Monday, September 8, 2014

He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown

Premiered February 14, 1968.

"That dog is gonna drive us crazy!"
-Lucy Van Pelt.

Snoopy (Bill Melendez) is annoying all the kids and driving them crazy.

He's been playing pranks and sneaking up on kids and assaulting them.

Charlie Brown  (Peter Robbins) decides to send the beagle back to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm for "a refresher course in obedience and the social graces."

Charlie Brown writes a letter to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, Snoopy doesn't approve of its content!

Since it's a long walk to the puppy farm, Snoopy will stop on the way and spend the night at the home of Peppermint Patty (Gail DeFaria).

But things don't go according to plan.  Peppermint Patty is glad to have Snoopy as her guest.  But he tries her patience, demanding root beer, demanding service, treating her house as a resort, making a big mess and eating Peppermint Patty's family out of house and home.

At the same time, Charlie Brown and Linus (Christopher Shea) start to miss Snoopy.  They talk about how quiet it is without the beagle around.

Charlie Brown receives a call from Daisy Hill and learns Snoopy never showed up for training.  He calls Peppermint Patty and discovers Snoopy spent a week at her house.  Peppermint Patty is happy to see Chuck, who is forced to put Snoopy on a leash.  But Snoopy turns the tables on his "owner" and escapes to Schroeder's house, then back to Peppermint Patty's place.

Peppermint Patty says he can stay, but mentions that everyone in the house pulls their own weight.  Snoopy is put to work washing dishes, mowing the lawn, sweeping and vacuuming the floors.

No one can eat dinner until Snoopy finishes his chores.  The beagle gets frustrated and breaks a bunch of dishes.  After this tantrum, Peppermint Patty forces Snoopy to spend the night in the garage.

Snoopy ran back to Peppermint Patty because he didn't want to kept on a leash.  But he starts to think life was better with Charlie Brown.

Will Snoopy return to Charlie Brown?  Will he be taught to curb his bad behavior?

While I had the children's book that adapted He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, this is another special that wasn't aired very often when I was a kid.

It's an enjoyable special, even if Snoopy is more of a jerk than usual.  We're used to him stealing Linus' blanket, but assaulting Charlie Brown, Schroeder and Linus crosses the line.

I won't spoil the whole ending, but I don't get the impression that Snoopy learned a lot or paid for any of his transgressions.  But that's okay, Peanuts storylines (in animation and the comic strip) often didn't have resolutions or happy endings.

Most of the special takes place at Peppermint Patty's house.  Usually, the specials take place at school, Chuck or Linus' house, I appreciated the "change of venue."  Hardcore Peanuts experts will appreciate the appearance of Roy, an obscure character from the strip, in a non-speaking role.

Peppermint Patty & Roy watch Snoopy eat.
We also get a fantasy sequence that features Snoopy battling the Red Baron.  This is the last "air war" featured in a Charlie Brown special.

"Curse you, Red Baron!"
The animation is great here.  Lots of fun action scenes, and I love Snoopy's expressions when he attacks the kids. 

Peter Robbins, Gail DeFaria, Christopher Shea and Sally Dryer all do a nice job as Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty Linus and Lucy.  It should be noted that this is the last special produced that features the same voice actors who appeared in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Speaking of voices, this is the closest Snoopy comes to speaking onscreen.  When he pretends to shoot Patty and Violet, he makes a sound that sounds very much like the word "bang."

We get a nice new piece composed by Vince Guaraldi  that serves as theme music (called "New Snoopy Theme" and "It's Your Dog, Charlie Brown", depending on the source) for the opening and closing credits.  It's an uptempo tune that always brings a smile to my face.

There's a nice montage of Snoopy performing household chores, accompanied by Guaraldi's bossa nova-influenced composition "Pebble Beach."  John Scott Trotter arranged Guaraldi's music and it's all very good.

This special is available on 2 different dvds.  One is simply titled (appropriately enough) He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, and it's also part of the Peanuts 1960s Collection.  It can also be streamed on Amazon.

He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown is a very good if lesser-known special from the classic era of Charlie Brown specials.  It's recommended for all Peanuts fans and everyone who has owned a dog who needs obedience training.  

My rating:

4 Sparkys!