|“||I suppose I had never seen a happy room. And in there, in the corner, was the nicest little hearth you could ever hope for.||”|
— Cricket Crocket looking at a room inside of the toy shop.
Cricket on the Hearth is a Christmas special produced by Rankin/Bass, and it is suggested by the original story of the same name by Charles Dickens. It premiered on NBC on December 18, 1967, as an installment of The Danny Thomas Hour.
The special begins in England where the chorus sing Cricket on the Hearth. After the song ends, the cricket goes inside to warm up. He looks at us and hops to the fireplace. He then tells us how he became part of a family.
It was spring time and he was looking for a proper family to adopt. Just then, he spots a toy shop and Caleb was about to leave bringing the toys. The cricket walks there, but suddenly, he thought that Caleb was about to step on him. He grabs him and suggests him if he could stay with him and his family for a little while. He accepts it, and meets Caleb.
Later inside, he looks at a room full of toys and a fireplace as well. He sits down to look at it, but just then, he sees Caleb's daughter, Bertha weeping while her hugging Edward. During their discussion, he starts tearing up. Later, Caleb and Bertha, with help from the cricket build some toys. Bertha starts singing Smiles Go With Tears, and after she was done singing, Jeremiah Bleak drops in, and was looking for Bertha, which made her blind. Caleb starts crying over Bertha being blind as soon as Jeremiah leaves which it made the cricket feel sad.
Caleb, still feeling bad for Bertha, tries to make her better, but nothing works. Caleb had no choice but to pack up and leave.
Few days later, Caleb (with the cricket, and Bertha) tries to find a bit of work. However, one day, he gives up. The cricket tries to cheer them up as he spies a toy shop with his eyes. Later inside the office, Caleb tells Tackleton and Uriah that he wanted to know where the other toymakers were, but Tackleton said that there weren't any toymakers. Later in the new house, Caleb tells Bertha that he will see everything for her.
Later, that night, Caleb, the cricket, and Bertha all started to go to sleep, but just then, Uriah drops by and tells him that they didn't have any place for bugs around here. Then the cricket starts to stand up on him, by telling him that he was an insect, so they decided to have a chase, until Tackleton calls on him to come back to his cage. The next day, the week before Christmas, Caleb starts to work night and day to keep up with the demonds of the season. Just then, Tackleton arrives to tell him that he was using too much paint on the doll's faces. All he cared about was the shillings and pennies they bring. But Caleb could not see them go out into the world like that, so every night, he and the cricket would sneak him and fix him up proper.
Two days before Christmas, he bumps into Edward. Edward tries to pick the presents up, but however, his back were aching. Caleb tells him that Edward would come home with him. Back at home, Edward sits down looking at Bertha's sad blind eyes. Bertha suddenly gets surprised to hear that Edward said her name. Caleb then tells him that they are all one family, and that it was almost Christmas. He had been stretching the truth for a long time to keep his daughter happy. When it came to fibbing about Christmas, he wasn't quite up to it.
On Christmas Eve, the trio start to build toys until Tackleton and Uriah stop by. He decides to give Bertha and Caleb some shillings. All Tackleton wanted was a wife. He gives Bertha and hour and fifteen minutes to think it over. She was very honored, but Caleb tells her that she was just a child. She tells that she hasn't been a child for a long time. Caleb had to accept the fact that Bertha was a big grown up girl now. Suddenly, Edward arrives. Bertha had some news for him that she was going to be Tackleton's wife. Later, Edward starts to leave. The cricket wanted Caleb to think of Bertha. Caleb decides to break his daughter's wife at last. Luckily, Bertha makes up her mind that she would tell Tackleton that she accepts his proposal.
Later, the cricket was determined that Bertha would never get a chance to say yes so he decides to call one of his mates. Tackleton starts to come over to have tea with Bertha. The rat starts to give Tackleton two nuts. Then, the cricket starts to add some pepper on Tackleton's cup. He starts to sneeze since he was allergic to pepper. Back in his office, Tackleton starts to to give Uriah a job to get rid of the cricket, with no slip-ups.
