We are all Snoopy now, dreaming of adventures we cannot have.
With the arrival of "The Snoopy Show" on Apple Plus, audiences are being ushered back into Snoopy's inner world at a time when most of us crave escape from an eternal COVID-19 present. All the familiar faces from "Peanuts" — Charlie Brown, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Marcy — are back, but the show revolves primarily around Snoopy's lavish fantasy life.
"He's not interested in what you think a dog should be," said Rob Boutilier, the director of "The Snoopy Show." "You can go fetch a ball; you can roll over. I'm going to fly in the sky in a Sopwith Camel."
The series is an update of the "Peanuts" specials that were annual presences on television schedules for decades. For many of us, they were staples of our childhoods, so much so that it sparked an outcry when Apple announced last fall that the specials would stream exclusively on its platform. More than 260,000 people signed a petition to return them to broadcast TV, and Apple responded with a deal that also allowed PBS to air "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
Those shows, along with "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," are the quintessential "Peanuts" specials. But Charles Schulz, together with director Bill Melendez and producer Lee Mendelson, churned out more than 50 others.
A portrait of America
Taken as a whole, the "Peanuts" specials provide an extended tour of Americana. Largely forgotten shows like "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown," from 1976 (Lucy plants a tree on Charlie Brown's beloved baseball field), and "You're in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown," from 1994 (Snoopy coaches a team of birds to the championship), are part of a larger tapestry that gently explained and reflected American traditions.
Boutilier, executive story editor Alex Galatis and showrunner Mark Evestaff listed some of their favorite lesser-known "Peanuts" specials:
"Charlie Brown's All Stars!" (1966): After countless losses on the baseball diamond, Charlie Brown is intent on finally winning a game and securing the endorsement of a local business that has promised the team snazzy uniforms. "People think of Charlie Brown as the lovable loser," said Boutilier, "but you forget until you see something like 'All Stars,' the reason he's lovable is not because he's a loser. The reason he's lovable is he just keeps trying."
"He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown" (1968): Snoopy is sent to obedience school but winds up marooned at Peppermint Patty's house, where he is cajoled into an endless vacuuming and dishwashing to pay for his board.
"It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown" (1974): Woodstock's nest is stolen, and Snoopy transforms into Sherlock Holmes, donning a deerstalker hat, blowing bubbles out of his meerschaum pipe and dusting for fingerprints in an effort to locate the culprit.
"It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown" (1984) An extended homage to the 1983 film "Flashdance," Snoopy struts down the street in a bright orange headband and matching leg warmers and shows off his moves on a light-up dance floor.