Written by Charles M. Schulz
Directed by Phil Roman
Who knows anything about Arbor Day? All I knew was it had something to do with planting trees. In the last few years, it has been pretty much transformed into Earth Day, but before that, I can remember talking about it in elementary school but not much else.
In the spirit of there being a special featuring the Peanuts characters for every holiday comes It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown. While initially, it might seem to some that the creators were just trying to cull any possible profit from the franchise, that’s not the case. It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown is very well-done and only the most cynical would think that after viewing it.
It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown starts out with Linus’ and Lucy’s little brother riding on the back of his mother’s bicycle. This was a common theme once Rerun was added to the lineup of Peanuts characters. I believe it was his debut in Peanuts features.
Linus reads to Sally from a book all about Arbor Day. Linus and Lucy decide to spruce up Charlie Brown’s baseball field in honor of the day. This is good news to Charlie Brown who was just chided on the upcoming season by Peppermint Patty.
The team goes to work to prepare the field as a surprise for him. When he arrives at the field, he finds it has been completely planted, and I do mean completely. There’s even a tree on the pitcher’s mound. Tulips line the basepaths. Vegetables line the infield between first and second base. A scarecrow sits in centerfield. The bats have been used to stake the tomato plants. Get the picture?
Peppermint Patty arrives and is livid. Still, she says they will give it a shot. They try to play a baseball game. Near the end, it looks like for the first time Charlie Brown’s team might be on their way to a victory…
It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown works in the tradition of many Peanuts specials. It’s funny and meaningful at the same time. Watching the gang trying to play a baseball game while getting tripped by vines and making their way through all of the plants is hysterical. At the same time, it draws in all of Charlie Brown’s frustrations with sports through the years.
I like the structure of an ongoing story, rather than little snippets which seem to have nothing to do with each other except for their tie to whatever holiday or even the Peanuts special is designed for. Those are the two types of specials that there have been in the Peanuts universe. It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown has the ongoing story throughout and that’s why it works so well.
The animation is good, if not as flashy as the animation. It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown can be found on the DVD with It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. Both have been restored to have no interference in the picture which is good. The colors aren’t quite as vivid as I would expect, but that also helps for the tone in a way. The animation style is to animate the characters in front of a static background. I like this as I am more focused on the actual story than all the flashiness going on.
We might not talk about Arbor Day that much anymore, but It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown is a special definitely worth picking up and checking out. The two stories on this DVD are both gems.
To read about the history of Arbor Day, see: http://www.arborday.org/arborday/history.cfm