Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Rescuers Down Under series I'd like to see.

Ideally I'd like it to be a spin off following Cody's adventures, but the pieces you'd actually need to do the thing are generic enough that it wouldn't actually have to be in the same intellectual property and could be done as something wholly original.

I mentioned that I'd like to see such a series in the thread about The Rescuers Down Under.  It's worth noting that the first 20% of that movie is all Cody, the Rescuers of the title aren't called in until the evil guy with a shotgun and monitor lizard sidekick captures Cody.

We get to see Cody in action, and we get to see what Cody does.  Cody wakes up to a strange sound, puts on his shirt, grabs his pocket knife, packs sandwiches, and runs off.  He's joined by three small birds, which I think are laughing kookaburras and tells them he knows, wakes up Nelson the short beaked echidna, and three wombats and finally reaches Faloo, a female kangaroo who is "sounding the call" by blowing into a hollowed out tree that serves as an emergency siren type thing.

In other words we see him gathering his crew for a job.  When he arrives he asks, "Who's caught this time," which tells you what he does.  He frees animals that have been caught by poachers.

As it turns out, his crew is useless.  The eagle with a 40 foot wingspan he's being called on to save is high up on a plateau and none of his friends can scale it.  The birds could presumably fly up it, but once there there's not a lot they could do.  Their beaks aren't ideal for cutting rope, which leaves Cody and his pocket knife to do the rescue alone.

He succeeds, though in the process the eagle, who panicked at the sight of the knife accidentally knocks him off the cliff.  She saves him, of course, and he's treated to an amazing flight.  Then on his way back he sees a captured mouse but doesn't recognize that it's bait for a trap, he sets off the trap by freeing the mouse, and that's what allows the poacher to catch him and have the plot of the movie really be kicked off.  (The poacher kidnapped him because he wants the eagle and figures out that Cody knows where the eagle is.)

I'd like to see more of the adventures of Cody, or someone like Cody.

Cody is presented as normal except that he can understand some animals.*  His exploits aren't based on any kind of superpower but based on a desire to help, and possibly a lack of a developed sense of self preservation.

He's capable enough but doesn't always stop to think** and for all his impressiveness he's still just a little kid.

He's an ideal protagonist, basically.  He has flaws that make sense and could cause him serious trouble, he has the compassion necessary to drive him to do the things the audience will approve of, he's got courage but not so much that he doesn't show fear.  And he helps cute animals.  What more could you ask for?


The series that I'd like to see is this:

An animated show, with the look of traditional animation,*** which follows Cody (or someone like him) as he and his team work on an ongoing basis to help animals in need.  And the giant eagle is a must.  Because awesome.  Because the kid flying on the eagle's back was the stuff dreams are made of.  Because giant fracking eagle you can ride.

Eagles are not a taxi service, but when the giant eagle is a close friend who you've been through matters of life and death with sometimes it'll give you a lift and that is awesome.  I mean that.  There's some awe right there.  In fact, there's probably enough that you can take some if you're low on awe and it won't be missed because so much of the awe will remain.

And this show would age in real time.  Not second by second or even week by week, but for every year that passes the human protagonist would grow one year older.  (Aproximately.  Scheduling and such.)  You'd watch as the protagonist grew up and faced challenges and such and had to fit, "I run off into the wild to rescue animals," in with the growing responsibilities of real life.

Also, you know how I've been referring to the protagonist as "he" and similar pronouns?  That's a lie.  The protagonist would be transfemale and so part of growing up would be realizing that and transitioning.  And probably taking flack for that, though it depends on how isolated the protagonist's home is from civilization, how accepting local civilization is, and such factors.

Watching the show you'd see as the apparent boy went from being possibly ashamed, to accepting herself, to out, and as she grew up into a young woman.  And you'd see major milestones in her life, like when she got too big for the eagle to carry her and had to take up hang-gliding instead.  (She's never going to give up flying.)

Also, in terms of inclusiveness, while definitely want to think of child friendly and lack of nightmare fuel when it comes to animal mating habits, at least some realism ought to carry over so we should see happy gay couples, individuals who mutually agree that they have no intention of a lifetime commitment, polyamory, and the various other non-nightmare fuel things we see with wild animals.

I mean, seriously, if there aren't lesbian birds in a long running show with talking animals then something has gone wrong somewhere.  I'm not saying that the animals should talk about sex, far from it, but it's not as if it's ever been difficult to make it clear that an on screen couple is a couple.

Mixed relationships would also likely come up.  Sadly they've both passed away, as have various humans who knew them, but I will always remember the donkey (her name was Arizona) and llama (his name was Xanadu) who loved each other.  They were perfectly content to live in separate fields, but they flat out refused to leave one another's sight.  Their stable had to be built so that it straddled the fence between the two fields, otherwise they wouldn't use it.

And that's to say nothing of adoption.  (This is domesticated animals, but still: did you know ducks can suckle?  There is nothing in their biology that would lead you to believe that they could, but it turns out that when a cat adopts ducklings the fact that ducklings seek out warmth and food has, at least once, led to the ducklings suckling on their adoptive mother alongside the biological children of said mother.)

Actually, one of the things that annoyed me as the Ice Age movies went on is that they seemed to have a "keep it in the species" rule for romantic love.  In the movies different species are treated more like different races than anything else so you get unfortunate implications like whoa.

Pairing Manny and Ellie allowed them to make the point that people should be together based on wanting to be, not based on needing to be.  But then sticking Diego with Shira, and the fact that no where else is there a couple that crosses species lines, really makes it seem like the rule is that you can be family with anyone, but screw you you're only allowed to romantically love the people you're expected to romantically love.

