The toons continued to be up to their old tricks as the ‘60’s rolled on. While some strove to build up, others would be satisfied with just getting the pounds off, muscle tone or no. The media continue to play a role in encouraging these activities for the animated world, corresponding with a resurgence in real life of fandom for the daily exercise show, not merely an audio event on the radio, but a living, breathing, bending, stretching, witnessable personal experience through the addition of live (or at least seemingly live) video feed to demonstrate each exercise (and possibly let the audience – especially the women – watch the usually male host break a sweat. Jack La Lanne would become the latest fitness guru, daily performing his regimen of physical feats and recommended diets of heathy eating. Many animated stars thus join this kick – while others merely struggle just to adhere to routine diets.
Backtracking slightly, we revisit Chicken Feed (Art Clokey, Gumby, 1/22/60), previously featured in my “Happy Henfruit” series. It is something of Clokey’s answer to Tex Avery’s King Size Canary, with new horizons explored in how to increase poultry size on a monumental scale. Instead of Jumbo Gro plant food as in Avery’s epic, Pokey, on an errand to the feed store for Gumby’s chickens, finds the feed shop out of the usual grains, so takes back to Gumby on the seller’s recommendation a box of “Super-Gro” irradiated chicken feed, guaranteed to make chickens grow faster and produce more eggs. Gumby sets out the feed for his pet hen Tillie, and the normally food-fickle bird takes an instant liking to it, gobbling it down. Gumby is called away to dinner, and leaves Pokey in charge of watching Tillie. Pokey is so impressed at Tillie’s new-found appetite, he wonders how the stuff tastes hiself, and snitches a mouthful on his own. “Not bad”, he concludes – until his eyes pop out, as Tillie shoots upwards in height, with her head extending through the roof.
Meanwhile, Gumby’s Papa has driven up the driveway with a new car as a surprise for Mama. He and Gumby wait to spring the surprise after dinner. At the dinner table, the whole house shakes with a violent rumble. An earthquake? Gumby and Pop peer outside, and are shocked to find a huge egg, plopped squarely upon the driver’s seat of the new convertable, almost squashing the car flat. Papa thinks the sphere may be some new kind of sattelite fallen from the sky, until Gumby points out to him that he should look upwards. Two large yellow stalks behind him that at first appear to be tree trunks turn out to be the legs of Tillie, who towers above him, and another egg barely misses Papa. “Call the fire department. Call an animal doctor!” yells Papa. Not instantly recognizing the monster, Gumby wonders if Tillie is all right in the barn, and speeds to its door. There he spots the Super Gro box on the ground, and the hole in the roof, and puts two and two together. He races outside and calls to Tillie, who still recognizes him. Tillie lowers her head, and Gumby climbs up astride Tillie’s neck. The fire department arrives, and Mom calls to them to save her son. Four firemen position a net under Tillie to attempt a rescue. The vet also arrives. “Where is the paient?”, he asks. “Right over there, doctor”, points Papa. The vet is shocked not only to see the bird, but watch as the fire department members fall to the ground under the weight of another giant egg that has just landed in their net. “Oy yoy. I’m a doctor for animals, not monsters.”, says the vet, but finally remembers some pills that might do the trick. Using the fire department ladder, he scales its rungs up to Tillie’s beak, and at Gumby’s coaxing, Tillie swallows the pills. Then, she almost swallows the doctor – who has to get rescued by landing in the fire department net. But the polls do their work, and Tillie shrinks back to normal size again. All is well – but where has Pokey been through all of theis? A call from behind the house, and a pair of huge orange forelegs tell the tale, as the camera pans up. Pokey’s mouthful of feed was enough to produce the same results in hum, leaving Gumby laughing for the fade out.
Fred Flintstone – Before and After (Hanna-Barbera, The Flintstones. 12/7/61) – Fred’s a TV star, and he wants the whole town to know it. He invites everyone he knows (and probably some he doesn’t) over to the house for the big prime-time broadcast. But what his friends see is not what they expected. Instead of being in the actual show, Fred is in a commercial for the Fat-Off reducing program, depicting examples of subjects “Before” and “After” becoming slim and trim. Fred is certain he was chosen to stand in the place of the healthy “After”, but of course is in fact standing in the place of the flabby “Before”. All of his friends politely slip out of the room in the darkness, in embarrassment for him. Wilma is outraged, and marches with Fred down to the studio to insist that the insulting commercial be yanked from the airwaves. The producer reluctantly consents, but points out that Fred was a successful influence on the audience, resulting in many sign-ups for the program, because no one wanted to look like him! Wilma retorts back that Fred is going on an immediate diet, and planning to lose 25 pounds. A brainstorm hits the producer – make the diet a public event, with a cash prize of $1,000 clams if Fred succeeds in his goal in one month, to demonstrate how anyone can look and feel better if he reduces. That kind of money brings a sparkle to Fred’s eyes, and even Wilma approves. Barney later refers to it as “a battle between the snackeroos and the smackeroos.”
