“Holiday” Specials: A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlrie Brown Christmas

You remember this show, don't you?

4.5/5 Stars

4.5/5 Stars

So, it’s the Christmas Season. Or  just the “Holiday Season” if you want to be politically correct. I understand there are many Holidays in celebration this time of year, but gosh darn it, no matter how often the commercials say “Holiday Season”, the TV specials always center around the concept of Christmas; even if that concept barely has anything to do with the man CHRISTmas was named after.

So up until December 25th, I’ll be reviewing Christmas Specials. I’ll start calling them “Holiday Specials” once the climax of these specials don’t revolve around Santa Clause, Christmas Trees, or December 25th.

I though I’d kick off the season with one of my absolute favorite Christmas Specials of all time: A Charlie Brown Christmas.

This particular seasonal short film has always been non-sequitur with the rest of the batch of Christmas films. The main character’s always depressed during December, the kids are seen as the greedy little snobs that they really are, and most of the what the kids believe about the happiness about the holiday is torn down within the first 5 minutes of the movie.
Merry Christmas, people!

The movie starts with a melancholy tune that provides it’s own cognitive dissonance. The lyrics sing of happiness and cheer, but the tune itself one of the more depressing things you’d ever want to hear during the holidays. All the while Charlie Brown is telling his pal Linus Van Pelt that he doesn’t understand all of the fluff about Christmas. He’s even quoted saying, “I know nobody likes me. Why do we need a holiday season to emphasis it?”
If you haven‘t figured it out yet, Charlie Brown is built around depression. Even his name is somewhat depressing. You have to say his full name in order for people to know who it is you’re talking about. The rest of the character’s names are simply “Lucy”, “Sally”, “Linus”, and the like. Sure, they have last names, but they don‘t need them to be identified in the show. If you just say “Charlie”, or call him “Brown”, everyone responds “Who?” Even fans of the character do this.

So throughout the rest of the film Charlie Brown is bombarded by the shallowness surrounding the holiday season. Most Christmas specials would say that Christmas is all about friends and family. But Charlie Brown opens up his mail-box and finds absolutely nothing there from his friends or family to even acknowledge his existence. So Charlie Brown goes around spreading his own brand of “Christmas Cheer” by attempting to insult everyone he meets that day.

I don’t know about you, but I always found it sad when he couldn’t find anything to insult his own dog with. His dog is constantly upstaging poor Charlie Brown in the film, even when the kids were skating in the beginning of the film. To be compared to the perfection of a beast lower than you must be really depressing.

Brown & Lucy

Friendship's gonna cost you, darn it!

His sister, Sally, is caught up in even more shallow antics of Christmas, requesting cash from Santa Clause himself, a man who’s been turned into the most shallow icon in American pop culture.

Finally Charlie Brown snaps and sees Lucy, who will only want to be his friend if he pays her a nickel. God, that’s harsh!

Lucy suggests that Charlie Brown should direct the school Christmas Pageant to discover Christmas’s true meaning.
To summarize the rest of the film, the pageant quickly becomes utter chaos, and Charlie Brown tries to restore his dignity by renovating an unimpressive Christmas tree. In frustration,  he cries out if anyone knows what Christmas is really about.
Linus tells Charlie Brown a story that demonstrates the love that is really found in Christmas. The love that God has for mankind that he became a man named The Christ, Jesus; born in this earth only to be with mankind for a short time.

The show isn’t really the best produced show ever. The backgrounds look kind of sloppy, the animation is a mess, and Charles Shultz has  a very blunt writing style. But then, that’s exactly what I like about this Christmas special. Shultz has a way of taking his viewers and showing them their own hypocrisy by aiming it all at poor Charlie Brown. And the rough looking animation only brings the film’s bluntness and it’s harshness to the character to the forefront. It’s all very honest. No underhanded techniques, no shiny effects to distract you from the situations, just kids learning not to be mean to each other, and that life is not perfect. Plain and simple.

The End.

"Hark! The Harold angels sing!"


About Stefan D. Byerley
Stefan D. Byerley is an independent filmmaker and freelance visual artist currently residing in North Carolina. He likes detailed storytelling, intriguing imagery, massive bloody violence, crying at the movies, and long walks in the park during the Autumn season.

One Response to “Holiday” Specials: A Charlie Brown Christmas

  1. Pingback: Christmas Specials: Star Wars « Forced Perspective

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