If you've always wanted your very own sorry looking Charlie Brown Christmas tree, I'm happy to report that I'm seeing these 18" tall artificial renditions for sale just about everywhere this year, from Target to Sears. Walgreen's has one of the lowest prices at $9.99 but CVS has it on sale this week for only $7.99 (which, let's face it, is pretty much all that it's worth.) Or you could save yourself the eight dollars by just gathering a few twigs from outside, attaching them to a couple of pieces of wood, and hanging an old bulb from it.
Despite its awfulness, I'm still tempted to buy one of these for the novelty value. The program still remains my favorite holiday special and after viewing it I really get into the holiday spirit. It's pretty remarkable that it's still showing some 45 years after their debut, because A Charlie Brown Christmas was not supposed to be the lasting success it turned out to be. Some reasons why (pulled from Wikipedia, of course):
*The program's soundtrack was poorly edited. In one scene where Schroeder stops playing his piano, the characters keep dancing for a few seconds more.
*TV executives originally didn't want Linus delivering his soliloquy about the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke. Bible passages were considered controversial, but the Peanuts' creator Charles Schulz insisted, "If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?"
*If the character's lines sound choppy in their delivery, that's because they were. In particular the child actor who voiced Sally couldn't read, and needed to be cued line by line during the soundtrack recording. Executives had wanted adults to play the parts.
*The special was supposed to have a laugh track, which Schulz wanted left out, explaining that audiences should be able to enjoy the show at their own pace and decide when to laugh.
*The executives didn't like the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi, fearing that it wouldn't work for children's programming.
As a result, when the head honchos saw the final product they were horrified, and were certain the show would flop; the rest as we know is history, and the special remains a timeless classic.
ABC is showing A Charlie Brown Christmas this Tuesday night - December 1, at 8 PM and repeating it on December 8. The jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi remains one of my favorite Christmas albums.