The cartoon “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a classic that offers us an endearing and memorable message against yuletide commercialism. But ABC must not have been paying attention, as it cut several key scenes from the program to add even more space for—you guessed it—advertisements.
The Herald Bulletin
It was 44 years ago when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted on CBS. One of the most beloved Christmas shows has Charlie worrying about not being excited as the holiday approaches, which leads Linus to question his friend’s sanity. But Charlie’s upset about the commercialization of Christmas. Even Snoopy decorates his dog house in a holiday-lights contest.
Lucy suggests that Charlie direct the school Christmas show after which chaos reigns (to the great music by Vince Guaraldi). Charlie Brown tosses down his megaphone and asks if anyone knows the meaning of Christmas. Linus takes center stage to recite the story of the holy night and the birth of Jesus, from Luke 2:8-14, ending with, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.”
Charlie Brown is happier, and so are we, though CBS was scared to death to air it in 1965 because of the overt references to the real reason for the season. If Christmas was overcommercialized in 1965, it is more so today. Look at the airing of the show itself, which was on ABC Tuesday night. Many scenes from the original were cut, including one of Charlie Brown writing a letter to Santa for his sister Sally, Lucy asking Schroeder if he can play any Christmas songs on his piano and the gang tossing snowballs and catching snowflakes on their tongues. Of course, these scenes don’t propel the plot but do capture what it’s like to be a kid at Christmastime.
In one of the great ironies, the show was edited so ABC could fit in four blocks of advertising, which did, in effect, overcommercialize a show whose theme was overcommercialization.