With Thanksgiving upon us once more, I thought I’d dedicate some blog space to the handful of Thanksgiving animated specials that’ve aired.
The first entry is the classic 1973 “Peanuts” special “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” While it’s not as strong as the Halloween or Christmas specials, this one’s still pretty funny.
The plot consists of Charlie Brown fretting over Peppermint Patty inviting herself (plus Marcie and, in his first animated appearance, Franklin) over to “Chuck”‘s house for a Thanksgiving dinner. There’s two problems: one, Charlie Brown and Sally are going to be at their grandmother’s for Thanksgiving dinner. And two, Charlie Brown can’t cook. Linus and Snoopy come to the rescue, preparing a bizarre “meal” for Charlie Brown’s self-invited guests.
My favorite parts of this special:
- The obligatory football-kicking gag.
- The special’s funniest gag, Snoopy fighting with a lawn chair… completely bizarre, but hilarious.
- The dinner itself: Snoopy flinging food at the guests.
- Peppermint Patty’s meltdown over seeing they’re being served toast, jelly beans, popcorn, and pretzels.
- Linus noting this dinner situation reminds him of the story of the courtship of Miles Standish. Patty responds: “this isn’t like that one at all.”
- Charlie Brown and Franklin’s “greeting” at the door.
Franklin gets only one solo line during the special, asking Peppermint Patty if he should dress up for the dinner.
Another notable moment: Marcie refers to Peppermint Patty as “Priscilla,” presumably a reference to “The Courtship of Miles Standish” (and Linus/Patty’s earlier remarks on such). Peppermint Patty’s real name in the comics is “Patricia Reichardt.” (Yep, she has a full name—more than what the strip’s original Patty ever received!)
On TV/home video
ABC aired this special annually during November until 2020.
“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is on several DVD releases, including:
- A stand-alone release, which comes with an episode of the 80s historical miniseries “This is America, Charlie Brown” (the Mayflower voyage, as re-enacted by the Peanuts gang). This “America” episode usually is aired (heavily edited for commercials) along with ABC’s airings of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”
- The “Peanuts: 1970s collection, volume 1” DVD set.
- The “Peanuts Holiday Collection,” which packages the stand-alone DVD with the Halloween and Christmas specials’ DVDs.
Image from "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." (Peanuts Worldwide)