Birthday Nostalgia Of the Less Hell-ish Kind: The World of Strawberry Shortcake

And to answer your question…yes it is my birthday.

And yes, this is a nostalgic article about a birthday “special.”  Starring Strawberry Shortcake.

Original Strawberry Shortcake.

If you didn’t expect any different, keep on reading.

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The World of Strawberry Shortcake was the first of six “annual” specials featuring the eponymous character and her friends, and was syndicated to independent stations in 90 cities on March 28, 1980.  It was produced and sponsored by Kenner (the company that made the toyline), and animated  by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson (now Fred Wolf Films), who also animated the third special, Pets on Parade, which aired in 1982.

And today, in honor of my birth (which happened 2 1/2 years after this special aired), I’m going to watch the hell out of this cartoon, about our eponymous hero celebrating her birthday.  Will I survive?  It’s been a long time since I’ve watched any of these Strawberry Shortcake cartoons, so we shall see.

Let’s jump right in feet first, shall we?

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As the special begins, we are greeted by Mister Sun (the thing of hallucinations), who is all too happy to introduce viewers to a sleeping Strawberry Shortcake, and her equally sleeping friends.

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But one person is awake…The Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak.  And he’s busy making his pie, summoning his berrybirds to swoop into Strawberry Land and steal him some coveted berries.

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Mister Sun informs us that Peculiar Purple Pieman (because it’s alot to say “Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak over and over again) better not wreak havoc on this day, a very special day.

But he leaves us hanging…because opening theme song!

Wow that’s catchy. 🙂

And it’s how I’m trying to lure in You Tube visitors.  🙂

The actual story begins, with Strawberry Shortcake singing through a morning routine of waking up all the animals and bugs in Strawberry Land, telling every creature to “give the sun a hand.”  As she skips delightfully through the woods, Peculiar Purple Pieman realizes she is distracted enough for him to unleash his berrybirds.  But a tree scares off the birds.  Strawberry makes him blush by saying he could be her official scarecrow.

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Peculiar Purple Pieman is upset, but not deterred.  After all, he REALLY wants those berries, and will obviously do anything to get them.

Anything.

But not before he dances.  Yes, dances.

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Mister Sun is undeterred by this (and most other things), since this very special day is…Strawberry Shortcake’s birthday!

We’ll see how he does so.  But first…we meet Strawberry’s friends!

Lazy Huckleberry Pie says he’s getting around to getting Strawberry a birthday present, and goes to Blueberry Muffin, who plum forgot about this special day.  So they go to Plum Pudding, who comes to a mathematical conclusion that the party should be a surprise.  Then they go to Raspberry Tart, who informs them that Strawberry is six years old.  Apple Dumpling, who can’t talk yet, crawls to join the group and hands Blueberry Muffin a note.  The note (all scribbles) suggests the party should be at Lilac Park.

The group turns down Strawberry’s invites to lunch, which upsets her.  We’re 9:50 in, and the main character is crying.  Good job, cartoon, you made the main character sad.  Very, very sad.

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Sidenote: Is that not the biggest book of matches you’ve ever seen?  How short are the residents of Strawberry Land?!

But of course, they are all in Lilac Park, planning a huge surprise party, but the only thing they don’t have for her is a present, so Huckleberry Pie sends Lucky Bug to spy on Strawberry.

Screenshot (217)So freakin’ cute.  I usually have a “kill it with fire” mentality toward insects, but Lucky Bug is sooo cute!

Just as he arrives, so does Peculiar Purple Pieman, disguised as a peddler.

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This can’t be good.  First sadness, now our antagonist is on the scene, and he wants to sell Strawberry a magical watering can that never runs out of water.  As I said, this can’t be good.  The Lucky Bug informs our dear “peddler” that it’s Strawberry Shortcake’s birthday, and leads the way to Lilac Park, where her friends pitch in and buy the watering can for her.

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As Strawberry sits in a field, sad about her lack of friends situation, Mister Sun tells her that her friends did not, in fact, forget her, and to go to Lilac Park.

Just as she is arriving, everyone is trying to hide, and then jump out and surprise her.  We don’t see much of the party, but Mister Sun reassures us, the viewers, that everyone had a great time.

