I didn't know there was a new (or relatively new) Peanuts special, A Charlie Brown Valentine, until it turned up on the Tivo yesterday while my parents were doing the 8:00 ``What should we watch?'' thing. Despite my Charles Schulz fanboyism I know the animated specials since the Ford administration have generally been not much to get excited about. (Though there's much I like about Flashbeagle, the most excessively maligned of the bunch.) In Singapore I didn't see any of them make the TV schedule, not for want of trying. But I leapt for the chance since the alternative would be home repair shows like This Unimaginably Boring Old House, which Dad can't see often enough.
Now, this isn't It's Valentine's Day, Charlie Brown. This is relatively new, and so is made of actual comic strips animated, without original dialogue or a plot connecting them. And, as such, well, it's not good. Part of it is that when the source strips were originally a sequence, each new strip quickly recapped what was going on, letting people who missed yesterday's strip to catch up. That has to be ironed out when animated or else the dialogue is unbelievably redundant. And when the strips weren't part of the same sequence it comes out odd to have then abutting one another, particularly when they have the same starting point, like Snoopy at his typewriter.
The real problem was the voice acting, particularly for the most important character, Charlie Brown: it was horrible. It's good they're still trying to use kids who maybe don't quite get what they're trying to say, and voice acting is tough even for skilled grownup actors, but boy, at least for The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show they had some understanding of pacing. Whether by instinct or ruthless direction they knew not to just blurt out the lines as fast as possible. A line like ``Do you have any suggestions for a box of chocolates to give a girl who doesn't even know I'm alive? ... No, it doesn't have to be expensive. I'll never have the nerve to give it to her anyway'' should be almost foolproof, but it was read so flatly that it felt like watching a parallel universe's idea of comedy. It had the shape and something like the content of humor, but didn't connect. Still, it's better than watching Norm Abram arguing about square or cylindrical flues with the fireplace installer until Freakazoid comes over. Norm was really into square flues. That was a weird and funny obsession, but not worth watching again.
Trivia: The 1520 Papal Bull Exsurge Domine condemned 41 of Martin Luther's 95 theses as heretical or dangerous. Source: The March of Folly, Barbara W Tuchman.
Currently Reading: Mister Lincoln's T-Mails, Tom Wheeler. It was just coincidence that I got into a book about Lincoln's use of the telegraph right after the Pony Express book. The book was a Christmas gift from one of my brothers to my father, but he kept asking if I wanted to read it until I realized there was no getting around reading it and having it my hands in front of him as often as possible.