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Friday, April 06, 2012

It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I'm sure that we all have heard this expression at some point in our lives. It's an expression that really should have been tattooed to my forehead when I was younger. Basically, it means that we're all guilty of falling for a trick, lie, or cheat, and we're all entitled to blame the person who set it all in motion. However, if we fall for the trick a second time, then really, we're the stupid people who allow history to repeat itself.

Today's topic is about an annual television special that appears to be based around this very first.

I'm sure if any of you read my entry on “It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (if you need a refresher, you can read it HERE), you'll know exactly what I am talking about. In that special, Linus is so determined to prove that “The Great Pumpkin” was real, and camped out at a nearby pumpkin patch all Halloween night to prove it. He could never convince anybody else to join him, as they would rather have gone trick-or-treating for candy, chocolate, gum, and rocks. But, somehow, little Sally Brown thought about it, and she decided to skip all the fun to hide out in the pumpkin patch with Linus for a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin. After all, Linus had promised Sally that the rewards that come from meeting the Great Pumpkin would far outweigh the little trinkets that they would normally have gotten from trick-or-treating.

So, imagine Sally's disappointment when the Great Pumpkin did not show, and she ended up missing all the fun of Halloween because Linus had insisted that he would come. She was furious. She told Linus off. It seemed as if Sally would never forgive Linus for that day.

So, why the heck would Sally decide to tempt fate once again and believe Linus when he went on and on about how there was an “Easter Beagle”, that would bring coloured eggs to all the children in the neighbourhood? Did she not learn from last time that anything coming out of Linus' mouth was likely not the truth? Did Sally not once stop to think that she was making herself look like more the fool by swallowing the “used car salesman” logic of Linus Van Pelt?

Sigh...I think it's a great time to talk about the Peanuts special “It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown”. As promised, I would incorporate some Easter references to the special “Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This Week”, and well...I think this Easter special is really sweet.

The television special, which first debuted on CBS on April 9, 1974, still airs on television annually. It's one of the very few Easter specials that have ever been made, and part of the reason why I love this special so much is because of all the various sub-plots surrounding it. Sub-plots that act as ingredients in making the most perfect Easter celebration.

(Well, unless you're Charlie Brown, that is.)

I've already talked about what the main plot is. Linus is determined to prove that an Easter Beagle does exist, and despite what happened on Halloween, Sally has decided to believe Linus' claims once more. Elsewhere in the Peanuts world, other Easter happenings are going on that have nothing to do with the Easter Beagle.

SUB-PLOT #1 – Peppermint Patty tries to teach Marcie how to make an Easter egg.

Oh, Marcie, Marcie, naïve and inexperienced. Perhaps if she had spent more time learning about Easter customs and less on being Peppermint Patty's slave, maybe the whole experience would have ended a lot differently. Peppermint Patty wanted to colour Easter eggs for the holiday, but Marcie had absolutely no clue as to how to prepare the eggs.

(Here's a BOIL THEM.)

Try telling Marcie that. Every single attempt that Marcie made ended up being a disaster. Attempt number one, Marcie ended up making an omelet. Apparently, she believed that by frying them in a pan, the eggs would be suitable for colouring.

Marcie's second attempt wasn't much better. If they wouldn't work in a frying pan, maybe cooking them in a waffle iron would work better. When that didn't work, she tried putting them in a toaster, and then inside the oven. It's a wonder Marcie didn't have Gordon Ramsay knocking on her door calling her a stupid donkey!

Finally, Peppermint Patty explained to Marcie that the best way to make Easter eggs suitable for colouring is to boil them. And, Marcie seemed to get it then.

Well, that is...until Marcie cracked open every single egg, and made egg drop soup.

You know, why don't we move on to the next plot?

SUB-PLOT #2 – Woodstock gets a new home...and then loses it...

This sub-plot is probably one of my favourites in the whole episode, mainly because it displays the friendship between Woodstock and Snoopy, but also because it incorporates one of the most iconic scenes in the whole special. Take a look for yourselves.

