Does anyone else remember the Wuzzles, those lovable Care Bears-wannabes whose gimmick was that they were hybrid animals? I'd nearly forgotten about them, but I went looking for my old Care Bears toys last year when I got the idea for the third comic here... and while I found only one Care Bears toy, I found multiple Wuzzles. The memories came flooding back at once -- of days spent watching the cartoons; of wild toy crossover adventures featuring the Wuzzles, He-Man, and the Head Popping Madballs; and even of the time I dressed up as Hoppopotamus for Halloween, which strikes me as fairly odd now since Hoppopotamus was clearly a girl. Did I not understand that at my young age, or did I just not care given my far greater interest in blue hippo things? Ah, the priorities of the very young!
Having remembered that Wuzzles were such a large part of my pre-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles childhood, I was surprised to find that the cartoon series only consisted of 13 episodes that aired over a period of several months. How did the series manage to make such an impression upon my memories (albeit an impression that had to be recovered via prompting) in such a short time? And why would I have so many toys from said series, when I have fewer figures from shows in which I know I was far more interested? I don't have the answers, but it's entirely possible that, owing to the franchise's short lifespan, the Wuzzles figures ended up on clearance -- thus making my parents more inclined to buy them for me.
At any rate, my interest in rediscovering the Wuzzles rekindled, I sought out the show's complete run online... and, well. It's interesting. It's not good in the way that "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and "Sesame Street" are good -- in that way that appeals to kids but is also batshit insane enough to provide endless entertainment and opportunities for analysis for adults as well -- but it is kind of fascinating to see how the characters behave and treat each other. Among other things (and I've admittedly noticed this in a lot of children's shows), the characters are often complete jerks to one another. Sure, this behavior is ostensibly used to communicate a not-so-subtle moral, but it happens often enough -- and in such outlandish situations -- that one wonders how these characters can bring themselves to forgive each other and sustain lasting friendships at all. Then again, I tend to be wary of people and less inclined to forgive slights that seem incredibly inconsiderate... and I also have very few friends or people I can stand to be around. Perhaps this is how people really behave, constantly shitting on each other and cleaning it off and donning their best white suits only to have them stained with more shit during their next outing with their so-called friends? Ugh! If so, I'll keep to myself, thanks.
Anyway, today's summary review is of the third episode of "The Wuzzles": a heartwarming tale of monetary greed and its adverse effects on one's personality and relationships titled "In the Money." It begins with Bumblelion doing a good thing for his friend Eleroo by taking him to lunch. The mode of transportation is a bit odd, though; in keeping with the Wuzzles' tendency to create hybrid products to match their hybrid forms, we meet Bumblelion and Eleroo riding on roller skis. Naturally, hilarity ensues -- among other things, Bumblelion and Eleroo nearly splat Butterbear's cake but successfully grab and throw it to Hoppopotamus (it was meant for Hoppo) and Bumblelion cries, "WUZZABUNGA!!!" And remember, this was before the Turtles popularized "cowabunga" as a battle cry.
Finally, they come to the inevitable gag where they're about to crash into a tree... but then split around it so that each character is riding one of the roller skis. But whereas Bumblelion has what it takes to handle what's basically a very thin skateboard, Eleroo is a fucking klutz... so just as they reach Wuz Burger, he runs into Bumblelion's back and causes them to crash hardcore into the restaurant. This not only causes them to wreck the fucking place -- they collide with the stuff inside so violently that the "W" on the outside of the store flips upside down -- but also breaks Bumblelion's roller skis in half! And then to add financial injury to physical injury, Bumblelion gets charged for the damage to the restaurant. It literally costs him everything in his wallet.
But here's where that treatment of friends comes in: now that he's flat broke, Bumblelion leaves to ask Rhinokey for a loan while Eleroo sits down to eat. WHAT THE HELL KIND OF FRIEND IS ELEROO?!? In fairness, he does say that Bumblelion doesn't have to pay for lunch, but he does it in such a dickish way that Bumblelion almost has to insist upon it. He says, "If it helps, you don't have to buy me the lunch you promised," which both contains a condition -- if it helps -- and emphasizes that Bumblelion promised to buy lunch. And when Bumblelion won't hear of welching on a promise, Eleroo practically jumps up and down with joy. I think Eleroo was one of my favorite characters on the show when I was a kid -- hey, I really liked elephants -- but damnit I can't stand this character now.
