Thursday, January 28, 2021

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Toto a Go! Go!

Yay, an episode starring what is probably the most underused character in Oz circles, Toto! (Fun fact: Toto is the character with the most screen time in the famous 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz. Yes, you see more of Terry than you even see of Judy Garland!) And the DatWoO version of Toto is a real cutie pie! One night, he's awoken by a mysterious wailing sound, so he goes off to investigate, visiting everyone in their bedrooms. (Yay, these cartoon makers remember that the Scarecrow and Tin Man don't sleep!) A dash through the kitchen is also fruitless. It turns out the sound is coming from outside the Emerald City, but he can't find it in Munchkinland, Wilhelmina's castle, or the Haunted Forest. He is menaced by orks, gets caught in a storm, and befriends a family of beavers, but still no sign of what's making the sound! The orks grab him, but he bites them and is hurled to the ground, only to be saved by a friendly stork. (Shades of the Scarecrow in the river in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!) Toto keeps following his ears while hiding from the orks. He eludes them, and finally finds the source of the noise: A lost baby ork, clinging to a rock in a river. Eluding some five-eyed river sharks (!), Toto rescues the orkling and, after more shark encounters, gets it to shore. The orks menace him again at first, but their baby explains everything, so they ake him back to the palace instead. Toto jumps into Dorothy's room, licks her face, and then circles three times before laying back down in his own bed.

This was one that I really, really enjoyed. The crew were clearly trying to do something different, in that Toto is the star, almost all of the characters we see are animals, and there's no dialogue. Plus, it takes place at night, which we don't see too often in this show. It was lovely and charming. Toto's final flight over Oz on the ork's back is gorgeous, very well conceived and animated. Oh, I'm still annoyed that the orks are giant carniverous birds with teeth instead of the majestic creatures seen in The Scarecrow of Oz, but this story needed some sort of menace, and having established them, it may as well have been this version of orks.

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