Of my beloved Halloween traditions, watching this one is right up there with John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s a tradition so annualized for many people my age who recall it coming on CBS every fall and followed not that far after by Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. So, what more is there to say about it? Surprisingly, quite a bit.
For those unfamiliar (what sort of beast are you?), it’s the story of Linus staying up all night on Halloween awaiting the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. Linus believes that it’s a sort of gourd-Santa, bringing toys to good boys and girls. At least, that’s my memory of the special. One of the things you realize watching as an adult is Linus’ story actually makes up less than a third of the special (which itself only runs a scant 25 minutes). His might be the A story, but it gets pushed aside by B and C stories featuring the other kids trick or treating, as well as Snoopy in one of his World War I fantasies. Of course, all three plots eventually convene into one another and it was then that I realized this is basically the prototype for Seinfeld.
I know, television shows having multiple plots wasn’t invented by Seinfeld, but it’s remarkable how close this one lines up. Lucy is pushy and puts down Charlie Brown—our Elaine and Jerry of this story. Snoopy goes off on a wild adventure that you can’t really believe is real until he interrupts someone else’s narrative, much like Kramer. Poor pathetic Linus is beleaguered and put upon hoping his ship will finally come in, only to have Snoopy stupidly crash his chance at the girl (George, Kramer, and Sally respectively). Or maybe it’s just a fun Halloween cartoon.