It's Halloween! The spooks are out, the dead are avenged, and the chocolate is constantly digested. Yesterday we took a look at Garfield's Halloween Special - one of the holiday's only true iconic shows that wasn't meant to scare you. Today we review the granddaddy of 'em all, It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
I've made no real plans for Halloween this year - I missed all the parties, didn't catch too many horror flicks, and my apartment door is sort of obscured, so I won't be dealing with many trick-or-treaters today. The only tradition I really sought to uphold was watching this silly cartoon, my only Must-Do Halloween activity year after year. The special's become a worldwide treasure, the only old fogey holiday show still paid attention to by the masses at large. Why? Ah who the hell knows. I guess we all just really love the idea of a neighborhood where every kid - every last kid - uses a bedsheet to dress up like a ghost. Good grief.
I was sad when Charles Schultz passed away a few years ago. Okay, I wasn't crying rivers of tears or painting sad clowns or anything, but like most, I didn't like the idea of getting a newspaper without a new Snoopy strip. But to be honest, Schultz' best work came in the years far prior to his death. The stuff he was putting out in the 60s and 70s, still readily available in archival edition books, was just absolutely fantastic. The comics were simple, but they had this unmentioned darker side and it wasn't hard to find a way to relate to each and every character in some way. I found the last few years of Peanuts more goofy than anything else, and there's no greater misery in the world than reading a Charlie Brown comic strip and not getting the joke. So obviously, I'm glad that the Halloween special originally came out in 1966, in the midst of Schultz' golden godly years.
One thing I've always loved about Peanuts was how Schultz approached the holidays. He clearly held them near and dear to his heart, oftentimes starting his 'Christmas Run' in early November, perfectly recreating children's obsessions with those special times on a day to day basis. It's not like a Family Circus deal, where you'll see one panel on December 22nd with Jeffy trying to fit a Christmas stocking on his foot, telling Mommy 'I think these must be Dad's!'. No no no, no such bullshit here. Schultz didn't skirt around things, he downright mastered the fine art of looking at the world through children's eyes. It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown might not be all that flashy or poetic, but fuck me if it wasn't right.
So, it's Halloween in Peanuts Land, and it's Halloween here. With that, my review:
Linus was mighty smart when it came to history lessons about wise men and Jesus, but he's pretty stupid about Free Candy Night. Most of the kids believe that Santa brings them presents on Christmas, but Linus' holiday dreams are a little different. According to him, all the good boys and girls are paid a visit by the 'Great Pumpkin' on Halloween, who gives them oodles of toys and presents with his cherubic orange paws.
As a kid I always wondered what the Great Pumpkin would've looked like, but the best I could ever come up with was this huge pumpkin with alien eyes popping out of it on stalks. Since I was young, the envisionment scared the fuck out of me and I ended up boycotting pumpkins for a few years out of fear that real eyes would pop out of the carved-out fake eyes. I still hold a small grudge against Linus for this, but all is forgiven since we have the same blanket and brothas gotta stick togetha.
Of course, none of the other kids believe him. If there really was a Great Pumpkin guy, why wasn't he signed up for a multimillion dollar crosspromotional advertising deal with Coke? Why weren't their parents threatening them to stop doing stupid things before raising GP's no-toy-giving ire? They know better, but Linus keeps the faith.
He and Lucy carve a pumpkin together, and Linus gets sick at the thought of the 'pumpkin innards'. I share than sentiment. I can't be alone here - the smell and texture of pumpkin guts is the worst thing in the world to me. I can't even go near the damn seeds without nearly coughing up an organ. Everything about them is disgusting. They attract bugs, smell terrible, taste terrible, and make this disgusting 'whooshing' sound when you mash their insides around. The audio on that is like a mixture of child birth and whale slaughter. I think God invented ceramics just so we wouldn't have to have real pumpkins stinking up our house year after year. Additionally, I think God invented the blind and deaf so a select group of people could enjoy movies starring Oliver Platt.
Ah, there he is. Charlie Brown is elated - usually the butt of everyone's jokes and totally forgotten in social gatherings, this year's a little different. Charlie's been invited to a Halloween party! Lucy tries to convince him that it was a mistake, but he shows up at the party later so I guess she was just being a bitch as usual. Confirming that, she plays the same old dirty trick she always does: getting Charlie Brown to kick at a football, only to pull it away and send him crashing to the concrete spine-first. You'd think he'd get a concussion from all those drops, but hence the benefits of having a huge head so filled with protective fluid that not even a bullet could dent the thing.
Sometimes I think Charlie Brown intentionally falls on his back so he can see up Lucy's skirt. I mean, I don't think he's gonna get the enchanted forest tour, but maybe she's wearing black underwear at least. Though with hair that wild and uncontrolled, I wouldn't be surprised if her pubic region looked like that space room full of Tribbles. Wow, never thought I'd type that paragraph. Happy Halloween to me!
Time for the kids to go trick-or-treating. Charlie Brown fucked up of course, cutting eighteen holes too many in his bedsheet ghost disguise. I could see adding a third for breathing room and maybe even a fourth for convenient pissing, but eighteen? Stupid blockhead.
Everyone else dresses up similarly. The room is full of freakin giant walking condoms. Not so bad since it diverts attention from the fact that Lucy's witch cap is really a traffic cone. I dunno, that might not be a witch. She looks sort of like that guy in Eyes Wide Shut who tells Tom Cruise to 'remooof his clofes.' Lucy's costumes always showed foresight.
