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Western Animation / The Electric Piper

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The Electric Piper is a 2003 Nickelodeon television movie that's essentially an animated retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin: in a town called Hamlin, rats are a common issue that only children noticed because their parents are too uptight. Our two main characters, Mick and his sister Janice, meet a mysterious guitarist named Sly who offers to take care of the rats, only for the mayor to push him away. (Sly wanted his Harley motorcycle in exchange) Overjoyed, the rats start a full-scale takeover of Hamlin, finally getting the mayor to enlist Sly's help.

After he sends away the rats, however, the mayor refuses to give up the Harley. In retaliation, Sly convinces the town children to live with him in his cavern.

It was originally aired once and then remained lost for over ten years, after which a miracle happened; in August 2016, someone contacted an anonymous Nickelodeon employee who happened to have salvaged a copy of the film. It wasn't long before the film sprouted all over YouTube, although chances are slim it'll air on Nick again. However it aired on Nick Canada's Pluto TV service on their "nickmovies" channel on March 19, 2023, marking it the first time in over 20 years where The Electric Piper re-aired on an official Nickelodeon channel.

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  • Abbey Road Crossing: With astronauts!
  • Adaptational Heroism: Sly doesn't brainwash the kids to join him and he willingly lets them go after a pep talk with Janice.
    Sly: Yeah, I guess I do.
  • Big "YES!": Sly shouts "YEAH!" when he sees the kids wanting to join him.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Mick falls a long way from the chasm but there's no sign of blood at all.
  • Bookends: The song "You're entering Hamelin" plays at the beginning and end of the film.
  • Cassandra Truth: The rat problem is seemingly noticed only by the town kids. The adults do eventually take notice, however, with their nudging.
  • Cheated Angle: The Mayor's hair.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Mick uses the guitar magic he learned from Sly to help his friends get home.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Sly's magic when he plays the guitar is purple, while Mick's is orange.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Sly demonstrates his ability to the mayor.
    Mayor: Did you see what he did?
    Mick and Janice: Yeah! the WALL?
    *screen pans to two rat-shaped holes in the wall*
  • Cool Bike: Sly's payment for getting rid of the rats is Nick's old motorcycle (which he doesn't use, just keeps for nostalgia's sake). Unfortunately, Nick refusing to give it to him has Sly convince the kids to join him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Sly, as glimpsed in "I'm Gonna Climb the Mountain". His parents were neglectful and cold and he lived in near poverty, so he left at the first opportunity. It's also why he wants to make a new family with the children of Hamlin since Mayor Dixon was just like his own father.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Being set in the 1960s, there is lots of casual sexism early on in the special.
  • Disney Death: While guiding everyone through the cavern at the end, Mick accidentally drops his pick, causing him to plummet. Fortunately, Sly comes back with his Harmonica to revive him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Sly made the adults in Hameln age and he did try to keep the kids from leaving, but he admits that he didn't want Mick to die and even brings him back to life.
  • Flowers of Nature: In her hippie get-up, Janice gets a daisy in her hair.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Nick and Pat were this, as seen in a flashback à la The Wild One.
  • Funny Background Event: As Nick tells Janis she doesn't have to worry about being smart as long as they're smart about who they marry, Pat can be seen in the background humming in an irritated tone and tossing all the mail in the trash.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Implied to be the reason why Nick refused to give Sly the motorcycle; he's jealous that Sly was able to do what he was unable to do.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Shy musically inclined brown-haired Mick and confident and adventurous red-haired Janice.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: How exactly Sly even obtained his powers — as he was shown to be just a normal boy in the past — is never really explained.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: It's a retelling of The Pied Piper, what do you expect? They do come back to Hamlin by the end of the film, though and they go off with him of their own free will.
  • Magic Music: Sly's music can do much more than just lead things away: he can create platforms, levitate things, revive the dead and even turn himself into a gust of wind.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Janice is outgoing, and dreams of having a career and traveling the world while Mick is shy and more musically inclined.
  • Missing Child: You were a lousy parent to your kid, so one day he/she runs away to live with a stranger you don't trust. All you can do is hope your child comes back so you can repent.
    • Made even worse at the end, in which the mayor has forgotten how many years had passed since the children left...when at most it's only been a few days.
  • Musical Theme Naming: Mick and Janis are named after Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin respectively. Sly is possibly after Sly Stone, though he doesn't resemble him.
  • Noodle Incident: Janice apparently did open-heart surgery on a walrus.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Pat is a significantly downplayed version. She's more than willing to let her son take guitar lessons at a community center, while her husband is adamantly against it.
  • Parents as People: All the parents, especially Nick and Pat (Mick and Janice's parents); they all genuinely want what's best for their children, but have become so overprotective and neglectful in keeping a perfect small town that the kids feel ignored and decide to go with Sly. They get better by the end, fortunately.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Downplayed with Janice and Mick with their jeans: Janice's is pink and Mick has blue.
  • Please Wake Up: Janice asks for this after she sees her brother drop into the chasm.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Mayor Dixon refusing to pay Sly with the motorcycle is the last straw for the children and they decide to join Sly in his mountain hideaway.
  • Rapid Aging: What happens to the adults of Hamlein after Sly takes their children.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Sly's speech pattern makes good work of this.
  • Sgt. Pepper's Shout-Out: In the "Fabulous Swimming Rats" number, Sly wears George Harrison's uniform, Janice wears Paul McCartney's (with a tricorner) and Mick wears John Lennon's (with a matching marching hat).
  • Shout-Out: You could make a Drinking Game with all the references to 1960's pop culture.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Mick swaps his blue and white polo and acoustic guitar for a tie-dye shirt and electric guitar when he heads off to join Sly.
  • Skewed Priorities: "I Smell A Rat" highlights how the adults are focused on more trivial things than the rats rampaging Hamelin.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The opening song, "You're Entering Hamelin". It's a happy tune that sounds like something you'd hear out of a travel commercial, coupled with footage of the Crapsack World Hamelin is.
  • Stealth Pun: Sly sent the rats up the river.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Mayor Dixon refuses to give up his precious Harley to Sly even after Sly got rid of the rats. This fuels Sly to leave and the children to follow him after.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Many of the show's lines are ripped off from lyrics. For example, when the kids leave Sly to go back to their parents, he mutters, "Alone again. Naturally."
  • Youthful Freckles: Janice.