Fall television would not be the same without the classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The 30-minute special from 1966 makes its way to our living rooms through a combination of timeless plot and witty characters.
The premise of this episode hinges on Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive on Halloween night. He writes his annual letter to the Great Pumpkin in hopes it will bring him presents. The other characters think Linus is insane to wait around for a pumpkin so they go trick-or-treating without him. Charlie’s Brown’s little sister, Sally, sticks around with Linus to support his conquest of meeting the Great Pumpkin at the pumpkin patch. Snoopy shows up as a dark figure, leaving Linus to believe it is the Great Pumpkin and Linus faints. The following morning, Linus realizes it wasn’t the Great Pumpkin. However, he is determined to meet the creature next Halloween.
Although the show centers around animated young children, the script uses very clever language. There were scenes in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” that made me laugh even as a young adult. Lucy convinces Charlie Brown to kick a football because there was a signed agreement. However, she then pulls it away and states the document was never authorized. As a child, I would not think twice about a contract joke but the humor definitely lands for older audiences. The show also mentions how The Great Pumpkin is not as controversial as religion and politics. During the holiday season, family gatherings try to avoid those topics, though they arise at dinner regardless. This special added sophisticated dialogue so it can be more enjoyable for adults watching with children.
A compelling underlying theme in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is Linus sticking to his beliefs. His friends and family are consistently telling him the chances of the Great Pumpkin showing up are low. However, Linus patiently waits all night for it to come.
Charlie Brown discourages him when Linus is writing his letter to the Great Pumpkin. He mentions children only write to Santa Claus. It was interesting how this special made Halloween seem like Christmas. The Great Pumpkin is the Santa Claus of Halloween and it was well executed. The characters made Linus seem delusional about the Great Pumpkin without considering Santa Claus might not be real as well. Then again, this is a television special made for children.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will be around for the next decade to come. The special features moral themes without the audience having to think critically. The animation is beautiful, specifically when the scenes change from morning to night. The sky changes in different colors and it adds a unique element to the special. The Peanuts franchise has been rebooted and adapted into modern animation like “The Peanuts Movie” from 2015. I’m sure it won’t be too long until “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” gets an upgrade from the 1966 premiere.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” can be streamed on Apple TV+.