What is Christmas without the Peanuts gang to help celebrate? The heartwarming special from 2003 “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown” has been remastered and given bonuses making it a perfect pre-holiday purchase, or a lovely stocking stuffer!
Rerun Van Pelt the younger brother of Lucy and Linus is desperate to have a dog. His mother thinks dogs are too much trouble, but Rerun just can’t agree. After all, he spends hours playing with Snoopy, his good friend Charlie Brown’s extraordinary dog, and he thinks a dog for Christmas would be the best gift ever. Rerun is a curious Shultz character, neither crabby like Lucy nor burdened with the insecurity Linus perpetually demonstrates by thumb-sucking and blanket toting.
Rerun is his own person, and apparently is tagging himself as the only “normal” Van Pelt child. He is propelled through life, strapped to the back of his mother’s bicycle, a vantage point that gives him a chance to observe and reflect on life, and comment. His philosophy he tells viewers, is based on what he sees and maybe what it would be like to crash into a tree.
Odd, but endearing behavior for a little kid, Rerun speaks what most of us feel but can never say. He has no inhibitions about asking for a dog, or petitioning Snoopy to come out and play, or even asking the cute little girl in kindergarten to run away to Paris with him. Rerun knows what he means and what he wants, even if the rest of the world doesn’t get his feelings or for that matter, his humor.
I Want a Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown was taken completely from the drawn comic strips. After Charles Shultz’s death in 2000, it was decided that the producers would use existing dialog for the characters, not writing any words for them that had not come from Shultz. While the beauty of the early Peanut’s holiday specials lies in the meaningful simplicity of words and actions, this later special has all the philosophy and bite that we love in the comic strip.
I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown is packaged perfectly in a holiday wrapper-like sleeve, bound to catch attention. The feature is 41 minutes long, and is paired with a 1986 “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown.” In this cartoon the teacher assigns WAR AND PEACE to be read over the holidays, with a book report due the first day back at school. Everyone can relate to that awful, last day of school before the holidays assignment from grade school days!
I still remember mine, a 10 page paper on Colonial Life in America for 7th grade history class, researched and handwritten in ink. (Yes, it was before the days of personal computers.) In addition to the New Year’s special, there is a wonderful in-depth look at the character Rerun.
Interview footage with Jeannie Shultz add a depth of understanding to her husband Charles’s creative process with a new character such as Rerun, and more facets to the gang as a whole. This is an excellent DVD for Peanuts fans, for Holiday DVD collections, and for a new generation of children to enjoy.