Category Archives: Non-Anime

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1964)

Hi,

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Since we’re close to Christmas, I decided to give my opinion on a Christmas TV-special that has become a regular Christmas TV annual telecast staple in USA since 9th December 1965 (first transmission being on CBS. Nowadays and since 2001, ABC has the transmission rights to show the TV-special I will be talking about). Talking about the very first Peanuts (created by the late Charles M. Schulz) TV-special: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, directed and produced by Bill Melendez (who also voiced Snoppy)

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General plot: In one hand, Charlie Brown is feeling depressed about the fact that Christmas, one of the days of the year he likes the most (because of the presents, the cards and the tree decorating), is becoming more and more commercial each year. On the other hand, his friends are preparing a nativity play to which Charlie is invited to be their director (he accepted it after Lucy convinced him of doing it so during a conversation on the “psychiatric help” booth)

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But this only adds extra frustration to him during the process of making the play. For starters, his friends care more about modernizing the play with loads of dance and music and as if it wasn’t enough, at one point, they become annoyed and made fun at the same time of Charlie‘s choice of tree (a small baby tree). The latter made him doubt even more about what Christmas is all about

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Inspired by Linus‘ recitation answer, he tries to decorate the baby tree on his own… without any success, making him feel even more depressed. But there’s a happy ending in the midst of negativism: his friends would finish the decoration of the tree and they’d sing a Christmas carol. This caught Charlie by suprise at the same as his friends say to him: “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”… ending the special by singing the same Christmas carol they were singing before and with Charlie joining them

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My opinion: A undeniable classic. For a Christmas TV-special, it has something charming and topical for that time that makes it not being as obvious or as predictable like other nativity specials, from the social critcism (something totally omnipresent in the Peanuts world) about Christmas itself (the comparsion and battle between the proper spirit of Christmas and its commercialism is the center of the special) to the production (Charles M. Schulz and Bill Melendez were really a force to be reckon with). It all comes down in a natural way without much overdues

The animation, for the 1960’s standards, is highly remarkable (with time, the animation of the Peanuts‘ specials would get better and better). But Vince Guaraldi‘s music score for this special set a highly different and unusual tone for the conventional Christmas specials with his mainstream jazz approach (the cool jazzy instrumental “Linus and Lucy” is the perennial highlight of the soundtrack of the special released the year after the special aired (1965)

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A highlight scene of the special: Linus‘ speech concerning Charlie Brown‘s questioning of Christmas, reciting the Bible‘s second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 8 through 14 from the Authorized King James Version. Simply unforgettable…

Kudos to the young actors who voiced Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus brillantly: Peter Robbins (who also did the voice Pigpen in this special), Chris Shea and Tracy Stratford respectively (and this coming from a time where it was rare in the world of television to cast real children (whether they’d be prodigy actors or unknowns) to do voice acting. At the time, it was something the CBS executives didn’t find really flattering)

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All in all, one of the most enjoyable Christmas specials ever and also one of the best ones in the TV history of Peanuts (eventhough not my all time favourite Peanuts TV related programs (specials and TV-series) ever). Recommended specially to the ones who’d like to see different approaches in the mass-media terms to one of the most important festivities of the year

As last treat, here’s a 1965 TV promo of the special on CBS (channel that, until 2000, held the rights to transmit the Peanuts’ specials):

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

O romance da raposa (1988)

Hi,

The animated series in discussion on this post is considered one of the first, if not the first full portuguese animated series ever made. Talking about the 1988 animated adaptation of a 1924 children novel, “O romance da raposa”, created and directed by Artur Correia and Ricardo Neto and made in the Topefilme and Telecine studios

The story of the 13 episode animated series is centered on Salta Pocinhas, a sly vixen who does one and thousand things to get food, even if it means lying, cheating, etc… (evidence comes in the first couple of episodes when she tricks Rei Lobo (the king wolf) into eating the badger Salamurdo, saying that it could be Rei Lobo‘s cure to a tooth ache he had. And also when she constantly robs chickens from several human farms)

The years would pass and, even if she’s getting older and creating her own family, she’d remain the same vivacious and sly vixen as she was in her youth, lying and cheating to the animals from the hood she lives in

This animated version of “O romance da raposa” was such a sucess that a chain of merchandising was created to coincide with the transmission of the series: from calendars to the soundtrack of the series released in a LP and even the reedition of the novel itself

Such was the sucess that it even was exported to several countries, of which Yugoslavia was one of them (when it was still a unified country). On that country’s case, the series was seen in both croatian and slovene

I never knew the existence of this animated series until it was first repeated in RTP Memória back in 2004 (I knew the precedent animated series coming from Telecine and made by part of the team that also made “O romance da raposa” called “Pit, o coelinho verde” since childhood) and I fell in love with it

The beauty of it is that the series, like the novel, does give you a strong and natural portuguese feeling to it that totally combines with the bubbly and intellecutal-like story and the esthetic-fied colorful animation (although with a few flaws. Still, for a animated series made in Portugal and in 1988, it’s quite amazing). The soundtrack made by Jorge Andrade (who was the portuguese conductor for the portuguese entry of ESC 1980, “Um grande, grande amor”, sung by José Cid) was cleverly made and arranged. The list of characters, on the other hand, does have its flaws: some were unforgettable, like Salta Pocinhas, Pocinhas’ mother, Corvo and Rei Lobo, while others didn’t really stand out

