It just isn't Halloween without it...Celebrating the Peanuts special "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" on its 50th anniversary
31 October 2016
Fifty years ago in 1966, the television special "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" aired as "A CBS Special Presentation In Color" on October 27,1966. It was the third Peanuts special(and the second holiday themed special,following the phenomenal success of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" in 1965 that became a colossal hit)to be produced and animated by Bill Melendez and was written by Charles M. Schulz,based on his Peanuts comic strip and serving as executive producers Lee Mendelson along with Bill Melendez with the original theme music composed by Vince Guaraldi. "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" was also the first Peanuts special to use the titular pattern of a short phrase,followed by the main character "Charlie Brown", a pattern which would remain the norm for almost all subsequent Peanuts specials for many years. The initial broadcast of "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" took place in prime-time on Thursday October 27,1966 on CBS-TV In Color ,preempting "My Three Sons" on it's regular schedule.

The original sponsors,as seen during the opening sequences(almost never seen afterward in its entirely since the original telecast)were The Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Dolly Madison Snack Foods which would go on to be a longtime co-sponsor of the Peanuts specials that originally aired on CBS. From the original telecast it was a colossal hit and the animated special was nominated in 1967 for three Prime Time Emmys including Outstanding Children's Program, Outstanding Animation Director(Bill Melendez),and Outstanding Outstanding Animation Writer(Charles M. Schulz). It was also nominated in 1967 for the Golden Globe for Best Animated Special. "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" really encapsulates childhood, the camaraderie and the spirit of Halloween in this classic tale of Charlie Brown and his friends going out for trick or treats and seeing Charlie Brown and his bag of rocks while everybody else gets candy and goodies; Linus and Sally waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive while Charlie Brown and the gang get invited to Violet's Halloween party. The classic Snoopy and the Red Baron(in one of the greatest animated scenes ever)sets the tone for what's to follow. The scene where Sally really gives Linus the scolding of his life is the best of this holiday special where Sally misses Halloween and Treats while calling Linus "You Blockhead!" while sitting all night in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive but instead rises Snoopy from the patch. The musical score from Vince Guaraldi is in regards a classic among classics and the score is just as brilliant today as it was when audiences first heard this back in 1966. I heard there is a soundtrack album to this television special too.

"It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" aired annually on CBS from 1966 until 2000 with ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001(as with all of the Peanuts specials)where it airs annually during the Halloween season. Until the 2013 broadcast, the other Peanuts special "You're Not Elected Charlie Brown" aired immediately after "It's The Great Pumpkin" as if the emphasize the proximity of Halloween to Election Day. Also,the Great Pumpkin is mentioned in "You're Not Elected Charlie Brown" which aired twice on ABC in 2014. When ABC aired the first-ever animated special based on the "Toy Story" movies titled "Toy Story of Terror" that animated special "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" immediately followed afterward. Even after its initial broadcast more than 50 years ago this Peanuts special still entertains while enjoying the holiday spirit. So, here's a golden 50th anniversary to the Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown.
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