Sunday, February 18, 2018

You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (1972)

I saw a few of the Peanuts specials, like It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown, and He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, when they were aired on The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show when that was on Disney Channel in the early to mid-90's but this is one that I never saw until I was in my 20's, when I started buying the Peanuts DVD sets that Warner Bros. put out. This one, which was put out right before the 1972 presidential election, all in all is very simple and to the point, with a little bit of the subtext that you sometimes get in these specials, though not nearly as heavy as in others like A Charlie Brown Christmas, and is much less melancholic when compared to some of the others. It's nothing profound but, like all of them, does have its moments and, despite its tie to a specific moment in history, is timeless enough to where it's not dated in the slightest, a talent that Charles Schulz often wielded. Although that said, it's often been reported that Schulz made a mistake with the title when the special was first produced, as it originally aired under You're Elected, Charlie Brown, even though Linus is the one who runs for student body president. Following that, Schulz tweaked the title card, putting a caret in-between "You're" and "Elected" to shoehorn the word "Not" in, which is the title it's carried since (I remember thinking that was an odd way to write the title when I first saw it but I didn't think much else about it until I read up on the reason for it).

Following a moment of embarrassment when he tries to help Sally get her locker open, only to find that her problem is that she can't reach the lock, and she then drags him into class to present him for show-and-tell, Charlie Brown finds out about an upcoming election for student body president. Linus suggests that he run, feeling he would be good in the position, but Lucy, who doubts his chances, takes a survey that appears to confirm that nobody would vote for him. As a result, she decides to see how Linus would fare as a candidate and he gets better results (although, Lucy "influenced" the kids' choices). He then decides to run, with Lucy as his campaign manager and Charlie Brown as her assistant, going up against another student named Russell Anderson. Despite an number of problems and irritations that come up, Linus' campaign is enthusiastic and bigger than life enough to where he gains the lead in the polls. However, whether or not, he'll actually win comes into question when he makes a dumb decision during one of his campaign speeches, and even if he does win, he may find that he doesn't quite have the means to make good on all of his outrageous promises.

This was the eighth Peanuts special and, as usual, it was directed by Bill Melendez who, by this point, had really settled into his role as the custodian of Charles Schulz's beloved comic strip in regards to animation, having directed all of the previous TV projects (save for the unreleased documentary, A Boy Named Charlie Brown) and the two features based on it, the second of which, Snoopy Come Home, was released a couple of months before this. What's also noteworthy is the fact that Phil Roman, who would go on to direct a number of Peanuts specials in his own right and would work with Melendez again when his studio produced the first two Garfield specials that Roman directed, was working on the specials in the animation department.

This special is similar to The Great Pumpkin in that the main character is Linus (voiced by Stephen Shea), while Charlie Brown himself is on the sidelines. From the start, Linus is portrayed as quite peppy here, enthusiastically telling Charlie Brown that he would make a great student body president, that he would vote for him, and coming up with the scenario of his winning said election and the celebratory response of his peers. However, when Lucy takes a poll that states that Charlie Brown would never win, Linus, much to his embarrassment, is suggested as a candidate by Sally. Upon taking another poll, Lucy determines that Linus would have good odds for winning and he so, accepts the nomination, campaigning in a very vigorous and gun-ho manner, even if he isn't all that knowledgeable on some of the issues he talks about and makes promises such as bigger wages for all administrative personnel and to appear before the school board as his first act (the latter promise he retracts when he's told they meet at an hour past his bedtime). In fact, he seems to think that he's going to be elected king or emperor, as in a speech he gives, he says he'll, "Purge the kingdom," that his administration will, "Release us from our spiritual Babylon," and, "Bring down the false idols in high places," a promise that apparently has the principal very nervous, according to Schroeder. In spite of this, Linus pulls far ahead of his opponent, Russell Anderson, in the polls, but he almost blows the whole thing when he makes the mistake of bringing up the Great Pumpkin during his last address of the campaign and is laughed off the stage (he finds it depressing that there are disbelievers among his fellow students). But, at the end of the day, he's elected, with Russell himself casting the deciding vote, although when he goes before the principal to make sure the promises he made come to pass, he's put in his place and told that he's not to do anything without consulting him. This does not sit well with Sally, who accuses him of selling out, and all Linus can do is suck on his thumb while sweat pours down his face.

As Linus' campaign manager, Lucy (voiced by Robin Kohn) has about as big of a role in this special as her brother, maybe even a little more. After shooting down Charlie Brown's confidence to run with her poll that proves that he'd have no chance at winning, Lucy is able to convince Linus to run when a poll she conducts on him shows that he'd have a much better chance. However, most of the enthusiastic response for Linus' nomination came from physical threats from Lucy towards those she asks, making it very probable that that was also how she got the unenthusiastic response for Charlie Brown's nomination. Regardless, she does make Charlie Brown her assistant and does what she can to help Linus in the campaign, like asking him his opinions on the issues at hand, putting up with Snoopy and Woodstock's methods of making signs and banners for the campaign, and endure an excruciating call-in Q&A with him on a talk show (that's the part that made me laugh the hardest, as I'll get into later). When Linus pulls far ahead of Russell Anderson, Lucy becomes confident that they've got it in the bag, but when Linus brings up the Great Pumpkin during his last speech of the campaign, both she and Charlie Brown know that it'll mean a huge setback for them. As you might expect, she's not at all shy about telling Linus how she feels about that dumb decision, angrily calling him a blockhead afterward, but she figures they still have a chance, as he and Russell are then tied in the polls. Even though Linus does end up winning, before the results come in, Lucy laments how campaign workers are at the mercy of their candidate, as they work hard only for him to ruin it by saying or doing something stupid. She then declares, "The next time I do any campaigning, it's going to be for myself!" You don't see Lucy's reaction to Linus being put in his place by the principal but it's likely she gave him an earful as well, even though she would've undoubtedly done the same thing in his position. One last thing about Lucy here: apparently, when she whispers to Linus, it's a different person, as if Robin Kohn couldn't whistle well. That's an... odd choice.

