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1986

Late

"Late!" says Jeff.

"Late!" adds Sam.

"Not again." sighs Jodie.

For the fifth time in a row, Jeff, Sam, and Jodie have gotten together in the children's department to plan for Mrs. Pennypacker's going away party, only to find that Muffy isn't there. So, once again, they wait.


Meanwhile, Muffy is in bed, just waking up from a nap. "Oh, oh, that was such a pleasant sleep." she says. Then she turns and sees the clock. "Oh, no! There's a meeting that I must keep!" She jumps up, changes clothes in a second, and sings, "I'm on my way. Oh, I'm on my way now it's time to go. What's that? Smells yummy! Better put some cheese in my tummy, now, won't take long, then I'm done, soon be on my way."

The others have decided to go on with the meeting without her. But when they begin to discuss arrangements for the food, they can't go on, because that's Muffy's department, and she's late. To the same tune as Muffy sang, they sing, "How can we plan when Muffy's the one who is getting the food? . . . Muffy Mouse is late! Muffy Mouse is late!"

Muffy has finished eating and comes outside her door. "I think I am a little late, but my good friends won't mind the wait." Still, she decides to take a shortcut through the wall. But first she goes to check and make sure the stove and the lights are off. Then she's off again, singing, "I'm on my way. I'm on my way now it's time to go."

"Still here, still waiting," sing her friends upstairs, "Every minute more aggravating."

Going through the trap door through which she swept popcorn in "Letters," Muffy makes her way casually through the wall. "Oh, Muffy's very near!" she sings.

"She'll make excuses in rhyme," sing the others.

She pops up behind the counter, "Muffy Mouse is here."

"Why can't you get here on time!" they all sing angrily at her, startling her. "Muffy's late, Muffy's late, Muffy's late!"

"I'm sorry I'm a little behind," Muffy explains, "but I didn't think that you would mind."

"Well, we do!" says Sam. "Tickin' timeclocks, Muffy, it wouldn't matter if it was just this once, but you're always late!"

Muffy nuzzles up against Sam and speaks in her cutest voice. "Oh, if you'll forgive my tardy crime, from now on I'll be on time."

Sam melts. "How can anyone stay mad at a cute little critter like you." he says.

Now they continue with their meeting. Everything is set but the food and gift.

"The food will be here, don't fret," says Muffy. "And the gift is in my cabinet."

"Boy. Mrs. Pennypacker sure is gonna be surprised when she sees what we're givin' her," says Sam. "Uh, what are we givin' her anyway?"

"A cruise Sam," says Jeff. He explains that she's going to Jamaica on her holiday and that they're giving her a 3 day boat trip around the Caribbean islands.

Sam thinks maybe he'd better teach her "Yo He Ho."

Now the meeting's over and everyone goes back to work, making arrangements to meet again in an hour.

Muffy isn't very impressed. "This meeting, it was very short. I quickly gave them my report. There was nothing to discuss. So why did they make such a fuss? I admit being late's a little wrong. Now, back to bed where I belong!"

Next, TXL tells us a story, "The Day the Sun Was Late." One day, a very long time ago, she relates, the sun was late. Because it failed to rise, the rooster didn't know when to crow. Because the rooster didn't crow, the farmer didn't know when it was time to milk the cows. Because the farmer didn't milk the cows, the dairyman didn't get milk to deliver, and without milk, Mrs. Appletree couldn't make pancakes for her hungry twins Jenny and Kevin. Disappointed, the kids decided to go and find out why the sun was late. When they went outside, they found everything very odd. People were using flashlights to find their way, flowers refused to open, the moon was confused and the stars were upset that they had to shine so long. Jenny and Kevin climbed a huge mountain that towered over their town, having to climb very slowly because it was dark. Finally they reached the top. They shouted at the sky trying to wake the sun, but nothing happened. So they hopped on a cloud which stopped in front of a huge yellow house. When Jenny and Kevin peered into the window, they saw the sun, fast asleep in bed, with a nightcap on its head! So they knocked on the door and made noise, but the sun remained fast asleep. Finally, they asked a nearby cloud to start a rainstorm, and as the thunder and lightning shook the sun's house, the sun finally woke up. Up it popped into the sky. The rooster crowed, the farmer milked the cows, the dairyman delivered the milk, and Jenny and Kevin enjoyed a big pancake breakfast.

