One of the show's most touching episodes vs. one of the most surreal episodes
As a fan of Winnie the Pooh, 'The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' was always one of my favourite shows as a child. Not all childhood favourites have held up, but 'The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' is one of the strongest examples of those that have.
While the original three 60s-70s short films ('Honey Tree', 'Blustery Day' and 'Tigger Too') and the 1977 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' are just a little better, 'The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' is one of the Winnie the Pooh franchise's high points. "A Very, Very Large Animal" was an episode that made me cry as a kid and still does now, "Find Her Keep Her" is still the saddest episode of 'The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh' but this episode has to be a close second.
On the other hand, we also have one of the show's most surreal episodes in "Fish Out of Water", as well one of its most visually inventive. Yes it is very silly (such as where the fish actually came from), then again that is not unusual for the show and in perfect keeping with how the characters perceive things, spending time trying to solve what they think is a problem but actually in reality it is a much more logical situation.
The animation in both episodes is very bright, well drawn and colourful, everything looking lush, detailed and smooth, being a little more inventive in "Fish Out of Water". The music is playfully jaunty and beautifully orchestrated, enhancing sadder moments with poignant and particularly lush and emotional scoring, whimsical parts with an energy but also pathos and the more playful moments with a jaunty touch. The theme tune is very rousing and one of the catchiest theme songs of any animated show of the late 80s.
Writing has a perfect mix of whimsy, drollness, wit, charm and childhood innocence. "A Very Very Large Animal" is predominantly very emotional, especially in the scenes where Piglet is talking to himself when running away. But also deftly balances it with some great humour, such as with the trees and Pooh, Tigger and Rabbit falling the cliff as a result, the sight of Eeyore in a Piglet suit and the gang's attempts to shrink him which also backfires (got to feel sorry for Eeyore on that one, but goodness wasn't it funny). Also really identified with its message of being small doesn't make you worthless.
"Fish Out of Water" is very funny, with also a real urgency in solving the problem with the fish and shows good values about working together as a team. The silliness, without being illogical, and the surreal atmosphere working in its favour. Both the stories are beautifully told and balanced, and the characters are all delightful as is their chemistry which in some way anchors the show.
The voice acting as always is terrific, Paul Winchell (hilarious), Jim Cummings (adorable) and John Fiedler (giving some of his most poignant voice work of the whole show) being the standouts. That is not to exclude Ken Sansom or Michael Gough (Gopher is an awesome and, as far as Winnie the Pooh in general goes under-utilised, character and very entertainingly voiced by Gough).
In summary, two wonderful episodes and both, especially "A Very Very Large Animal" are favourites. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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