After ‘Great Pumpkin’ backlash, Peanuts returns free for Thanksgiving, Christmas

WTOP's Jason Fraley reports on Charlie Brown holiday specials (Part 1)

COVID-19 has settled the theatrical versus streaming debate, with many major releases forgoing the multiplex to instead premiere on Netflix, Amazon or HBO Max.

However, one last bastion of TV tradition remains, as Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts gang remains on network television for its annually-televised holiday specials.

Fan backlash erupted after Apple TV+ exclusively streamed “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” (1966) over Halloween, ending the tradition of annual network TV.

Last week, PBS reached a compromise deal with Apple to deliver ad-free broadcasts of both the Thanksgiving and Christmas specials, giving fans a cornucopia of options to watch Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy and the entire Peanuts gang.

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (1973) aired Sunday night on PBS and will air again free on Apple TV+ on Wednesday through Friday, even if you don’t have a subscription.

Likewise, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965) will air on PBS and PBS Kids on at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13. It will air free on Apple TV+ from Dec. 11 through Dec. 13, though paid subscribers will be able to watch it earlier on Apple TV+ starting Dec. 4.

More ways to watch our beloved TV specials is always a good thing, though the past year has shown a clear shift toward streaming apps in our fractured media landscape.

Every time we prepare to kick off a new era of TV, Lucy pulls the football.

Alas, the holidays are a fitting time for a ceasefire in the TV wars.

WTOP's Jason Fraley reports on Charlie Brown holiday specials (Part 2)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up