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1985

Heroes

Muffy is riding her scooter through the halls, looking for the others and calling them, but she can't find them anywhere.

That's because, unknown to her, Jeff, Jodie, Sam are in the stockroom helping Mrs. P with the inventory since TXL is out being repaired. She thanks them profusely and then turns a rather flirtatious glance at Sam, who is wearing a catcher's mask.

"And of course, you too Mr. Crenshaw. Thank you ever so."

Sam doesn't miss her meaning. "I'm, uh, gonna go work over this other aisle, I think," he says, casting a wary glance at Mrs. P.

Jeff asks Jodie why Sam is wearing a catcher's mask.

"Oh, it's Bo Mazursky's birthday."

"Who's Bo Mazursky?" asks Jeff innocently.

"WHO IS BO MAZURSKY?!" bellows Sam. "Well, he only happens to be�" Mrs. P. and Jodie join in: "The greatest catcher ever to play in the big leagues!"

He has mentioned it before it seems.

"Oh, only about a hundred times," laughs Jodie, "But that's okay."

Sam explains to Jeff about his boyhood hero, Bo "The Mitt" Mazursky. A real tiger behind the plate, he was just "the greatest!" according to Sam. He imitates the way he used to call to the pitcher, "Chuck apple! Chuck 'em in there, chuck that apple to me!" which makes Jeff laugh.

Every year on his birthday, Sam remembers him by dressing like a catcher.

Mrs. P says that she, too, had a special hero when she was young. Priscilla Pigsworthy. The first woman to water ski down the Amazon.

Jeff and Jodie are a bit incredulous.

"Priscilla Pigsworthy?" Jeff repeats.

"Water ski down the Amazon?" Jodie adds, and they both chuckle.

Outside, Muffy is still looking for everyone. Finally she comes near to the stockroom and hears voices. She can peer into the crack between the swinging doors and see that Jeff is in there, but she can't open the door because it's too big. If only she could tap on the window, maybe they'd see her. So she puts some suction cups and uses them to walk up the side of the door, while balancing herself with poles that look like a cross between ski poles and toilet plungers. It works! But just as she gets to the window, Jeff comes bursting through the door and walks right past, leaving her swinging wildly. The suction cups come off the door and she falls.

After all the trouble she takes to be with her friends, they aren't particularly welcoming. When she asks if she can help, Mrs. P says the job is too big for her.

Jodie says, "Maybe you should run along and play for awhile."

Then Sam trips over her and drops the boxes he's carrying. "Be careful, Muffy, maybe you should -- get out of the way a little bit."

Then they all leave her alone in the stockroom, even turning out the lights and leaving her in the dark.

She feels hurt and ignored, and very, very little. "It's not easy being little," she sings, "in fact, it's quite a fiddle. You're not a baby. You're not grown. You're kind of in the middle!"

Soon all the work is done, and Jeff, Sam and Jodie are playing catch with a softball outside Muffy's place. When she comes out, they invite her to play, but she says she doesn't feel like it. Jeff tosses the ball to her anyway, but it hits her nose. Then Sam says maybe they should use a little ball when they're playing with her.

That does it. "Will you stop telling me how small I am? And stop calling me 'little,' Sam!" she snaps and disappears into the house.

Jodie finally realizes that the way they treated her in the stockroom might have hurt her feelings. "Muffy's little, but that doesn't make her a baby, and I think that's how we treated her."

Jeff turns to us. "Do you mind when people treat you like a baby? Well, maybe that's how Muffy's feeling."

Sam tries to help and calls out to Muffy. "Hey, look, Muffy, we know you're not a baby after all, you're just lit� I mean, um, you're just short, you know. Look at me! I'm not tall m'self!"

Muffy peaks out a crack in the door. "You're taller than me, that's plain to see."

They try to tell her that despite her size, she's very special. After all, how many other mice speak in rhyme and have a two story house with an elevator?

So they decide to tell her a story about another special mouse, Androcles, the mouse who saved a great big lion by pulling a thorn out of his paw. Sam tells the story, and we see it dramatized with Jeff as the lion and Muffy as Androcles.

When the story is done, they drive home the point. Just because she's small doesn't mean she's not important.

But Muffy goes inside without saying a word. The story has had the opposite effect on her, making her feel even more worthless. Compared to Androcles, she's a coward. "I'm not a mouse, I'm just a scaredy cat. I should meow and stuff like that! Meow! Meow! Meow - oh! An idea starts to blossom. Oh, Muffy! This is awesome. I wouldn't feel like a zero if I were a superhero!" she turns to us. "Muffy will disappear - say goodbye to the dear!" she says, then she disappears for a second and when we see her again she has transformed herself into "Mega Mouse!"

