Friday, 9 January 2015
58 The Wonderful World of Disney
First watched : 1971
I honestly can't remember much else about those years except a certain mood that permeated most of them , a melancholy feeling that I associate with watching " The Wonderful World of Disney" on Sunday nights. Sunday was a sad day - early to bed, school the next morning, I was constantly worried my homework was wrong - but as I watched the fireworks go off in the night sky, over the floodlit castles of Disneyland, I was consumed by a more general sense of dread, of imprisonment within the dreary round of school and home. Richard Papen in The Secret History ( Donna Tartt ).
Fortunately, watching TWWOD has not , so far at least, led me onto becoming an accessory to murder but I know what Donna was saying. With affordable flights to the USA ,a Disneyland just across the Channel and reasonable approximations dotted over the country now it's impossible for those born in the last thirty years or so to really understand the magic just the name conjured up for young children in the seventies. This fantasy land on earth , impossibly far away in California, brooked no other response but complete awe and longing.
Donna's also shrewd in alluding to the titles because what they wrapped around was often less than stellar. Disney had originally gone into television to finance the construction of Disneyland but wasn't going to part with the crown jewels so the TV show only featured edited versions of less successful films or material specifically written for television. By the early seventies the material was predominantly live action drama - with Mom and apple pie values well to the fore - and nature films. Animated features were a rare treat so I always associate the programme with anticipation and frequent disappointment. Genome reveals that this could have been avoided by looking at the Radio Times beforehand but perhaps I knew that and preferred to be kept in suspense.
What I particularly wanted was Donald Duck and his three nephews Huey Dewey and Louie. The ducklings were actually far more prominent in comics and appeared infrequently on screen but I wasn't to know that. At the time Dewey was denoted by a red cap ( it later became settled that Dewey wore blue ) so he became my favourite , the kids having no individual personalities. When a kind teacher gave me a monkey puppet during my hospitalisation for a serious eye injury a few months hence, he was christened Dewey ( I was reading comics with my good eye after lights out which probably wasn't advisable in the circumstances ). I still have him of course but he's rather delicate - he was a bit battered on arrival - so he's kept out of my son's reach.