Wow! Does this bring back some memories! I remember watching specials like these when I was a kid. Sitting in front of the TV in my pajamas, because I had to go to bed straight after the show was over, it was always fun to watch these special Charlie Brown specials come on. Of course, you could always count on Snoopy to steal the show from everybody. We can only dream of ever having a dog as cool as Snoopy in our lifetime. Can you think of another dog that can cook dinner, act like John McEnroe in a tennis match, drive a motorcycle, or fly a doghouse after the Red Baron? I have a feeling that Cujo would not qualify.
“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is one of those episodes that I haven’t seen in the longest time. On Thanksgiving evening, the show was passed on to another generation as my brother and I got his daughter to watch it in all its animated glory. She was originally more interested in watching some show on Nickelodeon that looked rather lame if you ask me, but we successfully managed to wrestle the remote control from her and turned it to ABC. She got a big kick out of the episode, especially when Snoopy and Woodstock are fighting with each other over preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.
“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is sandwiched between two of the more famous Charlie Brown specials, “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” As a result, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” tends to get lost in the shuffle of other specials, but it is easier to find on TV than “It’s The Easter Beagle Charlie Brown.” The show revolves around Charlie Brown having to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner of sorts for his friends before he has to go to his grandmother’s place to have Thanksgiving dinner there. Peppermint Patty has somehow invited herself and some of her friends (Marcie and Franklin, the lone black character in this show) over to Charlie Brown’s place, expecting a huge Thanksgiving dinner in the space of about an hour or so. As if that were possible! My dad spent a good 8 hours preparing our most recent Thanksgiving feast. Who does Peppermint Patty think she is anyway?
It’s interesting to see how I viewed this as a kid, and how I view this now as an adult. I remember feeling sorry for Charlie Brown because I thought he was doing the best he could under the circumstances. Besides, he had Snoopy to back him up and butter toast as though he was dealing a deck of cards (the sound effects pretty much gave that one away). These days, he reminds me of myself when I was a teenager. Self-pitying and more hopeless than not, Charlie Brown is his own worst enemy. Watching him give in to Peppermint Patty’s demands makes me want to shake him and tell him to grow some balls. Stand up to Peppermint Patty. She may kick your bald ass at baseball, but not in the kitchen!
With Peppermint Patty, I think Charlie Brown said it best in this episode:
“You can’t explain anything to Peppermint Patty!”
She has a one track mind that cannot be reasoned with. When Peppermint Patty wants something, she seems to get it no matter what. But she can be so rude and so oblivious to things she should know about like good manners. Where does she get off inviting herself to other people’s houses? Why does she expect everyone to serve her needs? Doesn’t she have a clue? Inviting yourself to someone else’s house threatens to be rude and inexcusably imposing among other things… Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I was kind of like that as a kid. I did invite myself over to a friend’s house when I was 7 or 8 or so. I wasn’t really thinking about how my friend might think all of this. It’s kind of embarrassing to think about now. Well… Judge not lest ye be judged!
Of course, you can always count on Linus to make everyone see the true meaning of holidays. As in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” he tells everyone how Thanksgiving Day came about when the Pilgrims and the Indians came together for a feast, and of how thankful they were that they had found a strong friendship with each other. You have to be impressed with the amount of knowledge that Linus had at his age. Maybe he had some sort of cheat sheet in that blue blanket he always carried around with him. You actually don’t see that blanket here in this episode, but maybe it was on those holidays that he remembered so well because he liked it so much. Linus was always a great friend to Charlie Brown, and it was nice to see that at the very least, Charlie always had him as a friend through the tough times.
If there were ever to be a special showing these characters as all grown up, I think Linus would come across as the most well adjusted, and that’s even if he had that security blanket of his still in his hands. Linus would also probably be married to that little red haired girl that Charlie Brown had the hugest crush on. Of course, this would probably break up their friendship and make them the worst of rivals. Remember that one line from Roger Avary’s “Killing Zoe?”
“Never let a woman come between two men!”
You’ve got to love Snoopy and his sidekick Woodstock though. They save the day as they concoct a dinner of popcorn, buttered toast, and pretzel sticks among other things. They have the funniest parts of this one as they have to get a table and chairs together for all the guests. Snoopy gets caught up in table tennis (he has better luck with that than he does real tennis) until Linus reminds him that he has work to do. Snoopy ends up getting into a fight with a rouge folding chair that seems to have a life of its own (one of the benefits of an animated special). They fight each other over which way the chair should be set. The chair has to win of course.
There’s one other thing I wonder about in this episode. At the end, Snoopy and Woodstock are left alone at Charlie Brown’s house as everyone else goes to grandma’s house (despite the fact that Snoopy seemed all excited about going to grandmother’s house as well). Snoopy goes into his doghouse and constructs a wooden table and chairs for him and Woodstock. Snoopy also manages to cook a Thanksgiving turkey (why he didn’t do this earlier is best left unanswered) for him and Woodstock, and they both sit down to eat it and even break a wishbone. Now here’s the thing; a turkey is a bird, and Woodstock himself is also a bird. So by eating the turkey, doesn’t that in fact make Woodstock a cannibal? I mean, he is eating his own kind! Doesn’t that ever come into Woodstock’s mind that he is doing just that? What would his parents think? Plus, how does he get the better half of the wishbone? How can a little bird manage to overpower a beagle’s strength when it comes to that? That’s the world of animation for you! Making the impossible seem possible in the only way how.
It was cool to see “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” again after all these years. This episode never gets as much attention as some of the other Peanuts specials over the years, but it is every bit as good. Maybe I’ll buy it on DVD once Black Friday has passed us by. That will be fun to have in my vast DVD collection.