The excitement of baseball is certainly in the air on Apple TV+ with the recent addition of live Friday night games and a vast catalogue of MLB programming, which debuted on the platform last week. Friday Night Baseball, however, isn’t the only action taking place out on the field. The Peanuts gang are also stepping up to the plate in this brand new special that celebrates Charlie Brown’s love of the game and Earth Day, with a focus on making a positive impact on the environment.
In this new special from WildBrain, Charlie Brown is determined to win the big baseball game and defeat the rival team led by Peppermint Patty - but his plans are derailed right before the game when Sally bonds with a flower that’s growing on the pitcher's mound and vows to protect it at all costs.
Directed by Raymond S. Persi, ‘It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown’ is the second Peanuts special to come from Apple’s partnership with WildBrain, following ‘For Auld Lang Syne’ which was released in December last year. Much like that one, this follows the same winning formula of a heartwarming story combined with plenty of laughs and utterly gorgeous animation.
The story itself, written by Josh Saltzman, Bryan Schulz and Craig Schulz, follows Charlie Brown’s dilemma and how it conflicts with Sally’s desire for saving the environment and her new friend. It's simple, yet effective in its messaging. There are a few very touching moments throughout as the other characters become more receptive to Sally’s point of view and a fun musical number (later performed by Ben Folds over the end credits) that highlights the principles of Earth Day, even though it’s not directly mentioned in the special. The themes here go beyond the environment too and there are other takeaways around doing the right thing and standing up for what you believe in.
It’s not quite as melancholic in tone as some of the other Peanuts specials and is definitely one that younger audiences will enjoy a great deal, but of course, there are still plenty of laughs for people of all ages. Lucy, in particular, delivers some of the best chuckles in this one and the ending, in true typical Charlie Brown fashion, will certainly have everyone smiling. Sally as the focal point of the story is also a nice change of pace and more focus being placed on the wider cast of characters is something that the team at WildBrain seem to be continuing to explore following the Lucy-centric plot in ‘For Auld Lang Syne’. Snoopy fans might be disappointed to learn that their favourite beagle doesn’t feature a whole lot here, but he still pops up for a couple of particularly funny moments at the beginning of the story.
Special mention has to go to the artwork and animation, which the team has been absolutely knocking out of the park. The opening moments are simply beautiful with the warm, vibrant hues of the sunset sky and the bright lights filling the stadium as Charlie Brown throws out a pitch. It’s a perfect example of how WildBrain and its exceptionally talented artists have maintained Peanuts’ classic look and feel while using more modern animation techniques to give it a modern-day update.
In the same way that ‘For Auld Lang Syne’ perfectly captured that time period between Christmas and New Year with its art style and animation, ‘It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown’ does the same for Springtime, with lush backdrops filled with shades of green, brown and orange. There’s a sequence near the beginning where Charlie Brown and Linus walk through their neighbourhood discussing the upcoming game that’s particularly lovely to look at. The backgrounds team of Ella Culajevic, Robyn Drage, Edward Duff, Ryounggyo Lee and Baille Rosenlund have done a truly wonderful job in creating a world that evokes such strong feelings of warmth and happiness, as has Animation Director Justin Smith and the rest of the exceptionally talented art department.
With its positive message and stunning animation, there’s something for the whole family in ‘It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown’. Once again, WildBrain Studios have managed to create a joyous half-hour of television that will appeal to a younger generation while still offering plenty for long-time fans to enjoy. It’s perfect springtime viewing and another home run for the Apple and Peanuts partnership.
James has been a fan of Apple for as long as he can remember. He is a film & TV obsessive and has also written for several publications such as BBC Good Food Magazine. He lives in Glasgow, Scotland and can usually be found drinking copious amounts of coffee, watching Apple TV+ and talking about it with anyone who will listen.