Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pixie and Dixie — Crew Cat

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Brad Case; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, Poop Deck Paddy, Captain – Don Messick; Dixie, Mr. Jinks – Daws Butler.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose-John Seely, Spencer Moore, unknown.
Camera: Norm Stainback. First aired: week of February 6, 1961.
Filmed: September 12, 1960. Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-049, Production E-135.
Plot: Jinks tricks Pixie and Dixie to board a ship so he can get a free trip as the ship’s cat.

If you were watching this cartoon and concerned you wouldn’t get a chance to see Pixie and Dixie running along a wall with Jack Shaindlin’s “Toboggan Run” playing in the background, don’t be. It just takes a while to get there.

The first half of the cartoon is nothing but yack-yack-yack, and the first half of that isn’t even funny; it just sets up the situation. And, realistically, not a lot happens in the second half, either.

The most interesting thing in the cartoon may be a few drawings by Brad Case. Instead of swirls of lines when characters rush off-camera (like Ken Muse would do), Brad leaves behind an outline and some coloured brushwork. Here’s Mr. Jinks running up the gangway.



Here are the seasick meeces being pulled away from the side of the ship by Jinksie.



And Pixie and Dixie running away from Jinks and his trusty mop (no broom in this cartoon).



Warren Foster’s story-line’s pretty basic. Jinks’ cat buddy Poopdeck Paddy quits his job as a cruise ship’s cat because he caught all the mice. Jinks thinks he can get the job—and take advantage of the relaxed cruise-ship lifestyle—by conning the meeces into coming along with him. After two weeks on board, Pixie and Dixie realise they’ve been taken, and get Jinks (and themselves) tossed off the ship by making the Captain think Jinks swacked him in the face with a mop. A convenient pin punctures their life raft and the gang fly into the background, and presumably on their way home, to end the cartoon.

Paddy doesn’t have an Irish accent or a pirate voice. Don Messick simply gives him the growly voice heard in neighbour cats in a number of cartoons. Interesting design that layout man Paul Sommer has given to the Jinks home. It has a jalousie front window. Dick Thomas adds some green-within-swirls trees in the background. The best part of the first scene is at the end when Jinks reads his palm and says “Jinksie, I see a long ocean voyage in your future.”

Jinks then tricks the “miserable meeces” into wanting to go with him by outlining his itinerary: “I shall like, uh, visit Parree, and see Awful Tower. Roam around Rome. Lean on the leaning Tower of Pizza. Stop off at Monte Carload.” Pixie and Dixie have a wooden awning over the entrance to their mouse hole. I didn’t realise they had to worry about the weather inside. Jinks ends the scene with a wide, evil grin.



The meeces get in a couple of bad puns. During the con job, Dixie calls Jinks “a salt-water tabby.” Then when Pixie reminds Dixie the ship’s captain lives in “quarters,” Dixie responds: “Gee. I didn’t know you were so salty.” Uh, yeah. The ship’s captain is sort of ignorant. He doesn’t know which end of the ship’s map is north. But that’s just a throwaway gag. The character isn’t developed at all because he enters the cartoon so late and really has nothing to do except get angry and order Jinks from the ship toward the end. Sommer has designed him with the floppy Major Minor moustache that was popular at Hanna-Barbera in the Ruff and Reddy days.

The rest of the cartoon isn’t much more than a character explaining what’s going to happen next and then it happens. It ends with their life-raft carrying Pixie, Dixie and Jinks, flying through the air from the force of the air coming out of it, turning and then zooming off into the distance.

The Pixie and Dixie series seems to have inspired Foster the least. His Yogi Bear cartoons are helped by a solid, though confining, template, and he always found enough different spoof-worthy situations that fit the laid-back attitude of Huckleberry Hound. But the meeces really don’t have defining character traits (Pixie, especially), leaving it to Jinks to carry the load, and generally only with quasi-hipster dialogue and mangled words. Still, you can’t dislike a cartoon with the line “Oh, hi, Cap. Uh, I’m pretty handy with the ol’ mop-eroo, huh?” with Daws Butler adding an appropriately over-confident delivery.

The sound cutter confines the different music cues to a particular scene. A version of “Sailor’s Hornpipe” heard in a sea medley used in several cartoons is heard here as is Spencer Moore’s “Animation Nautical.” There’s also that flute and muted trumpet stab cue by Jack Shaindlin that I haven’t been able to find anywhere.


0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera, Shows).
0:14 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – Paddy walks to Jinks’ door.
0:22 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Paddy and Jinks talk, Paddy leaves.
1:09 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks solo scene, decides to become ship’s cat.
1:36 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Jinks walks in house.
1:48 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks cons meeces.
3:23 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Jinks chuckles.
3:25 - comic flute and quack cue (Shaindlin) – Shot of ship.
3:29 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks and meece outside ship, meece board ship.
3:55 - LAF-25-3 bassoon and zig-zag strings (Shaindlin) – shot of captain’s door, captain and meeces, captain and Jinks.
4:44 - seagoing medley (?) – Pixie and Dixie seasick.
5:00 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks grabs Pixie and Dixie, meeces run in mid-air.
5:14 - LFU-117-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Broom comes down, Jinks chases meece, Captain pleased.
5:28 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Pixie and Dixie in lifeboat, captain hit with mop.
6:06 - rising scale chase music (Shaindlin) – Meeces run out, give Jinks mop, mutiny.
6:32 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Life-raft, Pixie shoves in pin.
6:46 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Air comes out of life-raft, cartoon ends.
6:57 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

2 comments:

  1. Even doing the Shows-Gorden year, it seemed like the Pixie & Dixie shorts got the least creative love, compared to the Yogi and Huck efforts. It may have just been that -- having done 17 years of Tom & Jerry, Bill and Joe wanted to continue to have the cat-vs.-mouse option for television, but after taking advantage of the ability (via Daws and Don) to give voice to what had been a pantomime situation 90 percent of the time in the past, they, Charles, Dan and then Warren, were just played out on the possible variations

    (Foster did adjust the situation here from the earlier T&J "Cruise Cat" taking into account the less hostile relationship between the mice and Jinx to set up how they all end up on the boat, while the first season's "Pistol Packing Pirate" simply puts all three of them on a ship, with no explanation whatsoever of why they're there, as was the case with the T&J cartoons, where the normal house motif could be junked arbitrarily for the sake of the storyline.)

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  2. Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks had a lot of character development over time with their relationship and the funny dialogue added to the that perfect balance there was between Huckleberry, Yogi and them and by the way, am I the only who thinks the line "Now let's see if I got it straight The top of the map is north and the bottom is south hmm or is it the other way around?"

    I would also like to point out the contrast between having a character called Poopdeck in 1960 and one called Poopdeck in 2009.

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