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  • Writer's pictureRob Freese

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 23

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 23

If the holiday season truly is for children, then there is nothing better than a holiday special made for children. There is always something magical when our favorite animated characters get to celebrate the holidays with us, like celebrating with real friends. But when we grow up we tend to leave those beloved characters behind, just like many of our friends when we were younger. And just like in real life, getting back together with those characters and friends can make for an unique, if somewhat bittersweet, reunion.

Warning: Spoiler Alert! This is more a warning that my words could possibly trigger a vicious dose of nostalgia in the reader. Revisiting old programs and movies we loved as a child works like a time machine, taking us back to a specific time when we were young and our whole life was in front of us.

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar December 23- Gumby's Christmas Capers (1960)

In our first episode, or, caper, Gumby and trusty sidekick Pokey are detectives. They are watching a copy of Dickens' A Christmas Carol when they see Scrooge escape out of the book and scurry into the toy store they're all trapped in. Gumby tells Pokey that Scrooge is "the meanest man there ever was."

They run atop a stack of boxed toys to watch as Scrooge hops on a toy tractor and pushes a stack of toys off the shelf, Gumby and Pokey included.

When Scrooge eyes the tome Stories of Santa Claus, he cackles, "There's the cause of all of this! I'll take care of him! Humbug! I'll put a stop to all of this! Humbug! HUMBUG!" He disappears into the book.

Gumby and Pokey are in hot pursuit.

Scrooge steals a bag from Santa's sleigh and quickly goes about pulling the toys out of the brightly wrapped gifts and swapping them for rocks. Gumby catches up with him, lassos him and then stuffs him into the bag.

Gumby and Pokey go looking for Santa and just miss him. (His sleigh is parked in front of one home, but he's off in another.)

Santa counts his bags and sees he's one sack short. Blaming the elves, because you have to blame someone, he looks around and finds the other bag. He tosses the sack full of Scrooge into his sleigh and take off.

Gumby and Pokey realize what just happened. They can do nothing about it. The world is obviously doomed. This is the ending of Halloween III: Season of the Witch twenty-three years before Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

In the next caper, Pokey is dodging all the greedy Christmas shoppers and jumps into a book titled Unusual Stories. There he meets Sybil the Seal who's hanging out near Santa's City. Pokey wants to visit when an emergency dog sled arrives to whisk Santa away to the polar hospital.

Santa's sick, the one day of the year he has to work, and now Christmas is canceled. Pokey cannot abide by this. He gets his friend the Witty Witch, who can use her magic to make the sleigh fly (the reindeer work for Santa only- union rules) and Pokey and Sybil come along to help.

After two nosey kids spy the witch in Santa garb and pass out, Pokey makes the Witch wear a Santa mask. Remember kids- always wear your mask. Don't ever let people see you for who you really are. It may scare them.

This was A Nightmare Before Christmas three decades before A Nightmare Before Christmas.

The next caper, Gumby is reading the holiday classic Pigeon in a Plumtree (?) but Pokey gets restless and jumps into the book to watch it. It's about Prince Harold, the slow witted son of King Ott, who wants to give his beloved a Partridge in a Pear tree for Christmas, but the discount store is out. Instead, they sell him a Pigeon in a Plumtree because he doesn't know the difference.

This drives Pokey insane! He continually interrupts the book's storyline to try to help Prince Harold not look like a dummy. He finally intervenes and changes the entire outcome of the story.

This was Stranger Than Fiction thirty-six years earlier than Stranger Than Fiction. In that movie, Will Farrell is the character who realizes he's in a book. His character's name is Harold.

In the final caper, Gumby is dreaming about getting a gift, so his father tells him to go into the toy store and decide on what toy he wants as a gift. I think this is a birthday caper and not a real Christmas caper, so that's all I'm going to say about that. Except that it is kind of creepy that a toy gets to pick a toy to play with. Weird, man. Like when animals in cartoons have pets.

My mother has told me numerous times that when I was really young, I was nuts about two shows, Sesame Street and The Gumby Show. I remember Sesame Street, but not so much Gumby. I have to believe her, as she's the one who tripped over me when I was parked in front of the tube all day, but I have no recollection of Gumby. To the best of my memory, Gumby has always been a toy, not so much a TV show. My TV Gumby knowledge more or less begins and ends with Eddie Murphy playing the green lump of clay during his tenure on Saturday Night Live.

Watching this now explains so much. I must have really watched this when I was a kid, and this is where my love for schizophrenic story telling derives. I mean, these guys are jumping from scene to scene, the action never slows down, but none of it makes any sense. Just, Pow-Pow-Pow, then time for a commercial. I loved it!

It's interesting now to see how these stories relate to other films, which I've mentioned here. Do I believe anyone watched The Gumby Show and stole an idea from it? Well, no. But I do believe that Gumby's exploits helped nurture and plant the seeds of creativity in many, many little heads.

I don't know the history of this collection. I think they were collected for a special holiday disc. (You can easily find it streaming on Tubi and other services.) Maybe it did play on TV at some point as a special, but each of the stories appeared on The Gumby Show in December of 1960. (Santa Witch on December 3, Scrooge Loose on December 10 and Pigeon in a Plumtree on December 17.)

A little Christmas nightmare fuel courtesy the Witty Witch!

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