This is America, Charlie Brown, the series is a special 2 disc set containing all 8 episodes of everyones favorite peanuts pals traveling through time to visit important places and events in American History. This release is both entertaining and educational.
An eight-part series from 1988, This Is America, Charlie Brown
sets the familiar "Peanuts" characters into scenes of American history: on the Mayflower
, at the signing of the Constitution, at Kitty Hawk with the Wright Brothers, on the NASA space station, etc. Mostly written by Charles M. Schulz and produced by the team of Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez, it's a mix of cartoon humor (Lucy will pull the football away in any era, and Ben Franklin can actually get Charlie Brown's kite in the air to discover electricity) and history lessons that are sort of like Schoolhouse Rock
but longer and drier. Vince Guaraldi's famous music is now performed by jazz veterans Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, and David Benoit, plus pianist George Winston. A few episodes are structured a little differently, giving overviews of inventors (Alexander Graham Bell's telephone, Edison's phonograph), the Smithsonian and the presidency (Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt), and musicians (Stephen Foster, Scott Joplin). In the dullest episode, Charlie Brown narrates the building of the Transcontinental Railroad action in the form of a school report, and it feels like one. Endless recycled footage of people driving spikes alternated with vintage photographs splashed with pastel colors is somewhat rescued by the nice use of American classic songs performed by the Winans. This Is America, Charlie Brown
isn't the most entertaining "Peanuts" you'll ever watch, but it's not bad as a sneaky way to teach history to kids. (One installment, "The Mayflower Voyagers," was previously released on the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
DVD.) --David Horiuchi