Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pixie and Dixie — Light-Headed Cat

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, Professor, Monkey – Don Messick; Mr. Jinks, Dixie, Guy in Suit – Daws Butler.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-051.
First Aired: week of February 27, 1961.
Plot: Jinks is at the mercy of an anti-gravity machine that keeps him in the air.

This cartoon is a dud.

Well, it’s not a dud if you like to see Mr. Jinks get bashed around without deserving it. Or if you like characters to spend screen time explaining what they’re going to do before doing it. Or if you like a comedy that has dialogue without punch lines. Or if you like a cartoon that relies on a catchphrase to bring it to a sudden end.

It’s too bad. Warren Foster came up with a pretty funny premise that he could have filled up with try-and-fail type gags like he did with Sylvester in the Tweety cartoons at Warners. But the premise alone can’t carry the cartoon. And the dialogue is so uninspired, even Daws Butler can’t find many places for Jinksie to perform his customary word-mangling. It may simply have been a case that Foster had to quickly churn out another story that could be inexpensively animated. The cartoon was one of the last new Pixie and Dixies to be aired in the 1960-61 season.

The first two scenes reveal Jinks has started a new job and the meeces check the want ads in the paper to see what it may be.


Dixie: There it is. “Cats Wanted For Fur Factory.”
Pixie: He wouldn’t want a job there.

It’s just not funny. It could have been, even though Pixie is merely stating the obvious, but Don Messick gives the line a straight-forward read without any tinge of facetiousness or irony.

We learn Jinks is being employed by a space scientist for a weightlessness experiment using a de-gravitising machine. The next scene features plenty of yapping between the scientist and a guy in a three-piece suit who is never identified. The scientist spends gobs of time explaining stuff then doing it.


Professor: I’ll show you how it works. I have put a wire in the cat’s tie for an antenna. And when I turn on the “juice,” as we call it...
Guy: Ha ha ha ha ha.
Professor: Heh heh. Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh. Heh-um.

I’m missing something here. What’s so funny about “juice”? I could understand if it was a pun, or even a bad pun.



The scientist and the guy go off to lunch, leaving Jinks napping. That’s the cue for a giggling experimental monkey to get out of his cage and start playing with the machine, lifting Jinks up and down, crashing into floors and ceilings. The cartoon’s almost half over by the time this begins, by the way. Jinks first thinks he’s having a “night-time mare,” then that he’s suffering from “halu-kinations.” The monkey leaves the machine in the “up” position and hops away. Jinks crashes into the overhang of a roof. “Pixie and Dixie will never believe this,” he says, crawling down the side of the building. We are to gather the meeces are his friends in this cartoon, otherwise he wouldn’t care what they believe.



Cut to the next scene. Jinks arrives at the door of his home holding a heavy metal garbage can (do they still make those?) and makes a dash for his bed. He doesn’t get there, rising to the ceiling instead. “Help, fellas!” cries the cat. “Get me down. I’ll have to walk around grasping an ashcan all my life. But if I stay up here, I’ll starve to death.” Dixie tries to toss Jinks a small rope to pull him down, but it hooks around the cat’s tail instead. Jinks looks at us and disgustedly says “Meeces!” That may be the best dialogue in the cartoon.



Meanwhile, the scientist and suit guy run past the same window seven times. The scientist notices the cat is gone and his machine is overheating. But he’s outside. How can he tell? (No, he doesn’t look in the window; he just runs along the side of the building in cycle animation). The machine blows up and Jinks plummets to the ground. He thinks Pixie and Dixie pulled him down too hard. Presumably, that’s what inspires Jinks to “punch in” at his old “full-time job” of chasing the meeces with a red broom past the same electrical socket ten times. The scene then cuts to Jinks doing his Bilko-like army-formation shout as he runs past the same door ten times.


Jinks: You guys are, like, my pals, but...
Dixie: We know, we know.
Meeces: You hate meeces to pieces.

