Apple TV+ today released the trailer for the all-new, highly anticipated Peanuts special “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin,” premiering globally on Friday, February 16.
The origin story for one of Peanuts’ most beloved characters, the special follows Franklin as he moves to a new town and navigates new friendships. Franklin’s family is always on the move with his dad’s military job, and everywhere he goes Franklin finds support in a notebook filled with his grandfather’s advice on friendship. But when Franklin tries his usual strategies with the Peanuts gang, he has trouble fitting in. That’s until he learns about the neighborhood Soap Box Derby race – according to his grandfather, everyone loves a winner! He’s sure that winning the race will also mean winning over some new friends. All he needs is a partner, which he finds in Charlie Brown. Franklin and Charlie Brown work together to build a car and in the process become good buddies. But as the race nears, the pressure mounts – can their car and their newfound friendship make it to the finish line?
Produced for Apple TV+ by Peanuts and WildBrain, the special is directed by Emmy Award winner Raymond S. Persi (“The Simpsons,” “Wreck-It-Ralph”) and is co-written by Robb Armstrong (“Jump Start”) along with Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz and Cornelius Uliano, from an original story by Armstrong and Scott Montgomery (“The Snoopy Show”). Executive producers are Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano, Paige Braddock, Josh Scherba, Stephanie Betts and Logan McPherson.
Franklin’s story as a Peanuts character begane in 1968, with a letter to Charles Shulz from a Los Angeles schoolteacher named Harriet Glickman. She wrote the letter after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and told the cartoonist that she thought Peanuts could help influence people’s attitudes on race. She noted that the introduction of Black characters into the comic strip could help change the “vast sea of misunderstanding, fear, hate and violence.”
The debut of Franklin into the Peanuts comic strip garnered polarized reactions from readers. Many enthusiastically welcomed the addition of a Black character into the world alongside Charlie Brown, Linus and other beloved characters. However, some readers, especially in Southern states, rejected Franklin and were unwilling to accept a normalized portrayal of racial diversity.
When Schulz published a strip in the early 1970s showing Franklin and Peppermint Patty as classmates, several newspaper editors vehemently protested this depiction of integrated schooling. As Peanuts historian David Clark described, Schulz responded firmly to these objections from outraged editors, pushing back against calls for compromise or censorship. He stated bluntly that papers could either run the strip as-is, or not at all. While some did indeed reject it on this basis, Schulz appeared unconcerned by potential impacts on syndication reach or regional appeal. He prioritized conviction over unanimity.
It was a difficult line to Shulz to walk. No matter what, there wasn’t going to be an agreement on how to portray Franklin, but In retrospect, the big victory for Franklin was getting to be in the strip at all. In 1973’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Franklin is given a seat at the table with his friends, but has to sit separate from them on the other side of the table. This was the only way the censors at the time would allow him to be portrayed. The new trailer takes this scene to task in specific, and Franklin has been saved a seat with his friends at long last.
Welcome Home Franklin premieres on the Apple TV+ streaming service on February 16, 2024.