The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: My Comfort Show
I'm sure everyone has a "comfort show." Maybe it's a show from childhood that you watched every morning before school, snuggled up in your pajamas and eating your favorite sugary cereal in front of the TV. It could be a show you can watch over and over without getting tired of it, and a show that will, without a doubt, always cheers you up on a bad day. You love many shows from your childhood, and even talk about them and write articles about them on Retrojunk, but your comfort show is the one you have an absolute passion for, and the one whose episodes you will hunt down at garage sales and thrift stores until you have the entire series. You probably (heck, you DO) know the words to the theme song. It's the show that, like so many other shows, brings you back to your childhood days, those easier days, but will always have a special place in your heart beyond all others. It has helped you become the person you are today, and its characters are the friends that have taken you on adventures, that have gotten into moral danger but always found a way out of it, and have taught you lessons of friendship and courage that have helped you survive the real world.
That show, to me, is The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
. It's right up there with Fraggle Rock as my absolute favorite childhood show. The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
ran from 1988-1992 on ABC Saturday Mornings, and I would always be there, every Saturday morning, to join Pooh and his friends on another wonderful adventure. They had 83 adventures together before the series ended in 1992. I loved the original stories by A.A. Milne, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
movie based on them, and the New Adventures were a wonderful continuation of those stories. After it was over in 1992, I would watch reruns of the show over and over again every weekday morning on Disney Channel before elementary school. I would eat breakfast in front of the TV, on a tray, and watch the show.
This show was the ultimate comfort show for me. It helped me wake up in the mornings and look forward to the upcoming school day. It, like so many childhood shows I love, showed me the wonders of using my imagination, but it also taught me about the loyalty, facing my fears, and the possibility of an idyllic, peaceful world that is within my reach. I have been watching the episodes Mom has taped off the TV for years, but it was this summer when I was inspired by a resurgence of passion for this show. I had about twenty episodes on VHS before this summer began, but have collected more video cassettes at garage sales. I now have 60 episodes in my possession, and my goal for this summer is to collect as many of the remaining 23 episodes I don't have as I can.
Watching a marathon of episodes on the Fourth of July, I fell in love with the silly characters and their grand adventures all over again. I remembered how I felt the first time I watched these episodes. I was an innocent child in her pajamas who felt the wonder of getting 100 birthday wishes or the sadness of losing a little blue bird I had loved right alongside Rabbit.
I love all of the characters and their idiosyncracies. They have taught me so much about myself and the world through their wonderful adventures, and have helped me become the person I am today. Below are just a summary and some of my personal opinions on the characters of the show, and what they taught me. Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh is a bear made of fluff, with very little brain, but he is the sort of friend I'd want to have - just not in a perilous situation. He comes up with interesting solutions to problems - for example, "If it's not here, then it has to be - somewhere else," and the elaborate booby trap he sets up for the Heffalumps and Woozles in The Great Hunny Robbery
. He is kind, thoughtful, and he brings out the best in his best friend Piglet. Twice I have seen Piglet become a hero because of Pooh (once in the episode Pooh Oughta be in Pictures
with the hero scarf and another time in the episode Gone with the Wind
). He also eats so much honey he should be made out of it by now. Rabbit should know - who knows how many times Pooh has asked him for honey over the years. He's also the best babysitter Roo and Dexter the owl have ever had - of course he was mindless enough to let them go bug "meeting" in the forest by themselves, but whatever.
Pooh, while a great friend, has an awful memory. He can't remember where he put his honey at, and he can't remember the goodbye message Kessie tells him to tell Rabbit at the end of the episode Find Her, Keep Her
. He also can't remember that Rabbit told him NOT to bother his garden while he's away (in the episode Rabbit Takes a Holiday
), and so he and his friends mess up the garden trying to take care of it.
Pooh is also gullible. In the episode Goodbye Mr. Pooh
, (one of my favorites) Pooh is putting some broken hunny pots into a wheelbarrow to take to the dump. Tigger comes by and thinks Pooh is leaving the Hundred Acre Woods and tells everyone. Pooh is gullible enough to believe that he actually is leaving the Woods, and glad fully accept the pots of hunny his friends give him as going away presents (at Pooh's going away party, no less). Pooh, true to his (or, actually, Tigger's) word, leaves the Hundred Acre Woods just long enough so his friends don't forget him (which is actually about five seconds). When he comes back, Eeyore is living in his house, so he does to live with Piglet and drives Piglet crazy. So, Pooh decides to throw Eeyore a House Warming party instead of asking him to leave his house. Tigger makes the mistake of using the same signs he used for Pooh's going away party, and so Eeyore believes he is not welcome at Pooh's house, and leaves.
