It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
A complete breakdown
If you live in America, you have probably seen It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown so many times that you can almost repeat the script word for word (you can’t, but you might think you can).
The special first hit the airwaves October 27, 1966 because the networks asked for another Charlie Brown special after the massive success of A Charlie Brown Christmas. However, the Great Pumpkin storyline debuted in Peanuts comics almost seven years earlier in the October 27, 1959 strip.
While The Great Pumpkin has been relevant and a repeating gag every Halloween season in the comic strip (Linus has gotten everyone from Sally, Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty and even Snoopy to wait in the pumpkin patch for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin), television viewers have annually sat in front of their television at some point in October (airings have varied from early October to Halloween night) to digest the half hour of Charlie Brown’s woes and Linus’ mixing up his holidays. Let no one lie to you, no matter how many copies of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown you have on VHS or DVD, there is nothing comparable to watching it on TV live.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the only Halloween special to be regularly aired since its inception. A lot of Halloween specials were made and aired for a number of years in the 1970s and 80s (A Garfield Halloween may be the most prominent). After outlasting such specials as The Fat Albert Halloween special or Halloween is Grinch Night, The Great Pumpkin is now being aired next to Toy Story and Shrek Halloween specials ensuring yet another generation gets addicted.
I’ve said this before and I am sure that I will say this again — nothing perfectly encapsulates Halloween night like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. From the scratchy colored backgrounds to the downplayed and eerie soundtrack, if I could spend every Halloween night as the Peanuts gang does, I would live a fulfilled life.
When you’ve seen The Great Pumpkin as many times as I have, you start noticing the tiniest things about every such moment in the special. For example, my first statement watching the special this year was that they edited out the football scene. Indeed, in 2014, two scenes were cut to knock the 25 minute special down to 22 minutes. In 2014, Charlie Brown did not try to kick the football only to have Lucy pull it away at the very last minute. To complement that, Snoopy didn’t have his emotion wrought dance with Schroeder at the Halloween party. Over the years, The Great Pumpkin has gone through many variations to make room for broadcast partners (this year for Toy Story of Terror) or even had extra commercials to push the run time for the special to an hour. You don’t last 48 years without some manipulation.
My knowledge of The Great Pumpkin aside, there are still questions to be answered!
Why are the people in this town such assholes?
Who gives kids (or specifically, one prematurely balding child) a rock for Halloween? I’ve handed candy to kids several times on Halloween night. Never did I hide rocks underneath the Milky Ways or gum. Thanks to the kind people of the world, Charlie Brown has gotten plenty of candy over the years as many viewers would mail candy to the studio in care of Charlie Brown to make sure he didn’t try to eat those damn rocks. Just a thought, Charlie Brown, if you’re just going to get rock every single year for Halloween anyway, why not just wait in the pumpkin patch with Linus — just in case. Can’t hurt, right?
A free idea to costume companies: Instead of trying to make a hot dog into a “sexy” costume, why don’t you make a costume of a sheet ghost with a bunch of black circles (representing holes) that come complete with a bag of rocks? Call it “Bad Luck Trick or treater.”
On the flip side of this, who gives out quarters to random kids? I have 60-70 trick-or-treaters every Halloween night. That could get expensive!
Charlie Brown is a bad brother.
Linus spends every Halloween in the pumpkin patch waiting for the great pumpkin. As much of a bitch as she may be, at least Lucy has the balls to ask people for an extra piece of candy for her “stupid brother.” Sally is tricked by love into staying the night in the pumpkin patch, but Charlie Brown does not go the extra mile for his little sis. Then again, if all he is going to get is a bag of rocks, she may be better off!
Who is the person who opens the door for Snoopy, the World War I flying ace?
This is going to sound ridiculous because this bothered me for ten years before I finally figured it out. As sad as I am to admit it — that is not even an exaggeration. Shortly after showing off their costumes (all of them are ghosts. Some of them are ghosts with masks on — Halloween costumes weren’t very creative in the 60s), Snoopy walks by the kids in his costume — that of a World War I flying ace! As Snoopy leaves, one kid shows the proper respect by holding the door open for him and saluting.
As you can see, this kid is in the regular ghost attire. He is not one of the kids with the mask or the kid with the coonskin cap. He isn’t Charlie Brown because he doesn’t have wholes all over his sheet. He isn’t Pigpen because he doesn’t have dirt all around him. Our only clue as to the identity of the kid is the light orange sleeve that pokes out of the sheet. After many years of research (ie, watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown), I deduced it’s the kid in the light orange shirt standing behind Pigpen at the Halloween party in this scene. More on Pigpen in a minute.
But…who is this kid? His name is 5. His proper name is 555-95472. You see, 5′s parents got to feeling like they were nothing but a number to the government, so they literally renamed themselves after numbers. Check out this dancing picture from the Christmas special below. He’s the kid with the weird eagle-like dance. The two girls who look identical with the stringy hair around him? Those are his sisters, the twins — named 3 and 4, respectively.
Even 5′s page in the Peanuts Wiki mentions he has a small non-speaking role in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Pigpen wears glasses?!!
My new dilemma surrounds the dirtiest boy anyone knows, none other than Pigpen. Pigpen is a one off joke that somehow lasted the entire run of Peanuts. He’s seen several times throughout the special, but check out this picture from the party one more time.
Notice something different? Yeah, Pigpen is wearing fucking glasses! WTF?!! At no other time during the comic strip run or any of the other animated specials does Pigpen ever sport four eyes. You can’t even claim he’s in costume because 1) we saw his costume earlier in the program and 2) no one is in costume anymore. I am sure this is nothing more than an animation mistake, but it bothers me to no end! A quick search of the internet tells me I am not the only one.
There’s about 1300 words on It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Hopefully, it puts you into the season as much as it does me!