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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

New ‘Peanuts’ special is heartfelt

Courtesy of YouTube
A screenshot depicts the Peanuts character Franklin reaching out a hand to Charlie Brown. “Welcome Home Franklin” is Franklin’s first special since his 1968 debut. (Courtesy of YouTube)

The newest “Peanuts” special from Apple TV+ focuses on the comic strip’s first Black character, Franklin.

Released Feb. 16, “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin” is the character’s first TV special since his debut in 1968.

Franklin was introduced into the “Peanuts” comic strip following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. 

Upset by the violence and hate at the time, schoolteacher Harriet Glickman sent a letter to “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz suggesting the addition of a Black character.

Franklin (Caleb Bellavance) is a military kid who has to move frequently because of his father’s job. 

It’s not hard for Franklin to make friends in new places thanks to the help of a notebook written by his grandpa; the notebook has advice and techniques on how to make friends. However, when he moves to the “Peanuts” world, he finds it difficult to fit in with the quirky crew.

In order to win the kids’ affection, Franklin wants to come first in the Soap Box Derby race with his partner, Charlie Brown (Etienne Kellici).

If you’re someone who cries easily, this is not recommended for you. You will be bawling your eyes out with how relatable this short film can be.

Viewers get invested in Franklin the moment he’s introduced because all he wants is to make a real friend. He hates having to move all the time and just wants somewhere he can call home. 

Going through real issues people deal with, you can’t help but root for Franklin and hope everything turns out all right for him.

“Welcome Home, Franklin” flips the narrative that the new kid in town is weird compared to everyone else. Franklin is portrayed as the normal kid surrounded by a bunch of kids with eccentric personalities like Lucy (Isabella Leo) with her psychiatry stand or Linus (Wyatt White) and his obsession with the Great Pumpkin.

The special is animated in the classic 2-D “Peanuts” art style seen in the comic strips. It’s been updated for modern screens with more intricate, fast-paced animation, crisper linework and shading.

This TV special rewrites the controversial introduction of Franklin’s character in the 1973 classic “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”

At the end of the special when Charlie Brown is having the Thanksgiving feast with his friends, Franklin can be seen sitting in a lawn chair alone on one side of the table as the other white kids and Snoopy sit together on sturdy chairs.

As the perfect ending to the story, the new special is finally able to correct this scene by having Linus invite Franklin to sit on the other side of the table next to him and Charlie Brown.

Take some time out of your day and watch “Welcome Home, Franklin” to finally give Franklin some long-awaited appreciation.

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