This is the most serious Charlie Brown special. It still has subplots for the comic relief and some jokes to keep it from being too ultra serious, but the tone is certainly darker than what you will be used to from this series. It’s good to tackle themes like this once in a while to spread awareness and act as an infomercial, but I am glad that it is only an occasional thing. Not to mention that some themes are a little too dark regardless. If the ending hadn’t been quite as positive, it definitely would have hurt the special more.
One of Linus’ friends has started to feel sick lately. He advises her to go to the nurse’s office and from there she ends up in the hospital as she has developed cancer. Charlie decides that he and Linus should visit the hospital. The special is mostly focused on describing the treatment and showing how the main characters cope with this sudden development. Some handle it well, but others not so much.
It may be a little iffy for some when we see Lucy in particular. She really doesn’t care that someone got cancer and it fairly rude about it. It’s true that kids probably don’t understand the gravity of the situation, but the special went out of its way to show that everyone was really mean about it aside from Charlie and Linus. Snoopy handled it well as he continued to eat a lot of food whenever possible though. You can never count him out and he stole the show with his “dinner” as he proved to everyone how to enjoy yourself while having a healthy diet at the same time. It did look like a complete meal after all.
A bully showed up for the first time in a while. Naturally Linus was upset about this, but I felt like he could have handled the situation better. He mostly just let the bully talk for a while before clenching his fists and finally yelling at the guy a little, but I was hoping for Linus to throw a solid punch. Linus blew up, but in a rather anticlimactic way and it took him too long to react. Of course, he was able to solve the situation without violence so in a way that’s good…in a way.
Aside from Lucy and the bully, the characters are pretty solid here. Linus did well and the new character seemed nice enough. Charlie was considerate as always and it’s easy to see why he is the main character of the franchise. The others mean well, but they’d definitely be lost without his expert guidance. If not for all of his plans and last second heroics, the town would probably be a lot more depressing and solemn. From winning tournaments to visiting friends in the hospital, Charlie’s the guy you can count on.
The soundtrack is certainly more downcast and less fast paced than usual. This helps the special carry across the feeling that things are more serious than usual. It works well enough and the animation is as good as usual. These specials are nothing if not consistent in their technical quality. As always, the special is definitely very short so you can really watch it whenever you have a free period. It’s not too fun so you’ll want to have some snacks to munch while watching it.
Luckily, as mentioned earlier, the ending is fairly happy. Good endings can always help a film quite a bit. If the friend had died to try to show how serious cancer is, it would have failed pretty badly. She even got her hair back, which was definitely a nice added bonus. All’s well that ends well and that’s why going to the doctor regularly is a good thing so you can catch these conditions right away. I don’t particularly like going to the doctor’s too often since I feel pretty healthy, but I still recommend going. It’s worth it folks, even if I don’t follow my own advice on this.
Overall, This special certainly sticks out from the rest. One watch is really enough though and I would sooner recommend checking out most of the other Charlie Brown specials. Still, at least the special tackled the topic of cancer I suppose. The kid should have been put to sleep before getting the bone marrow shot if you ask me, but beyond that it did a good job of explaining the treatments available. With this, the Charlie Brown animated specials have come to an end for now, but eventually I aim to see the others that I have not checked out yet. Hopefully Snoopy continues to steal the show and show us just why he is such a great character.