Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Fishing in the Discount Bin - A Couple of Charlie Brown Specials

We've got a two-fer here on Fishing in the Discount Bin this week!  I'm doing both A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  These are in my notes at July 19, 2015.

Well, sad news here in Westlock as the Bargain Store is going out of business, and they're having their going out of business sale.  So, of course, I was in there, poking through the DVD bins, looking to see if there was anything good.  I found A Charlie Brown Christmas, and I figured, "Why not?"  Now, every Christmas I wonder why anyone would want to buy a holiday special on home media.  I mean, the one time of year you're going to watch it is the one time of year it's on TV constantly.  I remember musing that on Facebook one year, and one of my friends with kids said, "You buy it because your kids love it and it's not on constantly ENOUGH for them."  And besides, as I'm starting to complain on Twitter more and more every year, I'm starting to notice more and more edits to squeeze in more commercials.  Home media is the best way to get them unedited.

So, I decided to pick up A Charlie Brown Christmas.  And I started thinking, "Wouldn't that be neat if I also found the second-most-famous Charlie Brown TV special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  That would be a good double feature!"  And lo and behold, it was in the bin as well.  So I got the two special for a low, low price of $10. 

I know I've already mentioned my fascination for Charlie Brown in animation a few entries ago when i did the first Charlie Brown theatrical feature, A Boy Named Charlie Brown.  4 theatrical feature films, a Saturday morning cartoon that ran for 2 season, and more than 40 TV specials.  Can you think of any other comic strip character that had that successful a second life in animation?  And it started with that first TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The special will be celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year.  I no longer remember the first time I saw it.  It's just always on at Christmas, and I usually watched it when I was a kid.  But, the older I got, the more I appreciate it.  As I tweet every year, can you think of any other holiday special that perfectly captures seasonal depression?  It's Christmas time, there's all the holly and jolly going on, but Charlie Brown just isn't connecting with it.  Lucy thinks Charlie Brown will snap out of it if he directs the Christmas play, but it just makes him more frustrated.  So they send him out to get the Christmas tree.

Charlie Brown and Linus going to get the Christmas tree amazes me.  They're lamenting the commercialization of Christmas.  It was made in 1965.  The commercialization of Christmas is not a new problem

That special was so ahead of its time, and I can see why it's still so beloved.  It's perfect. 

And then It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  I don't remember watching it on TV that much when I was a kid.  I mean, Halloween specials were usually on Halloween, and I was out trick-or-treating when they were on.  I do remember the first time I saw it, though.  It was my Grade 1 Halloween party.  My teacher actually got it on 16mm film, and we watched it on the ol' film projector.  I remember flashes from that showing.  Snoopy's daydreams about being the World War I flying ace are animated in a very stylized way.  He's shot down in flashes of red and blue light...it's very distinct. 

Again, you probably know the plot.  Heralded as a great testament to faith, as Linus spends the night in the pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Peanuts gang goes out and has all kinds of Halloween fun. 

Except for Charlie Brown.  Every year I ask...what kind of jerk gives rocks instead of candy to kids?

It's a great testament to sibling love, too.  Even though Lucy mocks Linus for his belief in the Great Pumpkin, she's still kind enough to ask for extra candy for her brother when she's trick-or-treating, and when Linus passes out in the pumpkin patch at 4AM, she goes outside, drags him back into the house, and gets him into bed.  She cares for him, even though she doesn't share his beliefs.

It's another high watermark in Charlie Brown animated pantheon.  I mean, we know they're good.  That's why they're still on TV after 50 years.

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