Now we visit with the mime lady, who is standing outside her front door. She mimes to us what the weather is and we try to guess what she's saying. First she mimes rain falling. Then the rain stops, and the mime lady is buffeted by a fierce wind. Next, a light shines, and a cardboard sun appears over her head. The mime smiles broadly because the sun makes her feel wonderful. Suddenly, the sun sets and a cardboard moon pops up above her. "Well, that was a very short day!" says TXL, and the mime looks very confused.

In the children's department, Mort has arrived for the party for Mrs. Pennypacker, bringing along lots of food. It's time for the next planning meeting. Unfortunately, Muffy is late. Again. Mort has an idea to teach her a lesson.

"Let's play a trick that's pretty nifty and pretend to be 150!"

At that moment, Muffy is rushing through the shortcut in the wall after having overslept again. She notices that the pipes are getting loose and decides she'd better not come that way again.

When Muffy gets to the children's department she finds Sam standing by the doll house display. He is covered with cobwebs. "Oh, there's something here that's very weird," Muffy says, "Since when did Sam grow a long white beard?" She tugs on the beard and Sam "awakens" and pretends not to recognize her or her name.

"Cruffy, you said?"

"Muffy!" Muffy answers.

"Buffy? Murphy?"

"Muffy!"

Sam pretends to search his memory. "Muffy, Muffy, Muffy, Muff - oh! Oh, yes, I remember you! Muffy Mouse! It was a long time ago that I knew a Muffy Mouse though."

Now Mort comes in and he's got a long gray beard and mustache. "What was that I heard you say?" says Mort in a querulous voice. "Has Muffy Mouse come here, today?"

"It's cousin Mort," says Muffy, "But you're old too!"

"Well, I've been waiting a l-o-o-o-ng time for you!"

"All I did was have a nap!"

"Oh, that might explain this strange mishap." says Mort.

"Hibernating teddy bears!" exclaims Sam, "You must have fallen asleep for a h-u-u-ndred and fifty years!"

"Could they have waited all that long?" Muffy asks herself. "Something here is very wrong. And I won't believe this tale they've told, 'cause Jeff and Jodie won't be old!"

Just then, Jeff and Jodie hobble in, both leaning on canes. They both have long gray beards, Jeff's hair is gray beneath his magic hat, and Jodie's hair is also gray.

"My, my, my, my, my," says Jodie in a low-pitched wavering voice. Jeff enters from the other side and they bump into each other.

"Oh-oh! My goodness! Oh, come along, Jeffrey, now do you think you can make it to the display?"

"Why sure I can," says Jeff in a shrill voice. "Where's the display?"

Jodie turns him around and he ambles in the general direction of the display but soon veers off to the right.

"It's all true!" says Muffy. "My friends grew old. What did I do?"

"Why, I do believe it's Muffy Mouse," says Jodie, "Look, Jeffrey! Look!"

Jeff is looking at a stuffed animal display. "Where?" he asks.

"This way! Over here!"

He finally spots her. "I-I-I think it-it-it is, M-M-Muffy Mouse!"

"I told you she'd be here sooner or later." says Jodie.

"But why did you stay here and wait?" Muffy asks, "You knew that I am sometimes late."

"Oh, but I remembered you said you would never be late again. So we wanted to stay here until you arrived and we knew it would be any moment."

"Yeah, that's right," says Sam, "The first 50 years were the hardest. You see, it was like this:"

They all begin to sing in their wavering voices and fractured harmony: "We knew that you were comin', and the time just seemed to fly, all the minutes turned to hours, and the years went rollin' by, we didn't want to miss you, so September turned to June. Oh, but we were all sure that you'd get here soon!"

"Well, the wrinkles began showin' and my hair turned very gray," sings Jodie.

"That's right an-and-and the muscles in my dancin' legs, well they went on a holiday!" says Jeff.

("You've still got it, Jeffrey!" says Jodie, in an aside).

Mort continues, "We would keep forgetting what the meeting was about."

"Remember the time that my teeth fell out?" Sam sings, to general laughter.

Jeff and Jodie begin dancing stiffly, alternately leaning on their canes and using them as dance props. Everyone sings, "We stayed here waiting just for you. Waiting just for you-know-who, we stayed here at our rendezvous . . ."

Jeff tries a bit of tap dancing and winds up coughing and clutching at his chest.

"For all of us knew we could count on . . .uh, who was that again? Oh! You!"

A repentant Muffy sings, "Oh, well, this is all my fault I know, and my head is hung in shame."

