People have told me to watch the old “classic,” It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. People have told me to avoid it like a Kardashian Christmas special. I decided to watch it while playing Jeopardy on my phone to satisfy both groups of advice givers.
I know, it’s weird that I’ve never seen it. I think it’s equally weird that it is still on TV. I chalk it up to a remarkably shallow pot of kid-friendly Halloween entertainment on the market. It’s a classic because no one has made anything else to replace it. I guess it’s the same reason people play “The Monster Mash.” Ok, there is the Simpson’s.
The second thing I noticed is that phone Jeopardy is a lot easier than TV Jeopardy.
Then this balloon headed Linus kid comes on the screen and tells the tale of The Great Pumpkin. He waits in a pumpkin patch every Halloween night for the appearance of his god, but is forever disappointed. The other kids mock his belief system.
Hmm. Where are the parents in this story? Kids can just wander off at night and hang out in pumpkin fields? Why hasn’t the farmer harvested the pumpkins and sold them for the holiday? He’s really missing out on the peak of the market. Why doesn’t the farmer have a problem with kids hanging out in his field in the middle of the night?
So many questions. I think Charles Shultz has created a perfect opening for a horror story, but forgotten to take advantage of it. We need Stephen King to do a re-write. Kids in a field at night waiting for a sky pumpkin, all naïve and round-headed. A deranged farmer crawls on his belly through the vines hoping to catch the children who trespass every year. Suddenly something appears in the sky. It is angry and orange and surrounded by black clouds.
But this show never gets scary. It just gets sort of sad. Now granted, I left during the middle of it to warm up a dollar pizza and got distracted by the neighbors outside yelling at each other. But, I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss that much.
The other kids determine that the Linus’s passion for a stupid belief is worthy of respect, though the belief itself begs for public ridicule. They support him. Even the dirty kid, Pig Pen. I love that kid Pig Pen. He owns his own filth. Check it out, he says. I’m in a sheet and I’m still leaving clouds of dirt in my wake. Gotta love that guy.
And in the end, I’m left with mixed feelings about Linus and about Shultz’s intention. The uglY cOUsin in me respects that Linus holds an unpopular belief. It’s his own. No one else cares. That does seem to be the best kind of belief to have. But I still can’t help but feel sorry for him. Does he wait for the Sizable Flag to descend on the Fourth of July? The Magnificent Turkey on Thanksgiving? Maybe these were planned sequels.
And I don’t know if Shultz is mocking religion or praising belief. So much nuance in this–at least when you only half pay attention to it.
I’m also left wondering why Ancient Aliens hasn’t done a show on the potential for actual pumpkin shaped aliens being the root of the Peanuts legend. Was Charles Shultz abducted? Were the shapes of his characters’ heads influenced by extraterrestrial visitors? Is Lucy a trickster god from another planet? Was Schroeder’s piano talent a result of alien technology? Ancient Alien theorists say yes.