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Western Animation / This Is America, Charlie Brown

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This Is America, Charlie Brown is a 1988-89 Mini Series, in which the Peanuts cast covers the history of The United States in a kid-friendly fashion. Due to its nature, this is one of the few Peanuts productions in which adults are seen and heard.

  1. "The Mayflower Voyagers" - The Peanuts gang are among the Pilgrim children who sail on the Mayflower in 1620. In the New World, Squanto teaches them how to survive, and the colony's bountiful harvest leads to the first Thanksgiving.
  2. "The Birth of the Constitution" - In 1787, the Peanuts gang does chores around Independence Hall, where the Founding Fathers are trying to hammer out a Constitution for the new nation.
  3. "The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk" - The gang visits Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, where they witness the first airplane flight by The Wright Brothers.
  4. "The NASA Space Station" - Linus dreams that he and the gang are astronauts on a future NASA space station.
  5. "The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad" - Charlie Brown gives a class report on the transcontinental railroad, which is intercut with footage in which the gang are among the workers building it.
  6. "The Great Inventors" - The kids each give reports on important American inventions, focusing on the telephone, the phonograph, the electric light, and the first American-made cars.
  7. "The Smithsonian and the Presidency" - The gang visits the Smithsonian, where they discuss three great moments in U.S. presidential history. These are Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Theodore Roosevelt's camping trip with John Muir, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.
  8. "The Music and Heroes of America" - Schroeder tries to give a report on the history of American music at the same time that Lucy is giving a report on American heroes. Through the lens of both, American history is brought up to the tumult of The '60s, which is the most recent time period covered by the series.

The series was rerun in 1990, which was the last time it was ever aired in full. However, an edited version of "The Mayflower Voyagers" has often been paired with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on both television and DVD.

This series contains examples of:

  • Actually, I Am Him: After Charlie Brown crashes the Wright Brothers' kite, two men run up to see if he's all right. Charlie Brown worries what the Wright Brothers will say about their kite, only for the two men to reveal that they are the Wright Brothers.
  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: In "The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad," the Chinese workers are portrayed wearing these.
  • Anachronic Order: Confusingly, the series starts off as chronological but later ceases to be. Granted, some episodes take place simultaneously with others, but at the very least, episodes five and six should be between two and three, and episode four should be last.
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  • Artistic License – History: In "The Birth of the Constitution," Benjamin Franklin is portrayed doing his kite experiment in 1787 whereas it would actually have occurred more than thirty years earlier.
  • Barefoot Poverty: As Pilgrims in "The Mayflower Voyagers," many of the Peanuts kids go barefoot, notwithstanding the occasional animation error in which their bare feet are colored in brown. In "The Birth of the Constitution," Charlie Brown and Marcie are still barefoot, at least most of the time, but the others have shoes throughout.
  • Bindle Stick: Spike has one in "The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad." He carries a small cactus and a harmonica inside of it.
  • Caught in a Snare: In "The Mayflower Voyagers," a Pilgrim man gets caught in one of these.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Lampshaded in two episodes:
    • In "The Smithsonian and the Presidency," Charlie Brown and Lucy discover the lunar and command modules from Apollo 10 (nicknamed "Snoopy" and "Charlie Brown," respectively), and a Peanuts Sunday strip.
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    • In "The Music and Heroes of America," it is declared that the Vince Guaraldi piece that would be permanently affiliated with the Peanuts characters through the specials was named "Linus and Lucy" "by coincidence."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: "The Mayflower Voyagers" recounts all the misery and death that the Pilgrims went through during their transatlantic voyage and their first year in America, before ending happily with the bountiful harvest of 1621.
  • The Faceless: Despite many adult historical figures being shown and heard, "The Great Inventors" and "The Music and Heroes of America" feature the kids' teacher still being unseen and speaking with "wah-wah" sounds.
  • Failed Future Forecast: "The NASA Space Station" is set in "the mid-1990s," when a new NASA space station has been established. This is meant to be the Space Station Freedom, which Ronald Reagan proposed in 1984. Budget cuts would later kill the project as it was originally envisioned, but it would eventually evolve into the International Space Station, which began construction in 1998.
  • Green Aesop: Touched on in "The NASA Space Station," when the gang sees the Earth from space. Later, this theme is focused on more fully in "The Smithsonian and the Presidency," when Teddy Roosevelt's conservationist policies are discussed.
  • Historical In-Joke: In "The Birth of the Constitution," Charlie Brown invents baseball and basketball. Lucy regards them with skepticism. Later on, she invents American football, and you can probably guess where that's going.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: Discussed in "The Music and Heroes of America," with the customary late nineteenth-century setting.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: In "The NASA Space Station," the news cuts live to the space station just when Lucy and Linus are arguing about the quality of her leadership, with Linus declaring that the whole crew is on the brink of mutiny.
  • Last-Name Basis: In "The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk," Dolly refers to Charlie Brown as "Mr. Brown," even though they're the same age.
  • Peace Pipe: Massasoit is shown smoking one with the Pilgrims in "The Mayflower Voyagers."
  • Retraux: At the end of "The Mayflower Voyagers," the gang plays a seventeenth-century version of the "Linus and Lucy" theme, with Schroeder's instrument sounding like a harpsichord since pianos weren't invented yet in 1621.
    Squanto: There are still a few of your customs that I do not understand.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The final episode, "The Music and Heroes of America," features the gang walking into the sunset as they hum "Linus and Lucy."
  • Space Station: "The NASA Space Station" takes place on one, obviously. As detailed above, the episode is based on the assumption that the then-current plans for the Space Station Freedom would go forward as scheduled.
  • Stalker Shrine: In "The NASA Space Station," Sally's living area is decorated with pictures of Linus.
  • Stock Footage: Unlike other historical figures depicted, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. appear in actual footage rather than as animated characters, maybe because they lived recently enough that there is sound footage of them.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "The Mayflower Voyagers" is basically one, which is why it's often been paired with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. On television, this was done to fill an hour time slot.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: The Peanuts cast are played this way, as they are placed into different periods of American history.
  • The Wild West: The setting of "The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad," obviously.

Alternative Title(s): This Is America Charlie Brown


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