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Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Do you want to know the one thing that always surprises me whenever I write out my blog entry for the day?  Whenever people drop me messages about a previous blog entry.  I love getting messages from people!  That tells me that I actually have readers who check into the blog, be it by accident, or whether they have been reading it from the very beginning.  I appreciate each and every page view that I get and I could not be more thankful.

So, in the spirit of being thankful, I thought I'd share a portion of a recent message that I received from a reader who happened to stumble across a piece I wrote a few months ago while he was searching for Peanuts specials released on DVD.  He stumbled across my blog that I had written on the semi-forgotten Peanuts special "Why, Charlie Brown, Why?", which originally aired in 1990.  That special was about Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang coping with the fact that one of their classmates had cancer.  If you haven't watched this special, do give it a whirl.  When I wrote that piece, it was still available on YouTube, though I fear that with copyright laws the way they are, it may have been removed.  Still, do try to seek this special out.  It's a good one.

Anyway, the following comes to us from a man named Matthew M. from Massachusetts, and as it turns out, his message came at a rather appropriate time as I had planned on doing a blog on the Peanuts gang anyway.  And since he gave me permission to reprint his message, here's a sample of what he had to write about.

Hey Matt....I was actually searching for old Peanuts DVDs online, and I came across an old blog you did about "Why Charlie Brown Why?" Being a die-hard Peanuts fan I tried to answer your blog but I think it's archived. So I'll give you my thought:

*In my opinion, one of the best specials in the series. In my top five..
1. Charlie Brown Christmas

2. Great Pumpkin

3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

4.Why Charlie Brown Why?

5. It Was a Short Summer Charlie Brown

As for "WCBW?" I loved how they played in a few traditional comic strip gags into the story as comic relief. (Woodstock and Snoopy bickering over building a nest and Snoopy giving the bird one of his traditional Bleeeah tongues in frustration. Or the hospital cafe scene where Snoopy comes out with a tray piled up with junk food while wearing his " world famous doctor" scrubs. A bit of Schulz sarcasm towards doctors who should practice what they preach).

I also liked how Linus was given lead character in this one and his true good nature and compassion was well presented. They left out his blanket as they wanted him to be shown as s mature pre-teen rather than a kid. And there's Janice....a Peanuts character who has fans writing in to campaign that she appears in future specials. Little trivia...her last name is Emmons, as was Lila's in "Snoopy Come Home". They look remarkably alike, and fans understand them to be cousins! Incidentally, Lila also was hospitalized in SCH. Good linking of characters by the writers.

As for Lucy....I wouldn't lynch her, and I don't hate her....without her you would not have some of the funniest moments in the series' history. Her pining for Schroeder, her battles with Snoopy...and he always trying to steal a kiss. Everybody, even Charlie Brown knows how to handle her, and usually her sarcasm and crabbiness blows up in her face. The comedy is the look on her face when she knows or has to
think about how the other character just turned around and made her look like a fool. Snoopy is the best at it ( watch the arm wrestling match in " Short Summer"). Trust me, Lucy usually ends up being the butt of jokes rather than the villian, and that is what makes the series so funny. Her comments towards Janice is just her being an ignorant kid just because she has no idea what cancer really does and she reacted the same way many others would. Linus easily puts her in her place.

The bully's name is Joe Agate and appears a few specials later in "He's a Bully Charlie Brown". Charlie Brown, with a little help from Snoopy...puts him in his place. As for the scene on the playground with Janice, I'm pretty sure in real life Linus would have used much saltier language. I'm thinking the words " a**hole" or "douchebag" rather than "cementhead" was what most likely was shouted. Cement is much harder than block so you know that cursing was implied.
Acceptable for the situation.

First things first, thank you Matthew for the thought-provoking comments.  Your view on the special and the Peanuts gang overall was well thought out and intelligent, and because you took the time to write in your thoughts, I thought I'd dedicate this edition of the blog to you!

And you're in luck!  Today's topic is your number three most loved Peanuts special!

Now, I know what the readers of the U.S.A. must be thinking.  It's way too soon to be thinking about Thanksgiving.  And, yes, I can see how you would think this, as your Thanksgiving isn't scheduled until the twenty-seventh of November this year. 

But for my fellow Canadian readers, our Thanksgiving is quickly approaching.  October 13, to be exact.  I certainly hope that you bought your turkey already because time is certainly running out! 

So, that's why I decided to host "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" in this edition of Tube Talk Thursday, which originally aired on November 20, 1973.  But don't worry, America, I'll have another Thanksgiving themed holiday special planned for November 27.  Just keep your eyes on the blog for more information on that one.

Now, here's the problem with "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving".  It's one of those specials that I've probably only seen twice in my entire life.  And the reason why is because of the holiday confusion.  Because the American Thanksgiving is in November, I always seemed to never know when it was on because what Canadian wanted to watch a Thanksgiving special in November?  But because our Thanksgiving in Canada is in October, I could never seem to find it on television anywhere - though during the month of October, I managed to watch "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" at least three times a month!

So, needless to say, I had to really sit down and watch this special once more so that I could refresh my memory, and basically this is the show which opens up with Lucy once again setting Charlie Brown up for failure using a football as her weapon of choice.  Geez, Lucy, come on.  It's a holiday!  Let Charlie Brown kick the football already.  Don't make me send Peter Griffin after you!

Okay, so now that we have that out of the way, we all know what Thanksgiving is all about.  It's all about families gathering together to celebrate the holiday over a table filled with holiday dishes such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.  And naturally, Charlie Brown and Sally are two members of the Peanuts gang who plan on spending the holiday at their grandmother's condo.  But what happens when Peppermint Patty calls Charlie Brown at home and invites herself to the meal?  Well, it sets off a complete chain reaction.  Once Peppermint Patty invites herself, it prompts Marcie to send herself an invitation, which gives Franklin the motivation to invite himself, and so on and so forth.

Before Charlie Brown is aware of it, and before Charlie Brown can say no, he comes to the realization that he has somehow allowed half of the Peanuts gang to come to dinner with him.  Geez, maybe Peppermint Patty is more assertive than Lucy!

Leave it to level-headed Linus to come up with a perfect solution.  Host two different Thanksgiving dinner celebrations.  One for Peppermint Patty and the rest of the Peanuts, and one for Charlie Brown's immediate family.  Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, not really.  Turns out Charlie Brown - in addition to being a lousy football kicker - is also a lousy chef.  His claim to fame in the kitchen involves making cold cereal and toast.  Not exactly what one would consider to be typical Thanksgiving fare.  Still, Linus insists that the feast continue and recruits Charlie Brown and Woodstock to assist in the table set-up.

Here's an interesting note of trivia for you - did you know that the song "Little Birdie" is written and SANG by longtime Peanuts music provider Vince Guaraldi!  Yeah, that's right!  This is one of the only moments in which you actually hear him sing, so take advantage of this.  I posted the video of that song above.  It's quite good!

Now, I don't think it would be cool to reveal how this special ends, just because I think most of you already know anyway...but let's just say this.  It causes Peppermint Patty to rethink her strategies when including herself in other people's plans.  It makes us realize that Linus may have found his calling as a man who writes great speeches.  And it taught all of us that pretzels, jelly beans, and buttered toast can be somewhat acceptable substitutions for Thanksgiving feasts.

Oh, and it also taught us that if you want things done right to just let the dog do it.

To my Canadian friends, I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving this upcoming Monday.  And for my American friends, stay tuned.  I'll have more Thanksgiving fun in November!

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