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Why, Charlie Brown, Why?

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Directed by: Sam Jaimes
Written by: Charles M. Schulz
Release date: March 16, 1990
Running time: 30 minutes
Preceded by: It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown
Followed by: Snoopy's Reunion
Availability: Peanuts Specials Vol. 1 iTunes, Why, Charlie Brown, Why? VHS

Why, Charlie Brown, Why? is the thirty-third special based upon the popular comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. It originally aired on CBS on March 16, 1990 and was nominated for an Emmy.

Plot

LinuswithJanice2

Linus feeling Janice's forehead.

At the beginning of the special, the audience sees Charlie Brown, Linus, Sally, and a girl named Janice - a new friend and classmate of Charlie Brown and Linus - waiting for the school bus. While getting on, Janice accidentally hits her arm on the bus railing, causing it to bruise; Linus notices that Janice bruises easily. When they arrive at school, Janice starts feeling so ill that she has to go home sick. Three days later, her classmates discover that she is in the hospital.

After school, Linus and Charlie Brown decide to visit Janice in the hospital, where she tells them that she has leukemia. Janice explains what tests the doctors did to discover that she had leukemia and explains that some of them did not hurt. She then shows them her IV line and explains her chemotherapy. However, Janice is determined to recover from her illness. The news of his friend's illness had hit Linus especially hard, and when he and Charlie Brown leave the hospital, Linus turns to him and asks Why, Charlie Brown, Why?. He then goes home feeling sad and angry for what happened to Janice.

Once at home, Linus tells his sister Lucy about Janice's illness. Lucy at first does not seem to care, but when Linus mentions that he touched Janice's forehead when she felt ill at school, Lucy is inmediately worried that Janice's illness might be contagious. Linus explains that leukemia is not contagious, but then Lucy makes a rude remark about Janice, saying that she got the illness for being "a creepy kid". Linus, annoyed, explains Lucy that Janice did not got the illness for doing something wrong. Lucy, however, refuses to change her ignorant (but fittingly child-like) attitude towards Janice's condition. Linus gets back at her by refusing to receive the glass of milk he handed her earlier, so as not to get her 'crabiness'.

Months later, Janice comes back to school, but she has lost her hair because of the chemotherapy, and wears a cap to cover her bald head. This attracts the attention of a schoolyard bully, who makes fun of Janice's baldness until an enraged Linus explains that she has cancer and asks if he would like to go through what she has gone through. The bully quickly softens and apologizes.

As Christmas approaches, Linus goes to Janice's house to give her a present, but her sisters inform Linus that she is at the hospital receiving treatment. One of the sisters complains of the attention Janice has been receiving, but later admits she and her other sister feel excluded due to Janice's illness. Linus gives her the present and leaves.

By the beginning of spring, Janice returns again and tells Linus she has a surprise for him, and she reveals the surprise at the end of the special while playing on the swings: her long blond hair has grown back even longer than it was before, marking the end of her chemotherapy and her apparent recovery from the illness.

Voice cast

Peppermint Patty, Schroeder , MarcieFranklin, Violet , and Shermy appear but are silent.

Goofs

  • It is extremely unlikely that Janice's hair could grow that long in such a short time frame (The special takes place in a period of apparently five or six months, as it begins in the fall and ends by the start of spring). It would take five to seven years for her hair to grow that long.
  • When Linus closes the door to his house, the door slam goes off too late.
  • When Charlie Brown and Linus visit Janice in the hospital, she is at first in room 402. After Janice is given a shot and the boys come back to the room, her room number changes to 404.
  • Lucy and Sally are seen in the same classroom as Charlie Brown and Linus, despite the fact that Lucy is older and Sally younger than Linus and Charlie Brown, respectively. Peppermint Patty is also seen in the classroom, while Marcie can be briefly seen in the school playground at the end of the special, despite it being shown that they go to a different school in the strip and other TV specials.

Trivia

  • In the hospital, a non-tromboning adult voice is briefly heard over a PA.
  • This is the only special in which Linus' security blanket is never seen or mentioned.
  • This is the second special to depict Linus liking a girl who likes him back. The first one being Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown.
  • The scene where Linus walks home from the hospital is accompanied by a brief rendition of the American religious hymn Farther Along, a song that, fittingly with the scene, is about a person who wonders why bad things happen to good people. The rendition of Farther Along is sung by Becky Reardon, who also sung Alone for Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown.
  • Janice's sisters resemble Frieda and Patty. The schoolyard bully resembles the character Joe Agate, introduced in the strip five years after the special was aired. Janice herself bears a slight resemblance to Lila.
  • The idea for this special came from Sylvia Cook, a California nurse, who wrote a letter to Schulz asking if he could produce a short film in which the Peanuts characters explained the subject of cancer to children. Although Schulz initially expressed doubt, he eventually agreed to the idea, and decided to transform the originally proposed short film into a half-hour special.
  • This special holds the distinction of being the first time that an animated series openly addressed the subject of cancer. As a result, it has been used at schools and hospitals to explain the serious subject to children.

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