The classic Peanuts TV special about the ending of summer was also the last of the 1960’s specials and the penultimate release in the line of Charlie Brown Records.
Charlie Brown Records Presents
IT WAS A SHORT SUMMER, CHARLIE BROWN
Charlie Brown Records (Disneyland/Buena Vista) Read-Along Book & Record #410 (7″ 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)
Released in July, 1980. Producer: Jymn Magon. Writer: Charles M. Schulz. Music Composer: Vince Guaraldi. Arranger/Conductor: John Scott Trotter. Music Recordist: Artie Becker. Running Time: 9 minutes.
Voices: Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown); Pamelyn Ferdin (Lucy); Glenn Gilger (Linus); (Sally); Frieda); David Carey (Shermy); John Daschback (Schroeder); Christopher DeFaria (Peppermint Patty); Bill Melendez (Snoopy); Arrin Skelley (Additional Charlie Brown Dialogue).
Themes: “Charlie Brown Theme,” “You’re in Love, Charlie Brown,” “He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown,” “Linus and Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi.
It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown was based on the 1969 CBS animated special and was one of the five last titles in Disney’s Charlie Brown Records series (the other four were It’s Your First Kiss, You’re a Good Sport, It’s a Mystery, and You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown), all with 24-page books with art based on the TV special scenes and seven-inch 33 1/3 RPM records with either soundtrack excerpts or recreated dialogue.
The “Short Summer” record benefited from soundtrack material featuring original Charlie Brown voice Peter Robbins and one of the quintessential Lucys, Pamelyn Ferdin, plus other young Peanuts actors that epitomized the animated Peanuts sound of the ‘60s. (Most of this cast also voiced the first Peanuts theatrical feature, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, also produced during this time).
The story line about a series of competitions between the boys and girl’s camps is a staple of children’s’ adventures (a few years before this special, there was an entire sitcom devoted to the premise called Camp Runamuck that was created by writer/director David Swift and inspired by the first section of his 1961 Disney film, The Parent Trap).
Change comes to all things, and in the next special, 1971’s Play It Again, Charlie Brown, Lucy would enjoy her last featured role (as well as her last portrayal by Ms. Ferdin), Charlie Brown would become a supporting character, and Vince Guaraldi would begin experimenting with different musical styles. Snoopy and Peppermint Patty would eventually move to the forefront of most specials. None of this was necessarily bad, as quite a few specials were outstanding, but nonetheless, Short Summer did, in a way, draw a curtain over an era.
Lots of the humor in Short Summer comes directly from Schulz’s comic strips, something that would happen less and less in specials as they proceeded into the seventies. The highlight is the arm wrestling match between Lucy and Snoopy the “Masked Marvel,” a memorable sequence that is of course difficult to capture fully in audio – though it is represented in the book. One has to wonder about the lively discussions that must have taken place between Charles Schulz and Bill Melendez about the degree of sweat-drenched Jekyll-and-Hyde grotesquery the animators inflicted upon Lucy for this sequence!
The simplicity of the TV specials lent themselves well to little read along sets, and Short Summer one comes across quite well, with plenty of time for Lucy to explain about potato chips from Brazil and Linus to express his fear of queen snakes.