What would the holidays be without a holiday special? Just another holiday, but one that may be a little bit less meaningful than it would’ve otherwise been. There’s something about holiday specials, be they the classics or some of the newer ones that hope to one day be classics, that just put a smile on my face, even when I’m not in need of one or already have one. While I may not remember them from childhood, I’m certainly hoping that even as an adult, I can find some sort of joy to get me into the holiday spirit.
The United Feature Syndicate short program “ A Charlie Brown Christmas”, is just as cute as any other, but seems to be lacking something that makes it truly exciting to watch.
This animated classic features the voice talents of Peter Robbins (“My Three Sons”, “Bracken’s World”), Christopher Shea (“Friday Night Lights”, “A Little Game”), Tracey Stafford (“My Three Sons”, “Run for Your Life”), Kathy Steinberg (“You’re in Love, Charlie Brown”, “Charlie Brown’s All Stars!”), and Bill Melendez (“The Peanuts Movie”, “He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown”).
The holiday special was directed by Melendez (“He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown”, “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown”) and written by Charles M. Schulz (“I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown”, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales”). It is based on the “Peanuts” comic strip by Schulz.
The special originally aired on Dec. 9, 1965 on CBS. It would go on to be nominated for two Emmy Awards, winning one; one Grammy Award, and a Peabody Award among a few other nominations.
I finally got to watch it! It’s like with the 24 hours of “A Christmas Story”, which happens every year, and up until last year, I managed to always miss. I feel like I accomplished something big! It’s also momentous, as I was finally able to take in the music that was created by Vince Guaraldi, and discover that I do in fact enjoy listening to it! Each year I’d grapple with the decision of buying the album or not. Now I know. I also know how I feel about this special as an adult, as opposed to a younger viewer.
I don’t like it as much. Certainly when compared to “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, which sadly is the only other Charlie Brown holiday special I got to watch. It was missing something that helped to make it feel truly worth it. Perhaps it was just the way I went into it. I was excited for it, as opposed to this time. I wasn’t dreading it, but there just wasn’t the same excitement level.
One thing obviously misusing was Woodstock. I just love that little bird, and when he and Snoopy get together, it’s just silly. I’m just a little baffled as to how he wasn’t included. Because of his absence, there were less antics. Sure Snoopy had a few moments that made me laugh, but largely he was just there. Granted, I can’t complain about that, as that would also be disappointing if he wasn’t around.
Perhaps it was the overall atmosphere of this special. It does begin, and continues for most of it, with Charlie Brown being depressed about Christmas. He seems to be depressed about everything in these specials. He’s in search of understanding what the meaning of Christmas is. While it’s a great way to put out an important message for kids, and even some adults, it’s bleak. Christmas, to me, is supposed to be a lot happier. A lot more cheer.
During the special, there’s more going on, such as the Christmas play, which is kind of exciting to see, but as it really doesn’t lead anywhere or do much for me, so it’s hard to get excited about it. With that taking a lot of the run time, I’m not really left with much to like. Hopefully the automatic message is enough.
While there’s one clearly stated idea of what Christmas is all about, there’s yet another. It’s one, in this case, that deals more in spending time with friends and appreciating what you have. No long list like what Sally was creating, but just the need for company and even a tiny little tree that looks pathetic, even with a single Christmas ornament. It’s the little things that can get anyone into the holiday spirit.
The holidays mean something different to everyone. Some, it’s about the birth of Christ and family and friends, as well as all the decorations you could possibly put out, others it’s one or the other. It seems that even the holiday special can mean something different to each viewer. For some, it’s simply a matter of being able to fully enjoy the individual special. While it may be enough to ease you more into the holiday spirit, it’s not an automatic guarantee that you’ll like every bit of it.