Cartoon Hell #19 – “Mr. Piper and the Story of The Magic Horn”

March 23, 2009

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

If this cartoon were done today the title would have been designed with MS Word Art.

A stunning display of minimalism in title design.

It doesn’t take very long to spot a formula in a cartoon series, especially in the wasteland of the 60’s and 70’s. The Mr Piper series of cartoons left a nasty taste in my mouth after the first viewing. Going into the second, a lovely tale called “The Magic Horn,” I knew a few of the things I could expect.

  1. A introduction by creepy Mr. Piper himself.
  2. Art that barely qualifies as animated.
  3. A public domain fairy tale story that limits the amount of creativity needed without having to pay anyone for the rights.
  4. A crappy closing remark from Mr. Piper, completing the cycle.
He almost looks mafioso.

He almost looks mafioso.

Finding out that Alan Crofoot, our Mr. Piper, killed himself at the age of 49 puts an extra uncomfortable spin on the action.

Mr. Piper gives an unneeded explanation of the story to come, and we’re whisked off to the world of stiffly animated make believe.

Why does putting it on a stick ease the burden?

Why does putting it on a stick ease the burden?

Our hero sets out on his own with a bindle-stick and a head full of dreams and as the cartoon starts he’s bartering with an old woman over the cost of very poorly drawn bugle. When he trades his worldly goods for the horn and tells her she’s got a deal the old woman very loudly exclaims, “I have indeed, for the horn is worthless, it won’t even play!” Said that loudly, I half expected Peter to yell back, “Bitch, I am still within earshot!”

I call it the bikini-zone bugle.

I call it the bikini-zone bugle.

There’s talk from the narrator about the horn not being so worthless, but I was too distracted by the weird markings on the trumpet resembling a dense layer of pubes to follow what he was saying. It’s possible that the spell that renders a horn magical requires the instrument to be shellacked with groin hair.

When I can finally bring my attention back to the narration, he’s explaining that the horn could never be lost or stolen. This saves the animators the trouble of doing any work to establish this arbitrary quality to the magical item.

Peter gives a concert to a three men sitting in a table drawn in perspective in a room not drawn in perspective. The hollow, soul killing noise emitted from the trumpet clears the room out, and he quickly discovers this effect works consistently in any environment.

At which point I begin imagining all the quality things I could do with a horn that immediately clears out any room. I determine I would use this in most rooms I enter.

A notice from the King for a sheep herder intrigues young Peter, and he goes to the king, who says he’s had issues with other shepherds losing his valuable sheep. To me, this seems like the king is micromanaging his empire a little.

Sheep, or perhaps a clever ruse. Or perhaps just sheep.

Sheep, or perhaps a clever ruse. Or perhaps just sheep.

Peter scores the job and is soon staring at ugly sheep. It’s sad when you look at something animated and you can tell the artist just did a few cloud swirls to make the sheep body. For some reason, when the sheep begin to stray, he decides to play the horn.

Now, if I had a device, it’s only power was to make things go away, and my job was to keep a group of sheep together the last thing I’d ever want to do would be to use that device. Peter shows his lack of impulse control by blasting the horn almost as a reflex. The worst part? He has the balls to get angry at the results.

Such misplaced passion.

Such misplaced passion.

In his rage, he somehow plays the other end. Having been forced to play the trumpet in middle school, I can confidently state that you’d get more sound blowing into an empty soda can. But for Peter, it brings back the sheep. The horn has two settings, come hither, and fuck off.

Background brought to you by construction paper.

Background brought to you by construction paper.

The responses to his ribald sucking and blowing vary among the royal family. While the princess appears enamored and aroused by his sheep managing, the queen is disturbed and the king is outright concerned. He decides he needs to take the horn away from Peter at all costs.

The king steals the horn from Peter himself. Again, I would have thought he could outsource thievery to someone else in the castle instead of taking the hands-on approach. Fortunately, as the narrator advised us early on, the damn thing can not be stolen.

Peter arrives before the king, who demands a demonstration. This, of course, makes them fuck right off. Mr. Piper gives a chortle at this hilarious turn of events, because he’s a human being after all, he has feelings, he’s not just some cold automaton built to entertain children. He deserves respect even if he does wear a fanciful flower in his hat as part of his job! When the sucking action returns the family, the king asks what it costs, and Peter explains the transaction made with the old woman.

The king offers the following: Fifty horses, 20 casks of treasure, and a position as his Prime Minister. Instead of all these fancy treasures, Peter asks for the daughter’s hand in marriage. As expected, the queen freaks out, but fortunately a plot development interrupts.

For the first time a servant appears and warns them of an army advancing on the castle. Since their kingdom is only inhabited by 4 people, this would be devastating. In exchange for what people used to call, “The Whole Shebang,” Peter agrees to blow them all.

He's actually about to terrifying a class on a field trip.

He's actually about to terrifying a class on a field trip.

When the servant suggested the approach of an army, I imagined a vast expanse of infantry and archers, so when I saw Peter blowing his horn at what looks like a baker’s dozen, I was initially disappointed. But if you consider that the kingdom consists of a queen, a king, a princess, a servant, and the newly immigrated Peter, sending that many people is a show of overpowering force.

Peter blows the horn, the army retreats, and he is shown holding the princess while the narrators tells what the animators refuse to show.

You only wish you could look this pleased with yourself.

You only wish you could look this pleased with yourself.

Mr. Piper says, “Say, I wonder where that magic horn is now?” All the while giving the self-satisfied smile above that makes me respond with, “I don’t want to know if you have it, and I don’t want to know where you put it.”

UNPC Moment:

Nope. And when it’s the cartoon following “Plane Dumb,” that’s a relief.

Rating: Nearly Unwatchable

That’s because it’s boring. Usually the so-bad-it’s-good phenomenon comes from people who try to make something good but fail. The Mr. Piper cartoons have the feel of something crapped out by an underpaid staff to fill a quota, and since they lacked the imagination to even trying anything creative, there’s nothing there to even provoke snarking.

I’ll probably wait a good 20 – 30 cartoons before I muscle my way through another one of these.


One comment

  1. There is a tiny Karpuk grimacing at me now!

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