|MUMFIE'S WHITE CHRISTMAS (fox, 1995)|
Why was it such a misfit?
Magic Adventures of Mumfie was a British TV series from the mid-90's that was imported to the US and redubbed to remove the accents. Though most Americans who remember Mumfie the Elephant saw him on Nick Jr. or Fox Family, he had a short run in the early morning on Fox Kids before then, and he made his Stateside debut with his Christmas special, Mumfie's White Christmas.
This, however, was not Mumfie's first TV appearance in England. Most of the characters who appear here had already been introduced in earlier episodes. Try to put yourself in the midset of kids who woke up on December 23, 1995 to be dropped into the middle of this....
So this is Mumfie....talking elephant, self-explanatory. His best friend is a talking scarecrow named Scarecrow, and his gang also includes Napoleon (a giant bird) and Pinkey (a tiny pig with wings). All that is introduced in the first thirty seconds, and it gets odder from there.
Mumfie and Scarecrow are
decorating the frozen pond near his house with Christmas
decorations. "This is going to be the BEST CHRISTMAS
EVER!" Mumfie says, fulfilling the law that someone
must say "Best Christmas Ever" at some point in
every animated holiday special ever made.
It'll be a grand skating party on Christmas morning, and Mumfie is most enthused about the snow, because it just HAS to snow on Christmas Eve. "Everyone always has a white Christmas, don't they, Scarecrow?" He's asking the wrong guy, so no one can correct him. Napoleon and Pinkey arrive with the indoor decorations, and they head to Mumfie's place to set them up.
Then....this black cat materalizes out of nowhere and says he works for "the queen." Everybody appears to know him, even if you don't. This offscreen Queen has brought Mumfie two presents, which the cat claims will make more sense later. They are a ceramic bird and a slipper (just one). Then, after quipping a few cat puns like "purr-fect," he disappears.
We switch temporarily to Santa's HQ, and the reindeer stable. The shadows of Santa and an elf appear, but that is all we get in regards to the Jolly One. Guess what -- this is the second special within three reviews where Santa's workshop plays a major role yet Santa doesn't appear! What a weird trend.
The elf conducts roll
call. "Let's see.....Comet is here, and Cupid, and
Donner, and Blitzen......" There's a ninth reindeer
there, but it isn't Rudolph. He's....well, no one seems
to know who he is, not even Santa.
"Look at those weird twisted antlers! Never mind who he is. Eight's all we need!" says the elf. "Sorry, old fellow, better luck next year," says Santa. Why is next year going to be any better? They're not going to untangle themselves.
When Mumfie steps out of his dwelling on Christmas Eve Day, he's dismayed to find his theory about there always being snow on Christmas wasn't very sound. And to make things worse, all the decorations they worked so hard to set up around the pond were trashed in the wind last night.
Mumfie knows how to fix this....he'll just travel up to the North Pole and ask the North Wind itself to please spread some snow around his neighborhood. Blame the cat for putting that idea into his head. I couldn't tell in this thirty minutes if he was good or evil. His design looks evil, but he does help them later, BUT not before send them on this whole stupid goose chase.
They sing a big song
about how strange they are -- a flying pig, a living
scarecrow, and a small elephant in pink clothes -- but
this is a good thing, as they're "the wonders of a
wonderful world" (the chorus line). They set off for
They're able to complete
nearly the entire journey on Napoleon, but eventually he
suffers a malfunction. "I'm afraid my left wing is
freezing up. It's getting cold up here."
They begin talespinning
into the arctic ocean. This might have been the end of
them, had their fall not been broken by a large aquatic
You see those little yellow dots on the whale's side? They're portholes. See, the whale doesn't have blubber and guts inside him, but a giant luxury ballroom. And inside it live Mr. and Mrs. Admiral, a family of sailors. You're asking about the pirate? That's Davy Jones. THE Davy Jones. He lives with the Admirals, and they all live inside a whale, and no one questions a thing about this.
Whale is able to get Mumfie and his friends pretty close to the North Pole, but eventually gets stuck in some ice. That's when some talking eels arrive and offer to help him get free.
They're eels with strawboater hats who heat up the water by singing! Because why not?
It's just a short walk from where they are now to the cave where the cat says the North Wind resides. Scarecrow remarks they could use some snowshoes, and Mrs. Admiral says that it's a good thing she's a tennis player. (If there's really a tennis court in that whale...) Four rackets will make do strapped to their feet, at least in this cartoon.
Back to the reindeer
with the deformed antlers. While the more important deer
get to do important things, this guy is stuck with orders
to give Santa's sleigh a polish. Boy, is he mad....mad
enough to pull some shenanigans.
Mumfie is at last at the cave of the North Wind. All he has to do is go inside and ask for snow, but he doesn't get very far before he spots a small snowbird. The very bird prophecied by the ceramic art! It's injured...it ran into something while flying, and it's begging Mumfie for help.
This is quite the dilemma. The bird needs TLC now, but if Mumfie doubles back with it, he won't get the chance to speak to the North Wind. What will he do?
Choose the bird, of course....he's a selfless pachyderm. But as Mumfie, Scarecrow and Pinkey are heading back to Whale with the bird, something appears out of the sky and begins careening toward them. DUCK!
It's that reindeer.
"Hey, that's a handy sleigh you've got...it's just
what we need! We've got to get back home fast so we can
nurse this bird back to health." The reindeer is
happy to help...for a price.
Just when you think this reindeer has to be the story's villain, he recognizes the snowbird and realizes he's the one who knocked him out of the sky not too long ago. "This is on me -- I gotta fix it! You know what? This ride's on the house."
The gang is pleased to get such a quick ride, but their mood changes when they figure out where he got it. Scarecrow searches around in the back and finds a bottle of Whisker Shampoo. Irrefutable evidence that this is SANTA'S sleigh!
"How could you?
That's not a very nice thing to do to Santa!"
Now get this. The
reindeer says his name is "Youare." And this is
because every time the elf calls roll he doesn't remember
the guy's name, and says "You are?" He's come
to believe THAT is it.
What do Mumfie and his crew think about this? They accept it instantly, because of course they do. "Youare; that's a lovely name."
And somehow, the crew of
Whale is sitting in Mumfie's house when they return
there. Whale himself isn't inside, but that wouldn't
surprise me at this point.
It doesn't take long before the snowbird is miraculously healed and starts flying around the cabin. Overjoyed, Mumfie lets him outside, where he joins several other snowbirds and flies around the area above them while a reprise of the "wonders of a wonderful world" song plays. And who's that up in the sky? It's Santa of course (from a distance where you can't see him)!
And you'll never guess who's on the team now. It's Youare! How'd that happen? Is there no punishment for stealing the sleigh? If Santa heard about the healed bird, that was quick, because it just happened.
And you'll never guess what Mumfie gets now. Snow, lots of snow! Because there's never been a Christmas story where somebody asked for the weather to be altered and didn't get it. Clarence got it on Clarence, Molly got it on TaleSpin, Michelle got it on Full House (okay, that was a cheat since the Tanners imported some fake snow into their backyard, but I still think it counts). And now Mumfie gets it.
Why didn't it fit in?
It's just not gonna catch on.
Does Mary Lou Retton like it?
Looks like it gets her approval!