Wednesday, October 3, 2018

TV Deep Dive: Hands-on Charlie

Unlike other cartoonists who often just collect paychecks when their creations are adapted for television, Charles Schulz took an active role in the Peanuts specials. He wrote the script, inserting some of the more iconic scenes into the special. He also handpicked Bill Melendez, who had become a trusted friend, to produce the animation. The partnership had earned them an Emmy for A Charlie Brown Christmas and they had high hopes for the Halloween special.

While still somewhat of a ratings success, the followup to A Charlie Brown Christmas- Charlie Brown’s All-Stars- was seen as a lesser effort. Schulz wanted their Halloween outing to dazzle.

Oddly enough, despite CBS’ original admonition that A Charlie Brown Christmas was too religious, Charles Schulz decided to go with a suspiciously religious seeming storyline. Linus is depicted as believing in a mysterious figure who never actually shows up. Despite everyone’s doubts, Linus fervently believes in the Great Pumpkin. The audience is taught that one can have faith in something that they can’t see or hear.

Despite the seemingly obvious religious overtones, Charles Schulz insisted that he didn’t intend for the Great Pumpkin to be considered a metaphor for God. He saw the Great Pumpkin as being a Halloween version of Santa Claus, though he wasn’t too upset if people believed that the Great Pumpkin was a stand in for God.