Pop Rocks: Is It Time to Retire A Charlie Brown Christmas?

Categories: Pop Rocks

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Christmas, if you celebrate it, means tradition. Some families give gifts on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day (Crash Davis does not approve of this, BTW), some sing carols -- although speaking personally, no house I have lived in since the 1970s has ever been visited by carolers -- and some watch their favorite holiday-themed TV shows.

Among holidays, Christmas is far and away the leader in TV specials, both in quantity (Lifetime seems to churn a new dozen every year) and venerability, which brings me to A Charlie Brown Christmas. The show has aired at least once (often more) a December since its debut in 1965, making it older than me and almost all of my friends.

It's been a good run, but at the risk of Scrooging things up, let me suggest it might be time to put Snoopy and the gang out to pasture.

For starters, there's the message. ACBC follows our hero, perpetual underdog Charlie Brown as he becomes increasingly dismayed/outraged by the rampant commercialism surrounding Christmas: cash prizes for best house decorating? His baby sister requesting cash from Santa? AN ALUMINUM TREE? All very distressing, to be sure.

And all old hat, unfortunately. If Charles Schultz's cautionary tale about runaway materialism was supposed to somehow rein in the country's annual display of greed, I'm afraid it has failed in a way that can only be described as "utterly."

What's the over/under on how many of these people make sure to watch both A Charlie Brown Christmas *and* The Grinch every year? Never mind that you can simply buy a facsimile of Charlie Brown's pathetic needle-dropping tree at your finest local retail outlets anyway, just in case you didn't feel like pulling a random branch off a nearby tree in true DIY fashion.

Then there's the animation.

Look, I grew up in what was possibly the shittiest era of animation imaginable: the 1970s and '80s. These were the years following the heydays of Looney Tunes and Disney and before the rise of Miyazaki and Pixar. Lots of Hanna-Barbera, in other words. And even by those standards, A Charlie Brown Christmas looks like crap.

Granted, Schultz's original artwork was pretty simple to begin with, but I was actually given a Blu-ray of the show a couple years ago. and it really does rewrite the definition of "polishing a turd."

And like I said, it isn't as if there aren't a thousand alternatives out there, from Spongebob to He-Man to Phineas & Ferb. Some of them are actually pretty good, but that's not the point. All of this is the fault of A Charlie Brown Christmas, because it was the first kids' property to "do Christmas." Whatever the message, it opened the floodgates for everybody else.

Forty seven years is formidable, but enough is enough. The Christmas shopping season now runs from before Thanksgiving to just after New Year's, with decorations going up before Halloween. Charlie Brown fought the good fight, but he lost, and losers need to step aside gracefully before they wear out their welcome. Like Bud Adams.

And maybe now we can return to some real Christmas entertainment:

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35 comments
christinalynn
christinalynn

retiring this cartoon is wrong on too many levels to count. For starters, what's so bad about Charlie brown - especially the message thats featured in there? The message that is presented is about Christs love for the world, which is what Christmas is all about. Plus, its a cute cartoon.

snoopyj613
snoopyj613

I can not disagree with the animation being poor but I can tell you the message is there and Charles Schultz did a good job at getting the message across. Maybe one day we will finally get it.  And besides who does not love a dog that can win a Christmas Decoration contest. 

Jeff Hill
Jeff Hill

Listening to Schroeders piano right this moment at a bar in MN.

sportsandra
sportsandra

@RebelBandit03 @ArtAttackHP You guys watch the Charlie Brown specials again. I'm telling you they're all bullies #thatpeppermintpattyismean

Chase Thorn
Chase Thorn

agreed Elizabeth. Thats why you work for the press, you dont understand the real story...tradition. There are many kids out there that have yet to experience it, it's not all about you douchebag

