Funtime With Floppy

I think the reason we're all so intrigued by scary-ass television shows is… well… we all saw some actual scary-ass television shows when we were kids!

If you're a child of the 80s, you no doubt remember that two-part episode of Punky Brewster. You probably already know which one I mean. THAT one. The show was about "real life", then all of a sudden they decided to make a two-parter about the entire cast of kids dying horrible deaths in a magic cave.

Ending with "but it was all a story" didn't help.

I can think of a dozen different "kids" shows that did this… they lulled you into a false sense of security, built up the routine, then totally shifted for no reason other than attempting to make children piss their pants.

What was wrong them these people?

Another one you'll immediately remember is Funtime with Floppy. Admittedly, you'd have to be pretty little around the start of the 80s… I think it was '83 or '84? Again, you have to know what episode I'm talking about.

THAT episode.

For the uninitiated, Funtime focused on the adventures of "Floppy", a rabbit puppet unlike any you've seen elsewhere. Yes, the name was obvious, yes the choice of main character was cliché even at that point. Still, the bunny's sad, slanted eyes and oversized nose set him apart from the rest of the crowd. The fact that his ears kept flopping over his eyes, completely concealing them until the puppeteer would flip his head back, seemed counter-productive.

Floppy lived on a farm. Other animal puppets made up most of the cast… pigs, cows, geese, etc. However, a few actors mingled in to play the Farmer, his wife, and their daughter.

Everything was vibrant. Garish. The green crops were eye-burningly green. The red barn was bordering on neon hot pink. It actually hurt to watch the show whenever they'd cut to an establishing shot or change locations.

Floppy spoke a lot like Gomer Pyle. Again, if you're unaware, think "Golly gee shucks" southern rube. His voice was high-pitched and nasal, another off-putting and odd choice.

The plot of the show usually focused on Floppy trying to steal vegetables. He'd always offer an "IOU", though I don't know how he would've made good on it. The Farmer and his Wife would constantly chase and harass Floppy, while the Daughter was secretly his friend and would sneak him table scraps.

"I won't take a lickin' when my feet get to kickin'!" he'd exclaim before each hopping escape from the mad Farm Folk.

The other farm animals would patronize Floppy, often turning him in to the Farmer if the opportunity presented itself. The pig puppets were the worst of the group. There were three of them, perhaps a reference to the "Three Little Pigs" story, and every time they ratted Floppy out, they'd do it in song.

It's the kind of thing you can't forget once it's horrified you.

"Farmer, Farmer, I beg your pardon!
It seems that we have a rabbit in the garden!

Farmer, Farmer, we've got him on the run!
Come out quickly, and bring your gun!

Farmer, Farmer, please come see!
If he eats that, there won't be scraps for me!"

It goes on, but I think that's enough to give you a general idea. The weird thing is that the Farm itself was like a microcosm of human society.

The Horses were the "workers" who regarded all others as expendable. They helped plow the fields and all, so as far as they were concerned, everyone owed them a large debt. The Geese and Chickens were sort of middle-class. They sat around, laid eggs, and gossiped about everyone else. The males concerned themselves with the look and repair of their coops, etc.

Another sickening note - The Geese and Chickens would often go into detail about their hopes and dreams for the eggs. They'd assign them names, never the same one twice, and they'd hold them out proclaiming "He's going to be a Veterinarian" or "She'll be a dancer"… When the Farmer came to collect the eggs, the males would always reassure them… "Our sacrifice is for the good of the Farm. We can have another… we can have another…"

So, those pigs. They were the moochers. They would often make references to being "poor" and the like, and they were the poster children for anti-welfare rhetoric. "Where's the slop, already?" they'd ask, "Does the Farmer know I'm due my daily charity?"

I couldn't quite place where Floppy fit into all of this. Not until the end.

After every episode, they'd show the address for their production. This came along with a note encouraging viewers to write in. "Do you love Funtime with Floppy? Write in and let us know! Floppy's waiting to hear from you!"

