Apple+ and PBS on Wednesday announced a deal that will allow fans of the annual holiday specials featuring the Peanuts gang to watch them for free.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is not as widely known as “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which debuted in 1965, or the 1966 follow-up, ″It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” But the Thanksgiving special, which moved to ABC in 2001, was notable in several ways.
First adult voice
Speaking of trombones, that “Wah-wah-wah” noise has been synonymous with Charlie Brown’s teacher. But in the Thankgiving show, the first adult voice was heard in a Peanuts special. It is not a speaking part, however. The voice, belonging to Vince Guaraldi, is heard in the song, “Little Birdie.”
The familiar Vince Guaraldi Trio’s trombone sound can be heard, however, when Charlie Brown is speaking on the telephone with his grandmother.
“Guaraldi was one of the main reasons our shows got off to such a great start,” Lee Mendelson, the producer who worked on many of the Peanuts specials, wrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. “His ‘Linus and Lucy,’ introduced in ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ set the bar for the first 16 shows for which he created all the music. For our Thanksgiving show, he told me he wanted to sing a new song he had written for Woodstock. I agreed with much trepidation as I had never heard him sing a note. His singing of ‘Little Birdie’ became a hit.”
Lucy has limited role
Naturally, Lucy Van Pelt has her scene where she torments Charlie Brown by yanking away a football as the beleaguered “Peanuts” hero attempts to kick it. But that opening scene is the only time we get to see Lucy.
In the final scene, Woodstock helps Snoopy carve a turkey and then helps devour the Thanksgiving bird. The scene, which “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz insisted on including, caused some backlash. Fans were not pleased, so Mendelson trimmed the special to 22 minutes. When ABC began broadcasting the show, the edited three-minutes were returned.
Mendelson called it a “rare, minor dispute” with Schulz. After all, how often does a bird eat a bird?
“For some reason I was bothered that Woodstock would eat a turkey. I voiced my concern, which was immediately overruled,” Mendelson wrote in The Huffington Post.
AAAAARRRGGGHH, he couldn’t do it
Tony Barbee was the new voice of Charlie Brown in the Thanksgiving special, and he had trouble replicating the main character’s anguished yell.
“Try as I might, I just couldn’t generate (it as) long as they were looking for," Barbee, who was 10 at the time of the show, later told Noblemania. “So, after something like 25 takes, we moved on. ... I think they eventually got an adult or a kid with an older voice to do that one take.”
Linus' speech later became spin-off series
Linus Van Pelt, who always seemed to recite the most thoughtful speeches in the “Peanuts” specials, spoke about the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving dinner in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” It later became a spin-off series in 1988-89. “This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers,” was the first episode of the series, which was first aired in 1988.