Well, folks, we've come to the end of our journey -- the fourth and final part of Scary-Crayon's Christmas with Gumby review. We've watched and read with bated breath as Gumby and Pokey strolled into books and screwed with the goings on within with little concern for the ripple effect that their interference might have upon the whole of history, for to alter the flow of words that have already been written is to effectively defy the allotted path that time and action were destined to take. We've explored the physical laws of the Gumbyverse and wondered how it is that characters can telephone characters from different books (one reader, Burton, cleverly suggests some application of the Dewey Decimal System). We've wondered not only how it comes to pass that characters emerge from their own respective titles, but, according to the course of the story, exactly at what point in time they do so. Ah, there's that word again -- time. Though violated by role-playing fetishists and old men with masochistic tastes and even ponies who hate to see pixie dust wasted, time marches on, and now, finally, it has brought us to "Gumbasia", the last short on the Christmas with Gumby DVD. Let's begin.
Our last holiday short begins with a shot of Gumby's ancestral line -- which, like the episode, apparently bears the name of "Gumbasia" -- so those of you who've always been curious about Gumby's roots need look no further. You know, throughout this multi-part feature we've been taking Gumby to task for his various eccentricities, but having seen his ancestors I'm thinking maybe his quirks had more to do with his genes than anything else. Consider that, headgear aside, and with the exception of what could possibly be a ninja or even a member of the KKK, Mrs. Gumba is the only clothes-wearing member of the Gumbasia
Klan clan. She's also apparently the only female member of the family. I could speculate for ages about the implications of that, but I'll leave all theories regarding Gumby's gene pool for the reader to ponder at his/her leisure. Anyway, following the shot of the Gumbasia line, we pan to Gumby's home, where his parents are trying to wake him.
As you can see above, that task is easier said than done. When impaling Gumby with a thermometer that reports his status as "highly elastic" fails to rouse him from his slumber, Mr. Gumbo decides that perhaps playing loud music will do the trick. However, when he walks over to the family's giant record player and starts up the big band melodies, the music only intensifies Gumby's dreams -- and Gumby goes through a number of shape-changes before finally taking his usual misshapen form and rising with a yawn. But before we continue, note that while it's not surprising that Gumby can change his form -- he is, after all, clay -- that he can apparently alter the color of his clay is an interesting ability that I wasn't aware that he possessed. Is it that Gumby is particularly special, or is all clay capable of such a feat? Have the clay companies' marketing of multiple colors all been a scam in order to increase profits??? How this notion casts a pall over my childhood -- Play-Doh of my youth, you were holding out on me! In which case I'm glad I ate you. You tasted salty.
And hey, there's our pal Gumby! As you can see, he looks a little different than he did in the first and third shorts, as this Gumby cartoon was apparently written and filmed way back in 1966, before Gumby started walking into books or doing anything even remotely interesting at all. Case in point -- with Gumby awake now, his parents can divulge the wonderful surprise they have for him! For no specified reason, Gumby's allowed to run around the giant toystore in which he apparently lives and pick one toy to call his own. "OH BOY!" Gumby shouts, turning about seven backflips to show his excitement. Dude, you live in the toystore. You can already play with all of the toys at your leisure (which about sums up the rest of the episode). It's not all that exciting.
Seriously, that's the episode. No interesting and/or eerie guest stars, no adventures between the pages of fictional lore, no bending the fabric of time itself -- Gumby just skates around looking at fucking toys. Really, I like toys as much as the next guy -- okay, probably way more than the next guy -- but still, watching Gumby run around looking at dead baby dolls and putting his hand over his mouth like someone said a dirty word or he walked in on Mr. Gumbo sliding it into Mrs. Gumba from the back doesn't make for a very interesting cartoon. I'm tempted to end the review right here, but we might as well continue -- after all, despite having little to do with Christmas in any explicit sense, this is the last short on the DVD. By the way, despite being all but naked, none of the male members of the Gumbasia line have visible genetalia. But what of Mrs. Gumba? Is that why the men are permitted to walk around wearing no pants, while she's forced to cover her nether regions with a long yellow skirt? Does her long-sleeved sweater imply that she has breasts as well? Hmmm.
Actually, she looks kinda flat to me, but there's definitely something going on there -- not only is she built like a linebacker, but in addition to being the only female and the only clothes-wearing member of the Gumbasians, Mrs. Gumba is also the only one with a clearly defined head and neck. Perhaps these were meant to be an expression of her femininity? By molding her as such, did Gumby creator Art Clokey mean to suggest that women are more complex than men? And if that's the case, then why is Mrs. Gumba always shown doing domestic chores? Poor Mrs. Gumba! Your complicated form clearly indicates that you were meant for greater things than this, yet your sex keeps you confined to the kitchen, forced to lower your beady eyes and rounded head as you slave away under the rule of a naked orange eunuch. Oh, the tyranny of traditional gender roles!