Anyway, Bumblelion finds Rhinokey outside polishing his taxi cab. (In addition to being a rhinoceros/monkey hybrid -- which is really just a monkey with a rhinoceros's horn... and toes -- Rhinokey is one of only a handful of Wuzzles who is actually shown to have a job.) Upon greeting his friend, he's met with some of the most obnoxious humor ever -- Rhinokey first returns Bumblelion's handshake with a wooden prop before tricking him into setting off a crazy loud horn in his vest pocket. And check out the look on Bumblelion's face -- it's a good thing he's not wearing pants, 'cause that's about where he'd have shat them. (Speaking of which, Rhinokey is also one of the relatively few Wuzzles who wears clothing on a fairly regular basis.) Rhinokey does eventually give Bumblelion a stack of money, though -- which he assumes will allow him to pay for Eleroo's fucking lunch and replace his roller skis -- so his suffering doesn't go entirely unrewarded.
Except that it does, since Bumblelion returns to Wuz Burger to find that Eleroo's eaten all of the food in the goddamned restaurant... costing him the entire stack of money that Rhinokey gave him. Again, WHAT THE HELL KIND OF FRIEND IS ELEROO?!? I mean, even though Bumblelion was broke -- and even though the accident that initially emptied Bumblelion's wallet was Eleroo's fault -- I can kinda understand still accepting the lunch offer if for no other reason than to keep from offending Bumblelion. I can even see not ordering the cheapest thing on the menu, since Bumblelion might have been insulted by the implication that he couldn't afford a more expensive item. But gorging himself on dish after dish after dish until the restaurant has to close early because there's no food left? While Bumblelion was off borrowing money from someone else because he literally didn't have a cent to his name?!? And then Eleroo has the audacity to apologize and sheepishly add, "Now my tummy's full, but your piggy-wallet's empty -- that means you can't buy new roller skis." Yeah, thanks for the reminder, Eleroo. Fuck you, too.
As Bumblelion laments his lack of money, Eleroo offers a
brilliant moronic punch-the-speaker-really-hard-in-the-face suggestion -- why not wish for some money? He then breaks off a wishbone from the remnants of his obscenely large and expensive meal and WAIT A MINUTE WHY WAS AN ELEPHANT/KANGAROO HYBRID EATING MEAT WHEN ELEPHANTS AND KANGAROOS ARE HERBIVORES?!?!?!? Sigh. Anyway, Bumblelion breaks off the larger portion of the wishbone and wishes for money... which he gets when he and Eleroo leave the restaurant and two large moneybags drop out of the sky!
Unbeknownst to them, however, these moneybags were mistakenly tossed in Rhinokey's cab by the utterly incompetent Bank of Wuz employees and just happened to fly out when Rhinokey -- who drives like a spaz -- hit one of the parking blocks outside Wuz Burger. And speaking of Rhinokey, we soon find him being grilled at the police station about the missing money, since the officers just know it was in his cab. Rhinokey insists that he's got no idea what they're talking about, but they're not buying it -- and the lame jokes he can't help cracking don't help his situation in the least. Meanwhile, Bumblelion's first act as a richer sees him visiting Rhinokey's house to repay the loan. Rhinokey's not there, so he just leaves a few handfuls of gold coins in his friend's mailbox. Good thing the inhabitants of Wuz are such trusting hybrid animal things!
Bumblelion and Eleroo then head into town, where they run into Hoppopotamus. She's super excited to hear about Bumblelion's good fortune, especially since she imagines herself as his romantic companion as he lists all of the luxurious things he plans to buy and do with his newfound riches. Yet Hoppo's hopes are dashed when he notes a desire to hang out with Wuzzles of his own socioeconomic class, prompting her to ask, "What am I, small change?" Bumblelion responds with the obligatory fat joke (seriously, they crack on Hoppo's weight at least once every episode): "There's nothing small about you, Hoppo." He then says, "When it comes to money, some of us have it -- and most of you don't." Hoppo leaves in a huff, Bumblelion goes his own snooty rich way, and Eleroo comments that "money sure has changed Bumblelion"... as if to say that Bumblelion is being a jerk. I can think of one elephant/kangaroo hybrid who needs to shut the hell up.
