Good grief! Apple TV Plus should not take Charlie Brown hostage

Charlie Brown
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Want to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for free? Now's your chance—from October 30 through November 1—before it disappears behind a paywall for another year.

Like Lucy swiping the football away from Charlie Brown, my beloved Peanuts specials are being yanked away from ABC to Apple TV Plus, which will require you to pay for a subscription if you want to watch Snoopy and company outside of a few narrow windows.

Growing up, I didn’t watch much TV. We were the last family on our block to use an old-fashioned antenna; I have vivid memories of climbing up on the roof of our house with my dad to replace the worn-out motor that let us tune in either New York or Philadelphia stations. 

But, one thing we always made time for was It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas. It became a tradition to watch both specials (along with a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which was not quite as good). I’ve seen them so many times, I can recite them line-by-line from memory.

I learned to play Linus & Lucy and many of the other Vince Guaraldi songs from the specials on the piano. And I had several Snoopy and Woodstock stuffed animals, which I think are somewhere in my mom’s basement. I’ve even made a pilgrimage to the Peanuts museum in California to see Charles Schulz’ drawing table.

Like Charlie Brown getting a bagful of rocks instead of candy, I’ll have to subscribe to Apple TV Plus if I want to watch any of the specials outside of a very narrow window.

So, as I started my own family, I was looking forward to passing these traditions down to my daughter. But like Charlie Brown getting a bagful of rocks instead of candy, I’ll have to subscribe to Apple TV Plus if I want to watch any of the specials outside of a very narrow window. 

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will be available to non-subscribers between October 30th and November 1; A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving between November 25th and November 27th, and A Charlie Brown Christmas between December 11 and December 13. Outside of those brief windows, though, I’ll have to sign up for an Apple TV+ subscription, which costs $4.99/month or $50 for an annual subscription. 

To paraphrase Linus, you’ve heard the fury of a woman scorned? Well that’s nothing compared to the fury of someone who’s been cheated out of a Charlie Brown Christmas. 

How I feel.

How I feel. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment)

In addition to its mobile app, Apple TV Plus is available on select Samsung, LG and Vizio smart TVs, Roku and Amazon streaming devices, and on Airplay 2-compatible TVs from Samsung, Sony, LG, and Vizio. 

Yes, that’s a lot of options, but by cloistering Peanuts specials behind a paid streaming service, it’s doing a huge disservice to families who don’t have smart TVs or streaming devices. Shows that have entertained families for decades — this will be the 55th year A Charlie Brown Christmas has been televised — should be available as over-the-air broadcasts, where they can reach far more families, and continue these generational traditions. So let’s hope that Apple TV Plus doesn’t become the Grinch who stole a Charlie Brown Christmas. 

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.