I assume that part of this is that, while adoption does happen (once) in the movies, they want the possibility of biological children.  But that still doesn't leave me satisfied with what they're doing.

Animals are fully capable of surrogacy.  Studies on lesbian birds, for example, have shown that when they want a family one or both of them (I don't know of any studies on poly lesbian birds) will go off, find a willing male, get impregnated, and then come back so that they can lay eggs and raise a family together.


* Rules are never really laid out in The Rescuer's series and there's definitely a large helping of the rule of fun in how things are played.  This much is definitely true:
1 All animals are presented as being able to understand human language.
2 Some animals are presented as being able to speak.

I think a big part of the division in The Rescuers series is predation.  For the most part, good or bad predators can't speak.  They can understand speech but have to communicate to speaking beings via tone and body language.

But there are exceptions.  From the first move, a house cat can speak (does domestication matter?).  In both movies albatrosses can speak.  In the second movie a frill necked lizard (diet consists of insects and small vertebrates) can speak.

** He freed the mouse while the mouse was trying to warn him it was a trap and not pausing for a second to think why a mouse would be tied up in the wilderness, that's what got him caught.

Then he made his situation worse when he insisted on saying that the poacher was a poacher instead of playing along with the poacher's lie that the trap was a hole dug by the poacher's sidekick (a monitor lizard.)  Telling someone, basically, "You're guilty and I'm going to try to get you arrested," while in the middle of nowhere is not exactly smart.

*** Using computers to do things you can't do in traditional animation while still having it look like traditional animation is where the blended style of The Rescuers Down Under went right.

Frankly the fact that we, 24 years later, still rarely see things that have the look of traditional animation while having the depth and possible camera mobility afforded by a three dimensional environment is just disappointing.


  1. I'd watch that.

    I think it would be neat to avoid the "I can't let my parents know!" trope as well - perhaps they don't see how much danger their child is going into at first, and there's an episode (or more than one) of them trying to teach the kid prudence, but it would be nice to have parental honesty in the show from the start.

    Another idea would be to have a clear contrast between a socially conservative human social circle and diversity in the animal world - although, of course, the humans within that social circle would not be so uniform as their norms would imply.

    1. In The Rescuers Down Under Cody tiptoes passed the room his mother is in and sneaks out the door. A moment or two after he thinks he got away unnoticed she calls out to him. It turns out that he didn't need to be worried. All that she wants to know is that he's getting enough food (he's leaving without eating breakfast.) When he tells her that he packed sandwiches she's fine with him leaving and simply tells him to be home for supper.

      I liked that treatment. The kid doesn't want to get caught because running off to confer with talking animals and then rescue whomever from a trap is the kind of thing that it seems logical to think mom might disapprove of. But it turns out that mom trusts him and just wants to make sure he's going to be ok since it looks like he's skipping breakfast.


      I'd definitely want a series, whether one with original characters or a continuation of Cody's story, to continue with that dynamic. Of course if it were a continuation then Cody and his mother are going to have to sit down and talk some things out because after he was kidnapped she thought he died. (The poacher threw his pack to the crocodiles and when it was found with crocodile bite marks in it the assumption was that Cody had been eaten.)

      If original then that conversation can be held off for later, specifically whenever something does happen that keeps the protagonist away for long enough to make a parent worry like that.

      Either way, I like the idea of what the protagonist does in general not being a big deal with the parent(s) and, even more, being something the parent(s) approve of and try to support. That doesn't mean that there wouldn't be things where the parent(s) draw the line.

      I'm suddenly imagining a scene were a parent sees the protagonist's scraped hands, realizes that the protagonist has been rock climbing, and insists that the protagonist use safety gear from then on. (The parent can even buy the harness, rope, anchors, and such for the protagonist.)

      I think that I'd have that be a point of contention, maybe there be a heated argument about it, and then have it be resolved in the episode by the protagonist rushing off but taking the safety gear with zir.

      From then on rock climbing would be done with gear and then, maybe seasons later, the gear could save the protagonist. I definitely wouldn't want it to be an instant pay off. Using safety gear is like using a seatbelt. If you're lucky it doesn't pay off at all, but if it does pay off it's probably because using it has become automatic not because you started using it just in time to save you.

    2. Yes! You could also have it show up (well later, without a big deal made of it) in other ways: by the protagonist overhearing a plot in the climbing store while buying rope, for example.

    3. You guys make a good writing team! Why can I not watch this show already?!?

      (I feel like the "can't ask parents for help, therefore adventures" thing is better handled by parents just having busy lives doing parent things... and maybe having certain limitations and strengths that can really complement the child when they work together. More disabled parents would not hurt, plus possibly there could be exploration of disability in different animal societies.)

    4. Seconding your parenthetical - and an honest depiction of disability would be great. (One of the Scoutmasters of my old troop was a polio survivor - he could walk, clumsily, in his own home, but he generally got around on crutches. Actually, he got around very effectively - he used a sort of bounding gait, both legs together and both crutches together.)

  2. he has the compassion necessary to drive him to do the things the audience will approve of, he's got courage but not so much that he doesn't show fear. And he helps cute animals. What more could you ask for?

    An older sister who serves as project coordinator/manager, and who is licensed to drive? And dreamy? But then it would be Go Diego Go, The Later Years, or something.

  3. and that is awesome. I mean that. There's some awe right there. In fact, there's probably enough that you can take some if you're low on awe and it won't be missed because so much of the awe will remain.

    I have a crush on this paragraph.