Tonight on MeTV- it’s a movie that sparked a lot of controversy among Sven fans when we first showed it earlier this year. Viewers were either fascinated or absolutely hated it- and some felt it was not suitable for a “horror” program! Once again, though, it seems to qualify as somewhat sci fi, crossed with fantasy and music- all originally created by iconic author Dr. Seuss- and, yes, the end results were not necessarily to the doctor’s liking! Regardless, it’s a cult film steeped in a horrendous history, which we will explain- as we enter a dream world of musical madness- “ The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T”!
The movie opens in a confusing manner- until we see that it’s all coming from the mind of young Bart Collins (no relation to Dr. Seuss’ Bartholomew Cubbins). Bart is forced to practice the piano in accordance with the strict regimen of no-nonsense piano instructor, Dr.Terwilliker. Dr. T feels all other instruments are far inferior to the keyboard- that his methods are the ONLY path to true musical perfection- and that any outside play or interests that children may have will only weaken their musical ability, and should be prohibited. Bart disagrees, but his single-parent mother is a staunch believer in the Dr. T method- so much so, that Bart feels she has been” flim-flammed” by his “racket”. Bart states his case to local plumber August Zabladowski, who is laboring on the family’s plumbing- but August wisely steers clear of showing any sympathy for Bart’s piano plight.
And so, Bart’s practice drags on-and the monotony of all those practice exercises finally lulls Bart to sleep. Alert in his dream world, he appears to be in strange location, the home of a nearly endless piano keyboard- and in the conductor’s position is none other than his arch-enemy, the dictatorial Dr. T ! The maestro is driving Bart to distraction, because he is planning a major coup- enlisting 500 boys ( 500 boys= 5000 fingers, if you count thumbs as fingers) to perfectly play his favorite composition. The boys will be held in his “no fun” zone, forced to engage only in rigorous musical exercises and piano practice, held in cells away from family, friends, and fun.
Bart is shocked to discover that Dr T’s right hand ( 5 fingers included) man is- not just a woman- but Bart’s mother, seemingly totally under the musical madman’s control ! She appears to be distant- and maybe even a little confused- when confronted by her son. Dr. T finds Bart trying to get through to her, and calls out his guards to capture and imprison the lad. Bart manages to escape the doctor’s various lackeys, including a pair of roller-skating twins ( why the skates? Who knows?) conjoined by a long beard. Along the way of his nightmarish escape path, Bart finds, of all people, Zabladowski the plumber – who has been hired to get all the plumbing needs locked down for the doctor’s mighty exposition. At first, he doesn’t seem concerned about Bart’s dilemma-but Bart shows him enough things to finally cast some doubt on the proceedings as the day of the big concert draws near. Can Bart free his dear mother from be Dr. T’s hypnotic spell- convince the plumber to help him rebel-and free the 5000 fingers and their connected owners from tone-deaf tyranny?
Among the familiar faces in the cast, we have , as Bart, Tommy Rettig - best known for playing Jeff, the original child owner in the first version of the “Lassie” TV series. We’ll introduce you to other cast members, including the real-life husband and wife duo of Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy, and, of course the heavenly hamminess that is Hans Conried, whose many comedic roles in radio, TV, cartoon voice-overs, and movies give him a place of fondness in the hearts of many, even if this movie doesn’t occupy a similar space. We’ll also talk about the catastrophic collisions between Dr. Seuss and the studio, what got changed and eliminated from the film, and more. The multi-talented Seuss was responsible for the original story, the screenplay, a lot of the set design, choreography, and song lyrics. Many of the songs were cut from the film, much to Seuss’ chagrin - and, as far as cutting things goes, please excuse the fact that , since this movie has a very lengthy run time that exceeds our usual amount of program time, we needed to do a lot of editing, which included paring down some of the songs and dance numbers. Bart’s song about how badly kids get treated by adults is probably the best known song in the film, having even been performed by the great Tony Bennett.
As we said the first time we ran this- we’re showing this movie because it has a cult following, and due to Dr. Seuss’ participation. We realize you may not like this film, but everyone is welcome to their opinion- but- ask that you keep the negativity to a minimum and not run it into the ground. If you really hate the movie that much, please refrain from watching this week. We remind you that this is not the place for sniping and personal attacks, nor is this blog a political forum. After dealing with a glitch in our system, steps have been taken regarding certain offenders.
“5000 Fingers of Dr. T ” runs tonight on MeTV at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, or check for time and channel in your local listings, or at www.metv.com . MeTV appreciates the response of the many viewers who are “live-Tweeting” during the show on Twitter, so please continue- utilizing the hashtag #svengoolie . Our Chicago area viewers get another tour through the “House of Horrors” this morning at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
This afternoon, I am, as mentioned, at the big “Starrcast” wrestling convention in Schaumburg- and we have a full docket of appearances coming up as we head towards Halloween. We hope to see many of you along the way.
Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!