He was once a little green slab of clay
You should see what Gumby can do to-day
He can walk into any book
with his pony pal, Pokey, too
if you've got a heart
then Gumby's a part of you
As you can see, I'm running out of ways to introduce these things, so I decided to kick off with the theme song. I hope it was sufficient to prepare you for more fun with Gumby and Pokey! 'Cause I'm really tapped out here. Anyway, rather than lament my lack of things to say about a green clay child and his wisecracking orange pony pal, we'd better get on with Part 3 of Scary-Crayon's Christmas with Gumby review, eh? Enjoy!
"Pigeon in a Plum Tree"
Because reading is fundamental, "Pigeon in a Plum Tree" kicks off with Gumby reading to Pokey from a book. A giant book. I guess it's the large print version! Ho ho. But seriously, reading from such a book would be quite the workout. Note that Gumby's kneeling in the center of the page -- not only would reading a giant book in that manner require one to pivot and/or move about in order to follow the text, but in order to turn the pages one would have to move off of the book and struggle with a sheet of paper larger than oneself. Now we know how Gumby stays so thin, and now we know how someone reading this will make a fortune when he/she patents the idea of giant books. Brilliant! The exercise is getting to Gumby, though, as he's starting to get a little frustrated with reading this giant book. But maybe that's just because Pokey isn't listening to him. :/
Can you really blame Pokey, though? I mean, these guys can walk into any book and simply watch and/or participate in the action of the story -- and if one could do that, why bother with reading? Hell, even with the knowledge that book-to-film movies often leave out parts of the story and rarely retain the overall quality of the books themselves, most people would choose to watch the film version of a book over actually reading the original text. But this is like watching an all-inclusive and interactive film version of the book -- and these guys can experience that with every single book they find! If I suddenly acquired that skill, I'm betting the only thing I read from that point on would be titles, and only so that I knew where I was going. Apparently, the book into which Pokey has just walked is titled, like the short itself, Pigeon in a Plum Tree.
Also, note that while those entering the book seem to move on a fixed axis, the directions of the action within the book change depending upon the book's position in the outside world. That is, when the book is laying flat on the table, the action in the book is sideways -- such that, for Pokey, one of the walls is the floor -- but is "corrected" when Gumby turns the book upright. It's both interesting and oddly educational at the same time!
Okay, so while I've been recording the physical laws of the Gumbyverse and considering the appeal of walking into books as opposed to reading them, I've completely neglected to summarize the story thus far. Here goes: The prince of whatever kingdom this is wants to ask his girlfriend to marry him this Christmas, but he's too poor to buy a suitable gift to give his lady love when he pops the question. Far above, in the sideways shot, we see the prince lamenting this fact to his father as his father, the king, sits upon his fucking throne with the red carpet rolled out in front of him. Now, if I were the king, I'd respond by saying, "Son, what the fuck are you talking about? You're the bloody prince! My wealth is your wealth, for you will inherit the kingdom when I die. Take this bag of gold and buy our future queen something befitting a woman of her stature!"
But maybe this kingdom is poor as all hell or the king is a greedy bastard or something, because he simply tells Prince Harold to go into town and buy a "very inexpensive" partridge in a pear tree for his love. That's what Harold's doing above, you see. But apparently they're sold out of partridges in pear trees, so, after blatantly discussing how stupid the prince is, the geezers who run the shop decide to sell poor Harold a pigeon in a plum tree! After all, they reason, he won't know the difference. And now the sorry state of the prince begins to make sense -- when your subjects are so disrespectful that they'll go out of their way to cheat you and in no way fear being decapitated for their trickery, there's a definitely problem. This kingdom sucks. :/
Further highlighting the lack of respect that this kingdom's subjects have for their rulers, the townspeople actually laugh at Prince Harold as he rides through the town with the pigeon in a plum tree. Personally, given that partridges in pear trees were selling like hotcakes, I think that the pigeon in a plum tree is a more unique and worthy gift, but apparently these are people that truly value convention -- that is, unless we're talking about the convention of respecting one's ruling class. They throw that one out the window, along with insults for the poor stupid prince and declarations that his girlfriend will dump him the second she sees that hideous thing. Somehow oblivious to their jeers and derisive laughter, Prince Harold stays the course.
Alas, staying the course entails Harold somehow ending up along a mountain path, where he encounters an elf being attacked by a hungry wolf. Meanwhile, Gumby and Pokey have been lamenting the poor prince's plight and debating the actions they should take to help. Pokey wants to intervene and, at the very least, tell Harold that what he's carrying is not a partridge in a pear tree; Gumby wants to leave things well enough alone and let the story proceed according to
God's the author's plan. In fact, Gumby goes so far as to scold Pokey for wanting to help poor Prince Harold, for if he helps out, they'll never get to know how the story really ends!
By the way, this answers a concern that I voiced in Part 1 -- given Gumby's worry that they'll never know how the story originally ended if Pokey interferes, it is not only apparent that their actions in the story actually do entail a physical change in the text of this particular book, but in all existing copies of the book. Otherwise, the two could simply find another copy of the book in order to read the true ending of the story -- and while procuring another copy of a book more than twice their size would be difficult, it would not be an impossible task. Gumby's emphasis on the word never, though, makes it clear that the change would affect all existing copies of Pigeon in a Plum Tree, and even the past itself, for their interference would necessitate that the author of the work (or someone who got ahold of the manuscript before it went to press) have included passages starring a talking orange pony and a green dude made of clay. However, it bears noting that even their presence in the book must have wrought certain changes, for now the work must include several paragraphs about a pony and a green dude shadowing the Prince while arguing amongst themselves about whether they should directly contact him. And now we see the real reason that Gumby was reading the book as opposed to entering it -- he wished to preserve the integrity of the book and avoid changing the past.
