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Once Upon a Hamster
posted by B on 2/12/01

Long before stoned teenagers began logging onto the Internet to download pictures of Anna Kournikova scratching her ass, they were flipping amorously through the bowels of cable television, trying to find something so impossibly mind-numbing that, in it's inanity, would define their lives. If you've ever watched Generation X kids, sprawled out on a sofa, watching "Teletubbies" and laWhatever-Dude :: Once Upon a Hamster

Last Article - Whatever-Dude - Next Article

Once Upon a Hamster
posted by B on 2/12/01

Long before stoned teenagers began logging onto the Internet to download pictures of Anna Kournikova scratching her ass, they were flipping amorously through the bowels of cable television, trying to find something so impossibly mind-numbing that, in it's inanity, would define their lives. If you've ever watched Generation X kids, sprawled out on a sofa, watching "Teletubbies" and laughing hysterically, you'll begin to understand the mindset of a generation raised by the box, taught by the box, and manipulated by the box. Plus, once you've watched the Teletubbies you'd agree that even the most unhealthy and brain-damaging of what cable has to offer makes more sense than getting off because a girl is scratching her rectum.

Like wheelchair-bound heavy metal Gods of Thunder KISS once said, we live in a world without heroes. Once old men who wear giant codpieces and armor meant to accentuate chest hair begin to lose faith in the world, where are we left? An empty void of reality programming. You can't turn from channel 2 to channel 10 without seeing at least seven shows about REAL people living REAL lives in REAL situations, dealing with REAL issues like RACISM or SEXUALITY or WHO GETS THE MONEY FOR THE BUNGEE JUMPING CONTEST.

My television is full of people I make a point NOT to hang out. Where are my heroes?

"There is a sparkling, gurgling River, a soft and lovely woods, mysterious dark places, trees, flowers, tall grasses, a Great Scary Swamp, and all kinds of nooks and crannies where wonderful things can happen. It's a terrific place to have adventures...especially for a Hamster with a lot of friends to share them with."

Animal Planet, home of the Crocodile Hunter, presents "Once Upon a Hamster," a show where living animals are cruelly manipulated to teach stories to kids. The show stars "Hammy" the hamster, sort of a pellet-dropping Bob Newhart, who uses his supernatural ability to talk, fly in a hot air balloon, drive a car, and do all sorts of things that would've made me scream and run flailing away from my television when I was a kid.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world of cable television is saved. Bring me the head of Tinky Winky. Or almost kill him and then string him up on a fence post.

Remember on Sesame Street, how you'd be watching Oscar, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, and then BAM they hit you with some bizarre thing where dogs are dressed like people? Imagine the putridness of those sketches drawn out for thirty minutes. Then add songs that would make lyrical pioneers like LFO cringe. That's "Once Upon a Hamster."

Hammy started performing way back in 1959...and that's probably before you were even born! And a long time before the world got any fucking sense.

He started telling his stories in a series called "Tales of the Riverbank" that was produced in Toronto, Canada, by Dave Ellison and Paul Sutherland, who, at that time, had nothing better to do. So Dave says "let's do something really cruel to animals" and then Paul says "all right how about we throw them around in the air and make them drive cars" and Dave said "cool" and Paul said "let's worship Satan."

That's Dave and Paul in the picture, trying to help the original GP the Guinea Pig get off the ground in his balloon! That episode taught us that we should believe in ourselves, and that if we ever have small babies we should EAT THEM.

The idea was to create a program that was nonviolent and highly entertaining, that kids would love, and that their parents could watch with them. Dave and Paul were unfortunately honor roll students of special education and missed the mark completely. Do you think the creators of "Blues Clues" tried to create a program that featured a man with no pubes who is SUCH A FUCKING IDIOT that he routinely forgets how to play the game he's played for five or six seasons of shows? Of course not, but that's what they got.

"Tales of the Riverbank" was in black and white! That's how old it was! Before Jesus was born! And it played in England, in Canada, in Australia, and in 34 other countries around the world. Now, thousands of children in Africa starve to death every morning and we've got a giant hole in the ozone layer that will eventually destroy the Earth. Coincidence?


