A Charlie Brown Christmas (1964)

Hi,

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Since we’re close to Christmas, I decided to give my opinion on a Christmas TV-special that has become a regular Christmas TV annual telecast staple in USA since 9th December 1965 (first transmission being on CBS. Nowadays and since 2001, ABC has the transmission rights to show the TV-special I will be talking about). Talking about the very first Peanuts (created by the late Charles M. Schulz) TV-special: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, directed and produced by Bill Melendez (who also voiced Snoppy)

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General plot: In one hand, Charlie Brown is feeling depressed about the fact that Christmas, one of the days of the year he likes the most (because of the presents, the cards and the tree decorating), is becoming more and more commercial each year. On the other hand, his friends are preparing a nativity play to which Charlie is invited to be their director (he accepted it after Lucy convinced him of doing it so during a conversation on the “psychiatric help” booth)

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But this only adds extra frustration to him during the process of making the play. For starters, his friends care more about modernizing the play with loads of dance and music and as if it wasn’t enough, at one point, they become annoyed and made fun at the same time of Charlie‘s choice of tree (a small baby tree). The latter made him doubt even more about what Christmas is all about

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Inspired by Linus‘ recitation answer, he tries to decorate the baby tree on his own… without any success, making him feel even more depressed. But there’s a happy ending in the midst of negativism: his friends would finish the decoration of the tree and they’d sing a Christmas carol. This caught Charlie by suprise at the same as his friends say to him: “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown”… ending the special by singing the same Christmas carol they were singing before and with Charlie joining them

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My opinion: A undeniable classic. For a Christmas TV-special, it has something charming and topical for that time that makes it not being as obvious or as predictable like other nativity specials, from the social critcism (something totally omnipresent in the Peanuts world) about Christmas itself (the comparsion and battle between the proper spirit of Christmas and its commercialism is the center of the special) to the production (Charles M. Schulz and Bill Melendez were really a force to be reckon with). It all comes down in a natural way without much overdues

The animation, for the 1960’s standards, is highly remarkable (with time, the animation of the Peanuts‘ specials would get better and better). But Vince Guaraldi‘s music score for this special set a highly different and unusual tone for the conventional Christmas specials with his mainstream jazz approach (the cool jazzy instrumental “Linus and Lucy” is the perennial highlight of the soundtrack of the special released the year after the special aired (1965)

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A highlight scene of the special: Linus‘ speech concerning Charlie Brown‘s questioning of Christmas, reciting the Bible‘s second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 8 through 14 from the Authorized King James Version. Simply unforgettable…

Kudos to the young actors who voiced Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus brillantly: Peter Robbins (who also did the voice Pigpen in this special), Chris Shea and Tracy Stratford respectively (and this coming from a time where it was rare in the world of television to cast real children (whether they’d be prodigy actors or unknowns) to do voice acting. At the time, it was something the CBS executives didn’t find really flattering)

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All in all, one of the most enjoyable Christmas specials ever and also one of the best ones in the TV history of Peanuts (eventhough not my all time favourite Peanuts TV related programs (specials and TV-series) ever). Recommended specially to the ones who’d like to see different approaches in the mass-media terms to one of the most important festivities of the year

As last treat, here’s a 1965 TV promo of the special on CBS (channel that, until 2000, held the rights to transmit the Peanuts’ specials):

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

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Posted on 20 de December de 2012, in Non-Anime. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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