Anyway, when Harold sees the wolf attacking the elf, he picks up a stick and attempts to battle the fierce grey beast. Despite Gumby's urgings, Pokey attempts to intervene by holding the wolf by its tail, but as soon as the wolf turns on him he bugs the fuck out and retreats back into hiding. Luckily, his aid is unnecessary, for Harold easily tosses the wolf off of a cliff and saves the elf from becoming Christmas dinner for the grey howler.
With the wolf having been dispatched, the elf hops down from the tree in which he was previously cowering and, while thanking Prince Harold for coming to his rescue, insolently brags that he could've taken care of that wolf himself if he hadn't dropped his magic bag of pixie dust. However, despite having belittled Harold's good deed, the elf offers to do something for the prince in return -- and here we see just how stupid our dear prince is. If I happened to help someone who happened to possess a bag of magic pixie dust and was offered a favor, I'd ask, if not for some of the pixie dust itself, for a favor that at least required the use of said pixie dust. That is, a magical favor. Harold just asks the elf to sit next to him and keep him company, which I can't understand from any angle. Not only is the elf's voice fucking annoying, but it's not like a third party is necessary or even desirable when one is going to visit one's significant other. Well, I guess an elf would be good to have around if one really wanted to have a threesome with his girlfriend and a midget, but other than that I've got nothin'. The elf seems dumbstruck by this simple request, but wiggles its ears and, proclaiming that it loves rides -- but what kind of rides, you kinky thing you? -- climbs aboard the carriage. And they're off.
Seconds later, they arrive at the residence of Harold's girlfriend, who lives in the same town he just left to venture into the mountains for no apparent reason -- but maybe, given the pitiful state of this kingdom, we shouldn't rule out the possibility of a mountain range sitting right in the center of the town. But we're dwelling too long on things that were never intended to make sense, so let's continue. While Harold goes inside to get his girlfriend, Pokey finally breaks away from Gumby and tells the elf the problem with the prince's gift. "Oh dear!" exclaims the elf. "That's terrible!" No, what's terrible is headstrong little ponies who don't listen to reason and fuck up great works of literature with their meddlesome antics. I mean, maybe Pigeon in a Plum Tree was no classic, but what if The Picture of Dorian Gray or Frankenstein had featured passages about an orange clay pony and an oddly shaped green child? Horrors!
But given that Pokey shows no discrimination with his actions, how are we to assume that he would exercise restraint upon encountering these classic works? And who knows -- maybe Pigeon in a Plum Tree was supposed to be a tragedy. Maybe Harold's girlfriend was supposed to dump him in cruel fashion, causing Harold to commit suicide by diving headlong off one of the cliffs conveniently set in the center of the town. Maybe Pigeon in a Plum Tree was supposed to be a survival horror novel -- and, in grief and rage, the elf was supposed to use his pixie dust to transform every single one of these nasty, disrespectful townsfolk into zombies that would shamble about the barren streets of the kingdom until a group of trained professionals in search of a pigeon in a plum tree were forced to venture into the town and, in the course of completing their quest, rid the kingdom of the zombie menace. Maybe Pigeon in a Plum Tree was supposed to be good.
But we'll never fucking know now, will we? After proposing to his girlfriend and babbling about how he wanted to get her something special -- which is totally a lie, because even if he had ended up with a partridge in a pear tree, the fact still remains that he was not only looking for something cheap, but that he didn't put any thought into the gift whatsoever! After all, he was only buying what his father told him to get -- Harold throws open the stained-glass door -- stained-glass door? How can this supposedly poor bastard afford to court a woman with a stained-glass door?? -- and reveals his gift. Yes, it's still a pigeon in a plum tree, but, through the power of his magic pixie dust, the elf has turned it into solid gold. Of course, the woman goes apeshit over the sparkling gift -- noting, among other things, its originality, for which Harold is totally not responsible -- and swears multiple times that she'll be his bride. Well, whoop-dee-doo.
So Prince Harold gets the girl after all, despite being a total idiot and constantly taking credit for the good ideas of others -- from his father, who suggested the gift, to the crafty old couple, who gave him something different, to the elf, who turned it into gold. I guess the moral here is something along the lines of, "Be a blithering idiot and everything will somehow work out in your favor," eh? And I don't know what we're supposed to learn from Pokey, who just ruined a potentially great work of literature involving suicide and zombies, but I'm sure it's nothing positive. Upon Pokey's return from his discussion with the elf, Gumby chides the horse for interfering with the story. Pokey's reply? "I just couldn't let all that pixie dust go to waste." Yeah, whatever. What about wasting the lives of the pigeon and the plum tree, which were obviously snuffed out when they were transformed into inanimate objects? Their deaths are on your head, Pokey. Lament. Thus endeth Pigeon in a Plum Tree -- or at least, that's the ending it has now. 'Cause we'll never know how it really ended. >:(
Well, that's all for the third part of Scary-Crayon's Christmas with Gumby review! Hope you enjoyed it. Next time, we conclude our foray into the Gumbyverse with the review of "Gumbasia", the fourth and final short on the DVD. See you then! And happy holidays, one and all. :)
-- Wes --
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