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'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

By

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

© 1965 United Features Syndicate

'A Charlie Brown Christmas':

A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted to top ratings in December 1965. Coca-Cola had requested a Christmas special after seeing a two-minute documentary that included Peanuts animation, including the now-famous "Linus and Lucy" song by Vince Guaraldi.

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Premise:

In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown gets fed up with the commercialization of Christmas. He is overwhelmed when he is chosen as the director of the Christmas pageant. He is disappointed when his cast, including his beloved dog Snoopy, doesn't grasp the true meaning of the holiday.

So, in a fit of rebellion and compassion, Charlie Brown chooses a sad, sparse little tree as the Christmas tree for the show. Though they initially criticize Charlie Brown for his choice, the cast comes to realize what a nice little tree it is, culminating in the entire group singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."

This holiday classic cartoon contains several iconic images: the cast dancing wildly to Schroeder's (Vince Guaraldi's) "Linus and Lucy" theme; Snoopy perched atop his lavishly decorated dog house; Linus spotlighted on stage as he recites the Christmas story from the Bible; the moment when the spindly tree flops over, and finally, when all the children face the skies with their mouths forming tiny o's as they sing.

Characters and Cast:

The characters of A Charlie Brown Christmas are the same characters Charles M. Schulz featured in his comic strip, Peanuts. Sadsack and unlucky Charlie Brown leads the group that includes his dog Snoopy, his sister Sally, his best friend Linus, and Linus's bossy sister, Lucy. Other characters are Schroeder, Frieda, Pig Pen and Patty. Children were cast for each role, except for Snoopy, who was voiced by animator Bill Melendez.

Creators:

Charles M. Schulz created the comic strip, Peanuts, which A Charlie Brown Christmas was based on. Producer Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez brought Charlie Brown and friends to life for television. Vince Guaraldi introduced millions of Americans to jazz when he composed music for A Charlie Brown Christmas. All of them became life-long friends.

Music:

As I said above, Vince Guaraldi composed music for A Charlie Brown Christmas. His jazz score was unusual at a time when America was in love with rock and roll. The first song he composed was "Linus and Lucy," which gets the whole cast of characters dancing. Then, he created an instrumental, which later became "Christmas Time Is Here," thanks to words added by Lee Mendelson.

My Two Cents:

Nothing gives me Christmas chills (which are quickly dissipated with a warm mug of cocoa) like hearing "Christmas Time Is Here" and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. No other animated TV holiday special comes close to capturing the message, the spirit and warmth of Christmas. A Charlie Brown Christmas has been enjoyed for generations, and will be for years to come.

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