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1987

Rich and Famous

Movie mystery type music plays as Jeff follows a long, twisting trail - of knitted yarn. It's snaking through the hallway, leading somewhere unknown, and Jeff has to follow it because, as he tells us, "I love a mystery!"

Meanwhile, on the other end of the trail, in the computer room, Sam is busy knitting. TXL tells him he's been knitting for 6 hours, 29 minutes.

"Oh, boy, no wonder my hands are gettin' tired. Can't stop now, though, no way."

"So this is where the yarn trail leads," says Jeff, coming in. "Sam, what are you doing?"

"Knitting."

"Well, I can see that, but what are you knitting?"

"A world record, I hope." Sam answers. He explains that he's trying to set a new world record for knitting the longest without stopping. Jeff wonders why he would attempt such a thing.

Sam explains that he wants to be in the "Complete Book of World Records."

"I'm gonna be famous. That's more important than anything to me," he says. Then Jodie appears on screen and asks Sam to come up to the children's department. On his way out, he trips.

"Sam, are you all right?" Jeff asks, alarmed.

"Yup!" Sam says, standing upright again. "Didn't miss a stitch!"

When he and Jeff reach the children's department, Jeff asks who brought in all the lights and cameras.

"Well, I must confess, I made the mess," says Muffy, popping up behind the counter.

"Oh, Muffy," sighs Jodie.

Muffy explains that it's all for a worthy cause, and she shows Jodie her new book, "How to Make a Million Dollars in Advertising."

Jeff wonders what kind of advertising.

"Oh, Jeff, commercials, like on TV. You know, ads, commercials, oh! Wait till you see."

"Oh, Muffy, now let me get this straight," says Jodie, "You're going to make a million dollars doing TV commercials and you've got the lights, the cameras, the whole bit."

"Yup! The whole bit. You've got it!"

"Oh-kay, I've got one more question. Sam, what are you knitting?"

"A world's record," Sam says.

Jeff explains just what Sam is doing and that he's been at it for 6 hours.

"I'm gonna be famous." Sam repeats.

"Oh, Sam, you can have your fame. Rich! Now, that's my game."

"Rich and famous," says Jodie doubtfully.

"Yeah, what's wrong with that?"

"Well, nothing, Jeff, it's just easier said than done."

"What are you going to sell in your commercials, Muffy?" asks Sam.

"Oh! The breakfast treat that can't be beat."

"Bargain Breakfast Cereal?" Jodie asks, reading the box.

"What's it taste like?" Sam mutters, not looking up from his knitting.

Jodie tries some and makes a face. "Eew!" she says.

"Well it might taste like fishing bait, but the prize is really great!" Muffy says.

So Jodie pulls out the prize. It's a toy airplane. But it's broken.

Muffy heaves a sigh. "Well, what do you expect for a dollar? A silver watch? A diamond collar?"

The others convince Muffy that selling broken toys inside cereal is just not fair. So she grabs the box, and with a mighty heave, she tosses it into a nearby trash can. Undiscouraged, she still thinks she'll make lots of cash.

"Muffy," says Jodie, "Money isn't everything."

"Well, it means a lot to me. I'll explain it musically," Muffy says. We fade to a shot of a fabulously dressed Muffy longing on a couch in a mansion, dressed in pink fur. "Money, money how I love the stuff! yeah! Money, money I just can't get enough!" she sings.

When the song is done we're back to just plain old Muffy in the children's department. "Muffy, what am I going to do with you?" says an exasperated Jodie.

Later on, in the stockroom, Sam meets Jodie again. He's doing his rounds, but he's still knitting. He's up to 7 hours and 15 minutes. He asks Jodie to help him pull the yarn through the door, and when she does a HUGE ball of knitted yarn breaks through and nearly topples her.

Sam admits that his hands are starting to ache and Jodie pleads with him to quit.

"And miss my chance to be famous? Never!" Then, in a low voice he adds, "Besides, Muffy dared me."

"What was that?"

"Muffy dared me," Sam confesses. "She said, and I quote, 'Sam can't knit, he'll just quit!' Well, I'll show her I'm no quitter!"

