As we draw closer to the end of this year’s Halloween series, it was inevitable that we would eventually reach this particular Halloween special, the one that is generally considered by a vast majority to be the quintessential Halloween special. The Grandest of them all, if you will.

Of course, I’m talking about It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which would normally be airing on network television right now, as it has the last 50+ years! Alas, that will not be the case this year, but one would think that the majority of the show’s legion of devoted fans have a copy of the special on some media format. Thankfully, Melody Vena rejoins our Halloween series for a 3rd year to help provide a dose of the Peanuts gang for the fans. Sorta. 

You can now find Melody contributing to the pages of Monster Mania Magazine.

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: October 27th, 1966

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has become a beloved Halloween staple since it aired on prime time animated television in 1966. Featuring characters from the Peanuts comic strip created by Charles S. Schulz, and featuring music composed by pianist Vince Guaraldi, the holiday special was sure to be a smash hit with fans and first-time watchers alike.

With the Halloween season going full force, the gaggle of kids referred to as “the Peanuts gang” prepares for a night of fun, scares, and laughs. Linus and his older sister, Lucy, head off in search of the perfect pumpkin. Lucy decides that she wants the largest of the group and, (of course) in an older sibling manner, makes Linus the one to carry it back home. Once the two are home, Lucy tells Linus that she intends to “kill” the pumpkin and make it a jack-o-lantern. This upsets Linus, but he continues along with his sister’s idea.

Once the opening credits have rolled through, you find Snoopy helping Charlie Brown rake a large pile of leaves. Linus comes along eating a large lollipop and jumps into the large pile. I cannot lie. Before the fear of ticks and weird white caterpillars, I would have jumped in myself.

Afterwards, you find Lucy holding a football and telling Charlie Brown that she swears she will not move the football when he goes to kick, and has a note that swears she is telling the truth. With a good start, Charlie takes off towards the ball, goes to kick only to have the ball moved, he flips up, and ends with him laying on his backside. Classic Lucy! She then explains that the note was not notarized, so therefore is not valid.

The movie then takes us inside to where Linus is sitting at the table writing his yearly letter to The Great Pumpkin. He continues to write even though his sister mocks him and threatens to “pound him”, Charlie Brown shares his disbelief, and Snoopy comes in and flat out laughs in his face. Little Linus holds fast, ignores them, and continues to write away. The only support Linus has comes in the form of smitten Sally, Charlie Brown’s little sister. Linus takes his letter and heads outside to the mailbox, passing his sister, Lucy, who can be seen reading a T.V. Guide with her photo on the cover. He then lassos the mailbox handle with his blanket and gently tosses the letter in, with some help from the wind.

Charlie Brown is elated to find that he has been invited to Violet’s Halloween party. When Lucy tells him this is an obvious mistake, he ignores her and starts doing his “happy dance”. On Halloween night, the group of kids goes trick-or-treating, each sporting a different costume, but mostly all dressed as ghosts. Charlie Brown states that he had trouble with the scissors, so his costume is full of holes. Then there is Pig-Pen; a character that is known for being filthy, his dust cloud makes it easy for everyone to identify him. Lucy dresses as a witch, saying it’s the opposite of her real personality. (I think if she was going for that she may have tried an angel, but that’s just me.)

On their way to start their “Tricks or Treats” (as they call it), they stop at the pumpkin patch to make fun of Linus for missing all of the Halloween festivities. Linus stands true to his belief in the Great Pumpkin and believes that he has found a sincere pumpkin patch and that the Great Pumpkin will have to show up that night. Linus persuades Sally, using her love for him against her, to skip trick-or-treating and join him in his wait.

During trick-or-treating, the kids get their goodies, but Charlie Brown keeps getting nothing but rocks. (Fun fact: After watching this, kids all over felt horrible for Charlie Brown and proceeded to send the studio bags and bags of candy until the creator had to make a statement that Charlie Brown was not real.) Once they have their fill of candy (and rocks), they go back to tease Linus and Sally some more before heading off to Violet’s Halloween party.

Meanwhile, Snoopy, the adorable beagle, wearing his WWI Flying Ace costume climbs aboard his doghouse (imagining it to be a fighter plane.) After a fierce battle in which Snoopy faces a loss against the unseen Red Baron, Snoopy makes his way back home to hang out at the Halloween party. He thinks it is funny to sneak into the apple bobbing tank, which leads him to accidentally kiss Lucy when she picks an apple. Disgusted by this, she goes into a fit of attitude. The scene ends with Snoopy listening to music being played on the piano that makes him very sad. This embarrassed poor Snoopy and he leaves the party.

I will not go into any more detail on the movie, in case there are those like myself who had never seen It’s the Great Pumpkin. That’s right, I said it! I have never seen any of the Peanuts movies or comic strips. I felt getting to watch this and then write about it would be a lot of fun. My opinion, and I stress that, OPINION! I wasn’t very impressed with the cartoon. I felt that it didn’t have much to do with the Great Pumpkin, and was mostly centered on the on-goings around it. I mean, Snoopy’s imaginary flight got more airtime! I expressed my views on this to several people and I have often been met with, “ARE YOU CRAZY? IT’S CHARLIE BROWN!” One person even told me to look at it like those who get excited over this movie is the equivalent of me getting excited over talking to the Crypt Keeper. One thing I have learned through all of this, much like religion and politics, you should never discuss your views on the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.