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
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
Cinematography Nick Vasu
Editor(s) Robert T. Gillis
Steven Melendez
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Lee Mendelson Productions
Bill Melendez Productions
United Feature Syndicate
Release
Original network CBS
Picture format 4:3 SDTV
4:3 HDTV (remaster)
4:3 4K (Ultra HD) (home media)
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. The original sponsors were Coca-Cola, the original sponsor of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the Dolly Madison brand of baked snack foods, which would go on to be a longtime co-sponsor of the Peanuts specials on CBS. CBS re-aired the special annually through 2000, with ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001, where it now airs annually during the Halloween season.[2]

The program was nominated for a 1966 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.[3] 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.

A history of the program and the various religious interpretations of Linus' sincere belief in the Great Pumpkin are explained in the 2015 book, A Charlie Brown Religion.[4]

Plot[edit]

With fall in full swing, the Peanuts gang prepares for Halloween. In the cold open, Linus and Lucy go out to the local pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin. Lucy selects the largest they can find, and poor Linus has to get it back to the house. He becomes distraught when it turns out Lucy is going to gut it to be a jack-o-lantern. After the opening credits, Snoopy ends up helping Charlie Brown, the dog's owner, when he rakes a pile of leaves. But then Linus jumps into the heap with a large lollipop. Then Lucy entices Charlie to kick a football . . . with the usual results. Later, Charlie Brown gets invited to a Halloween party hosted by Violet. Neither Charlie Brown nor Lucy can believe his invitation: as he breaks out into a "happy dance," she assumes it is a mistake.

Linus is writing his yearly 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, who threatens to "pound" him. (She is watching TV and reading a TV Guide with her picture on it.) Only Sally, Charlie Brown's younger sister, supports Linus, because she is smitten with him. Linus goes out to mail the letter but cannot reach the mailbox. Lucy refuses to help him, so he lassos the mailbox handle with his security blanket to open the box and wafts in the letter.

On Halloween night, the gang (including Sally) goes trick-or-treating, each with their own costume. Most dress as ghosts in simple white sheet costumes. Charlie Brown botches his costume with errant cutting, and Pig-Pen's trademark dust cloud makes him easy to identify. Lucy dresses as a witch, saying it is the opposite of her real personality. On the way, they stop at the pumpkin patch to jeer at Linus for missing the festivities, just as he did the previous year. Undeterred, Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin will come to his sincere pumpkin patch, and tries to convince Sally to join him. Sally, acting almost entirely on her infatuation with Linus, agrees to skip trick-or-treating to be with her sweet Babboo.

During "tricks or treats," the kids get their goodies (except for Charlie Brown, who gets nothing but rocks). After going back to the pumpkin patch to tease Linus and Sally, 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. He is entertained by Schroeder's playing of World War I tunes on his piano, though the sad songs make him cry. Embarrassed, he leaves. Linus and Sally are still in the pumpkin patch. When Linus sees a shadowy figure rising from the moonlit patch, he assumes the Great Pumpkin is there and faints. Sally sees that it is only Snoopy. When Linus wakes, she furiously yells at him for making her miss the Halloween festivities as Charlie Brown and the others come to get her. As they leave, Linus, still convinced that the Great Pumpkin will materialize, promises to put in a good word for them "if he comes." Then he panics, because he had said *if* instead of *when*. Is he too insincere for the Great Pumpkin?

At four o'clock the next morning, 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. When daylight has come, Charlie Brown and Linus lean against a wall and commiserate about the previous night's disappointments. Charlie Brown attempts to console his friend by saying he has done stupid things in his life, too. This infuriates Linus, who begins to vow that the Great Pumpkin will come to the pumpkin patch next year. Charlie Brown listens with an annoyed look on his face as the credits roll.

Voice actors[edit]

Credits[edit]

  • Created and Written by: Charles M. Schulz
  • Produced and Directed by: Bill Melendez
  • Executive Producer: Lee Mendelson
  • Original Score Composed and Performed by: Vince Guaraldi
  • Arranged and Conducted by: John Scott Trotter
  • Graphic Blandishment by: Ed Levitt, Bernard Gruver, Frank Smith, Ruth Kissane, Dean Spille, Bill Littlejohn, Beverly Robbins, Rudy Zamora, Eleanor Warren, Bob Carlson, Faith Kovaleski, John Freeman, Flora Hastings, Bob Bachman, Børge Ring, Frank Nissen
  • Editing: Robert T. Gillis
  • Assisted by: Steven Melendez
  • Sound by: Producers' Sound Service
  • Camera: Nick Vasu
  • A Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production
  • In Cooperation with United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
  • THE END "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" © 1966 by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

Viewer response[edit]

Charles Schulz wanted Charlie Brown to get a rock at one house. Melendez suggested it happen three times, and while executive producer Lee Mendelson said no, he was overruled.[5] 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."[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Executive producer Lee Mendelson told The Washington Post that the sequence with Snoopy flying his doghouse was "one of the most memorable animated scenes ever."[5] He also said that of all the Peanuts TV specials, "I believe 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' is Bill Melendez’s animation masterpiece.”[5]

Production[edit]

Sponsors[edit]

Similar to the earlier A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown's All-Stars specials, this It's The Great Pumpkin was sponsored by Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison Cakes. These advertisements were replaced in later broadcasts and edited out in the video/DVD releases.

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," is first heard when Linus is writing the Great Pumpkin at the beginning and plays throughout. Other songs composed by Guaraldi for this special include "Breathless", "Graveyard Theme", "Trick Or Treat", "The Red Baron", & "Fanfare". The World War I songs played by Schroeder while Snoopy dances are: "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", "There's a Long, Long Trail", "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag", and "Roses of Picardy."

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 the "Snoopy's Home Video Library" set. This version included editing of the "trick-or-treat" scene and removed the entire sequence of Schroeder playing World War I-era songs. Paramount Home Video later released the special in its entirety on VHS in the '90s. It was released on DVD on September 12, 2000, with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown as a bonus special.

After Warner Home Video had 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. The feature was later released on 4K UHD on October 10, 2017.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pallotta, Frank (October 30, 2014). "'Charlie Brown' Halloween is still hot TV". CNN. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  2. ^ Cohn, Gabe (October 31, 2017). "What's on TV Tuesday: 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' and 'Major Crimes'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  3. ^ Bonanno, Luke. "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Remastered Deluxe Edition DVD Review". DVDizzy.com. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  4. ^ Lind, Stephen (2015). A Charlie Brown Religion (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi).
  5. ^ a b c Cavna, Michael (October 19, 2016). "Why 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' is the greatest 'Peanuts' visual achievement". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Peanuts Documentary (1985) (5 of 5) - It's Your 20th Television Anniversary, Charlie Brown" (Documentary video). YouTube. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Peanuts: Holiday Collection - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Ultra HD Review | High Def Digest". ultrahd.highdefdigest.com. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 

External links[edit]