|THE MOO FAMILY HOLIDAY HOEDOWN (cbs, 1992)|
Why was it such a misfit?
Oh boy, I have an excuse to talk about Kids Day Off! It was a little-known syndication package from Bohbot Entertainment, more commonly referred to as "BKN." The morning after Thanksgiving was once reserved for children's TV specials, because the broadcast channels (and their sponsors) figured any grown adult would be sleeping like a log after the festivities were over. The networks simply put Saturday Morning reruns in that spot, but the independent stations relying on handouts had to come up with something else. Enter BKN.
Anything that wound up on Kids Day Off was there because it had been rejected from every other avenue. You saw some REALLY bizarre cartoons on this block. Pilots for failed shows (this is where the Bubsy cartoon showed up), cheaply-made specials from startup companies that couldn't find buyers, and castoffs from failed syndicated projects in the past. For several years, it was tradition for Kids Day Off to run an episode of Power Team, a show from 1990 trying to ride on Captain N's coattails. The difference with Power Team was that all the characters were from one company -- Acclaim, who clearly funded the show as a promotional tool. The stars of obscure NES games like Kwirk, Bigfoot and Arch-Rivals teamed up to battle Mr. Big from NARC. In casual terms, that meant you saw a basketball player and a talking tomato riding a monster truck. Removed from context, I had no idea what was going on.
It was Kids Day Off that introduced me to the Moo Family. I saw the name on the schedule and thought "okay, you have my attention." The Moo Family Stall of Fame was a special from 1993 where some talking cows traveled through time and met other talking cows from past civilizations. I recorded it in its entirety, because that's what I do. Little did I know the Moo Family had actually appeared on TV once before.
The characters were introduced in The Moo Family Holiday Hoedown, which got a higher-profile release than a Kids Day Off appearance, airing on CBS in December of 1992. So what's it about? On the surface, it's about Christmas, but in actuality, it's about how many cow puns you can squeeze into a half-hour. Moo Family goes for the record!
One of the few non-cow characters in this cartoon, the chicken comedian Chick Bantam, takes center stage and introduces the family, who have their own band. "We'd like to let you know, it's one COWlossal show! With special guests and moo-sic, and we'll visit Santa Cow!" As Big Daddy Moo is singing and dancing, he absentmindedly hits a loose board with his hoof -- the same board Baby Moo's bottle is on. It sails across the stage and lands at the top of the Christmas tree prop. Baby Moo attempts to scale the tree while everyone else is busy singing.
The rebelliously radical teenage Moo, T-Bone, decides to spice up the opening tune by plugging his guitar into an amplifier. "YEEEEAH! WOO HOO! BULL-DACIOUS! STAMPEDE! HOT LICKS!" he howls while cutting loose on the strings. Big Daddy Moo snorts in rage and stomps over to T-Bone, yanking the guitar plug out of the speakers.
"Whoaaaaa," T-Bone utters, with the unmistakable voice of Billy West. "Bad MOOS." I'm counting the number of cow puns this special has in total. 2 1/2 minutes in, there have been ten.
It's at the end of the song that Big Daddy Moo notices Baby Moo is absent. "THERE SHE IS!!" Mama yells, pointing at the tree. "DON'T MOOOOOOOOVE, BABY MOO!" Daddy yells, but Baby doesn't listen, Daddy races to catch Baby Moo, but instead the tree prop lands on his head. Nobody actually catches Baby Moo, but fortunately her diaper acts as a parachute.
Chick Bantam takes the stage again and performs one of his routines, acting out banter with a puppet he calls Melvin the Mustang. Melvin says he would like to sing as well, and "ordinarily I would, but I'm a little HORSE." That one was intentionally bad, getting a couple boos from the bovine audience. Or maybe they were actually moos. This is confusing.
Backstage, Big Daddy Moo is chewing out T-Bone for showboating, and while he's at it, he's criticizing his son's mohawk hair. His mother doesn't see anything wrong with the hair part: "Oh, it's just a little COW-lick, Daddy." Pop yells that he's "putting his HOOF down," and demands the disappearance of both the hair and the amplifiers. T-Bone asks for mercy by saying "Don't have a human, man."
Minutes: 5 | Cow puns: 21
Chick takes control of the show again. It's time to travel, via satellite, to the North Pole and Santa Cow, who is preparing for another worldwide run. This year should be his most efficient trip ever, thanks to the new Turbosleigh built for him by ace aviator Chuck Steaker. The best part of this whole special is the opening interaction between Santa and Steaker, transcribed below:
Santa: "Wait'll you
see this marvelous new craft, Patty! It's built to the
most precise and exacting tolerable tolerances, and the
most specific specifications!"
"Yes! Ha ha! And as Chuck said, this will actually WHAT?????? REVERSE! BACK UP! WHAT ARE YA, NUTS????"
But Chuck's moving forward with this, and he pushes his remote to open the barn door revealing the Turbosleigh. At first it looks no different than a normal sleigh, but when Chuck pushes another button, the sleigh "transMOOgrifies," in his words. All sorts of fancy high-tech equipment pops out, and Chuck jumps into the driver's seat.
