Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pixie and Dixie — Meece Missiles

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie, Man Reading Newspaper, TV Newscaster – Don Messick; Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Sgt. McGrath – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1962.
Plot: Jinks cons Pixie and Dixie to get into a makeshift hot air balloon to get them out of the house for good.

Warren Foster, evidently, didn’t think too much of the U.S. space programme. He took some shots at military incompetence surrounding rocket launches in “Missile-Bound Bear,” then came up with the story for this cartoon where balloon-travelling Pixie and Dixie are chased by military aircraft after being mistaken for a UFO. After their ordeal, they appear live on a TV newscast.

Pixie: We made the flight as our contribution to our nation’s space effort.
Dixie: I feel that, in these times, everyone should do their part to forward the space programme.
Newscaster: (chuckles) And there you have it. Two patriotic Americans. We could all learn from those heroes.

Mr. Jinks, watching this on TV, is outraged. He knows, and Warren Foster knows, it’s a lie. The meeces thought they were getting a free hot-air balloon ride, courtesy of Jinks, nothing more and nothing less. Instead, they publically spout military/government propaganda, with the tacit support of the news media. And Foster seems to anticipate the misapplication of the word “hero” to describe anyone so long as they appear to be doing something patriotic.

Foster has more to say. The meece and their balloon float past the window of an apartment building, where a man inside is reading the paper. “Oh, no!” he cries. “It’s one of them! We’re being invaded!” He immediately decides aliens are invading and calls a sceptical cop. It’s the old doesn’t-believe-it-until-he-looks-out-the-window bit. “Quick, quick, get me the Air Force,” says the desperate officer into the phone. “H-hello, Air Force? You and your ‘no flying saucers.’ Okay, wise guys. Get this. With my own eyes.”



Is Foster being glib about the U.S. government’s official policy of denial when it comes to the existence of UFOs? Or is he saying something about people who blindly believe “something is out there”? At no time do the guy in the apartment or the cop bother to get any facts. They can’t even tell the difference between a wicker basket (aloft due to a balloon) and a flying saucer. They see something and make a knee-jerk reaction, much like the many people who call in UFO sightings that prove to be easily explainable.

The rest of the story is okay, and it climaxes with the jealous Jinks deciding he’ll show what “real” space travel is like by attaching a balloon to a garbage can. Unfortunately, the balloon is punctured by a sharp tree branch. Unfortunately, as well, Foster telegraphs the gag. “He’s headed for that tree,” yells Pixie. Then there’s a shot of the tree branch for a couple of seconds. Then we see Jinks slowly ascend into the frame. Then we see the puncture. Gags are funniest when they’re unexpected.

Our tale opens as Mr. Jinks decides to put the meeces into a balloon and send them into the air forever after saying “they would not dare to come out [of their mouse hole] without my permission.” The next thing we hear is a crash and a cut to a shot of an open fridge with a broken milk bottle on the floor. “Think nothing of it, Dixie,” says Pixie. “Mr. Jinks will clean it up. Let’s take our cheese and go home.” Jinks decides to take a yellow broom (not wet) to “those miserable meeces” (and presumptuous ones as well; why should Jinks clean up their mess?). Pixie and Dixie zoom out of the scene with a stretch-dive, showing you that Carlo Vinci is at work. Jinks’ tilting head and wide mouth during dialogue should give it away early that Carlo is animating this one.



Carlo has a nice rolling butt walk for Jinks in this cartoon. And here are a couple of consecutive drawings from a take when Jinks tries to shoot down the meeces’ balloon with a sling shot but runs into a rake instead.



This is another cartoon where Jinks marvels at his scientific prowess as he builds his hydrogen-filled balloon. “For a pussycat, I have a surprising-like fund of scientific know-how” he tells us, as the meeces relax in their hole.



Pixie and Dixie are in silhouette when shown in the basket in long shot. I suspect Foster indicated it in his story sketches (I don’t know if he or Paul Sommer made the finished boards). Dick Thomas provides the cityscape.



The sound cutter chose one of the urban chase cues from “Top Cat” when the meece are airborne, and another one in the opening scenes from Jinks strolling to when the meece get swatted with the broom. The rest of the music was used on a variety of short cartoons around this time.

5 comments:

  1. Wow..another Pixie/Dixie/Mr.Jinks space cartoon....there was also third season's "Price for Mice" and "Missile Bound Cat", as well..SC (and the very first season's nod to spacemen, "The Ace from Outer Space")..SC

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  2. One of the greatest Pixie and Dixie episodes. Really underrated cartoon.

    When Pixie and Dixie were lying on TV and during Jinks' reaction, I remembered a scene from ''Top Cat'' episode "King for a Day". After T.C. lied on television, this came to mind:

    TV host: What warmth! What courage! What tenderness!
    (watching TV) Officer Dibble: What a bunch of baloney!
    Georgi.

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  3. Very funny episode. Warren Foster is our Mark Twain.

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  4. Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks Simply Great.

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  5. Pokey: Another space-themed Pixie & Dixie cartoon is "High Jinks", from season three of the Huckleberry Hound show (http://yowpyowp.blogspot.com/2012/12/pixie-and-dixie-high-jinks.html).

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