Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 1, 2017)
Charles Schulz may have died 17 years ago, but the Peanuts empire continues to roll. This means we get a new compilation of animated adventures via a package called Snoopy Tales.
Across two DVDs, Tales provides 32 shorts based on Schulz’s original cartoons. As expected, Snoopy becomes the primary focus of these.
Going into Tales, I assumed each one would tell its own narrative. Like standard Disney or Looney Tunes shorts, each segment of Tales runs about seven minutes, so I figured these would use self-contained stories to fill those brief time periods.
Nope. Instead, each cartoon gives us a mix of brief segments. Some of these last up to two minutes or so, while others wrap up in five to 10 seconds.
I guess I should’ve anticipated this approach, as Tales touts itself essentially as a collection of Schulz comics brought to animated life. Even the longer Sunday strips shouldn’t need a ton of time to act out on screen.
Still, this take on the material makes Tales feel a bit ADD. Not that the shorts depict the material in hyperactive manner, as the collection resists the modern world’s rapid-editing and other overly “dynamic” techniques. The pacing can seem almost sedate at times given all the material packed into such short packages.
The “ADD” comments come from the frequent lack of thematic unity. Though each short includes a title that might imply consistent stories, only a few boast overriding threads to link the various sequences within each one.
Of course, the cartoons concentrate on Snoopy’s adventures, but I don’t view that as a “theme”. At times, the shorts do connect to their titles, such as with “My Blanket”, one that mostly relates topics that deal with Linus’s security blanket.
Episodes like “Blanket” remain exceptions to the rule, though, as most of the shorts seem more random. This isn’t automatically a bad thing, but it can make prolonged viewing of Tales a bit tedious.
That’s because the lack of cohesion tends to make the shorts all run together at some point. With so many brief bits and stories, the whole becomes less than enthralling.
If viewed in smaller bites, though, Tales can provide moderate entertainment. As noted earlier, the shorts give us a reasonably low-key rendition of the original material – they don’t come across as “filmed comic strips”, but they represent the source in an acceptable manner.
So if you want to view Snoopy Tales in one or two shorts in a session, you’ll probably find more to enjoy – but who watches DVDs that way? As a Peanuts fan, I think Tales offers a perfectly adequate representation of the source material, I think the format can be a little lackluster.