A televised weigh-in of “Fat Freddie” shows Fred at 225 pounds. Fred tells Barney he’s sure to win the prize, because he has will power. But his actions the next morning at work speak louder than his words. Fred grumbles as he opens his linch box to find a stick of celery. One of his co-workers, seated next to him, has built a submarine sandwich, complete with olive periscope on a toothpick. As he chews along its edge, the end of the sandwich extends under Fred’s nose. With one chomp from Freds jaws, the sandwich disappears. Fred offers little apology, stating, “Sighted sub, sank same.” A week passes, and all Fred’s lost so far is his temper. Barney inquires of Wilma whether Fred’s been raiding the ice box. Wilma says if he had, she’d know it, and the sound of an explosion demonstrates why. She has installed a smoke-bomb booby trip on the refrigerator, leaving Fred’s face blackened. That night, as Wilma sleeps, Fred gets the urge again, but, remembering the trap, decides a better idea is to raid Barney’s ice box next door. He climbs in a window, opens the door – and the same explosion happens. The Rubbles have installed the same device at Wilma’s urging.
Barney realizes that if Fred is to reach his goal, he may need professional help. He recommends Fred to the local chapter of Food Anonymous, an AA style society to help members kik the overeating habit. Their president promises the assistance of the membership to keep Fred from falling prey to temptation, and instructs Fred on the membership signal to recognize fellow members – similar to the Little rascals “high sign”, accompanied by the cry, “Goink Goink Goink”. With the watchful eye of FA upon him, Fred starts to behave – to a point. Wilma believes he’s losing some weight, but can’t tell how much because all Fred will do is growl. The wax fruit from the living room bowl turns up missing, but Wilma isn’t upset, as wax has no calories. Dino has to defensively guard his bowl, as Fred even tries to get at Dino’s bones, resulting in a painful dino-bite on the arm. Though Wilma has approached all the food vendors in town not to sell to Fred, Fred comes begging on his knees to a brontosaurus burger stand, for just one little burger, in the same manner as Yogi Bear. The proprietor likewise can’t stand to see Fred suffer, and piles on the toppings high at Fred’s instruction. But just as Fred reaches for the burger, a hand grabs it away. It is the FA president, giving him a hearty “Goink Goink Goink”. Fred vows its going to be a battle of wits against the restauranteurs and the FA spies, and runs off down the streets with a crazed look of determination on his face. “Poor Fred. He’s cracking”, observes the burger vendor.
Fred finds a costume shop, acquiring an old hat and beard that the shopkeeper guarantees his own mother wouldn’t recognize him in. No sooner is Fred out of the shop, than Barney passes him, and instantly reflexive greets him with “Hiya, Fred.” So much for the guarantee, and Fred returns to the shop to pull the old hat down over the proprietor’s eyes. Fred breaks into a diner to steal a large pie. The FA president is one step ahead of him, sticking out his foot in Fred’s path to trip him and splatter the pie on his head. Fred nabs a pterodactyl drumstick from sources unknown, but can’t eat it, as a plunger is shot from a bow and arrow by the FA head to steal it away (a gag lifted from Tweety Pie’s “Birds Anonymous”). And a large fish is in turn “hooked” from a fishing line above, lowered by the FA president from a high cliff ledge.
The big night arrives. Fred hasn’t talked for two weeks, and only communicates in savage growls. The weigh-in occurs live – 200 pounds on the nose. Fred is handed his sack of cash, but won’t even say anything to the television audience, beating a hasty exit to make an important phone call. He dials up FA and informs them he is a weakling’s weakling, and resigning. He then tells Wilma and the Rubbles that tonight, he is going to tie one on – feedbag, that is. At home, Fred, Wilma and the Rubbles prepare to partake of a giant stiffed roast pterodactyl. Before Fred can even carve, and arrow enters the window, spears the bird, and yanks it outside. “Goink Goink Goink” comes the cry. Fred pursues the FA president down the street, demanding that he call the office to confirm he resigned. Barney concludes. “Well, looks like Fred is still on a diet, whether he likes it or not.”
