Sunday, January 11, 2015

StarBoy's Media Review: It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown

Written: January 10th-11th, 2015
Disclaimer: Spoilers and Anger!
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit... and occasionally media watcher from time to time.  2015 not only marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts franchise, but with news that we're going to get a theatrical Peanuts outing this November naturally everyone who likes the series is excited.  =)  Even better, it'll be a good chance to see the beloved characters on the big screen for the first time... also having been thirty-five years since the last theatrical film Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!).  I may have a few qualms with the series (more personal, mind you), but on the whole the series is harmless and fun.  There is, however, one Peanuts special which has haunted me since the first time I saw it, and one which progressively got worse the more I saw it.  This just may be the worst special I've seen pertaining to the franchise.
Hyeah!  ...  That bad!  ...  Now I just want everyone to know that this is all just my opinion, and if for... whatever reason this special compels you to enjoy it, that's fine.  You can like it as much as you want, but I don't.  Which is why I'm going to discuss all the problems I have towards it, so there will be spoilers here and there; also as a fair warning, there will be times that I sound angry because it upsets me so much.  But that's okay, because in the process I will have expressed myself and let it out for everyone to hear, and that is enough to make me feel better.  With that said, *sigh*
Rated: G | Running Time: 24 Minutes | Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 | Directed by: Phil Roman
Oh, Lord help me.  <={
It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, directed by Phil Roman, was a 1977 Charles M. Schulz/Bill Melendez special that was made strictly for TV.  While not as well-known as Holiday classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, this is one of numerous specials which had a Valentine's Day theme... even though this one in particular doesn't take place during that day.
The premise is this: it's football day, and teams from both sides of town have come to play (with Snoopy as referee), with the home team led by Peppermint Patty (with team members Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Franklin, Schroeder, and Pigpen).  This is also the day where after the game ends the male players will escort and dance with the pretty girls in their campus.  This also includes Charlie Brown's secret crush the Little Red Haired Girl, having an actual name here (Heather), who he gets to kiss.  But problems arise during the middle of the game which conflicts their chances of winning.  Will Charlie Brown have his shining moment for once in his life at the end of this?
Reading all this you may think it doesn't sound so bad, but reading a plot synopsis is entirely different from actually watching how it's executed.  =|  The thing about the other specials is that they were full of heart and lighthearted joy, and it was fun to watch them.  It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown's biggest pall is that it's very meanspirited; at least to me it feels that way, and so because of this I have lots of issues.  =(  Charlie Brown is out there playing just trying to impress Heather and not make a fool of himself, but out there in the field making a fool of Charlie Brown is, as you would expect, Lucy van Pelt.  Now if you're familiar with the characters you would know that occasionally Lucy will try to pull the football as Charlie Brown proceeds to kick it.
Now I am aware that that is one of her trademarks, but the thing that bothers me the most is that she does it every chance she gets.  During the middle of a damn football game.  I counted four times at least that she did this, and each time it happened it just gets worse; the final time that she does it, in the remaining seconds of the game with their team one point behind the visiting team, when she pulls the football she just kneels there... smiling!  I do know Schulz himself said in an interview or documentary that if Charlie Brown fails to kick the ball, it's funny; but if he succeeds, then it's not funny.  I get where he's coming from, but I just can't swallow that here.  Maybe not a problem in other specials, but any time he flies in the air I do not find it funny one bit.  Lucy doesn't care if her team wins or not, all she wants is to make a fool of Charlie Brown.  Priorities, lady!  DX
But the more I watch it the more I notice that on the waiting bench there are other kickers there too, even Linus.  I don't think I've seen any one of them be picked to kick the ball, outside of Charlie Brown.  Why don't they kick?  Are they not capable?  Have they got weak legs, or does Lucy really have this much contempt with Charlie Brown that she elects that he kick the ball right out of her hands instead of a kick stand each damn time?  >=(
He even calls her out on this indecency at one point and absolutely knows that she'll pull a fast one when tries to kick it and land flat on his back killing himself.  But Lucy claims that the game is too important to risk loss, to which Charlie Brown reluctantly agrees... only for that exact thing to happen.  Lucy makes me sick!  >=P  Winning the game is clearly not important to Lucy, she's got no respect for her team if she consistently does that.  But you know what absolutely kills me about the ball-pulling?
NO ONE FREAKIN' SEES IT!!!!  They don't see Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown, all they see is Charlie Brown "missing the ball".  How in the hell is that even possible?!?  You'd think that in this open football field taking place outside everyone would take notice of many occurrences on there, audience and fellow football players included!  But no, that's not the case; this is bad even for universes where adults do not supervise when bad things clearly happen!  I'm sorry, how is this acceptable??  D=<  Even more unforgiving is the fact that despite Lucy being the one that's responsible for all the kickoff flubs, a lot of players pin the blame exclusively on Charlie Brown; even Peppermint Patty, one of the few female characters who respects and likes her "Charles", is giving him crap over this!  URRRGH!  But it doesn't end there!