Back at the precinct, things aren't looking good for Rhinokey. The cops have found the money in his mailbox -- more evidence to suggest that he's the one who stole it! -- and his terrible jokes are seriously pissing them off. The guard watching him is willing to hear a riddle, though, so Rhinokey asks the following: What kind of key goes in through a door but out through a window? And the answer to that riddle? A Rhinokey! Rhinokey then dashes around the guard, scrambles out the window, and drives off in his cab -- leaving this rich old bird (literally; I think it's an intentional pun) dripping with mud. "Well, I never!" she exclaims. You just did, bitch.
There's a quick scene with Bumblelion visiting the shop yet refusing to buy new roller skis -- now that he's rich, his tastes have grown such that the skis at common shops aren't good enough for him. It's meant to show how snooty he's become, but honestly? It's probably a good thing that he's holding out for the best product, especially given that there's no real hurry for him to have roller skis in a town that can't span more than two miles. And in the next scene, we find Rhinokey hiding out at Moosel's house and still cracking awful jokes. (For reference, Moosel is basically Piglet to Rhinokey's Tigger -- the other characters rely upon him to the point of using him as a doormat. Also, I've never really been convinced that Moosel is a "he" at all.) Moosel tells Rhinokey to get serious, but he's not all that upset about the prospect of going to jail... even though this attitude seems at odds with his decision to escape from the police station in the first place. After all, he adds, he'd have a captive audience for his jokes! Moosel then points out that Rhinokey wouldn't have time for jokes because he'd be worked to exhaustion -- I guess Wuzzle jail involves crazy hard labor or something -- and the mention of work causes Rhinokey to flip out. Which is weird, because RHINOKEY IS ONE OF ONLY FOUR OR FIVE WUZZLES IN THE ENTIRE TOWN WHO ACTUALLY HAS A JOB. Yes, exhaustive hard labor doesn't sound terribly appealing, but Rhinokey should hardly be so frightened by the prospect of working.
At any rate, Rhinokey and Moosel determine that he'd be able to successfully elude the cops with a clever disguise... so he dresses up like a cowboy and adopts a fake Texan accent. And since the cops know what his car looks like, he disguises it as a giant banana split. Brilliant -- that won't attract any attention at all! Except since the Wuzzleville Parade is coming up, it'll fit right in amongst the floats... so it won't be as obvious. Even so, if I were a wanted fugitive from the law, I don't think I'd hide in a parade that's sure to be attended by almost everyone in town. But hiding in plain sight worked for Dexter (sorta), so why not?
Elsewhere, Bumblelion drives a new car through a showroom window at Wuz Motors, throws a bunch of gold coins onto the ground -- amidst the shattered glass and debris; how very considerate of him -- and drives off. He's then seen flying around in a pink hang glider-airplane combo with its own television and beanbag. What it doesn't have, however, is a pilot... and yet it zips around trees and mountaintops with ease. With autopilot technology like that, I guess that contraption really is the best money can buy! And then we see Bumblelion ordering a meal at a super fancy restaurant that apparently sends three waiters to tend to a single guy. It might be suitably high class, but that just sounds woefully inefficient to me. Also, note Bumblelion's freshly styled hair... and that he's wearing a suit. Do only the rich and/or employed inhabitants of Wuz wear clothes? Does the nakedness of most of the population suggest abject poverty, much like the starving, loincloth-clad people we're frequently shown in third-world countries? Alas, the show's early cancellation meant that we never got a detailed analysis of the wealth levels and quality of life for inhabitants in that magical, faraway land.
Later, as Hoppo rants about what an ass Bumblelion has become, he walks by and demonstrates what an ass he has become. And when Hoppo, Eleroo, and Butterbear confront him about his new attitude, he assumes that they're there to ask him for a loan... prompting Hoppo to chew him out and snort in his face. Nevertheless, even though Bumblelion's clearly obsessed with money now -- what with the crazy eyes and the drooling over his open sack of coins -- his willingness to loan some of it to his friends demonstrates that he's still nowhere near as bad as Eleroo.
