When Charles M. Schulz first brought his beloved Peanuts characters to TV, the resulting Christmas special did two nearly miraculous things. It managed to shoehorn some King James scripture and original jazz music into primetime television. Eventually, there was even a Saturday morning cartoon, but just about every form of animated Peanuts gets compared to three perennial favorites (Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown). You might notice Charlie Brown is in each title. Recently, Apple has started producing new Peanuts programming and fans are glad to have it, but their focus has been on a certain beagle. Fortunately, he and his feathered best friend are still endearing, even if there isn’t quite the same level of magic in The Snoopy Show, which premieres today on Apple TV+.
This will indeed be Snoopy’s show, so don’t you forget it. It even starts with his dueling origin stories in the opening vignette, “A Snoopy Story,” wherein Snoopy writes memoirs, but Charlie Brown sets the record straight (we also briefly get to see Snoopy’s brothers, Spike and Olaf). Each of the six 24-minute-ish episodes contain three mini-stories, sometimes sharing a common theme, like Halloween and outdoor winter frolics.
The best is probably “Happiness is a Snow Day,” in which Snoopy teaches the uptight Marcy how to enjoy a winter’s day off from school and “Dress-Up Snoopy,” which follows Snoopy’s efforts to devise a costume for Charlie Brown that will catch the Little Red-Headed Girl’s eye. There is always a risk revisiting Halloween, because “Great Pumpkin” remains so popular, but it really pays off in this segment. Unlike many episodes, poor Charlie Brown’s neuroses return to center stage here. Frankly, he is sometimes missed, because his modesty and indomitable humanity are what made the best specials so special. (Snoopy also probably works better when he rolls in and out for his mic-drop moments.)
The Charlie Brown Christmas album remains one of the best Christmas records and best soundtracks ever released. It isn’t just “Linus and Lucy,” the iconic Peanuts theme (not heard in The Snoopy Show, by the way). “Skating” is a masterful tune that starts off in a mellow bag, before taking a genuinely exciting turn around the one-minute mark, but we digress.
Parents and fans of all ages should be delighted to have new Peanuts programming available. However, if you are introducing kids to the franchise, start with the three beyond-classic holiday specials and the 1980s feature films, Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown. Regardless, it is just all kinds of good nostalgia to get reacquainted with the Peanuts gang. Recommended for family viewing and comfort bingeing, The Snoopy Show starts streaming today (2/5) on Apple TV+.