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The Talking Parcel (1978) (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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The Talking Parcel

(This review refers to the animated cartoon, which differs from the original book by Gerald Durrell. The voice actors are credited)

A wrapped parcel is seen floating on the sea (Song: "Mooncarrot Pie") towards a shore where a young girl, Penelope (Lisa Norris) is playing. Unwrapping it, she discovers The Parrot (Freddie Jones) who enlists her to return with him to Mythologia to rescue its rightful ruler, the wizard H. H. Junketberry (Edward Kelsey) from the dungeons of the Chief Cockatrice (Windsor Davis) and his minions.

Penelope and The Parrot journey using Hortense (Mollie Sugden), an enchanted steam-engine, and land in Mythologia not far from Castle Cockatrice. They encounter Ethelred, a toad and a spy (Roy Kinnear), whose spy course has not got much beyond the use of very elaborate disguises, and persuade him to help them. Entering the castle, they manage to contact H. H. Junketberry, who tells them that the only thing that can overcome Cockatrices is the bite of a weasel - and the only thing that will make weasels brave enough to do it (they are all arrant cowards) is the plant, rue.

Rue, however, only grows on Werewolf Island, and so Penelope, The Parrot and Ethelred journey there in a blue inflatable raft, trying to get there and off again before the full moon rises. En route they are met by Oswald, the sea serpent (Michael Horden), who initially tries to eat them, thinking they are a blue muffin, but then tows them to the island.

On the island, Penelope is led to the rue by will-o-the-wisps (Daphne Oxenford) but is then captured by a werewolf (Peter Woodthorpe), who intends to bite her and turn her into a werewolf when the moon rises. She is rescued by Ethelred, disguised as a "were-toad", and all flee the werewolves.

Penelope now takes the rue to Duke Wensleydale of Weaseldom (Harvey Ashby), the ermine leader of the weasels: he insists that it be tried first on his guard, Wilf (Raymond Mason), where it works with excellent effect: the weasels are now ready to fight.

Castle Cockatrice is thus attacked by the creatures of Mythologia, including the catapult-crew griffons, Tabitha, the last dragon, and of course the weasels which bite the Cockatrices and render them docile. The Chief Cockatrice corners Penelope at the top of a tower, but she is again saved by Ethelred. H.H. Junketberry is released, and Penelope returns home.

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