Then he continues his rounds, leaving Jodie thankful that despite Sam's world record and Muffy's get rich quick schemes, at least Jeff still has some sense.

Then Jeff comes in, tap dancing while holding a pizza. He says he's setting a world record of his own.

"Well, for what? For the person who can tap dance the longest holding a pepperoni and mushroom pizza over their head?"

"How'dya guess?" says Jeff.

"Oh, no, Jeff, not you too!"

"Well, why can't I be famous, too, Jodie? I mean, I don't want to be a nobody all my life!"

"But you're not a nobody!" Jodie insists.

Just then, Sam comes back through. He and Jeff exchange encouragement, but when Sam tries to tug the yarn behind him, he accidentally knocks Jeff off his feet. The pizza hits him in the face, leaving him with a face full of pepperoni and sauce.

"Jeff are you all right?" cries Jodie.

"Fine," says Jeff. "Anyone for pizza?" he adds ruefully, and then laughs.

Later, all cleaned up, Jeff enters the children's department, eating a slice of pizza. "I decided I'd rather eat pizza than dance with it," he explains. "Or wear it!" He looks at the toy counter and spots Muffy lying on a big frilly bed. He assumes she's worn out from her money making schemes, has given up and gone to sleep.

"Given up? That I'd never do," Muffy says, popping upright. "This mouse was waiting for you!"

"Waiting in bed?"

"Breakfast cereal. Forget all that," she explains. "Adjustable beds is where it's at!"

"Another salable something," Jeff says to us.

"Hey! Not just any old something, the best! It's the perfect way to get your rest," Muffy says. She hands him a card and tells him she's giving him a small part in the commercial.

Jeff looks at the card. "I'm the announcer!" he says excitedly. Then he clears his throat and drops his voice to a deep throaty purr and says again, "I'm the announcer." Muffy gives him his cue and he begins.

"How many nights have you been awake, unable to sleep, tossing and turning. (Muffy tosses and turns on the bed). You just can't get comfortable. You need Muffy's new automatic adjustable bed. Pamper your body. Raise your head. (Muffy raises her head). Raise your feet!" Now Muffy raises the bottom half of the bed, sandwiching herself in the mattress.

"Doesn't that feel great? Isn't this the way you'd like to sleep?" Jeff says. But as he gestures towards Muffy he sees her predicament and rushes to push the sides of the bed down. "Oh, Muffy!" he cries in his normal voice.

"Oh! Oh!" Muffy pants, "Sandwiched in between! Squished like a sardine!"

"Oh, Muffy I think your adjustable bed needs an adjustment!" Jeff says. He looks at the controls and sees a big red button, so he pushes it.

"Oh no! Oh!" says Muffy as the bed throws her up towards the ceiling. Jeff looks up and around, wondering where she's gone. Then he spots her and rushes over to catch her. She thanks him breathlessly and admits that this doesn't seem to be her night.

Sam is watching on the security camera. "Oh, boy, that Muffy!" he says. "She'll do anything to get rich." He has an inflatable toy turtle tied on the top of his head with a glass in it, and he's still knitting. "You wouldn't catch me looking that foolish I can tell you."

"Sam did you wanna see . . ." Jodie begins, coming in. Then she stops. "Sam, what is that on top of your head?"

That's what he wants to see her about. It's a waker-upper. He's so tired he's afraid he's going to fall asleep and lose the record.

"But what's that got to do with wearing a glass on top of your head?" Jodie asks. Sam shows her a pitcher of water on the counter. He asks her to pour the water into the glass. If Sam nods off, the water will drip in his face and wake him up.

Jodie agrees reluctantly. "But I really wish you would forget all this, Sam. You look so tired, and lookit, you've got dark circles under your eyes," she says, pouring the water.

"I just can't give up now. I told all my friends I was going to be in the record books." He half yawns. "If I give up, Muffy will call me a quitter or a chicken or something."

"Mr. Crenshaw, you sound just like Wendall Willoby," says TXL. Jodie agrees.

