1987: The Monster's Ring

This is one of those specials that I only saw once, but I remember where I was when I saw it (my next-door neighbor's house), and a couple of stray lines have stuck with me the whole time. It's kind of remarkably, really, because, as a Halloween special, it's not all that memorable. It's not bad or anything, but except for the interest that developed around it due to it being long-lost and hard to find for a while, it never exactly had the rabid following of shows like Witch's Night Out.

Based on Bruce Coville's novel, and aired as an episode of CBS Storybreak in 1987, The Monster's Ring tells the story of , a young boy who looks exactly like Harry Potter would have if Harry Potter was a late '80s cartoon show.    Russell is being hassled by a bully named Eddie who, like Nelson Muntz before him, seems to be a sad, lonely little boy who needs to be isolated from everybody. I wish we could see more of what makes Eddie tick; sometimes in our anti-bullying campaigns we forget that bullies are people, too. Still, his father's advice to "make friends" with the bully, and said father's lack of suspicion when Eddie is seen "borrowing"  Russell's bike later, gives me the impression that the father in this cartoon is a pretty dim fellow.

Upon running away from Eddie one day near Halloween, Russell ends up in a part of town where he's never been before, and where the sky is mysteriously dark, even though it was bright just around the corner. In it is a magic shop run by a strange old man who sells real magic at bargain prices. We've all seen shops like this in stores - you buy something like a monkey's paw or a Shakespeare Folio for a nickel, and when you try to go back to the shop, you find it was never there.   Never tries to go back to the store in the cartoon, for some reason, but I assume that if he did, he'd never even be able to find that strange part of town again.

For a quarter, he buys The Monster's Ring, a little ring said to contain a faithful servant. By squinting one eye and saying "Gremlin of the magic ring, change me to a monstrous thing,"   Russell  is able to turn himself into a monster that puts me in mind of the way Scott Howard looked as a wolf in the Teen Wolf cartoon.  Most who see him think it's a great look - "I made it from things we found around the house," he says, in a line that stuck with me - but Eddie is scared to death and runs away, until    develops enough self confidence that he doesn't need the ring anymore, and is able to help Eddie from higher-up bullies of his own.

Lost and impossible to find until it was recently uploaded to youtube by the guy who made up a fake Disney channel (he even added in commercials and stuff),  The Monster's Ring isn't so offensively dull or bad that you might watch it now and marvel that you were ever so easily entertained, but I certainly got the idea that some elements of the plot didn't translate well to the 26 minute format, and, though the animation itself isn't bad for its era, it lacks that Halloween atmosphere that I value so highly - the Magic Shop and the strangley dark part of town should have been a real treat to animate, but they come off as pretty bland here. Still, I never got particularly bored watching it now, the plot was pretty coherent, and I did feel like I ought to pick up a copy of the book, which I suppose was the point to begin with.

 
CBS Storybreak-The Monster's Ring by f100000584650035

2 comments:

Lace Front Wig said...

It was a mindblowing post!! I enjoyed reading it thoroughly!...

Meow Opre said...

I was browsing for Halloween related blogs and I came by your post. Please allow me to pin some remarkable photos in here :D Thank you so much! I’m also sharing a post of the usual activities in our country, for some of you to know what is halloween in the Philippines.
Cheers and keep up writing nice posts 

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