Thursday, November 20, 2014
All Creatures Great and Small
Opening bit: I seem to remember this one from cable TV, but forgot what cartoon it was associated with. While Tom is sitting quietly, listening to the loud radio, there's a loud crash. Time to investigate. Well, while Tom was resting, Jerry's been busy... very busy. So busy, in fact, that you'd almost swear there was no food left in the fridge at this point! Time for an illustration of potential energy. If you remember from your schooling, something way up high is just waiting to fall on you, probably a can on a shelf, or a boulder on a cliff. It has the potential to fall, were it not for our fine engineers what built the structures to keep all these things in their proper places on high. In the instant case, Jerry has built a ramp from the fridge on high that leads to his mouse hole down low. Naturally, things go smoothly... very smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that a giant turkey just needs a gentle nudge from the thing behind it... a bottle of milk... and pop! In it goes. Jerry the mouse invented Buckyballs, so it would seem!
After what seems like an eternity, Tom puts a stop to Jerry's fun. And yes, it's no accident that Jerry's holding a tomato: a big, red, gooey tomato. Jerry of course easily empties the contents of said tomato onto Tom's face, and grabs another one before taking off. Now, does the mouse just really like eating tomatoes? Or is this a setup for the callback? I'll let you decide... (hint: the latter)
Tom angrily marches back to his post by the radio. Epic fail! Epic fail! God, but I grow weary of that phrase. Tom's anger quickly passes, however, breathing a big sigh of... relief? I mean, what? Him worry? It's not his groceries, is it? And then... the genius bit of plotting. Much like Bugs Bunny hijacked the radio in Hare Tonic, Tom's calming music is interrupted by a news flash. A lion has escaped from the circus! Tom looks worried, and probably rightly so. Apparently, there's no comraderie between lions and house cats... incidentally, how come there are no large dogs? I guess a hippopotamus is as close as we'll get. The guy on the radio advises people to bar their windows and doors, and Tom does just that... well, close them, anyway, and he puts the couch in front of the front door. Jerry hides when Tom runs down to the basement to close the basement windows. Tom runs back upstairs and grabs the hunting rifle off the mantle and, more importantly, of course... the hunting hat.
Now, I hate to think that I'm getting jaded to these kinds of things, or that I'm turning into one of the script jockies from Sunset Boulevard... the 1950 classic, not the Adam Sandler remake; I'm under the assumption that there'll be one at some point in the future... but SPOILER ALERT, the thought flashed through my mind that the lion's already in the house. And, sure enough... yup. And this time it's not Jerry mistaking his own eyes in a mirror! Oh no. It's the real deal Holyfield. Jerry tries to run away, but the lion leaps out of the shadows and puts its paws down on poor ol' Jerry... I'm telling you! Lions and housecats have more in common than you'd think! And yet, Tom and this lion are probably going to be adversaries.
Now some of you are probably thinking about that old Aesop fable about the mouse and the lion with a thorn in its paw. Or it's in the New Testament or whatever. If you Google it, it will come. Personally, I think the New Testament probably ripped off Aesop. In a slight twist, however, the thorn is buried deep in the lion's soul. The lion lists his grievances to our little mouse friend. All the lion really wants at this stage in the game is to go home to Africa. And so, the premise of the Madagascar series was bourne.
...okay, two things. The lion wants two things: return to Africa, and get something to eat. He's hungry all the time, just like Nibbles! And a teentsy morsel like Jerry would simply arouse his appetite further without bedding it back down... sumpthing like that. Well, maybe Jerry could sacrifice some of the stuff he confiscated, like that whole turkey, right? Oh, dear reader... so naïve. Such a babe in the woods, so unaware of the gears that grind the world merrily along on its way. You're just not thinking like a screenwriter, pals and gals! Well, Momma's going to give you the first lesson... once again.
And so, the mouse and the lion quietly sneak up on Tom, who's still in position with hat on head and rifle in paws. Tom has a view of the corridor in front of him, unaware of what's hiding behind the wall just to the left of it. Jerry manages to sneak under the rug undetected, heads over to the kitchen and gets a giant piece of ham... I don't know my pork cuts. Is that a leg? The point is, it's what... about 300 times the size of the mouse, but the mouse carries it like it's a tiny hunk of cheese. I think the mouse is a vampire!
And so, Jerry crawls under the rug with the giant piece of ham. It's all for the greater good, folks... I mean, the greater plot machinations. This sight is one that even trigger-happy Tom can't miss, so he goes to investi-ma-gate. Tom holds the rifle on Jerry and easily confiscates the bit of ham, holding it behind him for good measure. You know, where the lion can see it. The lion gives the bit of ham the old sniff test, smiles, then engulfs it in one giant toothy bite with as much finesse as a lion can muster under the circumstances. Meanwhile, Tom's got Jerry right where he wants him. Tom goes to take a bite of the prized ham... no, two bites. Tom starts chewing and... but wait! Tom's mouth isn't full! And where are those crunching noises coming from, incidentally?
