THE [Seasonal] Television Special

That was the title for the post about this last year, and it matches one of our friends saying it’s the only Christmas special she watches.  It’s everyone’s favourite “flop”:  the famous Tree that fell over (that’s the tree The Mom chose on Facebook); and the Special itself was considered a flop by the network executives, who were rather shocked at its success!

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” first aired December 9, 1965, preempting Gilligan’s Island.  We STILL love the show, but the story behind it is just as wonderful–a story of Hope if there ever was one…

What gives this cartoon it’s unique, authentic feeling, are the very things that horrified the Big Bananas:

  • they assumed no one would want to sit through Linus reading from the Gospel of Luke, King James Verson (Shultz was adamant about keeping this scene in, remarking that “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”)
  • There was no “laugh track”—all children’s cartoons of the time had a laugh track; Shultz maintained that people didn’t need to be cued when to laugh.
  • The use of children to do the voice acting, instead of adults; in fact, only two of the actors had any experience at all. The children learned their lines phonetically, often not knowing what they meant. (This led to the now-familiar Peanuts delivery-style.) The little girl who voiced Sally was too young to read, and had to be cued line by line. The finished product is noticeably choppy and the sound poorly mixed.
  • The jazz soundtrack was unheard of for a children’s program.

Apparently, the producer continued to be embarrassed by the show’s faults being aired every year, but Shultz vetoed a ‘fix’—thank God for that!!

This was the first year that Nanny & Pappy had Christmas at their new “cottage” (where they now live), which was originally a large garage… the backdrop for this tree is the garage door!  Nanny wanted pine instead of spruce for a change, but has since said that she’s never had a “worse-looking tree”!

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