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How A Charlie Brown Christmas Became a Surprise Christmas Classic

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Santa Castor

How A Charlie Brown Christmas Became a Surprise Christmas Classic

By Greg Daugherty
10 October 2015



When A Charlie Brown Christmas made its TV debut 50 years ago this December, few people could have imagined it was destined to be a holiday classic.

The story of young Mr. Brown’s quest to find the true meaning of Christmas while everyone around him—including his dog, Snoopy—is caught up in the season’s commercialism was lucky to get on the air at all.

Even its makers had their doubts. As they prepared to preview it for CBS network executives, both director Bill Melendez and producer Lee Mendelson worried that the half-hour cartoon was too slow-paced to hold viewers’ attention.

“I hoped the network would like it better than we did,” Mendelson says now. “And they didn’t.”

In fact, the executives had a whole list of concerns. They thought the animation was crude, the voices amateurish and the music downright weird. And, truth to tell, they were right on all counts.

The animation was crude, with fewer drawings than the more sophisticated cartoons of the day, in part because the show had to be rushed out in less than six months. The voices were amateurish—real children as opposed to adult actors pretending to be kids, as was usually the case. The score, by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, was a bold break from conventional holiday music.

But the execs may have had an even bigger worry. Unlike most Christmas specials, this one actually had some religion in it. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz had insisted on a scene in which the character Linus recites verses from the Bible about the birth of Jesus.

The cartoonist drew the line on some other common TV practices, as well. For example, he insisted the show be made without a laugh track, a standard feature on cartoons in those days. He thought people were smart enough to know whether something was funny or not.


SOURCE: http://parade.com/432941/gdaugherty/how-a-charlie-brown-christmas-became-a-surprise-christmas-classic/


Holy Cow!  I remember the first airing.  I doubt it would ever be aired on TV in today's PC climate if it had not attained its status as a Christmas Classic


Edited by Santa Castor
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Santa Johnny Boy

I remember seeing the first airing, too.  There was a lack of children's Christmas specials on TV.  Charlie Brown and Rudolph changed all that.

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It's a classic in our house. We have the 3 box set (Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas) and they are played every year. My daughter also plays them in her classroom.

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Kris Claus

I remember reading how the TV execs wanted to can the religious aspect as it may be "offensive".  In the 1960's?  The only ones offended were them as people of faith love this classic based on centering around the birth of the Savior.

I love to catch it every year if I can even though I have it recorded.  Just not the same as watching it live.

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Santa Bruce Geron

I love this special! It's great to see that the stage rights have been released this year. So many Community Theatre companies are  presenting it this year.

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