By Chaz Lipp
Given that October is National Bullying Prevention Month, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has made an appropriate choice in reissuing the Peanuts special He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown on DVD. The special originally aired in November of 2006, making it the second-most-recent Peanuts special to date. This new release doesn’t mark its home video debut; the special first appeared as a “bonus” on the 2008 DVD You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown. That’s fair warning for anyone who already owns that release.
He’s a Bully carries a relevant message, what with the bullying ways of Joe Agate. Charlie Brown and most of his pals are at summer camp and marbles is the game of choice. Joe is something of a marbles hustler and Rerun (Linus and Lucy’s kid brother) finds that out the hard way. Rerun has been bitten by the marbles bug, utilizing marbles owned by his grandfather (who was a big deal in marbles circles back in the day). Incidentally, Twilight Saga fans will surely be tickled by the fact that bully Joe is voiced by none other than Jacob Black himself, Taylor Lautner.
Charlie Brown takes it upon himself to stand up to the no-good Joe, but Charlie’s got other concerns too. Peppermint Patty, stuck in summer school, has grown jealous of Marcie’s access to Chuck. The ‘b story’ involving Patty sneaking out to the camp adds an extra degree of lightness to the somewhat more serious main story. That’s not to suggest Bully is overly dour—it’s not. But in light of the spotlight shone on bullying these days, plus October being the month of choice by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to do something about it, this is one of those Peanuts specials with the potential to provoke kids’ thoughts.
Much lighter is the bonus special, It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown, which dates all the way back to September, 1969. While the relatively recent Bully is the 44th prime-time special, Short Summer was just the sixth in the series. As a further bonus, the disc also includes a 1983 episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show(“Snoopy: Team Manager – Shorts: Shoveling, Rerun, Lost Blanket, The Manager”). Given the episode’s 23-minute running time, that means the He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown DVD essentially contains three specials (all material has been previously released to DVD). It’s a good value for anyone seeking to satiate a Peanuts fix.