Hammy Hamster is naive, curious and forever young at heart. He is kind and considerate and lives in an old boot that came floating downstream which his friends helped him convert into a wonderful home. He can talk to the wind. He is on heavy, heavy drugs and has eaten thirty-four of his last seventy-seven children.

Martha Mouse is Hammy's best friend. She lives in a home carved out of the Riverbank, and has a little motorboat which Hammy just loves. That means she has a vagina. Martha is adventurous, resourceful, and very keen on keeping the Riverbank clean and tidy. She carries various deadly diseases.

GP the Guinea Pig is the mad inventor of the Riverbank. His mighty brain comes up with lots of great ideas... like his aeroplane, his car, his balloon, the two-pronged double-donged handy-dandy vibrator, his recyclamobile. He's always boasting, but everybody likes him anyway. OMG remember how Zack used to always get Screech to dress up like a woman on "Saved by the Bell?" GP is like that to Hammy, except he is routinely trying to kill him. GP is also an idiot and everybody really hates him.

Turtle is slow and plodding and is always practicing his patience and has down syndrome. But Turtle proves that slow does not mean stupid, and he quite often solves the problem before anybody else has found the answer. Either that, or it's because all of his friends are rodents and they are too busy digging holes in the ground and taking dumps in them to pay attention to the clues. Cowabunga!

The Wise Old Frog seems kind of grouchy but is very clever. He's the one the animals all go to for advice. His favorite food is fly ass and he will give you festering warts if you touch him. He says "HARUMPH" when he gets pissed and then drowns his sorrows in the sweet forgiveness of alcohol.

What about STORYMAN? Well, he's just a friendly old guy who likes to sit by the River and listen to the birds and talk about what happens along the Riverbank. He is prone to war flashbacks and inadvertent child molestation. Sort of like your grandfather, maybe. Storyman knows a lot about everything that's going on with Hammy and all his friends, and he just loves to tell you the stories. That's why the animals killed and ate his first born. I guess that's why he's called Storyman.


Hammy becomes an artist and is looking for new things to paint. He finds a moose who must be King of the Riverbank because of his huge antlers. GP gets miffed because he thinks he's the king, and asks Hammy to paint a picture of him with an enormous pair of antlers, then realizes how silly he looks and has a good laugh. Then he bites Hammy's throat out.

Hammy sees a bush that moves and speaks to him, and it turns out to be a pygmy hedgehog whose name is Hairbrush Henry. He's very shy, but jumps at the chance to appear on GP's newest invention, television. Hairbrush blossoms in front of the camera, and captivates his new friends with his outstanding performance as a country singer.

Note: I really wish I'd made that up, but that's really what the episode is about. I swear to God. Look.

The Wise Old Frog adds a twist to his storytelling session by having the animals act out the story of Little Red Riding Hood. When they finally get started the play develops twists and turns that could only happen on the Riverbank, and finishes with a scary twist for Hammy. Erectile dysfunction.

Martha is given a Grandfather clock and tries to teach Hammy about time, but when Hammy hears there are only sixty minutes in an hour and twenty-four hours in a day he panics because he knows he can't cram all his activities into one day. Then GP resolves the problem by building a time machine that works in a most unusual way. Using the blood of the innocents! What a wacky day!

Note: Unfortunately, I didn't make MOST of that up.

Riding around in GP's car, soaring above the clouds in his balloon, zooming through the sky in his aeroplane or diving under the water in Hammy's Diving Bell...there's never a dull moment as each story unfolds. Especially when Hammy flips out and starts scratching people's eyes out, that's cool. That's what they get for sending such a young Hamster into Vietnam.

The stories are highly entertaining to most potheads and easily entertained people, nonviolent, and full of fun, music, bestiality, and song. They show that the animals are concerned with the environment and have a healthy respect for the world around them and for each other.

Hammy proves you can have a lot of fun without hitting anybody! Except yourself. Hammy suggests you should hit yourself, preferably in the head and neck, for watching a show about a hamster's interpersonal relationships.

Especially me. I just wrote a big thing about it.

Ah, man.