TTA Episode Discussion: "High Toon"
Sorry I'm doing this, but hey, somebody has to do it, and so I thought I'd get this out of the way since I'm a true Wile E. Coyote fan. The episode in question? The infamous held-over crudely-animated "High Toon!"
Written by: Chuck Menville
Directed by: Glen Kennedy
Animation by: Kennedy Cartoons (no surprise here, since Glen Kennedy directed this episode.)
With that said, with Glen Kennedy directing, I thought this episode would be full of his infamous bouncy/wonky animation ala "Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow" or "Buster and the Wolverine" or the first act of "Best o' Plucky Duck Day." Instead, most of this animation is very sloppy and bad. In fact, this was the reason why the episode was aired much later than scheduled ("K-Acme TV" was supposed to be the first season finale, but "High Toon"'s animation problems and production delays prevented that from happening, sort of like the Simpsons episode "Some Enchanted Evening." The plot is also pretty much your typical "save the day in the old west" TV cartoon episode (DuckTales' "Ducks of the West" and Pooh's "Paw and Order" both come to mind!) OK, on to the episode...
It begins with the standard Bugs Bunny "traveling by burrowing underground" device, as Buster and Babs are on their way to the ACME Land theme park, but thanks to Beaky Buzzard sneezing and spinning the sign in the wrong directions, they make a wrong turn (could that sign have been in Albuquerque?)...
...and they end up in Prairie Junction.
But the rabbits think they actually ARE in ACME Land, in some wild west section of the park. Yikes, Buster and Babs look awkward in this shot.
Buster even tortures some of the tough guys in a stereotypical western saloon, thinking they're all animatronic dummies.
Suddenly, Pedro begins spreading the warning that the Coyote Kid and his gang will be arriving. Pedro's pretty much like a cross between Speedy Gonzales (right down to jumping while shouting "Andale! Andale!") and Fievel Mousekewitz (he's even voiced by the same kid that voiced Fievel!) except he's a chihuahua. I think the unused Lightning Rodriguez would have done better in that role than Pedro here did.
Sure enough, the coyote gang arrives. The Coyote Kid on the right is the leader, and strongly resembles Wile E. Coyote (I believe it's supposed to be Wile E. playing the part of the Coyote Kid.)
They do occasionally communicate with signs like Wile E. did, but the Coyote Kid does talk, and his voice does not sound at all like when Wile E. spoke on the old Warner cartoons when he did (or even the earlier TTA episode "Psychic Fun-omenon Day!") Instead, Frank Welker gives him a sort of rugged, stereotypical Western villain voice with a tiny bit of English dialect in his voice at times. Also note how ugly and off-model Wile E. looks here. Thank god this was the only Kennedy episode prominently featuring the coyote.
But Buster and Babs just sit back, thinking it's a staged presentation of some sort.
The Coyote Kid (to avoid confusion, I will refer to him as both Wile E. and the "Coyote Kid" concurrently throughout this review) takes all the crops or riches from the townspeople of Prairie Junction (though he is not amused at a bruised tomato, complete with bandage!)
Even Pedro's family must try to give up their corncobs, even though they are rejected ("I've seen feet with better corn!" Wile E. comments.)
Babs and Buster interrupt, trying to make a photo shoot out of the whole thing.
Of course, Buster and Babs are robbed of their stuff...
...and are both tossed into the water trough (why does the latter remind me of "Paw and Order" even more?)
It is then when the townsfolk tell our off-model heroes where they really are, and how this happens to them every day. Buster and Babs will fight back, even though Pedro's mother says they'd need an army...
"Then we'll get an army!" Babs says, and they head back to Acme Acres to get more recruits. Pedro wants to help too, but he can't.
So Buster and Babs arrive in full Western wardrobe, along with Plucky Duck and Hamton. Plucky tries to walk out, but when Buster says that there's gold in the area...
"You just said the secret woid!" Plucky says, doing a Groucho Marx impression. The rest of the townspeople doesn't want to help though.
