Tuned In

TV Tonight: You Gotta Be Sincere

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ABC airs It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown tonight at 8 E.T. I don’t know if Charles Schultz ever read Albert Camus, but there’s something about the whole Peanuts body of work that espouses a kind of hopeful existentialism. The characters are in absurd situations; like Sisyphus, they are doomed to suffer the same failures over and over again (kicking the football, getting the Red Baron), and yet they not only persist but actually believe that they will succeed the next time out.

To me, Linus’ vigils in the pumpkin patch are the most touching of those hopeless quests, because not only is he always disappointed, he’s publicly mocked for even believing. Yet he goes back. And misses out on the candy. (It’s interesting, by the way, to see this picture of kids in the 1960s, when no one thinks twice about trick-or-treating unchaperoned, much less sitting out in a sincere pumpkin patch all night.)

Speaking of Peanuts, the Tuned In Jrs. and I have lately been watching the new boxed set of 1970s Peanuts DVDs that just came out. In one of the specials, You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown, Linus blows a massive lead in the polls in his student-council-president race by sharing his belief in the Great Pumpkin. Thus suffering the fate of religious-minority candidates everywhere. For Peanuts completists, it’s a nice collection of less-well-known Peanuts specials, like There’s No Time for Love, Charlie Brown.

Does anyone out there have a favorite obscure Peanuts special? And don’t even tell me Flashbeagle.