He's also gullible enough to believe that the sky is falling in the episode Pooh Skies
. He also would do anything to make his friends happy. In the episode The Wishing Bear
, when his friends wish on a wishing star he said Christopher Robin told him about, and the wishing star "goes out," he dedicates himself to making his friends' wishes come true - to help Piglet build his very own snowman, to be the other Tigger that Tigger wants to play chess against, and to rid the world of bugs for Rabbit.
Pooh is the leader of the bunch, but I liked the fact that he did not command the show totally. His other friends got to shine in the spotlight once in a while, and that taught me a valuable lesson about not hogging the spotlight to myself. He also taught me to be loyal to my friends and to never give up on them without a fight (and believe me, he could have given up on Piglet many times). Tigger
Tigger is my absolute favorite character. I don't know why, but I always liked the hyper and active characters in childhood shows the best - my favorite character from Fraggle Rock is Red Fraggle, and she is an athletic, extra-hyper Fraggle. Maybe it is because I am not like these characters, and I want to be more like them. T-I-double GG-ER is riddled up with ADHD, and has a slight speech impediment - he says "incredibible" instead of "incredible" for example. He is also the original Sawyer (from Lost), because he called everyone a nickname. He called Pooh "Buddy Bear", Rabbit "Long Ears" and Eeyore "Donkey Boy". He likes bouncing trees, bouncing Rabbit and everyone else, and bouncing to the top of the big mountain in the Hundred Acres Woods. He was an inventor, a detective who set up his own cases, and a lawyer, among other occupations. He's always saying "Cause _____ is what Tiggers do best!" and believes he's good at almost everything. He hates honey, but likes pogo sticks and banana splits.
He's probably looking for so much attention because he did not get hugged enough when he was younger - he never had a birthday party for goodness sakes, until Pooh and friends threw him one in the episode All Well That Ends Wishing Well
. I love Tigger, and I wanted to give him a hug when I saw that episode. He's also such a bad influence on Roo - he discourages him from taking a bath (in the episode The Old Switcheroo
) and irresponsibly encourages Roo to hide from his mother long after a game of hide and seek is over (in Babysitter Blues
One of my favorite Tigger-centric episodes is Stripes
. In this episode, the other characters force Tigger to take a bath because he has gotten so dirty. Tigger loses his stripes as a result, and believes he is not Tigger anymore. So he tries seeing if he's a Pooh Bear by trying to get hunny from a beehive, a Rabbit by seeing if he can garden, and a Christmas tree by letting Piglet decorate him with lights. Eeyore periodically pops up and calls him "Tigger" because he is the only one who believes that Tigger is still Tigger. The gang then tries to paint stripes on Tigger, but the stripes wash off in the rain, and Tigger gets even more depressed - he feels the same on the inside, but looks different on the outside. So, he's sitting on a log outside, and Eeyore comes by and tells him that he's still Tigger, even though he looks different on the outside - it's all in the stuffing. So Tigger, happy now, jumps around and gets his stripes back.
This episode taught me that even if I look different on the outside (like if I have a bad outfit on or I I get a short haircut) that I am still the same person on the inside. Now, this would be bad if I wanted to change my outside persona to be more popular, but since I do not, this is wonderful news to me! He also liked to be the leader and the center of attention - especially in the episode King of the Beasties
, where he appoints himself leader of all the Hundred Acre Woods and makes his friends paint the forest orange and black striped. While hyperactive and irresponsible, Tigger also taught me to go out there and have fun and to be proud of myself for who I am. Piglet
Piglet, while a very considerate and friendly character, is also a frightened little piglet. He hides under his chair whenever a scary shadow or a powerful gust of wind comes his way. He hides under his chair in both the episodes Pooh Oughta be in Pictures
and Gone with the Wind
. He's Pooh's best friend, and relies on Pooh to protect him from danger. There are times, though, where Piglet rescues Pooh. He is akin to the Wade character from the US Acres shorts on Garfield and Friends - he is afraid of a lot of things because he's such a small animal. Piglet dabbles in poetry and singing, so I would see him as the creative stem of the Hundred Acre Woods. Basically, most of the Piglet-centric episodes are the same. Piglet is afraid of something (like Halloween or the dark), hides under his chair, and Pooh and his friends devise a way to lure Piglet out of his chair so he can conquer his fears.
