Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pixie and Dixie — High Jinks

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Story – Warren Foster, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, “Moon Cat” – Don Messick; Dixie, Jinks – Daws Butler.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Spencer Moore, Raoul Kraushaar?.
Production: Huckleberry Hound Show K-043.
First Aired: week of April 17, 1961.
Plot: Jinks puts Pixie and Dixie in a rocket to the moon, but it lands in a cheese factory instead.

“So, like, I’m moody,” Mr. Jinks tells the TV viewer, after chasing Pixie and Dixie back into their mouse hole near the start of High Jinks. That would possibly explain why Jinks would spend his time building a rocket with the idea of shooting the meeces to the moon, then turn around and rescue them from danger, then turn around the chase them with a broom. Perhaps Jinks felt he was the only one who could abuse Pixie and Dixie and took umbrage at other cats who did.

Of course, that’s just in this cartoon. The relationship between the cat and meeces wasn’t consistent through the whole series, even after Warren Foster took over following the first year to write the remaining three seasons. In High Jinks, Pixie and Dixie consider Jinks a friend, albeit one they’re wary of. But the meeces are also pretty ignorant. They have no trouble believing the highly-unlikely situation that Jinks has sent them to the moon, then he somehow came up there to rescue them, and then somehow got back to Earth on his own.

Even setting that aside, this cartoon is below-average for Foster. There’s a lot of dialogue that’s purely situational; the characters describe what is happening or what is about to happen. There are no bright quips. And there’s no adversarial give-and-take between Jinks and Pixie and Dixie. The two meeces are passive through the whole cartoon; they don’t initiate anything, they’re just kind of victims of the plot. The only violence Jinks experiences in the whole cartoon is when his rocket swooshes into the sky and the trail of flames burns him.



Veteran Dick Lundy handles the animation from Tony Rivera’s layouts. It’s competent. I like Lundy and I wish there was something really interesting to point out about his work here. Jinks wags his head a couple of times. Lundy sure likely big eyes. See how he draws the main characters.



Rivera only has one other character to design in the cartoon, the brown-coloured cat with the growly voice that appears in various guises over the course of the series. This time, the cat seems to have a squashed head. Rivera designed all the props as well. He couldn’t have come up with a simpler drawing of a moon rocket.



Art Lozzi’s backgrounds aren’t all that daring. Like the animation, the interiors are functional; there’s a drawing of wall decorated only with a shadow and a baseboard that’s repeated in the chase sequences. The inside of the mouse hole has sloppy caulking between the boards (Dick Thomas drew the same sort of thing). The exteriors are nice enough. We get a shot of the Jinks/Meece residence which doesn’t appear to be in a suburban neighbourhood (there are no other homes or even a fence) with a glowing full moon. And there’s a street scene with a green sidewalk (that sounds more like Lozzi) and brick buildings of different pastel shades. The scaffolding and lamp post are the same as other Lozzi cartoons.



As for the story, Pixie and Dixie decide to investigate the hammering in the basement, but an electronic eye sets off an alarm and Jinks chases them back into their hole (Jinks’ misspelling “Back! B-A-K, Back!” is the gag here). The cat reveals to the audience he’s built a rocket. When he explains to the meeces he’s sending them on a free trip that’ll make them famous—to the moon, they get somewhat wide-eyed and zoom back into their hole (Pixie: “Did he say the moon? Dixie: “You heard it, too). Jinks gets them out with a canister of laughing gas. The meeces suddenly stop laughing when they’re placed in the nose of the rocket. Then they faint. The cartoon’s more than half over.

