Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 30, 2011)
Via a 2011 compilation called Happiness Is… Peanuts Snow Days, we get two specials with Charlie Brown and company. The DVD includes two shows: 1980’s She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown (24:23) and The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show Episode #18 (22:26) from 1985.
In Skate, Peppermint Patty (voiced by Patricia Patts) trains rigorously for a figure skating contest. She endures an inability to stay awake in school and the unintelligible grousing of Coach Snoopy (Bill Melendez). We follow her path to hoped-for glory on the ice.
Skate aired the day after the 1980 Winter Olympics finished, so at least it boasted excellent timing. Unfortunately, the special itself offers a bit of a dud. I assume this isn’t the only Peanuts program that focuses on Peppermint Patty, but I can’t recall any others.
That’s probably a good thing, as she’s a lackluster lead. Patty works better as a foil to Charlie Brown; she’s off in her own world and the manner in which she provokes his befuddlement allows her to fare her best. Here we concentrate so much on her that the show lacks the necessary character contrast.
In an unusual move, we barely see the regular Peanuts gang. Patty, Snoopy, Marcie and Woodstock dominate to virtually the exclusion of all else. Charlie Brown makes a brief appearance when Patty comes to get Snoopy, and the crew pops up in the crowd at the competition, but that’s it; they’re essentially not involved.
The juxtaposition of tomboyish Patty and the girlie world of figure skating also seems odd. Wouldn’t the tale have worked better with any of the other Peanuts females? Sure, Patty’s the most athletic, but she never came across as a character with the grace and smoothness for figure skating; Patty’s more rough and tumble and not suited to the setting.
Perhaps the show could’ve wrung some comedy from that “square peg/round hole” side of things, but it doesn’t. There’s very little drama at all and no conflict between the usual rough-hewn Patty and this program’s more refined one. The only minor tension occurs during a glitch in her performance, and that’s a small element.
All of this leaves Good Skate as a feeble piece of Peanuts. It provides virtually no laughs and little entertainment. (Though I admit it’s cool that a girl named “Patty Patts” played Peppermint Patty. It’s not good that the show used actual adult voices instead of the “wah-wah” sound, however.)
With Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show’s Episode 18, we get three short stories. The Peanuts kids stage a Christmas play at school, they fret about Valentine’s Day romance, and Peppermint Patty (Gini Holtzman) wins a prize for her essay about Snoopy.
What an odd hodge-podge of tales! There’s no real connection among the different segments. Sure, the first two focus on holidays, though they don’t make much sense when you know the program first aired in October; that’s not exactly prime territory for Christmas and Valentine’s Day material. The Patty plot fits a bit better – hey, as long as it shows up during the school year, it’s fine – but the fact it doesn’t relate to a holiday means it seems out of place with the other two.
At least these little segments go by quickly and don’t wear out their welcome. None of them provide particularly good entertainment, but none of them flop, either. They have their own minor charms and deliver some mildly interesting moments. At the very least, they’re better than Skate.
(By the way, you’ll notice a credit for “Stacey Ferguson” as Sally. She’d later be known as pop star “Fergie”.)