Last night The Lovely Anna and I were privileged to be guests at the St. Paul premiere of “Good Ol’ Charles Schulz“, a Public Television documentary on the Peanuts creator produced locally for the PBS series “American Masters”. The wonderful Jeannie Schulz made sure we were invited… thanks Jeannie!
The PBS studio ready for the screening
We had a great time, and the event was well attended. They fed and watered us, had some people speak about the production and then screened about 30 minutes of the 90 minute program. It looks to be a great show. Some of the guests were old friends of Sparky from his days in Minnesota… including one lady named Donna who used to be a young Sparky’s girlfriend until she had to break it off because she loved (and married) another man. That lady, as it happened was a short, redhead back then… sound familiar? She was indeed the inspiration for the little red-headed girl Charlie Brown was forever to nervous to talk with. She’s in the documentary along with the real Charlie Brown and lots of other people who were inspirations for his many characters.
Decked out for the holiday…
The best part of the show is how well it explains the incredible originality and startling nature of Peanuts, and also how it was really just a voice for Sparky’s personal feelings about life and it’s trials. Since Peanuts really spawned a whole generation of comic strip cartoonists who borrowed heavily from what Schulz started, it’s hard to get a real understanding of how original and daring his work was. Mixed in between these wartime adventure strips and serials was this new, melancholy and understated strip featuring little kids with sometimes profound and deep adult thoughts about failure, rejection, cruelty and anxiety. It was funny because you identified with it. These were feelings and issues everyone has faced and it was so shocking to see it in the funny pages…
… and it was funny. Like seeing someone getting hit in the face with a pie, it was slapstick humor but for your head, and sometimes your heart.
Even more amazing is that, while Sparky himself was very reserved and private, he was really pouring his feelings, anxieties and raw emotions out every day to millions of people. He was the ultimate contradiction… a private man who displayed his very soul to the world daily for fifty years. The world couldn’t get enough.
“Good Ol’ Charles Schulz” is well worth setting the VCR and TiVo for. In the Twin Cities it debuts on Mon. Oct. 29th at 8:00 pm on Ch. 2, and plays again on Tues., Oct. 30th at 9:00 pm on Ch. 17. Check your local PBS listings for showtimes in your area.
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