Lion of the Blogosphere

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The year is 1966. The animated special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown appears on television for the first time. The plot is well explained at Wikipedia so there’s no need for me to repeat.

This was a simpler time when people didn’t expect a lot of action or much of anything else in their cartoons. Not much happens. I guess it’s supposed to be amusing because of the cute cartoon characters, and you’re supposed to enjoy the accompanying piano-heavy instrumentals.

The main gags are:

1. Charlie Brown is a loser: a beta-male before the term was invented. Lucy tricks him into kicking a football she pulls away. When Charlie Brown receives an invitation to Violet’s Halloween party, Lucy tells him it was a mistake, and he was on the list of kids not to invite. Charlie Brown is unable to cut two eye-holes into a sheet to make a ghost costume, so his ghost costume is full of holes. When they go out trick-or-treating, the other kids get candy but Charlie Brown only gets rocks. At Violet’s party, they draw eyes, a nose, and a mouth on the back of his head because his bald head looks like a pumpkin.

2. Linus has the Great Pumpkin confused with Santa Claus.

3. Snoopy imagines that he’s a World War I flying ace, and his doghouse is his airplane. He gets shot down by the unseen Red Baron and makes his way across the fields of France, stopping for a while to pretend that he’s an orchestra conductor while Schroeder plays the piano. Then he shows up at the pumpkin patch where Linus is waiting with Sally for the Great Pumpkin to appear, causing Linus to faint.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

October 28, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Television

17 Responses

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  1. Peanuts was a huge fad at the time, and the Charlie Brown Christmas from the previous December was a huge hit and pretty groundbreaking (for its up-front religiosity) – so a new holiday special was pretty much mandatory. At the same time, the art of cartooning (which at the time was obviously 100% manual) was in serious decline from its heyday in the 30’s and 40’s – even Disney had pretty much abandoned it. And as you pointed out entertainment options for families were pretty limited at the time. So no one was going to kill themselves worrying about putting out a quality product.

    ziel

    October 28, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    • “So no one was going to kill themselves worrying about putting out a quality product.”

      Who said that the quality was low? I watch the various Charlie Brown movies quite often due to having two toddlers. The quality is much higher than anything made in the last few decades.

      My favorite is “Race For Your Life Charlie Brown”. In addition to being funny, it is an unabashed alt-right propaganda movie. The theme of the movie is that Charlie Brown has to overcome the evils of democracy and feminism to rule as an autocratic leader. I am not exaggerating. Everyone should buy it and watch it.

      Spoons

      October 28, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      • Hear, hear, “Race for your Life, Charlie Brown” is hilarious and fun in many ways, including the music.

        Gozo

        October 28, 2016 at 11:30 pm

  2. Charlie Brown isn’t really a Beta. He’s always the center of attention, with the other kids all hanging around with him. A real-life Beta loser would be friendless.

    ironrailsironweights

    October 28, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    • you mean omega. most guys are beta and they are not friendless.

      james n.s.w

      October 28, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    • “Charlie Brown isn’t really a Beta. He’s always the center of attention, with the other kids all hanging around with him.”

      The Peanuts movie that came out last year made this point.

      Ed

      October 28, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    • Pig-Pen seemed like a talented Sigma, but couldn’t get any pussy. Although, he was not a regular, he was the only worthy character in the Peanuts among the cast of sociopaths.

      JS

      October 29, 2016 at 1:48 pm

  3. Glengarry

    October 28, 2016 at 6:59 pm

  4. Funny, but I can’t remember watching a Peanuts special before the ’70s. In 1966 I was watching Star Trek, The Monkees, the Dick Van Dyke show and the Jack Benny specials (I liked George Burns). And I was playing Petula Clark tunes on the piano. I’d fallen in love with Pussy Galore a year or two earlier, but it turned out she was, um, uninterested in men.

