Sheep Ahoy

“Hello, Sam.”

Directed by Charles M. Jones; Story by Michael Maltese; Animation by Richard Thompson and Abe Levitow; Layouts by Maurice Noble; Backgrounds by Phil DeGuard; Voice Characterization by Mel Blanc; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on December 11, 1954.

Ralph is getting an early start today. Fred Sheepdog hasn’t even clocked out and Ralph’s already slinking down to the still living mutton chops. But Sam’s on his way. (This being their second picture, Fred still calls Sam ‘Ralph’.) Ever on top of things, Sam allows the sheep to continue living by knocking a stone onto Ralph’s head. Two can play that game! But why just repeat what the other guy already did? Ralph drops a boulder towards Sam, but it gets caught by one of those trees who decided growing in dirt was too easy and made it’s dwelling a cliff face, (*phew*! Lot of words.) and tosses it back.

In between fade-outs, one of the sheep has decided to graze on Sam’s ledge. Ralph merely has to pole vault over the dog, but even that is met with difficulties. Sam grabs the pole before Ralph could let go, and brings him down for another punch. (His paw gets darker in doing so. Maybe he’s wearing brass knuckles?) Ralph next tries a smoke bomb. But he doesn’t try using it to blind everyone else because then he wouldn’t be able to see his targets either. He just uses it as cover for himself because smokescreens have paws a good 58% of the time, and he can still see out of it. (Really, how is this supposed to be useful?) Sam tosses an explosive into the smoke, turning it black and obscuring Ralph’s vision for sure, leaving him to walk off a cliff.

A fake rock disguise seems to work perfectly as Sam treats him as he would any other rock: something to sledgehammer. (I love Ralph’s trembling as he sees this approaching. It’s gonna hurt.) The little pieces head back to regroup for a new tactic. He/they eventually devise a pedal-powered submarine to sneak upon drinking sheep. But… if his legs are poking out, doesn’t that mean water is leaking in? How does he breathe? (He should really listen to the background music. Every Chuck Jones fan knows it means certain doom is ahead.) Seeing the detour sign that Sam is holding gets Ralph to head over the nearby falls. Pedal all you want, pal. Water always wins.

Simple usually works best, so Ralph decides to just use a plank to fling Sam away. I don’t know what physics would usually dictate would happen, but Sam is flung up rather than away. He pounds Ralph. The whistle blows saving Ralph as the night shifts are returning. Fred once more takes Sam’s place whilst George Wolf fills in for Ralph. He’s just as bad with names as Fred is, as he calls Ralph “Sam”. (So at least the names are present and counted for.) You know, I bet Ralph planned that last stunt knowing George would pay the punishment. That’ll teach him for not bothering to learn his name!

I kinda want to see a short based on Fred and George now. Do you think they’re friends on the side as well? (I’m purposefully not making a “Harry Potter” reference, but I guess you can if you want.)

Favorite Part: One of the selling points on the fake rock is “Be popular.” That is blatantly false advertising and they know it, but it works because I’ve bought twenty.

Personal Rating: 3

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