But, even though Piglet is not one of my favorite characters (but I still love him), one Piglet-centric episode stands out as one of my absolute favorites on the series - The Piglet That Would be King
from Season 1. Why is that episode one of my favorites? One, because of the great songs they sing in the episode. Another reason is because the Piglet portrayed in this episode is more than the scared Piglet portrayed in other episodes. This episode shows us the considerate, thoughtful, and loyal Piglet that normally follows in Pooh's shadow, but now is in the forefront.
After receiving a spring from Pooh, Piglet is made to think by Tigger and Rabbit that he should return the favor to Pooh. So, Piglet, Tigger, and Rabbit go around the Hundred Acre Woods to collect lots of hunny for Pooh. But something happens to the hunny, and so the three have to go to the Land of Milk and Hunny to get some more hunny for Pooh. They discover that a bunch of little Piglets runs the place, but they are in despair because no honey is coming out of their giant Piglet statue. They see the spring in Piglet's hand, and ask him if they can have it. At first, Piglet says no, since it's a gift from Pooh (Aw!), but then he reluctantly gives the spring up for the good of the little Piglets. They stick it in the butt of the big Piglet statue, and hunny starts coming out of the statue's mouth.
Yay! Piglet is made the little Piglets' king. Tigger and Rabbit immediately usurp Piglet's power and turn into power-hungry rivals. They try to teach the little Piglets how to bounce and how to garden, and they even have the little Piglets build huge statues of themselves. Piglet, sick of all this nonsense and missing his friend Pooh, sneaks to the statue during the night and takes back his spring. Oh no! The hunny from the Piglet statue has stopped flowing! Also, the volcano near the little Piglets' home is erupting hunny that is coming dangerously close to the little Piglets' homes!
Piglet, in an act of heroism and great leadership, leads the other little Piglets to the two statues of Tigger and Rabbit facing each other. Then he instructs the other little Piglets to knock the statues over to block the flow of hunny that is erupting from the volcano. Piglet's plan works, and not only does the hunny get blocked, but Piglet is able to show his disdain for Rabbit and Tigger's rivalry and tyranny at the same time without saying a word! You go Piglet! Anyway, Piglet, Tigger, and Rabbit get to go back, and Piglet gives a pot of hunny to Pooh, who said thank you, but Piglet did not need to return the favor.
Over the years of watching this show, Piglet has taught me that even if you are a very small animal, you can still do great and important things. He also taught me to conquer my fears and to let myself be helped if I fall into hard times. Rabbit
Rabbit is a hard-working animal - he likes to take care of his garden and his house very carefully and neatly. He is very anal (in my opinion) about his work, but also very compassionate about it. Rabbit is also the most rational and realistic character of the show - he goes bonkers every time Pooh says something stupid, or every time someone comes up with a crazy plan. He protects his garden from several different predators - bugs, "those stupid crows," and the stupidity of his friends, especially Tigger, whom Rabbit probably regards as a dangerous enemy.
The stupidity of his friends comes to the forefront in the episode Rabbit Takes a Holiday
. Rabbit, discovering that everything that can be done has been done in his house and garden, decides to take a vacation to see his extended family. He tries to leave quietly, but Pooh comes by and wonders what's up with Rabbit and the suitcase. So, Rabbit tells Pooh that he is taking a vacation, and that everything has already been tended to, so Pooh doesn't need to bother tending to anything. Then Rabbit leaves, and Pooh completely forgets everything Rabbit told him. He thinks that he needs to tend to EVERYTHING in Rabbit's home and garden!
Oh, Silly Old Bear! So, Pooh and his friends try to "help" Rabbit, and end up destroying everything instead. Gopher tries to cover the mess they made up with a painted canvas of Rabbit's nice home and garden. The rest of the friends distract Rabbit for a while by having him eat breakfast at Pooh's house, then lunch at Piglet's house. But Rabbit isn't fooled by any of this stuff, and he eventually sees the "sprucing up" that Pooh and his friends did to his place. But is he mad? No! He's actually happy, because he never has to go on vacation ever again! It turns out that his vacation sucked, because his family was waiting hand and foot on him. Oh, Rabbit, you and I can never seem to relax, or even like relaxing when we get the opportunity to relax.
Rabbit, though, isn't just a hard-nosed, crazy animal. He is also capable of great love and compassion. In the episode Find Her, Keep Her
, Rabbit takes care of a little blue bird named Kessie. Pooh and Piglet think Rabbit is "grumpy" toward Kessie, but they don't realize how much Rabbit truly cares for Kessie - he loves her so much he doesn't want her to fly away - ever. But Kessie is a bird, dammit, she HAS to fly! So Rabbit becomes sad and refuses to read Kessie "one last bedtime story." But, both he and I learn that he cannot be too overprotective of Kessie and has to let Kessie fly south for the winter.
