Monday, March 31, 2014

Charlie Brown's All Stars

Premiered June 8, 1966.
Charlie Brown: I really thought we were going to win this one.  For one brief moment victory was within our grasp. 
Linus: And then the game started.

Charlie Brown gets nailed by a comebacker!
Baseball season has arrived, and pitcher/manager Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) is very confident about his team's chances.  But his teammates are not optimistic.  Last season they lost every game.

Charlie Brown's teammates react to their latest loss.
When the first game arrives, Charlie Brown drops a fly ball late in the game and they lose again.  The rest of the kids are despondent and decide they've had enough.  Lucy (Sally Dryer) leads the chorus of those calling Charlie Brown a blockhead.

All of Chuck's players quit the team and decide to spend the rest of their Summer partaking in activities like skateboarding, jump-rope and swimming.  Charlie Brown is depressed by this development.

But not for long!  Linus (Christopher Shea) talks to Mr. Hennessy, proprietor of Hennessy's Hardware about sponsoring the team.  Mr. Hennessy will pay for new team uniforms and they will play in a real league.

Charlie Brown believes these changes will encourage the other kids to return to his team.  He tells Lucy and the rest about it and they rejoin the team.

Snoopy and Linus turn a double play.
But then "tragedy" strikes.  Charlie Brown learns that the league will NOT allow his team to join because they have girls and a dog on their roster!  He won't kick Snoopy (Bill Melendez), Violet (Karen Mendelson), Frieda (Ann Altieri) and Lucy off his team, so his loyalty costs him the uniforms.

Charlie Brown gets some bad news about the team uniforms.
However, Charlie Brown decides to keep this a secret from his team until AFTER his next game, believing they won't care about uniforms if they win.

Linus goes tries to field a ground ball & gets tied up in his blanket.
Will Charlie Brown's team finally win a game?  And if not, will his teammates finally quit for good!

J.A. Morris says:

Charlie Brown's All-Stars did not air very often on television and is somewhat forgotten today.  I recall seeing watching it 2, maybe 3 times when I was a kid.

Snoopy steals 3rd base!
This special is somewhat historically important, since it's the 2nd Charlie Brown special ever produced. It premiered 6 months after A Charlie Brown Christmas, but it's never been as famous as its predecessor.  This special also features the same (original) voice cast who appeared in the Christmas special.

Pigpen's (Geoffry Ornstein) cloud of dust messes up Frieda's naturally curly hair.
It's a great story that focuses on Charlie Brown being the eternal optimist.  Every game COULD be the game where he's the hero, pitching a great game or getting the big hit.  But he usually winds up being (in his words) Charlie "The Goat" Brown.  His attitude is admirable, even when his team is down by dozens of runs in the 9th inning.

Charlie Brown tells Lucy to grit her teeth "and bear down" if she wants to get a hit...
...but he fails to grit his teeth when he gets his chance to bat.
One thing that stands out is that Lucy is slightly nicer than usual.  Sure, she calls Charlie Brown a blockhead more than once, but she also gives Chuck some encouragement while he's pitching.  Lucy also gets the other girls to help her do something nice for Charlie Brown at the end of the special.

Charlie Brown slides into 2nd base.
Charlie Brown's All Stars gives just about every character at least one humorous line of dialogue. Shermy, a fairly obscure character today, gets one of the best lines of the special, when he suggests Charlie Brown gets "neurotic pleasure" from losing!

Shermy quits the team & says Chuck actually enjoys losing games.
Charlie Brown's All Stars is slightly more "action oriented" than most specials.  The baseball game features plenty of base running, hitting and fielding.  We also see the kids skateboarding and jumping rope.

Charlie Brown jumps rope held by Violet and Patty (Lynn Vanderlip)
I mentioned Shermy, another somewhat forgotten character that appears in the special is 5, who is best remembered for his dancing in A Charlie Brown Christmas.  These lesser-known characters, along with Patty and Violet would gradually fade into the background, replaced by Peppermint Patty, Franklin and Marcie. 

5 relaxes on his skateboard.
Vince Guaraldi composed the music for Charlie Brown All Stars and it's great as usual.  It opens with Charlie Brown chasing down accompanied by a simple but great bass and drum tune.  Guaraldi's most famous composition "Linus And Lucy" here gets a new arrangement with some horns added.

Snoopy surfs in Linus' pool.
Some aspects of the special clearly place it in 1966.  Surfing and skateboarding first gained major popularity in the 60s, they're both featured here.

And there's a scene where Charlie Brown runs through a house in pursuit of a fly ball.  The furniture he passes would fit in nicely in the Mad Men offices.

Check out the orange couch & lamp.
There are currently several ways you can watch Charlie Brown's All Stars.  It's available on a dvd set called Peanuts 1960s Collection.  It also can also be streamed on Amazon Instant Video.

Charlie Brown's All Stars is lots of fun and it's a great way to celebrate the return of baseball season.  And since it only aired sporadically on TV, it might be new to folks in my demographic who grew up watching Charlie Brown specials.

J.A. Morris' rating:

4 Sparkys!

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