His size in the frame is equal to that of his role in this story.
Like The Great Pumpkin, this special should've been called something that didn't have Charlie Brown's (voiced by Chad Webber) name in the title, because he has a very small role in the story. After attempting to help Sally with her locker, only to find that neither of them can reach the lock, and being embarrassed when she uses him as a show-and-tell item, Charlie Brown runs into Linus and some other kids looking at a flier for the upcoming student body election on a bulletin board, which is when Linus suggests he should run. He has mixed feelings about it, in that he likes that Linus feels he would be good at it but he has no self-confidence and says that if he learned nobody would vote for him, he wouldn't be able to take it. In spite of Linus' overdone encouragement, which he finds uncomfortable, Charlie Brown makes a final decision not to run when Lucy says that her poll shows that he'd have no chance of winning; instead, he becomes Lucy's assistant when she takes the role of Linus' campaign manager and he has Snoopy and Woodstock come up with the necessary sign. He does even less after that, save for introducing both Linus and Russell Anderson in their first address of the campaign, becoming as horrified as Lucy when Linus decides to bring up the Great Pumpkin during his last address, and count the votes at the end of the election and announce Linus' win. That's all there is to his role in this show; in fact, you could remove him from the entirety of the main plot and I don't think much would've been lost. Also, Chad Webber's performance isn't the best, as his voice comes across as low, scratchy, and kind of flat, with few changes in emotion.

The first member of the Peanuts gang that the special focuses on is Sally (voiced by Hillary Momberger), who is clearly very pissed about something as we watch her stomp home from school, walk through her house's front door and slam it, and then fling her coat off and proclaim to her brother, "I'm never going to school again! I've had it!" Charlie Brown then quizzes her about what her problem is, but after she tells him that it's not her teacher, her classes, or any of her schoolmates, she admits that it's because, "I can't get my stupid locker open!" She's so deadset on this being a reason to quit school that, when Charlie Brown gets her up the next morning, she initially refuses to get out of bed. When he says he'll help her with the locker, she agrees to go and also makes him promise to help her with something else at school. I like how she gets on him about not eating much for breakfast, saying, "It's a known fact that all of our country's presidents started each day with a rousing breakfast," adding, "I don't know how they managed to get together every morning, but I guess that's one of those things about government I don't understand." Another cute moment with her is when the two of them reach the bus stop and, looking at the sign there that reads, "SCHOOL BUS STOP 100 FEET," she says, "I've been looking at that sign every day and I finally figured out what it means: it means that the bus holds 50 kids. Each kid has two feet, right? '100 feet' means the bus holds 50 kids." On their way to school, Charlie Brown tries to get the bottom of what exactly is the problem Sally is having with her locker, as she knows the combination and how to put it in, giving her suggestions as to how to deal with certain types of locks, only to find his advice useless when she reveals that the problem is she can't reach the lock. That's when she makes him help her with the other thing she asked him about: she drags him into her classroom and presents him for show-and-tell, which she says she's trying to get an A in. She furthers his embarrassment by mentioning that big brothers, "Come in a variety of sizes and qualities," and can't think of anything to add to that when she looks at him for a bit. Sally's also the one who suggests Linus run for student body president, as she's sure that he'd do something about the lockers, and cheers him throughout the campaign. However, when Linus learns the hard way that there's no way to make good on all of the promises he made, Sally throws a tantrum and calls him a sellout, ranting as she walks down the hall, "They're all the same! Promises, promises! You elect them, and they weasel out of their promises!" (Quite an ironic statement when you remember who got re-elected for a second term around this time and what that led to.) The special ends with her angrily kicking the bottom of the locker, which ends up opening it, as Charlie Brown suggested it would.

Given how these types of stories tend to go, you'd expect Linus' opponent, Russell Anderson (voiced by Todd Barbee), to be a real snobbish dickhead, and such a thing appears to be hinted at when, after Lucy quizzes him about whether or not he'd vote for Linus, he says he wouldn't because he'd be the one running against him (an instance of ignorance on her part that makes Lucy blush). In the end, though, Russell barely says or does anything of consequence, as he makes a pathetically short speech at his and Linus' first address of the campaign and comes across as kind of shy and demure, and in fact it's his vote that puts it over for Linus, as he says he thinks he'd better at it. Schroeder (voiced by Brian Kazanjian), when he's appearing in the auditorium to announce his nominating Linus, decides to throw in something about Beethoven, saying, "The candidate whose name I am presenting to the electorate possesses the same unique combination of qualities as those possessed by Beethoven, the greatest of all composers, that wonderful pianist, and that tower of strength. Linus is sort of like that, too." He also has one of the funniest lines when Linus is making his first speech and, while he's going on about bringing down false idols in high places, Schroeder, looking off to the left, says, "I wonder why the principal looks so pale?" And Schroeder attempts to take a picture of Linus for the school paper, trying to make it look a little homey by posing him with Snoopy, but when Snoopy puts on his "Joe Cool" sunglasses and himself poses in front of Linus, Schroeder has second thoughts. Violet (voiced by Linda Ercoli), who works as a reporter for the paper, tries to interview him about what he intends to do if elected, but when he starts droning on and on, she decides to put down, "That you're very honored and will do your best if elected."

The nature of Snoopy and Woodstock's (voiced by Bill Melendez) appearances here actually have some note to them. In the case of Snoopy, it's the first time that he appeared in his "Joe Cool" persona outside of the comic strip, when you see him in the school hallway as he puts on a pink shirt with his name on the front and a pair of sunglasses. This persona doesn't much for him, though, as he gets the cold shoulder from two girls who walk past him at the water fountain, and things don't get much better when he goes into one of the classrooms, as we'll see later. As for Woodstock, while his first non-comic strip appearance was in Snoopy Come Home, this marks the first time he shows up in one of the television specials when Snoopy gets him out of his nest to help him in making signs for Linus' campaign, which also doesn't go as well as planned. While Woodstock only appears in those two scenes, Snoopy, as usual, has a fair amount of standout moments in addition to those I've mentioned, like his first appearance where he fixes himself an enormous breakfast (much to Charlie Brown's irritation) and fixes his and Sally's lunches, where he's running the studio where Lucy and Linus have their call-in Q&A (nearly killing Linus by yanking the cord attached to the headphones he wears and falls asleep in the middle of the show), is very happy in the audience when one of Linus' campaign promises is not to chase away dogs that wander onto the playground, and strikes out again when he uses his Joe Cool persona to pose with Linus for a school paper photo, not that it seems to bother him.

