Play It Again, Charlie Brown (1971)

play it again charlie brown poster 1971 special
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

Peanuts specials were always a treat

Not a very compelling Peanuts special

Show Info

TV Special Name: Play It Again, Charlie Brown

Studio:  Lee Mendelson Film Productions

Genre(s): Animated

Release Date(s): March 28, 1972

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

play it again charlie brown schroeder defines love lucy

You’re getting all Glenn Close-Fatal Attraction on me. Let me lay it out there for you, Lucy

Lucy van Pelt love for Schroeder has no bounds.  The Beethoven-loving pianist’s feelings for Lucy are less than favorable.  In her attempt to woo Schroeder, Lucy learns about an opportunity for Schroeder to showcase his music from Peppermint Patty…but her plans go wrong when she learns that modern music will only be permitted at the event.

Directed by Bill Melendez, Play It Again, Charlie Brown is a Charles Schulz Peanuts animated TV special.  Following It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown in 1969 and as the seventh entry in the Peanuts series, the special first aired on CBS on March 28, 1971 and has been collected multiple times on various Peanuts releases including A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  It received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming—Individuals.

Peanuts holiday specials were always benchmarks of the year.  It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was a kick off for the kid’s holiday season when it aired and meant that the other Charlie Brown specials (and other holiday specials in general) would start popping up.  The non-holiday Charlie Brown specials didn’t always work…and Play It Again, Charlie Brown is one of them.

play it again charlie brown lucy schroeder charlie brown snoopy pig pen

Seriously…back off, lady!

The special is the first special not to focus on Charlie Brown or Snoopy despite having Charlie Brown’s name in the title.  In fact, Charlie Brown barely plays a role in this story and the story largely circles around Schroeder and Lucy.  While I like when Peanuts expands to supporting characters in the comic strip, it doesn’t feel like there is enough meat to Schroeder’s character to carry this special.  He likes Beethoven and most of the jokes in the short strips circle around that.  Here, there is a need of a plot that doesn’t kick up until the second half of the short special with Lucy trying to organize a performance.

The special feels like it needs a bit more direction in that sense.  The whole special should have been working toward this performance (with Lucy introducing the idea in the first couple minutes).  The episode would have worked in that sense with the crushing blow that Schroeder could perform his loved Beethoven and what that would mean for Lucy.  Instead, the concert feels almost like an underdeveloped postscript.

play it again charlie brown schroeder beethoven

It’s hard out there for a pimp

The other odd thing is that if you are used to Peanuts core specials, this special is a bit jarring with new voices.  With Lucy, Pamelyn Ferdin took over the character from Sally Dryer with It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown, and she just doesn’t have the same cadence and delivery that is come to be expected from Lucy from previous performers.  It feels like a stand-in that doesn’t quite match.

With things like, Beethoven and School Board in a spray can jokes and a ho-hum plot, Play It Again, Charlie Brown isn’t a very memorable Peanuts special.  If you are introducing your kids to all the specials, I’m sure it would be fine, but don’t expect it to become anyone’s favorite…they’ll probably even pick Arbor Day over Lucy moaning over Schroeder.  Play It Again, Charlie Brown is followed by You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown in 1972.

Followed By:

You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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