This is a very cool article by Lee Habeeb (UVa grad!) on A Charlie Brown Christmas and how this beloved program almost never happened. It is an interesting story, but the most surprising thing for me was that the (I imagine) typically square and unadventurous TV execs and sponsors were scared that Linus’s recitation of a passage from the gospel of Luke was going to be controversial and a disaster. I first saw the show in the late ’70s as a little kid, and I recognized even then that there was something old-fashioned about Snoopy and the gang, and that the program was very different than much of the other kids fare on TV. I always figured the Christian message was something from the past – who would have thought that it was controversial in 1965? I understand things were changing at that point but I would have thought the networks would not be swept up in the cultural change until well after that.
One of the reasons that I think Mad Men (which I thoroughly enjoy watching) gets so much buzz is because it depicts a 1960s that has largely been forgotten. The ’60s in popular mythology conjure up Woodstock, hippies, protests, colorful art and music, and other such things. Mad Men captures the early and mid-60s and indeed what much of mainstream America was like in the late ’60s. Woodstock was one thing, but take a look at baseball cards from 1970 (which feature photos from the year before). Not an afro or long hairdo in sight.