Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 11

           I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. Now it is time for the eleventh feature. I wonder what it will be.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

           A Charlie Brown Christmas is a holiday television staple. It has been running nonstop since it was first aired in 1965 and ABC still makes a big deal about its airing. That being said, I have obviously seen this special a number times throughout my life. However, it has never really been something that has become essential for my holidays. I recognize its place in history and I appreciate certain moments from it or references to it but it simply isn't a must-watch holiday special for me. Will this viewing change my opinion? Stranger things have been know to happen.


           A Charlie Brown Christmas opens with Charlie Brown complaining to Linus that he has trouble getting in to the Christmas spirit largely because everything seems too commercial. Linus chides Charlie Brown for worrying too much and the two then go skating. Later, we find Charlie Brown dismayed at the fact that he has not received any Christmas cards. He then seeks out Lucy for her psychiatric advice. She tells him that he needs to get involved with a project to get in to the spirit of the season and suggests that he become the director for their Christmas pageant. At first Charlie Brown is reluctant but he soon acquiesces and takes up the role.
           Arriving at the school theater, Charlie Brown soon has his concerns over becoming the director validated. No one is listening to him and they all seem more interested in dancing and goofing off rather than working on the Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown decides that what they need to get them on track and set the mood of the pageant is a Christmas tree. The others agree and tell him to make sure he get a quality aluminum one. Charlie Brown and Linus set of to the tree lot and Charlie Brown sets his sights on a sad, dilapidated tree, figuring that with the right decorations it can be the perfect tree for their pageant.

The dancing in this scene is simultaneously terrible and awesome.

           Upon returning to the school, the other kids ridicule Charlie Brown for his selection of what is possibly the saddest looking Christmas tree ever. Charlie Brown has had enough and takes the tree with him vowing to prove that it can look good with a little decoration. However, upon reaching home and putting a single red glass globe on to it, the tree bends low under the weight and Charlie Brown gives up hope and goes inside. Inexplicably, the other children now regret treating Charlie Brown the way that they did and arrive to fix up the tree. After some brief work with lights, garland, and ornaments the tree is looking respectable and the children begin to sing. Charlie Brown hears this and comes outside and sees the tree. He is finally happy and soon joins with the others in song.

I like to imagine that he is reacting to the fact that you can buy a $40 replicas of this tree.

Final Thoughts

           This viewing did little to change my opinions of A Charlie Brown Christmas. By no means do I think it a bad special. The animation is passable for television animation of the time and captures the look of Schulz's strips quite well. Further there is an undeniable charm to much of the special. I can see why it has continued to air year after year even if, were I in control, I probably would pick many things before it. Most of the issues raised by Charlie Brown in the special seem prescient given the state of the holiday season now. I found the fact that one of the commercial aspects of the season that is dismaying Charlie Brown is a lighting contest highly ironic as, four days after airing this special, ABC aired the first episode of this year's Great Christmas Light Fight. Talk about mixed messaging.
           Overall, while it is far from my favorite Christmas special I certainly don't hate A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was also somewhat weird viewing for me as this is the first time in a while that I have really watched it rather than just having it on as background noise. The fact that Charlie Brown's concerns and inability to get in the holiday spirit because of them so closely mirror the ones I laid out in the first post of this marathon is not lost on me. Nor is the fact that Lucy's solution, to get involved in a project, is exactly what I am doing. Certainly some weird parallels. I don't really think I need to bother with recommending this one or not as I am fairly certain that 99% of the population has already seen this and the other 1% has absorbed it through osmosis. Though, if you really do need me to sway you in a direction, I say go for it. There are worse things you could watch and at least you won't be left out if conversation turns towards it.

Honestly, this ending feels rushed and not all together earned.

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