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And then the present happened.

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The “never empty” watering can certainly lived up to its promise…as it keeps pouring water everywhere, eventually flooding Strawberry Land with its endless supply of water.  As they float along, they encounter the peddler, who reveals himself as the (said all together, naturally) “The Peculiar Purple Pieman Of Porcupine Peak!”  It’s like music to his ears, and he does a little ditty of a dance.  Again.

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Peculiar Purple Pieman really likes to dance.

Unfortunately, the group has to cut a deal with the Pieman – surrender all of their berries to him.

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The floodwaters finally recede and the damage is visible, but the group realizes that Apple Dumpling is gone – she fell asleep in one of the berry carts, and was now at Pie Tin Palace.  They fear they’ll never get her back safely, but Mister Sun informs Strawberry that she has a special birthday wish to use.  She wishes for something strong enough to defeat the Peculiar Purple Pieman, much like the tree that scared off the berrybirds earlier that morning.  Mister Sun arranges this.

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I’m really writing about this, am I?  About talking suns and an army of trees, and children named for different fruits?

My birthday is justification for being allowed to watch this, right?  It’s not just because my blog has a nostalgic slant to it, right?

Why am I questioning all of this?

Anyway…

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The trees all march on Pie Tin Palace, which promptly falls apart and rattles off the mountain onto the ground below.

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Apple Dumpling hands Pieman a “contract” that makes him promise to be a good guy from now on.  He refuses to sign it, and the trees give him hell.

Again, I watched this.  And wrote that last sentence.

Moving on…

Pieman signs the contract under threat from the trees, and promises to be a good guy thereafter.

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There are five more Strawberry Shortcake specials, folks.  He doesn’t keep his promise.  And if that came off as a spoiler for you, well, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.

Nah, I’m just kidding.  We can be.  It’s my birthday, and I want all the greetings I can get.  🙂

Ok, NOW moving on…

Pieman signs the contract, and after everything he put the group through, Strawberry says they can all be friends with him.  They believe he has redeeming qualities because he can bake pies. In fact, Strawberry invites him to sell his pies at the market, but what he can’t get past is that she constantly uses the word “berry” for everything.  He can’t handle it, and wants to learn the secret about how she can say it with confidence and panache, two huge words that are not used in any way in the dialogue.  Strawberry does something a little more simple than use words like “confidence” and “panache.” Screenshot (242) Screenshot (243) Screenshot (244)

She sings a song about using the word “berry” the way the Smurfs use “smurf.”  Except less annoying.  I guess.

Shocked?  I’m not.

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“Berry Talk” ends with our entire cast of characters, sans Mister Sun (…where did he go, anyway?) standing together as friends.  It won’t last, and neither does The World of Strawberry Shortcake…because it’s over.

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It’s Hands Across America…six years before the real deal, and the portion that happened in Strawberry Land.

No seriously, the credits roll.  It’s over.

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Pieman will be evil next time.  Again, this shouldn’t be a spoiler.

Ok, that was cute.  I usually cringe in spite of these overly cute, saccharine cartoons, but this was cute.  A little cheesy (especially with the songs), but it’s cute.  It’s just right for the intended audience, which does not include the 33-year-old birthday girl watching the special (well, actually I wrote this the night before, so I was still 32).  If you can get past the singing (which isn’t terrible by any means) and just want to see nostalgia at its best, The World of Strawberry Shortcake is a good choice.  It’s not overly sweet and annoyingly saccharine, and I can’t help but love Strawberry Shortcake, she’s just so unberry-bly cute.

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Oh, you see what I did there?!

And if you’re feeling empowered to do so (and because fruit is sweet, but not sugary), take a look at this special – it really is cute beyond expectation.

Well, that wraps up the birthday nostalgia for this year.  For everyone celebrating their birthday on this day, October 19th, have a very Happy Birthday!

And as for the title of this recap, this is less hell-ish because of what I recapped on my birthday last year:

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*Shudder* This freak of nature.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Rainbow Brite, but this is overkill that runs you over with it scare factor, and then backs into you because it thinks you haven’t quite had enough.  You can read all about it via this re-blogged link.

I’ll just leave you with this cute image of Strawberry herself, petting Custard.

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Awwww.

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