3/11/10

RVOD097 The Following Instructions Game

(1978, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

From the makers of The Don’t Ask So Many Questions Game.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Obedience is fun!

Summary:

The Submitting to Authority GameLittle Blond Boy (whose name I didn’t bother to remember) can’t follow even the simplest of instructions without failing. He’ll ignore signs to slide right down a freshly painted slide into a puddle of freshly spilled paint. He’ll accidentally cut paper doll chains into separate bits of randomly shaped paper. He’ll go to the store for bread, but not remember what he was supposed to buy when he gets there. He does remember one crucial bit of his mother’s last instruction, though. It goes, “Something, something, Mr. Mack.” LBB shifts into hyperdrive and heads down to Mr. Mack’s shop.

Mr. Mack is an avuncular old handyman/puppeteer/Dr. Seuss impersonator who speaks in the most badly constructed couplets imaginable. He takes time out from his busy mariachi frog construction schedule to teach LBB the wondrous and delightfully addictive Following Instructions Game. The rules are as follows:

1) Listen to instructions.
2) Ask questions if you don’t understand them.

Naturally, a game of this complexity cannot be learned in a single repetition, so Mr. Mack and LBB go over it many, many times. The newly rehabilitated LBB goes back out into the world. He uses his newfound insights to buy bread, make proper paper doll chains, and interrupt his grandma at the correct time.

Thoughts:

Once you’ve listened to your instructions, and asked questions to understand them, presumably rule three would be to actually follow those instructions. It’s implied by the game’s title, to be sure, but something tells me that the thick little rugrat in question requires more explicit direction. Perhaps he and Mr. Mack covered that bit while the cameras weren’t rolling. Tune in next week when Mr. Mack teaches him The Drinking Water Game, in which our little hero learns to press a cup to his lips and stop breathing long enough to swallow. Tragedy strikes when Mr. Mack forgets to tell him to resume breathing afterwards.

A few favorite comments: When LBB enters Mr. Mack’s, er, interestingly decorated shop for the first time, Bill wants to know, “Why is your workshop full of insane garbage?” When LBB demonstrates an inability to follow even the simplest and undemanding of instructions, Mike calls him, “The Cub Scouts’ first dishonorable discharge.” As the end titles appear, Kevin pipes up to reassure about the short’s theme. “The dangers of fascism have been greatly overstated,” he says. It’s a vaguely weird, spectacularly remedial short, and the riffers help it along.