Adventures in Squirrelsitting
This episode has become one of my personal favorites—not so much for the content of the story per se, though it is a fun one, as for the foundation it created for all the great stories of Tammy and Bink that have graced the Café over of the past few years. Both Tammy and Bink have their roles as expanded one-shot characters in the fandom, a creative tradition among the Rangerphile fanfic writers.
Now, to the story. It all begins in Chinatown, giving one memories of Chip and Dale’s time they spent there in “To the Rescue”. This time, all the Rangers are along for the ride, and it’s a race of rickshaws as Monty and Snout pull hard and fast. Fat Cat has stolen the famed Maltese Mouse, an obvious reference to the equally famed stone bird of the “Maltese Falcon”. One might also note that the criminal in that movie (played wonderfully by Sydney Greenstreet) was nicknamed The Fat Man—one could wonder if he was the inspiration for Fat Cat.
Whatever the case, Gadget uses her harpoon gun to snatch the Maltese Mouse away from Fat Cat, but then a ramp appears in front of them all and up in the air they go! Now I realize that they’d gained some momentum, but unless all of them weigh a lot less than it appears, that just never could’ve happened—maybe their personal gravity was turned off momentarily?
Well, let’s chalk it up to Ironic Convenience ™. Fat Cat, Snout, and the Rangers go flying through the air. At the receiving end of these living projectiles is one lady squirrel, hanging her wash out to dry. This is the first of two views we get of her house, and it’s evident that Mrs. Squirrel (also known as Donna or Judith in the fanfics) takes a lot of pride in how things appear because her house is pleasant to the eye and tidy—at least for the moment. Then the Rangers plummet down and end up gang tackling her.
Chip and Dale congratulate each other for a moment on saving the Maltese Mouse, but then Fat Cat calls them outside where he’s captured Mrs. Squirrel’s girls, Tammy and Bink. Chip agrees to trade the statue for the girls, and Fat Cat drops them. Monty catches Bink, and Chip semi-catches Tammy as they end up in a tumble. This is one of the more fun moments of the series, when Tammy sees Chip for the first time. It’s the “knight in shining armor” moment for her and it’s reminiscent of the same moment that a teenage Shirley Temple had with Cary Grant in “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer”.
Now, Tammy is clearly a squirrel-sized version of the human Tammy played by Debbie Reynolds in “Tammy and the Bachelor”, a wonderful and fun little movie from the late 50’s co-starring Leslie Nielsen as her romantic interest. I really enjoy all the classic movie winks and nods the writers did during the series, and from time to time I discover yet another one I’d missed.
Back to the episode. In Gadget’s words, Mrs. Squirrel’s place is “a mess”. She suggests that they babysit Tammy and Bink, which pleases Mrs. Squirrel as it will allow her to entertain “her guests”. This is an indication of a parallel social thought among the animals that exists with humans. We might suppose she’s going to have a bridge night or a Tupperware party over there, or something similar.
The Rangers take the kids home (though Tammy would object to being called a kid) and it’s constant action. Dale and Monty are hard-put to keep up with Bink, and Tammy’s doing all she can to flirt with “Chipper” and lose Gadget like a bad memory. Gadget’s amused by all this at first, but she also doesn’t like being excluded by Tammy. One thing about this pic on the right—I was always impressed by this scene at how good a job they did with making Gadget’s ears 3-D like that. Usually, you see them from the front or back where you’re dealing with flat surfaces, but getting that side view right is a little more tricky—okay, so I’m fascinated by minutiae :-)
Monty and Dale meanwhile are feeding Bink, and Monty’s rattling on about how a “food-crazed ninja gerbil” taught him how to slice an apple. Before he can start, Bink’s sucked it up from the inside and asks for more. Then she somehow sneaks off and gets into the RangerPlane. This is definitely not good, and shows an added need for security. Bink plays with the controls and the Plane takes off.
It’s a real fiasco once the Rangers realize what’s happened, with Monty and Dale’s faces stuck to the Plane’s plungers, the balloon on the Plane pops, and Chip tries to save Bink and ends up falling with her through the air. Gadget is ready, though, and fires her plunger harpoon, giving Chip a rope to grab onto. He does, and up and down he bounces with Bink before his momentum gives out. Now Gadget didn’t have anything to tie that rope off with on her end, nor did she have time to—so she had to have held the harpoon gun and supported both Chip and Bink’s weight! That’s one strong mouse :-)
Gadget frees Dale and Monty from the plungers, whereupon Monty laments that “this babysitting business could end up killing us”. Meanwhile, Tammy’s in full hero-worship mode with Chip, calling his efforts “so heroic”. Dale and Monty tease Chip about it, and that wears out whatever little patience Chip had for Tammy. In the next scene in Ranger HQ, in Chip and Dale’s room, he cuts Tammy off short and tells her she’s “just a kid”. Tammy is upset and cries on the bunk bed.
