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Western Animation / Here Comes Peter Cottontail

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Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a Stop Motion puppet animated (called "Animagic") Rankin/Bass Productions holiday special, the first of the studio's Easter specials, broadcast in 1971. It follows the usual Rankin/Bass formula of taking a holiday standard song like "Peter Cottontail", and weaving around it a narrative, in this case adapted by R/B's favorite writer Romeo Muller from Otto and Priscilla Friedrich's book The Easter Bunny That Overslept, and adding original songs with music by Maury Laws and lyrics by co-producer Jules Bass. Danny Kaye serves as the usual R/B Ink-Suit Actor Narrator, Seymour S. Sassafrass.

In 2005, a direct-to-video sequel called Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie was released.

Not to be confused with Rankin-Bass' two later Easter specials, The First Easter Rabbit (which is in 2D and partly based on The Velveteen Rabbit) or The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town (which is a Spiritual Successor to Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town).

Here Comes Peter Cottontail provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Seymour S. Sassafrass
  • Artificial Limbs: Irontail wears an artificial tail to replace his tail that was rollerskated.
  • Artsy Beret: One gag involves the chocolate rabbit sculptors (chipping at a block of chocolate with a chisel like it was marble) Milkchocolateangelo and Leonardo de Bittersweet. The former wears a beret and the latter wears an artist's smock.
  • Badass Santa: On Christmas Eve, Santa managed to intercept Irontail after he stole Peter's eggs and send them back to Peter.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Irontail rides a significantly unthreatening looking bat named Montressor. He also has bat-wing shaped ears.
  • Big Bad: January Q. "Boom-boom" Irontail is the main antagonist of the special.
  • Butterfly of Transformation: Peter accidentally leaves Antoine behind when he flies the time machine from Christmas to Valentine's Day, but in the end, after Peter has earned his happy ending, they reunite, with Antoine having transformed from a caterpillar to a butterfly.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Irontail has a "book of evil spells".
  • Child Hater: Irontail blames children in general for the loss of his tail. The irony is, while they didn't hate him back then, they sure do now, making his own attempt to deliver eggs rather difficult. (Which pretty much means his current situation is his own fault.)
  • Crowded-Cast Shot: The final scene is the whole cast waving goodbye. Provides the image at the top.
  • Dark Reprise: "The Easter Bunny Never Sleeps" begets "The Easter Bunny Always Sleeps" when Irontail takes over April Valley.
  • Defeat Means Menial Labor: After Peter won the contest and became Chief Easter Bunny, the end credits show Irontail sweeping up the Bunny Trail as a member of the April Valley Sanitation Department.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Irontail permanently turning all of Peter's eggs completely green did seem like a brilliant way to ruin them and prevent anyone from wanting them on Valentine's Day. St. Patrick's Day, however...
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Irontail, whose original tail was roller-skated over by a child, forcing him to have an artificial iron one and leaving him with a hatred of children.
  • Easter Bunny: Of course. In this universe, there are many Easter bunnies, who all live together in April Valley dyeing eggs and making candy and Easter bonnets. The bunny who can deliver the most eggs becomes the Chief Easter Bunny, who rules over them all.
  • Easter Special: The first of the three Easter specials produced by Rankin/Bass Productions.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Irontail chews the scenery in every scene he's in. But when you're a villain voiced by Vincent Price, expect to be the biggest slice in the deli.
  • Evil Is Petty: Irontail doesn't just want to cancel Easter, he wants to ruin it. He actually plans to have April Valley produce and distribute Easter baskets with gray and brown eggs, chocolate tarantulas and octopi, and destroyed tulips.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Vincent Price lends his distinctive voice as January Q. Irontail.
  • Evil Wears Black: Irontail wears a black suit and is the Big Bad.
  • The Exile: Peter exiles himself from April Valley after Irontail causes him to oversleep.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: "Be Mine Today" as Peter and Donna share a romantic moment on Valentine's Day together and bond.
  • Freeze Sneeze: Antoine sneezes from the cold as the time machine arrives at Christmas, right after denying that he feels cold.
