Cartoon Review: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Cartoon Review, Holiday, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973 Dir. Bill Melendez)

From his dopey, drugged out look I have to suggest he was watching “I love the 80s” on VH1

When this review was first written, this was the only other Thanksgiving special I could find in my collection. Someone told me that there are some more, but I’d have to watch TV shows I hate to find them so never mind. Using the two I’ve seen, I will now make sweeping generalizations about any and all Thanksgiving specials. They are heavily padded to make up for short scripts, they involve lots of costume changes, grandmothers not being up to the normal ideal of granmotherlyness, they all have jazz soundtracks, alternate menus for thanksgiving feature heavily as do the difficulties in food preparation and Drew Barrymore was hot in the 90s. That’s not actually part of the show, but this picture just popped up as my wallpaper and it sort of stopped me for a moment. Nothing serious but it did give me a second of “Whoa, she was hot there” and I thought I would share that moment with you as it might be the last enjoyable moment we ever share. After looking her up out of curiosity, she still looks really good actually. Enough of this tangent though! Let’s start the cartoon, shall we?

You can just smell the sexual tension can’t you?

The cartoon starts with another episode of Lucy tricks Charlie Brown into trying to kick the football again. This is Lucy’s only scene in the entire special and while she entertains, it’s too little meat for her. She knows it and it drives her to commit darker evils on Charlie than she has in the past. Not only does she yank the football away, she teases him with his stupidity for falling for the same trick again. Sadly, he deserves it for failing at simple pattern recognition. This then leads us into the opening credits which are amazingly short. We do get to hear my favorite of Vince Guaraldi’s songs for the peanuts gang, the “Thanksgiving Theme” which you can buy at Amazon on the Charlie Brown Holiday Hits album. Say what you might about the Peanuts Specials, the music was always kickin’! It’s greatly because of Vince Guaraldi’s tunes being on these shows like I got into jazz in the first place. All the music in this show is excellent, even if other bits are lacking.

Do you know where I’ve been sticking that thing? You shouldn’t even be holding it without gloves.

The show starts with Charlie and his sister Sally discussing Thanksgiving, and you’d think that this is the worst thing to ever happen to them. Sally complains that all the stores have things for Christmas, to which Charlie Brown exclaims “Christmas? Already?” leaving me to wonder what world he lives in. If it’s Thanksgiving before you’re seeing the stores stuffed with green and red, then the stores have been remarkably patient with their decorations. Even in 1973 when this was made, seeing stuff by Thanksgiving was no odd thing. Then Sally goes off about how she’s got nothing to be thankful for because the world is just unfair to her. Linus shows up to give his normal condescending attitude a walk around the block, but not before Charlie complains “We’ve got another holiday to worry about.” as if everything would be great if he could just get rid of those pesky holidays. Sally interjects her usual wisdom by shouting “I haven’t even finished my Halloween candy yet!” and now I know this show doesn’t take place on Earth. Linus says blah, blah, blah, tells a lie about Thanksgiving and acts like his crap don’t stink.

On hold with death, waiting for its sweet release.

After getting all that garbage out of the way, the plot finally kicks in! Peppermint Patty calls, explains her dad is out of town and invites herself over to have Thanksgiving. Chuck can’t get a word in to tell her that they won’t be home, so he expects her to arrive. A minute or so later he gets another call. It’s PP again telling him that now Marcy is coming, and then another call a moment later there’s another call saying that Franklin is coming over too. In a great stride for civil rights, Franklin is given exactly two lines in the whole production. I’m always bothered by this. Franklin is treated very badly in this cartoon. Why does the single black character have to be so maligned? Franklin gets no love. Until later, when we will find that Franklin gets ALL the ladies. Seriously, for what’s supposed to be a great advancement, now Franklin comes off as a token character.

How are you going to look at these three, the looks on their faces, and not make a three-way joke?

