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A Claymation Easter

     "No, you're a pig. And that's a rabbit costume. I'm very sorry, but you're not a rabbit. Next!"

--  An Observant Official   

 

     

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Sights &
Sounds:
A
Claymation
Easter
(1992)
 Original Airdate:
  April 19, 1992
  CBS
 Will Vinton Productions /
 Columbia Broadcasting
 System (CBS)
 

 
One Frame
at a Time:
Creep & Kooky
Stop-Motion
Animayhem!

A Claymation Easter

 

Well, it appears that Wiltshire Pig has fully recovered from his last adventure, and along with Vince, his haggard but loyal employee, tries to perfect yet another quick, get-rich scheme. This scenario finds them in Wiltshireís Quonset workshop, running field tests on a new shark proof diving suit. Wearing the allegedly shark proof mesh, Vince is dangled over a tank, where he express that since Wiltshire designed it, perhaps he should be the one wearing it -- just as the giant shark roars out of the tank and swallows him whole. Wiltshire notes that the test results are "inconclusive."

Positive that he is brilliant but cursed to fail, Wiltshire goes back to the drawing board. Tuning the radio to the Dr. Spike show, since Easter is only a week away the celebrity analyst (-- kind of the bunny version of Frasier Crane --) is interviewing the Easter Bunny. And after Spike starts taking questions from callers Wiltshireís ears perk up when one asks why E.B. turned down a five million-dollar endorsement deal for tennis shoes. Answering he always turns down endorsement, the Easter Bunny claims his position is an ancient and sacred trust, and he wonít violate them for money. Intrigued, Wiltshire calls in and asks what if, heaven forbid, something "tragic" happened to E.B: Who would replace him? 

Told that, according to ancient customs, a new Easter Bunny would be chosen by a contest of champions, armed with that information, Wiltshire hatches another mad scheme. Disguising himself as a vacuum salesman, he knocks on E.B.ís door, blusters his way inside, and then cranks up the SUX vacuum cleaner, sucking up everything inside the house -- including E.B. Phase one of his plan complete, Wiltshire hauls his captive, still trapped in the vacuum cleaner, back to his lair. As he chains the vacuum to a post (-- E.B.ís eyes and ears are exposed out the top), the news breaks over the radio that the Easter Bunny is missing and the police suspect foul play. And, if he isnít found by Friday, a great Easter Race will be held to determine a replacement. Wiltshire, of course, plans to be that replacement, but when E.B. says that a pig canít be the Easter Bunny his captor warns that one more contrary word and heíll use the vacuum to sweep under the fridge.

To be the Easter Bunny, Wiltshire must think, act, and in a sense, become a bunny. So he turns to Dr. Spike for help. Wearing a bunny suit he claims to be a pig trapped in a rabbitís body, and wants "to come out of the carrot patch" -- by Friday at the latest. Spike is suspicious, says being a rabbit isnít as easy as it sounds, and isnít sure if he can divulge any privileged information. But, he finally agrees when Wiltshire says it was his motherís dying wish that he become a rabbit.

But being a rabbit is quite a commitment of nuance, subtlety and fluffy tail waving. To start, Spike gives Wiltshire a stack of textbooks to read and theyíll start training in the morning. The first lesson is burrowing into a garden and stealing vegetables, and so Wiltshire digs a tunnel and starts pilfering carrots -- until heís discovered by a vicious bulldog and torn to pieces. (I have the feeling that Spike is on to Wiltshire and is running him through the wringer on purpose.) The last test is an existential/Zen like exercise: the art of freeway crossing. Taking Wiltshire to a lonely stretch of road, Spike gives his student a nice Yoda speech about stretching your senses, becoming one with the pavement, and to just flow across the pavement. Obviously, Wiltshire wasnít listening because every time he sets foot on the road, heís flattened by a truck that roars out of nowhere. 

After three disastrous attempts to cross, Spike takes whatís left of the battered Wiltshire home to his workshop, where Spike spots a familiar set of eyes and ears protruding from the vacuum cleaner. But Wiltshire notices, too, and springs a trapdoor, sending both Spike and E.B. into a pit. Above, Wiltshire gloats that by this time tomorrow, he will be the Easter PIG! (Cue maniacal laughter and snorting fit.)

The Great Race is to be held at a large coliseum and itís already filled to capacity. When Wiltshire approaches the officialís table and tries to register, he claims to be a rabbit but they easily see through his disguise. But, after finding out that there is no written rule that only rabbits are allowed to compete, our boy threatens to sic the ACLU on them unless he's allowed to enter. Fear of another lawsuit quickly gets him in the Great Race. Meanwhile, back at the workshop, Spike and E.B. are suspended over the shark tank until the big fish jumps out and swallows them. Inside the shark's belly, they find Vince, alive and well, playing a game of solitaire.