Rabbit taught me the value of hard-work, and he taught me the virtues of persevering and ambition. He taught me that whatever I do, I should try my damnest at it and be proud of my accomplishments. He also taught me the value of using rational thought in situations rather than my instincts. Eeyore
Eeyore is a very melancholy character, at least that's how his friends see him. He has two problems to deal with all the time, besides his apparent depression - losing his tail and getting his house repeatedly knocked over. I find it sad that Eeyore has no stable place to live like the other characters (except in the episode Goodbye Mr. Pooh
, where he briefly lives in Pooh's house when Pooh leaves the Hundred Acres Woods). It's even made into a joke in the episode What's the Score, Pooh?
as the characters keep accidently wrecking the bigger and bigger houses Eeyore rebuilds for himself.
Also, throughout the series, Eeyore keeps losing his tail. He gets sick and tired of always having someone nail his tail back onto his behind, so in the episode Eeyore's Tail Tale
he decides to part ways with his tail once and for all - but then he discovers that his tail is an important part of who he is. So he goes on a search for his lost tail. In another episode, A 'New' Eeyore
, he learns that everyone loves him for who he is. He sees Tigger, with so many friends and with so much "popularity," (in his opinion, probably not Rabbit's) and decides he should be just like him so everyone can love him. But he discovers that no one likes him when he's being Tigger, because he makes messes of everything he bounces on, and not even Tigger likes Eeyore bouncing on him.
What Eeyore taught me was that I only know what makes me happy, and I am the only person that can define my own happiness. In the episode Donkey for a Day
, everyone tries to cheer up Eeyore, since he always sits on the same hill and always seems so sad. Pooh tries to feed some hunny and apples to Eeyore, Rabbit teaches him how to garden, Owl teaches him how to "fly" (or rather, how to fall), Tigger and Roo teach him how to bounce, and Piglet, well, he can't think of what to do to make Eeyore happy. But none of these things make Eeyore happy - they make the other characters happy. What makes Eeyore happy is sitting on his hill, staring into the sky. He shares his happiness with everyone else by "cloud painting," something anyone can do if they use their imagination. When everyone thought that Eeyore was sad, he was actually happy. I never try to assume or impose upon anyone else's happiness as a result of watching this episode. Owl
Owl is the only creature in the Hundred Acre Woods that can read, and he's the smartest animal in the Woods. So, whenever Pooh and his friends need someone to read something to them, and Christopher Robin isn't around, they often go to Owl. And he'll not only read to them what they requested, he'll tell them hours' worth of stories about his relatives. Owl is a talker - he can talk for hours and hours. Maybe he just needs some company, or, maybe, he needs to see his relatives once in a while because it is obvious he misses them!
In the episode Owl in the Family
, Pooh and Piglet try to invite Owl's relatives to a family reunion celebration at Owl's house, but a couple of crows come instead for the free food and board. Owl's real relatives eventually come to see him later in the episode, and Rabbit mistakenly thinks they are crows - imagine his shock when Aunt Authelia smacks him with her purse! Owl also aspires to be a singer.
In the episode Owl's Well That Ends Well
, Owl wants to join the morning chorus, but he sings horribly. Pooh tries to give him hunny to make him sing better, but it doesn't work. Rabbit, meanwhile, wants those crows out of his garden, and Tigger tries to devise a trap to drive the crows away. It doesn't work. Pooh asks the crows, in Rabbit's garden, to help Owl with his singing, but Owl scares away the crows instead. Rabbit is happy, and invites Owl to sing in his garden anytime. Now Owl wants to be part of the evening chorus . . .
Owl taught me that family is very important in life, and that people will get bored with you if you talk too long about family stories. Kanga and Roo
Kanga and Roo are not featured a lot in the show. Kanga is the only girl animal in the show, and she spends most of her time mothering Roo and making sure that 'bad seed' Tigger doesn't extend his bad ways onto poor baby Roo. Roo is Tigger's best friend, and they spend a lot of time bouncing together in the Woods.
Roo is a little mischievous, and a very cute, little kangaroo who will do anything to avoid taking a bath, but later finds out that taking a bath is not so bad. He goes missing when Christopher Robin babysits for him (in the episode Babysitter Blues
), playing in a game of hide and seek with Tigger. Roo and Dexter help find Christopher Robin a bug for his science project in The Bug Stops Here
by informing Pooh they will be going to a "bug meeting."
