It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (1977)

Starring: Arrin Skelley
Grade: C

If you don’t even remember your first kiss, did it really count? This is the question we are posed with once It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown concludes, though I’m positive this wasn’t the intention.


To open, Snoopy (Bill Melendez) is just sitting there in the grass. A headset-wearing Woodstock puts a small television camera in his lap and sits on him. Snoopy’s ears turn into propellers, and they fly across the city, with Snoopy being a pseudo helicopter. Within the city, there’s a Homecoming Day parade for all the kids going on. All of the Peanuts gang are in it and in separate floats. The “Homecoming Queen” is the Little Red-Haired Girl, and she is on her own float. Right behind her is the float for the “Queen’s Escorts”. This consists of all the boy characters, with Charlie Brown (Skelley) and Linus (Daniel Anderson) on the front of it. During the parade, Charlie Brown asks Linus what an escort even does. Linus explains how they escort the Queen and her attendants to the dance after the game. Charlie Brown gets close to having a panic attack once he realizes that the Little Red-Haired Girl is the Homecoming Queen, and he is the lucky one who has been chosen to escort her to the ball as her date.

Additionally, we find out her name is Heather, so that’s cool.

Once Snoopy and Woodstock land on the sidewalk to document the parade, Linus explains further details of the traditions of the homecoming dance, which seem a little much for preteens. Apparently, Charlie Brown is to escort Heather to the center of the ballroom. Then, before the first dance begins, he has to give her a kiss. Hearing this, Charlie Brown faints and falls off the float. Later at the homecoming game, the kids are in the locker room preparing for the football game about to commence. Running back Peppermint Patty (Laura Planting) acts as player-coach and explains the strategy for the game to her teammates with the chalkboard behind her. Franklin (Ronald Hendrix) interrupts to ask Patty if their team is the one’s with the “0” or “X” label on them, but Patty dodges the question because I don’t think she had a clue either. Next, they head out to the field. Snoopy is the referee, but Patty and the Peanuts gang lose the coin toss. They get to kick off, but some genius made Lucy (Michelle Muller) the fucking placekick setter and Charlie Brown the kicker. Despite this game being very important, Lucy STILL chooses to fuck with Charlie Brown and pull the damn football away from him, causing him to fall on his back. The entire team gets trampled, and a dazed Charlie Brown assumes their opponents must have blocked the kick. He goes to the bench and asks what happened. As his teammates look at him pissed off, Linus tells Charlie Brown that he missed the ball, and the other team is on their five-yard line.

No one acknowledges Lucy completely sabotaging Charlie Brown despite it being clear as fucking day.

Charlie Brown goes to practice a few more placekicks on the sidelines, but it bounces off the net and knocks him down. The opposing team scores soon after. Later in the game, Patty gets a ton of yardage with her running game. A nervous Charlie Brown sees Heather in the stands watching the game, and Linus reminds him of the homecoming traditions of kissing her before the first dance. Freaking out all over again, he falls off the bench and into a bucket ass-first. Just then, Patty runs in a touchdown. Mind you, she’s doing all of this in sandals with spikes at the bottom to technically make them cleats. They bring Charlie Brown back out to go for the PAT. Again, Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown and he’s laid out by the opposing team along with everyone else. He tries to go back to the bench, but Linus says they need him for the kickoff. Heading back on the field, Lucy tells him they don’t need a kicking tee, and she will hold the ball. Charlie Brown calls her out for pulling the football away from him, but she insists this is an important game and they can’t take any chances.

However, if they can’t take any chances, why not use the fucking tee so there aren’t any screwups?

