“Peanuts” star Snoopy is famous for being a highly imaginative dog, liable at to go off on loony flights of fancy. But, it turns out, his world has some strict rules.
No adults can be heard there, just trombones. No technology past the 1970s can be used. And under no circumstances may the inside of Snoopy’s doghouse ever be shown.
Creators of the new animated series “The Snoopy Show” had to learn and respect all the rules as they crafted stories for Apple TV+ that were true to the original strips and various previous shows.
“I think the rules have actually made the story so much stronger, to go, ‘How do we play in the sandbox?’” says Stephanie Betts, an executive vice president at media company WildBrain. “And actually, we realized it was so much wider than you can even imagine.”
The series consists of three seven-minute vignettes per 23-minute episode. They are mined from the almost 18,000 strips cartoonist Charles M. Schulz left behind.
It’s an enchanting and endearing show; we see Charlie Brown overcoming his nerves at speaking in front of his class, and an epic game of tag between Snoopy and Rerun that leads to mild injuries and laughter.
Adults will recognize the classic visual style and the world they read as kids: Kites still get eaten by trees, Lucy’s psychiatric booth still costs a nickel and Snoopy keeps flying missions on his doghouse.
“There’s something to the timelessness of Charles Schulz’s drawings,” said Mark Evestaff, showrunner and an executive producer. “I feel like this is the kind of show that we need now.”
The series’ writers were each given a large red volume — nicknamed “the Snoopy Bible” — that contained Snoopy-centric strips, and were told to use them for inspiration.
“It was like, ‘How do you build on what he was trying to tell the audience in four strips?’ We get seven minutes,” said Betts.
If the writers were intimidated, so were the artists, many of whom revere “Peanuts.”
“One of our storyboard artists would get nervous every time they had to draw Lucy’s psychiatry booth, just because it was this heritage thing and there’s so much weight. Everyone’s a little bit terrified,” said Evestaff.