|THE CABBAGE PATCH KIDS' FIRST CHRISTMAS (abc, 1984)
|Why was it such a
One of the most ironclad rules of the 1980's was if anything got popular, no matter what animal, vegetable or mineral it was....it had to get its own Saturday Morning program centered around it. And if a Rubik's Cube could get its own cartoon, the Cabbage Patch Kids' animated turn was inevitable. Yet all they got was one Christmas special. What could have gone wrong?
"Sure is cold up here! Whooo, I don't relish flyin' at Christmastime, but a new Cabbage Patch Kid's gonna be born! Down there in a secret spot in North Georgia!" A stork's gotta do what a stork's gotta do.
The stork flies low over an enchanted cabbage patch, pollinated by bunny bees. Yes, I typed "bunny bees." If a bunny bee has done its job and rubbed its butt on the cabbage just right....a baby comes out!
You didn't think the name meant nothing, did you? This is the actual backstory of the dolls -- they come from cabbage. Coming from cabbage is rough because cabbage isn't capable of cuddling, burping, or breast-feeding. That's why a Cabbage Patch Kid needs YOU!
"This here is Xavier Roberts, discoverer of the Cabbage Patch Kids. He and I are the only two who know where this place is!" Xavier Roberts is actually the name of the franchise creator. I couldn't tell you if he looked like this when he was 11 years old.
The Cabbage Patch Kids, despite coming from the same genetic vegetable matter, are all heavily diverse -- there's a cowboy, an army private, a Pointer Sister....They were only introduced to the shopping market a year ago, so they don't know much about Christmas beyond what Xavier tells them. "He's told us all about it! You decorate a tree, and hang stockings on a turkey!" The problem they have all throughout this cartoon is that when your mind is cabbage, it can be hard to absorb information.
It's time for Xavier to head home.
"Bye, kids! Don't forget what I told you about the
They decide to head for the city to search for the literal Spirit, leaving the safety of their secret garden. The stork mentions it's surrounded by Kudzu vines. Wow, really? Standard procedure when you see Kudzu is to destroy it immediately, or else it'll spread out of control. This is a strange narrative choice, but so are rabbit bees.
And so are our bad guys, natch. Narrator Stork says the Cabbage Patch Kids always have to be careful whenever they leave their garden or else they'll be spotted by Lavender MacDade, an evil old lady who wants to force the Kids to work in her mines. Yup, an evil granny....and why? "Because they are the ONLY ONES who can fit in the hole!" scowls Lavender.
Her two giant talking animal henchmen
are a deep-voiced rabbit named Cabbage Jack, and Boll
Weasel, who is self-explanatory.
While the Cabbage Patch Kids are bickering over which direction the city is, Lavender catches up with them and tries to catch them again. She's quite fast for her age, and it looks bad for the Kids. The villains lose sight of them for a moment, but only because they hide in a tree. Just when they think there's no way out, some lumberjacks arrive and concidentally think the very tree they're hiding in would be perfect for the city square. The Kids leave Granny in the dust!
As they enter the city, the Kids marvel at all the buildings, cars, and bums. The truck stops at an intersection and they hop off, ready to find this Spirit thing, whoever or whatever it is. But across the street.....it's Lavender! How'd she get THERE so fast?
......wait, it isn't Lavender. It's another evil old lady, named Bertha, with two accomplices of her own that aren't giant animals. Other than that, they look, behave, and sound exactly the same. Now that's lazy with a capital L. What did this writer have against the elderly?
Bertha's running a scheme where she walks down the street and pretends to be frail. As someone rushes to help her, that person gets his wallet stolen by the other two guys. From this point forward, the villain of the cartoon is Bertha. You ask why Lavender was introduced at all? NO IDEA.
The way these kids are running around town unsupervised, you'd think somebody would notice. Eventually, someone does -- a couple witnesses them standing in the middle of an intersection and has to stop everything to help them cross. "LOOK at you precious children," says Tress MacNeille in one of her earliest roles. (The credits call her "MacNeill.")
"I wish....WE could have children," she sniffles to her husband while holding a hanky. Well, today's your lucky day, Mrs. Infertile! For the low low price of $29.95 each Cabbage Patch Kid comes with a birth certificate and......no? Fine then. She walks off just making an observation.
Actually, the Cabbage Patch Kids got her money anyway. She dropped her wallet, and they're going to follow the address inside to return it. Unfortunately, Lav---er, Bertha and her thugs see the wallet, overflowing with bills, and they make a dive for it. They're graceful as hippos, missing the kid by a mile and landing in front of a wastebasket that says "DON'T BE A LITTERBUG Y'ALL" on it.
"Catch those.....THIEVES!" says the pot, pointing at the kettles. With nowhere to run, the Kids decide to hop through an open window.
