NEW YORK— Everyone knows Charlie Brown’s nemesis is a kite-eating tree. But the “Peanuts” hero hopes to calm that kind of rivalry as we head into Earth Day and Arbor Day.
A new “Peanuts” special that debuts on Apple TV+ Friday celebrates the environment and highlights that even tiny changes can help the Earth. “It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown” also has a new original song by Ben Folds. Earth Day is April 22.
In the 40-minute film, Charlie Brown’s hope of finally winning the neighborhood championship baseball game is derailed when his little sister, Sally, tries to protect a dandelion growing on the pitcher’s mound. Soon everyone is cleaning up the ball diamond.
“Charlie Brown is probably 90% of the population and doesn’t really want to take on challenges with the world. And here is Sally, representing the next generation who truly cares about the little things and realizes the little things can make a difference,” said Craig Schulz, son of the late “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz, and who co- wrote the teleplay and helped management produce the new film.
It’s one of the many ways the cartoon gang is celebrating Earth this year. “Peanuts” is also opening its vault to release one of its classic cartoons, 1976’s “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown,” on Apple TV+ on April 29 – Arbor Day. And a new original short video, “We Need Our Trees,” is available on Peanuts’ YouTube channels in the US and abroad, and on GoNoodle.com.
“The ‘Peanuts’ universe can fit in with what’s going on in the world,” Schulz said. “There are obviously more to come and more great stories to tell. This cast is so rich and diverse that the stories seem almost endless.
The project is part of Peanuts Worldwide’s recent “Take Care With Peanuts” initiative, which promotes global citizenship through three key efforts: taking care of yourself, taking care of each other, and taking care of the Earth.
The company is also continuing its global tree-planting project, which includes everything from an urban community garden in Chicago to restoring forests around Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Lesson plans for K-2 and 3-6 that explore the importance of trees are available for free download at Peanuts.com.
All of the content on “Peanuts” comes from the 18,000 tapes Charles M. Schulz left behind, which Melissa Menta, marketing manager for Peanuts Worldwide, calls “the brand bible.” There are stories of failure and frustration but also of friendship and kindness, both towards people and the planet.
“It’s just very authentic, so you don’t get hit in the head – well, maybe one of the characters hits someone in the head – but the messages are really subtle and clever,” said Menta said. “I always say every generation should feel like ‘Peanuts’ is their generation.”
Other TV and streaming programs honoring Earth Day include two Disney+/National Geographic documentaries: “Explorer: The Last Tepui,” featuring rock climbers scaling a steep 304-meter cliff, and “The Biggest Little Farm: The Return”. which revisits John and Molly Chester on their 10-year journey to bring a parched farmhouse back to life. (Both on Disney+ on April 22.)
Paramount+ is launching a special new carousel on its homepage on Monday called “Earth Through Different Lenses,” filled with documentaries highlighting the work being done by environmentalists around the world.
And Discovery+ has a documentary narrated by Ryan Reynolds that outlines 10 things we can do right now to reduce carbon dioxide from our lives, including eating less meat, planting more trees, and washing fewer clothes. “Curb Your Carbon” hits the streaming site April 21.