Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Great Pumpkin is 50 Years Old – Did You Know That it Has a Religious Message?

"Great Pumpkin" has a subtle religious message believe it or not
"Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" airs October 28, 2016 on ABC. (ABC)
TV
Pretty much everyone can agree the second best Peanuts TV special ever created after Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas is It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Even in its 50th year of airing, it still has a 94% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Charlie Brown is still getting rocks while trick-or-treating instead of getting candy.

"Great Pumpkin" has a subtle religious message believe it or not
The Great Pumpkin special aired for the first time on October 27, 1966 on CBS. After the great success of A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown’s All-Stars!, CBS told animator Bill Melendez and director Lee Mendelson that they could do anything they wanted as long as the Halloween special was a “blockbuster,” reports The FW. If the special failed, CBS wouldn’t fund any more specials, so the pair, along with Schulz, agreed to do it, even though they had no idea what they were going to create. Not only was the special a hit, but the three men continued working together until Schulz’s death which resulted in 50 TV specials, four feature films and one Saturday morning cartoon show. In total, the TV specials earned 18 Emmy nominations and won five as well as two Peabody awards.

"Great Pumpkin" has a subtle religious message believe it or not
Christians are fans of  A Charlie Brown Christmas for the fact that it took time to share scripture and tell the true meaning of Christmas, but many are unaware that the Halloween special has a religious bent to it as well although more subtle. The TV special was based on a series of comic strips with a storyline about Linus’ fascination with the Great Pumpkin. In those strips, Charles Schulz wanted to show how ridiculous and even sacrilegious it was to believe in Santa Claus by comparing the jolly old elf to pumpkin. But the special spoke to kids in another way as well. When the Great Pumpkin special aired for the first time, children felt bad for Charlie Brown getting rocks and sent CBS candy and other gifts in hopes that the network would see that Charlie receive them.



"Great Pumpkin" has a subtle religious message believe it or not
The Great Pumpkin also showed a slightly different side to Lucy as well. While going for "treats or treats," Lucy asks for an extra treat for her "stupid brother" who was busy attending a "sincere" pumpkin patch. She later wakes up in bed realizing that her brother is still out there waiting the the great gourd to arrive and goes out to bring him home and put him to bed. (Of course, those of us parents are still wondering why Linus' mom or dad didn't realize that their boy was missing in first place!) As much as her little brother annoys her, it is clear that Lucy cares a lot for Linus.

ABC began airing the Peanuts specials in 2001 and last night’s broadcast of the special drew its biggest crowd in four years. It, along with the Toy Story or Terror! (another great tale) special finished at the top two entertainment programs for adults 18-49 with 7.7 million viewers watching. Not too shabby for project that was created 50 years ago.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown will air for a second time on Friday, October 28 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

Related: The Best Lines from It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown 

"Great Pumpkin" has a subtle religious message believe it or not
 

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