Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Hum While You Work

I swear I heard the alarm go off this morning, or I thought I did. I set my alarm for 7, but I ended up sleeping until 8:30! Not a good thing, as I had work at 9:30. Rushed through breakfast and darted out; I was lucky to only be a few minutes late.

After all that, we weren't really all that busy. I spent the whole day sweeping or doing carts. I did have to put away cold items at one point. I dropped a cartoon of half-melted ice cream, and while it thankfully didn't make a mess on the floor, it did get all over my arm. I was really embarrassed by that. 

At least it wasn't a bad day for pushing carts. Humid, but cloudy and cool, in the upper 60's. It was supposed to rain later in the day, but it hasn't done anything worse than spit slightly at press time. Even so, I rushed back to Oaklyn, hoping to avoid any bad weather.

Went right upstairs and into a snack. Watched Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood while I ate. They just put out their third hour-long special, "Daniel Visits a New Neighborhood." Daniel's excited when he and his mom take a train ride to visit her friend Valentina and her family in mostly Hispanic community. Dan and Valentina's son Juan Carlos are pen pals. They're shy at first, but then they discover everything they have in common, from playing with cars to how much they adore their favorite stuffed animals. 

Put up the summer decorations and took down the spring stuff during the second half. I don't want to hang anything on the walls, but I do have several wooden sunflowers and a lovely little wreath for summer. There's also a few patriotic-themed decorations I've picked up over the years, including two red, white, and blue bows for the doors, a trio of folksy angels with the letters "USA" on their pedestals, an Uncle Sam cardboard container, two patriotic mini Beanie Bears, and America Cares Bear, the Care Bear with the US flag on its tummy I found at a yard sale several years ago. (Incidentally, I remember seeing this bear sold in the early 90's under another name and with a slightly different stomach symbol with a star instead of a flag.)

Had an early dinner while watching Match Game '74. Scoey Mitchilll made his first appearance in an episode mid-way through the year, while Charles returned after being sick the previous week. Bert Convy appeared after the Head-to-Head, making love to a contestant as the turntable came back around! In reality, he was there to advertise Tattletales, which was just about ready to debut. 

Worked on writing for a while after that. Brett is more than happy to comply with Humpty-Deacon's insistence on moving on to another topic besides age. This leads into discussions of "unbirthdays," which are quite common in the Under Kingdoms. Brett would rather get presents as a surprise, but in Wonderland, there's reasons to celebrate birthdays all year round.

Finished the night at the Internet Archive with The Mouse Factory. I remember seeing this syndicated Disney anthology show on The Disney Channel as a kid in the 80's and early 90's. Human hosts (generally actors who had done voices or appeared in live-action Disney films) interact with costumed characters to introduce cartoons or live-action documentaries revolving around a theme. The show opens with the characters and the host checking in to the "Mouse Factory" before moving into a rapid-fire preview of the episode's gags and shorts. The main bit is a series of skits revolving around the theme and leading into that episode's shorts or segments from longer films. The host would toss out a little bit of trivia or history about the subject at hand between skits. 

Just looking at the stars tells you this was made in 1972 and 1973. In addition to Charles Nelson Reilly (who is in charge of the vacation-themed pilot episode), hosts include Jo Ann Worley, Johnny Brown, Henry Gibson, Ken Berry, Joe Flynn, Annette Funicello, Wally Cox, Kurt Russell, Jim Backus, Harry Morgan, John Astin, Johnathan Winters, Don Knotts, Phyllis Diller, Dom DeLuise, Pat Paulsen, Nipsey Russell, and Sharri Lewis and her puppet pals Lambchop and Hush Puppy. That alone, along with the odd rapid-fire cutting and occasionally dated gags, could explain why this is on the Internet Archive and not Disney Plus. 

Winters' lone entry, "Interplanetary Travel," wins for the weirdest episode hands down. His deadpan impersonations, including an alien, are mainly lead-ins for the odd animation from the Tomorrowland segments of the original Disneyland show. Disney created some of the freakiest alien designs I've ever seen for those episodes. They look more like they crawled out of the Paraphernalia Wagon in Halloween Is Grinch Night than a Disney show. 

Funicello's first show gets the nod for "host most related to the subject matter." Who better to be in charge of the episode revolving around Mickey Mouse than a former Mouseketeer? Her warm presence makes this far less frantic than most episodes as she introduces "Thru the Mirror" and "Symphony Hour." 

Most of the shows are a lot simpler. Worley's second episode, "Horses," gives us everything from Goofy trying to learn to ride a horse to Mickey and the gang playing polo against popular Hollywood comedians of the 1930's. Gibson is an unlikely choice for "Knighthood," as he shows how Goofy and Arthur of The Sword In the Stone went from being squires to knights and kings. Reilly returns to sell the Disney crew on "Spectator Sports" like horse racing. Brown shows off several "Folk Tale Favorites" (including segments from the rare Song of the South) and teaches Donald and Goofy how to fly a plane and a glider in "Aviation." Flynn's only show was "Water Sports," as he convinces Mickey and his crew to become "Boat Builders" and sells Goofy a boat that gets him into "Aquamania" and turns him into a water skiing champ. 

I'm not sure what younger kids would think of this today, but for those of you who grew up watching it in syndication or on the Disney Channel like I did and are familiar with either the celebrities or the shorts, it's absolutely worth a watch. 

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