So the four are off on a large horse (complete with "RENT-A-NAG" vanity plate.) Buster's positively sure he's nearing the Coyote Kid's hangout...
...even if he doesn't see all the signs pointing out to where the hideout is located!
Bad news is, they've run out of water. Hamton used it all to wash his laundry! ("Next show, I get script approval!" Buster says to the absent fourth wall.)
At the obviously-marked hideout, Wile E. and his gang are having fun with the stolen stuff...
...even if the flash of Buster's camera causes them to get woozy for a second.
When Hamton smells the barbecue (I know), he stumbles and falls into the hideout. Naturally, the coyotes cage him up and plan to barbecue him!
But the trio is back up to four again, when a rather frisky-moving Pedro arrives in no time thanks to him taking "the shortcut."
So in the night, the four manage to sneak down to the hideout, and nab Hamton and their other stuff when the Coyote Kid's back is turned. Naturally he sees this, and vows revenge at high noon. So everyone in town briefly celebrates and all vow to help our heroes defeat the coyote gang...
...even though Plucky tries to walk out AGAIN, to no avail.
So when 12:00 noon arrives, so do the coyote gang, only to be greeted by a celebration of it being "Coyote Kid Day!"
A literal cigar-chomping Buster (another Kennedy animation reference there ) and a babeilicous Babs greet them, inviting them to free food!
The specialty is chili. It's SO hot, Plucky has to wear a special hazmat suit in order to get it out of a flaming room (complete with funky dissonant sambo music!)
The coyotes are excited and of course gulp down the chili...
...only to burn themselves from the chili's extreme heat! (They even get white-hot and briefly turn into flaming power plant cooling towers!) Then they run to the water trough and gulp that all down.
Now they're rather bloated from the chili and the water, but now they have to dance.
They all break down into the typical Kennedy Cartoons dance moves, while Wile E. square dances with Babs.
But they think it's too slow, so Hamton fiddles even faster...
...and the coyotes dance even faster. They stop once Hamton's violin is destroyed from playing it so fast.
The coyotes collapse, all feeling gassy from the fast dancing and the chili, and so run into what appears to be an outhouse labeled "GUYS"...
...but it's really a "BAD GUYS" cage. The coyotes are caught, and everyone cheers.
The episode then concludes with a "Roy Rogers Show"-esque closing number (complete with slate at the beginning!)
Like I said, this is definitely one of the weaker episodes of the series, but it does have a few decent jokes and gags to keep it going. In addition to blowing a perfect excuse for using Lightning Rodriguez (Pedro already seemed like enough of a Mexican stereotype like Speedy used to be criticized of), using the coyotes was sort of an odd choice (I do like the gag credit: "Coyotes compliments of CHUCK JONES") in a vague Yosemite Sam sort of role, but I guess the people at Termite Terrace thought using Sam and/or Montana Max would have been too cliche and "overdone", and I don't blame them. I would've loved to see a Yosemite Sam cameo though, probably in the saloon or being part of the townspeople (I could picture him yelling "What those coyotes are doin' is supposed to be MY job!") even if he already made plenty of cameos in prior episodes.
Additionally, like I also said, the animation is pretty bad, even for Kennedy standards (it even starts to look like the worst of Encore Cartoons at times!)
But this shot when Buster and Babs first arrive at Prairie Junction appears to have been animated by Wang Film Productions. Seeing that they were credited for ink-and-paint/camera work like in other later Kennedy episodes, I wouldn't be surprised if maybe the crew at Wang thought that bit originally didn't look so good, so they had one of their own animators redraw the scene. This isn't the first time it's happened either, Wang animating a bit in Kennedy episodes ("The Looney Beginning" and "New Character Day" come to mind!)
But then when it switches to this shot, what looks like it may have been Glen Kennedy animating on twos, you know the animation is going to be rather subpar...
