A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is the tenth prime-time animated TV special based upon the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was originally aired on the CBS network on November 20, 1973, and won an Emmy Award the following year. Currently, the special is aired every November in prime time on the ABC network. It was the third holiday special after A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965 and It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in 1966.
The special opens with Lucy enticing Charlie Brown to kick the football she is holding. Charlie Brown at first refuses, correctly suspecting that Lucy will pull it away as always; but Lucy convinces him that kicking the football is a Thanksgiving tradition, and that being asked to do so is an honor. Charlie Brown decides that Lucy would never pull her trick on a national holiday, and ends up getting deceived and landing flat on his back once again.
Charlie Brown and Sally are preparing to go to their grandmother's place for Thanksgiving dinner when Charlie Brown gets a phone call from Peppermint Patty, who invites herself over to Charlie Brown's house for the holiday dinner. Two quick subsequent phone calls add Marcie and Franklin to the guest list, and since Charlie Brown cannot get a word in edgewise with Patty, he quickly finds himself in a quandary with no easy solution—at least not until Linus shows up.
Linus suggests to Charlie Brown that he could have two dinners: the first one for Patty and her friends, and then the second one at his grandmother's home, forcing Charlie Brown to admit that all he knows how to make is "cold cereal and maybe toast." Regardless, Linus recruits Snoopy and Woodstock to set up a ping-pong table and chairs in the backyard. Snoopy and Woodstock set the table, then Snoopy dons a chef hat, directing Charlie Brown, Linus and Woodstock in food preparation. When the food is readied, Snoopy and a reluctant Woodstock go to Snoopy's doghouse and dress in Pilgrim clothing. They return to the house with Snoopy holding a toy musket, which fires unexpectedly and causes Charlie Brown to lose his patience.
The guests arrive and make their way to the backyard for the Thanksgiving feast. Linus leads the group in prayer that details the First Thanksgiving in 1621. Each plate setting includes an ice cream sundae (vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and a cherry) in a large sundae bowl. Snoopy serves up the food, throwing the plates to each guest Frisbee-style. Each person gets two slices of buttered toast, and a handful each of pretzel sticks, popcorn, and jelly beans.
At first Patty is shocked, but her shock quickly turns to outrage, and she angrily berates Charlie Brown for the supposed meal. Embarrassed and dejected, Charlie Brown timidly leaves the table and goes back into the house. Patty's tirade continues until Marcie gently reminds her that he didn't invite her, but that she invited herself along with Marcie and Franklin. Coming to her senses, Patty asks Marcie to go and apologize to Charlie Brown on her behalf. Marcie reluctantly does so, but Patty soon follows her and apologizes to Charlie Brown herself.
In the midst of the quasi-feast, Charlie Brown loses track of time: the clock strikes four, reminding him that he and Sally are supposed to be at their grandmother's home for dinner in half an hour. So he calls his grandmother to explain his situation. When he mentions that his friends have not eaten yet, his grandmother invites all his friends over with him for Thanksgiving dinner; the idea is welcomed with cheers from everyone. As the kids leave, they sing the song "Over the River and Through the Woods"; the lyric "grandmother's house" causes irony for Charlie Brown as he says his grandmother lives in a condominium.
After the kids leave, Snoopy and Woodstock go to the doghouse and cook up their own traditional Thanksgiving meal that includes a turkey, complete with all the trimmings. They pull apart the wishbone, with Woodstock snapping off the bigger piece. As its release hurls him through the air, he smiles, perhaps because his longtime wish to fly straight and head-up like a normal bird has been granted. Over the end credits, the two friends each devour dessert: a large piece of pumpkin pie. They then sit back with contented smiles as Woodstock pats his full stomach.
The special first aired on CBS on November 20, 1973, and continued to air every year on that network until 2000. In 2001, it moved, along with the rest of the Peanuts specials, to ABC. Traditionally, ABC airs the special on Thanksgiving night, although it also has aired on other days preceding the holiday including the Sunday before Thanksgiving.Todd Barbee – Charlie Brown
Robin Kohn – Lucy van Pelt
Stephen Shea – Linus van Pelt
Hilary Momberger – Sally Brown
Christopher DeFaria – Patricia "Peppermint Patty" Reichardt
Jimmy Ahrens – Marcie
Robin Reed – Franklin
Bill Melendez – Snoopy and Woodstock
This is the final time that Kohn, DeFaria, and Momberger voiced Lucy, Peppermint Patty, and Sally respectively. In the next TV special, they would be replaced by Melanie Kohn, Donna Forman, and Lynn Mortensen respectively.
The music for this special was composed by Vince Guaraldi and performed by the Vince Guaraldi Combo."Charlie Brown Blues" (aka "Play It Again, Charlie Brown")
"Little Birdie" (Vince Guaraldi vocal)
"Is It James or Charlie?"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Fife & Drums Theme"
"Is It James or Charlie?"
"Charlie Brown Blues" (aka "Play It Again, Charlie Brown")
"Over the River and Through the Wood" (a cappella, by the kids)
This special has previously been released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment on September 12, 2000. It was re-released on DVD by Warner Home Video in remastered form on October 7, 2008. It was released on a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack by Warner Home Video on October 5, 2010. The special was released in a 40th anniversary deluxe edition DVD by Warner Home Video with the same features from previous editions on October 1, 2013. The deluxe edition features The Mayflower Voyagers included on the DVD.