A co-production of Lee Mendelsohn
and Bill Melendez
, This is America, Charlie Brown
was a series of eight televised specials featuring Charles M. Schulz
gang, airing on CBS
between 1988 and 1989. Each episode was a semi-documentary on portions of American history and culture, often animating the characters against backdrops of old photographs and newsreel
s (a la Muppet Babies
). The episodes, in order of airing, were:
The Mayflower Voyagers - Featured the gang as pilgrims from the Mayflower, enduring the first two years of settlement at Plymouth.
The Birth of the Constitution - Again placed the characters in the historical context, as maids and valets at the Constitutional Convention. George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and others were animated and voiced.
The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk - Features Linus van Pelt and Charlie Brown travelling to Kitty Hawk in 1903 and accidentally bumping into the Wright brothers.
The NASA Space Station - The kids go into space, on the 1980's conceptualization of the International Space Station. Snoopy is inexplicably allowed to become an astronaut.
The Transcontinental Railroad - A rather straightforward documentary on how the railroad was constructed, featuring the gang as laborers alongside lots of round-headed Chinese people. (This may have been the only time Asians ever appeared in a Peanuts special.)
The Great Inventors - Focused on Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and the creation of the American automobile.
The Smithsonian and the Presidency - Contrary to the name, the Smithsonian's role in this special was primarily as a jumping-off point to focus on four presidents: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln (including an animated delivering of the Gettysburg Address), Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt (focusing on the Great Depression and New Deal, not on World War II).
The Music and Heroes of America - One of the best in the series, it takes the form of a presentation co-hosted by Schroeder and Lucy Van Pelt, looking at the parallel evolution of big band, jazz, and ragtime music in America and the women's rights and civil rights movements.