On initial screening, the network assumed it experienced a catastrophe on its palms. It was a silent cartoon — a lot more of a meditation on seasonal melancholy than a suitable holiday movie. The pacing was gradual, it was voiced by a cast of novice kids and the soundtrack amounted to very little much more than the jazz piano stylings of a mustachioed North Seaside hipster nicknamed “Dr. Funk.”
Worst of all, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” actively railed in opposition to the commercialization of the season, primarily in the sort of an prolonged monologue from the blanket-wielding Linus set in the context of Jesus’s nativity.
“[The executives said], ‘We’ll perform it once and that will be all. Excellent check out,’ ” producer Lee Mendelson advised me in an job interview again in 2006. “[Director Bill Melendez] and I considered we had ruined Charlie Brown permanently when it was accomplished. We type of agreed with the network. One particular of the animators stood up in the back again of the space — he experienced experienced a pair of drinks — and he mentioned, ‘It’s heading to operate for a hundred decades,’ and then fell down. We all considered he was mad, but he was a lot more right than we have been.”
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” has, of course, endured. The 25-minute animated particular has aired on network television just about every 12 months considering that its 1965 debut. It ran on CBS until 2000 and then on ABC every single year subsequently, which includes exclusive broadcasts on its 40th and 50th anniversaries on 2005 and 2015, respectively. For its 55th anniversary, it will not surface on network Television at all.
In October, Apple obtained the exceptional legal rights to the particular, as section of its ongoing, billion-dollar Apple Tv+ drive. The offer with Wildbrain, Peanuts Worldwide and the now-late Mendelson’s creation firm helps make Apple’s streaming system the exceptional rights holder for Peanuts written content. That signifies that subsequent specials “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “It’s the Fantastic Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will see a equivalent fate.
It is develop into a acquainted tale in the period of streaming. Final calendar year HBO Max locked down distinctive obtain to new episodes of “Sesame Avenue,” while that unique deal authorized for episodes to air on PBS at a afterwards date. There’s a bit of a loophole here, far too. The Peanuts deal demands Apple to give the specials for totally free for a constrained window. The “Great Pumpkin” will be free as a result of the support from Oct 30 till November 1, “Thanksgiving” will be produced accessible from November 25 to the 27 and “Christmas” will come decidedly before this 12 months, from December 11 to the 13.
“[Peanuts creator Charles Schulz] would say things like, ‘I never ever thought it would be all-around 25 decades later,’ ” his widow Jean Schulz instructed me in an job interview for that identical piece. “One of the causes that Xmas is so great is that again in 1965 there had been no VCRs or DVDs, so you observed that clearly show the moment, and you experienced to wait around a entire yr to see it all over again. And when it arrived on, it continue to held up. It was continue to charming.”
Additional than a fifty percent of a century later on, the exclusive even now qualifies as both equally. It is a great artifact of American common tradition that is very a great deal the two a solution of its individual period and a light protest against it. Of study course, all of the things that Linus warned us about back again in 1965 have only compounded in the intervening a long time. The media landscape, as well, has remodeled several periods due to the fact then.
In a environment in which transform is the only constant, seeing “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on Tv has been something to depend on. This 12 months, the shorter turns into the most up-to-date bit of written content to get shoveled up in the terrific streaming wars of 2020, as media companies battle tooth and nail for again catalogues.
Cast as the perennial cynic and antagonist football mover, Lucy Van Pelt tells the titular character, “Look, Charlie, let us deal with it. We all know that Xmas is a big commercial racket.” That, at minimum, has not altered.