Whimsical and full of wonder, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the longest-running cartoon special in history. Watching this classic Christmas cartoon is an annual tradition in many families.
The Making of A Charlie Brown Christmas
Featuring ice skating, a Christmas pageant, and snowy scenes reminiscent of Charles Schulz's Midwestern childhood, A Charlie Brown Christmas provides viewers with a thoughtful commentary on the overcommercialization of Christmas. In this 25-minute holiday special, Charlie Brown is searching for an answer to why he always feels depressed around Christmas. With a little help from his friends, Charlie Brown learns that Christmas is really about the miracle of Jesus's birth.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was produced on a shoestring budget, resulting in choppy animation and poor sound quality. But, Schulz repeatedly declined offers to have the program's technical shortcomings "fixed" in later years. He believed these quirks gave A Charlie Brown Christmas an innovative, sincere, and authentic feeling.
However, the program has changed over the years. If you grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, you may be shocked to learn that the special hasn't aired in its original version since 1967. Several scenes referencing Coca-Cola, the original sponsor of the program, were deleted after Dolly Madison snack products assumed sponsorship and FCC rules imposed sanctions that prohibited product placement in children's programming.
Surprisingly, the first reviews of A Charlie Brown Christmas were less than enthusiastic. Some of the early criticisms included:
- The show was too religious, since Linus often quotes directly from the Bible.
- They didn't like the contemporary jazz music, since it seemed like an odd choice for a cartoon.
- They objected to Schulz using real children to voice the characters and refusing to add a laugh track.
While A Charlie Brown Christmas didn't go over well with the critics, viewers loved the special almost instantly. The show captured nearly half the possible audience during its 1965 debut and later went on to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.
Today, over 40 years since it was first shown on television, A Charlie Brown Christmas remains a holiday favorite among the young and the young at heart. It's frequently broadcast during the month of December and is available for purchase as a single DVD or part of a holiday Peanuts boxed set.
Other Charlie Brown Specials
If you're a true Charlie Brown fan, you'll want to check out these other holiday specials after you've finished watching A Charlie Brown Christmas:
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
- It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)
- Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975)
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown (1986)
- It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
- It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1995)
- Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales (2002)
- I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)