I haven’t talked about this much, but one of the things that drew me into TV Tropes Wiki was the revelation that I am not the only person who is weirded out by things like what we call Furry Confusion. It’s pretty much a catch-all term for some of the brain farts that occur when your characters are animals and your writers are human.
In the case of this special that I only vaguely remember from when I was a kid, we’re confronted with a lot of things that are thought-provoking in this regard.
Our hero is a little bear named Ted. He lives in the bear city of Bearbank, where everyone is a talking bear and they live in little houses and eat honey sandwiches. And spend the worst part of winter sleeping in dens to conserve food and energy. Even though they can farm and store their own food and warm their houses. So… yeah, best not to bring this up as it kills the entire plot.
Anyway, Ted wants to experience Christmas. So while all the other bears in the bear city get on the bear airplanes to fly to the dens in which they’ll spend the winter (???), Ted heads to the human city. There, he asks the humans where he can find Christmas, and they send him to a toy store. Ted talks to the toys in the store (again, ???) and after some adventures, he meets Santa Claus. Santa sends Ted to the house of a little girl, and tells him to wait for Christmas under her tree. When the little girl wakes up, she receives Ted as a present; her own Teddy Bear.
The Best Parts:
7 seconds in – Family Home Entertainment?!
42 seconds in – Have a trippy Christmas!
2 minutes in – Already this is positively dripping with Furry Confusion.
4 minutes in – Like, why is Ted shaving?
8 minutes in – This animation is almost painfully 70’s.
12 minutes in – Coffee, Ted. Lots of it.
14 minutes in – So Ted left the Bear City and now he’s in a human city?
16 minutes in – Continue to have a trippy Christmas!
17 minutes in – Also, suddenly Ted can talk to toys?
19 minutes in – Just wait for Spottyman to show up!
20 minutes in – OMG, I remember this one scene?!?
23 minutes in – Uh… uh? And have some trippy rotoscoping with your Furry Confusion!
25 minutes in – AUUUUGH WTF SCARY-ASS BEAR COSTUME?!?
I’ll be honest. I watched this via an old Family Home Entertainment video, and FHE had the tendency to pad shorter programs with extra content that was often tenuously related (public domain cartoons and the like). Here, they’re having a person in a terrifying bear costume read the books that tell of the further adventures of Ted E. Bear at us in the form of a newscast. Ah, the early days of home video.
27 minutes in – And they aren’t done with dealing out the Furry Confusion either. That other bear is telling Ted about the time “when the first bears came to this country”. What, 38 million years ago?
29 minutes in – At this point, I want to know if there are any other species-specific banks / cities / ect. operating in this world. And how far does it go? Would the symbiotic mites in our eyebrows have their own banks?
32 minutes in – And suddenly, Ted is ALMOST as badass as Barney the dog!
33 minutes in – “Gosh, this fictional universe of talking bears who have their own cities and banks and airports and who evidently turn into teddy bears when they enter the human cities is making a little too much sense. Let’s throw Dracula into the mix!”
35 minutes in – For the last time, Reindeer do not look a thing like White-tailed Deer! There are other things to be bugged by here, to be sure, but Misplaced / Misidentified Wildlife drives me nuts because eventually you get the sense that it is the hardest f***ing thing in the world to do the research.
38 minutes in – “Hey, Granpaw Squirrel, what’re men?”
39 minutes in – I was distracted from this for a split-second, then I looked up and saw the Orc Army. So yeah.
42 minutes in – Aww, it’s like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” — except trippier and dripping with Furry Confusion.
45 minutes in – Not that I want this to go any further, but I do kind of want to have these stories elaborated on.
46 minutes in – FHE TRAILER PARK! Damn, those Mirthworms are like pure refined Kawaii, and who knew there was a Faeries movie to go along with the Flight of Dragons movie?
Classic Lines of Dialogue:
“This could only happen to a Pisces.” – Patty Bear (word, sister)
“We can put a bear on the Moon, but we don’t understand what Christmas is!” – VonBear (Um, the bears explored space too?)
“Next year, you have to try up north. That’s where all the movie bears hibernate!” – Patty
~*~ Poetry Corner ~*~
“Merry Christmas! / Merry Christmas! / May the dreams you dream come true! / Merry Christmas! / Merry Christmas! / Merry Christmas to you!” – the Toys’ merry little song.
Things I Learned from this Movie/Book/Whatever:
* – Bears fear canines (other than Barney, I mean).
* – Bears used to celebrate Thanksgiving but they have lost the True Meaning of the holiday.
* – All the Halloween people live in a scary mountain a few miles away from a city of talking bears.
Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures? These are indeed going to save this movie, as Ted is adorable.
Good Soundtrack? It’s cheesy.
Hot Guys? No.
Pretty Scenery? The background art was quite inventive.
Nifty Animation/Special Effects/Illustrations? Yes on two counts: the animation is okay but the illustrations in the books are very lively with adorable, expressive characters.
Drinking Game Potential? Drink when there is a terrible bear pun.
Head Movie Potential? With the Furry Confusion and trippy animation, oh my yes.
Jordan trying to figure out what’s really going on in the ending of the special; whether Ted turned into a Teddy Bear or what.
A DePatie-Freleng Enterprises Film made in 1973. Written by John Barret, based upon his own story, and Larry Spiegel, and directed by Gerry Chiniqui and Hawley Pratt.
Tommy Smothers, Arte Johnson, and Barbara Feldon.
Wikipedia Page – It’s very brief, but the note that plush Ted E. Bears were sold in stores after this special makes the ending even stranger.