What would Christmas be without everyone’s favourite “flop”—not only the Tree, but the story behind this TV show? I absolutely love
It’s a cartoon, but not the first thing that comes to mind with that term “cartoon”. It first aired on December 9, 1965, preempting Gilligan’s Island, shocking the network executives (the ones calling it a “flop”) with its success—last December celebrating its 40th anniversary. You already know what I’m talking about: *“A Charlie Brown Christmas”*
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!!