||The Teddy Ruxpin Cartoon Show:
Grubby finds romance, Hell freezes over.
Yes indeed, they made a cartoon based on the Teddy Ruxpin series of electronic talking toys. Nope, it wasn't anything to write home about. I'm not sure of what kind of television run it had, but if it was on TV, it wasn't for very long. Most people, myself included, only saw the shows on video. It's not that the series was actively bad, it just wasn't very interesting. I guess, in a saturated cartoon market, a show needs at least one slightly likable character to get by, something Teddy Ruxpin sorely lacked. Plus, I guess whomever was in charge of demographic research deemed that the toys appealed only to people under three years of age, because this really redefined the word 'fluff.' I'm not saying I wished for an episode where Teddy faces potential prison time on a rape charge, but jeez, even the villains can't seem to make it through their lines without preaching about recycling or the importance of oral hygiene.
The show's basically about the misadventures of Teddy, with his friends Gimmock and Grubby, as they fly from spot to spot in the fantasy world on a weird airship, making friends along the way. Regardless of anything, the Teddy Ruxpin toy itself was so groundbreaking and so cherished by kids that a lot of you probably (and completely vaguely) remember this show. As we're about to see, our memory banks can sometimes be pretty strange in what they choose to keep in there. Let's take a look at one of the episodes, titled Grubby's Romance, where Teddy's wormy buddy falls in love with a troubled man-eater.
The shows open with a creepy electro-Teddy who explains the premise of the uncoming episode, sitting by a fireplace. In these little shorts, they show Teddy doing all sorts of weird things - knitting, making soup, you name it. He's Every Man. At the end of the tape, there's this five-minute vignette with him telling us the importance of staying in touch with our faraway friends, INSISTING that we send them nice letters through the mail. Wow, did Teddy ever use his platform for the powers of good or what? I can't think of an issue more pertinent than that. All jokes aside, it's kinda nice to see an era of kid shows that doesn't quite exist anymore - you'd think that this toon existed solely to make kids want the toys...instead, they're using their powers to get across strong moral values, the highest of which being keeping in contact with your penpals. This bear should be the pope. And he would be if he didn't get laid so much. And if he wasn't a bear. And who does drugs, and was a major player in the Gambino crime family. Bad Bear. Bad, bad bear.
Here's Teddy (toon-form) and Grubby carrying around sacks of who-knows-what, as part of their daily chore regime. Grubby, by the way, is a fantastic character if you're the type of person who likes to mimic stupid voices. He's got a perpetual nasal drip and talks..very..slowly. Then again, grubs don't have that much brainpower so I'd be grabbing at straws if I told you he was retarded. Moving on, this is just another day in the life of our heroes - see what I mean? It's not very interesting. We need some transforming F-14s to fly in and steal their sacks of rice or something.
Take a good look at Grubby, because he's today's big star. If you're an All Teddy, All The Time type of guy, you're gonna be disappointed because he's only got a bit part in this episode. I know, I know. It's terrible news, right? Let's try to pick up the pieces. I mean life is full of little disappointments like this. Maybe next time they'll be more Teddy.
Gimmock is their human friend who likes inventing things and being older than redwoods. In every episode, he's got a new contraption which always misfires and sets up the stupid plot dynamic. This time, it's a ray that makes things change in size, as evidenced by the clever 'small' and 'big' dials slapped on the machine, written on masking tape. If you're gonna go all out and create a ray that does something that great, at least take it to one of those trophy shops and have them engrave the controls for you. Stupid Gimmock.
Aside from being a master inventor, there's two things that really stand out about Gimmock. First off, the glasses. They're terrific. They totally get the point across that he's a heroic genius and not just some 70-year-old drunken transient. Secondly - you know when you get a bag of peanuts, still in the shell, and how some of them only have one peanut inside? Look at Gimmock's head - exactly the same shape!
The show's bad guys use the ray to shrink our heroes and their airship down to size. I'm not gonna go into too much detail on the villains, partly because they're not overly important to this particular episode, but mostly because I can't remember their names. One of them has a green face and wears a long robe, the other one looks like an erect backwards dog penis with legs.
