Saturday, 24 August 2013

Pixie and Dixie — Missile Bound Cat

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Mr Jinks, Dixie, Space Cat – Daws Butler; Pixie, TV Announcer, Captain Mouse, Dispatcher, Exalted Leader – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Roger Roger, Raoul Kraushaar?, unknown.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-48?
First aired: week of January 30, 1961 (rerun, week of June 12, 1961).
Plot: Mr Jinks discovers that Pixie and Dixie’s TV hero, Space Cat, is real.

Warren Foster has all the elements of a good story in “Missile Bound Cat,” but something goes wrong. And I don’t mean the fact there’s no missile in the cartoon.

The climax simply doesn’t deliver as well as it could. Mr. Jinks is brought before the mouse king of the cat planet. But there’s no real confrontation that builds between the two characters. Jinks simply grabs a broom and chases him. It’s like Foster realised he was running out of time so he had to wrap up the cartoon as soon as possible. And then he adds a second chase by the character Space Cat. Sorry, Warren, you’ve already pulled the gag. Granted, he included it to set up the final scene, though it would have worked just as well with Jinks handing Space Cat the broom and, implying the cat, fading to the final scene. The actual chase doesn’t make the scene funnier.

Well, perhaps I’m being hyper-critical. Jinks gets in a few good lines and Lew Marshall tosses in some effective, though not elaborate, poses. Jinks emulates Daffy Duck in “This is a Life?” (released by Warner Bros., 1955) by saying “Easy, stomach” to himself. Hmm. Come to think of it, the writer of that cartoon was. . .

Dick Thomas is the background artist and sticks to a traditional colour scheme. Wood is brown, the sky is blue, bushes are green, brick walls are grey and the TV is black-and-white. I like his shades of blue in outer space as Space Cat drags Jinks toward his planet. Space Cat blasts off, so supposedly he has a jet pack, but we don’t see one or a trail of exhaust. Saves money animating it, you know. Tony Rivera handled the layouts so he designed Space Cat and his effective disintegrator gun.

The story premise is a good one. Pixie and Dixie have a favourite TV show—“Space Cat.” This cat goes around protecting mice. “Only those whose, uh, mentality has, like, been arrested would watch such drivel,” Jinks tells us after being woken up the noisy Space Cat theme. The meeces tell Jinks that Space Cat is their hero. “Space Cat is, like, just an imaginary from your figment. . . . You meece and your idiotcyncracies,” insists Jinks, who sets out to prove Space Cat isn’t real by yelling a challenge to him out the window. Jinks then chases the meeces with a green broom (he never does hit them) then shouts more defiance to Space Cat out the window.

“Your hero is a zero,” says Jinks to Pixie and Dixie. But the scene is interrupted by thunder, with grey, white and black cards inserted between frames of Jinks to simulate lightning. There’s a breeze sound effect and Marshall draws a little cycle of three drawings of Pixie and Dixie’s heads with their eyes closed, indicating the wind is blowing them back into their hole. Space Cat then slides (without moving his feet) into the scene next to Jinks. Foster saves his best dialogue for now. “That, stranger, is, uh, a pip of an entrance,” says Jinks, “And don’t let anybody tell you diff-er-ent.” Jinks then makes fun of him. “Let me clue you in, Spacerooni-boy. You need a good tailor. Padded shoulders is out. Like hula hoops.” Space Cat responds by making Jinks’ head invisible with a disintegrator gun (shouldn’t his head disintegrate?) but makes it reappear with an atomiser bulb at the request of the meece (the sound editor wisely has Jinks’ voice muffled when his head is invisible).

Space Cat decides to take Jinks back to his planet so the leader can decide his fate. So now we reach the climax scene where the leader is revealed to be a mouse who demands that Jinks kneel. At that point, Jinks grabs a convenient broom and starts chasing the king. Space Cat smiles. “Say! That looks like fun,” says Space Cat, who tries to clobber the expressionless king with the broom. That’s right. No shouting, crying in fear, nothing. Marshall just draws a six-drawing running cycle of the mute mouse with only the feet moving, flipping the drawings over the second time so he can run in the other direction. Pretty lame.