Moving away from that for a little bit, the first time I saw it I thought it was the only thing that I hated about this special.  Three rewatches later, it isn't anymore.  It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown has actually come under fire upon its debut, and one of the reasons being was that the Little Red Haired Girl actually made an onscreen appearance, but not in the way that they wanted.  Instead of being curly-haired like they envisioned she was a pretty doll.  I'm sorry, did I say "doll"?  I meant, "dull", since the problem isn't that she's in it to begin with but that the fact that Heather is so boring!  She does nothing to make an impression and anytime we cut to her for a few seconds all she does is either wave blankly, nod blankly, and even blankly turn her head a few times.  She doesn't even have a line, for crying out loud!  Surely Charlie Brown cannot be this dull to fall in love with a blank slate like that?  It makes me wonder what he possibly sees in her.
At one point she and her girlfriends look bored while in attendance.  My reaction to Heather in a nutshell.  -_-
I am not entirely certain why this is the case, but a couple times when Charlie Brown lands on the pile of football players (after Lucy performs her usual BS) Peppermint Patty talks to him in a language that I do not understand.  What is she saying to him?  And what language is it in?  It sounds like it could be some sort of dead language to me (or a poorly dubbed line from a foreign program); it might or might not be pertaining to some changes made for the home video release, but this is just distracting.  =/
Oh hey, Marcie, didn't realize you were in this special.  -_-
Let's talk about Snoopy next.  Normally he's a very fun character to watch, even when it comes to his antics with Woodstock.  Normally I am amused by him; Snoopy does not amuse me in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown=|  I don't know, maybe it's the bad taste this special has left me with, but I find him a bit annoying here... and Snoopy is never annoying, or grating.  <=(  I know he's trying to be the comic relief and that he's trying to make us laugh, but some reason it just doesn't work for me here.
Look at this!  Charlie Brown has just fallen on his back after having been launched in the sky when Lucy removed the ball from his target and is lying unconscious.  Snoopy and Linus are checking in on him, but instead of helping his master come to his senses, Snoopy pours salt on Charlie Brown and drinks a cup of water which he should've given to Charlie Brown.  Even Linus is looking at this thinking "What the hell is he doing?"  Snoopy has got an ego, but this is going too far.
Occasionally he does work with some cheerleaders--who have got weirdly shaped mouths when they're open that end up making them seem like they have lipstick on--especially during halftime.  And if for some reason you've questioned my claim about his ego trip, the audience is doing the thing where they combine a paper with tons of them to form up (or invert) images and/or words until finally it goes from "go", "Go", "GO", ...
Oh, but of course!  I thought all this time it was about Charlie Brown's struggles to impress his longtime crush.  Nonono!  This is clearly about Snoopy!  =D  ...  and his ego trip>=(  I normally do not mind his mannerisms and scene-stealing moments in other specials, but here it did not work for me at all.  I am sorry, but it's true.
The only time I thought Snoopy was brilliant here was when he used his ears to fly in the air in the vein of a helicopter, with Woodstock sitting on the beagle recordin--er, wait, recording?  He's recording the game and all that happens?  =O  Errr, anyway, I actually liked when Snoopy flew as a helicopter, for it was a neat idea and I kind of wish more brilliant moments were in it.  =(
But... no!  Instead we have to put up with meanspirited scenes of Charlie Brown being made a fool of by Lucy which no one notices and gets scapegoated as a result, Lucy not giving a crap about the game instead wanting to embarrass Charlie Brown, being bored by Heather's very existence, watching some stock footage being recycled at one point or another, and witnessing Snoopy's overblown ego trip.  Gee, I'm so glad I'm watching this "special" right now!  >={
Oh, haven't had enough insulting contrivance?  It gets better.  So that night everyone is at the school attending the dance while Charlie Brown gets berated by the girls for causing the team to lose by just one point.  Of the three Frieda doesn't utter one word, making her presence completely pointless.  The kicker is that not only is Peppermint Patty blaming the loss on Charlie Brown, but Lucy is as well.  Lucy!  The very damn reason they lost to begin with!  This is a very unbearable scene, and one of the most aggravating for me as a viewer.
