The iconic Peanuts Halloween special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will be available for free on Apple TV+ from October 28-31.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, the iconic Peanuts Halloween special, will stream for free on Apple TV+ from October 28th to 31st this year. Per MovieWeb, the 1966 Peanuts Halloween special will not be aired on network television this year, but rather through the streaming service that purchased the rights to Charles Schulz’s cartoon character in 2020. The Peanuts Halloween special was first broadcast on ABC, followed by CBS, and most recently, PBS, but it seems even as strict copyright owners as Apple realize that people really, really like to watch Linus get made fun of in a pumpkin patch.
The Peanuts Halloween special was the third special to be produced based on the Peanuts gang, with the first being the even more iconic A Charlie Brown Christmas and the less-remembered Charlie Brown’s All Stars!, in which Charlie’s baseball game is rained out and he is sad. Although It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has been owned by media conglomerates for decades and is one of the most licensed cartoon franchises in history, the television specials have apparently come to be regarded as a kind of de facto public domain right.
As such, there has been some uproar that the Peanuts Halloween special may not be freely available at some point in the future. Speculatively, it is probable that many parents who grew up watching Charlie Brown, Lucy Van Pelt, Snoopy, and all the rest get in Linus’ face about his belief that a supernatural being akin to an autumnal-themed Santa Claus exists are angry that their own children may not be able to watch it as part of a tradition. However, Apple is probably aware of the backlash it would almost certainly receive for paywalling the Peanuts Halloween special and is neatly avoiding that.
It is always interesting when a for-profit creation that has always been owned by corporations like Peanuts, Superman, or Garfield becomes so omnipresent that they come to be perceived as shared cultural traditions. In many ways, because Charles Schulz was so willing to license the Peanuts characters for everything from Hallmark cards to insurance commercials to Halloween specials, it turned the brand into something that people kind of assume they have a right to. And naturally, while Apple TV+ will be streaming the Peanuts Halloween special for free in the aforementioned window of time, it is available for rent or purchase the rest of the year round.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was followed by 46 more television specials, most of which do not have the lasting cultural legacy of the Peanuts Halloween special. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, released in 1973, might be the most famous of the specials since the first few, though we can assume Is This Goodbye, Charlie Brown? and It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown both have their ardent fans.
However, this year, parents and children alike will have to gather around the crackling Apple TV (or whatever) to get some Halloween family cheer. We shall have to see what Apple TV+ decides to do next year.