Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Literary Toons: Puff, the Magic Dragon (1978)

Romeo Muller, in one of his first projects away from Rankin-Bass, adapted Peter, Paul, & Mary's 1963 classic, Puff, the Magic Dragon, into a half-hour animated special, the first of three such specials produced in as many years, all for CBS.

Burgess Meredith ("Rocky", ex-Korg, 70,000 B. C.) narrates and voices the titular dragon. The familiar story, co-written by Peter Yarrow (who voices the father), comes to life, as Jackie Paper (Philip Tanzini) starts off as a normal boy, Jackie Draper, who is so enwrapped in fear and doubt that he cannot speak. While Jackie is all alone in his room, Puff passes by, and invites himself in. He creates Jackie Paper, and there are references to other familiar stories, such as Peter Pan, Rumplestiltskin, and, of course, The Wizard of Oz, as Puff reaches into his bag. Puff, then, takes Jackie on a voyage to Hannalee, only to discover that Puff's homeland has been ravaged. The ratings must've been good enough to warrant two sequels.

Additional voice talent includes Regis Cordic, Frank Nelson (ex-Oddball Couple), and Robert Ridgely (Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle). I hadn't seen this when it first aired in October 1978, but, looking at this for the first time, well, judge for yourself.......

The classic song plays intermittently in order to carry the story along. I think, too, that this was Meredith's on-air singing debut, aside from a casual comic bit on Batman back in the day. Not too bad, I do declare.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I remember this one fondly!

I did view it way back when and it was a great way to mix a story with a classic folk tune.

I still think if this animated incarnation when the tune comes on the radio.

Where "Ode To Billie Joe" failed, this succeeded wildly!

hobbyfan said...

Too bad it ain't airing anywhere these days. Some cable nets don't know a good thing when they see one.