Valentine's Day with the Peanuts gang: Charlie Brown tries to muster up the courage to ask the little red-haired girl to the school dance. Lucy demands kisses and chocolates from Schroeder. Snoppy writes bad poetry while Sally wants to make Linus her sweet baboo. Marcie grapples with her crush on Charlie Brown, and Peppermint Patty hopes Charlie Brown will take her as his date to the dance. Written by
Charles Schulz requested (though since he did not hold the copyright to Peanuts he could not demand) that no one create any new Peanuts stories after his death. United Media, on the other hand, did not want to let a cash cow like Peanuts fade into the night. So they compromised with Schulz's family, making the latest Peanuts special, "A Charlie Brown Valentine", from a conglomeration of numerous loosely connected comic strips penned by Schulz. Unfortunately, the special feels like a conglomeration of numerous loosely connected comic strips.
Unlike previous Peanuts features, which almost always contained a coherent (although occasionally bad) plot, the only prevailing theme here is that it is Valentine's Day. Actually, it's several Valentine's Days. The time frame jumps around *so* much that we can't keep any supposed story line straight. Early on, we get the impression the special takes place on February 14. Then Lucy announces that Valentine's Day is a week away. Then Charlie Brown tries to work up the courage to give the little red-haired girl a Valentine. Then we learn that V-Day is still a few days away, then Charlie Brown goes to a school dance.
While some of the jokes are funny, the special could hardly be called hysterical, and its choppy style is more dizzying that enjoyable. All in all, "A Charlie Brown Valentine" plays more like a love-themed episode of _The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show_ than a legitimate television special. While such a variety show could get away with some unfunny sketches (_Saturday Night Live_ has been getting away with it for decades), a full-blown special has to pull its weight all the way through. Sadly, this one does not.
If Peanuts is to survive beyond one more TV special, a new compromise must be reached. We must allow the producers the opportunity to forge existing strips into a workable script--one with a story line--and the possibility of adding some new jokes. Otherwise, the next special may be, "It's the Last Hoorah, Charlie Brown."
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