Friday, October 14, 2016

Spooktober: Raggedy Ann & Andy in The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile (1979)

Raggedy Ann & Andy made their television debuts in a 1979 CBS primetime special, The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile. One of Chuck Jones' last projects for CBS, this is the Halloween answer to Charles Dickens' oft-adapted tale, A Christmas Carol.

Young Ralph is forbidden by his Aunt Agatha to go trick-or-treating, and Agatha won't give out treats. Much like Ebenezer Scrooge, Agatha has to be reminded of her own youth. That's where Raggedy Ann (June Foray) and Raggedy Andy (Daws Butler, using his Elroy Jetson/Augie Doggie voice) come in.

Foray is also Aunt Agatha, credited as "Mrs. Hobart Donavan", in reference to her second husband, who'd passed away three years earlier. Agatha does sound like Witch Hazel, doesn't she, to a point?

The rights to this special were passed to the Disney Channel in the 80's, but hasn't seen the light of day in recent times.

Rating: B.


Christopher Sobieniak said...

I recall a version of this that showed up on either Nick or Disney Channel had Harmony Gold's logo used for the opening and end of the presentation, so I guess they had it for a while.

Nice to know the mystery of "Mrs. Hobart Donavan". I didn't know who that was at all, but thought that was June doing the voice anyway.

Reminded a still very young Mark Kausler was on staff for this special, for which he had to fix one scene due to the choppy timing Chuck overlooked. It was a later project for the Xmas special "Freeze Frame" that got him fired off his staff for having shown the Road Runner's legs for a sequence.

phairhead said...

Such a classic and a family favorite! The pumpkin cried seeds for fuck's sake, that's commitment to character :D Though I will say there is a bit of filler w/ Andy on the skateboard.

hobbyfan said...

Not only Andy, but as the intro told us, Raggedy Arthur as well.

@Chris: I looked up June Foray's Wikipedia page, and that's how I figured out "Mrs. Hobart Donavan". Harmony Gold must've acquired the rights from Chuck Jones in the 80's, and landed the special on Disney. Harmony Gold is better known, of course, as the rights holder of Robotech back in the day.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Yes, I know. They also had the movie as well (the one from '77), as I remember that showing up on Nickelodeon at one point! I wouldn't think Chuck had any ownership of those specials though, I'm sure they got them from whoever owned RA&A's IP at the time.

hobbyfan said...

Chuck & his production company doubtlessly obtained a license for this and a Christmas special that came along two months later.