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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kissyfur - By Request

This week's All-Request Wednesday is going to go a little bit differently, because rather than it being a request that someone sent me, it is actually a request that I offered someone. Because they had a birthday coming up soon (and not to reveal their age, but it happens to be one of those milestone birthdays that everyone fears, but are usually not as bad as people think they are), I offered to give them the request for that week as a little bit of a gift. So, Sharyn D. of New York, this one's for you!

But before I get to Sharyn's request for this week, I thought that I would add a little bit of a change to the All-Request Wednesday. Don't worry though, it isn't a major change. In fact, it's a change that I think will benefit all of you reading this right now, and will make the All-Request Wednesday more fun.

You know how back in the days of American Top 40 when Casey Kasem used to host the program? Sigh...I miss those days.

Anyway, whenever Casey Kasem's show would come on the air each weekend, he would break into the countdown at least twice to read off a request and dedication. Occasionally what would happen is that a person would make a request either in memory of someone who passed away, or to send a loving message to someone that they care a lot about. So, I thought to myself...why don't I try that here?

Let's be clear. You can still send me requests of whatever topics you want me to talk about in this space every week. But now I'm going to accept dedications as well. So, if you have a friend or family member who loves a specific pop culture reference, feel free to send me a note along with the topic that they would most like to see, and they will have their names in print on this very blog. I'll say yes to almost any topic.

So, today's topic is all about a television cartoon series that had a rather sporadic schedule to say the least. It was a show that ran for a total of five years, yet only had two and a half seasons.

Confused? I'll break it down for you.

The show technically began in late 1985 as a prime-time television special on NBC. Created by Jean Chalopin and Andy Heyward of DiC Entertainment, a total of four television specials were released between December 1985 and September 1986 – all four television specials earning good reviews. It was enough for NBC to consider adding the program to their Saturday Morning cartoon line-up in the fall of 1986, where it aired on and off for four years until August 1990.

Now, here's the thing about this show. I don't remember even watching one episode of it, which surprises even me as I used to be glued to the television every Saturday morning and would surely remember every single cartoon that aired on the big three networks (which was essentially all that we had to choose from in my very early childhood). But I never did get to see this program.

Of course, I think one of the reasons why I missed out on the show was because our NBC affiliate would air the program at an insanely early time. NBC started off their Saturday Morning programming the earliest of all three networks, and I'm pretty sure that I was still sleeping when the program aired.

So I ended up doing a marathon viewing session of whatever episodes of the show that I could find online, and I think I have enough information to work with to do a decent blog entry on...


Okay, so here's the background behind Kissyfur. The show begins as we are introduced to circus bear Gus and his young son named Kissyfur. They joined the circus in order to perform and entertain boys and girls all over the world. As a result of their commitment to the circus, Gus and Kissyfur learned quite a lot about the human world and how they do things. And that knowledge helped both of them learn about how to adapt when an accident happened.

While Gus and Kissyfur were on a train bound for another circus show, the train ended up derailing, and Gus and Kissyfur manage to escape. They both find themselves in a swampland known as Paddlecab County, and are quickly integrated into the community.

And just what sorts of creatures make up the world of Paddlecab County?

Well, for Kissyfur, he ends up befriending a group of swampland creatures, almost all of whom treat Kissyfur with kindness and respect. Beehunnie, for instance, is a little white bunny who secretly has a crush on Kissyfur, but would be absolutely mortified if the word ever got out. She is the only female of the group, and often the only one who seems to be the voice of reason.

There's Stuckey, a purple porcupine who sort of has an Eeyore personality in that he appears very gloomy and quiet. Still, he is a loyal friend to Kissyfur despite his contrary personality.

Toot is a beaver who is the youngest in the group, and who looks up to Kissyfur in almost the same way that a boy would look up to his big brother. Duane is a pig who ironically enough absolutely hates to get dirty. In fact, some may say that he is a little bit obsessive compulsive over keeping his living space clean. Hoarder, Duane is not.

Really, the only member of Kissyfur's circle of friends who acts like more of a frenemy is Lenny, a child warthog who seems to gain great pleasure in calling Kissyfur “Kissyface”. He also has a bit of superiority complex of sorts, getting off on bossing everybody else around. He talks a good talk of bravado, but in reality, he's a bit of a scaredy-cat. Still, there must be some sort of hidden goodness inside of him if Kissyfur and his friends keep him around.

Mind you, the adult population of the swamp is just as...shall we say...unique as their offspring. And, if you wonder where Lenny's personality comes from, one needs look no further than Lenny's father Charles, who claims to know all the answers, but really doesn't have a clue.

Other notable adults in the series include Miss Emmie Lou, the schoolteacher with a heart of gold and warm feelings towards Gus, Uncle Shelby, the wisest turtle in the whole swamp, a pair of chickens known as the Cackle Sisters, Ralph, a packrat who can't help himself to the belongings of the other people in the swamp, and Howie, a mocking bird who can mimic almost anybody in Paddlecab County.

So, that is the motley crew of forest creatures that make up the area known as Paddlecab County. And, Gus and Kissyfur prove to be a great addition to the community as Gus has used his skills that he learned while in the circus to create his own business by building a boat and offering tours to the residents of Paddlecab County. It was a service that most of the forest creatures took advantage of, not only to see places in the swamp that they never visited before, but to assist them in transporting themselves and their wares to other locations, expanding their services.

Of course, every cartoon has to have at least one antagonist, and in the case of “Kissyfur”, these baddies come in the form of a pair of alligators, Floyd and Jolene.

They have no desire in helping the community. They have no compassion for any of the critters living in the swamp. But they do want to have them for dinner someday.

No, seriously...their main goal in life was to have a Thanksgiving dinner feast...with Kissyfur and his friends as the main course!

Fortunately for the creatures of Paddlecab County, the alligators were never very good at their jobs. Floyd in particular was especially inept at his job, as his plans to capture the other animals always went wrong...usually because of his own mistakes. And this caused Jolene to take out her frustrations on Floyd which distracted both of them from achieving their goal.


Because let's face it. Had the alligators succeeded in turning Kissyfur into an entree, there would be no show.

So, that's really all of the information that I could scrounge up on Kissyfur. I had a hard time finding stuff to talk about with this topic as there wasn't a whole lot of places to gather my research. But if you click HERE, you can watch a few clips of the television series. And please give the show a real shot because after watching the few clips that I did in preparation for this entry, I learned that this show taught you a lot about life.

I learned that no matter where you were in the world, you could use your previous skills to start anew again, such as Gus did.

I learned that there was a way that you could have friendships with different groups of people of different backgrounds and still feel like part of a family.

And, most importantly, I learned that there was a really decent show that was on Saturday mornings that I really wish that I had gotten the chance to watch when I was growing up. I think that the lessons that the show taught were presented in a way that didn't talk down to children, and I think that the friendships and bonds that the characters had with each other on Kissyfur were what we should all strive for. I can understand why Sharyn really enjoyed this show, and I am glad that she suggested this show for the topic for today, not only to open up my eyes to the wonderful world of Paddlecab County, but so I can share that world with all of you!

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