Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gumby's Seasons Greetings (Various Dates)

I stumbled across a discounted series of Christmas specials at Best Buy going for $4.99, and decided to pick them up.  Along with Fat Albert's Christmas Special, some holiday themed George of the Jungle, and Casper's Haunted Christmas (along with some bonus episodes that had nothing to do with the holidays), there were a bunch of Gumby episodes, collected under the manufactured title, "Gumby's Season's Greetings."  Of these, only four actually seemed to be Christmas-related, so I put them on and skipped most of the rest*.

I should mention that I know nothing about Gumby.  I think I saw a few episodes when I was a kid, but I wouldn't swear to that.  As such, I know nothing about the characters, their world, or the show's premise I couldn't gloss from these.

Each "episode" was about seven minutes long.  None were particularly impressive, but a few were kind of fun.  Most of these were based on an interesting premise or joke, but, with the possible exception of the last, they never really went anywhere with the idea.

I should mention that I'm a little unclear when these were actually produced.  The first three seemed to be from the sixties - the intro listed 1967, but that seems to be just the copyright date.  The last looks to be from sometime in the eighties, but I don't have specifics.

Santa Witch
This might be the most interesting from a historical point of view.  The plot is cute: Pokey (Gumby is absent for this episode) wanders into a book about Christmas, only to find Santa's ill and can't fly his sleigh.  If a suitable pilot isn't located, Christmas will be canceled.  Pokey makes a quick call to a friend of his who's a witch (I'm assuming this wasn't her first or only appearance on the show).  She shows up and takes over.  Like most of these, it drags even at seven minutes.  Still, the conceit is cute.  More than that, though, I wonder if this influenced The Nightmare Before Christmas.  The witch resembles the ones in the movie, and there are several moments that feel similar.

Scrooge Loose
Again; cute concept, nothing more.  Scrooge, in an effort to humiliate Santa and destroy Christmas, wanders into his book.  Gumby and Pokey follow.  They try to stop him from sabotaging Santa's presents, only to make an equally large mess of things.

Pigeon in a Plum Tree
This one is just weird.  The Christmas elements are fairly light.  It's kind of fascinating, but nothing special.

Humbug
This is easily the most interesting of the bunch, though I bet Gumby fans disagree.  Scrooge teams up with the Blockheads (again, I'm assuming these aren't new characters) and goes after Santa.  This time, they're out to kill him once and for all.  Gumby and friends give chase, and the result is a relatively intense adventure story.

Unless you're a huge fan of stop-motion, I don't think I can recommend tracking these down, with the possible exception of Humbug.  There are some cool ideas, but the shorts tend to revolve around a single, dragging joke.

If you want your own copy, the New Christmas Classics is a good way to get it.  Amazon has a decent price, but you might be better off stopping by Best Buy and digging through their clearance bin.

*I actually watched the two Thanksgiving episodes, as well, something I don't advise anyone else to attempt.  In particular, the depiction of Native Americans in "Pokey's Price" is downright painful.  I have a high tolerance for this kind of thing, but even I was cringing.

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