When the teaser trailer for the upcoming Peanuts movie dropped, cries of Hollywood defiling yet another beloved childhood icon ensued. While seeing Charlie Brown’s bald melon rendered in CGI is a bit disconcerting, producer Paul Feig reassured Peanuts purists that Snoopy will not be “twerking.” (All bets are off when it comes to Pig-Pen, however.)
Of course, anyone who has taken a deep dive into the many, many Peanuts specials knows that Charles Schulz and company were taking the franchise to some weird places as early as the 1970s. Once they ran through every holiday (yes, even Arbor Day), things got a little weird. And while the best specials like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas are still re-run today, most of the more random and one-off specials have been lost to time. Let’s take a look at some of the stranger (and occasionally downright disturbing) Peanuts specials.
9. It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown
Basically a retread of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, this outing finds Linus obsessed with yet another fictional deity who delivers gifts on a holiday that has nothing to do with gift giving. Except this time it’s a real stretch that Sally would fall for Linus’ nonsense a second time.
Man, Snoopy isn’t even bothering with a disguise here. Clearly Linus has snapped and is just turning everything around him into a magical character. It’s only a matter of time before he dubs Woodstock “The Administrative Professionals’ Day Falcon.”
Outside of the Easter Beagle plotline, this one really meanders even by the standards of later Peanuts specials. There’s a segment where the gang goes to the mall and Charlie Brown bemoans how Christmas decorations are already going on sale. Yeah, you already tackled the commercialization of the holiday season, guys. Basically every scene in this special serves as a reminder of better Peanuts specials.
Also, just in case you forgot that the special was made by baked animators in 1974, a good five minutes is devoted to Snoopy dancing with some rabbits inside of a kaleidoscope.
8. What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?
This 1983 special picks up right after the events of the theatrical film Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, which explains why the gang is in Europe. What it doesn’t explain is why a bunch of unsupervised children need to learn about the horrors of war during their wacky European adventure.
When their rental car breaks down in a quaint French village (how did they rent a car exactly? Does Snoopy have a major credit card?), the gang visits Omaha Beach and learns all about D-Day.
They then rent another car (again, how??) from a French woman who recognizes Snoopy as a famous World War I flying ace and not as a mischievous dog with a taste for period cosplay. (It should be noted that this is one of the few Peanuts specials that breaks the “never show adults” rule.)
Adding to the fun is a scene where Linus recites the poem “In Flanders Fields” as the group surveys a graveyard filled with markers for those who fell during the battles at Ypres. (Again, this happens in the same cartoon where Snoopy swindles a French lady out of a car.)
Luckily they got out of Europe without Snoopy being tried for his various war crimes.
7. It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown
Have you ever marveled at the many Peanuts holiday specials and exclaimed, “What’s next, ‘It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown’???” Well, that ship sailed back in 1976.
Debuting after the death of musical genius Vince Guaraldi, this special lacks his signature jazzy compositions. It’s also less about planting trees and more about the Peanuts gang playing yet another agonizing slow game of baseball. If nothing else, it’s proof that Charles Schulz never met a holiday that he couldn’t turn into a source of humiliation for poor ol’ Chuck.
6. He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown
A recent addition to the Peanuts canon, this 2006 special attempts to address the topical issue of bullying through the decidedly quaint and dated topic of schoolyard marble etiquette.
The special finds Linus and Lucy’s highly annoying brother Rerun, the closest thing the Peanuts franchise has to a “Poochie,” taking up marbles in an effort to be the most popular kid at summer camp. Along comes hotshot marble shark Joe Agate (voiced by a pre-Twilight Taylor Lautner) who cheats Rerun out of his marbles.
Perpetually bullied Charlie Brown decides to stand up for Rerun and learns the ins-and-outs of the marble racket from Snoopy in his Joe Cool persona. (This special really overestimates the appeal of marbles.)
In the end, Charlie Brown hustles Joe out of his marbles and kids watching at home learn that when it comes to bullies, you should always let an older, more viciously tormented loser to fight your battles for you. There’s also a tacked on subplot about Peppermint Patty thinking that Marcie and Charlie Brown are dating behind her back. As always, Peppermint Patty and Marcie’s master/lackey dynamic says more about bullying than any plotline involving marbles ever could.
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