Friday, July 4, 2014
The Birth of the Constitution
STORY: The Peanuts gang are smack-dab in Philadelphia, PA, during the sweltering summer of 1787. Big Things are happening at the local State House, where 55 wealthy delegates in powdered wigs have gathered to bury the Articles of Confederation and create in its place a new and improved Constitution. All the better to be the United States of America with, my dear. The choices before them are, ostensibly, monarchy, democracy, republic. However, having just come out from under a monarchy, there are only two real options. The founding fathers desired a system that prevented tyranny by not only the nation's leaders, but also by its populace. Thus, America the Republic.
As points are haggled over, hems are hawed and haws are hemmed, the kids do their part via strenuous manual labor (which will be the least relateable part for any child watching this special). Linus stresses to the others how important this convention is for the future of the country, and even sneaks into the House to eavesdrop. Fittingly, it is the licorice-headed boy who excitedly informs his friends--and us--that the new Constitution has been written and signed. Popular sovereignty, hurrah!
Thrilling at the time, certainly. Little did those snobbish pricks know that America would grow so exponentially, so like a damned, donut-eating Homer Simpson, that the lunatic fringe of the nation outnumbers several European countries in toto, thus assuring that they can (and do) wield influence in all branches of government, resulting in an America that is in perpetual disarray. 8
ANIMATION: A topographical marvel, is our America. Everything and everyone is nicely-drawn, but did that many delegates really have pickle-noses? 8
MUSIC: George Winston on the piano and harpsichord. Nothing to complain about. 8.5
VOICES: The only notable performances are Ami Foster's Lucy (7.5, "deli gates") and Jeremy Miller as Linus. His score of 8 is earned almost solely on the strength of a single scene, his breathless announcement that 39 of the 55 delegates signed the document. I imagine that Bill Melendez had the young fella take a few laps around the recording studio before laying down his lines.
Jason Riffle and Christina Lange voice the Browns. Keri Houlihan and Jason Mendelson are a decent enough Marcie/P. Pat team. Really, it's the Linus show here. Snoopy isn't even given much room to steal scenes.
THE SUPREME LAW
--18th century...or today?
--Charlie Brown invents basketball in between making kites for Benjamin Franklin to fry himself with. Lucy suggests another new game called "kickball," and wants Charlie Brown to play. You can imagine where this goes.
THE AVERAGE AMERICAN'S COMPREHENSION OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT
--Snoopy slept on his nose overnight.
See that Illuminati symbol on his shirt? Not the zig-zag; I mean that...snake? Yeah, snake. Clearly the logo of a nefarious underground cabal. They recruited Chuck to put microchips in the kites.
The Birth of the Constitution is one of the lesser installments of the This Is America mini-series. It's fine to watch once, but there's so much more to the story that the shortcomings of this format are glaringly obvious.