One more part of the massive Peanuts holiday collection, 'I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown' is the "little brother" to the more well known "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown". As enjoyable as it is, it lacks the heart of the original Peanuts holiday standards. While it may not be at the level of the original Peanuts holiday classics, the newest edition of this warm, family friendly special--released to dvd in 2009--is more a modern classic than a standard classic. It includes an insightful look into the use of Rerun Van Pelt and another Peanuts tv special, "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown". The included bonus feature helps viewers to better appreciate this lesser known of the Peanuts holiday specials.
"I Want A Dog For Christmas" is the runt of the Peanuts holiday specials, much like Rerun Van Pelt was the runt of the Van Pelt family. The use of such a minor character is likely the primary reason that this holiday special is lesser known than its predecessor. It's essentially another Peanuts special about a boy and his dog; just not the boy and his dog that most people would normally think of. Linus and Lucy's little brother wants a dog so bad that be basically begs Charlie Brown for Snoopy. He even offered to buy Snoopy from Charlie Brown. Rather than Snoopy, Rerun ends up with one of Snoopy's brother, in Spike. Like Rerun, Spike is a far lesser known member of the Peanuts pantheon. The story is one that audiences of all ages can appreciate. Pets are a standard pet for the holidays. But the problem is that the story doesn't necessarily focus on the core Peanuts cast. They are in the story. But they--even Charlie Brown--are more supporting cast, than primary. This is the kind of thing that dooms episodes of some television shows, too. The most recent dvd release makes up for that with bonus features that add at least a little bit of enjoyment to the overall viewing experience.
The featurette, "Sibling Rivalry: Growing Up Van Pelt" is an insightful look into Charles Schulz's use (and lack thereof) of Rerun Van Pelt. Explanations from Schulz's widow, and friends helps viewers to better understand, and appreciate this lesser known character, and equally lesser known holiday special. It is interesting to see how easily Peanuts fans could confuse Rerun with his older brother, Linus, because of something as simple as the brothers' attire. What's most interesting in this featurette is mention of the belief that Schulz used Rerun to mirror himself. This somewhat contradicts the belief that in fact, Charlie Brown was a mirror of Schulz.
"I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown" isn't exactly the most memorable of the Peanuts holiday specials. It is, though, still a fun, family friendly special. It's also a wonderful example of the importance of bonus features on dvd's. If not for the bonus features included in the presentation, it might not have been as enjoyable as it is. That's not to say that it's a terrible special. It is, in fact, enjoyable. It could be argued that because of how recent it is, it's a modern classic. Given time, it might become a standard in its own right. But until then, it will continue to pale in comparison to the truer holiday standard, "A Charlie Brown Christmas".