Gaslighting him hard, she asks him if he actually thinks she would pull the football away from in an important game like this. He buys into it and goes for the kick. She pulls it away AGAIN and he gets tackled to all hell. He goes back to the sidelines, and Linus has the audacity to say Charlie Brown blew the kickoff again, still not acknowledging Lucy intentionally fucking up their team’s chances. Later, they need 19 yards for the first down, but Patty gets tackled just short of it. With it being fourth down, they decide to kick it and bring back Charlie Brown again. They hike it to him, but he gets trampled by the opposing team. Linus and Snoopy go to midfield to check on him. Snoopy plays doctor but is pretty much no help, and Linus helps Charlie Brown to the locker room as he’s experiencing some concussion symptoms. Regardless, it’s halftime and the score is 21-6. They’re not doing too hot, and Patty puts the blame entirely on Charlie Brown in the locker room in front of everyone. She’s still confident in their chances though and rallies everyone to head back out there. As the game continues on, Charlie Brown is feeling down on himself because Heather probably doesn’t even know he exists and is being looked at as the guy who cost them the game.

Still, there’s two more quarters to play. Charlie Brown has a shot at redemption. Regardless of how the game turns out though, he still has to worry about Heather and the dance. The pressure is real.

My Thoughts:

Despite such a short running time, this is one of the more eventful Peanuts specials of this era. They cover a lot of ground and make the story much more involving, rather than the show going from segment to segment with small asides being inserted for humor and to keep the pacing up. Half of It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown is pretty entertaining, as it continues Charles M. Schulz’s painfully accurate writing in trying to represent the struggles of young love in our shy, anxiety-riddled star. It’s a great premise and a solid showcase as our characters explore the festivities of homecoming. With that being said, the other half of the special is absolutely infuriating. It gets to the point where you can’t even suspend your disbelief for the sake of the humor and style of the special because of how maddening things get.

When I say this, I’m of course referring to the homecoming football game itself.

Though the game sequences are done way better here than in You’re in the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown as the action isn’t just the same thing over and over again, the drama in-between the game action is what provokes agitation. It’s a solid chunk of the story, but it makes your blood boil. Look, I get that the ongoing joke is Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown when he goes to kick it. It’s a classic gag, and you don’t want to mess with the formula. Doing this in a game in front of everyone instead of in a field somewhere is a bit different though because it affects everyone. However, this isn’t even the worst of it. As it is with all football games, the eyes are always on the kicker when he’s on the field. The opposing team is watching him, the teammates are watching whether they’re on the sidelines or on the field, and all of the spectators are watching. So, tell me how not a single person sees or acknowledges Lucy pulling away with football on several occasions and causing Charlie Brown to miss? There’s no way no one saw her! It’s impossible! Why doesn’t anyone step in and yell at Lucy for costing them the homecoming game purely to fuck with someone? What is she gaining out of this? Does she hate Charlie Brown for sucking that much? There’s no way! How does this not deserve a verbal lashing from literally ANYONE in the Peanuts gang similar to how Schroeder lambasted Lucy and Violet at the end of Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown? How does team captain Peppermint Patty not step in and slap the shit out of her? At the very least, there needed to be some sort of tipping point where Charlie Brown flips out on her!

They only tease it, but Charlie Brown backs off because he’s the most naive person in the world and buys into Lucy’s lies without even a follow-up question. Fucking why? This isn’t even funny, which is supposed to be the point!

The dude is getting tackled out there and deals with some serious hits in the game that would surely result in a few penalties if referee Snoopy had his fucking eyes open, but for him to take further abuse from everyone on the team shitting on him when he did NOTHING WRONG is outrageous! Then, Linus has the audacity to blame Charlie Brown on the bench. Motherfucker, how did you not see your whore sister just cost your team the fucking game?! Also, the last person I want to hear from in this moment is a bench rider who never sees the field! Kindly fuck off! There’s a reason you don’t play Linus. Why don’t you choke yourself with that blanket?

Fuck boy.

