Sunday, July 20, 2014

The NASA Space Station

AIRDATE:  11/1/1988

STORYPeanuts in space!

The competition to craft the finest space station is on at...whatever the name is of the school that the gang attends.  Linus's anxiety manifests itself overnight in a dream wherein the world gets an exclusive look at the newest NASA Space Station, commandeered by one Lucy Van Pelt.  With the help of scientist Linus, cook/photog Charlie Brown, activities administrator Pig-Pen, exercise guru Peppermint Patty, social observer Franklin, experiment queen Sally, and main operator Snoopy, she takes a Cronkite-esque newscaster--and ostensibly millions of TV viewers--on a tour of the spacecraft that they will all be calling home for 90 days.  During this time, they shall be conducting experiments to determine the deleterious effects of McDonalds on the common ferret.  Or not, their research purpose isn't terribly clear. 

All proceeds swimmingly, until a meteorite smashes into the station, damaging part of the Integrated Truss Structure as well as a solar panel.  Snoopy volunteers to perform repairs among the stars; naturally, his owner can't stand idly by and let his dog go out there by his lonesome.  Shenanigans ensue, including a near-death experience that is light years funnier than the two I've had.

With the curiosity of the earthbound satiated, the girls on board peer outside, wondering both at their home planet and about it.  Peppermint Patty makes a frankly remarkable comparison between the Earth and the resilience of Charlie Brown, holding the latter up as an exemplar of sorts for the former.   I would agree; of all the planets in our solar system, Earth is the Charlie Browniest.  (Mars is the Snoopiest--cool, imperious, and we're obsessed with it.)

Linus wakes up.  Snoopy wins the Space Station school competition somehow.  Mind you, he did build one that fit on a parade float.  Size matters.

Oh, outer space has been a mini-obsession since I was a lass.   Often indeed were the times I wanted to run away to the moon.  (I mean, if I could see it, it couldn't be that difficult to reach, correct?)  You're weightless in space?  Sounded stupendously ideal to a chunkster like me.  Being a fat-ass kid was the worst.  The NASA Space Station ain't the best, but it's still a fun way to pass the time.  9

ANIMATION:  The spacecrafts all look very realistic, not at all cartoon-y.  Likewise the rendition of planet Earth, all a-swirl with glorious blues, whites and browns.  Earth is like a taco bowl, heaping with guacamole salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, black olives, habaneros--and horse meat.  9

MUSIC:  Dave Brubeck?  Mad choice.  He's an artist, a pioneer.  We've got to have some music on the new frontier.  8

VOICES:  Each child actor does a nice job.  I give special mention to Erika Gayle, bestowing upon her a noble 9 for her gleefully bossy portrayal of Comm. Lucy.

THE PLACE

--NASA and Peanuts have history, which just might have contributed to making Space Station the most brightly-written and ably-paced of all the This Is America segments. 

--This demonstration of the station's shower may be revelatory for many, but dedicated fans of the comic strip recall that Pig-Pen actually looks pretty cute all cleaned up.

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A woman's power over man is constant, no matter the realm!

--Ugh, fish lips!  And hey, I am aware of the myriad of gravitational tricks played by outer space, but what causes saliva to penetrate polycarbonate?

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 ANT FARMS FOR SCIENCE

--Charles Schulz was fond of having Linus proclaim, "It's Sydney or the bush!"  Which is an Australian way of saying, go big (city life) or stay small (country life).  Which is kinda unfair to the country life, really. 

--Snoopy boxing a kangaroo in space would have been a great event to feature.  Well, they were up there for three months.

--I missed school the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded.  I was nine years old, and legitimately sick, resting on a He-Man sleeping bag as I watched the dreadful footage play over and over on the television station, all the talking heads asking questions that would not be answered satisfactorily for quite some time.  (Moral:  respect the weather.)  I grew annoyed after ten minutes or so, eventually making the grievous error of voicing my irritation.  (Guys, Calliope still had like another hour to go on Nickelodeon!)  My dad barked at me from the comfort of his E-Z throne, and I made sure that my head was turned away from him before the glare appeared on my face.  Else I would have made it to the moon that day for sure. 

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