Turn Back the Clock
Distributed By: Family Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I watched a lot of animated specials when I was a kid and I remember quite a few of them. When I talk about one of those animated specials in particular, I get some curious looks. Apparently, no one remembers the cartoon special based on the Rudyard Kipling short story about a mongoose that captures the hearts of the family he protects called Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
First airing in 1975, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi featured Orson Welles as narrator of the tale of the little mongoose who washes up on the property of an English family recently relocated to India. Bringing the mongoose home, drying him off and feeding him endears the family to Rikkiís heart. The young boy Teddy (Michael LeClare) intrigues him the most and Rikki sleeps with the boy every night. As he acquaints himself with his new surroundings, Rikki discovers that it is patrolled by two deadly cobras. Lucky for the family he has adopted, Rikki is an excellent snake hunter. But Nag (Orson Welles) and his even more deadly wife Nagaina (June Foray) are dead set against having a mongoose in their domain, especially as they are expecting their family to increase exponentially.
Iím not quite sure just what it is about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi that made a lasting impression on me as a child, but I remembered almost every scene as I watched it again all these years later, especially the last scenes as Nagaina is lured away from her lair by Rikkiís bird friend stumbling around, pretending to have a broken wing. The animation of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is not anything special, but the mongoose is rather cute. I think it was a combination of a fascination of animals and the faithful fearlessness of Rikki that made this cartoon memorable for me.
After watching the cartoon this time, I was fascinated with how Rikki attacked his prey and had to look up what a real mongoose looks like when attacking a snake. It turns out that this cartoon is rather accurate when it comes to how a mongoose confronts the snake, the changing of the eye color to red and the actual attacking style of the mongoose. Someone was doing their homework in the research department.
In short, this animation in this cartoon may not be on par with todayís cartoons, but the story is quite enjoyable and those sparkling eyes and quivering tail make Rikki-Tikki-Tavi an endearing character for young children. Plus, the name is just so much fun to say. This classic short story can be found in a number of different mediums, but my favorite will always be the cartoon I watched when I was a kid.