The world was first introduced to Timer in a groundbreaking ABC Afterschool Special that debuted on Feb. 7, 1973 called "The Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical, Mystery Trip." There must've been a sale on adjectives the day they came up with that title. This special, by the folks at DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, combined animation with live action to entertain as well as educate children on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. It's sort of ironic that a special promoting proper nutrition would be presented by the M&M/Mars company, as this TV Guide ad proudly proclaims, isn't it? Anyway, we find out Timer's background from the get-go: He's also known as "The Alarmist" and is responsible for telling our bodies when to get hungry, tired, etc. In short, he's our body's timer. That name makes more sense now, huh? Our adventure begins as a cartoon Timer (voiced by Len Maxwell for the only time) appears in the real world, taking a break from his exhausting duties inside Uncle Carl, an unhealthy chap to be sure, played by Hal Smith, aka Otis Campbell, Mayberry's town drunk. For the sake of education, or maybe just because he can, Timer shrinks/kidnaps Carl's niece Missey and nephew Joey and proceeds to take them on the afforementioned incredible, indelible, etc., etc., journey inside the body or 'country' of Uncle Carl.
Our hero gives the kids an inside look at all the damage ol' Carl is doing to his body with his litnay of bad habits and poor choices, meeting a zany cast of characters along the way. And, as he's been known to do, Timer makes the learning fun by offering up several musical numbers and various impersonations of celebrities such as Jimmy Cagney, Jackie Gleason and several others that I'm too young to identify. I'd like to say there's a happy ending once the kids return to their normal selves outside Carl, but unfortunately we're left to ponder whether Uncle Carl actually heeds the kids' warnings about the unpleasentness they saw inside him, or if he just writes them off as being stupid kids and keeps up his gluttonous ways.
Timer's next special may give us the answer to Uncle Carl's fate as "The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head" finds our yellow friend now inhabiting the country of Little Red Land. Debuting a little over a year after the first (May 15, 1974 to be exact. Check out the TV Guide ad here!) this second special follows the same basic premise as the first, only this time there's no live action involved. It's all 'toon, all the time. This go-round Timer -- now voiced by the more familiar Lennie Weinrib -- shrinks young siblings Carol and Larry in order to take them on a journey into their big sister's head. While the first special taught us about the importance of general health, our trip into Red's head aims to educate us about the mind and all it entails: Feelings, emotions, senses, etc. While we're busy learning, