Peanuts and Miser Brothers Christmas specials released
The new DVDs of “A Miser Brothers Christmas” and “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown” provide fans of the Peanuts gang and the Miser Brothers from the Rankin/Bass classic “The Year Without A Santa Claus” a new production with these great characters. The big difference between the two is that having the original talent involved with “Dog” helped it and the absence of Rankin and Bass hurt “Miser.”
The 2003 production of “Dog” kept very true to the spirit of the late Charles Schultz, who created the Peanuts gang and worked hard to maintain the integrity of the characters while still selling massive amounts of merchandise and other tie-ins. Watching this amusing and just plain fun show made me crave the Dolly Madison snack cakes that sponsored Peanuts specials for years.
The plot of “Dog” is that ReRun, who is the adorable and very sincere younger brother of Linus and Lucy Van Pelt, wants a dog. The main reason for this is that ReRun feels very lonely and a bit anxious as the only “normal” child in a family with a thumb-sucking blanket-clutching older brother and an incredibly cranky older sister.
Because playing with Snoopy comforts ReRun, he tells his mother that all he wants for Christmas is a dog and a bicycle. The resolution is very cute.
A terrific feature on the special that the DVD includes Schultz’s widow discussing the 1972 introduction of ReRun and showing how much of the dialog of the special came directly from Peanuts strips that Schultz had written.
“Dog” also includes the even more amusing 1986 Peanuts special “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown” that includes a rockin’ number about the game musical chairs by Peppermint Patty. It also includes an appearance by the red-haired girl on whom Charlie Brown crushed for years. We even learn the girl’s name.
The plot of “New Year” is that being assigned to read “War and Peace” and write a report on it over Christmas vacation threatens Charlie Brown’s plans to attend a New Year’s party at Peppermint Patty’s. The resolutions (no pun intended) of the story lines are very funny and true to the nature of Charlie Brown.
Unfortunately, the 2008 Miser Brothers special does not succeed as well; the stop-motion animation is similar to the Rankin/Bass style but is not as good as their productions and the story does not seem as well written.
Santa sustaining a back injury just before Christmas leads to the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser being coerced into taking over his toy-making and delivering duties. Their squabbling interferes, and Mrs. Claus and Mother Nature step in to stop the bickering and save Christmas.
The best things about this special are that it has amusing moments and includes the very catchy Miser Brothers theme song.
The feature on this DVD is a “making of” special that shows the excitement of the behind-the-scene folks regarding a new Miser Brothers special and how they produced it.
Miser Brother and Peanuts fans are welcome to e-mail their thoughts regarding these specials to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Review by John Stahl
John Stahl is a freelance legal writer who is also a fan of classic and cult television programs. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Peanuts: I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
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