I was surprised to find out that this special is something of an adaptation of a story in the comic strip, which plays out very similarly, save for a few changes. Most significantly, in that story, Charlie Brown does get involved in the campaign when he becomes Linus' running mate, and what's more, when Linus mentions the Great Pumpkin during his final speech, he ends up losing as a result, while before he was leading in the polls. Also, whoever Linus is running against is never seen or even mentioned in that story. I find that interesting to know, as a lot of these specials and movies seem to be purely original works, as well as that, had it been a much more faithful adaptation, the original title that Charles Schulz came up with would have made even less sense than it already did.

Something else that's noteworthy about this special in some capacity is that, save for the opening with Charlie Brown and Sally, the entire thing takes place at either Birchwood School or the studio where Linus and Lucy have their call-in Q&A. Normally, you get at least two or so scenes set in and around the kids' homes or in town but here, due to the story, we're almost entirely confined to the school and the area around it. As usual with these specials, the environments and backgrounds are hardly the most detailed ever seen in animation, often nothing more than a big void of one color (such a thing comes up out of nowhere during a cut in the scene where Sally makes Charlie Brown her assistant; we go from the exterior of the school and the steps leading up to it to just a yellow background), but it's always nostalgic for me to see anything set in an elementary school, especially since the classrooms and hallways look identical to the way they were when I was going to school in the 90's. That, plus the look of the schoolyard and playground (I guess architecture for schools didn't change much in 20 plus years), and the fact that it's clearly fall or winter, really takes me back. I also like getting to see the Peanuts' take on a talk-show studio which, again, isn't anything that mind-blowing to see but it's still something we don't get that often in these projects.

In 2006, ABC began airing You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown immediately after their annual airing of The Great Pumpkin and in order fit both into an hour time-slot, they either cut or trimmed sections of this special, meaning that some of the scenes I'm about to go into detail here don't appear in the annual syndicated versions. Case in point, the very opening of the special (which features a shot of kids pouring out of the school that, when you look close, is the characters being repeated over and over and was reused later in Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown), where Sally walks home with a very irritated expression on her face and slams the door to her house. Following the title card, she proclaims that she's never going to school again and when Charlie Brown asks her what the problem is as he follows her up to her room, she finally tells him that it's because she can't get her locker open. The next morning, Charlie Brown has to coax her out of bed by promising to help her with the locker, as well as with something else that she's yet to name, and they go downstairs to the kitchen, where Sally lectures her brother about not having more for breakfast. That's when Snoopy comes in, groggy-eyed and yawning, and proceeds to use everything at hand in the kitchen to make himself an exorbitant breakfast that consists of a short stack of pancakes, bacon and eggs, and toast, as well as coffee from the looks of it. This seriously annoys Charlie Brown, who decides to go ahead to school with Sally, with Snoopy giving them their lunches as they go (I know I'm not supposed to think too hard about it but, seriously, where are their parents?) Upon making it to school, and learning that Sally's problem is that she can't reach the lock, making his advice about how to deal with locks completely pointless, Charlie Brown is then dragged to class, where Sally presents him for show-and-tell and embarrasses him out of his mind. When he leaves, his head hung low with sweat pouring down his face, he proclaims it to be, "The most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me in my whole life," which I seriously doubt, given the crap he goes through on a daily basis. And like I was saying, save for the bits with Snoopy in the kitchen, all of this is cut from recent airings.

As the kids are looking at the flier announcing the upcoming student body election in the hallway, Snoopy walks by them carrying some books and slips into his Joe Cool persona by a water fountain, putting on a shirt and a pair of shades as his theme song plays. However, he's anything but cool to a couple of girls who walk past him, as they turn their noses up to him as he runs the water fountain while smiling a cheesy grin (one looks grouchy to begin with when she walks by), and he then takes the shirt and shades off and actually goes to class. Sitting down at a desk, he takes out a textbook, a pencil, and a three-ring binder, only for the latter to snap closed on his fingers (I can sympathize with Snoopy, as that happened to me a few times), causing him to jump up in his seat and yelp in pain until he pulls his red, throbbing finger out. Once he's composed himself, he gets up, walks to the blackboard, which has the problem, "34+7+3," written on it, and he solves it by putting a paw-print of chalk dust from an eraser below it. This leads to him literally getting thrown out of school, along with his stuff, and the binder snaps shut on his foot this time when it's tossed out with him, causing him to jump up and yelp again. This sequence was redone somewhat for The Peanuts Movie, which wasn't unheard of as some of the previous movies and specials often recycled gags and scenes.

When Sally suggests that Linus would make a good candidate, Lucy decides to conduct another poll to see whether or not he'd be a popular one and we see how she goes about it. The first kid she comes up to is sitting on a bench, eating a sandwich, and when she asks if he'd vote for Linus, she grabs him by the top of his shirt and shakes him to get him to agree. She then approaches two other boys sitting nearby and when she asks them the question, the one kid answers, "Yeah, I remember one time he gave me half of his peanut butter sandwich. I'd vote for anybody who took me out to lunch." (Really effective bit of sly subtext there.) The next kid she asks in the school has to stop and think about it for a second, prompting her to help him in his decision by shaking her fist at him, to which he shakily responds, "You bet!" She's then got another kid cornered against a wall and when she glares at him, he says, "How can I help it?", and when she literally corners one after that, he goes, "Linus all the way!" In the last bit in the schoolyard, she asks a blonde kid who's eating his lunch if he'd vote for Linus if he knew he'd, "Going to straighten out the whole educational system," and, "Solve all of the problems of the whole world," and when he says no to both, she asks why not. The kid then answers, "'Cause I'm the one who'd be running against him," revealing himself to be Russell Anderson, the other candidate, much to Lucy's embarrassment.

