‘Peanuts’ Gang Headed Back To TV: Would Charles Schulz Approve?

Peanuts is heading back to TV. Charles Schulz’ iconic cartoon characters: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the gang will headline their own Boomerang TV show, according to Deadline. The famous Peanuts crew will star in a self-titled animated series that will consist of multiple animated shorts. The new Peanuts debuts May 9 and will air daily on Boomerang.

Peanuts had been beloved by millions for decades, but the familiar characters earned new fans last year thanks to the 3D animated Peanuts Movie. The film, which was the first movie in the franchise in 35 years, even earned a Golden Globe nod.

According to TV Guide, a French animation studio produced Peanuts shorts using watercolors and textured backgrounds ahead of the film’s release, and those are the vignettes that will be shown on Boomerang. The Peanuts shorts previously aired on French television.

While the French studio, Normaal Animation, operates under license from Peanuts Worldwide LLC, it’s still a little odd to think of any Peanuts projects that aren’t led by Charles Schulz. The iconic cartoonist passed away in 2000, but he was notoriously protective of his characters.

Peanuts made its debut in seven newspapers on October 2, 1950. The strip ran in more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries by the time Schulz died, according to the New York Times.

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When it came to bringing the Peanuts gang to the small screen, Schulz did it his way. For the 1966 animated TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, Schulz insisted on incorporating scripture from the New Testament. Executive producer Lee Mendelson told the Washington Post that Charles Schulz was insistent upon including the biblical text in the script during Linus’s passionate speech about the true meaning of Christmas, despite the fact that CBS network bigwigs had a fit over the idea.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first of nearly 50 animated Peanuts specials made for TV. The cartoon gang was so popular that they even starred in a series of Ford car commercials in the early 1960s. As for how Charles Schulz would feel about the new small screen Peanuts series, all signs point to the fact that he would have given it his seal of approval.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, the French animators lobbied Schulz’s widow, Jean, during one of her visits to France and she came away convinced that this particular group had “the right sensibility for this project.” Mrs. Schulz was also thrilled that the French animators would draw directly from her late husband’s classic comic strips. In France, the one- to two-minute Peanuts shorts are bundled into groups of five or six and shown as vignettes on TV, something that reminds Schulz’ widow of the daily comic strips.

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“One of the things we liked about it is that Peanuts have no presence on TV in most of the world,” Jean Schulz told the Times. “It still seems to me this is going to reach a different audience on a different level, and on a more sustained level. Peanuts will come into your life for just a little bit each day, just like they did with newspapers.”

The new Peanuts series will get a sneak preview on Cartoon Network, and some of the individual shorts will be available on the Cartoon Network video app. Boomerang will air the series daily at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Take a look at the video below to see some of the French Peanuts pieces.

[Photo: Public domain/Wikimedia Commons]