Formerly confined to the comics section of the newspaper and occasional TV specials, the Peanuts gang now stars in its own weekly cartoon. The episodes mainly follow the goings-on in the printed comics, with Charlie Brown still not getting any respect, Lucy still being a crab, and Snoopy still living in his strange fantasy world. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For years, CBS tried to persuade "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz to do a "Peanuts" animated TV series, but Schulz steadfastly refused, because he did not want anyone else other than himself to write the stories for such series. Eventually, Schulz was convinced by CBS, but only on the condition that the series be based strictly on stories from his strip. (Schulz himself would also write all-new stories especially for the series). This series was that result. See more »
I suppose "Peanuts" is the most popular newspaper comic ever. Shultz did what all leaders do, perfected the four-panel abstraction of grand emotions. Its a matter of abstraction and his intuitions were perfect. Part of the formula was that the situations weren't inherently comic: loneliness, betrayal, failure, irrational fantasy, obnoxious behavior, sometimes theology. Compare it to Garfield for instance.
Its a sort of Norman Rockwell formula deep values, cute presentation but so much better tuned. When you read it, you get a few lines on the page and very few words that sketch a sometimes profound emotion. It forms a spine around which you can fill in your own riches.
In 1965, and enterprising guy made a TeeVee cartoon, "Charlie Brown Christmas." It worked, and has since become a staple. It worked, I think, because Christmas is a ball of notions that are in the center of Shultz's world, so enriching the images by movement, color and voices couldn't hobble it. Especially since the music was that remarkably apt Guaraldi tune.
Over the next 40 years the same enterprising guy has been mining the Peanuts vault, giving us ever more than the idea can tolerate. This is the worst, a TeeVee series that was supposed to be as everyday as the comic.
But in this case, the overloading of the abstract 4-panel spine is so overloaded with TeeVee jokes and pratfalls, plus ordinary child stuff, not the abstract stuff of Shultz.
I doubt whether any recurring show can be made of this material (and stay a cartoon) and keep the abstract nature of thing, the pure thing that gives it its power.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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