Some of you may bring up that this is more of a special than an episode of television. Some of you may point out that, in fact, Peanuts was not a TV show. That it was only a series of specials based on a comic strip found in the newspaper, and there weren’t even that many of them, really. Some of you may point out that many of them were made as promotions for events or companies, and thus this entry should be invalid.
Those of you who do that are Dirty Communists.
Peanuts was never a show, true, but it had a huge impact on television, not to mention America, and this was the special that started it all. For the 2 people out there who don’t know Peanuts, here’s the premise: Charlie Brown is a loser. Actually, he’s THE loser. Even when things appear to be going his way, fate will find a way to knock him down. His “friends” often don’t help, as they tend to point out that he lacks any discernible talent. Sometimes they even sabotage him further. Lucy (Tracy Stratford), famously, even pulls the football out from under him every time he tries to kick it. Every. Single. Time. It was an annual gag from the 50s to the 90s. Despite this, though, he always has a strong moral center, never cheats, and always believes that, through time and effort, he can develop something that will make him have value in the eyes of others. While it rarely happens in the show, since Charlie Brown is based on his author Charles Schulz, we can believe that he does eventually make good. The strange dichotomy of Charlie Brown, however, is that while he’s often a loser, he’s also usually in charge of his gang of friends, which may say more about them than him. Maybe they just like failing while having someone to blame it on. Schadenfreude, thy name is Peanuts.
In this special, Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) starts out by being depressed about the commercialization of Christmas. He laments to his best friend, Linus (Chris Shea), that he doesn’t particularly grasp the meaning of the season. His friends don’t help the matter: His sister, Sally (Kathy Steinberg), wants a huge number of gifts (though she’ll accept cash), his friend Lucy wants real estate, Linus chides him for just being moody and tells him to enjoy his presents, and even his dog, Snoopy (Bill Melendez), spends his time on a decorating contest. Charlie Brown is invited to direct the Christmas play to help lighten his mood, but none of his friends show any interest in cooperating.
Deciding that it would help to get a tree for the set, Charlie Brown goes to a tree lot. Despite being told to get a fake tree, he picks the only real tree on the lot – a scrawny sapling. Everyone proceeds to mock the tree as being insufficient to represent Christmas, leading an exasperated Charlie Brown to ask if anyone even knows what Christmas even is.
In response, Linus, the only one who didn’t laugh at the tree, recites the annunciation of the Shepherds from the Gospel of Luke, ending with “on Earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Charlie Brown takes his tree home to decorate, to show that, despite its appearance, it really can be what the show needs. It promptly bends over after having a single ornament placed on it. Despondent over killing the tree, Charlie Brown leaves, lamenting his perpetual failure. The rest of the gang then arrives, feeling guilty, and decorates the tree (somehow giving it more branches and needles at the same time). When Charlie Brown returns, he sees his friends singing around the now beautiful little tree.
Charlie Brown is a loser with a heart of gold. The thing that sets him apart is that he keeps trying, and that he treats his friends well, even when they treat him poorly. He always turns the other cheek. Because of that, in the end, his friends always come through for him, letting even the world’s born loser manage to pull off a win.
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NEXT – 40: Supernatural
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