Talkin’ Nerdy: What’s the Deal with Dopey?

When Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs debuted in 1937, there was no question or doubt as to which character stole the show: Dopey the Dwarf. The silly, adorable, mute character was so popular with fans that many people requested that Walt Disney use Dopey as a series star in the shorts, in fact, some of Disney’s staff even wanted to use Dopey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia.


That’s right. This guy almost wore the big blue wizard’s hat.

So when the Seven Dwarfs were revived and re-imagined for Disney X-D’s The 7D, I figured it would be a no-brainer that Dopey would emerge as one of the show’s breakout stars. Alas, this was not the case. On The 7D, it’s been Doc, Happy and especially Grumpy who have become the top players on the show, while Dopey has never graduated from lesser character status. I expected this to be the case for characters like Sleepy and Sneezy, since they were always pretty one-dimensional, but not Dopey. In this regard, Dopey is the exact opposite of Happy, who was a pretty minor character in the movie but emerged as one of the biggest characters on the show. What happened? Why has Dopey gotten the shaft?

I’ve been thinking about this (which should be a clear indicator that I have lots of free time) and have theorized why Dopey hasn’t attained top tier character status on The 7D. I chalk it up to 2 factors:



One reason why Walt never turned the Seven Dwarfs into shorts stars was because in the average animated short the focus is typically on 1, 2, 3 or at the most 4 central characters, but had Disney placed the Dwarfs in this format they would’ve had to contend with 7 main characters to start with, not to mention any other supports or guest stars that might have appeared. Indeed, with 6 guys also doing comedy and vying for the spotlight, it’s hard to squeeze decent bits for Dopey in there as well. There’s also the added burden of Dopey not being able to speak, so right away any verbal humor like puns of clever wordplay can’t be done with him. This is not to say that Dopey hasn’t gotten any opportunities to stand out, he’s gotten some golden gags, such as imitating The Scream:


But moments like this have been few and far between. Yeah, that look. This brings me to the other reason why I feel Dopey hasn’t broken out on the show:


A lot Dopey’s appeal in the original film was how he was essentially the “baby” of the Seven Dwarfs: he was youthful while the other Dwarfs were elderly, he had no hair, big blue eyes, only one tooth, large jug-handle ears and wore over-sized clothes, viz:


On The 7D however, Dopey’s look was changed to this:


Who does this guy remind you of? Take a wild guess. For those who don’t know, The 7D‘s Dopey was patterned largely after Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers.


Those eyes are staring into my soul, and honking bike horns in my ears.

Nothing wrong with that, Harpo was hilarious, but he’s not usually the first character who comes to mind when you hear the word “cute”. Without the cute, innocent, childlike features and aspects to his character, 7D Dopey amounts to little more than a weirdo. Dopey is like Tweety Bird or the Muppet character Bean Bunny: he relies heavily on being adorable. The writers tried to carve a niche for Dopey as ‘the animal lover’ of the group, and that kind of works, but again, without Dopey’s babyish demeanor it ultimately doesn’t amount to much.

I don’t know how many more episodes of The 7D there will be; the cast and crew have already had their wrap party, so it’s likely that show will be like many Disney animated series and only run for 2 seasons. If it’s truly over, then it’s a shame that Dopey was never really given that much to do on the show, especially since The 7D was produced by Tom Ruegger, who also gave us Animaniacs, and managed to strike comedy gold with another Harpo-inspired character, Wakko Warner. However, it’s worth mentioning that Wakko is a child character and he has the ability to speak.


“Don’t forget the tongue. Chicks dig the tongue.”


Beyond the Background: The Seven Dwarfs’ Knockoffs

Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and Sneezy. To longtime Disney fans, these names are the Beatles of little people. Nearly everybody loves Disney’s Seven Dwarfs: they stole the show in Disney’s first ever animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they appear as costumed mascots in all of the Walt Disney theme parks, they’ve recently gotten a 21st century makeover and are starring in their own new animated series The 7D (which it should be obvious by now that we here at Twinsanity are fans of, since this is the 4th time the show has been mentioned on this blog) and they’re internationally known and internationally beloved, and it’s for precisely that reason why we won’t be spotlighting them on Beyond the Background.

Beyond the Background is for showcasing the lesser known, less celebrated or outright forgotten cartoon characters, so the 7D don’t fit the bill. Instead, we’ll be looking at some of the Seven Dwarfs’ various imitators, spinoffs, knockoffs, ripoffs and wannabes.