"Well, now, could you speak a little slower please? And-and perhaps repeat your name?"

"I made my friends a promise, which I didn't even keep."

"Oh-oh-oh, please give Sam a shake, 'cause he's gone to sleep!" cries Jeff. They all cackle.

"I'd give anything to undo, this mess I've gotten you into," sings Muffy.

"If what you say is really true, then we won't have to ever wait for you. . .you . . . you . . . you," they sing in botched harmony. Then they all remove their beards and hairpieces (except Jeff, of course).

"Look! You're young again, glory be! Wait - was that a trick you played on me?"

They admit that it was, but that it was the only way to show her how upsetting it is when she's late.

Muffy has learned her lesson and promises to reform.

Now it's time to set up for the party, but Muffy left the gift back in her room. She rushes off to get it.

"We need it fast, you'd better hurry!" urges Mort.

"Oh, I'll be back on time don't you worry."

Jeff shows everyone the sign he made for the party. It says "Bon Voyage," which, as Jodie explains to Sam, means "have a good trip" in French.

"It is? Well, well, well," says Sam, "Hmm. Wonder how you say 'yo he ho' in French?"

Mrs. Pennypacker is in the stockroom, and it's time for the party. TXL summons her to the children's department.

"I do hope it's important," she says, "It's almost time for me to be off on my holiday!"

Muffy, walking by, hears her getting ready to go upstairs. She decides she must get there first. "I'll take the shortcut like before, so Muffy Mouse won't be late once more!" But this time, the loose pipe falls and Muffy is trapped underneath. "I'm not hurt, but I feel like a fool. I forgot that safety first should be the rule."

When Mrs. Pennypacker reaches the children's department, everyone jumps out to say, "Surprise!" She is completely surprised and delighted when she sees the food. "Oh, Mort! I haven't seen a spread like this since the Baroness Von Vindlebottom gave a welcome home party for her St. Bernard, Gregory."

Meanwhile, Jeff, Jodie and Sam confer. What will they do? Muffy has the gift, and she's late again!

"I guess our little trick didn't work," Jodie says.

Sam says they should have gotten her a watch, and set it two days ahead.

Meanwhile, Muffy realizes that her friends won't look for her because they'll think she's late as usual. "All that being late was not nice. Now I'm paying a high price." Steam and water squirt from the open pipe. "I'll miss the cake and all the party and that's what I get for being a smarty!" Then she begins banging on a metal box of some sort, hoping that someone will hear and rescue her. All she can do is wait.

The mime lady is waiting for something too. Is she happy about waiting? TXL asks. No! She's upset and annoyed and a little angry. What is she waiting for? A wide shot shows that she's at a bus stop and is waiting for a bus. Now a horn blows. Looks like the wait is over! But a miniature bus pulls up to the stop, much too small for her. She's completely confused.

Back at the party, Mrs. Pennypacker is trying to wait for Muffy, but she'll miss her flight if she doesn't leave soon. She decides to go get her bag, hoping that Muffy will be back when she returns. Jodie is upset. Muffy's never been this late before. If she doesn't get there soon, Mrs. Pennypacker will have to leave without her present.

Just then, Jeff notices a banging in the pipes. Sam says the old pipes always rattle. But this time, they're rattling in rhythm. Musical pipes? Sam tries tapping "shave-and-a-haircut" on the wall, Muffy taps back, "two bits."

"Hey, suspicious salamanders somethin' very strange is going on!" Sam exclaims.

"Muffy?" says Jodie. "Maybe that's Muffy banging on the pipes. Oh, she must be trapped somewhere in the store!

"With echoing pipes it'll be hard to find just which wall she's trapped behind," Mort says.

Jodie suggests they split up and search the whole store. "Keep your ears to the wall!" she suggests.

Sam takes Jodie's suggestion literally, so when he goes to the wall, and puts his ear against it, he realizes there's one ear free. Since he needs to keep both ears to the wall, he flips his head back and forth like a flipping pancake. Since that only gives him a headache, he goes in search of another wall.

Jeff and Jodie are now in the stockroom, calling through the wall. When Muffy cries out, Jodie thinks, at first, that Jeff has said something. Then Jeff thinks Jodie's saying something. They both realize it must be Muffy. They call through the wall. "Muffy! Muffy is that you! Muffy? Muffy? We're here, say something!"

"I've committed quite a blunder," says Muffy, "and a great big pipe I am trapped under."

