“Every Easter, the Easter Beagle comes dancing along with his basket full of eggs, which he hands out to all the good little children.”
“That sounds faintly familiar. I remember sitting out in a stupid pumpkin patch all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to come. And you know something? He never came! That was the worst night of my life.”
“But this is different. That was Halloween. This is Easter.”
Despite premiering on CBS on April 9, 1974 — 45 years ago this month — we all still remember the classic TV special “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!” Based on the comic strip "Peanuts" by Charles M. Schulz, it’s hard for a show to go wrong when it features such characters as Lucy, Linus, Sally, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Snoopy, Woodstock and good ol’ Charlie Brown.
After the initial release, CBS went on to air the television program every Easter season from 1975 to 2000, leading to the movie’s nickname becoming, “A Charlie Brown Easter," and ABC began airing the show for some time throughout 2001 to 2014.
This Peanuts holiday special revolves around the gang getting ready for Easter; each in his or her own fashion. Peppermint Patty agonizingly watches as Marcie destroys batch after batch of eggs they want to color for the celebration, and Lucy diligently prepares for the grand Easter egg hunt — so that only she knows where all of the eggs are hidden. However, among all of the activities, Linus van Pelt can’t help but feel that the Peanuts characters are all wasting their time.
“The Easter Beagle will take care of all of that,” Linus says again and again.
Knowing Linus and his unforgettable “Great Pumpkin” fiasco, that we all watch and laugh over annually, it’s no surprise that he has replaced the traditional Easter Bunny with his own mascot: the Easter Beagle.
Yet again, the only person who even bothers to listen to Linus’s tale of the Easter Beagle is Sally, though she’s not as trusting of him as she was before that Halloween night last October.
While Peppermint Patty struggles with Marcie, Lucy unmercifully pesters Schroeder, and Linus works on convincing Sally of the legitimacy of the Easter Beagle, we also get to see Charlie Brown and Snoopy handle their own sets of problems.
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Snoopy wants to buy a nice new birdhouse for Woodstock to live in but is struggling to find the perfect home for his small — and not so easily pleased — friend. Schulz’s good, loyal beagle also has a few tricks up his sleeve for the coming holiday, cleverly tricking crabby Lucy and giving everyone the greatest Easter they could ask for. Well ... almost everyone.
Poor old Chuck is having a hard time handling yet another major traditional holiday. One of the saddest moments of the film is Charlie Brown saying, “I know why they have holidays. They have holidays so people can get together and have fun. So why am I alone?”
Our protagonist reminds us of how fortunate we are to have loved ones around us as we celebrate this exciting season, and — though there isn’t an egg left to give to Charlie Brown at the end — it shows how we should try to remember and include everyone in the festivities, just like the Easter Beagle did.
As a kid during the Easter season, I loved this TV special and looked forward to it every year. I remember laughing hysterically as Snoopy held hands and danced with little white bunnies, and I absolutely adored watching Marcie make mistake after mistake when it came to dyeing the eggs.
We originally had this movie on a VHS. But, sadly, when our VHS player eventually broke, we couldn’t play our tape anymore. It seemed like a really long time before I got to see the Easter party that only the classic Peanuts gang could throw again. Yet, when I finally did see it once more, it felt like no time had ever passed and the fun I had while watching it never changed; it doesn’t change even now, though I’m getting older and so is it.
The feeling of nostalgia that this special still provides, the fun and memories that it never lets us forget, is what makes “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!” the wonderful tribute to this springtime holiday that it is. No matter your individual preference or religious opinion regarding this holiday, this TV show lets everyone in on the amazing and enjoyable experiences that come with this time of the year.
I find it incredible that — even after all of this time — we continue to feel sorry for Charlie Brown not receiving an Easter egg and chuckle at Snoopy fixing the tension between him and Lucy at the end of the film with a big smooch on the cheek.
Whether you accidentally make egg soup like Marcie or pull a Lucy and focus on dominating the egg hunt, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang remind all of us to celebrate Easter in our own kind of way, regardless of what that way may be. And, with much thanks to Linus and Snoopy, we will never stop believing in the magic of the Easter Beagle.
“Is it? It is! He’s coming! He’s coming! The Easter Beagle is coming!”
“Thank you, Easter Beagle! Thank you!”