A special like It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown is the beginning of my frustrations with Linus. For someone who acts so smart with his random philosophical monologues, he does some real agitating things in these specials that need to be talked about more. When he could be the voice of reason and actually yell at his sister for messing with his best friend, him choosing to ignore the fact and blame Charlie Brown when he needed him most would be enough for me to not talk to him for a while. How does he not see that reminding him Charlie Brown he has to kiss Heather before he goes out for the game winner as the worst possible timing ever? Who has this little of self-awareness? Even here, his advice is total dogshit too. As Charlie Brown shakes and blushes because he’s getting closer to walking up to Heather at the dance, Linus tells him not to be nervous. Gee, I didn’t think about that! Thank you, jackass. When you combine this with the anxiety Charlie Brown gives you before he approaches Heather and the nervousness settles in to make the audience as uncomfortable as he is, you really get worked up watching this special. Also, to REALLY incense the viewer, the girls approach Charlie Brown at the beginning of the dance and continue to talk shit to him about blowing the game INCLUDING LUCY! What? Bitch, this is your fault! If she was trying to be sly and gave him a wink like she knew what she did, it would make sense, but for her to actually BELIEVE that the game was completely on Charlie Brown is sickening. At this point, they’re taking the classic “shitting on Charlie Bown” part of the special way too far. If Lucy got reamed by the others too, you would have zero complaints from me.

Instead, they choose the route of everyone ignoring the part Lucy played in screwing him, and this is maddening enough to bring this story down quite a few points as a whole.

For fans of the misery business Charlie Brown seems to always find himself in the middle of, you’re going to like It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. He already can’t handle pressure to begin with, but what kind of luck is it that he’s depended on to win a football game and he has to kiss his crush in front of everyone at the dance? Though it’s not explicitly said, it’s also implied within the title that it’s his first kiss as well. Then, he has to dance with her? This day would crumble most people, but Charlie Brown? Forget it. We know he’s screwed. How does he find himself in these situations? I know they don’t explicitly say he’s a bad dancer, but you just have to assume it with Charlie Brown, which only adds to the mounting issues he’s dealing with all throughout the day. They do a great job at creating these situations and building them up to the point where you feel the tension and pressure our main character is going through. When each escort joins each girl one by one, you can feel his heart pumping. Just like You’re in Love, Charlie Brown, these types of sequences bring back a lot of accurate repressed memories of when you were a child and dealing with your crush. It’s still done exceptionally well here by the team of Charles M. Schulz and company like when he slow-walks towards her and feels like the whole room is watching him. Finally, she holds his hand and him skipping with her as if he’s walking on air is a beautiful, heartfelt scene reminiscent of the feeling one would get in a similar scenario, as is the subsequent kiss that puts him in a very 1970s montage of flowers and colors where it feels like it’s a dream.

Side note, I’m not sure why he didn’t have shoes on during this montage. This was never explained.

I’m not a fan of the ending though. The whole thing is muddied to the point where Charlie Brown doesn’t even remember the dance. They discuss it like he was in such a euphoric state that he just blacked out and became the life of the party with his dancing, and after passionately kissing Heather and sweeping her off her feet. However, there’s no way he couldn’t remember what could have been the greatest night of his life. Why couldn’t we see it? Why weren’t the fans allotted the satisfaction of him finally getting the girl and everyone being impressed by Charlie Brown for the first time ever? Not being able to experience this makes the ending that much less gratifying, and these feelings should be the same for our perpetually depressed protagonist. The real Charlie Brown would never be happy about this, so why is he? Why does he have zero recollection of the events including the football game? Well, it’s led me to only one possible conclusion…

He did get a concussion during the football game and because it was the 1970s, it went undiagnosed. Honestly, this makes me hate Lucy even more, which I didn’t even think was possible.

There are some sections of It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown that make this a worthy special to watch. Actually getting to see the Little Red-Haired Girl and watching the insecure Charlie Brown having to cope with the pressures of homecoming is done very well. As a fan though, there are way too many things that will piss you off to make this a program worthy of a rewatch. With that being said, it still doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown.

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