Jodie tells Jeff to keep Muffy's spirits up while she looks for the entrance. "Don't worry, we'll have you out soon. Just hang in there. Oh, Muffy, we'll think of something, I promise." he says.

Mrs. Pennypacker comes along all decked out in tropical clothes. She clears her throat. "Jeffrey. Now I know you're not quite like the rest of us, but talking to a wall is not something one does in public."

"Oh, but - but, Mrs. Pennypacker, you don't understand."

"Oh, yes I do."

"No, you don't, you see, Muffy is trapped behind here."

Mrs. Pennypacker gasps and lets out a mighty shriek, "Oh, my goodness! BE BRAVE MUFFY! RESCUE IS AT HAND!" She nearly knocks Jeff over with her volume.

Meanwhile they've found the hole in the wall and Mort has climbed in with a rope. He crawls over to Muffy. Jeff and Jodie warn him to be careful, afraid the wall might collapse and trap them both.

"Muffy, I'm glad you're all right!" Mort says when he reaches her.

"Oh, Mort, you are a happy sight."

Mort tosses the rope over a big, sturdy pipe, and loops it onto the pipe that's on top of Muffy.

"I hope everything's all right," Jeff says, outside, waiting.

"Have faith, Jeffrey. Everything will be fine," says Mrs. Pennypacker, clutching his arm.

Now Mort pulls on the rope signaling to Jeff and Jodie to pull. They do, the pipe rises, Mort helps Muffy up and they both race for the hole.

"I'm covered in dust and grime, but we made it!" says Muffy. The sturdy pipe rocks, another pipe breaks, steam billows out and rocks fall right at the entrance where they have just escaped. "Just in time!"

Everybody is relieved - and shaken. Even the mime.

"Now that Muffy is safe," says TXL, "Mrs. Pennypacker can go on her holiday. Our mime lady wants to go on a holiday, too. Let's see if we can guess what she's going to do on her holiday." The mime makes swimming motions and poof! She's in a swimsuit and has a duck-shaped life preserver around her waist. "I guess she likes the water a lot!" says TXL. Suddenly two waves of water smack her from out of nowhere, leaving her very wet and quite perturbed.

Jeff and Jodie return to the children's department to find Sam, in a corner, pushing one ear and then the other against the walls on either side.

"I'm just doing what Jodie wanted." he explains, "It's the only way I could keep both ears to the walls. I knew I'd figure it out. Haven't heard anything, though." With that, he resumes bouncing between the walls.

Jodie tells Sam they've found Muffy and then quickly, Muffy presents Mrs. Pennypacker with her ticket. She's thrilled and doesn't know what to say.

"Well, you don't have to say anything. We'll just say, bon voyage!" says Sam, "That's French, you know."

"We know, Sam. We know!" Everyone answers. Then they sing, "Bon voyage, bon voyage, that's a nice way to say have a lovely holiday, bon voyage, bon voyage, Mrs. Pennypacker, bon voyage!"


Quizzes:

  • "Cocks crow in the morn to tell us to rise, and he who lies late will never be wise, for early to bed and early to rise is the way to be healthy and wealthy and wise." (After the cock in the animation crows, the youngster in bed still doesn't rise. "Can you see something else that might wake the boy?" we're asked. (The alarm clock). The alarm clock rings but the boy sleeps on. "Maybe we should try again!" says TXL. This time the alarm has gongs and cuckoos and cymbals and the boy leaps up horizontally and finally awakens.

Nursery Rhyme:

  • None

Notes:

  • I've wondered why they chose to have Muffy's friends pretend that 150 years had passed instead of a more credible amount of time. My guess is that by making everyone so very old, older than any actual living person, they were hoping to avoid offending the elderly, especially after they had gone to so much trouble in "Grandmothers" to dispel stereotypes about older people.
  • Why a beard on Jodie? My guess is that trying to make her look old otherwise would be too difficult. The beard, though unlikely, was a quick way to accomplish this without an extensive makeup job which Jodie would have been unable to do on her own.
  • Though the mime segments are usually separate from the rest of the episode, this time the mime was shown being relieved after Muffy is saved.
  • Sam's bouncing between walls was enhanced by a "honk-honk" sound effect that really enhanced the humor of the moment.
  • There was a nice bit of continuity when Mrs. Pennypacker urged Jeff to "have faith," and said that "everything will be fine," just as she had in "Hospitals" when Muffy was having her operation and Jeff was worried about her.
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