ANIMATION SPIN
March 24, 2020 posted by Greg Ehrbar

“He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown” on Records

A look at the Emmy-nominated Peanuts TV special as brought to a wide selection of recorded products in the late 1970s as part of Disney’s Charlie Brown Records line.

“HE’S YOUR DOG, CHARLIE BROWN!”
Charlie Brown Records (Disneyland/Buena Vista) #3703 (with Book) #2603 (LP Only) (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)

Released in March 1979. Album Producers: Jymn Magon, Warren Lockhart, Lee Mendelson. Running Time: 19 minutes.

Instrumental Themes: “He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown,” “Peppermint Patty,” “Charlie Brown Theme,” “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars” by Vince Guaraldi.

Voices (Studio Cast): Arrin Skelley (Charlie Brown); Daniel Anderson (Linus); Michelle Muller (Lucy); Patricia Patts (Peppermint Patty); Bill Melendez (Snoopy).

Additional Soundtrack Dialogue: Ann Altieri (Violet); Gabrielle DeFaria (Peppermint Patty).

He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown is the fifth Peanuts CBS network primetime TV special (after A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965); Charlie Brown’s All-Stars (1966); It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) and You’re in Love, Charlie Brown (1967), all of which have been covered previously in Animation Spin). It’s the first one to focus primarily on Snoopy. Peppermint Patty, who would become one of the lead characters in the cartoons and in the comic strip as well, is just beginning to gain prominence here.

CBS might have held He’s Your Dog for another date besides its Valentine’s Day 1968 debut and rerun the more closely themed You’re in Love, Charlie Brown instead, but that film is set at the end of the school year. Snoopy was also gaining immense popularity. At this point in history, Snoopy was a little over a year away from his real-life moon landing—albeit by name—when Apollo 10 would land its “Snoopy” landing module (NASA also named the less flashy command module after Charlie Brown—more about both in this Spin).

Because Snoopy does not speak in the cartoons aside from Bill Melendez’s amusing vocal effects (except for the musical specials), He’s Your Dog is heavy on funny cartoon gags and a smaller helping of the clever wordplay of Charles Schulz. There are several very clever lines nevertheless, such as Lucy’s self-revelatory comment to Charlie Brown: “You shouldn’t have shown him the leash! You should have decoyed him with a bone and then jumped him and hog-tied him. Then dragged the ingrate home to those who appreciate him!”

The record cannot supply all the visuals with no narrator, and even the best narrator cannot convey the comedy of sequences like Snoopy’s frenetic housekeeping (with that odd “convertible” bed). The read-along book provides some images for the audio, but this album was also released without a book. It stands on its own quite well but the challenge of making an audio version of a visual cartoon is evident in the fact that the disc has the shortest running time of all the Charlie Brown albums.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown” (LP Version)

Some Charlie Brown Records (like It’s the Great Pumpkin) are comprised of soundtrack dialogue with additional studio cast lines added to provide visual exposition. Others, like this one, are almost completely recreated with a newer cast, supplemented with earlier soundtrack excerpts here and there. This album featured the “Peanuts” cast heard in such late 1970s specials as You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown. Listen for the instance in which Peppermint Patty, while talking on the phone, is played by two different people from two different decades.


“HE’S YOUR DOG, CHARLIE BROWN!”
Charlie Brown Book & Record #404 (Disneyland/Buena Vista) (7” 33 1/3 RPM with Book / Mono)
Also released as Read-Along Cassettes by Buena Vista, Golden Press & Astor Publishing

Released in October 1978. Album Producers: Jymn Magon, Warren Lockhart, Lee Mendelson. Running Time: 11 minutes.

Instrumental Themes: “He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown,” “Peppermint Patty,” “Charlie Brown Theme,” “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars” by Vince Guaraldi.

Voices (Studio Cast): Arrin Skelley (Charlie Brown); Daniel Anderson (Linus); Michelle Muller (Lucy); Patricia Patts (Peppermint Patty); Bill Melendez (Snoopy).
Additional Soundtrack Dialogue: Gabrielle DeFaria (Peppermint Patty).

Only five “Peanuts” specials were released by Disneyland/Vista as twelve-inch LP records while eleven were available as seven-inch read-along records and cassettes. The recordings were also licensed to other companies, like Golden and Astor, for their own cassette and book packages (this was a fairly common occurrence in the post-vinyl cassette era).

The main reason for this had to be because, as He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown proves, most of the “Peanuts” specials began to depend on visuals less than dialogue as they emphasized Snoopy, so there was not enough material to justify a full-length album. Vinyl was also starting to give way to the more kid-proof and portable cassette.

This read-along was released five months before the LP for any number of possible reasons, But maybe the appeal of Snoopy drove the sales of this little read-along to the point where producing a full album made sense. However it happened, we’re glad it did.