Kanga taught me about the devotion that mothers have to their kids (especially children like Roo!), and Roo taught me about having fun and about how to (and how not to) respect grownups (from a child's perspective). Gopher
Gopher was not originally a character in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Actually, he first appeared in the movie Lady and the Tramp
, and he was a new character when The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
began. He spends a lot of time digging tunnels underneath Rabbit's garden, and trying to help the gang out of messes by building new "inventions." He calls everyone "Sonny" with a slight whistle in his voice. Gopher always slips into one of his holes when he is exiting a scene, usually mad at the other characters for disturbing his work.
In the episode Pooh Skies
, he helps Pooh fix the sky by building a structure that reaches the sky (so he and Pooh can climb up to the sky) and then using a big wrench to stop the pipe that is overflowing up in the sky. He also wants to make his Grandpappy's dream come true - to build the Ultimate Tunnel!
In the episode Easy Come Easy Gopher
, Gopher plans an Ultimate Tunnel that would go under Rabbit's house, and Rabbit tries to change the plan because he does want a tunnel going under his house. He also loves his digging tools, as is shown in the episode Shovel, Shovel Toil and Trouble
. He gets this electric shovel named Lucille, and he falls in love with her instantly. He "renovates" everyone's houses to the brink of destruction. Piglet even gets so annoyed with all this "renovation" that he commits a sin by stealing the shovel and burying it!
Gopher, in my opinion, is a hard-worker like Rabbit is, and is also a bit rough around the edges. He's stodgy, but adorably so. I learned how to be steadfast, to never give up on my dreams, and how to dig the perfect underground tunnel from Gopher. Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin is the only human among the main characters in the show. He is about six years old, and has a very active imagination. He hates eating his vegetables and cleaning his room. He and his friends from the Hundred Acre Woods go on many adventures together, and his imagination is the inspiration for not only this series, but for the future generation worldwide to develop our own imaginative world. The world in his imagination is a masterpiece, as real as we could ever wish the real world to be. He has created creatures that are funny, caring, and beloved - that solve problems together, that fight together, but always work out things for the best. I could have only hoped to have an imagination as vivid, colorful, and incredible as his. If he were real (I know he is not), I would tell him to never let his imagination be a prey to materialism or corruption.
A couple of episodes, Grown, But Not Forgotten
and Babysitter Blues
are two of my favorite episodes about Christopher Robin. In Babysitter Blues
, Christopher Robin acts like a spoiled little kid by making messes in the kitchen, living room (with the vacuum cleaner), and his room while on several imaginative adventures with his furry friends.
But, later in the episode, he learns how difficult being a babysitter is when he has to babysit Roo. Roo and Tigger try to build a snowman indoors; Roo climbs a tree to retrieve a snowball (when he isn't supposed to!); and he and Tigger go out in the woods when Christopher Robin and friends are playing hide and seek with them. Kanga comes home and is worried about Roo - especially since he's with Tigger. Luckily, Roo and Tigger are found, but Christopher Robin grows up a bit in that episode (not too much, I hope!).
In the episode Grown, But Not Forgotten
, Christopher Robin has to go to a girl's party, but doesn't want to. His friends are afraid that he will forget them and meet a girl and move in with her and become an adult (no, really, the episode even has a part where Christopher Robin is living with his wife and baby (the friends imagine this)). And, in their dedication to Christopher Robin, and because they love him, they all decide to grow up with him by having Gopher building a house for them.
But, Christopher Robin tells them he will never be grown up so as to forget his friends. This moment really touched me, because Christopher Robin is really saying he will never be grown up as to let his imagination die, and to forget his childhood. I love this episode because it shows the true bond between Christopher Robin and his friends.
Over the years, I have learned a lot from Christopher Robin. He, in part, inspired my imagination to grow and soar instead of die in the realms of video games and TV. He also taught me to never leave my childhood completely behind, and that I shouldn't be scared of Birdzilla because he's only a scary creature in a scary movie up on the movie screen.
Oh Bother . . .
My own adventure of going down Memory Lane with these wonderful characters is coming to a close, at least for this article. If you want to find out more information about the show and its characters and episodes, http://www.lavasurfer.com/episodes/pooh-episodes.html is a good site. Anyway, luckily for me, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh will continue infinitely in my VCR, and I can always relive my childhood memories of watching this wonderful show, my 'comfort show'. I wish you all luck in locating, enjoying, and reliving the memories of your childhood 'comfort shows.'