Once he's given the job of being Lucy's assistant, Charlie Brown makes Snoopy his own assistant and tasks him with getting the signs necessary for the campaign. To that end, Snoopy gets Woodstock to help him and the next time you see the two of them, they're working on the signs, with Snoopy hammering some nails through the back of one while Woodstock walks back and forth between writing on one sign to dipping his paintbrush in a nearby can. As he's walking directly across the back of Snoopy's sign as it lays on the floor and Snoopy is hammering with his eyes closed, he, inevitably, gets whacked on the head by the hammer. Snoopy has a hilarious, "Oh, crap!" reaction when he hears the soft thud, gulping and face-palming, looking down as the irritated bird rubs the top of his head before getting back to work. Another little bit of paint and he finishes his sign, only to turn it around to show that the "words" are nothing but a bunch of vertical slashes (the way his "dialogue" in the comic strip is written as), which exasperates Snoopy and makes him slap himself, while Woodstock celebrates what he thinks is a good job. Snoopy grabs his sign, walks over, and uses the paintbrush to finish it up, but when Lucy comes by to check their progress, he reveals that his sign is nothing but a red-colored paw-print, which makes her react in the same way he did to Woodstock's sign and, unlike the bird, he's rather crushed by this.

Next, we get the call-in at the talk-show studio, and once he and Lucy arrives, Linus starts to get the short end of the stick when Snoopy plops a set of headphones on him, connects them to a line, and then pulls on it to see if it's secure, yanking Linus off his chair in the process. Linus gets back up and sits down next to Lucy at a desk, unaware that the headphones are now crooked on his face, and in the booth, Snoopy gives them the okay to go ahead. Lucy tells Linus he's on and she let's the first caller through, only for the two of them to repeatedly ask if they can be heard and if anyone's talking to them. Lucy, seeing what the problem is, straightens the headphones by smacking them back around straight, hurting Linus' ears in the process, and asks the kid on the phone if he has a question. The kid, calling himself a first-time caller but a long-time listener, says, "I want to know what the candidate plans to do about the rivers." Annoyed by this, Lucy responds, "Rivers? Our school doesn't have any rivers," and cuts him off, going to the next caller. This caller is even worse because, when Lucy asks him what his question is, he starts yammering on and on, "Well, you know, I just called up, you know? I have questions, you know, and you know how it is when you're a voter, you know? And, you know, I just wanted to ask. I just wanted to talk to the candidate, you know? 'Cause you know how it is when you're going to vote for somebody, you know? You sort of like to talk to them..." Lucy finally loses her patience and slams the phone down, freaking out Linus. As for the third caller, when he's connected, he actually asks, "Who is this?" Perplexed, Lucy asks if he wants to talk to the candidate and he says, "What? No. I'm calling Harold in St. Paul. Is Harold home? I want to talk to Harold?" Lucy tells him he has the wrong number and goes to the next caller, who's about as bad as the second in terms of rambling: "Hello, I have a question. I want to ask this question, and I want to talk to the candidate. Can I ask the candidate a question?" He's then connected with Linus but continues to go on, "Yes, well, I have this question that I thought, maybe if I called, I could ask you the question. Because I know that if you're going to vote for a candidate, I'm kind of glad that it's good that you're having a talk-show like this. Because it's kind of nice that we can call in and ask our questions, because you really can't ask questions of candidates. I don't know how you can vote for somebody and I'm glad that I have the chance to ask this question." (At this point, Lucy really starts to get irritated with this kid's continuous yammering, grimacing and groaning.) "And I hope you don't mind, because I thought about this question and I think it's good to be able to ask questions of a candidate." Having had enough, Lucy asks the kid what his question is, which she has to ask him twice. His response? "Question?! Oh, my gosh! I forgot what the question is!" With that, Lucy slams the phone down in complete fury, causing me to explode in laughter, and wraps it up, giving an outgoing message about how important something like this is for good government. Once it's over, Snoopy disconnects the headphones by pulling on them, again yanking Linus out of his chair.

The next major scene is when Charlie Brown introduces both Linus and Russell Anderson in a packed auditorium for their first speeches of the campaign. Following Russell's short, weak-sauce speech (all he says is, "I'm very honored to be running for student body president. If I'm elected, I promise to do the best I can. Thank you,"), Linus takes the podium and launches into his melodramatic, overdone speech about purging the kingdom, releasing them from "spiritual Babylon," doing away with cap and gown kindergarten graduations, and that in his administration, "Children will be children, and adults will be adults!" Said speech goes over well with the students (the shots of them clapping and cheering is an example of the more fluid bits of animation you sometimes get in these cartoons), but the same cannot be said for the second one we see, which is his last of the campaign. It starts off fairly well, with Linus thanking everyone for their support and talking about how much he's enjoyed it, which has Lucy and Charlie Brown sitting back confidently in the audience... and then, Linus decides to bring up the Great Pumpkin. The minute they hear that, Lucy and Charlie Brown both let out the customary Peanuts, "Augh!", and they have good reason to because, as soon as Linus talks about how the Great Pumpkin goes around on Halloween night, giving gifts to children, he's literally laughed off the stage. He realizes he's probably blown the election, and after Lucy chews him out for it afterward, she announces that she still thinks they have a chance to win, if Linus doesn't do something else that's stupid. In a scene after that, where she, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock are staring mournfully at the pile of campaign signs on the floor, Lucy laments the tough job they have and how all of their hard work can be undermined by their candidate doing something ill-advised. This prompts her to decide to campaign for herself next time.

The day of the election, the gang's counting the votes and Linus and Russell are neck-and-neck the whole time, with one gaining a vote over the other only to be immediately overtaken. When Charlie Brown sees that Russell himself is the one who cast the last vote, he pulls the ballot out with trepidation, gulping loudly as he expects it to put Russell over the top, but is pleasantly surprised to find that he voted for Linus. Russell admits, "I think that he would make a better president than I would," and with that, Charlie Brown happily announces that Linus has won the election. The victory is short-lived, though, as the ending has Sally dragging Linus to the principal's office to make good on the promises he made, but a while after Linus goes in (having done so very nervous and reluctantly), he comes back out, sweating bullets, and tells the principal he won't do anything without his approval. He admits to Sally that he got put in his place and Sally storms off, loudly proclaiming him to be a sellout, while all Linus can do is nervously suck on his thumb.