Wasn't that neat? That scene took place at a department store. Apparently, it's the only department store that actually allows a dog to roam the departments at free will. The reason why Snoopy is there? He wanted to purchase a brand new house for his pal Woodstock. The arrival of spring has brought the arrival of showers. While it's true that April showers may bring May flowers, in Woodstock's case, they only bring misery. Woodstock's nest is considered to be worthless when it comes to protecting the poor little bird from the cold, wet rain. It's clear that Woodstock needed an upgrade, so Snoopy offered to help him find a new home. And, Snoopy ended up getting Woodstock a lovely home.

Problem was that Woodstock found Snoopy's taste to be quite tacky, and he decided to transform the house into a swinging 1970s bachelor pad, complete with shag carpeting, television, sunken bed, and a stereo system.

(Which makes me wonder how the heck Woodstock ended up getting the money to buy all those things, come to think of it.)

But, of course, Snoopy ended up wanting to see the new place, and stuck his nose right into the birdhouse. He ended up getting stuck, and ends up smashing Woodstock's new house into a million pieces trying to get out.

Poor Woodstock. Luckily, Snoopy ended up getting Woodstock another place to live, and all was well.

In fact, Snoopy would end up getting involved in the third sub-plot.

SUB-PLOT #3 – Lucy is selfish.

I mean, let's face it. Of all the Peanuts characters, Lucy Van Pelt has always been the most self-absorbed, thoughtless, greedy person. She charges five cents for psychiatric advice, which is usually best not followed in the first place. She refuses to even let Charlie Brown kick the football. So, naturally, it doesn't surprise me that Lucy would be the one character who would completely miss the point of what Easter is all about.

Sadly these days, Easter is almost as commercialized as Christmas or Valentine's Day, which makes me feel that Lucy would fit right in with 2012 customs. Back in the 1970s, Lucy strongly believed that Easter was all about getting as many presents as possible...a belief that made Schroeder headbash his child-sized piano repeatedly.

So, Lucy comes up with a plan. Unlike poor Marcie, Lucy actually knew how to prepare an Easter egg for painting. She ended up doing up an entire basket filled with them, and her plan was to have an Easter egg hunt. Sounds like a great idea.

The only catch? Lucy arranged it so that she would be the only one hiding the eggs. Furthermore, she would also be the only one finding the eggs. If Lucy had her way, she would end up with all the eggs, and Charlie Brown, Linus, Sally, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Pig Pen, Violet, Shermy, Rerun, Tapioca Pudding, and any other Peanuts character would get zip.

How very “unselfish” of her.

Unbeknownst to Lucy, a certain beagle comes following behind her with a small basket. Every time she hid an egg, the dog would pick the egg up and place it in his little basket.

Hmmmm...considering that the title of the special is “It's The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown”, I wonder if maybe this is foreshadowing of some sort. And, I wonder if Sally was right to believe Linus after all?

I suppose I COULD tell you what happens at the end, but I don't want to spoil it too much. All I'll say is that Marcie is STILL clueless, Charlie Brown is STILL left out, and Lucy ends up learning a lesson in karmic retribution.

But it's funny. All of the plots of the special are neatly intertwined with each other to create a wonderful and warm Easter.

Unless you're Charlie Brown. Seriously, someone give the kid a hug!

It was nice to see Snoopy offer to help Woodstock find a new home, even if Woodstock questioned Snoopy's taste at first. Their friendship is quite inspiring, and there were funny moments mixed in with the seriousness. I loved how Snoopy ended up sticking it to Lucy. She really needed to be set straight, and Snoopy really is the only Peanuts character with the guts to stand up to her. Peppermint Patty's patience should be rewarded, and I appreciate the humour surrounding Marcie's frustration at not being able to understand how to make an Easter egg.

But the one thing that I appreciate the most about this Easter special is the idea that all the Peanuts gang celebrated the holiday together. They may come from different backgrounds, and have different personalities, but they all still respect and love each other as friends, and can put their differences aside to enjoy the least for a few hours.

Happy Good Friday, everyone...and Charlie Brown, if you want an Easter egg, I'll give you one. I'll even make sure that it has never been inside a toaster!

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