It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown is the sixth of the animated specials based upon the phenomenally popular Peanuts comic strip. It's a delightful entry, and visually one of the best in the series. Produced for television, much of the animation is necessarily limited, but this actually works to this entry's advantage -- having the girls' team moving in essentially the same manner at the same time emphasizes their unity and strength. And even though the boys' unruly manner of movement is not developed when repeated, this repetition emphasizes the fact that they'll never break out of the chaos that keeps them from getting organized. The character animation is also quite good here -- Bill Melendez and his team have really gotten used to the characters by this point and know how to use small changes to create a big effect. For example, Charlie Brown's forlornness and desperation are shown quite well during one of the cabin scenes, merely by the careful delineation of a couple of extra lines around his eyes. There are some unnecessary inconsistencies -- the number of boys and girls on the respective teams changes without rhyme or reason -- but overall the visual work is good. The script is a little choppy (a common feature of this series), belying its 4-panel origins, but charming, and Vince Guaraldi's score utilizes his familiar themes to smashing effect. Despite a rather abrupt ending, Short Summer is long on entertainment.
by Craig Butler review