Inside they hear a happy family yakking about how wonderful Christmas is. Said family doesn't know they've been invaded by cabbage children in the other room. "Isn't it amazing how Mom and Dad and Grandma are here, and how the Christmas spirit is in the house?" remarks a little girl. "AHA! The Spirit's in there! I'm sure they won't mind a small peek!"
They peek too hard and fall through the open door, and are busted by the girl. Only there's no one else in the room. "I was making believe! I'm an orphan!" she sobs. One Kid observes that if this is an orphanage, there should be other kids there. "They're all at people's houses for Christmas, 'cause they might be adopted!" But no one wants her because she has a Waynehead leg brace and the insurance costs would be too high. How depressing. If it makes her feel better, Ivy was even worse off.
"You don't have to worry about being different," assures one Kid. "Everybody's different!" They even sing about this, but I hit fast-forward the moment their voices started changing in pitch. They're missing the point again....since it ties into her independence, this is a difference she DOES have to worry about. What they should really be saying is that they met Mrs. Infertile, they have her address, and she's totally adopting her by the end of this story. That would cheer her up.
They do mention they're heading to a lonely couple's place, so they do that much. She decides to follow along. As they step outside, I can't help but feel they're forgetting something.....OH RIGHT. They're instantly surrounded by Bertha and Co.
"GET THAT MONEY! EMPTY THEIR POCKETS!" Bertha commands as the two thugs lift two Kids each up and down like barbells (which is pretty funny, if unintentional by the third-world animation company that patched this together).
"Tell me where the
money is....and you can work for me! Stealing and
scamming and picking pockets!" That's her best
Two of the Kids bite a thug's leg, and as he stumbles around he collides with the other thug and starts a domino reaction. They all fall down, go boom, and the Kids and the orphan race for their lives.
They run into the swanky "Prince Albert Hotel" to hide. They're safe from the crooks for the time being, but now they're being hunted by the hotel staff, who doesn't want "street kids" scuffing up their ritzy carpets. The Kids hide in a coat rack, and then who should step out of the elevator but....what are the odds, THAT COUPLE AGAIN. And Mrs. Infertile is still talking about wanting children! He would probably do anything to shut her up at this point.
How will they get the couple's attention without being seen by the hotel guards? "I've got an idea!" says Army Helmet Cabbage Patch Kid. His idea is to simply yell "HEY! LADY!" The lady doesn't hear it, but the guards do. What a stupid kid.
"Next time cause trouble at the Plaza!" the doorman orders. Dumb doorman, that's Eloise's job.
That Plaza remark doesn't mean this is New York City. Next they get chased into a park, but it isn't Central Park, it's "City Park." Bertha looks high and low for them, but she doesn't think to look under the bridge. The Cabbage Patchers sit there for a long time, long enough for it to get dark and carolers to come out. "Deck the Halls" is heard, only they sing "Bright apparel" instead of "Gay apparel." Cleansed for your protection!
"They're probably singing to the Spirit. We didn't get one peek at him!" a Kid laments. Are they still on that?
The next morning, they're sleeping soundly under the bridge when Bertha comes around for a second look, and this time she finds them. Swiping Army Helmet Kid's hat, which has the wallet inside, she remarks "Thieves ALWAYS keep their money under the pillow!" Is she seriously still calling them thieves? How is it an insult if you're a thief yourself?
Guess what? The offer wasn't refusable. "Now you'll work for ME! You'll crawl through windows and steal things for me, or you'll NEVER SEE THIS LITTLE BRAT FRIEND AGAIN!!"
I don't need to bore you with the details of how they get out of this one, but basically, they trip up the thugs again with another physics-stretching domino-effect maneuver, and the crooks land in the snow. This time, the police are patrolling the neighborhood, and they'd recognize those thugs' buttocks anywhere. "Those are the con men we've been looking for! And that orphan who's been missing from the home!"
The Cabbage Patch Kids insist the cops can't take her back to the orphanage, because they know a couple who might adopt her...if they can find her. If the Laws of Predictability are still being enforced, they should be reappearing right about...NOW! Mrs. Infertile walks over to the cop and instantly adores the orphan. But what happens next is unexpected....they adopt the red-headed Cabbage Patch Kid as well, simply because the wife loves freckles. Really. The other Kids are never going to see her again! And...they couldn't be happier!
Now that the CPKs all know about Christmas, they prepare to celebrate their first at home. They're still sore, though, that they never met the Christmas Spirit. Xavier corrects them and says "no, the Christmas Spirit is when you blah blah blah!" "Oh! Then we had it ALL ALONG!" they reply.
The cartoon ends where it began, with Narrator Stork. "You know, YOU weren't born in a cabbage patch," he says, pointing through the TV. Better leave it at that, Stork. "But like the Cabbage Patch Kids, you're still special! Because you're different!" And with that one lesson learned, no children in America were ever bullied for being different ever again. Ever.
Why didn't it fit in?
One more thing. At some point, this happens: