RIP, Great Pumpkin

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

17 thoughts on “RIP, Great Pumpkin

  1. Thank you for your perfectly expressed outrage. I have been watching these beloved Peanuts specials since I was a young teen. I went to Amazon to see if you could still buy them on DVD as some psychic foresight had me do last year. Yes. The vultures have already circled. There are several “used” Peanuts holiday collection DVDs for $149.99 each. Good grief!

  2. Maybe swear AT Apple products. Always makes me feel better. @%$% Apple! And everywhere I turn they’re hawking the latest iPhone the Nimbus 2000 or something. We don’t need a new phone during a pandemic. We need Charlie Brown.

  3. I agree completely, Chris. In this year when children are living with so much stress and uncertainty, let them have at least one vestige of childhood uninterrupted! Thank you for so clearly articulating what should be everyone’s outrage.

  4. Is this where the Grinch steals Hallowe’en? I thought the governor of CA and the mayor of LA had already taken care of that…and now the over the air TV has been swiped clean of Charlie Brown and friends. What is this world coming to?

  5. I think this is the 3rd column in a week, and to that I say HOORAY! When Chris has something important on his mind, we are the beneficiaries of a bonus column. Thank you Chris, and keep up the good work. And shame on all the above-named parties in addition to Apple who participated in this travesty.

  6. Just finally got to reading your rant today regarding the GREED WORLD taking the last vestiges away of our children’s holiday joys!!!! I think now I’ll just keep on my bitchin’ worn out jeans and go to bed with a good illustrated art book of all of Grant Wood’s painting. Please keep up the pressure on all of the obsurdity swirling around us right now!

  7. I am sooo in! I was APPALLED when I read about THEM even stealing Peanuts from us! The world has gone mad, we are definitely seeing the world, “through a glass, darkly” . Chris, your take on making absurd situations palatable is what we need in this world where the inmates are running the asylum! Thanks!

  8. Pumpkin Pitch

    This is a lovely season’s rant
    Tropical, with much more cant
    Than the level Charlie Schultz
    More turkey stomp than red-leaf waltz
    For Autumn is a spicy time
    Up the winds the smoke clouds climb
    Down winds trailing to the sun
    In orange plains of cinnamon;

    Times like these call for a pie–
    Great Pumpkin patch in the sky
    Source of sweetness, and of spice
    Controlling access bears a price
    But Apple biters rolled the dice
    An icy move that wasn’t nice–
    Invites cold blasts that say, ‘what gall’
    And seems more wintertime than Fall
    So reaped the frost of our good bard
    No apple pie their just reward
    They might want to reconsider
    Just letting in the highest bidders
    Great Pumpkins should be in one’s
    Pantry of dreams, when said and done
    Then, on the night that witches sigh
    We can eat pie, you and I….

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