Babs dancing for no reason (in the Kennedy style, of course) when she shows off her lasso techniques to Pedro.
During the four's little Western showoff intro, Hamton briefly lassos Plucky towards him and KISSES him! (I wonder that was all about?)
Hamton running off in the typical Kennedy style (when he learns what the Coyote Kid is like.)
When the coyotes celebrate catching Hamton, the little coyote dances for no reason (again), and Wile E. looks pretty strange too.
When Pedro says he brought sandwiches, this looks like it was animated by Glen Kennedy, judging by the smooth movements and wonky look. Too bad there was next to none of that in this (and I mean the good-looking stuff like "One Minute to Three.")
Your usual Kennedy-esque Plucky.
Pedro and his papa go off-model in this shot.
Considering this was the "final straw" episode that got Glen canned, you really can't say anything nice about the animation. Or the canned plot for that matter. These kinds of boilerplate scripts would be eliminated in seasons two and three, thank heaven, which is why it's good WB still has that release planned for some vague unspecified date.
K-Acme TV will always be the unofficial season finale to me.
It's not a great episode (it's another episode that futzes around), but the final act justifies its existence. In particular, I love Buster's overuse of "doggone" and the super hot chili followed immediately by lightning fast square dancing.
I can say a nice thing about the animation: Jon McClenahan did a few scenes (see part of the Coyote Kid's introduction- "Hey! This tomato's all bruised!"). It has the usual snappy timing and strong poses.
Originally Posted by Peter Paltridge
Actually, I believe this bit was by Harold Duckett. His work had a tendency to be really spastic and too fast, which is how I'd categorize this brief bit of animation. Although, this is merely an educated guess. I don't know for sure.
Originally Posted by wiley207
I can't say anything more about the animation of this episode that hasn't already been said. There were, however, a number of 'hiccups' in the writing of this episode that kind of ground my gears a bit:
1. Buster and Babs vow to "bring back and army" to fight the Coyote Kid and his gang, and they return with...Hamton and Plucky. Yeah, I know it was just a way to get all 4 main Tiny Toons into the story, but c'mon, 4 people does not an army make. I kept waiting for one of the townspeople to call them out on this: "THIS is your army? Just 2 more people?? That's weak, man. WE could've found 2 more people. 4 people isn't an army; that's not even enough for a basketball team!"
2. It's only after they get there that Babs drop the bomb on Plucky and Hamton that they're there to fight a bunch of big mean coyotes. If Plucky and Hamton didn't know they were brought there to fight some bad guys, then why were they standing there looking tough and ready to fight when they first arrived?
3. Upon learning about the coyote threat, Plucky naturally tries to bail, but Buster convinces him to stay on the promise of "there's gold in them thar hills". Plausible to play on Plucky's greed to get him to stay, but then the promise of gold is never brought up again. This gag was employed in earlier episodes to better effect: in "Europe in 30 Minutes", Plucky repeatedly tries to abandon the gang's mission to save Chuck and Di, but each time changes his mind at the prospect of being knighted, and this is a recurring gag throughout the story, right up to the end. Likewise in in "Hare Raising Night", Plucky (along with Babs and Hamton) is coerced into stopping Dr. Splicer by being duped into thinking they're all going to the Academy Awards, and Plucky continues to believe this through most of the episode, even after it's become painfully obvious to everyone else that this was just a ruse. It just seems odd that Plucky, given his usual motivations, would just forget about striking it rich, even if it was just a lie.
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Excellent points. That's pretty sloppy writing.
Originally Posted by Starbro
The Coyote Kid is NOT Wile E. Coyote. He looks totally like him, but still a different character (which is why he sounds different). You save a lot of headscratching once you figure this out. I think the only problem with the story is that until the last act no slapstick happens to the coyotes, making the episode like an average tv show's episode instead of Warner Bros. Similar episodes (like "Sawdust and Toonsil") handled this matter much better. The numerous gags throughout the episode are still nice.