4 Great 'Peanuts' Specials for Traumatizing Children
In total, there have been 54 Peanuts TV specials. Very few of them are good, and some are totally insane.
What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?
As Charlie Brown and the gang drive through Europe (for some reason), they stop in Normandy to reminisce about D-Day, because the harrowing Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France should always be in the back of every 8-year-old's mind.
We're looking forward to the Peanuts Vietnam special, "It's An Unexploded Land Mine, Charlie Brown."
Then, the kids visit the poppy field near the battle site where many of the soldiers are buried, and Linus recites the poem "In Flander's Fields" for the single most depressing confrontation with mortality that has ever been featured in a cartoon for children:
Now, we're not saying D-Day isn't important to learn about, but these characters (and the majority of their audience) aren't even out of elementary school. Their problems involve kicking footballs, security blankets, and adults that talk like trombones. What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? makes as much sense as a Spongebob Squarepants retrospective about 9/11.
What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown!
What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown focuses on a dream Snoopy has wherein he is transformed into a bloodthirsty rage machine.
Pictured: Werner Herzog's A Charlie Brown Struggle.
In the nightmare, Snoopy is a sled dog who gets cruelly abused by both his master and his fellow canines. So, he's finally experiencing what life is like for Charlie Brown on a daily basis.
"How does that bald freak have opposable thumbs and not kill himself?"
Eventually, Snoopy realizes the only way to survive is to become a vicious animal, and he mauls the pack leader, because kids need to be taught early on how to solve their problems with violence.
Snoopy finally escapes his cold, desolate prison of madness when he and his entire team fall through a crack in the ice and drown.
And that, children, is the true value of teamwork.
Snoopy wakes up at the end to reassure the terrified children watching that he didn't just perish in the middle of a blasted Arctic landscape, but we argue that by that point, it is much too late.
Why, Charlie Brown, Why?
"... is everyone smiling?"
In Why, Charlie Brown, Why?, Linus falls for a new girl in his class named Janice, who apparently has a thing for men who carry urine-soaked swaddling blankets around in public.
"I also have a sweater that smells like fear."
On her first day, Janice goes home sick, and Linus learns that she's in the hospital. He goes to visit her, and she tells him that she has leukemia, because the Peanuts gang felt it was high time their young viewers had the joy clubbed out of their souls with a baseball bat made of cancer.
A few months later, Janice returns to school and surprises Linus, revealing that she's recovered for now.
And we never see Janice again.
In the 15 specials that have aired since, Janice hasn't even been mentioned. Perhaps she recovered, and is now one of the many nameless students at the elementary school. Or perhaps she fucking died of cancer and was instantly forgotten by everyone, including the boy who was in love with her.
"Whatever happened to Jan-... Janet? Janice? I can't remember. With all this pussy trolling around, who can keep track?"
It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown
In the late 1980s, somebody decided to combine Peanuts with Who Framed Roger Rabbit and an Aerosmith video and made It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown. That somebody was Charles Schultz, and he cast his daughter in the titular role. The special stars Spike, Snoopy's creepily mustachioed transient brother, and not a single other member of the Peanuts gang.
He doesn't understand, either.
In the special, Spike falls in love with Jenny, a woman who drives a red truck.
She gives him a ride to her boyfriend's house, where she and her beau have a protracted argument about a dance lesson while Spike eats biscuits in the background.
Jenny runs off with Spike to go dancing, and Spike gets chased by coyote hunters (yes, that really happens). At the end, Jenny's boyfriend promises Spike he's going to be a better man for her, and the reconciled couple returns Spike to the radiated wasteland from whence he came.
The most baffling thing about this mescaline-soaked vision quest is that Charles Schultz thought it was going to be his Citizen Kane. Over four years and $1 million later, even he had to agree that perhaps a woman exploring her "let's date other people" phase with a cartoon dog was not the best use of the Peanuts license.
Mitch Anderson has a Twitter feed and Tumblr, and no one can ever take that away from him.