As per usual, composer Vince Guaraldi provided the special with the Peanuts' feel of mellowness, often through an electronic keyboard, and he also makes use of his classic "Linus and Lucy" theme near the end when Sally drags Linus to the principal's office. He also came up with a couple of little songs, such as You're Elected, Charlie Brown, a very inaugural-sounding ditty that's sung by some kids over the title and only has only three verses: "You're elected, Charlie Brown; you're the biggest man in town; tell me, how do you like it now?" Too bad it only adds to the confusing nature of the special's title, as it was clearly done before the title was changed (in recent airings, the Linus and Lucy theme is used in place of it). The more notable song, though, is a little theme Guaraldi came up with for Joe Cool, which he sings himself. It's a smooth, low-key piece, with lyrics like, "Joe Cool, back in school; hangin' 'round the water fountain, playing the fool; Joe Cool, takin' it light; if the principal catches you, you're out of time." Guaraldi throws in some offhanded comments in the lyrics like, "Take those shades off; walkin' 'round the hall," as Snoopy does just that, and when he walks up to the blackboard with a math problem on it, Guaraldi sings, "Better learn to add now." Joe Cool would get another song in the next special, There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown, and Guaraldi would sing again in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, both of which were produced the following year.

You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown isn't likely to fall on anybody's list of the top holiday specials, or Peanuts specials, for that matter, as it's a very simple story and nothing Earth-shattering but, like so many of these projects, it does have its fair share of merits. There are some genuinely funny moments, like Snoopy and Woodstock working on the campaign signs and the insufferable call-in Linus and Lucy have to sit through, some nice bits of subtext and commentary in the dialogue and writing, it's not as melancholic or downbeat as some of these specials tend to get, it's not dated, despite the fact that it was produced to correspond with a specific event of 1972, I think it's interesting to have one of these cartoons take place almost entirely at the school, and Vince Guaraldi comes up with a couple of small but memorable songs to go along with his usual mellow, low-key compositions. All in all, it's nothing amazing, but if you like the Peanuts, it's certainly worth a look.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)

Of all the Peanuts holiday specials, the two I remember seeing the most when I was a kid were A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; all the others I either didn't know existed back then (actually a promo on the VHS of the animated movie, Donkey Kong Country: Legend of the Crystal Coconut, was where I learned of most of them and that was around the tail end of 1999) or I saw them when they were aired as part of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, which Disney Channel played during the latter part of my elementary school years. It was either there or on a VHS that they had us watch at school one day where I saw this one, as I remembered the plot and the bittersweet ending revolving around Charlie Brown and Linus. In any case, Valentine's Day has never been a holiday that I've particularly cared for, even back when I was a kid. The reason for that is not because of any soul-crushing incident that happened between myself and a girl (truth be told, I've never had a significant other) but the simple fact that nothing about it has ever rocked my world. I love Halloween and Christmas, for reasons that should be obvious, and I even like Easter, which I associate with fun memories of egg hunts and also because it's around that time when cold, miserable winter transcends into warm, pleasant spring, but Valentine's Day brings to mind the time of the year when winter is often at its grayest and most depressing (in fact, I'd say February is my least favorite month, in general), chocolates and tart candies that are too rich for me, and passing around and receiving valentines at school that are meaningless. I get the idea behind them but, by that point in the school year, you surely know who you like and don't like, so who cares if they give you little cards and such? Maybe I'm just cynical, especially since I've never had a special someone who could help me relate to it more, but Valentine's Day just doesn't do it for me. As for Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, I wouldn't call it one of my favorite Peanuts specials, mainly because of how sad things get near the end and the mixed feelings I have about the ending, but I wouldn't say it's a bad one either. It's kind of middle of the road.

Valentine's Day is coming and Charlie Brown is hoping for some valentines, to the point where he neurotically checks his mailbox every chance he gets (and every time, it's empty); at the same time, Linus has become infatuated with his teacher, Miss Othmar, and decides to buy her a big, heart-shaped box of candy. Little does he know that, when Sally sees him leaving the store with it, she believes that he bought it for her and decides to make a homemade valentine for him, with little success. By the time Valentine's Day rolls around, the kids put all their valentines into a large, slotted box and Schroeder passes them out, with the kids also receiving candy hearts with various writings on them. By the end of the day, both Charlie Brown and Linus have struck out, with the former receiving no valentines whatsoever and the latter missing his chance to give Miss Othmar her candy when she leaves with her boyfriend. Even Sally gets burned, as she's upset when Linus doesn't give her the candy that she thinks is for her. While they're all dejected, the next day, Charlie Brown may be surprised to receive a late valentine, although the circumstances surrounding it may not be ideal.

This is an example of a Peanuts special being directed by someone other than Bill Melendez, who was still involved with it as producer; in this case, the directorial duties were handled by Phil Roman, who'd first become involved with the Peanuts specials in the animation department with 1968's He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown and had co-directed A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with Melendez. It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown in 1974 was the first cartoon he ever directed in a solo function, which he followed up with It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown the same year, and he went on to direct a number of other Peanuts specials after this, like It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown, and She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, just to name a few. He also co-directed the latter Peanuts movies, Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown, and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and don't come back!!), with Melendez. In fact, Roman had a connection to Charles Schulz before he even created the Peanuts, as he was Roman's teacher in a correspondence art course he took in the 1940's when he was just learning to draw, so it was like serendipity that he eventually ended up working on animations based on his former teacher's best known work.

The basic idea of the character of Charlie Brown (voiced by Duncan Watson) is that he's a morose kid who's always down in the dumps and whose melancholia is always compounded by bad things that happen to him but this special takes it to a particularly sad extreme, even more so than the crap he dealt with in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. His getting nothing but rocks in his trick-or-treat bag was pretty depressing and it showed that the adults in whatever town this is are a bunch of assholes but that was only one small part of that special; here, one of the main plots is how poor Charlie Brown desperately wants to get some valentines and is turned down at every opportunity. He gets none in the mail, no matter how many times he checks; he expects to get a lot at school from the other kids, only to be crushed when he comes away with nothing except a candy heart that actually says, "FORGET IT, KID"; he's so disheartened that when he gets home, he angrily kicks the mailbox and hurts his foot in the process; and the next day, when he has one small ray of hope that the little red-haired girl may have sent him a valentine that arrived late, all he gets is a kiss on the nose from Snoopy. The poor kid is so discouraged and depressed that, when Violet and the other girls offer him their used valentines out of pity, he accepts them out of sheer desperation, despite Schroeder calling them out on what they're doing. The special ends afterward with Charlie Brown becoming hopeful about what such an act might mean for the future, saying, "Hey, maybe this is the start of a trend. Maybe this is a whole new trend for old Charlie Brown. Maybe this is the start of something big! Maybe next year I'll get a whole bunch of valentines! Maybe next year I'll need three briefcases instead of two! Maybe next year I'll even...", to which Linus can only respond, "Happy Valentine's Day, Charlie Brown." More than likely, he's in for more disappointment in the future. It's pretty sad and, save for a scene where he tries to show Sally how to make a paper valentine heart and narrating a puppet show that Snoopy puts on for Lucy, that's the gist of what he goes through in the special. In fact, just as what happened when The Great Pumpkin aired, viewers sent valentines to Charlie Brown out of sympathy after they saw this and, I have to say that such acts of kindness, despite being for a fictional character, do help to brighten my view of humanity.

