Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown

First aired October 29, 1972.

"You can't go to school without a rousing breakfast!  It's a known fact the all of our country's Presidents started each day with a rousing breakfast.  I don't know how they managed to get together every morning.  But I guess that's one of those things about government I don't understand."


It's time for Birchwood School to hold their class elections.  Linus Van Pelt (Stephen Shea) thinks Charlie Brown (Chad Webber) should run for Student Body President.  Chuck doesn't think anyone (besides Linus) would vote for him.  Lucy (Robin Kohn) conducts a poll that says he would lose if he ran, so Charlie Brown chooses not to run.  But Linus decides to run for President.  Lucy conducts another poll that says 99% of the students think Linus should run.  Some of the people she polls are bullied by Lucy into saying they think Linus would make a good President.  Lucy also decides to serve as Linus' campaign manager. 

Lucy books Linus on a local talk show that takes phone questions.  This turns out to be a waste of time, as none of the callers asks a cogent question.

Lucy says the latest poll numbers show Linus is leading 98% to 2%.  Linus' electoral opponent is a quiet boy named Russell Anderson (Todd Barbee).  When they meet for a debate, Russell gets up and says that he's honored to run for President, adding "if I'm elected, I promise to do the best I can.  Thank you."

In contrast, Linus is a natural firebrand politician (channeling Mark Antony and William Jennings Bryan), he says his administration "will release us from our spiritual Babylon".

He promises wide-sweeping changes, including raises for teachers and custodians and safety for any dog who shows up on the playground.  He says his first act as President will be to meet with the school board.  He's forced to back-track, realizing the board meets after his bedtime!  But the crowd eats up everything Linus says, cheering and clapping for him. 

The crowd goes crazy for Linus!

Linus is interviewed by Violet (Linda Ercoli) for the school paper, and Schroeder (Brian Kazanjian) sets up a photo-op for the candidate with Snoopy (Bill Melendez).  It seems like Linus will cruise to victory.

Schroeder thinks Snoopy will make Linus appear more "homey".

But then Linus commits a campaign "gaffe".  During his last speech before the election, he goes on a tangent about his belief in the Great Pumpkin!

Linus is laughed off stage, Lucy and Charlie Brown freak out about this.

Lucy and Chuck react to Linus' gaffe-"Aaugh!"
Linus is distraught, he tells his friends "I've blown the election.  Go ahead and say it, I know you want to say it".

But all hope is not lost,  Lucy says her internal poll shows that Linus and Russell are tied at 50%.  On election day, the vote is very close.  It may come down to one or two votes.

Election Day:Votes are cast and counted.

Can Linus prevail?  Will his speech about the Great Pumpkin come back to haunt him?

J.A. Morris says:

You're Not Elected Charlie Brown is not the best Peanuts special, but it's fun and serves as a nice introduction to politics for kids.  The original voice cast is gone, but it has the same look and great Vince Guaraldi music of the classic specials.

Speaking of Vince Guaraldi, fans of Snoopy's "Joe Cool" persona will enjoy this special.  It contains a scene that features Guaraldi singing the song "Joe Cool" that accompanies Snoopy's attempts to be cool.

"Joe Cool" tries to impress a girl.
It seems like every Presidential Election (and many Senatorial and Gubernatorial Elections) has one infamous campaign gaffe.  Linus' comments about the Great Pumpkin are the sort of thing that could change an election in the real world.

If there's anything wrong with the special, it's that it takes a little while to get to the main plot.  There's an opening segment that deals with Sally's (Hilary Momberger) inability to open the lock on her locker.  This leads to Charlie Brown being humiliated when she uses him as her Show And Tell object.  Not a bad scene, but it has nothing to do with the "election" storyline.

This special has been released on dvd several times and is also available as streaming video on Amazon.

You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown is a solid special.  It's not as well known as other Peanuts offerings  (I think I remember watching it once as a kid), or quite as good, but it's worth checking out.

J.A. Morris' rating:
3 Ballot Boxes

RigbyMel says:

As J.A. Morris says,  You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown is an enjoyable special, but probably not a "classic".  There are definitely some funny and believable moments -  I especially liked that Linus almost seems to be channeling scenes from Citizen Kane in his campaign speech and his "Great Pumpkin" gaffe is a definite highlight.    Also the watercolored autumnal backgrounds in the outdoor scenes are rather wonderful.

In addition to the somewhat extraneous subplots J.A. Morris mentions above, I also wondered about Sally having a locker at school at all.  Is it common for elementary school kids to have lockers?  I know I didn't have a locker at school until junior high, but perhaps my experience was anomalous.   It struck me as weird based on my personal experience in school.

Snoopy & Woodstock making campaign signs
If you are tired of political ads this election season and don't want to spend all night watching election returns,  this special is a fun, non-partisan escape.  

RigbyMel's rating:
3 Ballot Boxes

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