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It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown

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Itsthegirlintheredtruckcharlielogo-1-
Directed by: Walter C. Miller
Written by: Charles M. Schulz, Monte Schulz
Release date: September 27, 1988
Running time: 60 minutes
Preceded by: Snoopy!!! The Musical
Followed by: Why, Charlie Brown, Why?
Availability: It's The Girl In The Red Truck, Charlie Brown VHS

It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown is the thirty-second television special based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. It originally aired on CBS on September 27, 1988. It is an unusual Peanuts special because it features a mixture of animation and live action and the main character is Snoopy's brother Spike. There are brief appearances by Charlie Brown and Snoopy at the beginning of the special but no other characters form the Peanuts comic strip appear, the other main characters in the program are human adults. The special is very much a Schulz family production. The script was co-written by Charles M. Schulz and his son Monte Schulz. The title role of the young woman who drives a red truck was played by Schulz's daughter Jill Schulz.

Plot

A brief animated introduction shows Charlie Brown finding a letter for Snoopy in the mailbox. He tells Snoopy that his brother Spike has sent him a letter and proceeds to read it to him.

Spike describes his daily life in the desert, going for walks and learning French from cassettes. One day he sees a young woman driving an old red truck. He smiles and waves at her. He thinks that she smiles and waves back but is not sure. He waits in the same spot all day for her to return. When she returns in the evening he smiles and waves again and this time he is certain that she smiles and waves at him in return. This makes Spike very happy.

The next day Spike waits in the same place to smile and wave at the young woman. Her truck breaks down, She asks the dog if he can help and notices the name "Spike" on his cassette player. When the young woman gets her truck started again she takes Spike with her.

It is revealed that the woman's name is Jenny, she works as an aerobics instructor but dreams of being a professional jazz dancer. Jenny takes Spike to a diner, where the owner, Molly, already knows him because he often comes in for a root beer, before taking him home.

Jenny's boyfriend Jeff, who works in the recording industry in Los Angeles, arrives at her house. Both Jeff and Spike appear to be somewhat jealous of each other. Jeff anounces to Jenny that he has arranged for an audition for her. Jenny is not happy about it because it clashes with an aerobics class that she is teaching and Jeff has organized the audition without consulting her first.

Spike, Jenny, Jeff and Molly go to a roller-skating rink together. Jenny skates with Spike but accidentally throws him out of the building's back door. Finding himself locked out, Spike heads back into the desert and finds himself getting shot at by some men hunting coyotes.

Jenny and Jeff drive into the desert looking for Spike. They hear gunfire and manage to rescue him from the coyote hunters. Jeff and Jenny ask Spike to come home with them but he prefers to stay in the desert instead.

Jeff agrees that he was wrong to arrange an audition for Jenny without telling her about it beforehand and decides he will let her pursue her career in her own way.

Critical reaction

The show was not well received, largely because it was unfavorably compared to the recently released Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which also mixed animation with live action. Schulz was worried that people would think he had copied the idea from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He asked his daughter Jenny Schulz to stress during publicity for the show that he had come up with the idea long before Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released.

A review by John J. O'Connor from the New York Times on September 27 1988, the day the special was first shown, says that the comparison to Who Framed Roger Rabbit is superficial because; "the interaction between the actors and the characters is not terribly convincing, and the superimposing of the cartoon figures on real settings is generally clumsy." Of the show's plot, O'Connor says, "The problem with 'Red Truck' is that the story goes nowhere."

Cast

  • Jason Riffle - Charlie Brown (voice)
  • Bill Melendez - Spike (voice)
  • Steve Stoliar - French teacher on cassette (voice)
  • Jill Schulz - Jenny
  • Molly Brice - Molly
  • Greg Deacon -Jeff

Snoopy appears in the animated introduction but is silent.

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