113. The Practical Pig – Dick Rickard

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SUMMARY: When his two brothers are taken captive once again by the Big Bad Wolf, the Practical Pig takes the Wolf himself hostage and tests out his new lie detector machine.

WHY IT’S HERE: The fourth and final of the Three Little Pig shorts, ‘The Practical Pig’ demonstrated amply that the series had run its course while simultaneously providing an excellent ending to it. Never intended to be a series, the Three Little Pigs shorts grew out of demand after the popularity of the original Silly Symphony. Although Walt originally resisted, Disney ended up making a further three cartoons with the characters, all of which were top quality. The problem with them, however, was that the two irresponsible pigs never learned their lesson at the end of the short because, in order to remain recognisable characters, they had to revert to their former selves at the beginning of each new short. At the start of the second cartoon this was believable, at the start of the third it was frustrating and by the start of ‘The Practical Pig’ it’s positively infuriating. Any reasonable audience will have lost sympathy for the foolish porkers long ago and their brother’s continued loyalty in the face of their mocking and sponging ultimately sends a bad message. ‘The Practical Pig’, then, was necessarily the last of these shorts.

But happily it proved a great way to go out, finally making the put-upon Practical Pig the star of the show. It places him centre stage as he tortures the Big Bad Wolf by strapping him into his lie detector machine, an invention that metes out inventive punishments each time the Wolf tells him a lie about the whereabouts of his brothers. The final joke, though very amusing, is also frustrating as we leave the Three Little Pigs series with a joke at the expense of the regularly unrewarded hero. I like to think that after the iris out the imbecilic pig brothers were eaten by the Wolf and the Practical Pig lived happily ever after!

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