Charlie Brown's not the only one who gets screwed over here. Linus (voiced by Stephen Shea) is hopelessly infatuated with his teacher, Miss Othmar, to the point where he gets excited even when she calls his name during the roll call and when she asks him to pound the erasers, calling such a thing an honor, even as he nearly chokes on the dust. To show how he feels, Linus buys an expensive box of candy for her, ignoring Violet's advice that falling in love with one's teacher is not a good idea (he says that he's merely very fond of the ground on which she walks), and is completely oblivious to the fact that Sally thinks the candy is for her. Not that it would manner to him anyway, given his less than sympathetic view of her, but it is still kind of sad how he has no idea of how misguided she is and coldly takes her valentine for him without giving it a single thought. As you'd expect, it ends badly for Linus, as he doesn't get a chance to give Miss Othmar the candy before she leaves with her boyfriend, and he's do dismayed by it that he laments, "I spent all my money. I made a fool of myself," and angrily throws the candy off a small bridge one piece at a time, yelling, "This one is for love! And this one is for valentines! This one is for romance! This one is for Elizabeth Barrett Browning! This is for, "How do I love thee!..." (not realizing that in doing so, he's giving Snoopy and Woodstock a free meal). The last time you see Linus, he's sadly lamenting how crappy his Valentine's Day was with Charlie Brown, with no silver lining coming for him. As a result, I don't know whose situation is worse: his or Charlie Brown's. One little bit of technical criticism I have to level at Linus is that his voice in this special is a little too deep, as Stephen Shea, who'd voiced him for the past six specials and in the movie, Snoopy Come Home, after taking over from his brother, Christopher, was 13 at the time and was clearly starting to enter puberty. Fortunately, this was the last one that he did.

Lucy (voiced by Melanie Kohn) does what she does best here: make Charlie Brown even more miserable than he already is (the thing begins with her asking him what he's doing as he's sitting by the mailbox and when he says he's waiting for valentines, she comments, "Oh, well. Good luck... You'll need it,"), annoy Schroeder with her unwanted affections, and act as a butt-monkey for Snoopy. She has two really memorable scenes in this special. One is when she's talking to Schroeder as he's playing his piano and, when it becomes clear that he's ignoring her, as he always does, she goes, "Sometimes I don't think you realize that you could lose me. Are you sure you want to suffer the tortures of the memories of a lost love? Do you know the tortures of the memories of a lost love?", before proceeding to completely demolish his piano while ranting, "It's awful! It will haunt you night and day! You'll wake up at night screaming! You can't eat! You can't sleep! You'll want to smash things! You'll hate yourself and the world and everybody in it!" She then lets out an anguished cry and sobs while pounding the floor before instantly composing herself and asking, "Are you sure you want to risk losing me?" (Bi-polar much, Lucy?) The other memorable moment is when Lucy decides to attend a performance of a romantic story that Snoopy acts out with hand-puppets and, after the hassle she has to go through to get a ticket and popcorn from him, the show itself proves to be a little more interactive than she realizes. After being splashed with water, mud, junk, and more water, as well as pounded on by puppets, as part of the dramatization, Lucy decides to leave, telling Charlie Brown when he tells her that there will be another performance later, "Remind me not to come!" Not surprisingly, Lucy has no sympathy when Charlie Brown didn't get a valentine, telling Violet, "Who would waste a valentine on stupid old Charlie Brown?", and while she does join in the group of girls who give him some out of pity, I sincerely doubt it was genuine on her part.

As I said, Sally's (voiced by Lynn Mortensen) misery in this special comes from a case of simple misunderstanding when she sees Linus buying his box of chocolates for Miss Othmar and thinks that it's for her. As a result, she decides to try to get a present for him as well and ultimately settles on making one herself, which isn't without its problems, as she manages to cut out everything but a paper heart, much to Charlie Brown's dismay when he tries to help her. She does manage to get one made for Linus, only to be surprised when he takes it and doesn't give her anything in return. At first, Sally thinks it's a case of bashfulness on his part, but when she gets spurned a second time when Linus is rushing to catch Miss Othmar before she leaves, she becomes downright frustrated at his "mixed up" nature. While it's not made out to be as sad as Charlie Brown or Linus' own heartbreak and is played for laughs, it's still rather poignant when you think about how Sally went out of her way to get Linus a valentine out of complete ignorance of the fact that she was the furthest thing from his mind. Aside from that subplot, the only other memorable part in the special involving Sally is a moment where a candy heart that she receives at school seems to have a lot more written on it than should be humanly possible (either that, or she can't read and this is merely what she thinks it says, as we'll get into later).

I wasn't expecting much out of Schroeder (voiced by Greg Felton) save for the usual shtick of Lucy annoying him while he's trying to play the piano, which you do get, but he also shows that, out of the entire Peanuts gang, he's one of the few who actually cares about Charlie Brown. As he's passing out the valentines at school, he's constantly asked by Charlie Brown if there are any for him and he has to repeatedly tell him no, so by the end of the day, he knows the crushing disappointment that he suffered. Therefore, the next day when Violet and the other girls decide to give him valentines out of pity, Schroeder absolutely unloads on them with some harsh truths: "What do you think you're doing? Who do you think you are? Where were you yesterday when everyone else was giving out valentines? Is kindness and thoughtfulness something you can make retroactive? Don't you think he has any feelings? You and your friends are the most thoughtless bunch I've ever known. You don't care anything about Charlie Brown! You just hate to feel guilty! And now you have the nerve to come around one day later and offer him a used valentine just to ease your conscience!" It's a great speech and it's really nice to somebody stand up to the others and call them out for how they treat Charlie Brown for once... which is why it sucks that Charlie Brown is so desperate for a valentine that he pushes Schroeder aside and accepts the used on. That's what I meant when I said I have mixed feelings about how this one ends. On the one hand, I get that Charlie Brown has reached the point where he'll take any valentine he can get but, still, it's a shame that Schroeder makes this great speech about the crap they're pulling, only for it to be wasted. It's small wonder why, as Charlie Brown says at the end, Schroeder wasn't exactly thrilled with him afterward.

