Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown is the forty-fifth and final Peanuts animated special. It is the first special in the series without Bill Melendez on the production team, as he died in 2008. It is also the first special without the involvement of both Lee Mendelson Productions and Bill Melendez Productions, the first special to be formatted in widescreen, and the first special for the Fox television network (all others originally aired on ABC, CBS or NBC).
Production of the special was first announced to the public by one of the hosts at the 84th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2010. When a balloon depicting Snoopy in his World War I Flying Ace outfit was seen passing by the audience, the host said, "Snoopy fans will be happy to know that next year, a new Peanuts animation will be flying your way."
The special is based on material that had previously appeared in the comic strip, as are all the Peanuts specials after Schulz's death. As a result of the death of Bill Melendez, the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock are provided by director Andy Beall, in addition to using archived voice clips of Melendez voicing the characters.
The title is a reference to the phrase "Happiness is a warm puppy" which appeared in the Peanuts comic strip from April 25, 1960. The phrase and variations on it went on to appear on several items of Peanuts merchandise on sale in the 1960s, became a cultural reference and was even used by The Beatles in their song "Happiness is a Warm Gun".
Linus is pushed to his limits when he learns that his grandmother is coming to visit and plans to rid him of his security blanket. As her arrival looms closer, the other children try to help Linus learn to cope without his childish crutch. Lucy is particularly eager to cure Linus’ dependency by using her own psychiatric methods, and while Charlie Brown tries to help, he does not have the heart to see Linus suffer. All the while Snoopy is constantly agitating matters by wanting the blanket for himself. In the end, Linus points out that everyone has their own type of “security blanket” and that a little security is a valuable thing in life (much to Lucy's chargin).
- Austin Lux – Linus van Pelt
- Amanda Pace – Sally Brown
- Trenton Rogers – Charlie Brown/Schroeder
- Grace Rolek – Lucy van Pelt
- Shane Baumel – "Pig-Pen"
- Blesst Bowden – Violet
- Ciara Bravo – Patty
- Andy Pessoa – Shermy
- Andy Beall – Snoopy/Woodstock (briefly)
This special is based on several strips that concern Linus and his blanket, although the special is mainly made up of three storylines that center on Lucy trying to get Linus to rid his blanket. They are as follows:
- The part of the special in which Lucy puts Linus' blanket in the closet until dinner was taken from a storyline that began on October 14, 1957. However, in the strip, Lucy puts Linus' blanket in the closet for two weeks.
- A scene in the special where Lucy makes a kite out of the blanket and "accidentally" lets go of it is from the June 12, 1962 strip.
- Lucy burying Linus' blanket is from the January 3, 1961 strip.
The special was released on DVD on March 29, 2011 by Warner Home Video and includes the following:
- Deconstructing Schulz: From Comic Strip to Screenplay
- Happiness Is...Finding the Right Voice
- 24 Frames a Second: Drawing and Animating a Peanuts Movie
- Deleted scene featuring an introduction by director Andy Beall
- Lucy ties the blanket to a kite. the blanket's weight would have caused the kite to fall.
- Despite what it has been through, the blanket remains in perfect shape throughout the entire special (except when it appears as a tattered flag following the tussle that results in the destruction of Snoopy's doghouse).
Although initially released on DVD, the special was later given its first televised broadcast on the Canadian station, Teletoon, on October 1, 2011. The United States premiere of the special took place on November 24, 2011 on Fox. Keeping in tradition of the 1960s styling of this special, for several Fox affiliates, such as WJBK in Detroit, WAGA in Atlanta and KDFW in Dallas/Fort Worth, this was the first time a Peanuts special had aired on these stations since they lost their CBS affiliation in favor of Fox in 1994 (CBS was the original broadcaster of the majority of the Peanuts specials until 2001, though one aired on NBC instead).
- The special has a decidedly "retro" look, with character models being derived primarily from how they looked in the 1960s, around the time of the original TV specials. The girls appear anachronistic for 2011, as they are wearing their traditional dresses rather than shirts and pants. Additionally, props and other objects appear as they would have in the 1960s, such as Schroeder's vinyl record collection and player, and the Van Pelt family's television set being an old-fashioned cathode ray tube model with an antenna.
- This special was animated overseas at Yearim Productions, known for providing overseas animation for many modern Warner Bros. cartoons.
- Additionally, Violet, Patty and Shermy are featured (though those characters had long been absent from TV specials), while 1970s characters such as Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Franklin, Rerun, and the Little Red-Haired Girl do not appear, while Frieda's role is only silent.
- Despite this special focusing on Linus, Rerun is nowhere to be seen.
- Woodstock only appears at the beginning, and he does not appear at rest of the special.
- Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown on the Internet Movie Database.
- Happiness Is a warm Blanket, Charlie Brown on the Big Cartoon Database.
- Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown on AllMovie.
- Happiness Is A Warm Blanket Charlie Brown on TV Tropes.