It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)/ It’s Magic, Charlie Brown (1981)
25 minutes (each episode)
Ah, the joy of watching holiday-themed animated classics. Whether it’s Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman or A Charlie Brown Christmas, most of us have grown-up seeing these specials on TV or now on DVD. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a Halloween-themed Peanuts special that presents a number of serious issues within the context of the animated world of Charlie Brown and his friends.
Blanket-carrying Linus is determined to finally meet The Great Pumpkin on Halloween night by staying out in the nearby pumpkin patch. Linus feels that The Great Pumpkin will rise from the pumpkin patch, and deliver toys and goodies to him. Despite his strong belief in the mythical Halloween icon, his friends and sister think he’s a blockhead for even thinking about awaiting the arrival of The Great Pumpkin.
There is a definite religious undercurrent that flows throughout the special. While not as blatant as Linus’s monologue about the birth of Christ in A Charlie Brown Christmas, elements of religion still exist. Linus has faith that The Great Pumpkin will rise from the pumpkin patch to visit him, despite the jeers and insults delivered by his friends. His loyalty to his cause despite his seeming persecution makes his resolve even stronger as he diligently waits in the pumpkin patch for his visit.
It’s the believer versus the non-believers, a tale retold many times in the realm of all religions throughout the world. And, thanks to the clever writing of Charles M. Schultz, creator of the Peanuts character and comic strip, these themes are once again delivered in a Technicolor package.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is an enjoyable cartoon that can be watched on a superficial or deeper level. The special is safe for all ages and I’m pretty sure it will continue to air on TV for decades to come.
Along with It’s The Great Pumpkin comes It’s Magic, Charlie Brown, a Snoopy-centric special that finds Snoopy in search of a hobby. At the library, he gets a book on magic, puts on a show for the neighborhood, and wacky shenanigans ensue!
The only special feature is a short documentary called We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown. The producers, animators, and others who worked on the Peanuts cartoon specials talk about what had to be done in order for It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to be a success, and to ensure that other Peanuts special could follow.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown gets an A.
It’s Magic, Charlie Brown gets an A.
Oh, and Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken did a great spoof of It’s the Great Pumpkin in season one. The sketch is in the episode: “Vegetable Fun Fest” (*VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*)