Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pixie and Dixie — Home Flea

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – John Boersma; Layout – James Carmichael; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Direction – John Freeman; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Mr. Jinks, Dixie – Daws Butler; Pixie, Mighty Mite – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1962
Production No: E-173 Plot: Pixie and Dixie invite a strong-man flea to live on Mr. Jinks’ fur.

What a talky, lacklustre cartoon.

Warren Foster wrote “Strong Mouse” for Pixie and Dixie in the 1961-62 season, featuring a circus mouse with huge amounts of strength. Then he wrote this one, featuring a circus flea with huge amounts of strength. It’s like Foster had some extra strength gags from the first cartoon, so he used them to cobble together this cartoon.

The first two minutes and ten seconds consist of nothing but a conversation between the flea who is looking for a dog (in a mouse hole?) on which he can live and the meece, who are sceptical about the flea’s claims until he twirls Dixie in mid-air. The meece convince him Mr. Jinks is as docile as a dog and a perfect home.



Next is a 30-second scene where the meece put Mighty Mite on Jinks. The flea offers to help them if they need it some day. Jinks realises someone has “invaded my privacy” but can’t see anyone so it must be a “mental aberration.” Foster now brings the old wet broom into the story for Jinks to clobber the meeces with (“Beats me how one cat can be so two-faced,” he chortles to us). The flea comes to their rescue by flipping Jinks onto the floor by his tail, and then doing it every time the cat touches the broom to discouraging him from using it again. Naturally, we don’t see most of the violence. We almost always see the meeces’ reaction as the camera shakes. In between reactions, Jinks talks non-stop to the audience. At no time does Jinks realise the flea is there. “I must, uh, have lost my balance,” he explains to himself. “That’s it. Some, uh, you know, minor disturbance of the eustachian canal in, like, my inner ear. Yeah. That makes a certain amount of sense.” (Jinks, evidently, graduated in anatomy).



The cartoon ends with Jinks turning down the meeces’ offer to bash them with a wet broom. “Uh, I’m, like, through with that game, you guys. But, eh, I’ll figure out another game for you miserable meeces. (Turns to camera) I, like, always do.” Jinks chuckles as the iris closes.

Jinks doesn’t let out with his “I hate meeces to pieces!” catchphrase in this cartoon.

Mighty Mite has one of Don Messick’s growly voices. It’s not as low as it is in other cartoons.

The animation credit is given to John Boersma in this cartoon and I’ve had real trouble figuring out his style. In some cartoons, his mouth animation is the same as Ken Muse’s, with a little half-row of upper teeth and a small tongue moving around. In other cartoons, there are no teeth, and he draws characters with a little point on the bottom lip. This is one of them. He gives Jinks a wide mouth much of the time.

There’s nothing distinctive about the music selections. Dick Thomas’ backgrounds are exclusively interiors. Kids had black and white TV sets in 1962 so they wouldn’t have known Thomas decorated the Jinks/Meeces residence with purple walls and green floors (and a sink in the living room). That being the case, I shudder to think what Thomas’ own home looked like.

4 comments:

  1. In addition to what the opening of this review stated, about Foster's earlier strong mouse story,from season 4 there was the misleading cartoon title "Mighty Mite" for the open of Season 2, (1959-1960), which had a banty rooster instead of an earlier strong mouse or insect, which caused folks like me to mix the cartoons up in my head..

    Then there was the last Carl Stalling-scored Warner cartoon, 1958's "To Itch His Own", which had a strong circus flea..

    Finally by 1965-1966 Hanna-Barbera starred in his own show a new strong tiny critter, "Atom Ant".The more things change...:)


    Steve

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  2. Foster does seem to have been less into the Pixie & Dixie series than into his story lines for Huck, Yogi and (by 1961) the prime-time Hanna-Barbera shows.

    Combine that with the fact that if you're Bill and Joe, once you're done Tom & Jerry for 17 years, you pretty much said just about everything you can say about the cat-vs.-mouse battles and the series just seemed to fade away in its final two seasons, to where Daws' voice work as Jinx was the only thing really holding up the series (though they did get a deserving send-off of sorts in 1964 with the Beatles/Beach Boys-themed Kellogg's Raisin Bran commercial, which at the very least had more energy than most of their 1960-62 efforts).

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  3. J.L., that's my unfortunate conclusion. Jinks and the meeces didn't inspire him as much as Yogi (although Yogi had the advantage of a formula to write around).
    I think another element was that Foster was busy with The Flintstones (was he writing the Hokeys as well?).
    I love the Raisin Bran spot.

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