Rerun, Linus and Lucy’s younger brother, is the star of this 40-minute-long holiday special from 2003. I had no idea that they were making new Peanuts cartoons that late, but the timing explains the subtle, lovely colors of the watercolor-look backgrounds. Even though it was created after Charles Schulz passed, it’s based on original strips by him, so the characters sound right and the jokes are funny and well-observed.
Rerun was best known to me for riding around in a kid seat on the back of his mother’s bicycle, although his name is also a great example of “truth in advertising”, since he looks just like his brother Linus. Here, he’s the one seeking the title pet in a letter to Santa. Rerun is also quite the precocious smart aleck, which he’d have to be, with crabby Lucy and blanket-dependent Linus as siblings.
I have the impression that Linus had a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about things, before he became Lucy’s victim, as she schemed to get his blanket away from him and he was sort of beaten down over the years. As he aged, he seemed to become a more introspective, neurotic character, too, perhaps influenced by hanging around Charlie Brown all the time. So Rerun recaptures the energy of a young boy who hasn’t yet been through the wringer combined with an adult take on such things as family dynamics and going to school. Much of the special is the three of them together doing family things, which is unusual to me, since I’m used to seeing Rerun on his own.
Rerun’s parents, siblings, and friends are concerned that he’s not up to the responsibility of having his own dog. He plays with Snoopy for a while, but that doesn’t last for long. There’s also more than one sibling involved here: Snoopy’s brother Spike shows up to satisfy Rerun’s wish.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this, not having seen or heard of it before. It was a fresh look at the Peanuts characters for me, although not particularly holiday-centered. There are some creative gags, as when Schroder’s music, running across the top of the frame, starts breaking down and falling on Lucy, and the times when Rerun feels put upon and whines have the most accurate kids’ cartoon voice I’ve ever heard. I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown will be broadcast on ABC on December 21 at 8 PM (Eastern/Pacific) if you want to check it out.
The new featurette, Sibling Rivalry: Growing Up Van Pelt, is 11 minutes about Rerun. The character is praised for his independence and creativity, but also for the way he’s more normal than many of the other kids: he wants a dog instead of to win the baseball game when his team has no skill, for example. Nat Gertler, whom you may know from his comic-related writing on such titles as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel and Panel Two, participates actively as a Peanuts historian. There’s a lot of interesting information in the special that makes Rerun even more involving as a character. He’s rapidly becoming my favorite.
The additional 24-minute special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown (1986), included as a bonus second feature here, is new to DVD. Charlie Brown has to read War and Peace over the holiday vacation, while Peppermint Patty throws a New Year’s party. I liked the scene at dance class, which even has a song about learning to foxtrot, but I can’t figure out what variant of the dance looks like kids all hopping up and down. There’s also a song about how to win musical chairs, sung by Patty in a kind of surf-rock style. Rerun’s ability to blow square balloons was my favorite part of the show. (The studio provided a review copy.)