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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Last year, I wrote a “Breakdown” piece for Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown based on how nutty that special was. Well, that post gained some traction on the internet after Wil Wheaton (Star Trek’s Wesley Crusher) somehow came across it and reposted it. Never one to avoid going back into the well, I felt the time was right to look at another Penuts special and break that down scene-by-scene. As such, let me present It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown!
So we start this Penutes adventure with Rerun being fasten to his mother’s bicycle. Because all parents in the Peanuts universe are clearly neglectful, Rerun’s mother zips off frightening Rerun to the brink of death (she only hit four parked cars the previous day). To pass the time, Rerun sings “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”. It might be strange for a kid to be singing about beer, but how couldn’t he not have a drinking problem dealing with the bike? Mom probably doesn’t even notice her kid is an alcoholic.
We next find ourselves in Sally’s classroom when her teacher, Miss. Othmar, calls on her. Oh, shit. Othmar again? At least she decided to show up in class instead of go out for a quickie with her boyfriend like she did on Valentine’s Day. Anyway, Sally has to explain Arbor Day and she fails miserably. The class laughs at her and she goes all Carrie on them.
No, that didn’t happen, but she does now have to do a report on Arbor Day. She and Linus (who is probably hoping that this will somehow cause Othmar to notice him) head to the library where they find Snoopy and Woodstock laughing at dog obedience training books. Snoopy then tries to photo copy the books (because, fuck paying) and accidently puts Woodstock in the machine. Since Snoopy is a sociopath, he laughs at his friend’s misfortune. They are then tossed out of the library, but to be fair, who would let a dog and bird into the library in the first place?
Linus tries to explain what Arbor Day is to Sally, but Sally only cares about getting into Linus’s pants. While that is going on, Charlie Brown is hanging out with Peppermint Patty. Patty doesn’t quite get love or why a guy isn’t interested in her (wait…isn’t she a lesbian?). They then turn their attention to baseball where Patty explains how her team will play Charlie’s team twelve times this season (how is this possible?!).
Later, Sally continues her creepy obsessiveness over Linus and becomes a militant Arbor Day promoter. She decides to plant some trees and other plants. With a few followers, she decides to plant everything in Charlie Brown’s baseball field. Linus objects, but no one listens. How come Sally and Lucy think this is a good idea. I mean, I get that Sally is an idiot, but Lucy should know a little better. More oddly, they make it seem that Charlie Brown owns the baseball field. Wouldn’t that be public property? And, if so, how are they allowed to plant or otherwise change/augment public property?
Charlie Brown learns that his friends are fixing up the field. Of course, he doesn’t know what’s really going on, but he is pleased and goes to report to Patty that the field will be ready for their first game. Linus constantly wants to tell Charlie Brown, but doesn’t. Why? What does Lucy have over him for him to not tell his best friend that the baseball field is not going to be suitable to play?
And how come Lucy is still down with this? She is a player on the team. She has to be smarter than to realize the new plants and trees will get in the way of the gameplay. Then again, Lucy is kind of psychotic when it comes to Charlie. This could be another one of her games to slowly drive Charlie Brown into a deep suicidal madness.
Even if that is the case, Lucy even gets the rest of the baseball team (minus Charlie) to help out with “refurbishing” the baseball field. How come no one on the baseball team objects to this plan?! Linus is the only one, but even he is too chicken to tell Charlie Brown.
Snoopy and Woodstock are helping with the planting. Naturally, Snoopy unnecessarily pours water of Woodstock. Again, he’s a sociopath. He does get some comeuppance when he accidentally hits his thumb with a hammer. Snoopy smacks the nearby plant which then attacks him. At least something is attacking back.
Where did Lucy get all the money for the stuff she picked up from the nursery? She said she was going to get stuff, and she comes back with a lot. Does she really make that much coin from her psychiatric services? Or did she just steal everything. I can honestly see her doing that. It would work into my theory that she is just starving for attention from her father.
Time passes and it is time for the first game of the season. The team decides to do something nice for Charlie Brown by naming the field after him. He’s honored, but is then horrified to see what they did to the baseball park. His team tries to tell him its fine. Even Schroder gives a useless Beethoven reference about how he never gave up (which makes little sense in this context). Dejected and having no other option, Charlie Brown heads to his pitcher’s mound.
Patty shows up and is understandably pissed off. Who wouldn’t be? Charlie’s team destroyed the field. To her credit, she decides to make the most of it. She lets Charlie’s team bat first even though she is the visiting team. Maybe she just felt sorry for Charlie Brown. Who knows? Even though she attempts to use the field, Patty discovers it is more difficult that originally anticipated.
Snoopy is up to bat first, and that plant is still attacking him. Looks like Snoopy finally met an enemy who won’t give up. Servers his little sociopathic ass right.
Charlie Brown’s team is doing poorly, and Lucy promises to hit a home run. Schroeder is dubious that this is possible and promises to kiss her if she does. Jokes on him, because she smacks the ball completely out of the park. During all of this, Charlie Brown gets a bit too excited about Schroeder kissing Lucy. Like, he can’t stop talking about it. I guess it is possible he is happy to see someone else be the brunt of Lucy’s craziness, but I think there is the distinct possibility that he is just so sexually frustrated that this is as close as he is going to get in seeing action.
Patty’s team is up next and due to the trees and garden, each of her batters are quickly tagged out. Why Patty doesn’t contest this is beyond me. All the calls were questionable at best (a ball was caught by the friggin’ scarecrow!). Anyway this continues and Charlie Brown’s team leads by one run.
Then, in what is implied to be the final inning, Charlie Brown declares that they have a good chance at winning. However, tragedy strikes as the game is rained out. Patty claims that the game needs to be postponed and Charlie’s would-be win doesn’t count. Generally humorous and continues with Charlie Brown’s bad luck. Here is the thing: this is not how baseball works!
In baseball, if you are past the fifth inning and rain ends the game, the game is counted as an official game. Learn more here. In the scenario presented here, Charlie Brown’s team officially won that game! Patty claims that she knows about baseball (she said so at the beginning), but throughout the episode, she continuously displays a lack of knowledge. Does she know, or does she just say she knows? Or is she trying to weasel out of a loss?
Anyway, Sally gives her report and Charlie Brown and Patty discuss recent events. Patty tries to play it cool by saying that Charlie Brown has a baseball field named after him even though she knowingly robbed Charlie Brown from a win. She wishes him a happy Arbor Day and grabs his hand in an oddly affectionate manner.
And that’s It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown. I feel the concept of Arbor Day was largely pushed aside for the topic of baseball. Personally, I’m okay with that. That said, this wasn’t one of the stronger Peanut specials. There seemed to me too much focus on one-liners than any meaningful message or story. Still, it is Peanuts. And Peanuts is always going to be good in some way, shape, or form.
So, since it’s Arbor Day (in most areas), go out there and plant a tree!