To make things worse, though Mrs. Gumba may sweep and mop the floor ad infinitum in a lamentable attempt to keep the floor of her kitchen clean, at any given moment a pony may come trotting in without warning with inquiries about the location of her only son. Such is the case here, as Pokey comes a-callin' for his green buddy. Of course, Mrs. Gumba informs him that Gumby is out looking at toys, which prompts Pokey to leave and follow his trail, passing all of the toys that Gumby previously passed and while making his own silly faces at the sight of each. Yawn. Instead of this drawn-out sequence, Gumby might simply have met Pokey while out, thereby shaving two minutes from this utterly pointless short, but no! However, perhaps this scene was necessary in order to give us insight into the sad plight of Mrs. Gumba and, by comparison, a number of housewives across the globe -- and recall that this short appeared in 1966, when, with the exception of the kickass heroines of "The Avengers", women were expected to blindly resign themselves to limited roles as homemakers and caregivers. So perhaps this short isn't as pointless as it seems! Social commentary rules.
The subtle commentary continues, as, when Pokey finally finds Gumby, he's climbing rather provocatively up a toy-filled shelf -- a toy-filled shelf that, if it had hinged doors and were located in the wall of a room instead of out in the open, could easily be described as a closet. And when Pokey arrives down below, though his eyes bug out at the sight of his green friend so high in the air, the look is not necessarily one of fear -- consider that male cartoon characters' eyes frequently bug out in similar fashion when they encounter a woman of Jessica Rabbit's proportions, not to mention that the expression on Pokey's lips and the stiff curve of his hind leg are more indicative of slavering arousal than terror for the well-being of his bestest pal. Also note that Gumby's reply to Pokey's "distress" is to turn, place his hand on his ass, and grin at his friend below as he continues to ascend the shelf. When he finally reaches his desired height, Gumby dives from the shelf into a bowl of water on the ground -- effectively coming out of the "closet" with a splash and getting Pokey all wet in the process -- which also bears comparisons to arousal and ejaculation. Furthermore, after climbing out of the pool, Gumby wrings himself out and simultaneously assumes the appearance of both a twisted penis -- potentially indicative of "deviant" sexual tastes -- and the Statue of Liberty, which suggests that, in the United States of America, individuals should be free to live whatever lifestyle they choose. In "Gumbasia", the symbolism runs deep.
Now reunited, Gumby and Pokey continue to run about the toy shop in search of one for Gumby to take home. Perhaps, given the above discussion of this episode's subtext and the apparent attraction between these two friends, that the next toy that they encounter is a giant rocking horse -- the larger-than-life analogue of Pokey himself. Of course, Pokey is naturally impressed by the towering figure, and desperately urges Gumby to ride it. I'm not kidding; he practically begs Gumby to ride the thing, even though Gumby refuses by saying, "No! It's too big!" WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN? Perhaps, where the previous incident with the water might have represented their first instance of fooling around, this encounter is indicative of their first act of actual intercourse -- and Gumby, upon seeing the size of Pokey's member, is suddenly afraid and a little turned off. Pokey, however, fucking persists, and at last Gumby reluctantly saddles the giant horse and starts rocking back and forth -- first slowly, then more and more violently, just like sex (move your mouse cursor on and off the right pic above for a simulation) -- until finally the ride is over and Gumby comes sliding down the horse looking more than a little sickened by the experience. Sorry, Pokey. Guess it just wasn't meant to be.
But that doesn't mean they can't still be friends, eh? After their unsatisfying sexual experience, Gumby and Pokey hop into a toy convertible and start driving around. But hold on a second! Gumby obviously doesn't own this car -- after all, the whole purpose of his toy store romp is to find a toy that he wants to take home -- and since he doesn't own this car, I don't see why he should have the keys to this car. And since I don't see why the present owner of the car would leave the keys in the car -- that would be stupid; anyone could just come along and steal it -- I'm guessing that Gumby and Pokey hotwired the damned thing. Well! Gumby and his pony pal may not be partners in the sense that Pokey would prefer, but they're still partners in crime! During their illegal joyride, Gumby and Pokey find themselves halted at a railroad crossing as a miniature train passes by... and here, hopping out, Gumby decides that he wants to ride this tiny vehicle. Thus Gumby's preference is revealed -- he prefers objects with smaller moving parts! Obviously still feeling a little dejected, Pokey notes the problem with Gumby's desire and mockingly laughs and cries out, "It's too small for you!"
