Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bentley sleeps with his eyes open

Much as I love cats, there is something primitive, almost reptilian about their eyes. When Bentley is at a certain stage of sleep, his eyes are slits with the pupils rolled down (not up), with a glazed look. Sometimes his eyes are wide open like that. It's disturbing. I think predators have to be ready every second for the next kill, and thus don't even have to open their eyes to wake up.

I found a big mistake!

We all love Rocky and Bullwinkle, right? No? Okay. That was just a rhetorical question. I have no idea if you like them or not, or even know who they are. But I found something interesting on a YouTube video featuring the running gag which appeared on the show every week: "Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" In every case, Bullwinkle the magician pulls the head of a wild animal out of the hat and responds with some quip like, "No doubt about it. I'd better get another hat." (A different wild animal each time.) Then Rocky says, "And now for something we hope you'll really like!" This gif is the full non-audio version of the segment, about ten seconds long.


But if you keep watching it, it becomes apparent that at about the six-second mark, something very strange happens. Hint: keep your eye on the lower left-hand corner.

One of the main characters. . . disappears. Rocky vanishes. He just isn't there any more.

Slowing this down, it looks even more bizarre. What were the animators thinking? 

Then witness Bullwinkle making his usual smart remark to an empty stage! There's a great big wall of nothing where Rocky should be. He's looking down and talking to nobody.

This is followed by Rocky's cheery announcement, "And now here's something we hope you'll really like!" It's likely this little bit of animation was reused in all these segments to save money.

But notice that it bears little or no resemblance to the original set. The colours are more saturated, the curtains look strange - sort of gathered into folds - and there's a big black "something" above Rocky's head. There was some sort of emblem or crest on the curtains behind Bullwinkle's head that appeared to have a B on it. This, whatever it is, looks nothing like that. It looks like they got some three-year-old to draw their backgrounds for them with a black crayon. This was some sort of cut-rate animation sweat shop. We didn't see just how amateurish and ugly all this was, because we all loved Rocky and Bullwinkle so much.

Well, I did.

Oopsy. I was wrong! This is the Rocky announcement at the end of one of the other magician bits, and it's totally different. The curtains are green, blocky, no gathers, and have some sort of thing on them like an upside-down hot water bottle (if you know what THAT is). But pay attention to Rocky, and you'll see they have repeated the animation from the first one verbatim, except for little details like the tail. In the first one, it looks like an animated slug with no features on it at all. But the second one - pay attention to his feet, how they lurch back and forth in a way that is horribly cheap and unnatural. In fact, I can almost see the bottom line of the curtains showing through his little feet. 

Disney it ain't. Not even Rankin-Bass. And yet, these guys were wildly popular in their day, in the style of early '60s animation. We were much less critical as kids.