You may watch this episode online and free at B98.tv
Slim Trim Magoo (UPA, The Mister Magoo Show, John Walker, dir., circa 1960-62) While crossing a busy street, Magoo is oblivious to rows of traffic passing ahead of and brhind him, which spin him around like a top. He attributes his wooziness to a dizzy spell, and decides he’d better get a check-up. In his usual nearsightedness, he mistakes the sign of a “T.V. Clinic (test your tubes while U wait)” for a doctor’s office. He tells the TV technician that “everything sort of spins”, which the technician, presuming Magoo is talking about a set, diagnoses as a routine problem with the horizontal posterious condenser. He asks Magoo to wait while he performs an OHMs check in the back room. While Magoo is waiting, a TV exercise program is being broadcast on one of the sets in the shop. The star begins, “Now before I put you through your paces today, let me tell you about my Vita-Trim.” Mistaking the image for a doctor, Magoo reacts to this approach with disgust. “Oh, no. How commercial can you get?” The show host instructs Magoo to take off his shirt, and begin touching his toes. As the instructor begins his chants of “one, two, one, two”, the signal is interrupted, and a sign flashes on the screen that the station is experiencing technical difficulties. Magoo wonders where the doctor disappeared, and wanders out in the back alley looking for him. He looks into another door (the service entrance to a French restaurant), and thinks he has entered a maternity ward. When he criticizes a hefty female baker on handling the children too rough (she is actually pounding on dough), the baker lifts a rolling pin and assumes he’s another “bum hanging around.” The chef also gets into the act when Magoo backs into a stack of wune glasses. Much of the film is taken up by an “in and out the doors” chase of Magoo, baker and chef through the alley. When Magoo finally eludes his pursuers and reenters the TV shop, the exercise program is back on the air. “Well, let’s put our shirts on. I think we’ve had enough for today.” Magoo, thinking his experience was all part of the workout, admits he’s exhausted. The show host tells him “Now, don’t let any quacks get your money. See me every day at this time. I want you to stay in that top physical condition.” Magoo hears this phrase as a final diagnosis, and is envigorated as if in the peak of health. The TV technician emerges from the back room, and assuming Magoo has a set somewhere, tells him to “Put it up here on the operating table, and we’ll look inside.” “Not on your life. I’m in top shape. Dr. What’s-his-name said so.” replies Magoo. “No check?”, asks the technician. “Not one red cent! Nobody can bamboozle old muscle-tone Magoo!”
Muscles Magoo (UPA, The Mister Magoo Show, circa 1960-62, Clyde Geronimi, dir.) – “Body Buddy” Marvin Muscles advertises on TV a free trial body buildup course at a gym near you. Magoo scoffs at the need for such courses, remembering how he was “Iron Man Magoo” at Rutgers – of course, that was back in 1917. Looking at a Picasso painting on the wall as if he were staring into a mirror, Magoo has second thoughts. “Perhaps I am getting a little frayed around the edges. All right, Mr. Marvin Muscles. I’ll just take you up on your offer.”
Searching outside for the nearest gym location, Magoo stumbles upon the Marvel Carnival – and thinks this must be the place. “Quite a layout. A bit gaudy, perhaps.” A barker inside invites all comers to take on wrestler “The Masked Marvel” (a continuity error repeatedly has the barker refer to him as “The Masked Monster”, though the sign says otherwise), for a prize of $50.00 if they can stay in the ring with him for one minute. Enter Magoo, oblivious to the barker’s speech. “I’m taking you up on your offer. Came for a good workout. What’s first on the program?” “You are”, says the barker, as the hands of the Marvel grab Magoo into the ring, The Marvel squeezes and compresses Magoo like and accordion, then pounds and stomps on his back. ‘I guess I get a brisk rubdown first. I can feel the pounds dropping off”, says the naive Magoo. The Marvel puts Magoo in a spin, and hurls him out of the ring, as Magoo calls out, “Enough, enough!” Magoo finds himself encased in metal. “Aha, a steam cabinet. This is more like it.” But the “cabinet” is the mouth of a cannon, for a human cannonball act. “Hotter’n a pistol in here. Don’t want to overdo it the first day”, sweats Magoo. “Oh, attendant. Let me out.” Someone obliges – by firing the cannon. Magoo sails across the carnival grounds, crashing into and landing on the tall platform of a high-dive act. Looking down, Magoo decides, “Oh, a quick dip in the pool is just what I need.” He takes the leap, and finds his mark in the small receptacle of water. “Confound it. This is nothing but a wading pool. How is one supposed to tone his muscles from wading? The manager will hear about this.” In search of the manager, Magoo winds up in the ring again with the Masked Marvel, who gives him another dose of the same treatment. “You health faddists are all alike. Always wanting to show off your physical strength!”, yells Magoo while being pummeled. The barker has to say one thing for Magoo – that he’s in amazing physical shape. But Magoo, tossed back into the diving pool again, yells back, “You can cancel my membership right now, muscle brain!” On his way out, Magoo passes some fun house mirrors – and sees himself reflected with brawny arms and a huge chest expansion. “Perhaps I have been too hasty. Why Magoo, a regular Adonis, by George!” He struts past a sideshow fat lady. “You stick with it, honey. In your case, it may take a little longer – but it’s worth it!”
