October 19, 2020

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and other Peanuts holiday specials move to Apple TV+; new specials and series also announced for Apple TV+

If, like me, you've been wondering why ABC hasn't set a broadcast date yet for It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - even though there are less than two weeks until Halloween - today we learned the apparent answer.

Today a press release from Apple and WildBrain Entertainment announced that the subscription streaming service Apple TV+ will "become the home for all things 'Peanuts,' bringing together new original series and specials, along with iconic beloved specials to fans around the world, all in one place."

The new series and brand-new specials coming to Apple TV+ will include:
  • The Snoopy Show (premieres Feb 5, 2021 - see below for more information);
  • New specials about Mother's Day, Earth Day, New Year's Eve, and "going back to school." (Yes, there's already a New Year's special.. but it sounds like they're going to make another one.);
  • A brand-new documentary for the 70th anniversary of Peanuts;
  • A second season of Snoopy in Space (the first season has been part of Apple TV+ since the service launched - see this blog post for more details).

No release date has been set for the other new shows other than The Snoopy Show.

But perhaps the more significant part of today's announcement is that the three classic Peanuts holiday specials - It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas - will now exclusively be part of the Apple TV+ streaming service.

Each holiday special will be made available to view for free without a subscription via Apple TV+ for three days only.  (Of course, if you have an Apple TV+ subscription, they will be viewable whenever you want.)

While it hasn't been officially stated, most sources agree that ABC has lost the rights to broadcast the Peanuts holiday specials and none of them will appear on network television this year. (Three pieces of information support this: the announcement from Apple and Wildbrain; ABC's most recent contract to broadcast the specials expired this year; and the lack of any broadcast dates announcement by ABC.

This means the 55 year tradition of over-the-air, network broadcasts of the beloved holiday specials starring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang has come to an end, unfortunately.

The Apple TV+ premiere and free streaming dates for the classic holiday specials will be as follows (all dates 2020):
  • It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - begins streaming on October 19, free to non-subscribers from October 30 to November 1
  • A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving - begins streaming on November 18, free to non-subscribers from November 25 to November 27
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas - begins streaming on December 4, free to non-subscribers from December 11 to December 13

It's not clear if other classic Peanuts specials will also become available as part of Apple TV+ or not.

The streaming service Apple TV+ costs $4.99 a month.  You can watch it on Apple devices (including iPad, iPhone, Apple TV boxes, and Macs); on streaming devices such as Rokus, Amazon Fire boxes, and select smart TVs; or on the web at tv.apple.com .  You do not need to subscribe to the service to install the Apple TV app on any of those devices and watch the holiday specials during the free periods; you may, however, need to sign in with an existing or new Apple account.  See Apple's website for more information .

You can read today's full press release on either Apple or WildBrain's website.

While the press release doesn't use the word "exclusive" when referring to the classic Peanuts specials, it appears that at least for now, they are no longer available for digital rental/digital purchase from other services such as Amazon Prime or Vudu.  It's unknown if this is a temporary period of exclusivity, or a permanent one... time will tell.

The five theatrical Peanuts movies are not part of the Apple TV+ deal.

DVDs and Blu-rays of the classic specials remain available for purchase, however.

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More details about the upcoming new Peanuts series The Snoopy Show:

It will premiere Feb 5, 2021 on Apple TV+ and each episode will consist of "three, seven-minute cartoons".

It's described as "a new animated series for kids and families that stars the internationally beloved beagle and his feathered best friend Woodstock as they tackle all new adventures. [..] All of Snoopy's bold, beloved personas are on full display in this brand-new animated comedy."  Exactly how many episodes there will be has not been revealed. You can watch the teaser trailer on Youtube.

October 2, 2020

It all began ...

... 70 years ago today: October 2, 1950.

Three small children, an average neighborhood, an apparently congenial tone ... and an unexpected little sting in the final panel.

And thus tradition was born.

Fun facts: Although we're immediately introduced to Charlie Brown in this debut cartoon, his two companions — Patty and Shermy — weren't named until (respectively) October 26 and December 18, also in 1950.

(Snoopy debuted in the third strip, on October 4, but wasn't named until November 10.)

As we celebrate this platinum anniversary, let's remember how it all began: with one man, his pen, a blank artist's board ... along with a rich imagination, and an extraordinarily perceptive understanding of the human condition.

To quote the title of the documentary/retrospective that aired January 9, 1976 (and won an Emmy Award, for "Outstanding Informational Children's Special") ...

Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown!