Some musicals just stick with you. Of all the shows I've seen, performed in, read about, or lectured about, there are few that hold the emotional pull of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I'm sure part of it is because of my affection for the Peanuts comic strip itself, but I also love the sweet, tuneful simplicity of Clark Gesner's songs, and the wry wit of the Charles Schulz vignettes that form the spine of the show. The 1999 Broadway revival of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown left me cold, mostly because it was trying to jazz things up and expand the show, and seemed to lose sight of what made the show appealing in the first place.
Now we have the 1985 animated special on DVD. I remember watching it when it first aired and being less than impressed, but when I popped in the DVD upon its arrival, I was thoroughly delighted. The special has the polished look and feel of the 1970s Charlie Brown specials, as opposed to some of the later specials that seemed a bit slapdash.
Because it needed to fit into an hour-long TV slot, the show has been cut down quite a bit, removing some rather fun numbers, such as Linus's "My Blanket and Me" and Snoopy's "The Red Baron." But what's left is charming, and very engagingly animated. I actually laughed out loud at some of the clever bits. There was something about seeing the actual Snoopy, as opposed to an adult in a white turtle neck, that made his parts a bit more effective. And including Woodstock, particularly during the song "Snoopy," was an inspired touch.