Chip leaves, not hearing Tammy’s promise that she’ll do something to prove to Chip that she’s “just as good as Gadget”. He’s got his own problems at the moment, having raised the ire of Gadget and Dale. Gadget has a rare role here, in that she’s chiding Chip for being hard on Tammy. Then Dale bonks Chip for his insensitivity. Chip tries to defend himself, but all the others are against him and he realizes he’s stepped over the line. He returns to where Tammy and Bink are sleeping but finds that they’ve gone—Tammy’s letter saying that they’ve gone to Fat Cat’s to find the Maltese Mouse.
Now, one plot hole here—how would those kids know where Fat Cat’s hideout was? It’s possible they could’ve known, but since it was never established it does stick out. Still, the Rangers followed and for the first time since “To the Rescue” we’re back at Fat Cat’s Casino. Chip and Dale are disguised as a couple of chorus girls—much to Chip’s disgust. This brings to mind Clarice, and makes you wonder if these two actually were the original chipmunks, particularly when they start singing.
The song, namely “The Fat Cat Stomp” is an impromptu song meant to distract Fat Cat and the rest of the bad guys as Gadget uses Fat Cat’s private elevator to search for Tammy. The song sequence is a pretty fun one, with Chip and Dale having to duck kisses from the Goon Squad. Gadget meanwhile arrives upstairs and finds Tammy in Fat Cat’s office.
This scene for me separates this episode from just a commonplace cartoon, and shows a lot of what makes the Rangers special. Tammy nearly tackles Gadget in her relief and happiness at seeing a familiar face. Then Tammy remembers her jealousy and tries to bluff Gadget into leaving, but of course Gadget’s not having any of it. Tammy tells Gadget about trying to prove herself to Chip, and Gadget says she’s not trying to prove anything to Chip or anyone else. “You can’t make someone like you by trying to be someone you’re not, and you are Tammy. That’s special enough.” And how.
Tammy and Gadget reconcile and head downstairs. The boys are still at it, and now they’re singing to Fat Cat. And to their amazement Fat Cat starts singing too! Soon he and the Goon Squad are up, dancing and singing, and then this horde of look-alike cats in funky costumes are all dancing around them—looks like someone else has been using that cloning machine that they used on Gadget ;-)
As the song ends, Fat Cat somehow figures out that the night’s entertainment is actually the Rangers in disguise. They are captured and surrounded by dozens of bad guys and it looks bad for them. Cut to the next scene and yep, it’s bad. They’re in the canning part of the cat food factory now, about to be turned into tender vittles. Tammy manages to temporarily gum up the works, but in the end the Rangers are sent down the chute and have to play dodge ‘em with the array of devices for cutting up and pulverizing the cat food.
Fat Cat has a humorous little soliloquy about turning Bink and Tammy to evil, “But who’s got the time? Toss ‘em in!” And soon they and the Rangers are running for their little lives on the conveyor belt. Zipper flies up and socks Fat Cat on the nose, causing him to drop the Maltese Mouse, which falls down the same chute the Rangers did. The crime kitty shuts the machinery down just in time to spare the Rangers, and then Chip and Dale pop up with the Mouse. They drop it “accidentally” and the bad guys dive in after it.
In a few moments, Fat Cat and the Goon Squad are squished into little cat food cans and the Rangers have saved the Maltese Mouse and the day! Back they go to Mrs. Squirrel’s house, where Tammy’s not sure if she’s ready to be a Ranger, but she does know that Chip’s cute. She smooches him and everyone laughs while Chip blushes and we iris out to black.
Evaluation: Four Acorns out of five. A good solid episode with a lot of fun in it, and plenty of good feelings to take away from watching it. There’s action with the villains and action on the home front, making this episode seem a lot longer than the regular half-hour. That combined with the good characters and the little bit of quality interaction we see among the Rangers makes this episode a keeper. Gadget’s scene with Tammy makes it memorable, along with the “Fat Cat Stomp” of course :-)