547. What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown – Bill Melendez

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SUMMARY: On the way back from their student exchange trip to Paris, the Peanuts gang get lost and find themselves at Omaha Beach, the historical significance of which is not lost on Linus.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown’ is a somewhat unusual entry in the series of Peanuts TV specials. Set immediately after the events of the feature film ‘Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!!)’, ‘What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown’ follows the gang on their way home as they get lost and find themselves at the scenes of various wartime landmarks. Screened originally on Memorial Day in 1983, the special is tilted heavily towards the educational side of things, with the comedy interludes kept to a minimum. Though well intentioned and powerful in its tribute to the sacrifice made by soldiers, ‘What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown’ does seem a tad forced in just how much knowledge Linus has about the history of World War One and his running commentary and recitation of ‘In Flanders Fields’ take his previous part as the emotional and moral spokesman of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ to an extreme that is more dictated by narrative requirements than character. For all its shortcomings however, ‘What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown’ is a bold attempt to do something important with an established series and with its respectful and informative approach has surely helped many children understand the importance of Memorial Day.

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