Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Psychiatric Help 5¢

Charlie Brown: I feel depressed. I know I should be happy, but I’m not.

Lucy Van Pelt: Well, as they say on TV, the mere fact that you realize that you need help indicates that you are not too far gone. I think we’d better pinpoint your fears. If we can find out what you’re afraid of, we can label it.... Maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?

CB: What's pantophobia?

LVP: The fear of everything!


This year, A Charlie Brown Christmas celebrates its 45th anniversary. The holiday special is airing Thursday on ABC.

Last Thursday, The Washington Post ran a feature article on the making of the animated classic.
Christmastime is here... happiness and cheer...

In an interview with producer-director Lee Mendelson, author Michael Cavna reveals Mendelson's original intent was not to make an animated special, but a documentary. Mendelson tells how he got the idea, and about the turning points along the way, including the inspired pairing of Schulz's artwork with Vince Guaraldi's music (of which, as I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan).

He also talks about Schulz's insistence

...on one core purpose: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" had to be about something. Namely, the true meaning of Christmas. Otherwise, Schulz said, "Why bother doing it?"

Mendelson and Melendez asked Schulz whether he was sure he wanted to include biblical text in the special. The cartoonist's response, Mendelson recalls: "If we don't do it, who will?"

To Coca-Cola's credit, Mendelson says, the corporate sponsor never balked at the idea of including New Testament passages. The result — Linus's reading from the Book of Luke about the meaning of the season — became "the most magical two minutes in all of TV animation," the producer says.

In Why It Will Always Be Impossible to Top A Charlie Brown Christmas, Louis Virtel recounts how the story follows Charlie Brown's search for meaning through all the holiday contradictions, but refuses to leave him — and by extension, us — alone in cynicism and depression:

What other Christmas special has dared to be this smart and unflinching while leveling still with every viewer, young and old? For kids and blockheads from 1 to 92, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a skittishly drawn, poorly dubbed slice of very real life, and an eternal cure for pantophobia. Let’s watch it again.


  1. I read that article yesterday! Good stuff. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. You're welcome! You may also want to read the second article (in Movieline) in its entirety. The author writes like a cynic, yet is still captivated by that magical moment.


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