  • Freudian Excuse: Irontail wasn't always a nasty bunny. The entire reason he dislikes children at all is that a kid accidentally squished his tail while rollerskating. Why he couldn't just be an adult about it and accept an apology rather than decide to be a dick to all children is up for grabs.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The theme song contains the lyric "things to make your Easter bright and gay".
  • Heroic BSoD: Peter goes through a major one when Irontail forces him to oversleep on Easter Day and takes over April Valley as a result.
  • Heroic Vow: As he's leaving April Valley in disgrace, Peter promises to make up for his mistake that allowed Irontail to win. He follows through with it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Irontail turns the eggs completely green near the end to foil Peter's plans. Naturally, this comes back to bite him in the boom-boom on St. Patrick's Day.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Danny Kaye as Seymour S. Sassafrass
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: The time machine only visits holidays and there's no acknowledgement that time has passed outside the contest during it.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: While he had no way of knowing Peter would be able to sell the eggs on St. Patrick's Day, it would have been more efficient for Irontail to just destroy the eggs while he was alone with them instead of turning them green.
  • Laughably Evil: In-universe, Madame Esmeralda broke down when her attempts to intimidate Peter with her magic only resulted in him laughing in enjoyment.
    Madame Esmeralda: You're not supposed to enjoy my evil powers!
  • Lies to Children: Peter tries to get rid of his eggs on the Fourth of July by telling a couple of kids they're firecrackers. The kids take all the eggs, to Peter's relief...until they actually try them out, realize they were tricked, and give the rest back.
  • Loophole Abuse: Peter wins the egg-delivering contest in the end and saves Easter because the rules did not specify that the eggs had to be delivered on Easter. Irontail also got away with it at the beginning: Although he only managed to deliver one egg to a sleeping hobo, that was still one more than Peter delivered.
  • Maurice Chevalier Accent: Antoine speaks with a French accent.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Peter, for most of the original special. He's intelligent and avuncular, and shows kindness to everyone he meets, even those who nobody else would think about. He also genuinely wants to make up for the mistake he made, and he's clearly cut out for the job of Chief Easter Bunny. However, he's prone to overconfidence and boastfulness, and has a propensity towards fibbing that constantly gets the better of him. His pride, in fact, is the reason why he nearly lost in the first place—if he'd been humble enough to leave nothing to chance and gone to bed early the night before the contest on Easter, he wouldn't have overslept and needed Seymour Sassafras' help to begin with, since he would almost certainly have delivered more eggs than Irontail.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Peter regrets his actions when Irontail causes him to oversleep, to the point that he exiles himself from April Valley.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Irontail turning the eggs completely green to stop Peter backfires big time when the latter delivers them on St. Patrick's Day.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Probably the only reason why Irontail got away with half the stuff he did in the original special.
  • Only Six Faces: The humans Peter encounters during his adventure all tend to look alike.
  • Pinocchio Nose: Peter's left ear droops whenever hes fibbing.
  • Red Right Hand: Irontail sports an artificial tail and is a villain.
  • Running Gag: Peter's left ear drooping whenever he fibs.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Since chickens love corn, Peter's pet rooster loves corn-flavored bubble gum. Irontail takes advantage of this by giving him magic corn-flavored gum, which sticks his beak shut and prevents him from crowing to wake Peter in time for the egg-delivering contest on Easter morning.
  • Tenor Boy: Peter Cottontail has a high, youthful, friendly voice, courtesy of Casey Kasem.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Irontail takes over April Valley after tricking Peter into oversleeping.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Seriously, what kind of parents would give their son the name "January Q. Irontail"? Why give the name "January" to an Easter bunny who lives in April Valley? And for that matter, how did his family get the surname "Irontail"? It's almost as if he were destined to have such a mechanical prosthesis at some point in his life!


Video Example(s):


Peter Cottontail's Ear

Peter Cottontail's left ear droops downward whenever he tells a fib.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / PinocchioNose

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