Our friends are now just an inch or so tall, but they've still got hearts the size of countries, and that's all that really counts. Still, while they could get along just fine this small because, let's face it, there's no reason to fear wild animals because there's already wild animals all over the place bigger than them when they're at normal size. The real problem here is that they're no longer strong enough to carry those rice sacks we saw earlier. They've gotta get back to their normal height. But how?!
Grubby, being a grub and all, has all sorts of connections in the insect world, of which they're now a part of based solely on size. A group of costumed critters lead them to some weird ball where bugs are dressed up like cowboys and whores from the 20s, and everyone dances merrily. Amazingly, dance dips reveal that the ladies in the bug world certainly do wear panties. That's pretty disturbing.
Teddy and Gimmock fit right in. Of course they do - it's a fully clothed talking bear and an old man who lives with a fully clothed talking bear: they're used to being the outcasts. It's Grubby who has a bit of trouble meshing...he's not too confident in his dancing ability, and who woulda thought that this was all bugs did in their free time? He's got six left feet. But don't feel bad for the poor slug. Grubby's about to learn a lesson about something way more important than the Charleston - he's about to learn about love.
Karen Catepillar dresses well and has big breasts, and those are the two biggest assets Grubby looks for in a woman. As soon as their eyes lock, we taper off into a fantasy sequence where Grubby romances her through singing. It's pretty surreal. After that, Grubby becomes shy. Obviously, like the rest of us, Grubby's wondering why anyone would possibly be attracted to him. Karen breaks the ice with a few well-placed glances and a dance request, and after some ego stroking, she manages to get Grubby to do the impossible: DANCE!
When the lock arms and make that first step to the right, all the other bugs form a circle around them, as if to say 'frigging smells like one of them shit themselves', but what they really meant is 'wow, they can really cut a mean rug.' Now that Grubby and Karen have proved compatible on the dancefloor, their love can only bloom from here...
And it does! About a month ago I found the actual Grubby toy at a consignment shop for two bucks. eBay research places it's value at around 40, so I for one feel good that he's found someone, if for no other reason than the 38 dollar profit. The sad thing is, you just know something has to go wrong, because Grubby is supposed to be this solemn, miserable character, and having a hot caterpillar girlfriend really doesn't fit the prototype. So already we're all in tears waiting for Karen to come to her senses and really get a good look at how unattractive he is. And you've gotta wonder what Teddy thinks about all this. There's no talking female bears around, so maybe he'll get jealous and make a side play for Karen's affections. The possible twists and turns here are endless. Maybe Gimmock and Teddy get jealous and start dating each other just to spite Grubby. Plus, we've never seen Karen without that huge overflowing red dress on. Maybe she's really a man under there. Not that we could tell - Grubby's naked and from the looks of things, he's a sexless drone.
I wish I would've reviewed The Fly II instead. Oh well, tomorrow.
Sure enough, the romance meets a snafu when Karen tells Grubby that she must cover herself entirely in a silk-like substance and hang from a tree for an undetermined amount of time. Grubby's crushed, and nobody, including Karen, has any idea what to make of all this. It's called a cocoon you morons, didn't you ever sign up for those Charlie Brown Encyclopedias at Waldbaums when you were kids? Our multilegged hero vows to remain treeside till Karen comes out - but there's no way of knowing how long that'll take. They could've subtitled this episode 'The Great Chrysalis Caper'. Let me clear the air right now:
Don't fret, Grubby. Pretty soon Karen will be able to withstand a plethora of new sexual positions without breaking a sweat. Missionary style will be a thing of the past!
Teddy and Gimmock are obviously concerned - Grubby's been sitting out in front of that weird thing for days and he hasn't budged an inch. And it's not like they can just go home without him - Teddy needs him to help with the sacks of rice, and Gimmock needs him for an excuse to build a triple-axl exercise bike. They need to get to the bottom of this, and fast!
