December 9th, 2008

Christmas, Advent

Advent 2008: Selections from A Charlie Brown Christmas

On this date in 1965, an episode of The Munsters was pre-empted in favor a Christmas special that had CBS executives very worried. No laugh track? Using children as voice actors? A reading from the King James Bible? A jazz score? They were convinced it would be a complete flop. Which, I'm sure, did not keep them for claiming credit when A Charlie Brown Christmas was an instant smash success. And it continues to be immensely popular; it just aired on ABC last night, and it's been available on home video since 1994. I wonder, though, if having it on video will diminish its impact on future generations. Back when I was a wee bairn, it was always a huge thrill to see the Christmas specials return every December; that was what made them special! (And truth be told, I was kind of excited when I learned on Sunday night that A Charlie Brown Christmas would be shown the following day, and on seeing the commercial I immediately paused the show I was watching and set the TiVo to record the special. But then, I am an unusually childish adult.) But how special will it seem to, say, my nieces, who own it on DVD and can watch it whenever they want to?

As for the soundtrack, it's become one of the best selling Christmas albums of all time. "Christmastime is Here," composed expressly for the special, has become a holiday standard, and "Linus and Lucy" has become arguably the most popular jazz instrumental in history. (In my estimation, only Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" comes close.) Here are a pair of tunes from the soundtrack, one an arrangement of a familiar Christmas carol, and one composed for A Charlie Brown Christmas by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.

Vince Guaraldi Trio - What Child Is This? (MP3, 1.7 MB)
Vince Guaraldi Trio - Christmas Is Coming (MP3, 2.4 MB)

Previous Advent posts:

2003: Christmas
2004: The Adoration of the Shepherds
2005: Comfort and Joy
2006: from About a Boy
2007: Madonna and Child
Christmas, Advent

Speaking of which

And another great thing about A Charlie Brown Christmas: it made this sublime bit of perfect madness possible:

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