Charlie Brown Christmas, A [1965]

This half-hour Christmas show is one of the truly lovable animated specials in TV history, a status proved by its annual network telecast since 1965. A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first, and best, of a series of programs based on the Charles M. Schulz cartoon strip "Peanuts." Hapless hero Charlie Brown finds himself depressed at Christmastime, searching for the true meaning of the holiday amidst the glitz and commercialism of the modern age. Appointed director of the school holiday pageant, Charlie Brown ventures out with Linus to buy "a great, big, shiny aluminum Christmas tree." Instead they bring back a miserable tree--a real one. A Charlie Brown Christmas shows off the "Peanuts" gang doing what they do best: Lucy is bossy, Snoopy is crazy, Linus is sweet, and Pig Pen is, well, filthy. Instead of using adult actors trying to sound like kids, the production features real children providing the voices, an endearing effect. The jazz music score, composed by Vince Guaraldi, has become a classic in its own right; like so much about this program, it's an unexpected but perfectly right choice. --Robert Horton

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