Thursday, October 11, 2012

10 Things I Like About The Great Pumpkin!


I've wanted to cover It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown since I first started doing the Halloween Countdown a couple years but always held off for one reason or another. Chief among them, not quite knowing how.

Chances are anyone reading this website is familiar with that show. You probably seen it on TV. You might even own it on DVD. It makes doing a recap like I did for Halloween is Grinch Night seem a little pointless. Everyone already knows the ins and outs of The Great Pumpkin and to recap them here would be fruitless.

Instead I've chosen a different approach, I've decided to share with everyone the 10 Things I Like About The Great Pumpkin! Not to be confused with the ten best things about the show... these are just the pieces and parts that I enjoy the most. The ingredients that make for the most delicious pie, if you will.

Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
10 -- Linus Makes A 'Great Pumpkin' Sign! One of, I think, the iconic images of the cartoon is the shot of Linus sitting happily by himself in the middle of a pumpkin patch with his sign welcoming the Great Pumpkin.

Part of the charm found in this Halloween special is the fact that Linus firmly believes in the existence of the Great Pumpkin, despite what everyone else thinks and tells him.

You can read as far into this as you want to, finding some grand alternative meaning about standing up for what you believe in... or it can simply be taken at face value. Just a dumb kid believing the sorts of things that dumb kids do.



Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
9 -- Pigpen Makes an Appearance! Perhaps my favorite of the Peanuts Gang secondary characters, Pigpen makes a couple brief appearances here in animated form. The first time he shows up on screen he is covered in his ghost costume and boasting to himself how nobody will be able to recognize him under that sheet.

Of course everyone instantly recognizes Pigpen due to the massive cloud of dust which surrounds him everyplace he goes. No matter how many times I watch this cartoon, I always get a kick out of this little gag.


Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
8 -- Charlie Brown Contemplates Suicide! Well, sort of. He does not come right on out and say it but just look at the expression on his face. You know that is exactly what Charlie Brown is thinking as Lucy attempts to get him to kick a football for the thousandths fucking time.

He does acknowledge that Lucy has probably been trying to kill him for years with this football gag. Yet once again he attempts to kick that football, fully aware of her intentions to pull it back at the last second. Folks, there is only one explanation ... suicide.


Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
7 -- The Spooky Forest! Early on in the cartoon the Peanuts Gang go out Trick or Treating, but before they can get any candy (or rocks, in Charlie Brown's case) they must first pass through this ultra spooky forest!

It happens really quick and does not give you quite enough time to fully process what exactly happens that that is precisely why I like it so much. Because it dared to be spooky and creepy, not really giving a shit if it legitimately scared the kids watching at home.

Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
6 -- The Great Pumpkin Rises (Sort Of)! Linus spends the entire cartoon boasting about how The Great Pumpkin will rise and bring him gifts. Of course we the audience know this is pure bullshit and that nothing will really happen.

Naturally, it would have been fairly anti-climatic for Linus to just sit around all night and talk to himself with no payoff. So the writers of the show devised a scene in which Linus momentarily thinks that The Great pumpkin has risen.

I chose this specific moment because of how brilliant it is drawn. Starting off with the fantastic looking background painting of the night sky, complete with the full moon and pumpkin patch. It just looks like Halloween!

The focal point of the shot is obviously Snoopy in the foreground, represented as a blacked out silhouette and misinterpreted, at least by Linus, as The Great Pumpkin. Everything is tied together by the expression of complete and pure shock on the part of Linus and Sally, who could not look more angry.

If you want to know why The Great Pumpkin has stood the test of time, this one single freeze frame does an excellent job of summing everything up. Its iconic. Beautiful to look at. Funny. And you can pick up the story without having to see any written or spoken words.


Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
5 -- Linus Makes a Horrific Facial Expression! It happens really quickly but for a brief moment the shows artist decided to draw Linus with full eyeballs. The results are literally horrific.

Its a rare occasion but from time to time, and usually for comic effect, you can catch one of the Peanuts Gang characters represented like this. Here it was done to drive home the point of just how important the story of The Great Pumpkin is to Linus.

Every time I see it, I have to chuckle just a little bit. Linus will full fledged eye sockets instead of the traditional black 'eye dots' is really a sight to behold.


Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
4 -- Charlie Brown Creates the Worst Costume Ever! Even though this list is my personal Top 10 moments of the cartoon, it wouldn't be much of a Top 10 list without any mention of Charlie Browns complete and utter fail at creating a Halloween costume.

For starters, I enjoyed the way every kid in the show decided to dress as a ghost and expected nobody else to be doing the same. Then sort of stood around in shock when everybody was in the exact same costume. That moment is really quite funny and could have gotten a spot of its own on this countdown.

However I chose to go with Charlie Browns failed ghost costume instead. It is another of the shows iconic images and a great lead into him receiving rocks instead of candy a bit later on in the cartoon.


Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
3 -- Lucy Stabs a Pumpkin to Death! The shows opening moments have Lucy carving a pumpkin but she doesn't just carve the pumpkin... she literally stabs the pumpkin to death. Michael Myers style.

Its funny and somehow sort of brutal looking and would in no way fly in today's politically correct environment. Especially considering the first spoken word of dialog in the cartoon is Linus screaming "you killed it!" at his psychotic sister.


Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
2 -- Vintage 1960s Halloween Decorations! Forget whatever minor gag happens with Snoopy and that bucket filled with apples. The real start of this scene is the awesome vintage Halloween decorations drawn into the scene.

And it happened by accident. It's just a simple fact of when the show was created those would have been the sort of party decorations that are in style. Years later, we can look back at them and really appreciate what decorating for Halloween used to be like.

While I enjoy the fact that you can walk into any number of large retail chains and purchase high quality Halloween decorations, electronic ones that make loud noises and flash bright lights. Part of me thinks that the charm of the Halloweens of old is really just... gone at this point.

This scene shows Halloween in its simplest form. The way it should be. And I for one think we need to go back to a more vintage style of celebrating October 31st.


Charlie Brown
Click for Larger Image!
1 -- Charlie Brown's Head Makes a Perfect Pumpkin Template! Hands down my favorite moment is when Charlie Brown gets asked to model his head as a template for a pumpkin.

Its a little crazy, over the top, and ties fully into the long standing joke that Charlie Brown has a 'pumpkin head'. Above all else it is just flat out funny. Jokes like this are a bit part of the reason why kids can enjoy this show but adults will find just as much entertainment in it as well.

They also stand the test of time. It was funny in the 1960's and it is still funny here in 2012. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown really is a true classic. In every sense of the word. And its because of moments like these!

So now I'm interested in hearing what your favorite moments are from the cartoon. Take advantage of the comment section down below and talk about what you like best!

3 comments:

  1. Good grief. I never thought about the vintage Halloween decorations. Nice review.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've always wanted to --some Halloween-- do a live-action re-creation of the Halloween party decorations for a Halloween party.

    Hmmmmm... You may have just inspired me...

    ReplyDelete