Linus walks up, because… he works in the same house as Charlie Brown? I have no idea. Kids just walk on and off as needed in these specials and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. They do this in Great Pumpkin as well. I always have problems with the way people just show up at random in the cartoon. The other characters were occupying themselves in ways that would say to me that they weren’t the focus of the guests. That says to me that there was something intimate and private going on that they weren’t part of. If Linus was over, why was Charlie Brown watching TV by himself a moment ago? Was Linus getting it on with Sally (who came out to check on her brother a second ago) but came to see what was bothering his friend because Sally’s just a chick and thus less important? Did he… you know, finish before he left? He sure wasn’t worried about her orgasm, but did he get his? Is it maybe that despite the way the kids are drawn these are actually college kids and instead of houses these are dorms? That would explain everyone just showing up randomly because it’s dorm life. It would also explain Sally putting up with Linus not worrying about whether or not she came since she’s just now exploring her sexuality and is still crushing on him so hard that she’s just happy to have him. You people just watch shows, but I have to THINK about them. Seriously, you have no idea what it’s like living inside my head. It’s scary in here, and I don’t even have a teddy bear.

There is no such thing as joy, happiness does not exist.

So where was I before I suggested that Linus was banging Sally Brown but was totally unconcerned with her orgasms? Oh right, Linus was about to be annoyingly condescending again! Linus suggests that Charlie Brown have two meals, instead of calling Peppermint Patty back and lowering the boom on her or anything. Poor Charlie Brown admits that the only thing he can make is cold cereal and toast. You can see he’s in pain, he needs support. He needs love. What he gets is Linus telling him that he’s seen Chuck make toast and that he can’t butter it on his own. He says he can help and tells Snoopy to get the stuff together. When he turns away, Charlie gets a look of mingled hatred and resentment on his face that can’t be matched. As soon as Linus looks back at him, he’s back to smiling. Charlie Brown is too much of a looser to let the guy who’s putting it to his sister know that he’d kill him in his sleep for a nickel. Charlie Brown is pathetic and I can’t believe he has his own theme. Not Linus And Lucy, which is a completely different song, but the Charlie Brown Theme.

This is the look of sad, impotent rage.

Now, we reach an epic amount of padding. You always need padding in a Thanksgiving special and Snoopy is padding gold. All they had to do was write a few lines and let him go crazy. Nothing he does makes much sense, but that really doesn’t matter. He’s supposed to be getting a table and chairs out for the meal. I have no idea where the Peanuts gang is supposed to be located, but it sure as hell ain’t Michigan! You couldn’t have a thanksgiving meal outside in Michigan, they must be in the south somewhere. Snoopy gets the table out and it’s a ping pong table, so he plays with the table for a few seconds (after shooting some hoops) and gets scolded by Linus for messing around Linus says “We don’t have any time to play Snoopy!” and yet I can’t help but notice that Linus is nowhere to be seen when the work is being done. Snoopy is the only one doing anything at all. He has to get all these folding chairs out and set them up on his own, including a lawn chair that he can’t seem to manage and eventually gets into a peyote fueled kung fu match with. I’ve got to point out, while this is going on a great song called “Little Birdie” is played. It’s about Woodstock and Snoopy. After Snoopy gets the table all set up, Linus comes in and demands he cook the food for them too. So Linus is not only sanctimonious, he’s lazy too.

Where did they get to many toasters? Ebay!

Not only is the cooking scene padded all to hell, but it uses repetitive animation too! Some of the bits show three and four times. The exact same piece of animation over and over. I begin to question my dubious sanity every time I watch this. Snoopy makes a grand meal, which has been covered in great articles on the internet! He sets the table, which has seating for 12 when he sets it. It also doesn’t have that lawn chair I mentioned him kung-fu fighting with. This will be important because when they noticed Franklin had shown up, they changed the seating arrangements. More padding then happens with a costume trunk and Snoopy trying to get Woodstock to dress up like what pop culture would have us believe an American pilgrim looked like. It does nothing for the story because they’ll be dressed like this for a total of 65 seconds. Then you never see those costumes again. So, one might ask, why have them? I don’t know. Someone wanted to animate Snoopy in a hat and cape or something.

OMIGOSH! Snoopy is going to whack Woodstock for talking to the feds!

When the guests arrive, they come to a table that has seating for 12, but strangely, when they actually get seated the only chair left for Franklin is the broken lawn chair. Not only that, but this poor guy who had one line ten minutes ago, is forced to sit alone on one side of the table. I think that this must have been in the old south, because they’ve clearly put poor Franklin in the Coloreds Section. Even Snoopy gets to sit in the Whites Only section, but poor Franklin sits alone. The racism is sickening, as is the continuity. Sometimes he’s in the broken chair, with no other chairs on his side of the table and sometimes he’s got better chairs on either side of him. However you view it, Franklin is a victim of some pretty disgusting racism here. No, actually, I’m not joking. What the hell? Honestly, they couldn’t give the black kid more than one damn line? He couldn’t sit with the white kids? Are we supposed to feel grateful that he’s even allowed to be in the show or something? They’ll let him come over for dinner, but he has to sit in the worst chair, sit on the other side of the table and remain silent while there. He can only talk when at Peppermint Patty’s house. Maybe it’s not racism, maybe it’s some weird BDSM game that Peppermint Patty has going on. I would like to think that there is an innocent solution, but I doubt it.