Yeah, Violet (voiced by Linda Ercoli) did what she did mainly so she could stop feeling guilty about not getting Charlie Brown a valentine but, that said, I don't think it came from a place of 100% selfishness. When she realizes that he didn't get any at all at school, you can tell that her reaction is kind of one of, "Man, that's awful." Granted, she could have thought enough to give him one herself at that time or sharing hers with him rather than waiting until the next day to give him her used one, but she still seemed to recognize that it wasn't right and so, even though, as Schroeder pointed out, she offered it to Charlie Brown to ease her feelings of guilt, I think there was a little bit of genuine compassion in there as well. Some may look at it differently and see her reaction to his not getting one at school as a sign of that selfish feeling of guilt but I like to think she did honestly feel bad for him, even for just a little bit. Aside from that, there's a moment at the beginning of the special where Violet, seeing Linus buying the chocolate for Miss Othmar, advises him against falling in love with his teacher, only to prove be a hypocrite when she asks for a heart-shaped type of shaving lotion for her male teacher.

As usual, Snoopy and Woodstock (voiced by Bill Melendez) are up to mischief throughout the special, especially the former. The special opens with Snoopy trying to play cupid and shoot Charlie Brown with a suction cup arrow of love, only to miss a bunch of times and ultimately have to put it on the side of his head. In addition, he runs a puppet show, spelled as "Pawpet," that he actually charges people five cents to see, and when Lucy becomes intrigued with the idea of it being a dramatization of romance, she has to put up with his shenanigans as he has a hard time printing out a ticket for her and getting her some popcorn. The actual show itself proves to be a little more realistic than Lucy would've expected, as Snoopy splashes her with water, mud, and such as he acts out the story with hand-puppets, and later, Snoopy shows off his skills at cutting out valentines, able to make an elaborate piece that moves and plays music as well as a simple heart, which he goes out and sticks on Woodstock's beak (near the end of the special, Woodstock gets some payback by sticking one on his snout). When Sally gets the candy heart at school that appears to have the long poem, "How Do I Love Thee?" written on it, Snoopy gives a melodramatic performance of it behind her back, and when Linus is angrily throwing away the chocolates, he's unknowingly giving Snoopy and Woodstock a free snack as they're catching and munching them from behind a nearby bush. Finally, during the closing credits, Snoopy is messing around with hand-puppets again, only this time, each one he holds up is a caricature of the cast and crew members who are listed in the credits.

While this special doesn't dwell on the look and feel of the time of year it takes place in like A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, it does still bring to mind the images that I've always associated with Valentine's Day, chief among them hearts, the color red, and rich candies that you can buy by the armful in stores (that store that Linus goes into to buy the chocolates looks like how our town's Dollar General Store does in the time leading up to Valentine's Day). The scenes that take place in the school, where the kids are talking about dropping off their valentines in a box and then passing them out amongst themselves, also bring back memories of what we did when I was in elementary school on that day. They're not the fondest memories for me, as I've made clear, but they're nostalgic in their own way. (This is also where you see other members of the Peanuts gang like Peppermint Patty, Marcy, Pigpen, and Franklin in nonspeaking roles.) And while the look of the neighborhood doesn't give off that cold, dreary feeling that inevitably comes to mind when I think of this holiday, I will say that I can still pick up on the look with the kind of gray, cloudy skies and the leafless trees you often see in the backgrounds.

Like all good Peanuts specials, this one does have its fair share of memorable and funny sequences, with the first one being Charlie Brown, after checking his mailbox for the first time, walking off sadly into a field, when Snoopy jumps out of a bush, dressed as a cupid. He tries to hit Charlie Brown with a suction cup arrow but misses five times in a row and then, simply walks up to him, taps him on the shoulder, and sticks one to the side of his big head. Not too long after that, you have the scene between Lucy and Schroeder, where she's leaning up against his piano as he plays, reading to him from a book about how the valentine may have been the first type of greeting card. She yammers on about this for a little bit, but when she realizes that Schroeder isn't listening to anything she says, she then goes into that psychotic diatribe about the horrors of the memory of a lost love, pounding the top of the piano and sending him flying away from it, before kicking it up into the air, stomping on it when it hits the floor, and either kicks away the pieces or crushes them with her feet as she does so. What makes this sequence noteworthy is not just how off-the-wall and funny it is but also because how the animation goes from its usual simple style to being quite fluid and bouncy when Lucy goes off, with the background changing from a mellow purple to bright pink, orange, yellow, and red throughout her tantrum.

Lucy has regrets about deciding to see Snoopy's puppet show almost from the start, as just getting into it proves to be a hassle. Snoopy is asleep in the ticket booth, forcing her to knock it to wake him up, and when he hits the button that prints out the tickets, it goes wild and struggles with it to keep it from coming out, ultimately getting all tied up. After she gets her ticket, Lucy tries to get some popcorn from a refreshments stand she finds beyond the ticket booth, only for Snoopy to apparently misunderstand what she says, offering her candy and soda before finally getting the message, and then, he has trouble getting the thing started, having to hit the button numerous times. As happened with the tickets, he gets caught up in the popcorn machine and thrown out, although Lucy does end up getting her little bag of popcorn. The show itself is unimpressive, to say the least, as Snoopy leads her to a little tiny stage atop his doghouse (actually wearing an usher's hat and carrying a flashlight while doing so, despite the fact that they're outside in broad daylight) and starts a phonograph that chokes out a very scratchy, somewhat romantic tune, as Charlie Brown comes in to narrate the story. The curtain on the stage goes up to reveal Snoopy with two hand-puppets and a little carriage he balances on his foot to represent the characters' coach. When Lucy says she's never been to a show like this before, Charlie Brown warns her about the first scene, only for her to find out herself when she gets splashed with water as the carriage crosses the "swollen river." After that they got up a "muddy road," which leads to the inevitable for Lucy, and that's followed up by an avalanche, where a bunch of trash is thrown at her. Charlie Brown asks if she wants to continue and when she asks what could be worse, she finds out when the carriage is attacked by bandits and gets pounded by the puppets meant to represent them. Thunder rolls overhead and a rainstorm begins, with Lucy getting drenched again, much to her irritation. Despite true love conquering all in the end, this proves to be the last straw, as she runs for it and makes it clear that she won't be sticking around for another performance.