"Hold on! Hold on! I can see it coming. I suppose you're gonna tell me a Willoby tale and there's some kind of lesson in it for me. Well, go ahead, you won't be happy until you do. Besides, I kinda like those Willobys."

Jodie tells the story while TXL shows the pictures. The story is called "The Dare." It tells how Wendall Willoby was such a great roller skater that he was called "Wendall the Wonder" by the other possum kids. He even printed "Wendall the Wonder" on the back of his T-shirt.

One night after skating, one of the kids dared Wendall to jump across Red Rock ravine. On his roller skates. Although, deep inside, he knew that this was a very dangerous stunt, he decided to do it when the other kids taunted him and called him "Wendall the Chicken" and made clucking noises at him. So he skated down the hill and leaped into the air. Soon he was soaring over the ravine like a golden eagle! But then he began to fall.

Panicking, Wendall reached out and grabbed a nearby twig, and he dangled there until his Papa came along with a rope to rescue him. Papa hugged and kissed Wendall of course, but then he took away his roller skates and grounded him for two weeks. As he dangled from the tree for those two weeks, he had plenty of time to think about how foolish he had been to accept the deadly dare. The lesson? Never let others pressure you to do something that you know in your heart is wrong.

"I know what you're trying to tell me, but I'm still going to break that record," Sam yawns. "Muffy dared me and I can't back down now."

Jodie shakes her head in disbelief.

"Shall we tell him the story again?" asks TXL wryly.

Meanwhile in the children's department, Muffy is contemplating her two promotional failures and trying to think of something new. "Then I'll make my million. Maybe a hundred trillion!" A light bulb appears over her head. "Oh! I just had a glorious thought. Ooh! This idea is really hot!" She rushes off.

Jodie is still with Sam in the computer room. Sam is talking his way through each stitch. "Needle through, yarn around, push off. Needle through, yarn around, push off . . ."

"Oh, Sam, come on! You're exhausted. Can't you stop and just call it a good try?"

"No Jodie. I've gotta keep going. Gotta get my name in that record book and show Muffy Mouse that the name of Sam Crenshaw really means something.

"But it means a lot to me, Sam. It does!"

"Well, that's nice, I guess," says Sam.

Jodie sings, "Sam, Sam, you're such a dear man. Sam, Sam, Sam, I'm your number one fan. Though you pretend to be a bear, you're Winnie-the-Pooh under there. . . . You're gentle and you're loving and kind. A delight, a treasure to find."

"A treasure?" repeats Sam.

"You sure are!"

"A treasure!" Sam says happily.

Jodie goes on. "A gentle hand, a loving smile, well that's all part of the Crenshaw style, and through the years we've shared so much. Oh, the things we've done, the lives we've touched!"

"Oh the lives we've touched!" Sam sings (way off key).

Jodie laughs delightedly and continues to sing from the heart, "Sam, Sam, you're such a dear man. Sam, Sam, Sam, I'm your number one fan!"

"Oh, Jodie, you kinda make me embarrassed," says Sam, bowing his head humbly - and spilling his entire glass of water on Jodie!

"Oh! Oh!" Jodie cries.

"Oh! Sorry, Jodie, I . . . " as he flounders, the glass falls off his head, spattering her even more.

"Oh, boy," says Sam, knitting all the while. "Am I still a treasure, Jodie?"

Jodie laughs, putting her arm around him.

Later on, in the children's department, Jodie is dressed to the nines in red sequins and lacy red fake fur. Her hair is up and she is wearing false eyelashes. Muffy, dressed like a director with sunglasses and a megaphone, is fiddling with her hair.

Jeff, dressed in a white coat and bow tie over black pants, is standing in the foreground. "Somehow," he tells us, "Muffy talked Jodie into helping her with one of her commercial ideas. Well, you know Jodie. I mean, she's such a softie when it comes to helping her friends," he says with an air of amusement.

"Oh yo! Jeff! We're waiting for you!" Muffy calls. "I'll show you what you have to do!"

Jeff looks at us. "Guess I'm a softie, too."