During Uriah's mission to get the cricket, he goes to the bar. The dog starts to tell everyone that Moll was about sing Fish and Chips. After the song, he announces to Strangler and Slink that he had an proper evil proposition put to them that he was going to eliminate the cricket. Slink had a better idea which they had to capture him. Back at the house, when the cricket was relaxing, Uriah, Strangler, and Slink capture and elimate him, by tangling him and putting him in a cage. In the ship, the captain had their pay off. The cricket was set sailing to China on Christmas Eve, leaving poor Bertha and the handsome Tackleton.
Now that the cricket was captured, the sea captain tells him that he would fetch a pretty price. He starts to play dead which makes the captain throw him out of the boat. The cricket overlooked one thing: crickets cannot swim, but he forgets that crickets float. He starts to get back to land, which the whale, the pelican, the needlefish, and the four seahorses helped him.
Now that the cricket finally got back to land, he went back home, where it was midnight on Christmas Eve, and the toys start to come alive. They have been observed. The cricket starts to tell the toys that he was a cricket. The toy elephant says that cricket never count. The cricket starts to tell them that he was happy that they were on his side to help stop Bertha from marrying Tackleton. The tin soldier tells him that they would do anything for Caleb and Bertha. The cricket was now happy so they started to get into action. The toys start to help the cricket to get to Edward. He notices that Edward wasn't an old man. The toy elephant starts to explain to the cricket that Edward didn't drown when his ship went down. He built himself a raft, and sailed himself to a beautiful unchartered island. And he was there two years before a whaler found him and brought him back to England. The cricket wanted to know why, until the toys' time was up. Edward wakes up and the cricket was onto him to speak up the whole story. He came directly to Bertha, then he saw her blind. And he realized that it was his fault. He couldn't just step back into her life, after what he did to her. And he adopted the disguise. This way, he could be with Bertha without anyone knowing. Yesterday, Edward made up his mind. He came in to tell Bertha, only to see her reading face because Tackleton asked her to be his wife. Those were her very words. Edward wished he could believe the cricket. He came back tonight to have one last look at Bertha.
Later, in the bedroom, the cricket starts to wake Bertha up. She was happy that he was back and safe, so Edward starts to hold hands with Bertha, who was wondering if she was dreaming. She was glad that he was alive.
On Christmas morning, after when Edward and Bertha were married, Tackleton was shocked to see Bertha married. She starts to tell him that her heart belonged to Edward. Tackleton started to cry that no one loved him, but Bertha tells him that they loved him, and that there would be a place in her heart for a fine, kind, noble, and handsome gentlemen such as him, so she kisses him, which Tackleton felt good all over. He felt as like as a lark, and happy as a humming bird since it was Christmas. Caleb then tells the cricket that he was the luckiest thing that ever happened to anyone.
Original Score & Songs Composed & Directed by Maury Laws
Lyrics by Jules Bass
|Song Title||Performed by|
|"Cricket on the Hearth"|| Danny Thomas|
The Norman Luboff Chorus
|"Don't Give Your Love Away"||Ed Ames|
|"Smiles Go With Tears"||Mario Thomas|
|"Through My Eyes"||D. Thomas|
|"The First Christmas"|| D. Thomas|
The N. Luboff Chorus
|"That Was Yesterday"||M. Thomas|
|"Fish and Chips"||Abbe Lane|
|"Through My Eyes (Reprise)"||D. Thomas|
|"Melody: Cricket on the Hearth/The First Christmas"|| D. Thomas|
The N. Luboff Chorus
- Marlo Thomas' other work with Rankin/Bass includes the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie episode "That Girl in Wonderland", an animated spin-off of her 1966-1971 sitcom That Girl with Ann Marie working as an editor of children's books who winds up in a series of classic children's stories.
|Danny Thomas|| Caleb Plummer (animation)|
Himself (live-action bookended segments; host)
|Marlo Thomas||Bertha Plummer|
|Ed Ames||Edward Benton|
|Roddy McDowall||Cricket Crocket|
|Paul Frees|| Jeremiah Bleak|
|The Norman Luboff Chorus||Themselves|
- ↑ The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass, by Rick Goldschmidt. 1997, Miser Bros. Press.