Meantime, phase one of the Great Race is about to start, so Wiltshire and the other contestants step up to the starting line. The starterís pistol is fired and Wiltshire takes off running but soon realizes no else has. He looks back and sees the other bunnies are perched on top of some nests, trying to hatch an Easter Egg. Wiltshire sits on his, too, but quickly loses his patience with the recalcitrant egg. He knocks on the shell and orders the chick to come out. But the surly occupant refuses, saying heís not done incubating yet. Not to be denied, Wiltshire places a bomb beside the egg and the resulting explosion cracks the egg open -- and takes out a couple of rivals as well. Waving the white flag, the chick surrenders and the crowd boos Wiltshire's victory.

Back inside the shark, Vince suggests they build a fire, like they did in Pinocchio, but Spike says thereís too much stomach acid built up. But this gives Spike an idea: he breaks out in song, singing "Please Release Me" with a mournful, soul-wrenching kick. It quickly works on E.B., who starts sobbing and hiccuping. The shark, however, will take a little longer to sway.

Phase two of the Great Race is the Easter Egg delivering contest. Here, an obstacle course with several cardboard cutouts of children are strategically placed on the field, where the contestants will be scored on time and style points. And as the other rabbits take up their egg baskets and start up their mopeds, Wiltshire cranks up his VW Rabbit convertible (-- to the tune of "Low Rider") and activates the onboard computer. The convertible then transforms into a giant robotic mecha-bunny and stomps into action, crushing the other bunnies that get in his path. Approaching the first target, Wiltshire presses the fire button, which causes the hood to pop open, and two mechanical arms seize a couple of chickens and throttle them, causing them to drop a payload of eggs that splatter all over the target. Unable to take the stress, the robot-bunny quickly overloads and breaks down. However, Wiltshire has won again because he's the only contestant left standing. But! He still must pass one more test to be crowned the new Easter Bunny. The test? Freeway crossing. 

Back at the workshop, Spike kicks it up a notch and the shark starts to break down and blubber up. At the coliseum, a long stretch of pavement magically appears. The crowd goes deathly quiet as Wiltshire approaches the strip, and cautiously takes a step out onto the asphalt ... and he's as surprised as everyone else when nothing happens. Taking a few more steps out, where still, nothing happens, Wiltshire is ecstatic and breaks into an impromptu victory dance (-- completed with a Michael Jackson crotch grab.) His mission accomplished, the crowd boos mercilessly as the victor approaches the empty throne, where his coronation as the new Easter Bunny will take place. But! Finally succumbing to the power of old Johnny Mathis tunes, the shark belches out the offending parties, whose escape trajectory sends them right toward the coliseum. The crowd spots them before Wiltshire is crowned, who scrambles out of the way as the true Easter Bunny lands on the throne; his rightful place. Wiltshire, denying any wrongdoing, backs on to the faux freeway, where he is promptly flattened by a truck. The real Easter Bunny is back and Spike leads the crowd in a rousing rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" as everyone wishes us a Happy Easter.

The End

A Claymation Easter is a wonderful follow up to Will Vinton's Emmy award winning Halloween special: The Claymation Comedy of Horrors. A visual delight that will keep the kids entertained, it also has enough laughs to keep the adults entertained, too. Seriously, keep your eyes glued to the corners of the screen to see what all the creators jammed into the frame.

While attending the University of California to study architecture and physics, Vinton became fascinated with the work of Spanish sculptor Antonio Gaudi and soon became obsessed with clay. He then started experimenting with stop-motion animation, and eventually formed his own studio. His first production -- a short called Closed on Mondays, was the story of a drunken bum, who breaks into a museum and witnesses the exhibits come alive. And the ending would have made Rod Serling proud. The film earned Vinton an Academy Award for best-animated short. After, Vinton continued to make animated short features and contributed some special-effects for Walter Murch's Return to Oz. His most ambitious project to date, The Adventures of Mark Twain, was also a critical success. I saw this once on PBS and would really like to see it again. I recall a segment on Adam and Eve, where Adam kept riding a log over a waterfall that kept cracking me up.

It was also about this time that his studio was contacted by an ad agency to do some commercials for a certain dried fruit. He made the dried fruit sing some old Motown tunes and the rest is history. The California Raisins quickly took on a life of their own and eventually led to a Christmas Special. I guess I should be thankful for this because the Halloween and Easter specials are probably a direct result of it. For a couple of years, Vinton was making features again, and Iím still waiting for Wiltshire Pig to attack St. Patrickís Day, or find love -- and make some bacon, on Valentineís Day.

Alas, these never came to pass, which is too bad. I honestly think Vinton was [this] close to achieving the same kind of cult status as Ray Harryhausen. Instead, all we will remember him for are the California Raisins and the Pizza Noid.

And that's just sad.

Claymation Easter (1992) Will Vinton Productions :: Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) / EP: Will Vinton / P: Paul Diener / D: Mark Gustafson, Will Vinton / W: Barry Bruce, Mark Gustafson, Ryan Holznagel / M: Jon Newton / S: Tim Conner, Brian Cummings, Krisha Fairchild, Todd Tolces

Originally Posted: 03/27/02 :: Rehashed: 10/05/2010

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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