Retro Rewatch – Rainbow Brite: “Peril in the Pits”

Seas are shining bright, and I’m gonna take you to…today’s Retro Rewatch!

In the last few Retro Rewatches, I’ve been covering one-off children’s specials, from puppets who know how to hug, stuffed bunnies who feel more than stuffed, a cartoon icon who learned math is, in fact, useful, and a Mongoose who bravely defends his territory, and his owners, against cobras.  All of these specials were ones I saw as a little kid, and some I hadn’t seen in years, other than a revisit as a teenager.  Today’s Retro Rewatch, while serving as the pilot for a series that didn’t really air as a series initially, qualifies because it has been quite a few years since I’ve seen it.

The (Sporadic) Adventures of Rainbow Brite

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“Peril in the Pits” served as the pilot episode for Rainbow Brite, but it would be six months before the next episodes, a two-parter, aired.  The first six episodes were considered “specials,” and aired sporadically through 1984 and 1985, until after the release of Rainbow Brite and the Starstealer in November 1985.  Episode six aired in January 1986, and the second half of the series, episodes seven through thirteen, would air continuously from June 5, 1986, until July 24, 1986.  The entire series, all thirteen episodes, moved to the DiC syndication block Kideo TV.  That is more than likely how I saw the show in its entirety.  By that point (1987), Rainbow Brite had run its (first) course.

Surprisingly, the San Diego Zoo Adventure video eluded me until adulthood.  I still don’t know how that happened!

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I mean, I have an idea of how it happened, but how did I not beg to see this when I was three years old?

Anyway, the Retro Rewatch.

I’m definitely going to watch the entire series at some point, which would mean quite a few Retro Rewatches in my future, but for today, I’m covering the first special, which serves as the pilot episode.

From June 27, 1984, this is Rainbow Brite’s first adventure on Earth…we assume.

“Peril in the Pits”

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This is Brian.

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He’s down, and tells his dog that he didn’t make “the team.”  He feels that nothing has gone right today, while ignoring the beautiful rainbow making itself known across the sky that his dog cannot otherwise ignore.

Meanwhile, a little girl riding her horse, with a furry companion of her own accompanying her, wonders what she has to do to get that boy to look at the rainbow, knowing that seeing the rainbow would make him happy.

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Said girl unleashes the star sprinkles and magic from her color belt to plant the rainbow onto the ground…which the oblivious Brian walks right into.

He wasn’t supposed to walk into the rainbow, and the girl decides she needs to go and talk to him, despite Starlite’s objection about revealing themselves to the boy, who doesn’t seem to be overly upset with being covered in colors…yet.

Rainbow Brite comes down the rainbow and greets her new friend, who has “more questions than colors” about who she is, and how her horse flies.  So she introduces herself and Twink, but Starlite introduces himself.  “Staaaarlite…The Magnificent Horse, the Glory of the Galaxy.”

Pretty sure this is all mindblowing to Brian, until he realizes that he needs all these colors off of him, and informs Rainbow Brite that his father is a lawyer.

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Whoah, whoah, when did he get all Entitled Brat who needs a Safe Space, whose Lawyer Daddy could sue the colors off of Rainbow Brite?

Rainbow’s solution is to help get the colors off (because she doesn’t wanna be sued an all, right?), but it means having to go to Rainbow Land!

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On the way there, the two introduce themselves to each other.  The girl tells Brian she is Rainbow Brite!

Meanwhile, Murky Dismal is concocting a plan to rid Rainbow Land – and in turn, the world – of all colors, and make everyone gloomy.  Murky, along with his bumbling sidekick, Lurky, drive off in their Pollution Mobile (that’s not its real name) toward Rainbow Land to hatch their plan.

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If they can stand all the colors on the way into Rainbow Land, that is.  They’re spotted by another one of those cute and cuddly creatures (this one is orange), who races off in his car to warn others of Murky and Lurky’s arrival.

Meanwhile, at Child Labor Land – er, Rainbow Land – other kids dressed similarly to Rainbow Brite, but with a single color work on mining the lands.  The babbling cuddly creature arrives and babbles to the kids, who understand his panic as Murky and Lurky are in Rainbow Land.  A boy in red, and a girl in orange (Red Butler and Lala Orange), decide that they’ll take care of Murky and Lurky.

