Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne appeals to Peanuts fans old and new [Review]

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Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne appeals to Peanuts fans old and new [Review]
Start a new tradition: watch Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne with your family tonight.
Photo: WildBrain/Apple TV+

You should ring in the New Year with the first new Peanuts special since 2011. In Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne, Lucy is having a party but everything is going wrong. It’s her fault but she blames everyone else. So the gang has to come together to save the day.

As a Peanuts fan going back decades, I watched the new holiday special with a skeptical eye. I found a lot to like, whether this is your introduction to Charlie Brown and his friends, or you’re a long-time watcher like me.

Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne review

I come at the new special as someone who’s seen the Peanuts Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving specials literally dozens of times. I think I’ve seen every other special too, and while I haven’t watched every movie I can discuss why Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) is better than Bon Voyage, Charlie Brow (1980).

Beyond all that, I’m a fan of newspaper comic strips and have read Charles Schulz’s creation almost every day since Ford was in the White House.

So when I say Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne is as good as classic Peanuts, I know what I’m talking about.

Ring in the new year with Peanuts

The just-released holiday specials centers on Lucy Van Pelt. When her beloved grandmother can’t be there for Christmas, Lucy starts to wonder if it was because her grandmother doesn’t love her. Maybe no one loves her.

The solution is a big New Year’s Eve party that, in her mind, will give people the opportunity to show they love her by attending… and by doing all the work.

Because Lucy is still Lucy. In Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne, she’s a bit kinder than she’s sometimes been portrayed in the past, but she remains selfish and bossy. And crabby. She yells at her friends when the food, music and decorations she ordered them to provide for the party aren’t exactly what she had in mind, even though everyone else is happy with them.

It takes some wise advice from her brother Linus, and the real love of her friends, to give everyone a happy New Year.

Not as dark… and that’s a good thing

As a long-time Peanuts fan, I thought a lot about the tone of the new special and compared it to the ones of the past. It’s a bit more hopeful than some of them, and that’s not a bad thing.

The Halloween special is my favorite, but I’m well aware it’s about two little boys having a terrible holiday. The Christmas special is somewhat more upbeat, but its happy ending comes only after virtually everyone in the cast treats Charlie Brown like shit. Including his own dog. It’s pretty dark.

The new special has its darker moments. Lucy is rude to everyone when their contributions to the New Year’s Eve party aren’t exactly what she imagined. And she sinks into depression when she thinks the holiday is ruined.

But the ending is a lot lighter than Peanuts specials typically are. Lucy’s friends pull her out of her depression by telling her they forgive her and they love her. Contrast that with the ending of the Christmas special, where Charlie Brown’s friends sort of apologize by fixing up his tree but don’t actually say they’re sorry. And no one apologizes in any way for treating Charlie Brown and Linus like dirt on Halloween.

It’s the difference between 20th Century friendship and the 21st Century version where friends are more open about their emotions. Again, that’s not a bad thing.

Lucy’s New Year’s Eve party bombs in trailer for new Peanuts special
Everyone is a bit nicer in Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne on Apple TV+.
Photo: WildBrain/Apple TV+

Honoring the past

Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne is collaboration between Apple and WildBrain. And at least some of the people who made it must have read Peanuts for as long as I have because they brought up plenty of references impossible without a deep knowledge of the strip.

There’s no better example than Charlie Brown’s New Years resolution to watch Citizen Kane. That’s not a random choice — Charles Schulz was apparently fascinated with the movie and mentioned it repeatedly in his strip over the years.

And Snoopy’s brothers and sister who come for a visit in the new special were all in the strip too. Especially Spike and his life in Needles, California, which appeared regularly in Peanuts when I was young.

I think of these as something like Easter eggs for long-time fans.

The new special holds onto the quirks of the strip, too. If you think about it, it’s distinctly odd that Lucy and her friends put on a big New Year’s Eve party completely without adult supervision — with tuxedos and party dresses — but that’s how Peanuts has always been.

Give Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne a chance

I like this new special. I’m not saying that Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne will immediately become a beloved holiday classic. You’re not instantly going to feel the same way about it that you do about A Charlie Brown Christmas if you’ve watched that show every year since you were a tiny tot. But give it a chance. It’s sweet without being schmaltzy. It lives up to the classic specials, and is something you can enjoy tonight with your family, even if all your kids know about Peanuts is The Snoopy Show.

Just don’t make the mistake of assuming it can’t possibly be as good as classic Peanuts specials. Because some of those are pretty bad. If you don’t believe me, watch Happy New Year, Charlie Brown , the 1986 show that Apple and WildBrain’s new creation is replacing. That “classic” is more like an old junker — the new special is far more enjoyable. Sometimes new really is better than old.