because you have probably seen two of these six classic TV specials - "A
Charlie Brown Christmas" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" -
pretty much every year of your life, it doesn't mean that they are not worth
revisiting often and enthusiastically.
the classic 1960's Peanuts specials were a shining beacon in one of
the greatest eras of children's television. In a television world full
of timeless specials like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and series like
The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo - Where Are You!, these specials
stand tall - the best of the best.
is a reason why these specials became perennials.
are entertaining, timeless family entertainment. They were appropriate
for children but didn't pander to them. They were also smart enough to
backload a treasure-trove of smart humor for the adults. There is
humor through clever dialogue and through silly slapstick. The
specials were not at all cynical and yet they were often pointedly ironic.
Still, they took their subjects seriously. "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
was a stinging reproach to the commercialization of the holiday season (Lucy
suggests Christmas is "a racket" run by "a big Eastern syndicate") that
seems all the more trenchant as the religious aspects of the holiday are
shuffled more and more to the background.
were not afraid of the religious aspects here, though. On what kind of
a children's special can you see them stopping the storyline to drop this
there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch
over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and
the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And
the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born
this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this
shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling
clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a
multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in
the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
Quoting the bible - specifically Luke 2:8-14. Doing it extensively.
Also, doing it rather unobtrusively - they were able to fit it all into the
storyline comfortably. And making it sound super-cool when you do it.
That's a trick very few holiday specials can pull off. Even this
Jewish boy has to tip his hat.
the specials had some of the coolest music ever.
time of "Great Pumpkin," Schulz's writing became even more subtle and
subversive, making the special even more interesting for the adults watching
along. There were jokes that would go completely over your head as a
small child, however you can truly appreciate them as an adult. For
example, when explaining to Sally that he is certain that he has found the
perfect pumpkin patch, Linus exclaims happily, "I don't see how a pumpkin
patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and
there's not a sign of hypocrisy."
that turn of phrase out on your grade-school self. The Peanuts
specials work on a multitude of levels - and work equally well on all of
let's face it, if you are over 30 years old you know those two specials by
heart. The real treat here is the resurrection of four other
Peanuts specials which have not seeped into your subconscious quite as
"Charlie Brown All-Stars" revolved around the Peanut's gangs' perennially
losing softball team, in which skipper Chuck loses the chance at sponsorship
and uniforms when he refuses to cut the girls on the team, and the dog.
"He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown" has Snoopy needing a refresher course at the
Daisy Hill Puppy Farm in obedience, but instead ends up living off of
Peppermint Patty's good nature. "It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown"
takes the gang to summer camp. And perhaps the best of the four is
"You're In Love, Charlie Brown," which chronicles Charlie's unrequited crush
on the little red headed girl.
of the four are as good as the two classics, but all four have some
wonderful moments and are well worth owning.
is classic television animation and works wonders both in a nostalgic matter
and just as fine family television. When you see some of the
hyperactive, snarky garbage that passes for TV cartoons these days,
Peanuts: 1960s Collection is even more vital.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted:
May 2, 2009.