It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

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It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Great pumpkin charlie brown title card.jpg
Title card from 1966 TV special
Genre Animated TV Special
Created by Charles M. Schulz
Written by Charles M. Schulz
Directed by Bill Melendez
Voices of Peter Robbins
Sally Dryer
Kathy Steinberg
Christopher Shea
Gabrielle DeFaria Ritter
Lisa DeFaria
Ann Altieri
Glenn Mendelson
Paul Winchell
Bill Melendez
Theme music composer Vince Guaraldi
Composer(s) Vince Guaraldi
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Executive producer(s) Lee Mendelson
Producer(s) Lee Mendelson
Bill Melendez
Editor(s) Robert T. Gillis
Steven Melendez
Cinematography Nick Vasu
Running time 25 minutes
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
First shown in October 27, 1966 (1966-10-27)
Chronology
Preceded by Charlie Brown's All-Stars
Followed by You're in Love, Charlie Brown

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a 1966 American prime time animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.[1]

A Halloween special, it was the third Peanuts special (and second holiday-themed special, following A Charlie Brown Christmas) to be produced and animated by Bill Melendez. It was also the first Peanuts special to use the titular pattern of a short phrase, followed by "Charlie Brown", a pattern which would remain the norm for almost all subsequent Peanuts specials. Its initial broadcast took place on October 27, 1966, on CBS, preempting My Three Sons. CBS re-aired the special annually through 2000, with ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001, where it now airs annually at Halloween. Until 2013 ABC broadcast You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown immediately after It's the Great Pumpkin, as if to emphasize the proximity of Halloween to Election Day. Also, the Great Pumpkin is mentioned in You're Not Elected. The special aired twice in 2014. The first time, ABC aired Toy Story of Terror with The Great Pumpkin following afterward. The second time was the more traditional airing with You're Not Elected following afterwards.

The program was nominated for an Emmy Award. It has been issued on home video several times, including a Remastered Deluxe Edition of the special released by Warner Home Video on September 2, 2008, with the bonus feature It's Magic, Charlie Brown which was released in 1981.[2] To celebrate its 40th anniversary, a retrospective book was published in 2006. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic includes the entire script, never-before-seen photographs, storyboard excerpts, and interviews with the original child actors who provided the voices of the Peanuts gang.

Plot[edit]

With autumn already in full swing, the Peanuts gang prepares for Halloween. Linus van Pelt writes his annual letter to The Great Pumpkin, despite Charlie Brown's disbelief, Snoopy's laughter, Patty's assurance that the Great Pumpkin is a fake, and even his own sister Lucy's violent threat to make her brother stop. When Linus goes out to mail the letter but cannot reach the mailbox, Lucy refuses to help him; so he uses his blanket to open the box, and throws in the letter.

On Halloween night, the gang (including Charlie Brown's younger sister Sally) goes trick-or-treating. On the way, they stop at the pumpkin patch to ridicule Linus' missing the festivities, just as he did last year. Undeterred, Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin will come, and even persuades Sally to remain with him to wait.

During trick-or-treating, the kids receive assorted candy, apples, gum, cookies, money, and popcorn balls — except for Charlie Brown, who for some reason is given a rock from every house they visit, possibly due to the ridiculous amount of holes in his ghost costume. After trick-or-treating and another visit to the pumpkin patch, the gang goes to Violet's Halloween party. Meanwhile, Snoopy, wearing his World War I flying ace costume, climbs aboard his doghouse (imagining it to be a Sopwith Camel fighter plane) to fight with the Red Baron. After a fierce but losing battle, Snoopy makes his way across "the countryside" to briefly crash the Halloween party, where he is entertained by Schroeder's playing of World War I tunes on his piano, and then goes to the pumpkin patch. When Linus sees a shadowy figure rising from the moonlit patch, he assumes the Great Pumpkin has arrived, and faints. When Sally sees that it is only Snoopy, she lectures Linus for making her miss the trick-or-treating activities as well as the Halloween party festivities as the kids come to take her away with them. As they leave, and still convinced that the Great Pumpkin will materialize, Linus promises to put in a good word for them.

