December 13: Rerun's Theme

December 13: Rerun's Theme

Sequel to: A Charlie Brown Christmas (TV Special, 1965), It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (TV Special, 1992), Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales (TV Special, 2002)

Last week I negatively reviewed the first sequel to A Charlie Brown Christmas, which featured a poor cover version of "Linus & Lucy" by David Benoit. Believe it or not, there were actually two other Charlie Brown sequels to follow that failed attempt. Licking their wounds from the Christmastime disaster, a new mini-special appeared 10 years later in 2002. By this time, ABC had won the broadcast rights to the Peanuts specials away from CBS (which had shown the special for 35 years). This move was heralded as a big deal. To show that things were different (but better), ABC commissioned a new, shorter special called Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales. You see, in recent years CBS had been editing down the original episode to run more commercials in the 30-minute timeslot. ABC wanted to run the special unedited, but that would have created an odd time length in today's commercial climate, surpassing the 30-minute mark. To solve this problem, Christmas Tales was created to fill out the rest of the time, creating an hour-long block.

Compared to how Christmastime was handled, I was very happy with the way Christmas Tales came out. Instead of attempting a whole new storyline, it was decided to feature little vignettes focusing on various characters around the holidays. Given that most of the gags and plots were pulled from Schultz's comics, which in itself are short in length, this format worked really well. There's also a slight modernization of characters, while still paying tribute to the original special. Additionally, the music greatly improved as it more closely resembled Guaraldi's original style.

Which brings us to today's song, Rerun's Theme. You see, the success of Christmas Tales prompted ABC to fund an entirely new Christmas special, this time to run a full hour. The result is 2003's I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown. Again, working to compliment — rather than recreate — the magic of the original special, this show is completely different, but in a good way. It focuses on Lucy and Linus' youngest sibling, Rerun, who really wants a dog for Christmas. This puts the whole experience through the eyes of a semi-obscure character (even though he was introduced in 1972 and got a lot of coverage in the 1990s). There's also a certain warmth to be found with this storyline… plus, you get to meet Snoopy's brothers!

For this show, David Benoit returned to do the music and composed a brand new theme for the Rerun character. It didn't aim to copy Vince Vince Guaraldi's music, but I feel it fits in rather well with the overall style. This theme has been used in later Peanuts specials as well. I included the album recording of the song; in the actual broadcast version, I believe there is less of a flute part. In any case, this is one of my favorite new Peanuts themes, so enjoy!

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From the Archives: December 13

What's This All About?

New to Steve's 25 Days of Christmas Music? Take some time to read the explanation and introduction!