Rodney King might have stated "can't we all get along?" in 1992 during the Los Angeles riots, but in 1984, greeting card company American Greetings came up with a group of characters that could have taken this quote to heart . . . . had they debuted eight years later.
The Get Along Gang was one of the very first cartoons I had ever seen, and it helped shaped my childhood. So it's only fitting that I write an article about my very first exposure to the Get Along Gang, which was the very first Get Along Gang cartoon special, also known by fans as "The Nelvana Pilot."
Whoa, original title, huh? The Get Along Gang pilot was produced by Canadian company Nelvana, which later produced the Care Bears movies, and television show, the Droids and Ewok series, and others. The songs were performed by Lovin' Spoonful frontman, John Sebastian. It also featured the voices of Charles Haid and Dave Thomas (the Canadian comedian, not the Wendy's guy).
As the show starts off, the Get Along Gang is meeting at their Clubhouse Caboose, which is an abandoned railroad caboose. Their leader, Montgomery Moose, is trying to get the gang's attention, but it isn't easy!
Once the gang comes to order, they discuss the upcoming Green Meadow Festival. The highlights of the festival include a Grand Prix car race, and a scavenger hunt. The gang is not looking forward to the hunt, until Bingo "Bet-It-All" Beaver comes up with an idea to get Mr. Hoofnagel, owner of Hoofnagel's Ice Cream Emporium, to sponsor the hunt. He and Dotty Dog go to Hoofnagel's and talk to the old goat about naming an ice cream flavor after the winner (Dotty's idea), and donating all the milkshakes the winner can drink (Bingo's idea). Hoofnagel agrees.
Not only is the gang entering the hunt for the big prize, but two others decide to enter as well. Enter the show's villians: Catchum Crocodile and Leland Lizard. Catchum knows just what will make him the winner of the hunt. Cheating. The day of the big scavenger hunt, he adds an item of his own to the list.
The list is revealed, and the very last item, worth the most points, has the gang wondering. What in the world is a lacertilia squamata?! The gang decides to forget it (for now), and they race off, except Bingo, who makes a bet with Catchum. If one of the gang wins, Catchum has to clean the clubhouse for a year. If Catchum wins, he gets the club house.
So now the gang is hunting all over Green Meadow for the items on the list. This leads the gang into fighting with each other instead of working together. As the hunt wears on, Catchum reveals what the mysterious Lacertilia Squamata is: Lizard. When it looks like he'll be the winner of the hunt, Bingo admits he made a bet with Catchum, and that he bet the clubhouse. So now they have only half an hour to beat Catchum's 2000 points. Dotty comes up with the idea to combine their points together, but they're still 500 short. That's when Dotty realizes one of the items on the scavenger hunt list is a racing trophy, and the Grand Prix race is about to begin. Dotty fixes up the engine of a 1938 Model Q (which was on the scavenger hunt list) and the gang enters it in the race. However, the car breaks down even before it can leave the starting line. So now the gang has to work together to get it fixed before the race is over!
As the car is racing down the track, they hit a bump, and Portia Porcupine, the youngest member of the gang ends up in the driver's seat, and Montgomery sprawled out on the hood of the car. Luckily, Bingo uses his tail to put the gas pedal to the medal (because Portia can't reach it), and soon the cars are neck and neck. The photo finish reveals the winner is "the moose by an antler!" The car then passes a table where the trophies are, and the first place trophy is snagged on Montgomery's antler, and they speed back to Hoofnagel's, and get the trophy into the bin with seconds to spare.
After the trophy is crossed off the list, the clock strikes noon, signaling the end of the scavenger hunt, and the Get Along Gang is pronounced the winners with 2001 points, therefore, winning the bet. So now Catchum and Leland are stuck cleaning the clubhouse for an entire year. The gang is celebrating their win in Hoofnagel's, who names his new ice cream flavor Get Along Grape, and when he realizes the entire gang has also won all the free milkshakes they can drink, he keels over (twelve members of the gang, all the milkshakes they can drink for free, no profit, hoo boy . . . . .)
Final thoughts? The cartoon was cute. A bit preachy, but then again, this was the 1980's. A lot of cartoons of this decade got preachy. But there *is* educational value to this (oh noooo!!!
) This animated special teaches a good lesson in teamwork. Working together, anything can be accomplished.
That being said, now why can't we all just get along?