It seems like Snoopy can do anything. I grew up only a few miles away from Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. For those of you unfamiliar, Knott’s is an amusement park (as opposed to a theme park) known not only for their roller coasters and attractions, but for their fried chicken and jams as well. At some point during my youth Knott’s somehow managed to snag the rights to the ‘Peanuts’ characters and have featured them prominently in the park ever since.
Although I am freakishly tall now, I was not always tall enough to ride some of the more intimidating rides at Knott’s. Still, I visited the place regularly and as a result ended up spending most of my time at Camp Snoopy. Camp Snoopy is a kid-friendly area of the park themed to Charlie Brown, Lucy and the gang. In addition to standards like a Ferris Wheel and a ball pit, it also had a petting zoo and an expansive outdoors play area.
One of my favorite attractions there, ‘The Red Baron,’ puts children behind the seat of World War I era fighter planes they can ‘pilot’ as they spin round and round for several minutes. This ain’t Disneyland, people, but it doesn’t really have to be. Snoopy has long been one of my favorites, so I’ve always cut the character a little slack for not having merchandising or theme parks as well-made as The Mouse does.
One thing Snoopy can do that Mickey cannot is dance. Dear lord, can that beagle dance!
‘It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown…’ is one of the most ridiculous and dated pieces of animation you’ll ever come across. Presumably as an attempt to cash in on the success of 80’s dance films like ‘Footloose’ or ‘Flashdance,’ ‘Flashbeagle’ features Snoopy breakdancing to disco music. That, and the fact that it hasn’t been released in 20 years are pretty much everything you need to know about the project.
In addition to being really damn weird, there are many positive things about this TV special. Underused characters like Franklin and Peppermint Patty take center stage in a storyline involving dance competitions and the whole gang preparing for a big party. Sadly Franklin proves just how much of a token black character he is when he becomes Snoopy’s confidant in the world of dance. Peppermint Patty doesn’t do much better, only reinforcing the stereotypes of athletic lesbians with her ‘Stay in Shape’ musical number.
Despite how much crap is manufactured with the ‘Peanuts’ name, it’s a surprise that ‘Flashbeagle’ has been ignored by the home video market. There are definitely much worse pieces of ‘Peanuts’ animation out there; if nothing else the novelty of the thing makes it worth checking out.