Gym Jam (UPA, The Dick Tracy Show, circa 1961-62) is a bit unusual for the series, deviating somewhat from the show’s standard format. A typical Dick Tracy episode followed a regimen of standard plot points. (1) “Okay chief, I’ll get on it right away” says Dick from behind his desk, in a stock shot used in every episode (believed to have been intended as a lead-in for live kiddie-show hosts to play “Chief” to give Tracy his daily assignments). (2) Call in “back-up” to do all the actual leg-work (Joe Jitsu, Go-Go Gomez, Heap O’Calorie, or canine Hemlock Holmes and the Retouchables). (3) Pick a standard “pair-up” of two villains from the Tracy Rogue’s gallery to pull a caper. (4) Interrupt the action at the call of “Hold everything” for the back-up officer to call in a report to Tracy. (5) Have Tracy show up at the crime scene, always to find the situation well-in-hand of his assistant, so that Tracy never has to use his gun to make the arrest. Variances from this set-up were exceptionally rare. However, this episode is one of those that takes some slight liberties. Steps 1 ans 2 remain, with Joe Jitsu (sterotypical Oriental sleuth, voiced by less-than-Oriental Benny Rubin) called in on the case. Joe is at a gymnasium, keeping his diminuitive body in top physical shape by lifting barbells.
But for once, the crime has not been committed by a pair of Tracy villains, but as a solo job by Flat Top. He has stolen a single gold bar from Fort Knox. The reason? That’s all his puny person can lug away in a small wagon, given the weight of gold. Flat Top bemoans that assistants are so hard to come by for criminals these days, as they want retirement benefits, sick leave, coffee breaks, and overtime for working nights. Varying again from the plot norm, Jitsu does not have to immediately proceed to the scene of a crime – instead the crime comes to him. Flat Top passes the same gymnasium in which Joe is taking his workout, and decides some building up is in order so that he can lift more than one gold brick at a time next time. Joe spots him passing the locker room, and wonders what he is up to. Flat Top tries to start out on Joe’s barbells, imagining himself lifting his first million dollars, but can’t even budge the weight, grunting, “This isn’t going to be easy.” Joe laughs from his hiding place behind the locker room door, and confides to the audience that Flat Top needs professional help. Turning to his Dick Tracy disguise kit, Joe applies to his lip a fake handlebar moustache, and approaches Flat Top in the guise of a gym instructor. Flat Top is now trying out a large punching bag, his best punches amounting to only love taps upon it. Joe offers to demonstrate proper use of exercise equpment. “Beat it, squirt”, saus Flat Top. “First lesson: Always be polite to instructor”, says Joe, taking his own tap at the bag from the opposite side. The blow knocks Flat Top halfway across the room. “Wow, this guy’s terrific!”, observes Flat Top from the floor. “Teach me to be strong like you”, he continues, “and I’ll make you rich.” Joe has found his patsy.
