EASTER BUNNY IS COMIN' TO TOWN, THE (TV)
An animated television special about the origin of the Easter Bunny.
A train engineer who operates the talking train Chugs delivers mail and Easter eggs every year on behalf of the Easter Bunny, and he notes that he often receives questions as to the origins of the Easter Bunny and his traditions. He decides to tell the tale ("The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town"): on the far side of Big Rock Mountain there lay a village called Kidville populated entirely by children. They are all orphans who gathered together in their isolated community to make a life for themselves, frequently menaced by a huge bear named Gadzooks. One Easter morning several of the children discover a baby rabbit, alone in the wilderness. Upon realizing that he has no parents the children take him in, naming him "Sunny." Sunny becomes Kidville's official pet and grows much faster than the children, reaching adulthood in the space of a year. At a town meeting he proposes establishing trade between Kidville and the outside world; he believes that Kidville's eggs, hatched by a trio of chickens called the "Hendrew Sisters," would make a good export ("The Chicken or the Egg"). With a basket full of eggs, Sunny sets off to find a suitable place for him to sell them.
On the way, Sunny meets a hobo named Hallelujah Jones. He directs Sunny to a nearby settlement known only as "Town," and Hallelujah decides to pay Kidville a visit. On Big Rock Mountain Sunny runs afoul of Gadzooks, who steals Sunny's eggs. Sunny runs right into Town, which he finds is a dismal, gray place with depressed citizens. He learns that having children is illegal in Town, and that families who do are banished. He also learns that Town is ruled by King Bruce the Frail, a seven year-old monarch, and his domineering aunt Duchess Lily Longtooth, who bosses Bruce around and is thus the true ruler of Town. Longtooth maintains the decrees which make Town so depressing, such as ordering that beans be the only food consumed by the people of Town. Bruce doesn't want to be king and wants an ordinary childhood, but Longtooth will hear none of it. Sunny overhears their argument and returns to Kidville.
Hallelujah devises a way to get the eggs past Gadzooks: he has the kids dip the eggs in food coloring so as to confuse the dim-witted bear. Sunny brings the colored eggs across Big Rock Mountain again, managing to convince Gadzooks that they are paperweights. Gadzooks chases him down the mountain and Sunny runs into the guards at the gates of Town. At first they are unwilling to try Sunny's eggs, but he manages to convince them otherwise ("Someone's Gotta Be First"). Soon they and the rest of the people of Town find that they enjoy the eggs, and Sunny gives one to Bruce. Sunny decides to name the eggs "Easter eggs," and Bruce takes inspiration from this to officially dub Sunny the "Easter Bunny." Longtooth comes upon Sunny and Bruce eating Easter eggs and is enraged, as this violates her law about bean consumption. She chases Sunny out of the castle and demands that Bruce pass new laws forbidding eggs from Town. However, Sunny secretly visits Bruce again and promises to return next Easter with an "Easter bean."
For months Sunny and Hallelujah work on the "Easter bean" project, finally succeeding when they invent jelly beans. When Easter comes Sunny sets off for Town bearing Easter eggs and jelly beans, but he runs afoul of Gadzooks again, who angrily throws his basket of Easter eggs all the way back to Kidville. Sunny returns to find that the children of Kidville are busy retrieving the eggs from the surrounding brush. When he notices how much fun they have doing so, he decides that he will hide Easter eggs every year so they can repeat the hunt. Sunny figures out a way to get past Gadzooks: he has the Kidville tailors fashion a suit for him, and then presents Gadzooks with it as a gift. Gadzooks is moved to tears at being presented a gift for the first time in his life, and Sunny and the others advise him that if he learns to like himself, then others will like him too ("If You Do"). Gadzooks has a change of heart and allies himself with Kidville.