Welp, there it is, folks. The nightmare of nightmares made flesh, rendered in Technicolor as plain as the day on your face. There's the lion hiding behind those ugly bright blue drapes, and Tom's got the gun. Tom aims at the drapes, but suddenly develops a bad case of butterflies. Not as ready to use a bullet as he thought he was, so it would seem. He's going to need a bigger gun. Maybe a cannon, too, while you're at it. Reacting in haste, Jerry takes Tom's intent more seriously than Tom does, and aims the gun at the ceiling. A shot rings out. Now, it's debatable whether Tom actually fired or if Jerry's aiming of the gun caused the gun to misfire, so I'll skip that. Creating another diversion, Jerry... the mouse... acts like he was wounded in the blast, grasping his chest, groaning in pain, stepping around in a small circle as though he's drunk... you know the routine. Tom did it himself on a previous occasion, for slightly different reasons. The point being: don't think about it too much. Tom rushes off to get a first aid kit, and the mouse and the lion run away to f... mess with Tom's head some more.
Next episode: like dogs, cats apparently can't look up either, because the lion's hiding on top of a lamp... boy, that's a strong lamp! Probably not a WWII era lamp, as all the metal would be diverted for tanks and shells and what not. Still, things used to be built to last back then. Jerry starts boxing and Tom sticks out his chin. Gimme your best shot, Tom says in pantomime. The lion, from atop aforementioned lamp, gladly obliges. (almost forgot... I love lamp) Tom ends up making a Tom-shaped outline in the fireplace, ending up with a massive collection of freshly displaced bricks upon his head. (See also: Laurel and Hardy's Hog Wild and Dirty Work)
Next mini-sode: pure cartoon buffoonery as the mouse and the lion hide in the teeny umbrella stand. Tom runs up and sees the umbrella moving around, and decides to investi-ma-gate. Tom removes the umbrella and opens it inside the house. Bad luck instantly smites him in the form of the lion, and the mouse follows soon after. The scene ends with us looking at a flattened Tom sitting there on the floor like a rug, looking incredulously skyward. It's all he can muster in his two-dimensional state.
Okay, we've had some fun, we've had episodes quick and long... but now it's time to wrap this party up. And what better way than in either a) a locked closet, or b) inside the bulldog's house? Well, we already did b) on a previous occasion... oh, don't make me look it up. It's a rich tradition indeed. Off the top, I recall the Chuck Jones cartoon, The Aristo-Cat where an overly pampered spoiled brat of a cat tells the filthiest joke ever... I mean, it's about a cat who's so pampered and spoiled that he doesn't know what a mouse is. It ends inside the bulldog's doghouse, with the house bouncing around, noises of conflict emanating outward from it, in order to engage the imagination of the audience, allowing them to imagine the carnage within.
And so, still unaware of the lion, and still uncurious about its god-awful stench, Tom thinks he has Jerry trapped in the closet all alone. Tom lets out a laugh (... Bletcher? Kinda didn't sound like it) then locks the closet door behind him. More cartoon lunchy... lunacy: (must be hungry) Tom closes the door on his wrist, then pulls his hand... paw inside, all too ready to kick some mouse ass. You'll never guess what happens in a million years... never.
And so, Tom lands on the other side of the ... living room? I thought they were in the basement. Dayamn, but they've got a large house! Bigger than Bob Dole's place during the Depression... I mean, he had to take in boarders, for God's sake! Boarders!!!! ...sorry, back to the instant case. And so, after his ass-whooping by the lion, Jerry pretends it was he that did it and marches all big-as-you-please out of that closet. Definitely not wanting a repeat of that level of ass-kicking, Tom makes a Tom-shaped hole in the brick wall of the house as he exits. As Tom revs up, we hear the sound of a plane engine, as it would take that kind of power to make a hole in a house's brick wall exterior.
Ultimate revenge accomplished, the lion and the mouse shake hands. Cross fade to... a boat headed for Africa! Whew. I thought I was going to have to sit through thirty minutes of logistics for that. But there is some light mayhem as the mouse attempts to shove the lion into one of those covered lifeboats. I keep forgetting how strong that little mouse is. "So long pal!" says the lion. Both the lion and the mouse shed a tear, and frankly I'm getting a little boo-hoo-hoo-y myself. That mouse never had it so good. Maybe if it were a lioness Jerry could give her a kiss before they depart!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan