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A Big Ado About Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown Christmas
YouTube

There are not many things that would keep me up past 8:00 p.m. Due to my early hours as a morning drive news anchor, I don’t have the luxury of staying awake late during weeknights, unless it’s Friday. I usually hit the pillow between 7 and 8. My wakeup time is 3:15 a.m. and I’m usually at work by 4 sharp. However, because A Charlie Brown’s Christmas was on last night, I figured I would stay up till 8:30. I kinda wish I went to sleep.

Charlie Brown Christmas
Amazon.com

Are you gasping? What a Scrooge you might say. Isn’t that a sacrilegious statement? No, it’s not what you think. I’ve always been a huge fan of Christmas. Yes, all of those Christmas movies, songs, decorations – everything. The Emmy-Award winning Peanuts Christmas special is still one of my favorite holiday TV shows. I’ve probably seen it hundreds of times in my thirty years on this planet.

So this year, I was thrilled that ABC was broadcasting it in High Definition. The show first aired in 1965 on CBS. It remained a stable of the network’s November/December lineup until the year 2000 when they lost the rights to ABC. So what’s my gripe? Getting to that now.

While I understand commercials are very important to a TV network, I never feel syndication cuts are good. If a show’s runtime is 30 minutes exactly and the network needs to trim to fit in paid ads, I get it. So why not fill the time differently? Add extra scenes back in – or add more commercials and make it an hour long. That they do for a movie on TV.

For example, if they show Scrooged, one of my favorite holiday flicks, the 1 hour and 30 minute run time becomes 2 hours with commercials. A similar plan for Charlie Brown would have been better than what they did last night.

Several scenes during last night’s airing were cut altogether. They included my favorite scene when Sally Brown asks Charlie to help her write a letter to Santa Claus (watch the video below). Her demanding list that turns into “just give me my fair share” and “tens and twenties,” totally removed from the show.

Charlie Brown Christmas snowflakes
YouTube

Other scenes cut include when the kids try and catch snowflakes on their tongues, Schroeder playing different Christmas songs, Shermy’s only line about playing a shepherd, Snoopy eating a stack of bones while reading a newspaper on top of his doghouse, throwing snowballs at a can on the fence in which Linus uses his blanket and Pig Pen building a snowman with his patented dust cloud and Charlie Brown commenting on this.

I sat complaining about the cuts to my wife who was also shocked but she didn’t care as much as I did. She said “we have it on DVD.”

So I did what anyone would do in this situation in our social media age. I took to Facebook. Some of my friends responded by telling me to watch the DVD or the Blu-Ray disc or to get over it. A few agreed with me.

Only one friend on there actually made an excellent point which was what I was trying to say in my moment of disappointment. The friend works in the film business. He writes “I cant believe how many of your ‘friends’ don’t get it. Yes, technology allows us to watch it any time, but the point is not as much the viewing as it is the disrespect to the classic. The disrespect to the artist(s) and the lack of judgment by the network to make a decision to hack it in the first place. I couldn’t believe how fast it was over and felt there was definitely a loss in the intended story. Even Linus’s moment seemed shortened as a result of the crummy editing of scenes.”

Another friend, who happens to also work in film, wrote “I get it, but I think it is just further evidence that broadcast television is rapidly dying…or transforming…or something. But those changes do not make them a good place for classic entertainment like the Charlie Brown Christmas special.” What do you think of this statement? He’s right – but isn’t TV supposed to be the place for a TV SPECIAL?!

Do you think I’m making a big deal out of nothing? I want all young kids who watch it for the first time to see the show the way it was meant to be seen. While the show has never really aired without minor cuts, I think the ones made last night were totally unacceptable. It’s a great holiday show for all ages. Once again, I wish I had gone to sleep.

 

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