Elizabeth Anne Milner
Elizabeth Anne Milner

Simply put dude...you're a douche. Leave Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang alone! Clearly YOU'VE missed the point and that is that it IS part of the tradition! It's as much a loved classic as Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life! And anyone who could include Sponge Bob as quality Christmas television needs their head examined. I refuse to let my kids watch it regularly. I certainly don't want his so called "Christmas" message which likely includes more liberal anti Christ sentiments making it more secular and sucking the purpose of the season out of it even more. So you watch what you want to, and don't watch what you don't. But DON'T TAKE MINE and MY CHILDREN'S CHOICE away by "retiring" it as you put it.

purepoppub
purepoppub

I think the rest of the country might decide its you that need to be retired:  "Hitting a season high in the time period, ABC’s annual rebroadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas won the 8 o’clock hour in Adults 18-49, beating CBS’ Survivor: Philippines by 7%, Fox’s The X Factor by 7% and NBC’s Christmas at Rockefeller Center by 38%."

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2012/11/29/abc-finishes-ties-for-number-1-on-wednesday-with-a-7-week-high-in-adults-18-49/159623/

Oops.

And to claim it ought to be retired because it didn't single handedly reverse the commercialization of Christmas is quite literally laughably silly.

Jorge Cortez
Jorge Cortez

It's a new era, Charlie Brown and especially the Grinch will have to be phased out eventually whether you like it or not.

Carlene Gaharan Elliott
Carlene Gaharan Elliott

Couldn't agree with this article more! I too grew up in the 70's and 80's and I could never understand why anyone liked the Peanuts Gang. I thought they were boring and annoying. Adios Charlie Brown!

Al Rivera
Al Rivera

Don't retire it because the current crap is just that: crap.

Lauriston Brewster
Lauriston Brewster

I don't understand why such a harmless cartoon that everyone loves would draw SO much ire from you. Get over yourself. dude. I don't know if you think you're being clever and ironic by dissing a timeless Holiday classic, but you're really just coming off as an a-hole. Thanks for pissing on 47 years of nostalgia and holiday cheer.

Peggy Richardson
Peggy Richardson

It's one of the only Christmas classics that has a message of love, not just presents and saving Santa so he can bring you crap you will forget he brought before the next Christmas rolls around. May CB Christmas be here for years to come.

Greg Feczko
Greg Feczko

what?!?!?!! sacrilege! Let me guess: you'd replace it with a Spongebob Squarepants movie??

phil
phil

In the spirit of the ongoing fiscal cliff discussions, I'm willing to negotiate with you Pete.  Instead of permanently retiring the franchise, let's ask CBS to offload the broadcast rights to Time Warner.  TW, through its TNT arm, can work Chuck & the Gang into its 24 hours of Xmas programming because, truth be told, I can only watch A Christmas Story 4 times in a row before I burn out.

GaryGrooviak
GaryGrooviak

Woah, Anse.

Most of us agree with you. You don't have to insult boy wizards.

Sole_Champ
Sole_Champ

@HoustonPress Such talk is Blasphemy!

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

YOU MUST  NOT HAVE CHILDREN.

Oh wait.

Anse
Anse

Criticizing the animation of this classic is like dismissing a '55 Thunderbird because it doesn't have cruise control or anti-lock brakes. It's ridiculous. You may as well tell me to throw out my old Beatles LPs...stop, don't even go there!

Keep the Peanuts special. It's intelligent children's programming. It's not slick. Unlike so much modern entertainment, it's not bombastic; there are no superheroes or vampires or boy wizards or other crap. It's just a kid, a deeply feeling and thoughtful kid, and his silly dog, and it doesn't drown itself in cynicism or irony. It doesn't try to play to the adults with pop culture references, and while I'm not a religious man myself, I like the fact that the religious message is there, because that's what the holiday is ultimately about.

Anse
Anse

I retract my comments regarding boy wizards. I beg forgiveness of all boy wizards, and I promise to promote wizardry as a healthy and productive lifestyle for all consenting boys and their adult guardians, except for those terrible grownups that force boy wizards to live underneath the stairs...

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