So here’s something a little more in line with the obscurity symposium, something more obscure for your enjoyment. The Secrets of the Gnomes by Rein Poortvliet and Wil Huygen. It’s written in the form of a travel-log, technically a self-inject fantasy, although the background information on the two writers is scant to non-existent, in fact their names are never actually used in the book, though their image is. The book is full of beautiful warm paintings of gnomes, gnome technology, gnome culture, and landscapes.
The book takes place in Lapland and Siberia in the late winter, which I love anyway. I keep telling my wife we should move there, I’ve actually done a lot of google earthing the Lapland area recently, and to me it seems it’s a cold paradise.
This book is generally plugged as a children’s book, but I don’t think it really is. There are a few images of bear chested Gnome women and at least two images alluding to gnome intercourse. Clearly this is a European children’s book, they really are much more progressive.
There is a whole lot I’d like to say about this book, but it really is something you should experience for yourself, I wouldn’t want to spoil the book, and given the vast amount of paintings, within the book, I really can’t do it justice with words. The book does get stranger the further on you go, and that’s always a good thing.
How much do I like this book? Well, I read it for the first time in the summer of 2016 (a library copy), my wife got me the book for Christmas that year, and since then I’ve read it every winters, and it’s not all that short (though there are a lot of pictures), every time I read it (three times now), there are things that I didn’t notice the last time. In this last reading, the sandman and the arms of morphious, seemed to stand out more than they have in readings past.
You may be wondering how or where I stumbled on this book. When I was a kid there was a barely remembered TV show in nickelodeon called “David the Gnome” or properly “The Adventures of David the Gnome” I only had a minute sliver of memory of this show, but I did remember that I liked it. A few years ago I got a friend of mine to order me the complete series off Amazon, 2 seasons, 26 episodes, on 4 discs.
The only episode I remembered specifically involved David’s niece getting caught in a melting lake, but as it turns out I don’t think this was actually an episode from this series (though I’m not sure what else it could have been from). After watching the series again, many years later, a few of them started to come back, but not that many.
One thing that this show is (or could be) memorable for, is the fact that Tom Bosley does the voice of David, he played Charley (from Charley’s Angles) and also the father from Happy Days. His voice is instantly recognizable. I should point out that the show was actually originally made for Spanish TV (i.e. television in Spain proper), and in the English translated version which I have, there are a lot of instances of characters talking over one another. I thought that it was just a strange anomaly at first, but then when I realized that English was not the show’s native language, perhaps it has to do with the dubbing. I can’t find any confirmation or denial as to whether or not Bosley did the voice in both the English and Spanish versions or just the English, though it appears that the narrator, Christopher Plumber (from “The Sound of Music”), did not narrate the Spanish version.
What I definitely didn’t remember about the show was the general theme, and had I remembered I may have forgone getting the DVD, though that would have ultimately been a mistake. The titular David is and animal doctor, which means that the vast majority of the episodes involve, to one degree or another, an animal suffering. Granted there is only one episode where one of the animals dies, and said death is only briefly metioned, it is still difficult to watch. I am an animal lover and I hate seeing them suffering, even if David cures what ails them. Incidences such as the two bucks getting their horns tangle when they fight over the same doe is light and funny enough, but most of the time the various medical cases are much more serious.
How much do I like this TV show? Well I watch it every year, usually two or three times a year. I would probably put it as my 4th favorite show of all time, and favorite cartoon of all time.
I have not seen the last episode. The first episode opens with David explaining that he and his wife are 399 years old, and that Gnomes live to the age of 400. In the last episode they reach this age, I can’t even make it through the teaser that comes at the end of the next to last episode. Even that episode (the next to last) is difficult to watch, as David give’s his most prized possession to a human doctor friend of his. Given all this maybe it’s a good thing that they don’t “officially” end other kid’s shows with a farewell episode. Even though the typical procedure of pulling the cord on a show when it is no longer “big” may leave the dedicated viewers at the time confused or pissed off, it works to an advantage in later years , by makingthe show seem like it’s gone on forever. As for this two fold review, I think it’s gone one long enough.