A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
A year after Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Charles M. Schulz teamed up with Bill Melendez to produce a Christmas special based on the Peanuts comic strip. It sounds odd on paper to adapt a newspaper comic to the small screen and it was predicted to be a disaster from day one, but it was a risk that could pay off. 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas is arguably the greatest Christmas special to ever grace the small screen.
Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) is depressed and glum as his pals ice skate. Linus (Chris Shea) asks why Charlie is so sad and discovers it is over the commercialization of Christmas (I know that feeling, Charlie). Charlie even visits Lucy (Tracy Stratford) for advice where she makes Charlie the director of the upcoming Christmas play. Charlie’s mood grows even sadder seeing his beloved dog Snoopy decorating for a neighborhood lighting contest and his sister requesting money instead of toys from Santa. While at rehearsals, Charlie wants to buy a tree with Lucy insisting they get an aluminium tree. He decides to get a scrawny crappy tree which every other character hates. Charlie leaves uestioning what is Chistmas with Linus delivering a beautiful recitation of a couple of verses from the Gospel of Luke.
I’m not even super-religious and that makes me feel hope for Charlie. Charlie takes the tree outside Snoopy’s now award-winning doghouse. He puts one ornament that causes the tree to fall over. The rest of the peanut gallery see this and begin to fix up the tree with lots of love, realizing what Christmas means. Cue “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and a “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas is the true meaning of Christmas by providing hope, love and understanding without being overly preachy. It’s an interesting look at one person’s desire to know the truth behind it. It sort of asking what the meaning of life is, but a more kid-friendly version of it. Charlie is going trough a crisis to figure out if he understands the holiday anymore. Linus’ speech always gets me as I hinted at before. Something about it being spoken by a young insecure child makes it powerful and epic. It’s astonishing and beautiful. Of course, Snoopy is here and is seldom used, but his presence is huge as the fun loving dog.
The music is a strong point with it’s brilliant score by Vince Guaraldi. It sets the somber mood of the special with the classic “Christmas Time is Here” to the thrilling “Linus and Lucy.” It keeps the special going and never misses a beat. The reason this special is so memorable is because it has all the elements from a great story, to great animation and a fantastic soundtrack and score.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is brilliant and still remains my favorite Christmas classic.
Luckily, we won’t have to wait long for a new story of Charlie Brown to appear.
Next time, we enter the 80’s with a classic that is so memorable, it’s played for 24 hours straight.