And Pixie and Dixie laugh to end another Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

The cartoon features a bunch of Jack Shaindlin neutral cues I can’t identify, though you can tell it’s his material because of the arrangements. The cutter favours lots of little cues for some reason; he uses snippets of longer pieces of music in addition to what appear to be short work-parts.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows).
0:12 - meandering flute, oboe and horns (Shaindlin) – Pixie looks in basket, “Search me.”
0:29 - no music – “He read the want ads,” “what interested him.”
0:35 - clarinet and falling strings (Shaindlin) – meece look at ads, “space project.”
1:00 - no music – “That would appeal to Jinksie,” meece giggle.
1:07 - playful flute and trumpet (Shaindlin) – Man talks to professor, “real well.”
1:14 - no music – professor talks about cream and sherbet.
1:19 - relaxed strings (Shaindlin) – shot of Jinks sleeping, “it’s of no use unless we.”
1:30 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “degravitise him,” explanation of machine, “Watch.”
2:13 - short clarinet cue (Shaindlin) – Professor turns on machine, Jinks floats up, “That’s wonderful, professor.”
2:21 - no music – “He floated straight up,” “Can you…”
2:29 - meandering flute, oboe and horns (Shaindlin) – “…bring him down?” Jinks lands.
2:39 - no music – “Remarkable,” man points to monkey.
2:47 - flute and trumpet quack cue (Shaindlin) – Shot of monkey, invitation to lunch.
3:06 - comedy march (Shaindlin) – Professor and man walk, monkey turns on machine, Jinks on ceiling, “Like I am convinced.”
3:42 - no music – “This is no dream,” Jinks zips out of frame.
3:51 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Jinks runs outside.
4:01 - fluttering open music (Shaindlin) – Monkey plays with machine, Jinks up and down, grabs garbage can.
4:32 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Jinks runs with garbage can.
4:46 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks at window, rises to ceiling, rope around tail, “Get me down.”
5:55 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Professor and man run, kaboom.
6:10 - clarinet and falling strings (Shaindlin) – Jinks on ceiling, crashes to floor.
6:15 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “You did not have to pull,” Jinks with broom.
6:33 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Meeces run, laugh.
6:56 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

6 comments:

  1. A year later,Tony Benedict used the same concept for an entire ep of The Flintstones, "Nuthin' But the Tooth", except Barney's "free-floating anxiety" stems from overuse of anesthetics.

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  2. Why is there no review for ''Magician Jinks''. Pretty sure it aired before this. And it is very good.

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    1. MAGICIAN JINKS was made for the 1961-62 season with Hoyt Curtin score. Yowp only reviews the cartoons made for the 1958-59, 1959-60 and 1960-61 seasons with Capital scores. So you won't see him review a Loopy deLoop cartoon, either.

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    2. Of course it's specifically entire cartoons like Loopy's output that aren't Yowp's or many of us's cup of tea, either. At least the Pixie and Dixies thru the Hoyt Curtin years still had a good series basis (starting in 1958-59 with the usual evolutions) to work with, it's just that the Hoyt Curtin scores aren't the ones being dissected by Yowp; the Capital scores were part and parcel of these reviews..he's almost down to the very last for Huck, Meeces and Yogi but still has some more Augies, Quick Draws and Snoopers...there is Ruff and Reddy but it's rarity, adventure genre, serialized format, largely unrecognizable stock cues (ended too early for Hoyt Curtin!) and (to Yowp) largely kid based (ahead of itself given the legacy HB would be known for by the 70s on), keeps Yowp from reviewing Ruff & Reddy. However a handful of STORIES in the later shorts and thrity minute series (Flintstones, Jetsons,etc.) scored by Hoyt Curtin are well worth reviewing..I'd like to suggest at this time a Flintstone review blog, both for the shows Yowp likes and detests, since reviews cannot be all lovefests.:)Steve

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    3. Of the six segments that switched from Capital to Curtin score, it's generally agreed that the Yogi series suffered the most. The cues that seem to have been composed especially for his cartoons seem the most 'cutesy'- even though they were heard in all of the other TV shorts as well- but less so with Loopy and the Flintstones. The Quick Draw series also lost its edge with the switch to Curtin, although he did compose some nice 'Western' cues.

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  3. Yeah, what IS so funny about "the juice"?

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