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STUDIO: Warner Brothers
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 50 minutes
Peppermint Patty decides to ruin Thanksgiving for the Brown Family.
Todd Barbee, Robin Kohn, Stephen Shea, Christopher DeFaria and Robin Reed
Peppermint Patty must’ve been an abused kid, when you consider a lot of elements in Peanuts lore. She rarely discussed her parents, Patty didn’t go home for great lengths of time and she was always seeking safety in the first available man on the block. In this adventure, she’s virtually abandoned on the Holidays and brings her crap to Chuck’s door. The child Brown doesn’t understand what to do with this tortured young girl, so he attempts to provide a sense of stability via food.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving continues to be the lesser classic Peanuts Holiday Special for me. Over the years, I’ve grown past watching it out of tradition and more to gleam some sort of secret meaning to the show. For those that aren’t familiar with the animated short, this is how it breaks down. Sally and Charlie Brown are getting ready to go out of town for Thanksgiving dinner. Their grandparents are expecting them for a hearty meal surrounded by family. That’s when Peppermint Patty shows up. You might’ve seen her before in various GLAAD tributes to animation. She’s the butch chick that has spent the last four decades living in sin with Marcy.
People have tried to force mature interpretations on cartoon characters for ages. But, that’s not what I’m trying to do here. Peppermint Patty is the focus of this short for a reason, even though that fucking dog keeps stealing focus. Given Schulz’s background, I can almost see why he relied on Snoopy to steal the spotlight. The bipolar Schulz seemed to rely on the dog to be his rodeo clown in the midst of his animation breakdowns. When he’d start to do tirades about religion and commercialism, you can always count on the dog to do some Red Baron shit. Kids would laugh and more Sno-Cone machines would be sold.
There’s something truly macabre about this process, as it seems like Schulz was a self-defeating artists. Drawn & Quarterly’s reprints of the older material shows that Schulz wrestled with real world sensibilities vs. kiddie expectations throughout the run of the series. When Peppermint Patty entered, she was the tomboy that loved to irritate ol’ Chuck. But, Thanksgiving paints her as a victim of a world out of her control. Patty is often neglected at home and left to push her way through the world of Peanuts. There’s no sense of control in her life, outside of the wonky nagging of the school teacher.
Peppermint Patty takes this aggression into different avenues, but she never turns against Charlie. Viewing the Brown Family as her ideal home life, she intrudes upon the Thanksgiving holiday. Patty has nothing going on in her life, therefore no one else must be celebrating. Schulz did something underhanded here, as he tries to push a view of American imperialism onto a portrait of youthful suburban living. The native Charlie Brown does his best to entertain Patty in his home, but Patty can’t abide by his weird traditions. Therefore, she strikes out against Charlie and demands that he appease her Thanksgiving belief system. Luckily for Chuck, his grandmother calls and saves him from the pending Peppermint flavored genocide.
Schulz is a weird guy who wants to tackle big issues. Unfortunately, television animation wasn’t ready to handle that kind of material in the 1970s. Charles Schulz popped some Xanax, sold more Peanuts merchandising rights and retired to play hockey in California. Kids laughed, as the characters turned from neurotic to vapid. Holidays gave way to sentiment and sentiment gave way to racing against the clock to find a G rated title. Do children still give a shit about the Peanuts anymore? The Holiday Trilogy still gets insane amounts of air-time, but who actually remains for the newer secondary features?
That’s why I’m glad that we had Snoopy. This feature even ends on Snoopy and Woodstock having to steal the focus back for some light-hearted cartoon Thanksgiving feasting. There’s a book to be written about the structure of these specials, as Schulz seems to be battling his demons within the confines of these annual offerings. Redhead girls of longing lust, kite-eating trees of failed dreams and finally a group of children that are desperately trying to forge an identity in the absence of a caring adult. I’m working backwards, so I’ll be tackling Halloween next. See you there.
The Mayflower Voyagers is the bonus short that I place somewhere around the 1980s in terms of production. This special suffers from the usual later Peanuts claptrap. There’s no heart and no one really focused on crafting a solid script. I can see why WB packaged it in with the main feature in terms of thematic sensibility. It’s just that when you compare the two specials, you see that the Peanuts is a failing franchise that hinges on nostalgia for the first decade worth of material.
The Blu-Ray combo pack with a DVD copy of the main special and its bonus episode. There’s also a featurette about the production of the Thanksgiving Special which seems to have been ported over from disc to disc for the last decade. The A/V Quality is exceptionally clean for a special of its age. However, one has to wonder about the value of buying a Blu-Ray that barely contains an hour’s worth of content. People simply don’t have the same kind of disposable content anymore. Why can’t WB just generate a Peanuts Collection of Holiday Specials on Blu-Ray? Oh well, your growing sense of nostalgia will prompt a purchase.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars