amazon and iTunes, and occasionally gets rerun on ABC.

If you haven't seen it,you should check it out.  She's A Good Skate, Charlie Brown is a great special, but the adult voice prevents me from giving it my highest rating.

My rating:


3 and a half Sparkys.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Your trusted blogger wearing a Snoopy t-shirt, with "my Snoopy", AKA Joejoe
Hello and welcome to my new blogging endeavor!  Maybe you've seen my "work" at Holiday Film Reviews, or my comic book blogs

I am a huge fan of Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts charactersMy bookshelves are full of Peanuts books, I have several articles of clothing that feature the characters (see the photo at the top of this post), coffee mugs, etc. I literally cannot remember a time when I wasn't aware of Peanuts.

I'm not sure when I first saw these characters.  Maybe it was a children's book, or a childhood knicknack.

I had this picture on my wall when I was a little kid.
  But the Peanuts product that impacted me the most was the animated television specials.

I don't remember the first special I saw, but I was hooked immediately.  Charlie Brown was an underdog most of us can identify with. Snoopy was hilarious, Lucy was a great antagonist, Linus simultaneously wise beyond his years and crazily naive.  And the soundtrack music by Vince Guaraldi was (and still is) some of the coolest music I've ever heard.

When most people think of these Charlie Brown specials, they probably think of Chuck's droopy little Christmas Tree.  Or Linus and Sally spending a fruitless night in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.

What about the rest of the year?  What do Charlie Brown & Co. do when there isn't a holiday in site?   How many people remember the time when the Peanuts gang went to a supermarket and mistook it for a museum?  Or when Charlie Brown & Snoopy competed in the Junior Olympics Decathlon?  How about the special where Charlie Brown turned invisible and finally got to kick Lucy's football?

This blog will feature reviews of the non-holiday Charlie Brown specials.  I wanted to write about something Peanuts related, this seemed to be something that hadn't been done to death.  By my count, there are 31 Peanuts television specials that have nothing to do with holidays.  Not to mention 4 theatrically released movies and an 8-episode educational mini-series called This Is America, Charlie Brown.  There's also The Charlie Brown & Snoopy Show (recently released on dvd), which ran on Saturday mornings for 2 seasons.  So there's plenty of Charlie Brown to watch year round!

I plan to publish a new review at least once a month.  I'll focus on specials/films that are readily available to watch, either on dvd/blu ray or streaming.

My ratings scale:

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was nicknamed "Sparky".  So instead of giving stars in my reviews, I'll use "Sparkys" as my rating scale, using this self-portrait of Schulz:

For example, a great, classic special will get 4 Sparkys:

A slightly lesser special would get 3.5:


And  so on.

The "Sparkys" ratings scale was the idea of RigbyMel, my co-blogger at Holiday Film Reviews.  So I want to send out a big "Thank You" in her direction!

I also want to thank Scott and Derrick at the invaluable website Five Cents Please for posting tons of valuable information about the Peanuts specials.  I'm sure I'll be borrowing info from them for quite a few reviews.

This blog is dedicated to:
Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts and writer of all the Charlie Brown specials.
Lee Mendelson, co-producer of the movies and specials.
Bill Melendez, the other co-producer who also directed most of the specials and provided the voice of Snoopy.
Vince Guaraldi, composer of all the classic music of the Charlie Brown specials.
All the actors who voiced the Peanuts characters.

Check back tomorrow for my first review!