November 27, 1986 – The Animated Television Special Disney’s Fluppy Dogs Premieres on ABC
“A mythical beast able to speak like humans.”
On November 27, 1986, the hour-long animated television special Disney’s Fluppy Dogs premiered on ABC. It was intended to be the pilot for a new Disney animated series, in the same vein as The Wuzzles and Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Unfortunately, this special was the week’s lowest-ranked program, and the intended series was cancelled. The special was written by Haskell Barkin and Bruce Talkington, and directed by Fred Wolf. It starred Carl Steven as Jamie Bingham, Jessica Pennington as Claire, Marshall Efron as Stanley, Susan Blu as Tippi and Bink, Lorenzo Music as Ozzie, Hal Smith as Dink and Hamish, and Michael Rye as Wagstaff.
The special begins with the five Fluppy Dogs traveling alongside a dangerous cliffside, and use a magical key to open a door to escape. They end up in a beautiful garden, but quickly find themselves in danger. They open another door and find themselves in a grocery store, causing chaos before finding themselves outside on the street. As they flee, they get the attention of J.J. Wagstaff, a businessman who is intrigued that the dogs can talk. Though they try to escape, the dogs are soon captured and are taken to the pound. The five realize that they need to start acting like regular dogs in order to be saved, and Stanley, the leader of the Fluppy Dogs, gets himself adopted in order to come back and save the others.
It’s revealed that Wagstaff collects exotic animals and keeps them locked in cages in his office; he discovers that the dogs he saw were Fluppies, and gets his assistant Hamish to accompany him to capture the Fluppies. Meanwhile, a kid named Jamie comes home, excited to meet the dog that his mom picked out for his birthday. Although initially disappointed at the dog’s size, he takes Stanley for a walk to “get to know him.” Stanley escapes the leash and heads back to the pound, with Jamie in pursuit. Both end up in a construction site, and when Jamie ends up stuck, Stanley manages to save him. Jamie is astounded at Stanley’s actions, and Stanley opens up to Jamie about his friends. He says that they have a mythical key that opens doors to other dimensions, but the problem is that they may never end up back home.
Jamie offers to use his birthday money to get the other Fluffy Dogs to get out of the pound, but can only afford one: Tippi. Jamie’s mom tells him that they can’t keep another dog, and offers the solution of giving Tippi to Jamie’s neighbor Claire so that the dogs can be neighbors. Claire gladly takes Tippi in. Unfortunately, Wagstaff realizes that the Fluppies are at the pound, and uses his connections to get the others. Stanley tells Jamie that they’ll have to break in to get the other Fluppies, even though Jamie is against it. Stanley makes Jamie promise that he’ll never tell anyone about the existence of Fluppies, and that they left home for the sake of adventure. As Jamie scratches Stanley’s head, magic dust flies out, and Jamie’s bed goes flying across the night sky. As the bed careens around the sky, Jamie scratches Stanley’s head again and gets control of the bed again. The pair stop to pick up Tippi before they head to the pound, but not before Claire sees them, and Jamie makes her promise not to say anything. Tippi and Stanley break in, but Jamie sees Wagstaff with the pound staff and tries to warn Stanley. The five Fluppies manage to make a break for it, pursued by Wagstaff, but manage to get away.
The next day, Tippie confides in Claire, admitting that she wants to go home. Jamie wakes up and quickly hides Ozzie, Bink, and Dink from his mom, and says goodbye to Stanley as they find a way for the Fluppies to get home. Stanley promises that they will always be friends, no matter what happens. However, the Fluppies head to Jamie’s school to ask for his help to find the next door. The group sneaks into the sewer to find the way to the door. The group manages to find the door, but a torrent of water comes rushing out, sweeping them away. Jamie heads home to find Claire, and asks for her help. Wagstaff is frustrated with his lack of progress in finding the Fluppies, and decides to advertise on television a $1,000 reward for handing over a Fluppy.
The Fluppies find a door in Jamie’s basement, and once they open it, they find a beautiful garden – and a giant creature running through it. Unfortunately, although the creature is nice, they are unable to return him to the door. Attracted to flowers, the creature runs towards Jamie’s flower-patterned couch, but is terrified by everything in the house. The Fluppies help Jamie and Claire clean up the house after capturing the creature; unfortunately, Jamie is in trouble with his mom for cutting class. Jamie then sees the ad by Wagstaff, and goes down to warn the others. Ozzie, Dink, and Bink set out to find another door, and manage to find the door that will lead them home. The lights attract the attention of Wagstaff, and as he sets out to capture the Fluppies, the trio rush home to Stanley and Tippi. Wagstaff manages to capture Ozzie and takes him back to his mansion. Dink and Bink make it back to Jamie’s house, and tell Stanley about what happened. Stanley, realizing that they’ve caused Jamie enough trouble, have Claire help them rescue Ozzie. Jamie uses the creature to help take himself, Bink, and Dink to Wagstaff’s mansion to help.
Wagstaff threatens Ozzie to get him to talk and prove that he is a Fluppy, but his threats are interrupted by the arrival of Claire. Wagstaff is prepared for their arrival, and manages to capture Stanley and Tippi. Jamie arrives and demands that Wagstaff lets the Fluppies go, but he threatens Jamie and Claire. Stanley convinces Wagstaff to let the kids say goodbye, and asks Jamie for “one last scratch.” Jamie and Claire scratch the heads of Stanley and Tippi, and magic is released throughout the house, destroying it as it takes off in flight. The house takes the group to the library, the location of the door back to the Fluppie’s own world. Unfortunately, the key flickers ominously, but manages to let the Fluppies go back home. Stanley tells Jamie that he should come with them, but Jamie can’t go. Stanley and Jamie share a tearful goodbye, and as they head into their own world, Wagstaff follows. The door closes, leaving Wagstaff and Hamish trapped in the Fluppies’ world.
A few months later, Claire and Jamie have become good friends, and reminisce about times with the Fluppies, when Stanley and crew arrive back in their world. Jamie sees a door open, and many Fluppies running out. Asking Stanley why they’re all entering this world, Stanley answers with one word: adventure.