GIVE ANOTHER LITTLE LISTEN
“He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown” (Read-Along Version)

This read-along is only about eight minutes shorter than the LP album. As mentioned above, a Snoopy-centric story is not likely to have as much dialogue as one featuring Charlie Brown and the gang. But one of the ways this smaller record was kept down to eleven minutes was by removing the entire “He’s back!” ending sequence. Good thing they made the album too!

8 Comments

  • (Sigh) Vince Guaraldi’s music always strikes a nostalgic chord with me. Thanks for posting these soundtracks to a wonderful special I remember well.

    But — good grief! I think the second recording is actually the LP album, not the Read-Along version. It’s 18 minutes long, and the full “He’s back!” sequence is included. Don’t feel bad, we all make mistakes sometimes, Charlie Brown….

    I’m intrigued that the actress who played Peppermint Patty here was named “Patricia Patts”. Is that a stage name or just a remarkable coincidence? Either way, it’s nice to be reminded what an appealing character PP was before she teamed up with Marcy and more or less took over the comic strip.

    And what happened to that other PP — Pig-Pen? Granted, a character whose defining feature is filthiness will perforce have limited story potential, but he had some hilarious moments. Like when the kids sing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” at the end of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, and every time they take a breath at the end of a line, Pig-Pen emits a cloud of dust! I know it’s supposed to be a tender and heart-warming scene, but it cracks me up every time I see it!

  • I trust I was not the only child whose vocabulary was considerably expanded by exposure to these Peanuts specials. I remember I had to ask my mother what “alumni” and “alumnus” meant, and I never forgot these words once I learned them from Charlie Brown. Today writers for children are practically forbidden to introduce “big words” into children’s vocabularies. That was one thing most of the Peanuts characters had in common–they knew plenty of “big words” and used them regularly.

    Interesting to note that this record references not only Peppermint Patty but the other Patty as well who usually hung out with Violet.

    In the early years of the specials, it was clearly established that Peppermint Patty and her friends lived on the other side of town from Charlie Brown and the kids in his neighborhood. Roy, one of the kids from across town, is referenced here by Peppermint Patty. Later, this cast of “across town-ers” would include Franklin and Marcie. It was never stated but seems to be implied that the across town area was somewhat of a depressed section of town. (Not much hard evidence for this, and maybe it’s just my own impression, but that was my idea of it, especially in the earlier days.) However, Peppermint Patty’s baseball team, if lacking materially, had spirit enough to win every game they ever played against Charlie Brown’s “all-stars.” Later specials showed Peppermint Patty and friends going to the same school as Charlie Brown and the others, so the distinction between the two groups of kids gradually blurred. I believe the comic strip always maintained the different neighborhoods.

    Did the album end with Charlie Brown on his way to retrieve Snoopy, or was there more of a finish to it?

    • There is a side two for the album on YouTube here:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jebBAbMaMf4&pbjreload=10

      As to the long words, I fully agree. Anyone with any sense knows that is how we learn from infancy. However, I can tell you that as a writer, there have been a few instances in which I have been either been asked or “voted” by committee to change words, sometimes because the group didn’t know them. Even when I made the context clear in the text, it was deemed too difficult. Fortunately, it didn’t happen all the time.

      I was taught most of my extended vocabulary by well-written children’s records. Hanna-Barbera’s records had so many sophisticated references that I didn’t catch all of them until years later. It’s called teaching.

    • I, too, learned a lot of new words from the Peanuts comic strip; “disillusionment”, “psychiatric”, and “sarcasm” are just three that spring immediately to mind. More importantly, it was from Peanuts that I first learned about Beethoven. (I mispronounced his name to rhyme with “Keith oven” until my parents corrected me.) Schroeder’s performance of the Pathetique Sonata’s slow movement in “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”, animated over a luminous background of stained glass windows, can still move me to tears.

      Of course clarity in prose is a desideratum, but then so is brevity; sometimes it’s better to use one big word than to explain the concept with half a dozen little ones. People often complain about medical or legal jargon, when it’s actually very exact and concise; why utter an awkward mouthful like “the part of the inner bone of the lower arm that’s closest to the wrist”, when you can just say “distal radius”? Insisting on monosyllabic expression is simply hebetudinous, if you’ll pardon my sesquipedalianism — and I learned “hebetudinous” from the Disney Channel sitcom “Dog with a Blog”!

    • The comic strips,especially the Sunday episodes,were a door opener to reading for each of my 3 kids. I noticed that Kid #1,now in his late 40s,caught on with the onomatopoeia,often written in big letters,which seemed to attract his eyes. We would sound the sounds/words out,leading to other words,and eventually,he was off and running. Today,he writes,draws,paints and occasionally sculpts. In fact,reading was the cornerstone of all three of them-all in different time zones and,as I’ve always advised,do good in the world. And vote.

  • I had this record when I was younger. I love the music in this show.

  • I have been collecting many of these records the past few years, and am closing in on a complete set. It is just one more way to experience the magic of Sparky’s genius. (Naturally, the Fantagraphics collections of the strip are most essential.) While having the recordings on YouTube is great, there is nothing like setting up the record for your player, and perusing the included book.

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