Joe puts Flat Top on an exercise bicycle. In similar fashion to Popeye’s cartoon of the identical title previously reviewed in these articles, Joe eyes a retainer pin placed trough the axle of the bike’s rear wheel. “Wonder what happen if Joe pull this pin?” He dood it. Similar to the Popeye script, Flat Top collides with the opposite wall, making a silhouette hole right through it, bictcle and all. “Ah. so. Thought maybe that would happen, ya”, chuckles Joe in a well played line read. Next, he has Flat Top in a rowing machine, actually shaped like a rowboat. Flat Top is beginning to wonder if there is something fishy about this instructor, and determines that no one is going to send him through a brick wall again. He thus decides to ensure that this machine will be going noplace, and pulls out a hammer and nail to fasten the machine securely to the floor. One tap of the hammer, however, tells Flat Top he’s made a miscalculation – as a stream of water leaks from the nail hole in the bottom of the boat. “What have I done?”, says Flat Top, as the boat submerges into a puddle of water that miraculously appears from the floor, with Joe tossing the villain a life-preserver to keep his head above water.
Joe finally instructs Flat Top to climb upwards, hand over hand, on a rope fastened to the ceiling. Panting and puffing, Flat Top calls from above, “Is this high enough?” “Oh, yeah, that high enough. Thank you very much, prease”, says Joe, puling out a cigarette lighter. He lights the end of the rope, which burns up like a fuse, leaving Flat Top clutching to nothing. “Oh, no”, moans the villain, and falls into a nose dive. Now Joe realizes he has made a miscalculation, as he is standing right under the falling bad guy. After the routine progress report to Tracy, Joe is flattened by the top of Flat Top’s head (which grows even flatter after impact). Flat Top shakes his head to get his bearings, and finds himself wearing Joe’s fake moustache. The unconscious Joe is recognized, and Flat Top locks him in a steam room, setting the thermostat dial outside the door to the setting “par boil”. But as Flat Top snickers, he hears strange sounds from inside the locked room – which appear to be the sounds of a croupier, spinning a roulette wheel. Flat Top becomes convinced there is a hidden game going on inside the steam room, and un-barricades the door to wheel in his gold bar, hoping to get in on the action. No sooner is he inside, than Joe slips out, himself bolting the door, and giving the thermostat dial an additional twist to the setting “Hottern Blazes”. A few intense moments later, Joe is making his final call back to Tracy. Unlike the typical ending, Dick will not even have to leave his desk to make the arrest. Joe will merely wheel the villain back to headquarters, as he opens the steam room door, revealing Flat Top, his gold bar having entirely melted all over him, so that he is now a gilded statue. Perhaps not a daytime Emmy, but he’ll do in a pinch.
Rosey the Robot (Hanna-Barbera, The Jetsons, 12/23/62), the inaugural episode of the series, features an interesting moment at its outset, allowing us to see where the morning exercise program has developed to in the space-age future. One might think that with all the modern conveniences making life’s toil easier, there would be a greater need than ever for home exercises (like Astro’s dog walk) to stay in shape. Not so, if the broadcast of “Jack Jetwash, your slipped-disc jockey” is any indicator. His “Modern Mothers’ Muscle-tone Program of the Air” caters to interest in keeping only one set of muscles fit and trim – the “push-button” finger, which appears to be the only muscle that gets any actual use in daily toil. A few points in and out set to rhythmic number chant, and Jane is already exhausted, her hand going limp on the call of “rest”, and Judy telling her to “Take five”. With this level of inactivity, we can only hope those “flying sausage pizzas” churned out by the foodaracacycle in a subsequent episode are genetically re-engineered to be low calorie, or the family of the future will soon look like the listless blimps that populated the world of Wall-E.
You may watch this episode online and free at B98.tv
The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit (MGM, Tom and Jerry, 8/10/62 – Gene Deitch, dir.) – a weird, quirky, delightful departure episode for the series, wildly impressionistic in its use of sparse to non-existent backgrounds and situations that suspend all belief of setting the characters in the real world as we know it. The film is set up as if an infomercial (before infomercials were thick on the ground), promoting the sale of a boxed do-it-yourself kit for producing your own animated cartoon. In various compartments of the box, we find basic ingredients for “quiet, sophisticated humor”: (1) one mean, stupid cat; (2) one sweet, lovable mouse; (3) assorted deadly weapons; (4) a slice of watermelon as a plot point to start the confrontation rolling; and (5) a cup of hot coffee and a pack of cigarettes, to keep the cartoonists happy. Follow the simple instructions, and the narrator guarantees, “the result may not make sense, but it will last long enough for you to be comfortably seated before the feature begins.”
