When I finally sat down to watch A Very Merry Cricket, I had no idea that it was the sequel to an earlier cartoon, A Cricket in Times Square(also based on a book). So I was quite confused as to why a good half of Cricket Christmas is about a cat & mouse reminiscing about the Cricket, and trying to find him, all intertwined with flashbacks. SOme Google research after my initial viewing cleared all this up(there's even a third cartoon, Yankee Doodle Cricket, which i've yet to watch).
In the middle of Times Square, and the busiest shopping season of the year, best friends Tucker the Mouse and Harry the Cat(MASS HYSTERIA) are upset that the world seems to have lost the true sprit of Christmas. They decide that the only thing that will remind mankind what Christmas is all about, is local quasi-celebrity Chester C. Cricket. A Cricket who can mimic any piece of music he hears. Apparently in the first cartoon, Chester saved a train station magazine stand that was going broke with his music prowess.
Tucker & Harry train up to Connecticut, where Chester lives. The best part of the trip is the mangy alley cat who keeps trying to eat Tucker(or take him home to the wife and kids for them to eat).
They get Chester back to Times Square, with the hopes that maybe this one cricket can remind everyone what Christmas is all about. Somehow.
I can't be too harsh for the thin-as-paper plot, since this is a kids cartoon from '73, based on a kids book from the '60s, because it IS meant for kids. Plus the message about the Holiday is just as poignant now as it was in '73(unless you're the religious type, then the lack of Jesus may annoy you).
The main reasons to watch this special, for me at least, is the gorgeous animation by the great Chuck Jones, and Mel Blanc doing an off-brand Bugs Bunny voice for Tucker the mouse.
Included is the YouTube link to the whole cartoon, which I highly recommend giving a watch. Even better if you have kids. Mix it with viewings of Rudolph and Peanuts, which I feel that A Very Merry Cricket could stand beside today, all for it's simple message.
- Tom Kingsmill
Last Blog On Dead End Street