Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown

Life Is a Circus, Charlie Brown
Genre Animated TV Special
Created by Charles M. Schulz
Directed by Phil Roman
Voices of Michael Mandy
Brent Hauer
Casey Carlson
Earl "Rocky" Reilly
Kristen Fullerton
Shannon Cohn
Christopher Donohoe
Bill Melendez
Composer(s) Ed Bogas
Judy Munsen
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Lee Mendelson
Producer(s) Bill Melendez
Cinematography Nick Vasu
Editor(s) Roger Donley
Chuck McCann
Running time 30 minutes
Original network CBS
First shown in October 24, 1980
Preceded by She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown
Followed by It's Magic, Charlie Brown

Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown is the 20th prime-time animated TV special based upon the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. It was originally aired on the CBS network on October 24, 1980. The special won an Emmy Award in 1981 for Outstanding Animated Program.


Snoopy is lying on top of his doghouse when he hears music. He follows the music and finds a circus unloading. Among other animals, he sees three poodles, and immediately latches onto the white one (whom the audience later learns is named Fifi). He follows her to the entrance of the big top with his tongue hanging out and his pupils shaped like hearts, then stops. Polly, the dog's trainer, sees Snoopy and pulls him inside.

The next day, Peppermint Patty calls Charlie Brown to tell him her school gave all students the day off to see the circus. Charlie Brown tells her that his school will be closed as well, and they decide to attend the circus together. At the circus the children see Snoopy perform as part of a dog act. They all realize it is Snoopy and eventually relish his new career, despite Snoopy's shortcomings being completely untrained. However, Charlie Brown isn't having any of it, exclaiming Snoopy's career is being his dog.

Later that night, Charlie Brown realizes Snoopy has not returned. He goes to the circus site in time to see Snoopy enter a boxcar, still following Fifi. The gate of the boxcar slams shut on him, and the circus train pulls away. The next scene involves Snoopy trying to find a good warm place to fall asleep while the train is in motion. First he tries to lie on the humps of a camel, only to slide off in between both humps each time, then he finds a lion lying on the ground with its mane spread out on the floor. Snoopy finds this warm enough to settle into and does, but his comfort is short-lived when the lion wakes up and, while it does no harm to Snoopy, he gets scared off, running over the top of a bear (waking it but that's all), then finds himself in another boxcar filled with props. He decided to lie on top of one box, which turns out to be the saw-a-person-in-half magic trick. He falls into that box and his head and feet appear out the holes in each end.

Polly slowly trains Snoopy to become part of the act. First he is given the name Hugo The Great, then he is taught to ride a unicycle first on the ground, then on the high wire. Snoopy also learns to do a back flip and his performance in the next show is an improvement.

Meanwhile, back home, Lucy has decided to board up the doorway of Snoopy's doghouse and place a sign on it which reads "Premises Condemned". Charlie Brown also recounts to Linus the story of why his parents gave him a pet dog. (This story was also told in the movie Snoopy Come Home.)

Polly decides to expand the act by getting Snoopy and Fifi to do a trapeze act. Snoopy takes to the air a little more fearlessly, Fifi is initially scared. Eventually it works out, and at the next show, combined with the back flips and the unicycle ride, they are a major success.

After the show, Polly gives Snoopy and Fifi the good news that they are officially the stars of the circus. However, her boss feels their colors do not fit and wants them both dyed pink. She first wrestles Snoopy into a large vat of food coloring, and after he is completely pink, she goes to do the same to Fifi, but Snoopy jumps between them growling menacingly at her. After Polly shows no fear and tells him basically to get out of her way, Snoopy attacks her and wrestles her into the food coloring until she too is all pink, then jumps out and runs away, taking Fifi with him to the bus stop to return home, but Fifi decides to go back to the circus, then Snoopy sadly boards the bus and returns to Charlie Brown.

Back home, Charlie Brown is awakened by the shower running because Snoopy is washing the pink food coloring off him. Charlie Brown sees him exiting the bathroom but says nothing. Snoopy then makes himself some dinner, still crying over being heartbroken from Fifi. Then he realizes that the circus is her life and his home is his life, and he retreats to his doghouse. Upon seeing what Lucy did to it, he rips up the sign and tears the boards off the house. He goes to bed after illuminating a big blinking neon sign which reads "Hugo The Great".

Voice cast

DVD releases

The TV Special was included with the It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown DVD in the UK from Firefly Entertainment in 2004. It was also included with the deluxe He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown DVD in the US from Warner Home Video on September 21, 2010.

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