|RAGGEDY-ANN AND ANDY IN THE GREAT SANTA CLAUS CAPER (cbs, 1978)|
|Why was it such a
Hot off the success of their 1977 weird-fest Raggedy-Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure, America's iconic rag dolls returned on the small screen the following year, albeit not courtesy of Richard Williams (must have been plotting out Ziggy's Gift) but by a different cartoon superstar....
The moment this one begins you know exactly who was responsible: Chuck Jones has one of the most recognizable styles in all of animation. Not only that, but the first character has the same face structure and voice as that of Wile E. Coyote, Suuuuper Geeeenius. He's even got his own business card, which he flashes to the audience.
Alexander Graham Wolf, as the thing says, is an "Inefficiency Expert" and he regards Santa's workshop as the most inefficient production house in the entire world. So he's going there to modernize it with his great invention! Remember this, because he never mentions "efficiency" as a motive for what he's going to do ever again. His product, "Gloopstik," has no relation to efficiency either. What is it, then? You'll have to wait for the answer.
As he zooms toward the Pole, a solitary reindeer happens to hear him talk to himself. "Oh no, that Alexander Graham Wolf is going to ruin Christmas! I can't let him do that...but I can't stop him alone!" As she's talking to herself, she casually trots off a cliff, but doesn't notice she's now walking on thin air. It's not the setup to a Chuck Jones gag....it's because this reindeer is of the flying variety. Comet to be specific. I've never seen Comet made female before. Vixen I can picture, and maybe Donner, but "Comet" isn't much of a girl's name.
"Who can I take with me to the North Pole who won't freeze....and is lightweight enough to ride on my back?" She has a thought, and turns to the camera. "I KNOW! RAGGEDY-ANN AND ANDY!" LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!
Tonight you get not only Raggedy-Ann and Raggedy-Andy, but a brand NEW Raggedy-Doll, available just in time for the holidays! It's their faithful mutt Raggedy-Arthur, sure to become a beloved classic! ....Or not.
Both Comet and Ann are voiced by June Foray, so she talks to herself for much of this scene. Comet crashes through the second floor window of the dolls' home and at first they take her to be some kind of horned monster, but she calms them down. Once she explains the situation, they agree to help, despite knowing very little. "Gloopstik? That's horrible!" says Ann...and Comet didn't even explain what it was. Nobody watching knows what Gloopstik is. They'll get around to explaining it eventually, right?
"Let's hurry," Comet says as the dolls climb onto her back. "We have to stop the Wolf before it's too late!"
It's too late. Alex G. Wolf is already there. It's the day before Christmas, so Santa and his reindeer (who sleep together) are all dozing like logs in preparation for the nightlong trip. No one notices the Wolf blast in on his propulsion device, which with one push of a button transforms into a giant Gloopstik-Making-Machine. It takes about a minute -- in real time -- to do so, however. This is the part they could cut for ads if they ever wanted to show this again.
So finally, after nine minutes, we see what Gloopstik is: a substance used to coat presents within solid clear blocks. This, however, just raises more questions. Why does the Wolf believe this is an improvement?
While that's going on, Comet explains to the dolls that Alexander Graham Wolf isn't just any talking genius wolf....he's the Big Bad Wolf! THE Big Bad Wolf! Blowing down homes and eating old ladies is one thing, but now he's LAMINATING BICYCLES! He's gone TOO FAR!
I never would have guessed he was that one. I suppose this isn't the freakiest thing the Wolf will ever do, but it's high on the list.
Comet and the dolls are shocked to find out how much progress Mr. Wolf has already made, and they beat a path down to the workshop. The Wolf, a bad judge of hostility, greets them with open arms. "I want you both to see the GREAT THINGS I've been doing for children everywhere!"
The Wolf explains just what's been going on in his head all this time. What happens to Christmas presents after kids get them? Kids throw them around and wreck them, or they wear out themselves, or break. Imagine if you could get a Christmas present that would last FOREVER, because it was encased in solid Gloopstik? That'd be much better, right?
Obviously, there's a flaw in this logic. Ann points out that there's no point in getting something if you can't even use it. The Wolf says it doesn't matter anyway because he holds the patent on Gloopstik, which means Santa will have to pay him MILLIONS for the rights to distribute the toys!
That sounds more like a villain's scheme...so why didn't Chuck Jones start with that? Up to this point Wolf hasn't seemed worthy of the prefix Big Bad...just a misguided zealot. More like PETA than the Grinch.
"Well, we're gonna
stop you!" asserts the dolls.
He goes after the dog first, but for some reason doesn't seal all of him. "Oh noooo!" gasps Ann 'n Andy when they witness his cube-y fate.
"Now for the rest of you," says the Wolf, and flips the other two switches. Andy is snagged by the machine's hook and dropped into the funnel, but he saves himself by grabbing onto the edge. The hook then chases after Ann, who hides in Santa's stockade of Christmas trees. Frustrated, the Wolf chases after her.
That doesn't turn out to be a good idea. The hook grabs the Wolf instead and drops him in the device, resulting in his own Gloopsticization. "OH NOOO, I'M A CHRISTMAS TREE FOREVER!!" he wails. This is a problem because he explains as he weeps that he "doesn't know how to be a Christmas tree."
If it's unbreakable,
they'll never get their new dog free! But luckily, they
stumble upon a solution.
Is the solution to Gloopstick water? Nope, worse. Is it some random magic word? No, worse than that. Is it Pikachu's tears? EVEN WORSE. Are you ready? Are you REALLY ready? It turns out that Gloopstick can only be dissolved by.....
But how can they possibly love all those toys back to their original shape before Santa wakes up? They're gonna need help -- LOTS of help -- but from whom? Ann gets an idea. "Remember what Peter Pan did that time Tinkerbell got sick?"
Oh no. Not that! Anything but that!
Yes, Raggedy-Ann and Andy turn to the fourth wall at this point and ask YOU to love all the toys back. "All together now! Do you want all your toys on Christmas Day to be covered in GLOOPSTIK?"
"NOOOOO!!" a million kids shout, and all the encased toys explode into little hearts. This happens several more times.
"B-BUT WHAT ABOUT
MEEE?" Alexander Graham Wolf whimpers out. "I'M
THE BIG BAD WOLF! NO ONE LOVES ME!" Despite how
densely stupid this whole scene is, I can't help feeling
sorry for this guy. He dug his own grave, clearly,
but....no one loves him and he knows that now.
it's hard to watch.
Let me get this straight. The Big Bad Wolf is evil because....he doesn't have the time or money to learn a new skill? REALLY??
Really. "This is a tough one, folks," Ann says to you again. "Do you believe a big BAD Wolf could become a Big GOOD Wolf?" It doesn't matter what you think because the program automatically answers "YEAAAAAAH!" and the Wolf is freed by hundreds of little blechy hearts.
"Thank you all for everything you've done," the Wolf says as he hugs Ann and Andy. "I've never been liked, much less loved!"
Why didn't it fit in?