She imagines the glory of being a superhero in a kind of music video as a man's voice sings:

With whiskers of steel,
A tail that cracks like thunder,
Isn't she a wonder,
Mega Mouse, Mega Mouse!

In her imagination she flies with ease, but in reality, she knows she can only try. She starts by jumping off the bed and then off the piano stool. Of course, she only falls, crashing to the ground, but she's determined to keep practicing and soon, master flight.

Sam is in the computer room without TXL, whose monitor and keyboard are missing, feeling kind of lonely. He talks to himself, though, wondering where Muffy is, reminding himself not to call her little. He puts his mitt down on the table and another softball comes and falls into it from out of nowhere. Sam barely notices.

He asks Penelope if she wants to play ball but she ignores him. "Cats never want to fetch." he sighs. "Oh, well," he says, and tosses the ball over his shoulder. It heads straight for the window.

"Oh no!" cries Sam, but the ball freezes in mid air. "Oh! Good thing that window didn't break. This must be my lucky day." Then it goes crashing through the window.

"Oh, rats!" says Sam. "That's the fourth window this week."


Meanwhile, Jodie has rushed back to her apartment from work because she forgot to take a snack. She's about to make herself a peanut butter sandwich when the doorbell rings. It's Muffy, standing in the hall singing the Mega Mouse theme song. Jodie hushes her -- it's still night after all, and she comes in, boasting of her new super powers. She's as brave as Androcles. She could take a train and sock it, and then blast off like a rocket. She offers to show Jodie her flying skill. Jodie tells her she doesn't want her to try and fly, or punch a train either. She sits her down. "If you want to play Mega Mouse, that's fine!" she tells her, but she doesn't want her to do anything dangerous.

Muffy doesn't seem to be listening.

"Can I bend steel with my bare paws? And hold a plane in my mega jaws?"

"No! Don't try that either!" says Jodie. "Hey, can't you be a hero without all that?" Jodie asks if she remembers the Willoby tale in which Wendall rescued his sister at the zoo, without any silly heroics.

"I don't remember that Willoby," says Muffy. "So won't someone please tell it to me?"

"Somebody will. Right now." says Jodie.

So young Shael Simon tells the story of the Willoby's "first" visit to the city. They check into a hotel, have a grand time bouncing on the beds, and then sleep hanging from the shower curtain rod. The next morning, they go to the zoo. Before long, they notice that Wanda is nowhere to be seen.

Muffy interrupts the story. "Wanda Willoby! Oh! I think she's just three! So what will they do? She's lost at the zoo!"

Jodie explains that Wanda's brother came to her rescue. Muffy likes that.

Well, I can beat a lion, without even tryin'!"

"Wendall doesn't do anything foolish," says Jodie. "He uses his head."

Now Shael takes up the story again. The Willobys search frantically all through the zoo, but all they can see are the ankles and feet of the hundreds of people in the zoo. They almost get stepped on, and they are no closer to finding Wanda. Then Wendall has an idea. He goes to the giraffe cage and climbs up the head and neck of a friendly giraffe. From this viewpoint he can see the whole zoo. Oddly enough, Wanda had the same idea, and calls to Wendall from the head of another giraffe!

With Wanda safe and sound, the Willobys have had enough of the city, so they all go home to Possum Ridge where they belong.

Jodie thinks this story illustrates beautifully the wisdom of using one's head, but while the second part of the story was being read, Muffy has climbed to the top of her bookcase and is about to jump.

"Don't jump!" Jodie cries.

Muffy assures her that that's not the plan. "Mega Mouse is wise, because Mega Mouse flies!" She soars off the bookcase and fortunately, Jodie catches her and sternly admonishes her to never, ever do anything like that again. She wants to have a very serious talk with her, but Muffy quickly flees.

"I don't know what we're going to do about her . . . I think this whole Mega Mouse superhero business has gotten out of hand." Jodie laments. "She won't listen to me, and I don't know what to do. Well, I guess I'll forget my peanut butter sandwich. I'm going to head back to the store. I think I'll talk this over with Sam and Jeff."

Fortunately for the hungry Jodie, Mrs. P has gifted the gang with some "thank you" bread, a lovely loaf of banana bread. Mrs. P is nowhere to be found, and Sam says she's looking for "Miss Muffy."