Jinks uses a dynamite plunger to set off the rocket which crashes through the roof of a cheese factory. Jinks purposely strolls over. Meanwhile, the rocket has landed in a wheel of cheese. The meeces think they’re on the moon because, after all, the moon was made of cheese until 1969. And Pixie thinks the other wheels of cheese are “a lot of other moons.” What? Why would moons be in a building with wooden crates? Their cheese-tasting plan is interrupted by the warehouse’s cat who says to the meeces, “Welcome, angels.” What? Are there angels on the moon? The cat picks up the moon talk and explains he’s “the man in the moon’s pussy cat.” The meeces make a run for it. We never do see the “moon cat” capture them or even chase them. Instead, we get a budget-saving walk cycle of Jinks who hears the commotion. He realises his meeces are in trouble so he makes a quick dash (to save drawings again, Jinks is shown horizontal in mid-air and the next drawing is simply coloured lines to indicate he’s zoomed away). Cut to the brown cat holding the meeces with only his upper body showing so the legs don’t have to be animated. He walks into Jinks’ fist. Jinks sneers at the “moon cat.”

So how will they all get back to Earth? Yes, the meeces still think they’re on the moon. Jinks holds the mice-ensconced rocket above his head, ready to throw it back to Earth. But, for some reason, they’re not in the downtown area now. They’re on a lawn that’s exactly like the one belonging to the Jinks/Pixie and Dixie home. Dixie asks how Jinks will get back. “That does not matter. I’m just a old, mean pussy-cat.” Jinks tosses the rocket and it lands against a table in their living room. Pixie starts crying because Jinksie is stranded on the moon. Well, of course, he’s not, and he pokes his head through a window. The meeces promise to do anything he says for saving their lives. Jinks yells at them to “Get back into your meece hole! Back! B-A-K, back.” Cut to Jinks chasing Pixie and Dixie with a broom. They’re smiling as they dodge the broom because they’re happy to be home. So the cartoon ends with a chase.

The Hanna-Barbera “pop” sound accompanies the realisation by the meeces that Jinks is sending them into space (it’s the sound the studio used for dripping water). As for the music, the sound-cutter changes cues in mid-scene a couple of times. The music is all familiar stuff. Nothing by Geordie Hormel this time. There’s a brief part of a scene where there’s no music—it’s when the meeces snap out of their laughing fit, stretch their bodies up, roll their eyes and faint. It works well.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:13 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose) – Pixie and Dixie read, alarm activates.
0:51 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie run, in hole, “really riled up.”
1:14 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “Yeah, he’s a mean one…”, Jinks talks to himself.
1:33 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Shot of house, Jinks in basement, moon trip offer, meeces run away, laughing gas canister, Pixie starts laughing.
3:02 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – “Jinksie wants to send us,” Jinks puts meeces in rocket, Jinks outside rocket.
3:45 - no music – Pixie and Dixie inside rocket, faint.
3:52 - creepy muted reverb trumpet music (Kraushaar?) – Meeces crash to floor, rocket shot into sky.
4:05 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Shot of Jinks burned, rocket crashes into cheese factory, shot of cheese, “Hey, Dixie.”
4:27 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – “You okay?”, brown cat wakes up, tries to grab meeces.
4:57 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Meece run away, Jinks runs to the rescue, punches brown cat, thud.
5:22 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “You are, like, so right,” Jinks throws rocket, crashes, meeces in living room, Jinks talks to meeces through window.
6:39 - rising scale music (Shaindlin) – Jinks yells at meeces, chases them with broom.
6:58 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

2 comments:

  1. Come to think about it," Dim Meeces " are pretty passive in this short. I also remember thinking how stand alone their house seemed to look. I have an old VHS copy of this cartoon from 1996. " Cartoon Network " used to run what they called " Super Chunk " on Saturday afternoon. They would run two straight hours of a certain character, ie, Jinx, Yogi, Huck, and all their ilk. Later, they would use the same concept on " Boomerang ", and call it " Boomeroyalty ". My copy was the standard syndication issue, silent H-B Enterprises card at the beginning, follwed by a quick music cue and title card.

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  2. Anon, you asked whether IMDB or some other place is accurate regarding Daws Butler voicing on Dink the Little Dinosaur. Your question got deleted. Sorry. Here was my answer:

    Hi, Anon. All I can do it play a deductive game. Daws died in May 1988. Dink didn't air until Sept. 1989 and I can't picture the voice sessions for it happening before Daws died. His name isn't in the credits. So I doubt he appeared on the show. But I've never watched it.

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