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According to their character descriptions, Lala Orange has a crush on Red Butler, albeit a secret one.  I guess this makes them the Fred and Daphne of Rainbow Land, since they’re going off together?

It sounded funny when I wrote it, friends.

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Anyway, Murky brings his “Gloom Cloud,” which will make Rainbow so gloomy, she’ll be compliant enough to hand over her Color Belt.  It is at that moment that Rainbow Brite returns.  The other kids run to warn her of the situation, but of course, Murky and Lurky are hiding in the bushes.  Rainbow says she will never hand over her color belt, and a blast of the “Gloom Cloud” is countered with Star Sprinkles which hit Lurky and make him “full of pretty colors!”

And those colors clearly make him happy, wouldn’t you say?

A blast of the “Gloom Cloud” rids Lurky of all the pretty colors, and the two retreat from Rainbow Land, their plans foiled.

It won’t be the last time.  This is about 24 minutes, so it won’t take long for them to return.

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Meanwhile, the two hide on a mountain, with plans to capture the Color Kids.  The kids check on their Star Sprinkle supply, when they get hit with the Gloom Cloud.  Compliant and moody, the Lala Orange, Red Butler, Patty O’Green, and Indigo accept their capture and go willingly with Murky into the cave.

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That seemed to be a little too easy, wouldn’t you say?  I mean, even the My Little Pony characters kidnapped and taken hostage in Midnight Castle put up more of a fight than the Color Kids did.  It was all one spray of the Gloom Cloud and “we’re sad and moody.”  It all feels so…lazy.  And that, my friends, makes me sad.  I know it is a kiddie cartoon, I know it is the first episode, but I just don’t get it.  They’re supposed to be brave, and they don’t even try to put up a fight.

Oh heck, I’m just rambling on.  Moving on…

Rainbow successfully removes the colors from her new friend, and seriously, this is how she does it.

Brian braces himself like he’s getting a shot.  Look at that trembling and holding his breath!  All that worry, and it is over in four seconds!

Not over in four seconds, a potential rescue mission!

The sprites become frantic, informing Rainbow Brite and Starlite that Murky has captured the Color Kids, all because he wants her Color Belt.

Rainbow knows there is one thing she can do…rescue the kids!  With Brian along for the ride, she creates a rainbow that takes them to the Treacherous Pits, where the color kids are being held.  This is where her belt stops working, and causes Starlite to float in the air toward the pits!

Starlite cannot fly, but is able to break a potential fall and lands safely.  Unfortunately, he cannot fly (and can barely walk) in the pits, but is able to join the team when they set out in search of the Color Kids.  Rainbow informs Brian that if Murky were to get his hands on her Color Belt, the rest of the world would look like the pits.

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Brian is appalled by the thought of this.  But hey, at least he won’t be getting his dad on Rainbow for what she did to him earlier.  There’s that.

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Lurky is on lookout, and Murky uses blue Star Sprinkles he stole to disguise quicksand as water to entrap our heroes.  And of course Starlite, who refuses to look anything less than magnificent, sees the opportunity clean himself up and, well, leads himself to water.

Hasn’t he seen The Neverending Story?  This doesn’t end well!

Starlite becomes trapped in the quick sand, but Brian has an idea to form a chain to pull Starlite out.  Rainbow ends up in the quicksand with Starlite, and they very nearly sink.  It is the Color Belt, used as a rope, which saves them.

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Seems this belt has more than one use, aside from The Most Important Use…providing all the colors!

But removing Rainbow’s belt proves disastrous, as the group is overtaken by their efforts, and weak and compliant (but not overcome by the Gloom Cloud!), they are put in a cage and captured by Murky, who now has the Color Belt for himself.  Again, it just seemed way too easy.  But I digress.  Now, he can succeed in removing all the color from Rainbow Land, which will remove all the color from the world.

In Rainbow Land, Murky dons the belt and uses it to make Rainbow Land lose its color.

