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Peanuts/A Charlie Brown Christmas
Charlie Brown is depressed because all he sees in Christmas is crass commercialism, certified by his little sister Sally's wish list and his dog Snoopy entering a Christmas lights contest. He seeks psychiatric advice from Lucy, who makes him the director of the school's Christmas pageant. Things don't go as planned because the kids (including Lucy) decide to disregard Charlie Brown's directions, so he is sent to get a Christmas tree for the pageant. He picks out a tiny, dishelved tree ("It needs me"), and the kids all laugh at him for it. It breaks Charlie Brown's last straw about Christmas until Linus steps up and recites the story of Jesus' birth from the New Testament. Charlie Brown takes the tree outside and places an ornament from Snoopy's display (which won first prize) on it. The tree bends over forward, and it crushes Charlie Brown, thinking he's killed the tree. As he trods off, the other kids decorate the tree fully and it becomes full of life. C.B. returns and is surprised by the sight of the tree anew. It ends with the kids singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."
Behind the Scenes
- As production started on this special, CBS and Peanuts creator Charles Schulz were at odds as to its content. CBS wanted adults to voice the kids, but Schulz rejected it, wanting amateur child actors to provide the voices. CBS wanted a laugh track. Schulz said no, stating that the show's audience should not be informed on when to laugh. The network was also skittish about Linus quoting Scripture (specifically Luke 2:8-14), feeling that religion was a controversial subject, but Schulz had it kept in as well, asking who would do it if he did not. It was screened to CBS executives, and they absolutely hated it. But they had to show it because sponsor Coca-Cola already had the time spot secured. That initial broadcast set ratings records and made the special a yearly event. CBS has been apologizing ever since.
- By the 1990s, changes in the delivery of closing credits for TV programs, along with increases in advertising minutes on the major networks, made it impossible for all of A Charlie Brown Christmas to run in a half-hour time slot. In 2010, the special ran for 35 minutes, including commercials. To fit the half-hour time slot, CBS made several edits to the program, including standardizing its closing credits and eliminating its closing song, the traditional Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", but viewers were not happy with the cuts.
- ABC acquired the broadcast rights to this and the other Peanuts specials in 2000, shortly before Schulz's death, and began running them in 2001, beginning with A Charlie Brown Christmas. In response to CBS's cuts to the program to fit in its half-hour slot, ABC expanded the special to a full hour, padding out its run time by including the documentary special The Making of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (narrated by Whoopi Goldberg) in 2001, followed by the animated special Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales in 2002 for subsequent airings.
Allusions and References
- In the special's initial airings, in-show references were made to the show's sponsor Coca-Cola, which had commissioned the program. Those references were removed from later broadcasts and are not included on home video releases and digital downloads of the special.
|Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas||September 12, 2000||1||
|Peanuts: Holiday Collection||September 12, 2000||3||
Awards and Accolades
Winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program, and the Peabody Award.