At 4:00 AM the next morning (November 1st), Lucy realizes that Linus is not in his bed. She finds her brother asleep in the pumpkin patch, shivering. She brings him home, takes off his shoes, and puts him to bed. Later, Charlie Brown and Linus are leaning against a wall, commiserating about the previous night's disappointments. Charlie Brown attempts to console his friend, admitting that he himself has done stupid things in his life also; this only infuriates Linus, who sets off on an angry rant vowing that the Great Pumpkin will come to the pumpkin patch next year, as Charlie Brown listens with a visibly annoyed look on his face and the credits roll.

Voice actors[edit]

Viewer response[edit]

Charlie Brown's repeated line of "I got a rock" caused some stir among many viewers of the show, according to Charles Schulz in the book and retrospective TV special Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown. Schulz said that after the program first aired, bags and boxes of candy came in from all over the world "just for Charlie Brown."[3] During the opening of the second showing in 1967 pre empting the first half hour of "Cimarron Strip", CBS had a technical problem with the audio part of the program in the CST and EST zones and that annoyed some fans and viewers.

Production[edit]

Sponsors[edit]

Like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown's All-Stars, this special had sponsoring from Coca Cola (and Dolly Madison), which was edited out from later broadcasts and video/DVD releases.

CBS telecast edits[edit]

During the 1980s and 1990s, when the special aired on CBS, the network trimmed the "trick-or-treat" sequence, such that after the Peanuts gang knock on the first door and say "trick-or-treat," it cuts to the gang after they finished trick-or-treating comparing what they got at the last house.

ABC telecast edits[edit]

To make room for the longer commercial breaks during modern airings, ABC cut two scenes, which were later restored when aired in conjunction with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. The scenes were cut in 2014's first airing to make room for all of Toy Story of Terror but did show in the second airing.

  • Lucy pleading Charlie Brown to kick the football, and subsequently pulling it away as he tries to do so, a staple in the comic strips since 1952.
  • Snoopy (as the World War I flying ace) prompting Schroeder to play World War I era songs.

Music[edit]

The music was performed by the Vince Guaraldi Sextet. The lively instrumental, "Linus and Lucy", associated originally with A Charlie Brown Christmas, is used at the beginning of this cartoon as Linus and Lucy prepare a pumpkin to be a jack-o-lantern, as Linus mails his letter to The Great Pumpkin, and when Lucy wakes up at 4 AM to take Linus home from the pumpkin patch. Guaraldi's theme for the special, "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," plays throughout, as when Linus is writing the Great Pumpkin towards the beginning. There are also a few new Guaraldi compositions that have been sought after by fans of the show and musicians, including "Breathless", "Graveyard Theme", "Trick Or Treat", "The Red Baron", & "Fanfare".

The World War I songs played by Schroeder on his toy piano while Snoopy dances are:

The "Happy" Songs:
"It's a Long Way to Tipperary"
"Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag"
The "Sad" Songs:
"There's a Long, Long Trail"
"Roses of Picardy"

In Popular Culture[edit]

This special was parodied in the third tale of The Simpsons halloween episode, Treehouse of Horror XIX; titled It's The Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse.

The animated short Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown, a parody of Charlie Brown specials, centers around the Great Pumpkin (portrayed in the short as a mafia capo) issuing a bounty on Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts crew attempting to kill him in order to collect the money.

The special was referenced in the "Supernatural" episode, It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester.

Home video releases[edit]

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment and Hi-Tops Video as part of its Snoopy's Home Video Library. This version included the CBS edit of the "trick-or-treat" scene and removed the entire sequence of Schroeder playing World War I-era songs. Paramount later released the special on VHS in the '90s. It was later released on DVD on September 12, 2000 with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown as a bonus special.

After Warner Brothers obtained the off-air rights to the Charlie Brown library of TV specials, they released a new DVD release under the new "Remastered Deluxe Edition" line on September 2, 2008. On this DVD, the bonus special was It's Magic, Charlie Brown (You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown was released on its own DVD later that year), and it included a new featurette, "We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown". A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released on September 7, 2011 with the same features as the Warner DVD.

References[edit]

External links[edit]