Saturday, October 20, 2018
Phyllis Diller Fills Up A Disney Haunted House With Laughs
As reported back here and here in Tulgey Wood, The Mouse Factory was a zany, fast-paced, sort-of Laugh In-like syndicated series. This iconoclastic Disney TV program, created/directed/produced by Disney's resident iconoclast Ward Kimball, this half-hour show ran for two (actually one and a half) seasons, from 1972 to 1973. Phyllis Diller was "Mickey's Friend" on the fourth episode, "Spooks and Magic," which ran the week of February 16, 1972. The popular comedienne is perfectly cast as a wacky witch celebrating Halloween in various ways, finally offering an apple to trick-or-treater Snow White. As this publicity still shows, this episode featured Lonesome Ghosts (1937) and Trick or Treat (1952), as well as the Wizard's Duel from The Sword in the Stone (1963). Clearly this is a Halloween show, as opposed to a show centering on more generic spookiness, so why this episode was telecast in February and not October is a mystery. Perhaps the series was actually indented to premiere at the beginning of the 1971-1972 season and ended up being delayed until mid-season. At any rate, this silly yet spooky installment is just the thing for the Countdown to Halloween here at Tulgey Wood.
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This is by far and away one of the best "Mouse Factory" installments! Phyllis Diller is priceless--just hams it up to get every laugh possible. And the ending gag is as perfect as it is unexpected. It's fun to hear Phyllis Diller's voice coming out of--the character she turns into. The earlier Mouse Factory shows did more of a blend with the live action host or hostess mixing in more closely with the animation. The later shows preserved the purity of the original cartoons and kept the hosts at more of a distance, with no interaction. This early installment shows Phyllis having a telephone conversation with Mickey Mouse, and later re-creates the final scene of "Lonesome Ghosts" with the live-action costumed figures of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy repeating the actions of their cartoon counterparts.
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