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Tag Archive: A Charlie Brown Christmas


Peanuts movie clipIt’s something that fans of Charlie Brown and Snoopy have been waiting for, for several reasons.  The Peanuts Movie hit theaters late last year, but it was lost in the movie season among the spectacle that was Star Wars released just weeks later.  Yet if you saw it in the theater, you realize this movie was a keeper.  The Peanuts Movie is what all family movies strive for:  classic characters, good-natured humor, something to enjoy for every moviegoer.  The very young will love Snoopy and understand the relationship of the Peanuts kids that we older folks have known and loved for years, in newspaper funnies, in paperback editions, and the many Peanuts specials.  The Peanuts Movie does something else–it provides the best version of Charlie Brown and friends we’ve seen since the original 1965 favorite A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The Peanuts Movie gets it right from the beginning, in its pedigree.  It’s written by Craig Schulz, Charles M. Schulz’s son and a writer on the Community comedy series, and Charles’ grandson, Bryan.  So, unlike the onslaught of lackluster adaptations that have plagued the Dr. Seuss properties after his death, the same heart and soul of Charles’ creation is as powerful as ever.  The writers have turned to the source material for many interactions in the film, like Lucy’s converted lemonade stand/psychiatry office and the famous wall where Charlie and Linus ponder the worlds’ problems, and yet they have updated the story in subtle and important ways that are both loyal to the original and still give loyalists a satisfying pay-off.  And don’t worry, the updating ends with the inclusion of standardized tests–you won’t find any cell phones, smart phones or texting issues for the kids in this movie.

The story centers around Charlie Brown’s attraction to the little red-haired girl who moves in across the street and the lengths he will go to to try to impress her.  This love affair was the core of many original Peanuts comic strips, based on Charles Schulz’s real-life attraction from afar with a red-haired girl.  Snoopy’s parallel exploits in this movie mirror this love affair, as he pursues his own love story on paper, revealed to us as a story of a dog trying to win over air pilot Fifi in his World War I Sopwith Camel fighter plane on a mission in France, also taking on the famous Red Baron.

Peanuts blu-ray

The Peanuts Movie hails from Blue Sky Studios, who brought us the Ice Age franchise.  Even without a 3D television the depth of field here is spectacular, and with the 3D effect director Steve Martino does not shell out standard 3D gimmicks, but lets the characters simply float off the comic strip and into their own full-color, beautiful “real” world.  The backgrounds look like the homes and backyards of any American town cul de sac.  And if you look close enough you’ll see Snoopy finally has fur.

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CB Xmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired December 9, 1965, and tonight ABC will mark its 50th anniversary with an airing of the holiday classic and a new special about the show.  It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown, will be hosted by Kristen Bell and feature several celebrities including singer Sarah McLachlan.

As with each year since 1965, the most beloved Christmas classic of all time is airing early in December, so early that it’s always so easy to miss.  Set the DVR now to catch both the show and the documentary.  It will feature details about the creation of the show and creators Charles M. Schulz, Bill Melendez, Lee Mendelson, and Vince Guaraldi.

If you miss the show tonight, pick up this DVD anniversary edition of the classic here from Amazon.com and the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack re-mastered in 2012 here.

It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown airs tonight, November 30, 2015. at 7 p.m. Central on ABC, followed by the original A Charlie Brown Christmas at 8 p.m.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

With a few spoilers, (said in the voice of River Song).

Well, huh.  I’m not sure where to start with a review of “Let’s Kill Hitler” and “Night Terrors,” the two new Doctor Who episodes delivered to U.S. viewers this week.  Perhaps it would be easier to start with “Terrors” and work our way backward.

“Night Terrors” is a classic one-off episode of the “monster of the week” type, featuring the fears of a little boy made terrifyingly  manifest, as his creepy toys, neighbors, and worrisome apartment-complex noises nearly kill off Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill).  Although we (and The Doctor) are drawn in by young George’s plight and plea (“Please come save me from the monsters!”), the real pathos of this episode was provided by Daniel Mays (Ashes to Ashes), in a convincing turn as the boy’s desperate and frustrated father, unable to comfort his pantophobic son (pantophobia being, as we know from A Charlie Brown Christmas, the fear of everything… not just pants).  It’s always fun to watch Amy and Rory tackle danger together–whether facing down interstellar child abductors or fleeing oversized dollhouse denizens come to life (or cracking elevator jokes that nod to Mays’s Ashes to Ashes past)–but this story as a whole feels familiar:  We’ve seen Matt Smith’s Doctor comfort children terrified by the monsters under (or behind) their beds before, and “Night Terrors” is nothing new.  And the child in this case has none of young Amelia Pond’s charisma, nor even the chance to develop any, upstaged as he is by his father’s role in the story.  All in all, an entertaining if lightweight entry into the Smith/Moffat catalogue.

“Let’s Kill Hitler,” however… wow.  Where to begin?  Capturing much of the frenetic energy from “A Good Man Goes to War,” the episode starts off breathlessly and doesn’t let up, firing a dizzying barrage of revelations at the viewer.  We learn, finally, Everything about River Song.  After the years of teasing and the season of setup, Now We Know.

But do we care?  That’s another question altogether.  I don’t feel satisfied by this episode, the way I did after “A Good Man.”      There’s something faintly baffling about the resolution of all the mysteries surrounding River’s past, and something definitely missing from Amy and Rory’s emotional arc.  They’ve lost their child!  I don’t care if they hardly had time to get used to the idea of being parents–let alone River Song’s parents–they’ve still had part of their hearts ripped out, and we should see that.  Everyone in this cast is capable of the emotions the events of “Good Man” should naturally have engendered, and as a viewer, I feel cheated that we didn’t get to see any of that.  There were no consequences to anything we saw last spring, and that depresses me.

To be sure, as a vehicle for Kingston, it was a success–her performance is stellar and delightful, and she proves she’s absolutely up for whatever Moffat throws at her.  But, again, I’m left unsettled by the development of a character we’ve come to love.  Yes, we’ve been prepared to see her criminal past since her second appearance (“Time of Angels”/”Flesh and Stone”), but this still didn’t feel like the River we know.  And as a viewer now invested in the drama of young Melody/River’s mysterious upbringing in the Gamma Forest, seeing her instead as a childhood mate of Amy and Rory was a weird letdown.  It was over too soon.  All that marvelous setup and worldbuilding was so full of fantastic potential, and it all just fell flat.  Even the title felt like a cheat–the blithe declaration, “Let’s Kill Hitler!” becomes nothing more than a comedic red herring to a rush job to finish off the River Song storyline.

It’s too bad, really.  It wasn’t necessary to give this sort of ammunition to the Smith/Moffat naysayers.  The show has proven it can do so much more–deeper, farther-reaching storylines that play all the right emotional notes while constantly surprising and delighting the viewers.  To seemingly wash their hands of such a promising storyline–one we’ve been primed to anticipate for three and a half years–makes me wonder if the show’s creators are getting bored with their own creations.  And that bodes ill for all of us.