Ant Hill Mob Names

First up we have The Ant Hill Mob, seven pint-sized 1920’s style gangsters who first appeared in Hanna-Barbera’s Wacky Races in 1968. Their names are Clyde (the leader, voiced by Paul Winchell), Ring-A-Ding (voiced Don Messick), Danny, Rug Bug Benny, Mac, Kirby (not the pink round Nintendo mascot who sucks up dudes and takes on their powers!) and Willy, though only Clyde and Ring-A-Ding’s names were ever spoken on camera. Clyde, a caricature of Edward G. Robinson and likely named after famous criminal Clyde Barrow, was the tough-as-nails boss, while Ring-A-Ding’s chief attribute was being about as dumb as a bag of rocks; Clyde would usually call Ring-A-Ding “Ding-A-Ling” whenever he screwed up, which was often. The gang drove in car number 7, The Bulletproof Bomb (also known as The Roaring Plenty), and were pint-sized characters, an obvious reference to the Seven Dwarfs. In the very first episode, “See-Saw to Arkansas”, they even disguise themselves as the Seven Dwarfs to escape from a policeman. Their usual method of improving the speed of their car was “getaway” power, which they achieved by extending their feet through the floor of the car and running, the same way Fred Flintstone accelerates his own prehistoric car.

Ant Hill Mob

The Ant Hill Mob, circa ‘Wacky Races’. This photo was taken shortly before the Mob knocked over a fruit stand…with their car.

After a brief stretch in the jar (a literal jar, these guys are short, remember?), The Ant Hill Mob re-appeared in a spin-off of Wacky Races, called The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. By this time they had cleaned up their act, and now acted as Penelope Pitstop’s protectors. Between shows the Mob had a little dustup which resulted in 6 of them having to go into the Witness Relocation program (Clyde got off on a technicality, and a huge bribe) and returning with different names: the others were now called Yak Yak, Softy, Pockets, Zippy, Snoozy and Dum-Dum, and this time around the other 5 had actual personalities: “Yak Yak” couldn’t stop laughing and almost always would laugh during times of peril although he didn’t mean to. “Softy” couldn’t stop crying and would mostly do so during a genuinely happy moment. “Pockets” always had gadgets in his pockets. “Zippy” could run really fast. “Snoozy” was always asleep, sleep-talking and “Dum-Dum” completely lacked all common sense.

The Ant Hill Mob have laid low since then, keeping their noses clean and staying out of the public eye. There have been rumors that the gang put out one last hit, resulting in one Sylvester Sneakly waking up one morning to find the severed heads of the Bully Brothers in his bed, but this hasn’t been confirmed…yet.

Next up we have The Trobbits, who co-starred in a 1981 Filmation CBS Saturday morning cartoon called Blackstar, about an astronaut who gets sucked into a black hole and ends up in a world of sword and sorcery, where he decides to blend in by going all Conan, stripping down to his shorts, wielding a magical sword and taking on some uber-powered dude in funky headgear.


The Trobbits (their name being a portmanteau of “tree” and “hobbit”–surprisingly enough, J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate didn’t attempt to to try merging the words “law” and “suit”) were the peaceful, pink-skinned comic relief little men who rescued Blackstar and provided the cute and the yuks. Again, there were 7 of them (surprise, surprise!) and each Trobbit had his own unique shtick:

  • Balkar – The Trobbits’ king and mentor. He controls elemental magic and is also a great alchemist. He’s also known for not acting wacky all the time like his bros.
  • Terra – The gardener who talks to plants, not the blond Teen Titans chick who turns Beast Boy’s knobs, betrays the team and, um…gets turned into a statue. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  • Burble – The babbler who swims very well and freezes during the winter. You’d freeze too if you wore Bermuda shorts in the middle of a blizzard.
  • Carpo – The carpenter who gnaws wood with his teeth to construct things. Make fun of his teeth and you’d lose yours.
  • Rif – The grumpy, flame-capped cook. This dude was a literal hot-head: he had a flame on top of his stocking cap and not surprisingly, had an intense aversion to water.
  • Puolo – The mute whistler. Sound familiar?
  • Gossamer – The scout and lookout who flew via his huge ears.

Continue reading “Beyond the Background: The Seven Dwarfs’ Knockoffs”

Cartoon Country: Disney’s The 7D

The 7D, the latest animated outing from Disney Studios, made its’ debut this morning on Disney X-D. We’ve already previewed this show no less than twice here on The Twin Factor, but for those who are too lazy to re-read those, here’s the opening:

And now, the overview:

“In The 7D, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy, and Doc have ditched (or maybe haven’t yet met) Snow White in favor of Queen Delightful, the slightly dippy monarch of the contemporary fairy tale land of Jollywood. The Queen (and her long-suffering assistant Lord Starchbottom) are perpetually pestered by the husband-and-wife warlock team of Grim and Hildy Gloom — she’s the brains, he’s the…uh, husband. Each half-hour of The 7D promises 2 11-minute stories of the dwarfs foiling Grim and Hildy’s latest coup attempt with much comedic mayhem along the way.”

Thanks to Toon Zone’s Ed Liu for the synopsis.

