Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Problem With: "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

I watch a lot of TV on Thanksgiving. It's my favorite Thanksgiving Day tradition. I tune in to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning, followed by two football games in the afternoon. I may take short breaks over the course of the day, including for dinner, obviously, but otherwise I consume as much television as possible.

By primetime, I'm stuffed. I feel as if I've had my fill of programming. However, I always leave a little bit of room for one last show: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It's the perfect treat to end a delicious day of TV viewing.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was created several years after the other two major Peanuts holiday specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, so the original voice cast was not used. Otherwise, it has the markings of a great Peanuts story: Snoopy has a wild and trippy fantasy; Linus improvises a speech that's both educational and memorable; and Charlie Brown is treated like dirt by the worst friends a kid could ask for.

This year, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will air the night before Turkey Day. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to host a viewing party so I can share my love for the special with friends I'm grateful to have in my life. They all said no.

I was flabbergasted. I asked them, Do you not want to hang out with me on Thanksgiving Eve? Of course we do, they replied. Do you not enjoy Peanuts specials? Of course we do. But you don't want to watch a Thanksgiving-themed Peanuts special? That is correct. Well, why not?

Their two-word response: Peppermint. Patty.

Ah, Peppermint Patty. She's absent from both A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, but she's front and center in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. And that's the reason why my friends declined to watch it with me.

"Peppermint Patty is a jerk," they all argued. "Jerk" may be too harsh of a word to use to describe an animated child, even after taking into account her boorish and irritating behavior in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. In the span of 30 minutes, she repeatedly refers to Charlie Brown as "Chuck" rather than by his real name; invites herself, Marcie and Franklin to Charlie Brown's house for a Thanksgiving dinner she expects Charlie Brown -- a child no older than 7 or 8 -- to prepare; embarrasses Charlie Brown at the dinner table when the food is not to her liking; and dispatches Marcie to apologize to Charlie Brown on her behalf.

Simply put, Peppermint Patty lacks social grace (and a pair of adequate shoes, for that matter.) But to be fair, she's never pulled a football away from Charlie Brown as he's ready to kick it, nor has she called Charlie Brown "stupid" and "hopeless" after he chooses a small, sad Christmas tree for a meaningless school play.

I will say that I'm puzzled by Peppermint Patty's objection to the food she's served at Charlie Brown's home for Thanksgiving: buttered toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks and jelly beans. I ate some combination of those four items for dinner on six of the last seven nights, and I was very satisfied afterward. I'd hardly be disappointed if I was served buttered toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks and jelly beans on Thanksgiving Day.

Unless they were prepared by my friend's dog. Charlie Brown relies on Snoopy to butter the bread and cook the popcorn for his guests. That's a problem, I'd say. Dogs aren't exactly the cleanest chefs. Does Snoopy even wash his paws before entering the kitchen?

Snoopy is responsible for setting the table, too. He is the one who places the dishes, the napkins and the silverware on there. Once Peppermint Patty and company arrives, he handles all of the food and personally tosses it to each of the children.

As best as I can tell, Peppermint Patty isn't bothered by this at all. She doesn't care that a dog prepared her food. She only cares that a dog prepared the wrong type of food. Her frustration is completely misplaced. She does have a right to be upset with Charlie Brown, but it should be for the right reason.

And Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown would both have a right to be upset with Snoopy for hiding a turkey and a pumpkin pie in his doghouse until the kids leave for Charlie Brown's grandmother's house. Selfish beagle. Maybe Snoopy's the real jerk in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

In case you missed it:

The Problem With: "Back To The Future"
The Problem With: "Family Matters"
The Problem With: Oscars Edition
The Problem With: "The Wonder Years"