Friday, February 7, 2014

It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown

Premiered October 24, 1977.
Linus:"It's a tradition Charlie Brown.  You escort Heather to the center of the ballroom.  And before the first dance, you have to give the Queen a kiss!"
Charlie Brown:*Faints*.

Charlie Brown (Arrin Skelly) has been asked to escort the Homecoming Queen at the annual Homecoming dance, but he's not sure what that means.  Linus (Daniel Anderson) explains that Chuck will accompany her on to the dance floor and kiss her.

Charlie Brown gets very nervous and lovestruck when he learns that the Queen is Heather, the fabled "Little Red-Haired Girl" he's had a crush on for years!

Before the dance, Chuck and the other kids play in the Homecoming football game.  Peppermint Patty (Laura Planting) their team's player-coach, is busy drawing up plays before the kickoff.

Peppermint Patty draws up plays on the blackboard...

...prompting Franklin to ask "are we the Xs or the 0s"?
It doesn't get off to a good start when Charlie Brown delivers the opening kickoff...only to have Lucy (Michelle Muller) pull the ball away from him.

This results in an easy scoring opportunity for the opposing team, who punches it in for an easy touchdown.

Peppermint Patty runs for a touchdown, which brings their team within a single point. But when Chuck comes in to kick the Point After Touchdown (PAT), Lucy pulls the ball away once more.  Lucy does the same thing on the next kickoff.  When Chuck returns to the bench, Linus tells him "You did it again Charlie Brown, you blew the kickoff!"

Later, Charlie Brown is called in to punt on 4th down.  But the other team blocks the punt and knocks Chuck out in the process.  The blocked kick is run in for a touchdown.

When the first half ends, Charlie Brown's team trails by two touchdowns.

Peppermint Patty celebrates a touchdown!
In the 2nd half, the team rallies for two scores.  Peppermint Patty runs for a TD and passes to Pigpen for another.
Pigpen hauls in a touchdown reception.
With seconds remaining in the game, Peppermint Patty calls a timeout on the other team's 5-yard line.  She calls for Charlie Brown to kick a field goal, which will win the game.  But Lucy pulls the ball away one last time.  They lose the game, 21-20.

Cheerleaders put Snoopy on top of the "pyramid".
Charlie Brown is dejected and feels like he let the team down.  Making matters worse, the Little Red-Haired Girl was in the stands when he "missed" the field goal.  Chuck is convinced she won't want to be seen with him at the dance.

That night, it's time for the Homecoming Dance.  Charlie Brown is extremely nervous about meeting finally meeting the Little Red-Haired Girl, he's shaking and blushing.  Lucy, Peppermint Patty and Frieda tell him he has no business being there after blowing
his kicks.

But he's too nervous to feel insulted.  Finally, it's time to escort Heather.  Can Charlie Brown survive the dance and kiss the Queen?   Or will his nerves get the the better of him?

J.A. Morris says:
(SPOILERS below:)
I watched It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown when it first aired.  The abuse heaped upon Charlie Brown when he misses the kicks bothered me then (I clearly remember yelling at the tv!) and still bothers me today.

Charlie Brown ONLY misses the kicks because Lucy pulls the ball out of the way.  They lost because she couldn't put aside her need to humiliate Charlie Brown for the sake of the game.  Yet no one seems to notice this.  Even Chuck's best friend Linus (who is sitting on the bench during the kicks),blames Charlie Brown for missing the kicks.

 Peppermint Patty is known to be very competitive when it comes to sports.  But when she joins Lucy at the dance to rip Chuck after the game, it seems out of character for her.  The abuse was even worse in the original broadcast.  Some of it has been "scrambled" on the dvd release to lessen the cruelty inflicted on Charlie Brown, as you'll see in this video:

It also seems like Charles Schulz (who's credited as the writer here) was a bit uneducated about football.  At one point, the score is 21-13 in favor of the other team.  Pigpen scores a touchdown and the score changes from 21-20.  There's no way that can happen unless they kicked a Point After Touchdown.  Did Charlie Brown make one of his kicks offscreen?  Or is this an error?  I'm guessing it's the latter.

But there are some good things about this special.

In the end, Charlie Brown comes out on top because he gets to kiss and dance with his "dream girl" and impresses Linus with his dance moves.  

We get some funny cut-aways to Snoopy (Bill Melendez).  His wrestling match with his referee's whistle is a fun moment.  And he acts as a helicopter for Woodstock, who is the aerial "camera bird" for the game.

Peppermint Patty wears sandals that have football cleats on the bottom, which is a nice touch.

I liked the "formal wear" worn by Charlie Brown and other boys at the dance too.

Franklin, Linus, Chuck, Pigpen an Schroeder prepare to escort the Queen & Princesses.
But what interested me the most was the presence of 70s pop culture references and music.  This special premiered in 1977, perhaps the pinnacle of disco.  During the football sequences, we get background music (composed by Ed Bogas and Judy Munsen) that's heavily influenced by 70s disco and funk.

Snoopy gets sucked into a tuba!
It sounds like there's even some "Wah-wah" pedals used.  It's not as memorable (or good) as Vince Guaraldi's music from earlier specials, but it provides a nice audio bed for the football game.

Speaking of disco, Linus mentions that Charlie Brown danced "the Hustle" at the Homecoming dance, another 70s reference.

This special has been released several times on dvd.  It was re-released two weeks ago on a dvd called Touchdown Charlie Brown.   It can also be found on Peanuts 1970s Collection:Vol.2 and it's a bonus feature on Be My Valentine Charlie Brown.  It's also available for streaming on itunes and Amazon.

It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown is problematic due to the amount of invective wrongly directed at Charlie Brown.  But if you can make it past the football game, Chuck does sort of "win" in the end, getting to kiss Heather and becoming "the life of the party".  But it would have been nice to see Lucy get her comeuppance and Chuck should have gotten some apologies from the other kids.

My rating:


2 and a half Sparkys.