SANTA ROSA, California – A new television special, “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin,” set to premiere on Apple TV Plus on Feb. 16, aims to give the first Black “Peanuts” character, Franklin Armstrong, a more prominent role. In celebration of its upcoming release, the trailer was unveiled, offering a glimpse into Franklin’s origin story as he navigates fitting into a new neighborhood and making new friends, including his endeavor to win the town’s Soap Box Derby race with Charlie Brown.
The special was co-written by Robb Armstrong, the creator of “JumpStart,” and Charles M. Schulz’s son and grandson, Craig and Bryan Schulz, respectively, along with executive producer Cornelius Uliano. An important moment in the trailer shows Franklin being welcomed to a seat at the opposite side of the table, marking a significant upgrade from his isolated position in an earlier “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” special that sparked criticism in recent years.
While some viewers argued that Franklin’s isolated seating in the original special was unfair, the actor who voiced Franklin in the 1973 animation, Robin Reed, reminded audiences that during the time of the original airing, it was seen as a sign of progress rather than controversy. In fact, Franklin’s introduction to the “Peanuts” comic universe in 1968 was a result of retired teacher Harriet Glickman’s letter to Charles Schulz, urging him to racially integrate his work in the wake of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The reimagined version of Franklin’s story has been well-received, especially during Black History Month, with fans hailing the significance of the character’s new seat as a symbol of progress and acknowledgment of the character’s pivotal role in integrating “Peanuts” during a time of racial segregation. The new TV special offers a fresh and inclusive perspective on the beloved “Peanuts” characters, celebrating a character whose introduction marked an important moment in the history of comic strips.