|WHY THE BEARS DANCE ON CHRISTMAS EVE (abc, 1977)|
Why was it such a misfit?
Well, it's a good question. Why do they do that?
On the scale of rarity, this particular special rates a solid 5 -- the Honus Wagner of Christmas toons. It has only aired on television once, and never on any channel, broadcast or cable, ever again. It's only recently that the cartoon turned up on YouTube, and this was because someone who remembered it got a copy from the character designer who worked on it. The copy has muffled sound that's hard to make out, but it's probably the best we're ever going to hear, as the obscure company that created it ("Tele-Tactics") has long since vanished.
Is there any particular reason why history would see it to bury this cartoon so thoroughly? Oh yeah. It's bad; as bad as you're expecting. With so little information out there, it's hard to know where to point the blame, but I can hazard a guess that part of the problem was that the script was written by two child psychologists. Not two writers.
The cartoon opens on an establishing shot of a cave. Inside are bears, and guess what they're doing. After they get tired of shaking their groove things, the two bear cubs sit down in front of their grandfather, and ask him why bears dance on Christmas Eve. That's a long story, and one that Granpa Bear is happy to tell! You see, just as Jews celebrate Passover to remember their ancestors' delivery from Egyptian slavery, bears dance on Christmas Eve to remember.....well, you'll find out.
Random thought: I want to see Bear Footloose. The original version with Bear Kevin Bacon, not that unnecessary remake.
Once long ago, on a Christmas Eve not unlike this one, the animals of the forest were busily decorating for Christmas. Most were doing a good job of it, except for Bashful, the overbearingly social cub. Okay, I'm lying, he's quite shy. A skunk asks Bashful why he isn't helping, and he just responds by blushing and turning his head. "Ohhh, Bashful, you're so...." She has to think about it for a second. "....bashful!"
"I.....I.....I gotta go home now, it's late," Bashful stammers out. "I'll take the shortcut home."
Lest you think Bashful is being careless, he makes sure to look every which way, constantly, as he's taking the shortcut to make sure no dangers are waiting to pop out of the brush. He's very good at spotting trouble when it's ahead. Unfortunately, he's very bad at not walking into pits.
Bashful falls a very long distance, into a dark cave, before landing in a pile of snow. Oddly, he starts hearing voices coming from deep within the cave. Someone's down here already? Who, pray tell? As Bashful creeps closer, Grampa Narrator explains what he's about to see: "There he was, looking right into the living room....of the EVIL SMURFS."
I admit my attention was drifting in and out so far, but upon hearing THAT, the special suddenly had my undivided attention.
It turned out I heard it wrong, though. They're actually "SNURFS." With an N. And just look at 'em.
Are these some bargain-basement monster designs, or what? So what are Snurfs, and what makes them so evil? Granpa explains, "Snurfs are nasty characters, who do bad things to the world we live in!" They speak in rhyme about their dastardly deeds. The living flame causes -- what else -- wildfire. The melted marshmallow plucks garbage out of thin air and throws it around, creating a mess -- if you've ever seen litter, it's his fault. The gray pine-cone dude represents water pollution and likes to muck up clean rivers with his grime. The thing that looks like a torn scrap of paper "loves to waste energy." He goes around turning on lights and leaving engines idle while laughing evilly.
The Snurfs have a plan to wreck Christmas -- to destroy Santa's sleigh! The marshmallow will cover it with trash! The pine cone will smother it in toxic glop! The fire elemental will burn it! That oughta do the trick, so what can Mr. Energy Waster possibly add? "I'll use up all the energy, for without light, he'll never find his way!" Umm....if you say so. I can see the paper scrap is sorta the Ringo of the group.
This isn't good! Bashful has to warn the other bears, so they can save Santa! But he trips on his quick exit, and the Snurfs hear him hit the ground. Soon he is discovered and surrounded by the conspirators. As a witness, he's surely doomed, but the Snurfs have one request first.
"We want to see you
"I love to see a bear
Ummm.....oooookay. Anything's better than dying, so...why not. Bashful starts dancing, and the Snurfs think his awkward moves are hilarious. They're laughing so hard that they don't even notice when he bolts from the room and escapes.
Bashful runs back to the forest and spills his guts to every living thing that can hear. He alerts the owls. He shakes awake the skunks (not too smart, but nothing happened this time). "He even got brave enough to nuzzle the deer!" narrates Granpa. Granpa is talking about this:
He tells the other bears about the Snurfs' scheme. They in fact HAVE heard of Snurfs before, but unfortunately have no ideas. Snurfs are too fast to catch and too strong to fight, they explain in excruciatingly long song fashion.
What is a bear to
Oh what is a bear to
Bashful suddenly realizes he may have had the solution all along. "I know how we can stop the Snurfs! We can DANCE!"
He explains that the Snurfs can be incapacitated by making them laugh. The other bears are skeptical....but no one has any better ideas, as they've spent the last five minutes pointing out. Very well, make it so. They shall DANCE!
The bears march out of their cave single-file and troop through the forest like an army, singing and gathering the other animals of the wood to their cause.
Get it together,
The whole gang marches up to the Snurfs' abode.
"All right, you
guys! Are you ready?"
Then, as soon as the Snurfs come out, they all run away with their tails between their legs, leaving Bashful all alone. Wow, some friends.
So....geez. Bashful has to confront the Snurfs all by himself. He's the only thing between a troupe of badly-drawn monsters and a ruined sled. The best thing he can do is stick to the plan solo, so he starts dancing again.
And it works perfectly. The Snurfs can't stop laughing. Well, it worked for Eddie Valiant. Do you know what happens when you can't stop laughing? One of these days yer gonna DIE laughing!
The other woodland creatures turn around to see Bashful was right and the Snurfs can barely move from laughing so hard. They rush over and dispose of each in the appropriate manner: they throw snow on the fire dude, making him evaporate; they stuff Trash Man in a trash bag; and for the sake of irony, they blow Energy Waster so full of energy that he explodes.
Back at the original cave,
Granpa concludes his story. "So you see, we dance on
Christmas Eve to remind ourselves of the day we saved
Santa, and rid the land of the evil Snurfs."
Why didn't it fit in?