Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving "Classic" Recap: "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

“Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together.”

I’ve probably mentioned this before on MTVP, but growing up, I was a massive Peanuts fan. My mom always says that as a little kid, “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown” was the first thing that would get me to sit still and pay attention for any length of time. In the mid and late 80’s, my parents dutifully recorded every Peanuts special that broadcast on TV on our VCR, and I would watch them all whenever I was sick. At one point, my parents special ordered “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown” because I kept renting it so much from the corner video store (called Video Tyme…how 80’s is that!). So I couldn’t let another Thanksgiving pass by without talking about one of my favorite Peanuts specials, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. I still appreciate Peanuts as an adult, and now I wonder if my rather misanthropic world view is partially due to being raised on Peanuts, or if I liked it so much because I could identify with Charlie Brown. A chicken or the egg situation, I suppose.

This particular special has plenty of the elements you would expect from any Peanuts special. It even opens with a classic Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown sequence. He’s convinced she wouldn’t pull the football away from him during such a festive time of year, but of course she does. Meanwhile, Sally is irritated that she hasn’t even finished her Halloween candy and it’s already time for another holiday. She’s especially not a fan of the fact that her teacher is making her write an essay on one of the Pilgrims, Miles Standish. In the middle of all this, Peppermint Patty calls Charlie Brown. Her parents are going out of town and said she could go to Charlie Brown’s for Thanksgiving. The only problem is that Charlie Brown and his family are supposed to go to his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving later in the afternoon. Charlie Brown being Charlie Brown, though, he can’t say “no,” and so Peppermint Patty invites herself over.

Linus suggest to Charlie Brown that he could have a “dinner” (of things the kids can cook like toast and popcorn) earlier in the day for friends, then he could have the real holiday dinner with his family in the evening. Charlie Brown agrees to this, but Peppermint Patty soon makes it even more difficult. She invites over Marcie and Franklin, too. As somebody who has not always been great at saying “no,” I can really empathize with Charlie Brown in this situation. Peppermint Patty just runs right over him and won’t let him explain that he actually already had Thanksgiving plans that didn’t include a bunch of extra guests. Luckily for Charlie Brown, Snoopy (with some assists from Woodstock) is prepared to do most of the prep for Friendsgiving.

There’s a kind of weird musical sequence (set to the classic “Little Birdie” performed by Vince Guaraldi) where Snoopy and Woodstock try to set up the Friendsgiving (before it was cool) table and chairs using a ping pong table and lawn chairs, and Snoopy gets into a legit fight with a suddenly anthropomorphic lawn chair. There’s also a musical sequence (set to the even more classic “Linus and Lucy”) where Snoopy and Woodstock are cooking all the food and Snoopy accidentally burns his ear in a toaster. Snoopy really goes above and beyond the call of duty for the family dog in this one, which is something I didn’t realize when I watched it as a kid. Linus also gives a nice speech about the meaning of Thanksgiving, similar to his Bible reading in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

What I also didn’t realize when watching this as a kid is what a shitty person Peppermint Patty is. After inviting herself and two friends over to a Thanksgiving dinner that wasn’t even supposed to happen in the first place and causing Charlie Brown and Snoopy a lot of stress, she has the audacity to complain about the meal and how she expected a full Thanksgiving dinner with Turkey and all the trimmings. I just couldn’t believe she’d have the audacity to complain that strongly about a meal that she invited herself to. Marcie tries to explain that to her after Charlie Brown storms off, and eventually she gets it. But even after she gets it, she wants Marcie to be the one to deliver the apology. Marcie reluctantly agrees to, and Peppermint Patty does chime in herself at the end of the apology, but I feel like the damage has already been done. Charlie Brown also ends up talking to his grandmother because he and Sally are running late due to all of Peppermint Patty’s shenanigans, and Saint that she is, she says all the kids can come over to her condo.

Everybody loads up into the station wagon, but Snoopy and Woodstock are left behind. I thought that was pretty crappy considering all the work Snoopy did to prepare the meal and his fight with the lawn chair and everything. Snoopy gets the last word, though. As the kids are all singing “Over the River and Through the Woods” while traveling in the station wagon, Snoopy has cooked a full turkey dinner for himself and Woodstock. Apparently Woodstock eating the turkey and committing bird cannibalism was considered controversial at one point. Did the fact that my brain never even went there until I read about the controversy make me a bad person? And on that note, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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