Muffy instructs Jeff to stand at the bottom of a staircase. Jodie climbs up, muttering, "How do I get myself involved in these things?"

"Pl-laces everyone!" says Muffy authoritatively. "Let's wrap this up. Let's get it done!"

"Nearly ready dear?" Jeff calls up the stairs, "The limousine is waiting." He turns to the camera. "Today's beautiful woman. Perfect in every way. Perfect gown. Perfect hair, perfect eyes." Jodie slinks down the stairs with only her eyes showing behind a big, fluffy fan. "And now, perfect lips!" Jeff says, and Jodie lowers the fan. With her mouth she is holding onto a ludicrous pair of pink plastic lips. She blinks flirtatiously and fans herself while Jeff says, "You too can have these same beautiful, vibrant lips, guaranteed to never smudge or fade."

When he's finished his pitch, Muffy shouts, "Yeah! Yeah!"

Jodie, talking through the lips, is barely intelligible as she says, "It will never ever work!"

"Plastic lips! They'll really sell, and you agree, I can tell!" Muffy says.

"No I don't at all, Muffy, I don't agree!" Jodie says, pulling the lips out of her mouth. "Plastic lips? Come on! They're ridiculous! You can't talk with them in your mouth and besides - they make me look like a clown. All I need is a big red nose."

Jeff looks at us. "I don't think Muffy's going to make a million dollars on this idea, do you?" He puts a pair of plastic lips in his mouth, and then looks at Jodie, who has put hers back in. He fishes in his pocket and then fastens a big red nose onto Jodie's face. Jodie rolls and bats her long-lashed eyes. (They, too, are adorned with sequins).

Moments later, Sam is still knitting away, a huge ball of knitted yarn sitting nearby, as he talks to Muffy in the children's department.

"Let's see there, Muffy. You've tried Bargain Breakfast cereal, and adjustable beds and plastic lips." All the products are stacked neatly next to her. "Got any other bright ideas to make a million dollars?"

"Well, you can, uh, make a bet I'll think of something yet!" Muffy replies.

"I know just how you feel, little buddy," Sam says, "No matter how my head hurts or how badly my head throbs I'm gonna keep on knitting until I break that record."

"Heads up, coming through," calls Jodie, and she and Jeff ride into the children's department on a tandem bike and crash into a pile of boxes near the wall.

"I guess we better practice some more Jeff, before I hit the road," Jodie says, sitting with Jeff under the fallen bike, "Or I am really going to hit the road," and she points downward.

Sam and Muffy are curious. "Why the bicycle built for two, I mean just what are the two of you trying to do?" Muffy asks.

Jeff explains that Jodie is entering a cross-country tandem bicycle race and he's helping her practice. The race is next week.

"Jeff, have you got those handcuffs?"

Jeff pulls them out and fixes them on his wrist and to the bicycle. "Just one snap and we're all set!" he says.

"All right. Okay, I've got the blindfold."

"Blindfold?" Sam asks.

"Oh, and don't forget the kazoo!" Jeff adds.

"Kazoo?" Sam exclaims.

Jodie begins playing the Today's Special theme song on the kazoo as Jeff bops along.

"Hey, do you mean to tell me that you're going to ride in this race blindfolded, handcuffed to the handlebars and playing the kazoo?" Sam asks.

"Yeah! Great idea isn't it?" Jodie says, and then resumes playing the kazoo.

"'Great' isn't the word, it's absolutely dumb and absurd!" Muffy says.

Jodie pulls the kazoo from her mouth. "Are you kidding? When I come across that finish line blindfolded, playing a kazoo, I am going to be famous!"

"Yeah and not to mention rich, too," Jeff chimes in. "I mean, I bet you can sell your story to a movie producer or a magazine!"

"Oh, come on! What good is money in your purse if you're in the hospital, or worse?"

"Yeah, and who cares about fame?" protests Sam, "I mean, that's not the most important thing in the world, you know."

"Exactly," says Jodie, pulling up the blindfold. "But, uh, that's not what you two said earlier."

"Remember Muffy?" asks Jeff.

