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.”


Nerdvana: Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Today Nerdvana celebrates a short bearded guy with a deliriously sunny disposition. No, it’s not Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty, it’s Happy of the Seven Dwarfs.

“Happy, happy, happy! It’s party time, Jack!”
Happy is one of our favorite Disney characters, nee, one of our favorite cartoon characters at the moment and a rising fan favorite. Yet he didn’t begin that way. For a long time, it looked like if we were ever going to give Happy any mention here at all, it would be on Beyond the Background. Happy began his his career on a rather inauspicious note, despite being in one of THE most popular animated feature films of all time. Admittedly, it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen the movie, but thinking back, it’s hard to recall any real standout performances by Happy. He had a single verse to himself in “A Silly Song”, but that’s about it. Happy’s performance never really made much of an impact on proceedings; this is partly because the other Dwarfs, aside from Grumpy obviously, are likewise basically happy fellows, so Happy’s primary characteristic–being happy–had no real way of distinguishing itself among the among the other 5. Even though we always thought there was potential for greatness with the character even back then, it seemed as though the Hapster was destined to remain a bit player.
But then, the Mouse House decided to give the Dwarfs their own show, The 7D. For this new cartoon, the characters were all redesigned, then everybody hated the new designs so they had to be redesigned yet again. Here’s the result of Happy’s makeover:

His hat resembles a party hat. Nice touch.

Okay, Happy received some plastic surgery and a new wardrobe, but there was still doubt that he could hold his own as a character.
That all changed on July 7, 2014. (Get it? 7-7-14. The seventh day of the seventh month in ’14, which is 7+7. It’s a Seven Dwarfs thing, GET IT??)
Everything changed during the show’s premiere episode, “The Long, Long Winter”. (I don’t know if this was the first episode made, since many fans agree that the episode “The Littlest Giants/Gnome Alone” felt more like a pilot with all of its’ expository dialogue, but it was the first episode aired), at precisely this moment:
 Long Long Winter Gif 2
Long Long Winter Gif

“Ohhhhhhh, Uppity-up, uppity-up, up, up, up, up, uppity-up, uppity up, uppity-up, up, up, HARMONICA SOLO!”

Long Long Winter 1

“Does he have to be directly behind me?!?”

When I first saw this short, I thought, “They’re not really going to show him singing the whole way up, are they?” But they did. It was brilliant. Even falling doesn’t stop Happy. He takes a tumble, then after reassuring us that he’s not dead or injured, starts caterwauling again. And he goes on, and on, and on….And suddenly, BAM! At that exact moment, Happy’s untapped potential was finally realized, and he ascended from minor character to major player. That makes us happy.
Like all of the Dwarfs on The 7D, Happy’s basic characteristics were exaggerated for comic effect, basically cranked up to 11. Here, Happy isn’t just cheerful, he’s deliriously, almost insanely happy, and whoever’s idea it was to give Happy a penchant for breaking into inanely happy songs should be hailed as a genius. Happy’s singing habit could be Disney’s subtle jab at their own studio, which is known for featuring characters who burst into song at the slightest provocation. (Giving Happy a penchant for jokes and comedy would have worked too, but what they did is still good.) It’s also worth mentioning that Happy has read more episode titles aloud than any other character on the show.
A lot of Happy’s appeal stems from the talents of the actor who provides his voice, Kevin Michael Richardson, known to some of his fans as “Sexual Chocolate” due to his smooth bass voice. (And here I thought that was the WWE’s Mark Henry.)
Kevin Richardson, the voice behind our favorite guitar strumming dwarf. Hard to believe that Mr. Oompty-Smoompty Shmoodley-Doo and Nickelodeon’s Shredder are the same guy.
In one of TV’s great ironies, Mr. Richardson auditioned for the show assuming he’d be a lock for the voice of Grumpy. Indeed, Richardson would have made a decent Grumpy, given some of his past roles (most kids today probably know him best as the voice of Mr. Gus on Cartoon Network’s Uncle Grandpa), but that role went to Maurice LaMarche. Personally, I’m glad things worked out the way they did, because as previously stated, while Richardson could have worked as Grumpy, LaMarche sells the role; now I can’t imagine anyone else voicing Grumpy but LaMarche, nor anyone but Richardson voicing Happy. His voicing of the character is one of the highlights of the show.
Speaking of Grumpy, it’s amazing how in all this time, in all these years, no one at the Mouse House has ever thought of playing Happy off of Grumpy until now. The notion seems like a no-brainer, given that the 2 characters are night and day attitude-wise. In Snow White, Grumpy would frequently square off against Doc, but he and Happy interacted very little. But now that Doc on this show is basically a cross between Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci and Carl Sagan, Happy is the Dwarf who annoys Grumpy the most. Seeing these 2 play off another and the light and dark contrast of their natures is another highlight.
So hats off to Happy. Congratulation for breaking out of background character status and hitting the big time. the following sums Happy up perfectly:
“Stay happy, my friends.”

Why Doc is Awesome!

  1. He’s the leader of the 7D. Every pack needs an Alpha Dog.
  2. He’s a genius. We love our short brainiacs here.
  3. He can get into almost anyplace just by saying, “I’m a doctor”.
  4. That bitchin’ bow tie.
  5. He’s voiced by Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy. Do we even need to say why Goofy is awesome?
  6. He has gadgets stored inside his hat. Who else can boast that besides Inspector Gadget?
  7. He claims that the Bonnie Tyler song “Holding On for a Hero” is actually about him.
  8. Dude was steampunk before steampunk was cool.
  9. He’s been in close quarters with both a princess and a queen. That’s stroke!
  10. His name. You can greet him by saying, “What’s up, Doc?”

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.