On Sunday, while the world was reminding us that not only is Terry Bradshaw not the quarterback with the most Super Bowl wins ever, he doesn’t even have the most wins of a person with his initials, I was watching something else. Specifically, I watched the first episode of The Snoopy Show, the new animated Peanuts series available to Apple TV+ subscribers. I had various thoughts.
- Giving Franklin the first line of the new show was probably not accidental, a very subtle reminder that while Peanuts is heavily white, it is not utterly undiverse. But then the birds are all yellow! Where’s Raymond?
- The episode is made up of three short stories, which makes me wonder why this is an episode. Streaming TV is not built around the scheduling needs of broadcast TV, and you could just as easily have this as three individual shorter episodes. (I suppose the likely answer is that someday in the future, they want to be able to reuse this material in a standard broadcastable form.)
- The show is not in continuity, at least not in strip continuity. All of the kids not only go to the same school (rather than Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Franklin being in another school), they are all in the same classroom. That’s right, Lucy and her little brother Linus are somehow in the same grade! And the second story is about how Snoopy and Woodstock met and became friends, and it is not at all compatible with the fact (facts! The strip is a documentary!) that Woodstock was born on Snoopy’s stomach.
- And speaking of that second story: the first two stories in the series are the basis for two upcoming storybooks, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they When Snoopy Met Woodstock. The episode is basically free of any human-understandable language, and so much of these Peanuts storybooks are given to dialogue usually. (The ideal way to handle it would be with wordless comics, but that would probably not settle well with the “Ready-to-Read” philosophy of this book series.)
- The animation style is not aggressively separating itself from the look of the Melendez animation, but it’s not slavishly imitating it either, which is as it should be. The grounding to new attempts at Peanuts animation should be in how to capture the look of the strip, and how it needs to build from there to be a full visual experience.
- All in all, I enjoyed the episode, and think that this series will be a good addition to the body of Peanuts animation.
- If you’re thinking “I don’t have Apple TV+”, you can get a one week free trial, which should give you enough time to watch all six episodes of this and all 12 eight-minute episodes of Snoopy in Space… and while you’re there, trust me, try Ted Lasso, a very-pro-human sitcom about a football coach trying to coach a soccer team. (And if you’re saying “but that’s sports, I’m not into sports,” remember that this recommendation is coming from someone who was watching Snoopy cartoons instead of the Super Bowl.)