Surprisingly, there is some CG involved in the animation of this sled. It's 1992; that kind of animation was expensive at the time and mostly reserved for movies. At first it looks like everything will work out as Chuck showboats in the air with loop-de-loops and other daredevil tricks. But Santa Cow's belated concerns prove well-founded when smoke starts pouring out of the cockpit and Chuck loses control. "HEY-DAY! HEY-DAY! I'M GONNA CRAAAAASH!" he yells.
The news soon reaches the Holiday Hoedown: Chuck Steaker has disappeared somewhere over the horizon, and the Turbosleigh with him....and with that, the hopes of all anthropomorphic Gentile cow-children this Christmas. T-Bone says he'll search for Chuck's signal on his HAM radio, literally shaped like a pig. I didn't add this to the tally because it was a different animal.
For an expert opinion, Chick turns to the brilliant scientist Albert Holstein. It's immediately obvious Holstein has a screw or two loose; he launches into an incoherent rant.
"Zo a cow disappears in the sky, you say! Dere is a PATTERN here! VURST we have da cow who jumped over da moon! But what happened to the cow AFTER he jumped over the moon? No one knows, it iz a mystery! Ah, and zen there was COW-MELIA EARHART! Von day she takes off on her plane and just gets lost! So dat's TWO cows! Then they build zese rocket ships at Capw COWnaveral full of PASTURE-nauts, and who knows where THEY go? ZO MANY COWS, ZAY BREAK TIME TIME-SPACE CONTINUUM, CAUSING CHRISTMAS TO HAPPEN A DAY EARLY, EXCEPT IT NEVER HAPPENS, WHICH MEANS IT WILL ALWAYS BE TOMORROW, AND ZIS IS A COW-TASTROPHE!!!" Then he collapses onto his blackboard. Yeeeeah.
T-Bone has tuned into Chuck's signal. "HEY-DAY! HEY-DAY!" says the voice on the speaker. He's still alive, and he's still up there...now the only question is where he's landing. The Moo Family looks westward and gets their answer. The Turbosleigh is headed straight for the stage!
Every cow scatters as fast as their hooves will allow, with the exception of Albert Holstein, who's still trying to solve the mystery of where Chuck is. As the Turbosleigh closes in on his backside, he ponders "Perhaps he's in CalMOOfornia! Or maybe IstanBULL!" He turns his head just in time, and skirts out of the way.
Steaker is a little singed, but otherwise fine (aside from the shock of the crash), but the Turbosleigh has seen better hours. Is Christmas doomed? Not just yet -- Steaker digs around in the engine and pulls out the source of all his problems: a faulty CATTLE-lytic converter. With Dr. Holstein assisting, he'll be able to repair it in no time, BUT in order to avoid a repeat of what just happened, he'll need some kind of power boost.
AMPLIFIERS!" T-Bone realizes. "If we hook up my
amplifiers to the Turbosleigh, that'll give you all the
power you need!"
Looks like this is over -- wait, who's that in the distance? It's Grandpa Moo driving the family car! With breakneck speed guided by myopic vision, he crash-lands directly onto the stage and plows into the Turbosleigh, ruining it worse than ever. Oh dang burn it!
Uh....I guess that WASN'T a problem, because when the show returns from break, the sleigh is completely fixed. What just happened -- did we miss an entire act?
Chuck Steaker has repaired the Turbosleigh. Now all he needs is the juice from T-Bone's amplifiers. So T-Bone stacks them all in one place. The last amplifier has Baby Moo's bottle on it, and oddly, T-Bone doesn't remove it or even seem to notice its presence as he stacks it high on the pile. You know what this means...time for Baby Moo to get in more trouble.
How powerful are these amps if T-Bone has to power them by hand crank? I'm not kidding. There are all these electrical plugs and wires -- and they lead to an oldschool crank that T-Bone has to turn, with considerable strain. Hostein points out "We need MAXIMUM Cow Power to launch that sleigh into the air! You really have to hoof it, son."
T-Bone isn't making this happen fast enough, so Big Daddy Moo lends a hoof. Both of them are strong enough to start generating some serious power. Holstein's gauge starts getting a strong reading, the amps crackle with electricity, and it's only NOW that everyone notices Baby Moo up there.
Big Daddy rushes over to save her once again -- and once again Baby Moo winds up saving herself, with Daddy getting whacked, pummeled and electrocuted for his trouble. Was all this worth it?
It turns out....yes. After a gigantic explosion, the Moo Family can't find the Turbosleigh anymore....but that's because it's now airborne, and there's more. The huge boost of power made it merge with Grandpa Moo's car into one gargantuan, all-powerful thingamajig. With a barn on top. The day is saved! If you were expecting the special to make sense NOW, you haven't been paying attention.
The remaining three minutes is just filler: Chick is now narrating from the North Pole as he watches the Turbosleigh take off. The Moo Family is playing out the closing song within its barn, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a "Happy MOO Year!" Then we get a padded credits sequence where each assistant and secretary gets four seconds of screentime....the budget must've run out.
Altogether, there were 59 cow puns in Moo Family Holiday Hoedown, or 2.6 cow puns per minute. But it felt like more...much more. Much MOOre.
Why didn't it fit in?
Does Christopher Walken like it?
For today's second opinion, we asked this hairy yellow monster from a 1970s box of British cereal -- sorry, that was last week. For TODAY'S second opinion, we asked Christopher Walken.
You gotta be kidding me; can no amount of cowbell please this man?