Alas, not one to let a problem like that bother him -- and perhaps this change is further suggestive of the fact that poor Pokey doesn't arouse him in the least -- Gumby shrinks down to 1/8th scale and hops on the train without a word. Then, after riding around for a bit, he drives the train straight into the back of an ambulance, jumps out of the back and returns to normal size, and takes the wheel to drive his new train home. Eh? The subtext was fairly clear before, but I'll be honest -- I don't know what to make of this. Was the train injured in some kind of way? Did Art Clokey mean to suggest that toys that move about of their own free will do so because they're somehow wounded inside and must be rounded up, taken home, and given proper loving care in order to be healed? And if so, that idea certainly conflicts with what we learned in "Unusual Stories", given the horror with which Pokey, a toy himself, viewed the prospect of being bought and sold! Or maybe, following the previous theme, the train represents a random sexual partner that Gumby has met on the streets -- as opposed to his dear friend whom he's known for ages -- in which case it's not surprising that their path leads them straight into the back of an ambulance, as such encounters are dangerous! Maybe, while at the same time providing subtle gender commentary and support of alternate lifestyles, this episode is attacking one night stands and unprotected sex! Or maybe it just doesn't make any fucking sense.
So with the roaming train safely locked in the back of the ambulance, Gumby in his ambulance and Pokey in his convertible, the two begin driving back towards Gumby's home. Along the way, however, they pass through a construction site, and -- NO! -- a heap of dirt is dumped onto Pokey's pony head! From deep within his earthy prison, Pokey cries out for help -- and Gumby, like the friend and EMT that he is and has become, stops the ambulance, rushes over, and begins to dig his buddy out of the rubble. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Gumby, the back door of the ambulance pops open and the train makes a crafty escape into the distance.
Having rescued Pokey, the two of them continue on to Gumby's home in their separate vehicles, driving into the family's open kitchen as Mr. Gumbo sits at the table reading the paper in stereotypical television dad fashion while Mrs. Gumba walks around tidying the place in stereotypical TV mom fashion. Upon his arrival, Gumby's parents ask if he found the toy that he wanted, to which Gumby nods enthusiastically and skates around to throw open the back of the ambulance... but alas! It is EMPTY! THE TRAIN IS GONE!
And boy-oh-boy does Gumby shed crocodile tears for the loss of his train -- not necessarily because it was that damned depressing, but probably because in a lot of these early Gumby cartoons they'll use any excuse whatsoever to get the clay figures wet or make them cry or something, as if that makes their humanity more patent or the animation more impressive. Or maybe it just helps to keep the clay moist and pliable. I dunno. Anyway, Mrs. Gumba tells Gumby that his father will bring him a new train tomorrow so there's no need to be such a fucking baby about it. There was also apparently no need for that entire episode, as Gumby spent the whole episode searching for something that his dad could easily have procured without sending Gumby on a quest to discover his sexual preferences and apparent aversion to bestiality. But then again, perhaps Gumby needed to go on this journey. Perhaps this is a journey that everyone should take at one point or another. Perhaps that is the message of "Gumbasia", and the final insight of the Christmas with Gumby collection.
And that's the episode! The next day, Gumbo returns with the train as promised, and everyone sits around and eats cake. Happy ending, right? Not so. Pokey, like Chaucer's Prioress, sits upright at the table -- a horse sitting at the table; how dignified! -- and curbs his sexual desire for his friend by indulging in the dessert that Gumba baked instead of following her dreams and becoming the person she wanted to be, and Gumbo's still a bland and stereotypical TV Dad. But hey, at least Gumby got his fucking train! "OH BOY!" That's a wrap.
And so, dear readers, with the end of "Gumbasia" -- perhaps the strangest short of the bunch, not the least bit because it had no explicit connection to Christmas and had very little in the way of plot and perhaps too much in the way of substance -- our four-part Christmas with Gumby review finally comes to a close. We hope you've enjoyed exploring the Gumbyverse with us during these features, and we doubly hope you'll join us again when we someday return to that strange land of oversized toys and crudely fashioned clay figures and literary gateways into other dimensions and adventures that alter the very course of history itself! After all, given that we've all got hearts (unless some of the folks reading this happen to be alien lifeforms or amoebae, in which case I apologize for discounting you!), Gumby's a part of all of us. A return to his world is inevitable.
-- Wes --
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