"The last time I saw 'Miss Muffy' she was jumping off my bookshelf!" says Jodie. Jeff and Sam laugh, but Jodie is quite serious. "I think she's taking this Mega Mouse thing too far."

"Gee," says Jeff, "I hope she doesn't try to fly off the roof or something."

Jodie is horrified at that thought, but Sam says Muffy's too smart to do any dumb daredevil stunts.

He hasn't finished speaking when Muffy, appears, with her foot in the loop of a rope tied from somewhere above. "Ready steady go! Look out, below!" They all cry out to her to stop as she leaps into the air, held up by the rope. "Muffy, don't fall!" Jodie says.

But then the rope breaks and Muffy falls into what looks like a trash bin. The others rush in a panic to try and find her. They sift through the paper garbage until they find her.

"I bumped my nose! But it still blows!" Muffy says, emerging from the paper.

"Oh, Muffy, you didn't break anything did you?" asks Jodie.

"Well, I guess this was my lucky night, 'cause everything seems to be all right."

"Yeah, you really are lucky, Muffy!" says Jeff.

"Yeah," adds Sam, "you could have broken your furry little neck! Now why did you want to go and do a foolish thing like that, Muffy?"

"Oh, I didn't think I'd fall!" says Muffy. Then, "Oh - I didn't think at all! Oh - I wanted to show you that I'm important too."

"Oh, Muffy," says Jodie, "I know you wanted to be big and important, but you'll never be big - well, you're a mouse! But you'll always be important, especially to us!"

"Yeah!" says Jeff. "We like you just the way you are, Muffy!" Then he begins to sing to the tune of the Mega Mouse theme:

No whiskers of steel
No tail that cracks like thunder
Oh, you're such a wonder Muffy Mouse, Muffy Mouse
The best little mouse I know
From tippy head to tippy toe

Jodie joins in:

Muffy giggles,
Muffy rhymes,
She'll show you the best of times

Muffy Mouse! Muffy Mouse!

Jeff asks Muffy to dance and of course, she's delighted to. Sam asks Jodie to dance, too, but he steps on her feet a couple of times in the process. Sam tells Jodie his wife Maude loved to dance the tango, so they start tangoing across the children's department floor.

Meanwhile, Muffy and Jeff are having a heart-to-heart talk. She tells him that she was feeling unimportant and small, "And then my dear friends helped me to see just how lucky I am to be me. Mega Mouse can go away! 'Cause Muffy Mouse is here to stay!" she declares.

"Oh, I'm glad to hear that, Muffy!" says Jeff.

The four friends continue to dance, and the night's troubles seem to melt away.


Quizzes:

  • Who is this? (A picture of a baseball player, presumably Bo Mazursky). Is he a hockey player? There are two things wrong in this picture. (The "4" on his chest is upside down, and his mitt has a hole in it.
  • Poor Muffy is feeling so small. But there are 7 lady bugs near her toes which are much smaller. Which one is different? (One has one less spot).
  • Do you see the animals hiding in the jungle? (A monkey, a zebra and a cow). A cow? What's a cow doing in the jungle? No, wait, what's a jungle doing on this farm?
  • Here's Papa Willoby taking a picture of the gorilla at the zoo. And here's the gorilla taking a picture of the Willobys. Oops! This next picture didn't come out right, there's only teeth and a tail, can you tell what animal it is? (A beaver).

Nursery Rhyme:

  • None

Notes:

  • The Willoby tale in this episode purports to be the first time the Willobys take a trip to the city, but actually, the Willoby tale in "Camping" is all about the Willobys camping in the city. In that story, they looked much more like possums, with white faces, and much less human. Interestingly, at the end of that story they also came to the conclusion that the city is not the best place for a possum.
  • Even while playing the lion, Jeff still wears his magic hat, under the lion suit.
  • There's a cute sight gag in the story of Androcles and the lion. Before Androcles pulls the thorn out of the lion's paw, he gets a whiff of his foot odor and cringes.
  • It's interesting that Jodie says that Wendall uses his head to save his sister Wanda. Actually, he uses a giraffe's head!  Additionally, climbing up a giraffe may not be a daredevil stunt for a possum, but it certainly would be for a mouse, or a child for that matter.
  • In this episode, unlike in "Dance," Jodie does the tango with a big smile on her face.
  • The singer of the Mega Mouse theme is uncredited.
  • This episode shows outstanding and creative rhyming, for example, rhyming "blossom" with "awesome," and "disappear" with "the dear." No moon, June, tune rhyming for the writers of Today's Special!
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