Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Magic Show

NBC Night Court publicity photo.
Harry Anderson would've turned the big 7-0 back on the 14th. While he's best known for playing Judge Harold T. Stone in Night Court, for years before that, he was a fairly prolific street magician. His performances would eventually lead to gigs on Saturday Night Live which would then lead to guest appearances on Cheers.

It was clear that magic was something that Anderson really wanted to do and acting was just something he had to do in order to perform his magic. On Night Court, his magic was very prominent early on but was put on the backburner in later seasons. Him performing magic was non-existent on his next show Dave's World. From articles and obituaries I've read, Anderson wanted to be known more as a magician and not an actor which prompted him to open a place in New Orleans to showcase his magic.

After Hurricane Katrina, Anderson and his wife moved to Asheville, North Carolina where he went into a kind of semi-retirement until his death in 2018. I love watching Harry Anderson on SNL or late-night talk shows performing his magic and being able to be a true performer. One of the weirder places Anderson showcased his magic was on the British/Canadian children's television show, Noddy.

Noddy premiered in 1998 and was set in an antique shop helmed by Noah, whose grandchildren hung out at the shop. Animation from the earlier series Noddy's Toyland Adventures was used when Kate, one of the grandchildren, told a story about something related to the main plot at hand. Anyway, Anderson plays Jack Fable, a magician whose car has broken down in Littleton Falls, so let's get into it.

We start out with the decent but saccharine theme song. While doing research, many said they loved the theme song. Again, it's decent. I like that it shows the cast. Not very many children's shows do that.

Bonita Flamingo wants to put on a magic show and needs both a magic wand and top hat in order to do that. The puppets then go off to find the box of magic tricks that are apparently in storage somewhere in the shop.

Warlow Weasel hints to the audience that he's going to sabotage the magic show by taking the magic wand. Just because he wasn't invited. That's a good message to send to children.

Meanwhile, Officer Carl Spiffy is telling someone to move their car, unfortunately they can't because it's broken down. Probably because it looks like a real-life Little Tykes car.

Officer Carl (Officer Spiffy?) begins writing this man a ticket because he's blocking traffic. The man, who we learn is Jack Fable, gets out of it by using magic and bribing the officer with milk and cookies he pulls from his coat.
Your human laws don't apply to magicians!

Meanwhile, Kate is upset because D.J. won't perform in the talent show with her and she wants her grandfather, Noah, to force him. Noah can't do that but when D.J. shows up, Noah asks if there is anything he would like to do for the talent show. D.J. says "Magic."
"Do you know any magic tricks?"

"Not really," is basically D.J.'s answer.

Noah and D.J. go to look for the box of magic tricks, unaware that the puppets (toys?) have already gotten to it so they can use it for their magic show. Noah apparently has a box of "mumblety-peg" in storage which I am just imagining as a box of knives.

Kate, being selfish, thinks D.J. should forget about magic and just sing and dance with her. Truman, Kate's younger brother, is wowed by magic and wants D.J. to teach him. Kate says that magic is bad and that you shouldn't play with it. "What happens?" "Bad, bad things. Things you don't even want to know about." To hammer this point home, she tells us a story about when Noddy got mixed up in the crazy, evil world of magic.

Noddy buys some magic from Sailor Sam so he can impress his friends. Almost immediately, Noddy spills the magic causing Tessie Bear's dog, Bumpy Dog, to disappear. Somehow, Tessie Bear is placed under a sneezing spell and I am already tired of this story. Noddy chastises Bumpy Dog for causing enough trouble but I'm pretty sure this is all Noddy's fault. Neighbor Tubby Bear steals one of the spells and spikes his mother's lemonade causing her to bark like a dog. After causing a toy sailboat to fly away and Mr. Plod (the local policeman) to constantly sing and dance, among other things, Noddy figures it's time to visit the smartest person he knows: Big Ears. Big Ears tells Noddy he shouldn't play with something he doesn't understand and then pistol whips him. Wait. No. He just takes the magic spells and burns them. Through deus ex machina, the magic is reversed and everything returns to normal and everyone even forgets what happened.

Overhearing Noah being unable to find the box of magic tricks, the toys agree to return the box to the humans and do their magic show later. D.J. scares Truman by "removing" his finger which impresses Jack who is roaming the store while his car is being repaired. Jack then shows D.J. a thing or two and after making Aunt Agatha disappear, Kate suggests D.J. ask Jack to teach him magic. "Yeah! He's the best!" D.J. agrees.

Jack refuses because a magician never reveals his secrets. D.J. says that Jack would probably teach his own kids which strike a nerve with Jack. Since he's a traveling magician, he doesn't really get home to see his kids very often. Jack then says good-bye and takes his leave.
Come back, Jack!

On the balcony that she reappeared on, Aunt Agatha finds the box of magic tricks. As D.J. goes through the box, Kate finishes the Noddy story which I decided to finish all in one chunk up above. Her tone with magic seems to change as she tells Truman that D.J. won't get in trouble like Noddy because Noddy was playing with a different kind of magic. Look, is magic the tool of the Devil or not. Pick a lane, kid.

He's back!

D.J. is having trouble doing magic. Luckily, Jack has had a change of heart and has returned. We then get a montage of Jack teaching D.J. magic while the toys sing.
I don't like how suggestive this is...

After teaching D.J. some magic, Jack takes his leave again, this time heading home to teach some magic to his own kids. Jack then gets in his tiny car and drives away. D.J., from the middle of the street, waves good-bye. There is no talent show. The episode is over. Roll credits.
He's gone for real this time.

There is a lot of stuff I didn't even comment on, wanting to focus on the plot and Harry Anderson. You can watch the episode on YouTube here.