Once Schroeder announces to the class that all of the students are to drop their valentines into the box and that they can be homemade as well as store-bought, we see Sally trying to make a valentine for Linus and failing miserably at it, as she fumbles a piece of construction paper in her hand and starts pounding the table with her head down in hopeless frustration. When Charlie Brown hears of her dilemma, he shows her how to cut a heart out of red-colored paper, but when she tries it, she makes a three-leaf clover instead. Sally tries again, only to this time cut a top-shape, causing Charlie Brown to face-palm. Snoopy then shows off his skills by cutting out a fancy display piece that actually plays music and moves. Confident that she can do that as well, Charlie Brown tries to do the same thing, except when he creates a similar piece, it falls apart almost instantly, much to Snoopy's amusement. He then cuts out a paper heart and, after showing it to them, walks outside with it and sticks it onto Woodstock's nose as he sits up in his nest; Woodstock simply lets out a defeated sigh in response.

Come Valentine's Day at school, Charlie Brown brings with him a suitcase in case he gets a lot of valentines and all of the kids proceed to put them in the box, save for Linus, who can't fit his big box of candy in there. After Sally gets her first taste of rejection when Linus doesn't think twice about the valentine she gives him (thinking he's bashful, she plots to get him back later with a kiss), Schroeder begins passing the valentines out while another kid passes out candy hearts, with Lucy getting one that says, "HUG ME." According to Frieda, she gets one that says, "SWEET BABY," while Sally begins reciting the poem, "How Do I Love Thee?", which apparently written in full on the heart. As she reads it, turning the heart over on both sides numerous times, Snoopy, who's walking by outside, hears her and runs inside, acting out melodramatic poses in response to the verses behind her. This goes on for a little bit and once she's done, Snoopy takes a bow and kisses Sally's hand. This is when it starts to become clear that there are no valentines for Charlie Brown, especially when Franklin, who's sitting on a bench next to him, gets one but he doesn't, and just to compound things further, he then gets the candy heart that reads, "FORGET IT, KID." Soon, all of the valentines have been passed and it's confirmed that there were none for him. After making sure there aren't some stragglers inside the box, he throws the thing out the window in frustration, while at the same time, Linus tries to give Miss Othmar the box of candy, only to find that she's heading for the parking lot. Rushing to the door, he completely bypasses Sally, who's waiting with puckered lips and becomes further perplexed and irritated at being ignored a second time, and heads by Violet out the door. She, Charlie Brown, and Sally all comment about Miss Othmar's being with her boyfriend, with Sally being completely distraught over what she's seeing.

Linus just misses Miss Othmar, who takes off in her car with her boyfriend, and both he and Charlie Brown walk their own ways home from school, completely dejected. Linus then walks into a stone bridge over a small creek and proceeds to vent his anger by throwing the candy away one by one, which Snoopy and Woodstock both gladly eat from behind a nearby bush. Meanwhile, Charlie Brown checks his mailbox another time and finding it empty yet again, kicks it and hurts his foot as a result. The next day, after a bit where Woodstock gets back at Snoopy for his earlier prank by slapping a cutout heart on his snout, Charlie Brown wakes up and walks outside, feeling really down. He almost kicks the mailbox again but stops himself this time, and talks about how he wishes that the little red-haired girl would've sent him a valentine. Holding out hope that it might be in there, he checks the mailbox, only to get kissed on the nose by Snoopy and growl that he hates Valentine's Day to Schroeder. This leads into the bittersweet ending when Schroeder tells off the girls for not giving Charlie Brown any valentines the day before, only for him to take it, and him and Linus lamenting what happened.

This was one of the last Peanuts specials to be composed by Vince Guaraldi, the jazz musician who, along with his band, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, had been involved with the series from the very beginning with A Charlie Brown Christmas (as well as the unaired 1963 TV documentary, A Boy Named Charlie Brown). As usual, Guaraldi's quiet, smooth music gives the special a mellow and, at points, appropriately melancholy feel, particularly during the scenes where Charlie Brown is waiting by the mailbox to check it for valentines (this theme is called "Heartburn Waltz" and there are many different parts of it that are played throughout) and when both he and Linus come away from school completely dejected. That latter scene is definitely the saddest, most downbeat piece of music in the whole special, with jazzy piano keys played against a distant, melancholy sound that you hear now and then. Other notable parts of the score are a couple of upbeat, casual-sounding themes when Linus buys the box of chocolates and when Sally gets the wrong idea upon seeing this, an energetic bit when Lucy first arrives at Snoopy's puppet show, a low-key, mellow bit when Snoopy is acting out the poem that Sally reads on her candy heart, and a mischievous theme when Woodstock gets his revenge on Snoopy with that cutout heart to the snout. The only thing about the score to this one is that it doesn't have a really memorable main theme like A Charlie Brown Christmas (you could even say that one has a couple) or It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The main title has a very brief, saccharine bit that's played as a regular piano piece rather than the stylistic ones Guaraldi was known for and does have that loving, sentimental sound you'd associate with Valentine's Day but that's about it.

There's a reason why Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown doesn't have the classic status of some of the other Peanuts holiday specials, as it's nothing all that special at the end of the day. There's nothing wrong with the characters or the writing, there are some memorable, funny moments, and the music is fine and fits the mood, but it doesn't give you the holiday feeling quite like the Christmas and Halloween specials (although that could be due to the holiday it's based around, and it does manage to reinforce my apathetic view of it, so...), it gets pretty melancholic and sad near the end, and the ending is definitely one that will give you mixed feelings. I would say that it's worth watching at least once if you're a fan of the Peanuts but don't expect something that'll fill you with glee or have the depth of some of its brethren.