In the course of a surreal battle over the watermelon, Jerry is blasted by a watermelon seed spit out like a cannon-shell from the muzzle of Tom’s mouth, back into the kit box, where, among the pile of deadly weapons, Jerry discovers an unexpected instructional book – “Judo for Mice.” Jerry disappears into the book’s pages, and when Tom catches up to the scene, Jerry emerges again, now dressed in traditional white outfit with black belt, as a trained judo master. Tom prepare to pounce, but Jerry just offers him a low bow. Tom is confused to say the least, and when Jerry extends his hand to him, Tom interprets it as an invitation to a dance, and returns his own extended paw. WHAM! Tom is flipped repeatedly against the floor. Tom leaps upon Jerry, but Jerry catches the cat on one hand in mid-air, then suddenly pulls his hand away, leaving Tom to fall painfully upon his own face. Tom’s brows knit – until they have woven a sweater. In a phase dissolve, Tom is suddenly wearing the sweater, and, just as Sylvester did with Hippity Hopper, goes into training. At Swillman’s Gym, Tom trains to box. He runs the regimen of punching both the small and full body punching bags, skipping rope, and road work, and returns to Jerry’s judo book, wearing gloves and fighter’s trunks. Jerry emerges again with another formal bow. Tom tries to dazzle Jerry with fancy footwork, one-two combinations, and even a spinning “haymaker” punch, but when one of his swings finally makes contact, it is only with the skilled hands of the rodent master, and another flip sends Tom sliding backwards over several layers of random color background areas. Tom is through fooling, and finds a sharp dagger among the lethal weapons from the kit. He takes a stab at Jerry, but the mouse deflects the blow by grabbing Tom’s wrist, then ties the poor cat’s limbs into a complex knot, leaving only one arm and hand extended from his torso, for Tom to make an exit by walking on two fingers.
Tom paces in circles once freed, wondering what to next. The building of a “Judo School” dissolves in from an empty background, and Tom decides to fight fire with fire. Upon entering the building, the whole structure rocks with the impact of the training going on inside, with the letters of the sign intermittently being knocked out of the frame and twisted at odd angles as if part of an “op art” painting. Tom finally emerges, now dressed in the same formal robe and black belt as Jerry, carrying his new diploma. As he presents himself at Jerry’s judo book, the mouse is obviously taken aback. The two exchange ceremonial bows, to the sound effects of big and little gongs. Apparently confusing the arts of judo and karate, Jerry decides to put this to a contest to see who is the stronger and more skilled. Jerry sets up a two by four across the edges of two bricks, and slices it in two with a chop. Tom turns the bricks on edge to raise the platform higher, then places a third brick across them, and chops that in two. Jerry tops the brick target by breaking in half a large concrete block. Tom thinks hard about an ultimate topper, and finally has brought in by crane a humongous block of solid marble, which is placed atop the two bricks. Tom scrambles to a position atop the block of marble, and prepares to deliver his blow. Jerry, however, notices that the two bricks are beginning to crumble under the pressure. Before Tom can swing, the bricks collapse, and the falling block smashes a huge hole in the background, into which Tom and the blocks fall into cavernous depths with an echoing scream and loud crash. Jerry exits the scene, and returns with the box lid of the kit. A bedraggled Tom barely craws out of the hole, collapses exhausted in his original compartment of the kit, and Jerry covers him in the slightly battered box lid, giving a final low bow to the audience, as the narrator closes with “Our next film will be for the kiddies, and will demonstrate a new – poison gas.”