The Dwarfs’ physical appearances and characters are more exaggeratedly toonified here, but are still what you’ve come to expect from them: Doc (Bill Farmer) is brainy and is skilled at steampunk inventions (complete with Inspector Gadget-like gloved robotic hands and other assorted gizmos stored inside his hat), Dopey (“voiced” by Dee Bradley Baker) looks like Harpo Marx and is prone to whistles, props, sight gags and silliness, Bashful is shy and soft-spoken, typically hiding behind characters and props, even to the point where he’s barely visible during the show’s opening sequence (his twee voice, when he does speak up, is provided by Billy West), Sleepy (Steven Stanton)’s outfit resembles pajamas and he dozes whenever and wherever possible, Sneezy (Scott Menville) is bulbous-nosed, nasally voiced and allergic to everything, sneezing with the ferocity of a hurricane, Happy (Keven Michael Richardson) is jovial to the point of being a little nuts, giddily leaping into cheerily inane songs at the slightest provocation, and Grumpy (Maurice LaMarche) is well…grumpy. (Could be because his hat is an inverted flowerpot.) Rounding out the voice cast is Leigh-Allyn Baker as Queen Delightful, Paul Rugg as Lord Starchbottom, Jess Harnell as Grim and Kelly Osbourne, yes, that Kelly Osbourne, as Hildy.

Personally, I thought it was pretty good myself. The writers did a good job of giving each character a little something to do despite each short only being 11 minutes long. The show’s a tad simplistic, but that’s to be expected given that The 7D was originally slated for Disney Junior (as evidenced by how the episodes’ titles are read aloud by the characters, for the benefit of younger tots who can’t yet read), and anyway not every show needs to be river deep in order to be entertaining. I’ve only seen 1 episode so far, but I can already see Doc, Grumpy and Happy shaping up to be my favorite characters on the series.

Overall, I liked what I saw today, and I’ll definitely be tuning in for more.

Peeks: First Impressions of Disney’s "The 7D"

It looks like Disney beloved short people, the Seven Dwarfs, will be the next set of classic Disney characters to receive their own show.

“Accessing a classic fairytale and finding new ways to bring it to audiences, Disney Television Animation has begun production on the new animated series The 7D, a comedic take on the world of Seven Dwarfs, this time in a contemporary storybook world designed for viewers age 2-7 and their families. The series is slated to debut in 2014 on Disney Junior channels and programming blocks around the world.

The executive producer is Emmy Award-winning Tom Ruegger (“Animaniacs”). Alfred Gimeno (“Tiny Toon Adventures”) is the director and Sherri Stoner (“Pinky and the Brain”) is the story editor. The characters are designed by Noah Z. Jones (“Fish Hooks”).”

SYNOPSIS: The 7D takes place in the whimsical world of Jollywood (Jollywood? Does this mean we’ll be seeing people in tights dancing around in big, splashy musical numbers??), where quirky Queen Delightful relies on the 7D – Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy and Doc – to keep the kingdom in order. Standing in their way are two laughably evil villains, Grim and Hildy Gloom, who plot to take over the kingdom by stealing the magical jewels in the 7D’s mine. With seven very distinct personalities, the 7D always manage to save the day and send Grim and Hildy running back to their evil lair to try another day.

That sounds like fun and all, but there’s one little curiosity surrounding this show: namely, the Dwarfs’ designs. For some reason, the Mouse House has opted to redesign the mythical Vertically Challenged Folk for this series. What was wrong with these designs, I don’t know:

…But it is what it is. Who can fathom the minds of network executives?
First, these early promotional designs were submitted:
And the reaction was unanimous:

I mean, really who thought those designs were a good idea? I mean, Dopey is actually TALL. Just…no! And Sneezy looks like a clown! Why’s he so tiny?? I didn’t even realize that he was supposed to be Sneezy until doing a little process of elimination: I first thought he was supposed to be Dopey, but then I saw Stretch with the Harpo Marx look and put 2 and 2 together.

I know 5-year-olds in kindergarten who can do better with their crayons. In fact, I’ve puked up better designs after an evening bender. So after the tarring and feathering, the artists staggered back to the drawing board and came up with these designs instead:

Much better. I still didn’t think there was anything wrong with the original movie designs, but this is a vast improvement over those craptactular first designs. These are much more colorful and vibrant, and the characters are much more distinct. Dopey is still sporting the Harpo Marx look, but now he retains the classic Dopey look as well. I particularly like those little mechanical arms emerging from Doc’s hat; that says to me that the producers may be going for a kind of “wacky inventor” shtick with Doc, which would please me, as I like loony scientists. Happy kind of looks like Santa Claus, fitting, and I like the polka dots on his and Dopey’s hats.
One minor observation, though: is it just me, or does Bashful now look like Dumb Donald from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids?
“Uhhhhhh…..yeah……I don’t see it.”