Sunny hides his Easter eggs in Town, and the people of Town also enjoy searching for them. They also take readily to the introduction of the jelly beans. Soon Lady Longtooth discovers what's going on and sends out her soldiers to capture Sunny and the Kidville children. Sunny manages to escape, promising to return again on the following Easter. As Sunny prepares for next Easter, he worries that their hard work will be all for naught if Longtooth keeps outlawing their goods. Hallelujah suggests that Sunny find a way to get Bruce to stand up for himself and assert his rightful authority as king. Sunny comes up with an idea to facilitate this and prepares to put it into action.
When Sunny and his party approach Town on the following Easter, they find that Longtooth has ordered her soldiers to intercept them before they can reach Town. The kids manage to distract the guards while Sunny hides in a paper bag. The guards carry the paper bag into the Town dungeon, but find that Sunny has tricked them by switching himself with a chocolate Easter Bunny. Sunny distributes his Easter eggs throughout Town, as well as Easter costumes, which inspire the folk of Town to put on the first Easter parade. For Bruce, Sunny produces a number of stuffed animals for him in order to give him courage and support when no one is around. Longtooth enters and Bruce has a bit more courage than usual, but still cannot stand up to her. After Sunny leaves, Longtooth orders her men to prevent Sunny from returning the following year by any means necessary.
Sunny and his friends prepare for the following Easter. Gadzooks offers his assistance in carrying their loads of Easter goods, but he falls into a trap set by Longtooth's men, injuring his foot and keeping him bedridden. To substitute for Gadzooks, Hallelujah proposes that they build a railroad from Kidville to Town, and he enlists the aid of his hobo friends in its construction ("Big Rock Candy Mountain"). Sunny goes to hire a train to transport their goods, but the trains at the yard are too stuck-up to agree. However, Sunny runs across Chugs there, rusted, forlorn, and forgotten. He laments his lot in life ("Train Yard Blues") until Sunny agrees to hire him for the job. Chugs, excited, gets cleaned up and when Easter comes around Sunny, Hallelujah, and the kids pile into him to make their journey to Town. Longtooth monitors their progress and orders that they not be allowed to pass over Big Rock Mountain.
Chugs soldiers on as Sunny and the others do their best to encourage him ("All You Have to Think is Can Do"). Longtooth tries to stop Chugs by spreading melted butter on the rails. Chugs starts to slip but Hallelujah covers the tracks in jelly beans, which provides Chugs with enough traction to progress. Their journey is successful and Longtooth finally admits defeat, realizing she is unable to prevent the Easter Bunny from arriving. She fears that Bruce will banish her but instead he presents her with a flower which seems to fill her with emotion and make her sentimental for her youth. Sunny informs her that the flower is to be named a "lily" after her. The story ends with the Engineer accompanying Chugs and everyone else as they depart Town. Commercials deleted.
- NETWORK: ABC
- DATE: April 6, 1977 8:00 PM
- RUNNING TIME: 0:49:58
- COLOR/B&W: Color
- CATALOG ID: B:79311
- GENRE: Animation
- SUBJECT HEADING: Animation
- SERIES RUN: ABC - TV, 1977
- Jules Bass … Producer, Director, Lyrics
- Arthur Rankin Jr. … Producer, Director
- Iizuka Masaki … Associate Producer
- Romeo Muller … Writer
- Maury Laws … Music by
- Bernard Hoffer … Conductor
- Fred Astaire … Narrator, Voice, S. D. Kluger
- Skip Hinnant … Voice, Sunny
- Robert McFadden … Voice, Chugs
- Allen Swift … Voice, Gadzooks
- Ron Marshall … Voice, Hallelujah Jones
- Meg Sargent … Voice, Lily Longtooth
- James Spies … Voice, King Bruce
- Michael McGovern … Voice, Child
- Laura Dean … Voice, Child
- George Brennan … Voice, Child
- Gia Andersen … Voice, Child
- Stacey Carey … Voice, Child
- Jill Choder … Voice
- Karen Dahle … Voice