Lots of effort was also put into the voice casting, with special kudos to Fernanda Figueiredo who did a unforgettable vocal performance as the main protagonist, Salta Pocinhas. Curious participation of actor Joel Branco as the voice of Corvo

All in all, totally recommended for animation fans, especially those that love to discover something more than the ones from their own country

Last treats – the 3rd episode:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Play it again, Charlie Brown (1971)

Hi,

As a tradition for several years on the american television (sometimes consecutively), the comic book series of Charles Schulz‘s “Peanuts” had always a place in the primetime slot via a TV-animated special. And 1971 was particulary no exception when “Play it again, Charlie Brown” was first broadcasted in CBS on 28th March 1972 and was directed by Bill Melendez (who also voiced Snoopy)

General plot: usually on the “Peanuts”‘ comic strips/books, the fact that Lucy (the bossy girl and older sister of Linus) is really in love with Schroeder (the pianist whose idol is Ludwig van Beethoven), something that the latter doesn’t correspond, is a classic case and this special puts an emphasis to the obvious. In here, Lucy tries everything to get his caring and loving attention, but Schroeder always rebuffs (she even asks Charlie Brown (main character of the series having in this special a very reductive role) or Snoopy (Charlie Brown‘s dog, always either philosophical (in a way, he’s a dreamer) or either doing other things on disguise (pretending to be a human), for example: the psychatrist on this episode) for advice). Good news suddenly appear as Peppermint Patty (the tomboy girl who normally has a crush on Charlie Brown) tells Lucy to convince Schroeder to play in the PTA program, eventhough Patty informs to her afterwards (when Lucy was thanking her for the idea) that he has to play rock, something that Schroeder doesn’t like, meaning that he will be in conflict with his conscience about whether to stay true to himself by not playing in the PTA program or to be “sold out” by the rock music and perform it in the same event

The first time I saw this was only in the mid-2000’s, when almost all the “Peanuts” specials and series made up to that date were first shown on RTP 2 (known as :2 back then), dubbed in portuguese (they were later shown on the children channels Canal Panda and Panda Biggs, this time on its original dub with portuguese subtitles) and this is one of the specials I loved the most

Sheer genius of putting the music (with original score by jazz performer Vince Guaraldi in between some of Beethoven‘s most celebrated compositions) in the center of Lucy‘s love illusions with Schroeder and her attempts to win him over and also by going into issues up to discussion due to Schroeder‘s questioning in either betray or not his (music) principles. The voice casting has also a shed of brilliance with child turning teenage actress Pamelyn Ferdin getting the spotlight as the voice of Lucy

All in all, a light-tempered special that might be simple (storywise), but goes somewhat into ethical and topical issues for its sincere (and funny) treatment of love and self-respect

Last thing to do – posting a video with the opening of the special:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

A demanda do R (1997)

Hi,

Back to the animation department, but this time with a portuguese animated series of my childhood. Portugal isn’t known usually for the production of animated series. The few and most significant ones were: 1988‘s animated adptation of Aquilino Ribeiro‘s most known novel, “O romance da raposa”; “Pit, o coelhinho verde” from 1990, “As maravilhosas expedições às ilhas encantadas” from 1991-1992 and the series I’m going to give an opinion from

Created, written and directed by Humberto Santana with animation direction of Rui Cardoso and produced by Animanostra with co-production of Club D’Investissement Media, RTP and Millimages, the series debuted on TV in 1997 in the children program “Um, Dó, Li, Tá” and was repeated numerous times throughout the early 2000’s, with the last repeat being on RTP Memória in the mid 2000’s. It has been, since then, a well-remembered series for the generation who grew up in the late 90’s and early 2000’s

General plot: In the ficticial kingdom of Fantasia, everything and everyone was serene and at peace, until the day the king and the queen passed away during their sleep. With no descendants, a democratic decision was made in order to elect the new king. The candidates were the young but helpful and friendly Vicente Generoso and the evil-doer wizard Hipólito Lixado, with the former being unanimously elected by the people

Furious at the situation, Hipólito Lixado got his revenge by stealing the “R” letter of the alphabet, thus making it difficult for the people to read and to write properly (as it suddenly didn’t exist anymore). The only way to get it back is to go to the Terras das Letras (Land of Letters) and recover the missing letter by using a box as a portal to enter in that parallel world. Newly crowned king Vicente decides to take the risk, followed by his best friends Orlando Estudioso and Casmiro Lenhador

To see more about the series, see the blog site of the series: http://demandador.blogspot.pt/

The first time I saw the series, I was totally gobsmacked by it and suprised by the fact that it was actually a very up-to-date animated series with emphasis on action and adventure with a logical, convincing and interesting plot, much like other animated series from other countries of its era

Despite its animation flaws, it was still very well concieved. The voice casting was also quite memorable with actors such as Teresa Sobral (who rightfully voiced Vicente), Luís Lucas (giving a certain friendly flavour for his voice acting of Casmiro), Cláudia Cadima (always a great actress on and off-screen, giving her uncomparable voice acting to Orlando), Carlos Macedo (good moment by voicing the villain Hipólito Lixado) and also Peter Michael (who did a few supporting characters. Uncomparable voice as well)

The series was released on a 2-DVD pack in 2005 by Vidisco (normally a music discographic label), with the episodes included on the first one (portuguese and english audio and subtitles included) and various extras on the second one

As a final treat, here’s the opening and the ending of the series:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)