A little balloon over Muffy's head shows her singing, "Money, money how I love the stuff!"

"Remember, Sam?" Jeff continues.

Now a balloon appears over Sam's head. He's saying, "I'm gonna be famous. That's more important than anything to me."

Embarrassed, Sam and Muffy realize they've gotten carried away.

Jodie and Jeff explain that there really is no race, and that they were just trying to make a point.

"Well, you certainly did that," Sam says. "Guess I can stop knitting now. I don't have to be in the record books! I can certainly do without this water dripping in my face every five minutes." Everyone laughs. "Besides, I would've had to keep knitting for another six and a half days to break that silly record. I'm beat!" He yawns.

"I guess I don't need this crazy book anymore," adds Muffy, "I mean, what do I need a million dollars for?"

"Okay, then, come on everybody, why don't we help Muffy get all this stuff cleaned up and we can get things back to normal around here!" says Jodie.

"Jodie, do you have the key for the handcuffs?" asks Jeff, who is still attached to the bicycle.

"No, Jeff," Jodie says. "I thought you had it."

"No," Jeff says.

"Uh-oh," says Jodie, giving Jeff a sheepish look.


Quizzes:

  • Who's the biggest animal in the world? The African elephant, the blue whale or the hippo? (The blue whale, which is not a fish but an air breathing mammal. The screen fills with water and the whale takes a deep breath and holds it as he swims off).
  • The longest earthworm in the record books is over 2 1/2 meters long. (The cartoon shows a bird trying eat a worm, but on the other end, the long, long worm has wrapped itself around a tree. The bird finally wins, but is too exhausted to eat it.) "Can you imagine what kind of fish you could catch with that?" TXL asks. Out of a nearby lake pops a monstrous fish with a napkin tied around its neck, holding a fork and knife, startling both the bird and the worm.
  • Which is the fastest on land? The jack rabbit? The deer? The cheetah? (They're all lined up at a starting line of a race. The cheetah leaves the other two in the dust). We switch to a video of a real cheetah running, and then back to the animated cheetah, running Road Runner style over the tail of a house cat. "Not your average pussycat!" says TXL.
  • There are some strange world records out there. Records for bathtub races, bed races, records for balancing on one foot and the most hiccups. "Now if you could stand on one foot while hiccuping in a bathtub on a bed in a race, then you've really got something!" (We see animation of a hiccuping boy on bathtub on a bed, zooming on a course past 3 judges, who all hold up the number 10!)
  • Who's the slowest animal in the world? The snail? The turtle? The caterpillar? (The snail. It takes it over a minute to go a meter.) "So, if you ever want a snail to come your birthday party, invite him a year ahead of time!" TXL advises. (In the cartoon, a man answers the door to a snail carrying a gift. The man has white hair and a long white beard and looks surprised. The snail whips out a noisemaker and begins blowing it.

Nursery Rhyme:

  • None

Notes:

  • One thing we never knew: Who put the glass on Sam's head in the first place before Jodie came in and poured water in it?
  • Some clever puppetry enabled Sam to knit continually through the episode. On close up shots, two hands were needed and those two hands were actually knitting, apparently while another puppeteer moved Sam's mouth. At other points of the episode, however, in far away shots, Sam's nonfunctional hand was attached to one of the knitting needles and the other hand made simulated knitting moves.
  • More clever puppetry: Muffy's paws were attached to the pair of sunglasses she wore as the director of the plastic lips commercial. This enabled her to snap the glasses off and appear to put them back on.
  • In the scene where Jodie sings to Sam, it's amazing how strong the connection is between human and puppet. Love and true friendship shines through. This kind of connection is not uncommon on Today's Special, undoubtedly because of the close real-life relationship between the human actors and the puppeteers.
  • What was never clear: Did Muffy create the products she sold in her commercials or just find and market them? The bed was described as "Muffy's" adjustable bed, but I got the distinct impression that "Bargain Breakfast" already existed before she decided to market them. (Oddly, the cereal box was tossed in the trash but later reappeared with Muffy's other rejected items).
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