My lifelong love of all things Halloween is no doubt based, to a great extent, on the Charlie Brown Halloween experience.
I’m not sure I saw “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” when it first aired in 1966. Even if I saw it the following year, it quickly became part of my Halloween ritual, skipped only when – gasp – it conflicted with actual trick-or-treating.
But what a sublime show.
The TV take on Halloween (and fall) storylines from Charles M. Schulz’ classic “Peanuts” comic strip, written by Schulz, directed by Bill Melendez and featuring another classic “Peanuts” score by Vince Guaraldi, “Great Pumpkin” became the embodiment of Halloween for many of us:
The opening sequence, as Lucy and Linus pick out a pumpkin to carve, much to Linus’ horror.
Linus’ letter to the Great Pumpkin and the seduction of the innocent, Sally.
Trick-or-treating after Charlie Brown has some trouble with the scissors and gets more than his share of rocks.
The Halloween party.
Snoopy – or the World War I flying ace – making his way across a scarred landscape, in a series of shots so moody and somber they would never see air in a new special today.
The disappointment in the pumpkin patch.
ABC is showing “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” at 8 on Halloween night. Beware half-hour TV timeslots, because the show has been edited over the years. Better to enjoy the full special on disc.