From the very first time that I saw this back in 2004 I hated this scene so damn much, and I'm not the only one to feel this way, for this is yet another aspect for which the special got controversial upon its 1977 debut.  Some may have found Charlie Brown being scapegoated for failing kicks with Lucy tolerable during the game (I didn't personally, but different strokes for different folks), but for losing the whole game?  That's going too far, for which Schulz and the people involved with concurred.  Forget the previous meanspirited scenes, this meanspirited moment trumps them all and is the main reason I hate this special to begin with.  It's like they're saying, "Hey, it's okay to unfairly scapegoat someone for something we had zero control for; it's okay to blame the little guy over such a trivial moment, etc..."  *grooooan*
In 2013 when I reviewed Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards I briefly referenced this scene, but not in a manner that was least to me.  That review, or at least parts of it, was done while I was in a very bad mood.  I had compared Kirby's inability to float indefinitely in midair in that game to moments from different media (this one included) that personally angered me (all of which were either not all that talked about or ones where I felt like I had no closure with those exact feelings).  This is why I don't provide links for that review, because even if it was just a minor part of the review it turned up as distracting and frankly I'm ashamed of it.  =(  I was wrong in expressing it like that, it was unprofessional of me.  And it is because of this that I decided to one day talk about this and elaborate on why this is.  That day is today.
So... after the girls finish berating and mocking Charlie Brown once he tells them that he's escorting the Little Red Haired Girl to dance, he stoops to his embarrassment only briefly.  Once he's called up they get to the dance floor where the titular kiss occurs... aaaaaand, I have my nitpicks with this.  I don't know, with a title like "It's Your First Kiss", I would've thought that lips were to be locked; not Charlie Brown kissing her on the cheek.  She doesn't even kiss him.  And if this is indeed Charlie Brown's first kiss, does that mean he doesn't kiss any of his family members in the cheek?  <={  But then it could imply he's never kissed a girl outside his home; but even still it feels like the title lied to me, yet I don't know.
So Charlie Brown kisses his crush and wh-wh-whaaaa?  O.O  What is even happening?  Why are we suddenly transported to this flowery LSD sequence (yeah, that doesn't date this special at all)?  I mean, don't get me wrong, it looks pretty; but why is this even happening?  I can understand how the prospect of kissing someone would be so incredible, but... are boys really this overjoyed about it.  And why does Charlie Brown not have any shoes on?
Not that it matters because it's over about as quick as it started with Charlie Brown waking in his bed, wondering if yesterday's events were all just a dream.  To be honest, It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown would've been a whole lot better had it just ended here.  It would not have entirely excused all the meanspiritedness and bore that led up to this, but the ending would've at least have been satisfying, knowing Charlie Brown would never be mistreated this poorly in real life.
But *sigh* we have to reach that twenty-four minute mark somehow.  So as soon as Charlie Brown steps outside he bumps into Linus, who tells him that Charlie Brown was amazing last night.  What???  <=O  It wasn't a dream?  Despite that fact that the team lost by one point, the moment Charlie Brown kissed Heather he became the life of the dance floor.  I...  sadly, Charlie Brown doesn't remember a thing and questions why what happened was so great if he doesn't recall it.  To which Linus replies that at least Charlie Brown gave his first kiss to a girl outside his family members.  You know, for a resolution that's supposed to make us forget about all the bad things that happened during the journey, I still do not forgive all the bad things that happened during this journey.  =|
It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown is a special that I wanted to express my full thoughts of for a long time, but what had kept was how I was going to approach it and finding a good moment to do so.  Initially I wanted to discuss it on a Valentine's Day, but I simply did not want to wait a full month to do that.  The animation is par for the course for the series, though with the exception of Lucy and Linus' theme, Vince Guaraldi's music was greatly missed and replaced with something forgettable.  But regardless of its aesthetic qualities, this is a special that I feel a strong apathy for; and when I say it got worse the more I saw it I mean it.  At first I thought the only moment I hated was Lucy causing the team to lose the game with Charlie Brown unfairly blamed for the entire loss, but I gradually found more things that did not work in this special's favor with each subsequent viewing.  Some time ago I had thought that this special was so awful that I had wondered why I even liked the Peanuts franchise to begin with.
That's not a reaction one should have with any special regarding this series.  =(  But I suppose that it's a testament that just because a series is good it doesn't mean that it doesn't have its low points.  It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown is the very Peanuts' low point in my opinion.  The other specials are either decent or enjoyable, but this one I abhor with the strongest of passions and having read all this now you know why.  Again, if you like it that's fine... just tell me why it is exactly that you like it.  Eleven years I had to put up with this crap, and I have seen it four times.  But if I see it one more time in my life it will be too soon.  =(
Personal Score: 0/5
I'm StarBoy91, and...... I never want to endure this special again
,( -_-)>TO EACH THEIR OWN<(-_- ),
Screenshots of It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown screengrabbed from my Region 1 Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown DVD, property of Paramount
Thank you for reading my review, my reader, please leave a comment and let me know what you think pertaining to either the specifics of my blog or the subject itself.  I hope you have a great day.  Take care.

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