Every once in a while I like to share my enthusiasm for some old-fashioned American pop culture with Sophia, who didn’t move to this country until she was an adult, and missed out on such important bonding experiences, like watching reruns of The Brady Bunch after school. Unfortunately, my attempts at getting her to love what I loved usually strike out. She thought Star Wars was ridiculous. She found the Wizard of Oz — get this — a little boring.
Last night, it was time to introduce her to the Peanuts gang. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was on TV. Even though it is one of the gang’s lesser holiday specials (the Christmas one is the best), how can anyone resist Charlie Brown? Uh… well…
First of all, I forgot how SLOOOOOWWWLY these cartoons are paced. Even I was hoping for Homer Simpson to jump into the frame and create some drama. I cannot imagine today’s hyper kids watching these gentle, rather unfunny holiday shows.
Sophia was confused with the characters from the start.
Scene 1 — Charlie Brown is being tempted to kick the football by Lucy.
Sophia: What’s going on?
Neil: Charlie Brown will try to kick the football and Lucy, the girl, will take it away. It’s a running gag.
Charlie Brown falls on his ass.
Sophia: That wasn’t very funny.
Neil: Well, it used to be.
Neil: Well, I guess it was never really that funny.
Scene 2 — Linus enters Charlie Brown’s home.
Sophia: You know, I was wondering — why is Charlie Brown bald?
Neil: I have no idea.
Sophia: Are you sure he isn’t an old man?
Neil: He’s a kid.
Sophia: And what about this guy — his friend?
Sophia: He looks like he has hairplugs.
Neil: That’s just how he was drawn. He’s a kid also. Look, he carries around a blanket.
Neil: Uh, it’s a security blanket. It’s complicated. He’s intelligent, but he’s anxious.
Sophia: Like you?
Neil: No. Not really.
Sophia: Is this also supposed to be funny?
Neil: Sort of. Not ha-ha funny. Gentle funny.
Sophia: These are just weird characters.
Scene 3 — Snoopy enters Charlie Brown’s home.
Neil: That’s Snoopy. You’ve heard of him, of course.
Neil: You’ve NEVER heard of Snoopy?
Sophia: Is he a spy?
Neil: A spy?
Sophia: Why is he called Snoopy?
Neil: I don’t know. But he’s like the most popular character. He was on t-shirts and things!
Sophia: Does he talk?
Neil: No, he doesn’t talk.
Sophia: So, what makes him so popular?
Neil: He’s cool.
Scene 4 — Peppermint Patty calls Charlie Brown on the phone and invites herself over for Thanksgiving dinner. She says she is bringing Marcie and Franklin.
Sophia: Is that a man?
Neil: No, that’s Peppermint Patty. She’s a tomboy.
Sophia: No way, that’s a man.
Neil: No, it’s a girl.
Sophia: Wow, she is so butch.
Sophia: And there’s her girlfriend.
Neil: It is not her girlfriend! That’s Marcie. I don’t remember much about her.
Marcie calls Peppermint Patty “Sir.”
Sophia: You see! She is a man!
Neil: She’s not. Marcie just calls her “Sir.”
Sophia: This is one freaky show!
Sophia: Is he the one black character?
After A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, there was the “world premiere” of a new Charlie Brown cartoon, but I shut it off the minute I saw Snoopy doing Tony Hawk stunts on his skateboard. Charles Schultz would NOT have Snoopy on a skateboard.
Sophia: So, you really watched these cartoons all the time?
Neil: I used to love the Peanuts.
Sophia: What did you love about it?
Neil: I think I related to Charlie Brown.
Peanuts characters by Charles Schultz/United Media