I wrote my letter, careful to use proper capitalization, and had my parents send it off to the show.

"Please tell all the other animels[sic] to leave you alone. Please tell the framer[sic] to leave you alone too. I don't like when they are mean to you, and it makes me very sad. I wish they would go away and you can have the Farm all by yourself."

It was a simple, heartfelt concept. I would've been overjoyed to see Floppy having full run of that place. I couldn't understand why they would try to be cruel in the first place. I still don't.

Weeks later, I received my response.

I tuned into the show as usual, but this time it was because of an obsessive need to see my request fulfilled. Much to my disappointment, the show started as usual.

"Funtime with Floppy, tell your Mommy and your Poppy! Come on down to the Farm and you'll see that we mean no harm. Funtime with Floppy, the good times never stoppy! Let's all see what Floppy has to say today!"

I pulled myself close to the television, lying prone on my stomach with chin in hands. As the establishing shot of the barn came up, I winced at its intense brightness.

"Floppy! Floooppy!" the Daughter searched the Barn with the bad overacting style you'd expect from a child.

Floppy poked his head out from behind a bail of hay.

"There you are, Floppy!"

"D-d-d-don't tell anyone I'm here!"

He darted back behind the hay.

"Don't be silly, Floppy! It's time to come out and play!"

"N-n-n-n-o!" he stammered, unseen.

She put her hands on her hips, pouted, and tried to act offended.

"Now Floppy, you come out this instant! You're being incredibly rude! You have a letter from a friend!"

I couldn't believe my ears. Would they actually read a child's letter on the show? Was it going to be mine? At that moment, that impossible scenario seemed almost guaranteed.

Floppy came out a bit, looking up at the Daughter's hands. She produced an opened envelope from behind her back.

"You… You opened it?" Floppy asked timidly.

She giggled.

"Of course!"

"Th-that's against the… against the l-l-l-law!"

She giggled again as the Farmer and his Wife stepped into the scene behind her.

"Oh, no!" Floppy yelled upon seeing his mortal enemies. He turned to run, but as he did, the other animal puppets moved in from the opposite side of the screen.

The Daughter took out the letter and began to read in her usual cutesy-pie tone.

"Please tell all the other animals to leave you alone."

I gasped.

"Please tell the farmer to leave you alone too. Blah, blah, blah… I wish they would go away."

"What do you think of that?" one of the pigs demanded, "Do you want us to go away? Do you want us to leave forever?"

"W-w-well… nuh-no…" Floppy's puppet head shifted left and right, surveying the grim situation. His ears fell in front of his face, and when he flipped them back this time, his eyes had somehow changed. They were much wider.

"Liar!" another of the pigs shouted, "You're nothing but an outsider! One not fit for civilized society! You never should've hopped out of the woods, you degenerate!"

"OUTCAST!" the pigs shouted in unison.

With that, all of them set upon the little brown rabbit. They tore off its tiny, useless limbs. They pulled stuffing out. They ripped off its small head and bit out its glass eyes.

All the while, Floppy screamed… he let out this begging, terrified scream in that same high-pitched, nasal voice. He never broke character.

What's worse, as they lifted Floppy off the ground, I saw not a human arm or the opening for one… rather, it had a complete lower half. White cotton tail… limp, dangling legs. I couldn't understand how the puppet had been operated all this time.

"Hey," Dad called from the other room, shaking me out of the horrified stupor I'd been worked into, "There's something here for you, kid!"

I jumped to my feet and shut the television off as Floppy finally died with a gurgle. I ran out of the room, intent on telling my parents what had just happened… what those bastards had exposed me to…

"What the Hell?" Dad said before I could utter a word, "Who would send something like this?"

He had the box open. The box that had arrived for me. As he tipped it down and showed me the contents, I recoiled in disgust.

Amid a sparse cluster of packing peanuts was Floppy's mangled, one-eared severed head.

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