    Marty

    October 28, 2016 at 7:48 pm

  5. Charles Schulz is a genius and his comic strip a masterpiece about the tragedy of life, cruelty of women, and many other fascinating topics, and is also full of hilarious jokes. To love Peanuts and Schulz is the conventional wisdom, but on this topic I am unashamedly endorsing the conventional wisdom. If nowadays people don’t appreciate The Great Pumpkin because Schulz & co didn’t include enough boobs, blood, or bullets, it is a negative reflection on the people of today, not Schulz and the TV show.

    Gozo

    October 28, 2016 at 8:04 pm

  6. There are a lot of holiday shows I watched as a kid that haven’t held up well. Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer for example is pretty awful, as I learned watching with my kids last year. Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch Who stole Christmas are still good though.

    steve@steve.com

    October 28, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    • I dunno, I think Rudolf holds up, but on the other hand, it could still be my nostalgia talking.

      Mike Street Station

      October 29, 2016 at 8:08 am

      • Rudolf definitely holds up: the dialogue is extremely and artistically bitter (as if Scrooge were picturing the elves and the reindeers as the complete phonies he imagined them to be), the High Renaissance inspired North Pole scenery, filtered through a decade or two of cold desperate Japanese animation history, are great (google image Titian or Leonardo and mountains to see what I mean), there are three or four good songs, and the Island of Unwanted Toys is basically what Beckett and Borges and Bellow (three intense modernist writers) tried to do but failed to do, as they did not have the wisdom of innocence (Joel prophesied that the years of the locusts would be restored – no locusts near the North Pole, but still, Beckett and Borges and Bellow were not quite the prophets they needed to have been to do anything as good as Rudolf,at least not until they were very old). Plus the last ten minutes are unmatchable : Tolkien’s eucatastrophe but not in Middle Earth, but in our own world (more or less – the umbrellas at the end are the key to understanding that yes that is our world).
        The Snoopy behind the lines scenes are very good. Schulz had a very hard life for a rich guy and it shows.
        If you are interested in Beckett, he basically inspired the gag in Fawlty Towers where the wife keeps saying I know, I know – Bellow was sort of the Bill O’Reilly of his day, except interested in people with degrees instead of politicians, and Borges was like Edgar Allan Poe but funnier and not as weird plus he wrote in Spanish.
        Sorry to drop so many names, I could write about Rudolf for a lot longer without mentioning names, but they are kind of a shorthand for comparing what was right with that show with what could have been wrong.

        howitzer daniel

        October 30, 2016 at 9:05 pm

  7. I always thought the scene where Snoopy imagines himself as an Allied pilot downed behind German lines was quite evocative, especially for a children’s cartoon.

    Oswald Spengler

    October 29, 2016 at 12:17 am

  8. And let’s not overlook the music of Vince Guaraldi. I think that was an important ingredient in the success of those specials.

    Sgt. Joe Friday

    October 29, 2016 at 2:47 pm

  9. Another thing one can’t help but notice is that all the characters are white. This was of course reflective of America’s organic, natural character as a white country, though I’m sure there are leftists out there denouncing it as evidence of our shameful history of white supremacy and white privilege. If this special were made today, Linus (as the smartest kid) would be black, and Lucy would be Hispanic or Asian. And it would still be attacked by leftists for the titular character being a white male.

    Though Peanuts did eventually include a token black character.

    Hermes

    October 30, 2016 at 10:37 am

  10. I have always been ambivalent about this installment in the Peanuts series. I think that the Snoopy as the WWI flying ace is one of the best cartoon segments ever created, and fits perfectly into the Halloween costume party theme. But the fact that Charlie Brown receives nothing but rocks in his trick-or-treat bag has always bothered me. The unfortunate mishaps that plague Charlie Brown are usually just manifestations of children’s callous and cruel behavior toward one another, but this represents deliberate, cold-hearted treatment of a child by ADULTS. And that’s just wrong, no matter how you try to pretty it up. It isn’t funny.

    Ned C.

    October 30, 2016 at 12:02 pm


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