Back in the pits, the Color Kids regain their grip on positivity and try to figure out a way to escape, until they find that everyone else has been captured.  When there seems to only be despair at the realization that Rainbow’s Color Belt is gone, it is Brian who pulls everyone together to plot an escape.

This boosts Rainbow’s morale, who says that they have hope, which doesn’t come from the belt, it comes from “inside us.”  It’s time for the group to get “unmurked,” and with the help of Brian’s baseball glove, Starlite (now magnificently unmurked!) kicks Twink to the top of the pits.

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Seems dangerous, but it works.  Definitely the opposite of the “get captured” moments!

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Meanwhile, Murky’s Gloom Cloud balloon is nearly ready to spread its dark gloom all over the world.  But Rainbow has escaped the Pits, and the group are ready to thwart Murky’s plans.  This involves climbing the rope to the Gloom Cloud balloon, and Brian successfully nabs the Color Belt from Murky. The balloon flies away, but Lurky lets too much air out, and the duo crash back into the cave, their plan a bunch of hot air.

Yeah, yeah.  Let me have my fun.

Easy come, easy go, the Color Belt is back in the right hands, and Murky has twelve more attempts to capture it from Rainbow Brite.

That’s not counting the movie.

Meanwhile, back at Rainbow Land, Rainbow’s adoring crowd of Sprites bid a newly-confident Brian goodbye, and Rainbow and Starlite help get Brian home.

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His dog is happy to see him return.

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Rainbow says goodbye to Brian, who responds (very shyly) in kind when Rainbow Brite tells Brian she will miss him.

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Brian seems sad that his adventure is over, but Rainbow reminds “Grump Face” that next time there’s a rainbow, to “look up,” and that he might see her.  Brian promises he’ll look for her, and promises he won’t let things get him down.  He’s so confident, he says he is going to try out for the team again.

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Didn’t they cut him?  How is he going to try out again?  Does he mean next time?

Ugh, I’ve got more questions than colors!

As Rainbow, Twink, and Starlite leave, and the Rainbow disappear behind them, Rainbow blows a kiss to Brian…

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…who gets all bashful over that cute blonde girl with the flying horse.

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As the familiar lyrics of Rainbow Brite’s theme play under the closing credits, thus ends Rainbow Brite’s first (documented) journey to Earth, and the first (that we’ve seen) encounter with Murky Dismal.  It won’t be her last.

As I said, he has twelve more attempts – ok, thirteen if you count the San Diego Zoo – to nab that Color Belt and destroy the world by removing all of its colors.  This also won’t be the last time we encounter Brian.  I do know he returns for the movie, but I haven’t seen the other episodes in a loooong time, so I’m guessing Rainbow Brite might need his help again?

We shall see.

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In all, not bad for a first outing.  The story itself has a lazy moment or two (the capture of the Color Kids, the stealing of the Color Belt).  I don’t know, it just seemed those moments could have had a little more effort written into them.  Like, why didn’t the Color Kids charge at Murky? I know I’m overthinking something that was mind-blowing for me when I was little.

I loved Rainbow Brite growing up, and even as an adult, I can remove my rose-colored nostalgia glasses to see through the childhood love and understand why I loved it so much.  It was fun (despite the lazy moments) and colorful.  As I said, for a first episode, it isn’t terrible.  It was actually entertaining.  The incidental music reminds me of Inspector Gadget, but there is a connection – Shuki Levy and Haim Saban.  Two composers that basically had their musical hands on everything 80s kids know and love.

Knowing that it wasn’t the human struggle to get through “Peril in the Pits,” I will most definitely watch the other specials/episodes of Rainbow Brite, and perhaps, the movie.

As for my next Retro Rewatch, I have a few ideas in mind, so I shall see which one comes to fruition.

Until then, if you see a rainbow, look up…

I’m kidding.  Like she’s ever going to come back.

I’d probably wind up with Joel McHale’s version of Rainbow Brite.

That’s my luck.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. Oooh, I wonder if “Red Butler” is a play on “Rhett Butler” from Gone With the Wind? I love the little details/references in kids’ shows that go over our heads until years later!

    Liked by 1 person

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