The kids stop by Linus' chosen pumpkin patch to try to convince him to stop being a big stupidhead. Still, he wants to wait for the Great Pumpkin's coming. See, GP only comes to one pumpkin patch - the most sincere one - and Linus believes he's found that sacred patch. Chuck's little sister Sally decides to stay with Linus, not because she's all that interested in the Great Pumpkin, but because she's interested in having Linus pop her Great Hymen. Guys, I swear, I had no idea I'd go in this direction with the review. Guess I shouldn't have eaten all those oysters last night. On the half shell. Turtle power.
I guess I should get any other vulgar/idiotic comments out of the way so we can continue nice and clean: Snoopy's nose looks like a big dick and Linus looks like a chemo patient. There we're done. I feel better.
Five ghosts and two witches - no wonder experienced partygoers always consult their friends first to make sure they aren't wearing the same outfits. The only way this grouping would work is if one of them dressed up like Pac-Man and occasionally threw blue paint all over everyone else. Then they could say it was 'themed'.
So they're trick-or-treating now, and like I mentioned in the last review, one of the best aspects of that endeavor is comparing the loot you got with the loot your friends got. It was a night of cons and power trades, everyone trying to pawn off their junky sour balls for more pleasing pieces of Bazooka or small chunks of Milky Way. Charlie Brown's gonna have a tough time participating in the trading game, since his offerings aren't exactly topping most kids' appetites this year:
"I got a rock."
It's not so bad. Rocks can be fun. Charlie could start a pet rock collection, or just throw them at Lucy for the prior football incident. Or he could eat them so he'll have a nice story for his frat buddies when he goes to college. I sort of wish the cartoon was made more recently, since then he could hold one up to everyone and say 'HEY LOOK I GOT THE FORMER WWE CHAMPION! TUTTI FRUTTI, BITCH!'
Je croirai toujours en moi, ha ha.
Meanwhile, Snoopy's off doing all his World War I Flying Ace Shit. I always hated these Snoopy subplots. Come on, get back to the Linus/Sally romance! Stop keeping us in wait! Oh the suspense! Actually, I'm not sure why I couldn't never get into the Snoopy side-stories. I guess I was just brought up really old-fashioned and can't let myself believe that someone would let their poor pet dog go out barnstorming. I guess I need to get with the times. Quick, someone give me a rifle or a stock tip I'm not supposed to hear.
It's finally time for the kids to go to their Halloween party. Every time I hear 'Charlie Brown' and 'party' in the same sentence, all I can think about is Chex Mix. Mmm with worshesheshireieishire sauce. But that's just me. The party is fairly casual - everyone's taken off their costumes, because everyone was disguised the same and nobody wanted to wear a name tag. It was a short soiree, but not short enough to keep Charlie Brown from looking like a complete idiot:
The girls use the back of Chuck's enormous head to practice their pumpkin tracing abilities. Come on, Charlie Brown - start throwing some of those damn rocks already. They're asking for it. You just know this kid's gonna end up blowing up a shopping mall someday - there's no way he can endure this much constant abuse without attaining intense psychosis. I mean, just based on the fact that he's a bald grade-schooler is enough. When you factor in that his 'friends' typically draw on his head and try to make him crack his bones in half on concrete, you've got yourself one helluva potential nutcase. I'm just glad he went on to become the owner of a successful chain of steakhouses. Overcoming adversity was always one of the hallmarks of Schultz's work.
Meanwhile, Lucy freaks out after finding Snoopy inside the Bobbing For Apples Bob-Machine. Or the bucket. Dog germs and dog cooties abound, or so she says, and Snoopy doesn't think he should have to hear all these insults. I'd say he bit her arm off before leaving, but truth be told, he just left without biting her arm off. We can pretend he did, right? I think I'd like this Halloween special even better if one of the kids lost a limb. It'd add that uniquely Gary Sinise charm I'm sure they were after.
We're drawing near the finale now, so I guess we better check in with Linus and that blonde jezebel out in the pumpkin patch. You'd think they'd be naked and rolling around by this point, but Linus has this weird mole shaped like a horse on his stomach, and he's too self-conscious to let anyone see it. Guess Sally'll have to hit up Schroeder if she wants someone to play her piano keys. That's not important though - there's supposed to be some Great Pumpkin on the horizon. Instead, it's the silhouette of a dog in a Top Gun costume.
Linus faints, thinking he's witnessing the real Great Pumpkin. Of course, there's never been a real Great Pumpkin, and Sally is mighty pissed that she wasted Halloween night waiting for one. Let me tell you, a Pouting Sally is no pretty site. She looks like Pauly Walnuts after a sex change and a dye job telling Johnny Boy all of Ralphie's fat wife jokes. Despite this, Linus still won't leave the patch, and doesn't until the middle of the night when Lucy comes out there to drag him into the house. Guess their parents went to Argentina. They wanted to cry for Madonna.
The next day, our humbled heroic duo expresses their disappointment with this year's Halloween. Linus didn't get to see the Great Pumpkin, and all Charlie Brown got was a big bag of rocks and ink stains all over his skull. It's been a bad experience on many fronts, but now they'll face the next Halloween a little wiser, a little braver, and a little toaster.
Overall: Come on, it's a classic. It's as much a part of Halloween as are costumes, candy, and party red light bulbs. You've all seen it. You all love it. And we all love Charlie Brown - bag of rocks or not. Happy Halloween guys, hope it's full of blood and murder.
King of Halloween Poll: The poll on the main page is finally over and done with, and according to you guys, the official King of Halloween is Bruce Campbell, with a total of 2,153 votes. The second place winner is Lucifer, with 819 votes. 819 votes buys Jason the bronze medal. Yolanda Vega demands a recount.