Physical Fatness (Terrytoons/CBS, Deputy Dawg, (1/5/63) – Deputy is as usual at his post in the jail house – sound asleep. The sheriff slips in, carrying a large weight scale of the size of the coin operated variety. “Deputy Dawg!” he hollers. Deputy splutters out of his snoring rhythm, and pops to attention. “On the scale”, the sheriff commands. With visible hesitancy at what might happen, Deputy mounts the platform. The scale wheels spin around and around, then the whole system of springs and gears pops out the back of the machine. “Just like I thought”, snaps the Sheriff. “Yoi’re turning into a big ball of blubber, there, boy.” The sheriff’s ultimatum – lose 10 pounds, or be fired. Eavesdropping at the door are the two most dependable pests in Deputy’s jurisdiction – Muskie Muskrat and Vincent Van Gopher. Vincent realizes this should make Deputy so busy reducing, he won’t have time to keep an eye on their shenanigans. A raid of the henhouse eggs is thus in order. Until Deputy pops up under the ramp leading to the henhouse door, raising it so that the would-be theives slam headfirst into it. “I may be a fat lawman, but I’m a smart one – and I got brains, too”, says Deputy. But Muskie insists Deputy has misjudged them, as they only came there to get something to help him reduce. “We did?” says Vincent in wonderful underplay, as surprised at Muskie’s claim as the Deputy. Muskie points out the henhouse ramp will make a perfect exercise board. “Maybe he’s got something there”, reacts Deputy. The two place Deputy atop the board on his back, and the board over a barrel as a fulcrum. They begin rocking Deputy to and fro, claiming the motion will roll the pounds off. Meanwhile Muskie slips away, leaving Vincent to do all the tipping, while the muskrat makes off with an armful of eggs. As soon as Muskie is in the clear, Vincent disappears too, leaving Deputy to balance to a stop, and find a trail of cracked egg shells leading from the henhouse door. Deputy follows the trail to Muskie’s house, where Muskie’s haul has been safely stashed. Before Deputy can level charges at them, Muskie pulls a fake-out again, claiming they came to the house to retrieve a jump rope for the next exercise. Deputy begins the jumping, heavily bounding up and down, to the encouragement of the muskrat. Deputy has to exert so much effort to make the jumps, he begins to close his eyes during the leaps – and doesn’t notice that he’s jumped out of the rope’s path, and is heading for a cliff. Over the edge he goes, while the two mischief makers take the opportunity to raid the watermelon patch. Deputy, however, returns to catch them red (and green) handed, leaving the patch with melons under their arm. Deputy’s belief in Muskie’s stories is beginning to wane, but Muskie once again tells him that these are to help him lose weight – warermelon juggling is the best reducing exercise. One by one, he tosses the melons at Deputy, who gullibly performs like a circus star – until the muskrat and gopher pass him with more melons under their arms, headed for Muskie’s house. Deputy is left holding the proverbial bag, and when he attempts to abandon the watermelons to commence a pursuit, forgets the effects of gravity upon the spheres, which fall in sequence with a splat on his head, piling one atop another, and leaving the Deputy to spit out seeds from the lowest rind.
Deputy trails the “cotton pickin’ varmints” to their lair again, and marches them outside. “We been trtyin’ to help you reduce”, claims Muskie again. Not sure what to believe anymore, Deputy says “Then you can help me ar the jailhouse, where I can keep an eye on you.” As they enter Deputy’s office, he spots the scale again, and wonders how his weight loss is progressing. Deputy pushes the scale mechanism back inside its housing, then steps on the platform again. SPROING! Out again come the scale’s innards, and poor Deputy hasn’t lost a single ounce. Muskie comes up with one more idea, and darts outside the jailhouse door. Before Deputy can stop him, Muskie has rigged a bicycle with its rear axle suspended off the ground by a rope tied to a tree limb. We can see the same bike gag from Popeye’s “Gym Jam” is coming again, as Muskie cuts the rope with Deputy on board, just as he sheriff approaches. The freed bicycle mows the sheriff down flat. Deputy won’t listen to any more excuses, and takes off after Muskie and Vince. The chase leads them up tall hills and down deep dales, up again, down again – until each of the three is panting and puffing so hard, they can hardly move. One by one, they collapse upon the ground, in a heap atop each other, with Deputy as top dog on the dog pile, making a capture fair and square. With all of them still sweating from exhaustion, Deputy locks Muskie and Vince in jail, then himself falls into a seated position upon the platform of the scale. The sheriff enters, and instead of laying into the Deputy, is pleased – because the scales’s innards did not spring out again, and Deputy actually lost his ten pound target. In as encouraging a manner as possible, the sherriff tells Depity that now he looks like “a real healthy hippopotamus.” “Thanks for the compliment. Sheriff”. Deputy says with a salute as the sheriff departs. “You ought to thank us, Deputy Dawg”, complains Muskie, for their part in bringing him down to hippo size. Deputy does in fact thank the,, and opens the cell gate, letting them go Scott free. Muskie repays the kindness, informing Depity that they’re going to have a real feast over at his house tonight (of course upon all the items stolen), and invites Deputy to partake in the feed. The Deputy looks down carefully at his newly reduced tummy, then concludes (on what was becoming a catch-phrase for Dayton Allen in his live-action appearances on television), “Why not?” The three exit the jail laughing as good friends again – at least until the next act of petty larceny.
Fitness becomes a national craze, and cartoons carry it to its illogical extremes, next time.