"It wouldn't sound quite right would it? A cat, a mouse and a cricket started the revolutionary war."
-Harry the cat
Premiered January 16, 1975 on ABC.
Yankee Doodle Cricket is the third special in a trilogy produced by Chuck Jones starring Chester Cricket (voiced by Les Tremayne) & friends that began with A Cricket In Times Square. We reviewed the second special, A Very Merry Cricket, here.
We open with Tucker the mouse (voiced by Mel Blanc) discovering that the Declaration of Independence was co-written by a mouse. He goes to tell his friend Harry the cat (also Tremayne) about this and we flash back to 1775.
Tucker's ancestor writes the 'Declaration of Interdependence between cats and dogs', which brings peace between cats and dogs. It states "all cats and mice are created equal". He runs it over to his friend Harry (an ancestor of his friend Harry) to sign it on behalf of cats. On his way to Harry's house, he almost runs over a snake. The snake tells Harry "don't tread on me", which gives Tucker the idea to create the Gadsden flag.
It turns out Harry is Thomas Jefferson's cat. Jefferson is working on the Declaration and having trouble with the ending. He tries out several phrases "Speak softly and carry a big stick", "Two chickens in every pot","54-40 or fight"-all famous political slogans from another time. He is helped by Tucker (or an ancestor of Tucker?). Tucker emerges from his mouse hole to help Jefferson come up with "We hold these truths to be self evident...". Jefferson steps away for a break, when Tucker arrives and shows Harry his 'Declaration'. Harry is impressed with ending, which says "we hold these truths to be self-evident" etc. He leaves Tucker's Declaration on Jefferson's desk, which gives him the idea he needs to help him finish the Declaration of Independence.
The animals need a song everyone can sing to unify the colonists in their fight for Independence. They hear a cricket making music and ask if he'll compose the song. Chester (the great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather of the "present day" Chester) composes 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. The three stars travel all around the colonies and teach all the animals how to sing and play 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. And the rest is history! At least, it's "history" in the context of this special.
While promoting the song in Boston, they learn the man who is supposed to light lanterns in the Old North Church is unable to do so. So Tucker, Harry and Chester team up to make sure the lanterns are lit.
J.A. Morris says:
I'm a huge fan of Chuck Jones (his work on 'Looney Tunes' and How The Grinch Stole Christmas make him animation royalty in my book), but this is easily the weakest of the three 'Cricket' specials. It's entertaining, but most of the jokes fall flat. Worst of all is the recycling of animation. We see the some of the scenes used 3-4 times in a 26 minute special. It could be a good way to introduce to history to children though. That, plus the voice of Mel Blanc is what makes me give this special a mild recommendation (we also get a voice "cameo" from the legendary June Foray as Marsha the firefly, which helps a little).