And yet seconds after he's shown hugging his moneybags as if they're the only friends he'll ever need, Bumblelion is shown lamenting his lack of friends. Weak. But then the doorbell rings and he jumps up all excited! IT'S MOOSEL AND RHINOKEY! Rhinokey's wearing a different disguise, but Bumblelion still recognizes him easily. Anyway, Moosel and Rhinokey have to duck inside when they hear the sirens wailing, as the police are still hot on Rhinokey's trail. Once inside, however, Rhinokey spots Bumblelion's moneybags and discerns that they're the bank bags he's being blamed for stealing! Bumblelion won't hear of returning them -- after all, he wished for them -- and drives off with the bags in tow... in a different car than the one he bought earlier. Alrighty then. And now it's time for a high-speed car chase!
Since Rhinokey's car is covered in banana split fixins, much of it goes flying during the chase... and some of it ends up on that rich old bird. "Well, I never!" she exclaims. EXCEPT SHE ALREADY DID EARLIER IN THE EPISODE. And then Moosel goes flying from the cab -- remember to wear your seatbelts, kiddies -- crashes into the store with the roller skis, and comes out the other side of it tied to a pair. He soon ends up tied to the end of Rhinokey's cab, which drags him along as if he were water skiing. And all of this commotion attracts one of the cops -- naturally -- which turns this into a three-car chase. EXCITEMENT!
Anyway, after wrecking Butterbear and Hoppo's float and zipping through the parade, the chase heads into a local car wash -- and I guess this happens often, since the police officer is totally prepared. Rhinokey's not, but he decides to make the best of it by breaking out a shower cap and a scrub brush and exclaiming, "Gee, I hope I don't get ring-around-the-cab!" Oh, that Rhinokey. The chase leads the Wuzzles right back to Wuz Burger, where Bumblelion hits the same parking block that Rhinokey hit earlier... causing the bags to fly out of his vehicle and land in the exact same place where Bumblelion found them. After Rhinokey explains that that's what must have happened, Bumblelion suddenly becomes apologetic about his behavior -- because now he's convinced the money didn't really fall from the sky in response to his wish. Because money really does that sometimes, you know. (Actually, there was an episode with a literal money tree, so I suppose a freak money strike isn't that farfetched... but yeah.) But at least Bumblelion learned that there's one thing money can't buy! "Yeah," Rhinokey grumbles, "a decent photo on a wanted poster." Ha, ha... ha.
Just as Bumblelion reveals the real thing that money can't buy -- I'll let you guess what that is -- the policebird shows up with plans to send everyone up river! Oh no! But then Bumblelion turns over the missing money and everything's all good. Moreover, it turns out there's a reward for its return, so Bumblelion may not end up broke after all! He'll just have to deduct the money he spent from it, reimburse Rhinokey, and pay for all of the damage caused during the chase... and then he'll get to keep what's left. Hurray?
NO, because apparently there's only enough left to treat his friends to a party at Wuz Burger. It's a noble gesture, but also a deeply stupid one. Remember, Eleroo alone ate an entire stack of money's worth of food... and now Bumblelion is essentially treating his entire crew to a buffet on his dollar. A crew that includes Hoppo-freakin-potamus. It does make his friends happy -- especially Hoppo; we've seen how excited hefty animal hybrid things get about food -- but wouldn't it be better for Bumblelion to at least try to save some of that money? I mean, bankrupting himself in the interest of friendship is what got him into this mess in the first place! But alas, the moral of this story is that money changes you for the worse and is therefore BAD.
Bumblelion doesn't end the episode with a net loss, though, since his friends have also gotten something for him -- new roller skis! He wants to try them out right away, so he bids the gang farewell and prepares to head out. Bumblelion then dons his Oculus Orbus helmet, says the secret word one last time to a response of screams and laughter, and ejects himself from the Playhouse... wait, I'm thinking of a different show.
So I was going to end the article with a quick rundown of all the things we've learned from today's episode of "The Wuzzles," but you know what? All we've really learned is that the land of Wuz is an extremely messed up place -- and I didn't even mention the fact that there's a cowbird working in a burger joint. Also, keep in mind that there are twelve episodes we haven't explored... and believe it or not, some of them are even stranger than this jerkface-filled tale of rags to riches to autopiloted pink hang gliders and banana-split-car chases to a full-circle ending with a moral designed to encourage poor spending habits and delight bankruptcy lawyers. And given that fact -- and what we stand for here at Scary-Crayon! -- it's probably inevitable that we'll revisit Wuz and its freakish gene-spliced inhabitants again at some future date. Your anticipation is palpable.-- Wes --