Somehow, Jinks is back on Earth for the final scene, where he pretends to be asleep as Pixie and Dixie are about to watch their favourite show. They’re shocked to see Space Cat chasing the king on the screen. Well, “shock” is them shaking their heads and looking at the screen blankly. Not even a mild take, let alone a wild one. They’re interrupted by Jinks and his broom, who proposes “a rerun. Like, live.” This gives Jinks a chance to sound off with his “hate meeces to pieces” catchphrase just before the iris closes.

There are some odd choices and inspired ones when it comes to the stock music used in this cartoon. Space Cat has his own little fanfare and percussion theme but I can’t find it in my collection. There’s a nice little chase theme when Space Cat comes to the rescue of Captain Mouse and I suspect it’s on a Capitol Hi-Q ‘D’ Series reel I’m missing; it sounds similar to other cues I have and I believe it was used in one other cartoon. The cartoon inexplicably opens with Roger Roger’s “Chopsticks” which doesn’t seem to fit. And what I think is a mysterioso theme by Raoul Kraushaar is put underneath a chase scene where the counterpoint oboes don’t work at all. During the King Mouse chase scene, another unfamiliar cue is heard which sounds like Jack Shaindlin’s work.

0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:14 - CHOPSTICKS (Roger) – Pixie and Dixie wake up, Jinks snores.
0:30 - Period Fanfare (?) – Jinks wakes up, Pixie and Dixie watch TV, Jinks clenches fists.
0:48 - EM-147 DOCUMENTARY MAIN TITLE (Green) – Jinks talks to camera, Mouse captain cries to be saved.
1:15 - dramatic chase cue (?) – “Hold on, Captain Mouse,” … “arrived just in time.”
1:28 - Period Fanfare (?) – Announcer, “easy stomach.”
1:38 - EM-147 DOCUMENTARY MAIN TITLE (Green) – “Tune in next week,” “protect mice from harm.”
2:02 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Jinks “proves” there is no Space Cat.
2:31 - creepy reverb trumpet music (Raoul Kraushaar?) – Jinks looks at meeces, chases them with broom, yells out window.
3:01 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks turns to meeces in hole, lightning, “Pixie, look!”
3:24 - Period Fanfare (?) – Jinks blows in wind, Space Cat enters.
3:29 - creepy reverb trumpet music (Raoul Kraushaar?) – Jinks complements Space Cat on entry, Jinks head disintegrated.
4:02 - LAF-25-3 zig zag strings and bassoon (Shaindlin) – Meeces plead, Space Cat and Jinks blast off.
4:36 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Space Cat and Jinks in space.
4:47 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks in throne room, grabs broom.
5:18 - busy street scene music (Shaindlin?) – Jinks chases King, Space Cat chases King.
5:48 - creepy reverb trumpet music (Raoul Kraushaar?) – Jinks chuckles, “back to earth.”
5:57 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Jinks snoozing, Pixie and Dixie talk.
6:11 - Period Fanfare (?) – TV announcer, meece shake head.
6:18 - dramatic chase cue (?) – Space Cat on TV, Pixie and Dixie shake heads
6:34 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shandlin) - Jinks with broom, hates meeces, chuckles.
6:58 - Pixie and Dixie End Title theme (Curtin).

1 comment:

  1. This is, needless to say, a variation on the first season's "Mark of the Mouse" TV character, as well as non-TV related "Judy Jack",and others,since a CAT's rescuing Mice. The addition of an even more unqiue soundtrack,what with all those odd stock cues (and I counted, yesterday, over twenty in all not counting the Pixie and Dixie theme song!) make this an unique episode, even though it's not the best that they could do, admittedly...all they needed were a few scattered Hoyt Curtin cues like that the approaching fourth season or even (I think) the final episodes for the third season) would introduce to the series and remaining ones and you'd have a very symbolic view of the transition to the next season, though there are still some more to go for this blog in the third season.

    Steve C.