Note that Franklin is also placed on the left while all the whites are to the right.

Linus gets on his high horse and rams a stupid prayer down everyone’s throat, just trying to prove he’s smarter than everyone else. He’s not of course, because he’s foolishly hanging on to the idea that a pack of English bigots were anything to be proud of. Besides, a lot of thanksgiving lore is nothing but bullshit. It’s all lies. Then Snoopy serves the meal. Toast, jelly beans, popcorn, pretzel sticks. PP of course looses it and shouts at Snoopy and Charlie Brown for not serving them a proper meal. Chuck leaves the table in disgrace, his head hung low and the thirty-eight in his pocket telling him how nice its barrel would feel in his mouth. Linus uses the opportunity to prove he knows about Miles Standish, but no one is impressed. I hate Linus in the cartoons. Someone should run him over with a steamroller like that kid in Maximum Overdrive.

Charlie Brown is forever shamed.

Marcy doesn’t dig Patty’s treatment of Chuck and gives PP a serious come to Jesus style verbal pwning. She grabs Patty’s stupid forelock and bashes her head into the table, screaming at her for hurting the guy she loves. I mean c’mon! Marcy is totally crushin’ on Chuckles. Marcy leaves the table to go tell Charlie Brown that it’s really okay and everyone loves him and takes away the gun so he can’t shoot himself or anyone else. He tells her it’s no big deal and reminds her how many sleeping pills he has upstairs. He doesn’t do it in words, but you can totally hear the words in his head. Marcy then calls Charlie Brown Charles as she leaves him, which sounds formal and post-coital to me. She then greets Patty as Priscilla and now I’m just confused. I mean not really, they can all be one big swinging family as far as I’m concerned I just never thought of Marcy as bisexual is all. So, for the mutual love of Marcy, Patty and Charlie Brown admit their feelings, have a quickie and prepare to go back to the group with their love stronger than ever. And as wacky as all that sounds, it’s 10 times better than what was on the screen.

You know what the funniest thing about Europe is? It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same stuff over there that they got here, but it’s just – it’s just there it’s a little different.

So Charlie Brown discovers that not only are they late, but by the shape of the clock they got some furnishings from Dr. Caligari’s yard sale. Charlie Brown goes to call his grandmother on a phone with a cord that comes out of the dial. He calls Grandma and tells her all about what happened. Grandma says they can all come to her place, at least that’s what eventually comes across. All we hear is a muted trumpet playing at him. They then sing over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. This gets really bad because it shows that none of the kids recorded their parts together. As a result, after about three words, none of them are on beat and you can’t understand what anyone is saying. They’re supposed to be singing together, but they’re all over the place as far as the song goes. Then we get the joke that “My Grandmother lives in a condominium.” because that’s SOOOOO unexpected! Gosh, a grandmother living in a condo! I’ll bet she has a motorcycle too! No word about grandma being emotionally dead, going through a quart of scotch a day or despising the day when “the mistake, her husband and their spawn” show up.

Yeah, we’ve got the clock, someone else got the cabinet before we got there or we’d have a matched set.

The last bit is great though. First off, we hear the whole of the Thanksgiving theme, which is awesome. When the kids leave, Snoopy and Woodstock wave goodbye and go into his dog house. A bit of sound effects later and Woodstock brings out a table and Snoopy brings chairs. He then brings out a roast turkey that he’d been holding back from the kids. Snoop and Woodie eat like kings while they were prepared to serve the kids popcorn and toast. The wishbone is yanked from the bird and Woodstock gets the biggest part. As the credits roll, the two of them share one of the biggest pumpkin pies in history.

One moment of unbridled joy.

This DVD has one of those This Is America, Charlie Brown shows called The Mayflower Voyagers. I’m not going to review that, because it infuriates me. Changed me mind, it be coming up next. See next post! Or look here.

Yeah, I know a lot of guys who try to fight with the furniture when they get drunk.

Official Score:
-20 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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    website is extremely good.

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