You’re probably familiar with Paas egg dye kits. Even if the name itself doesn’t ring a bell, you’ve more likely than not seen them in your local grocery store around Easter. Their packaging features friendly barnyard critters, and stands out among lesser imitators (also, for what it’s worth, Paas egg dye actually stays on your eggs; other kits aren’t as effective).
Anyway, in 1983, Paas decided to make the move to television to promote their product (did they even need to? Pretty sure people were buying them already, but I digress). Peter & the Magic Egg features the characters from the boxes in animated form, gives them all silly names (the lamb is called “Lollichop”), and throws them all into a story which is….really, really hard to describe.
Once upon a time, there were some lovable Pennsylvania Dutch farmers named Mama and Papa Doppler. They had hilariously cartoonish accents and talked like Yoda. They were poor, and they owed a lot of money to a greedy cyborg known as Tobias Tinwhiskers. He looked like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Speaking of that movie, Peter and the Magic Egg features the voice of the OG Tin Man himself, Ray Bolger. However, he doesn’t play the evil Tin Man (missed opportunity!) and instead does the narrator, a…talking egg named Uncle Amos.
Anyway, Mother Nature sent a baby into the chicken coup of the Dopplers. The Dopplers were dumbasses and thought it was a chicken they heard at first when they heard a baby crying, but fortunately, they adopt the child, who grows up to be twelve human years old over the coarse of one year. Peter Paas (TM), as he is called, gives the barnyard animals magical clothing which gives them the ability to speak. And Peter Paas (TM) is strong, like Paul Bunyan, and is able to plow with the strength of ten men.
But this doesn’t solve the matter of Tobias Tinfucker, who is, as we mentioned earlier, a cyborg. He loved machines so much that he went to a plastic surgeon (what time period are we in anyway with this?) so he could BECOME a machine, and now he is one, and he is so rich that he owns the entire town. I’m not making any of this up. Tinfucker wants his money OR ELSE, so Peter Paas (TM) suggests they go to Mother Nature for help. Are you with me so far?
Alright, so Peter Paas (TM) decides that they should dye thousands of eggs and sell them to the Easter Bunny (who delivered him to the Dopplers, and is portrayed in this special by a giant ominous shadow for some reason). He asks the chickens–two of which he has just crowned King and Queen–to work as hard as they can, and they do, and the plan works, and the Dopplers have enough money to pay the evil Tin Man their debt for the year.
Anyway, the evil Tin Man is NOT pleased, and challenges Peter Paas (TM) to a…plowing duel. Peter Paas (TM) agrees because he’s polite like that, but the game turns out to be a trap, and Peter Paas (TM) ends up falling down a deep, dark pit, and is left in a coma for an entire year.
So with Peter Paas (TM) down for the count, it looks like Tinfucker will take ownership of the farm by the time their next year’s worth of rent is due, but the woodland critters decide to finally do something in their own special, and go to Mother Nature. Mother Nature gives them the magic egg of the title, saying it’s the key to reawakening Peter Paas (TM). What’s in the egg? That I won’t spoil. I’ll just say….it’s not what you’re expecting.
Peter and the Magic Egg had to air exclusively on syndication when it was new, as network TV broadcast standards of the time forbade airing programming directed at children which they deemed an extended commercial, in this case for egg dye kits. That’s somewhat ironic, because really, colored eggs don’t play that major of a role here, at least not more so than they do in other Easter specials. If anything, Peter and the Magic Egg feels like a trippy, long-forgotten Rankin/Bass title. That’s not entirely coincidental given the involvement of longtime Rankin/Bass writer Romeo Muller here.
Speaking for myself personally, it’s doubtful I’d even be aware of this special’s existence if I hadn’t watched it as a kid, as it was eventually shown a couple of times on The Disney Channel. My only memory of it, apart from it being weird, was a scene where the animals sang and danced on a stage. That does happen here, but only for a few seconds and doesn’t really have anything to do with the plot, so who knows why that’s what stuck with me from this.
Peter and the Magic Egg is fucking insane. But at the same time, it doesn’t have an ironic bone in its body. It sort of plays like a twist on the American folk tale, with Peter Paas (TM) as the mythical hero, and the animals there because…well, they’re the ones on the egg dye kits boxes. Bolger is great as the narrator, warm and welcoming as he should be, and the songs are alright (the one in which Peter Paas (TM) hums about Mother Nature is quite pretty, actually). So I don’t hate it. It’s fucking nuts, but I don’t hate it.
Have a WONDERMENT of a night, y’all!