Streaming service essentially kills Peanuts Halloween special, an American keepsake
The “Genius of the Obvious” is a moral code I’ve developed, according to which some things are just plain obvious.
According to the Genius of the Obvious, you shouldn’t buy expired fish, or give out your Social Security number to strangers. You don’t accept candy bars from clowns.
The latest infraction? Moving the Charlie Brown holiday specials off of ABC and into the dark trenches of streaming television.
Apple TV+ is the clown with the candy bar amid this whole mess. Some sort of money grab made them do this, some sort of desperate gesture by corporate suits to make themselves relevant in the battlefield of streaming services.
Bottom line: The nation has been robbed of mainstream access to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and the beloved Peanuts Christmas special as well. Pardon my Shakespeare, but this just sucks.
Over the past half century, few holiday shows softened the heart like the Peanuts holiday specials. I’ll match Charles Schulz’s work against the short-form stories of E.B. White, Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter. The Peanuts world is so real, you can smell the kids’ lunch pails.
From the music, to the storyline, to Snoopy crawling through the war-torn countryside, the Great Pumpkin was a magical, surprisingly sophisticated piece of work.
There was a sliver of existentialism to it, a sly comment on the beauty of individual faith (Linus in the pumpkin patch), a nod to the heartbreak of always being the outcast (Charlie Brown: “I got a rock.”).
Kids are mean, and life is puzzling, and every year on Halloween you get to be somebody else. Does that change anything? Nah. You are who you are. Thank goodness for funny beagles and understanding friends.
This poignant holiday special was a warm soup on a chilly day, a fire to warm your toes.
To take it away this year, of all years, seems especially wrong.
Americans’ level of disgust over this? You have no idea. It’s considered a treasure, a holiday keepsake.
Instead of the sweet musings of Sally, we have one more con artist with his hand in your pocket —one more subscription service out to make a name for itself at your expense.
I’ll admit, I don’t understand half this stuff. Makes me dizzy the options. HBO Now, HBO Max, HBO I-Don’t-Know.
Look, I’m a sucker for simple things … jelly donuts, Grant Wood, old jeans. At the end of the day, I want to plop on the couch, hit eight or nine buttons, hope I remember my access code, and enjoy some soothing TV.
Keep it simple, you dolts.
The Genius of the Obvious is this: That anyone with half a soul would reverse this call. Anyone who’s ever been a kid at Halloween would understand why. This is not a savvy business decision, it’s cultural extortion and a big black-eye for Apple.
I’m not much for boycotts, or petitions. But I might have to swear off Apple products for a while. You in?
Top to bottom, this decision just stinks.
The folks who own this franchise – Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions — never should’ve sold it. Apple TV+ never should’ve bought it. ABC and CBS never should’ve let it get away. Coca-Cola, the original sponsor, should’ve snapped up the rights.
Schulz was a pretty good businessman, but I think he would be appalled by all this.
Many hard-working families don’t have access to streaming services. And try telling Grandma, or your toddler, that the Peanuts specials will be available on the app, if you have Apple TV 4k, or on Amazon Fire TV.
“Grandma, you have a Roku stream stick, right?”
This Halloween, Americans got a rock.
Chris Erskine is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Find his frequent musings on life and fatherhood at ChrisErskineLA.com