We really should have devoted the full resources of the KQED newsroom to this from the get-go, but we didn't. So now we have to play catch-up in a big way.
For the past month, the Contra Costa Times has been pitting holiday movies and TV shows against each other in an NCAA-like bracketed tournament. The 32 original entries, including such dubious fare as "Olive the Other Reindeer," "A Rugrats Chanukah," and "Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey" were, through reader voting, whittled down to a Sweet 16, an Elite Eight, a Final Four, and finally the top two, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" vs. "A Christmas Story."
The winner? From the paper's TV critic, Chuck Barney:
And so the battle raged on, with "Christmas Story" taking an early lead. But ultimately, "Charlie Brown's" potent blend of sentiment, sarcasm and smooth jazz was too much to overcome.
Honestly, it was a victory we saw coming. "Charlie Brown" went into the tourney as our No. 1 seed on the animated-specials side of the bracket and was easily the top vote-getter in the first round as it walloped "A Garfield Christmas." It then went on to throttle "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" before topping fellow holiday hall-of-famers "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
Since its debut in 1965, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has been a holiday heirloom handed down through the generations. With a low-key, yet powerful, plea against seasonal commercialism, it continues to offer comfort and joy.
To be fair, Charles M. Schulz enjoyed a definite home-court advantage. Schulz was a long-time resident of Santa Rosa, where the Charles M. Schulz Museum opened in 2000.