Gimmock uses a projector to create a slideshow detailing the events for Teddy. I'm not entirely sure how Gimmock got his hands on a tiny projector and slides, unless he always keeps those on the airship. After around 23 years of debate, both of them come to the conclusion that Karen is indeed in the process of metamorphosis - she's turning into a butterfly! That explains it!
While watching this, I had visions of a backstage scenario that made the episode a whole lot more interesting. What if the storyline creators told the writers that they wanted Grubby's girlfriend to 'put up some walls and shut out Grubby,' trying to create some sort of intense plot involving Karen letting Grubby get close only to keep him at bay, scared of her feelings because of some previous bad relationships. Then, maybe, the stupid writers took what they said literally and stuck her in a cocoon. That vision wasn't so fun in itself, but it got better when I pictured the writers being assassinated Gestapo style for the error. Your mind really runs wild when you're watching something this vapid.
Anyway, check out Teddy's reaction to the news:
Let's check it again.
It's still funny! Let's try it in black and white:
Indeed, when Teddy and Gimmock go to tell Grubby the news, Karen's already morphed into a new animal. And this butterfly is hot! Grubby's gonna have some real doubts about himself now...how's he supposed to keep this chick interested when she looks like that? At least beforehand she had the cons of a giant sluggy tail to keep the other horny grubs at bay. But now she's just the perfect bugwoman. Besides that, with the addition of wings, it's a lot easier for her to defer Grubby's sexual advances. Not making matters any easier is the sudden appearance of an entire legion of butterflies in the air, letting us know that Karen's time with our friend is terminally limited.
It's also pretty cool that her long red dress also metamorphosed, into a sexy one-piece. This really is a World of Wonder. Continuing: lest anyone forget, Grubby, Teddy, and Hammock still have the slight problem of being two hundred times smaller than they're supposed to be. But now that this buxom butterfly has the power of flight on her side, looks like they've finally found a solution. And thank God for that, outside of adding the numbers of expiration dates on all your canned peaches to see if they turn out to be a prime number, this is one of the longest ways to spend thirty minutes.
Karen flies up to Gimmock's stupid ray and zaps them back to normal size. Grubby and Karen face an awkward moment - they didn't know they were so incompatible sizewise. At least, that's how Grubby looks at it. Karen probably thinks this whole deal was a blessing in disguise, a great excuse to break up with Grubby without coming out and telling him what a sad sack of shit she thinks he is. The breakup is tearful, for a multitude of reasons. Grubby's obviously not going to find anyone like Karen, and by that I mean a female who doesn't spit on him. Karen's sad because she just lost her segue into his charge accounts. Teddy's sad because his friends are sad. Gimmock's sad because he just got his rejection letter from the casting department of Temptation Island. It's just an overall macabre masterpiece going on here, and if I wasn't so happy that I didn't have to watch any more Teddy Ruxpin, I'd be crying too.
You'd assume the wormhead was in tears here, but from the disgusted look on Teddy's face, maybe a bird shit on Grubby's nose.
Overall: Well, I guess it's safe to say that this will be the one and only Teddy Ruxpin cartoon review you'll ever see on X-E. It's not that painful to watch, but man is something this insipid tough to write about. There's just nothing here to work with. The show had this odd sense of continuity to it - I left out all the scenes featuring the villains breaking into Gimmock's house to steal crystals, because we don't meet the climax of that exhilarating tale until the next video, which I fortunately don't own and have no way of seeing.
Usually, I only review things that are worth seeing, no matter if they're good or bad in their entirety. Even stupid shows and movies can be interesting enough to take a look at. But if you're a enthusiast for these old cartoons, you won't be missing out if you skip this one. The toys had, and still have, unlimited play value, (try putting a Guns N'Roses cassette into Teddy Ruxpin sometime) but the show is making me yearn for something with a little more substance, like a rerun of Manimal.
Only on UGO: I had a chance to check out the new movie Clockstoppers, and interview the stars for our gracious landlords over at UGO. To see what I thought, click here to check out the feature. Cameo appearances by Grubby, and a Stormtrooper.