It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a 1966 animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. It was the third animated Peanuts special (and their second holiday-themed special, following the previous year's A Charlie Brown Christmas) produced and animated by Bill Melendez. Adapted from a week-long story that ran in the strip from October 29th through November 3rd of 1962, the special premiered on October 27, 1966, on CBS, preempting My Three Sons. CBS re-aired the special annually through 2000, after which ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001, where it now airs annually at Halloween.
With autumn already in full swing, the Peanuts gang prepares for Halloween. Linus van Pelt writes his annual letter to The Great Pumpkin, despite Charlie Brown's disbelief, Snoopy's laughter, Patty's assurance that the Great Pumpkin is a fake, and even his own sister Lucy's violent threat to make her brother stop. When Linus goes out to mail the letter but cannot reach the mailbox, Lucy refuses to help him; so he uses his blanket to open the box, and throws in the letter.
On Halloween night, the gang (including Charlie Brown's younger sister Sally) goes trick-or-treating. On the way, they stop at the pumpkin patch to ridicule Linus' missing the festivities, just as he did last year. Undeterred, Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin will come, and even persuades Sally to remain with him to wait.
During trick-or-treating, the kids receive assorted candy, apples, gum, cookies, money, and popcorn balls — except for Charlie Brown, who for some reason is given a rock from every house they visit. After trick-or-treating and another visit to the pumpkin patch, the gang goes to Violet's Halloween party.
Meanwhile, Snoopy, wearing his World War I flying ace costume, climbs aboard his doghouse (imagining it to be a Sopwith Camel fighter plane) to fight with the Red Baron. After a fierce but losing battle, Snoopy makes his way across "the countryside" to briefly crash the Halloween party, where he is entertained by Schroeder's playing of World War I tunes on his piano, and then goes to the pumpkin patch. When Linus sees a shadowy figure rising from the moonlit patch, he believes the Great Pumpkin has arrived, and faints. When Sally sees that it is only Snoopy, she angrily scolds Linus for making her miss the trick-or-treating activities as well as the Halloween party festivities as the kids come to take her away with them. As they leave, and still convinced that the Great Pumpkin will materialize, Linus promises to put in a good word for them.
At 4:00 AM the next morning, Lucy awakens and notices that Linus is not in his bed. She finds her brother asleep in the pumpkin patch, shivering. She brings him home, takes off his shoes, and puts him to bed. Later, Charlie Brown and Linus are at a rock wall, commiserating about the previous night's disappointments. Although Charlie Brown attempts to console his friend, admitting that he himself has done stupid things in his life also, Linus angrily vows to him that the Great Pumpkin will come to the pumpkin patch next year.
Like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown's All-Stars before it, this special had sponsorship from Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison, complete with brief animation mentioning them in the opening and closing credits; these were edited out from later broadcasts and video/DVD releases.
During the 1980s and 1990s, CBS' broadcasts trimmed the "trick-or-treat" sequence, such that after the Peanuts gang knock on the first door and say "trick-or-treat," it cuts to the gang after they finished trick-or-treating comparing what they got at the last house.
To make room for the longer commercial breaks during modern airings from 2000 to 2005, ABC cut two scenes, which were later reinstated when the network began airing in conjunction with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown:
- Lucy pleading Charlie Brown to kick the football, and subsequently pulling it away as he tries to do so, a staple in the comic strips since 1952.
- Snoopy (as the World War I flying ace) prompting Schroeder to play World War I era songs.
The music was performed by the Vince Guaraldi Sextet. The lively instrumental, "Linus and Lucy", associated originally with A Charlie Brown Christmas, is used at the beginning of this cartoon as Linus and Lucy prepare a pumpkin to be a jack-o-lantern, as Linus mails his letter to The Great Pumpkin, and when Lucy wakes up at 4 AM to take Linus home from the pumpkin patch. Guaraldi's theme for the special, "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," plays throughout, as when Linus is writing the Great Pumpkin towards the beginning.
The World War I songs played by Schroeder on his toy piano while Snoopy dances are:
- The "Happy" Songs:
- The "Sad" Songs:
- The gag of Charlie Brown having too many holes in his ghost costume because he had trouble with the scissors originates from the Peanuts strip published on October 31, 1955, except that in that strip, the gag was applied to Linus.
- Charlie Brown's repeated line of "I got a rock" caused some stir among many viewers of the show, according to Charles Schulz in the book and retrospective TV special Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown. Schulz said that after the program first aired, bags and boxes of candy came in from all over the world "just for Charlie Brown."
- The gag was later referenced in the Peanuts strip published on November 1, 1975, in which Charlie Brown mentions getting a rock in his trick-or-treat bag.
- Linus mistaking Snoopy for the Great Pumpkin and fainting in response comes from the strip published on October 30, 1960 (though in that strip, he was with Charlie Brown instead of Sally).
References in other mediaEdit
- The special is mentioned in the power metal band Helloween's song "Halloween", from their 1987 album Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1. The title was featured as a puzzle on the October 26, 2011, episode of the television game show Wheel of Fortune.
- At the beginning of "A Pinky and the Brain Halloween", three kids are seen comparing what they got trick-or-treating, with a kid in Charlie Brown's ghost costume saying "I got a bowl of soup."
- The Supernatural episode "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester " was named after the special (Although it is only connected to this story in that it takes place on Halloween).
- In the Homestar Runner Halloween short "Happy Hallow-day", Strong Bad attempts to scare Marzipan, wearing a witch mask identical to the one Lucy wears in this special.
- The final segment of "Treehouse of Horror XIX" is called "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse" and contains several references to Peanuts in general. In the segment, Milhouse wears the same clothes and plays the same role as Linus. Lisa Simpson is modeled after Sally, and Bart looks like Charlie Brown; he even says "good grief", echoing Charlie Brown's catchphrase. A redesigned version of Santa's Little Helper can be seen sleeping on top of his dog house and Homer is seen sleeping on top of his house in a manner similar to Snoopy. When Marge first speaks, she uses a muted trombone in parody of the "wah wah wah" voice that is used for adults in the Peanuts specials.
Home video releasesEdit
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first released on VHS by Kartes Video Communications and Hi-Tops Video as part of its Snoopy's Home Video Library. This version included the CBS edit of the "trick-or-treat" scene and removed the entire sequence of Schroeder playing World War I-era songs. Paramount later released the special on VHS and Laserdisc, with the cut scenes reinstated, in 1994. It was then released on DVD on September 12, 2000, with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown as a bonus special.
After Warner Home Video obtained the video distribution rights to the Peanuts specials in 2007, they released a "Remastered Deluxe Edition" DVD on September 2, 2008. On this DVD, the bonus special was It's Magic, Charlie Brown (You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown was released on its own DVD later that year), and it included a new featurette about the making of the special, "We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown". A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released on September 7, 2010, with the same features as the Warner DVD. The special itself was also included on Warner's Peanuts 1960s Collection DVD set in 2009.
|Christopher Shea||Linus van Pelt|
|Peter Robbins|| Charlie Brown|
|Sally Dryer||Lucy van Pelt|
|Kathy Steinberg||Sally Brown|
|Ann Atieri||Violet Gray|