Sunday, November 09, 2014

Good grief: Parts of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" that will defy explanation

One lingering Halloween thought:

Eventually our son will be old enough for us to show him It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (which, of course, will continue air just before Halloween until network TV goes away altogether), and then some years later, given he's my son, it's likely he will start to question certain details.

I'm fairly certain it won't be questioning Linus' belief in the eponymous gourd-based character; that is the obvious basis of the entire plot; he'll get that much.

It will not be what the whole business with Snoopy pretending to be a World War I flying ace has to do with Halloween. That's a simple "We have no idea." As to why the show spends so much time on this incongruous sub-plot, that is easily attributed to needing filler, because the main plot wasn't sufficient to pad out half an hour.

It probably should be what Charlie Brown's sister Sally sees in Linus, but with any luck he'll be too young to notice that. Eh, but that's probably attributable to "The heart wants what the heart wants."

I suspect what will require the most futile attempt at explanation is the running gag (both literal and figurative) wherein Lucy offers to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick. No, it's not that he keeps falling for the ploy despite the previous attempts all being foiled when she pulled the ball away at the last second; that doomed optimism is the defining characteristic of our hapless hero. This is actually what defies any logic:

Why does Charlie Brown walk so far back and get such a long running start?

Sure, it allows for building dramatic tension so the joke gets its appropriate payoff when the inevitable happens and Charlie ends up on his back, but here's the thing: No one in the history of the sport has ever kicked a football—with a placeholder or a tee—by walking for nine full seconds in the other direction and running up at it. Even back in the days when the special was made (or back when the place kick was invented), kickers weren't doing that. A child who watches a single football game will grasp the long run-up makes no sense; there is no choreographing planting the other foot at just the right spot and swinging the kicking leg with the correct velocity and trajectory after running up such a distance.

Thus, I suppose the only reason I'll be able to offer is that part was intended for people who have never seen American football (which perhaps was a larger portion of the population back then).

He probably will not find that satisfying.

Candy from neighbors will help buffer that... as long as he doesn't get a bag full of rocks.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite bit is where Snoopy gets shot down behind enemy lines and has to sneak back through No Man's Land. I love the cloudy moon and the train whistle.


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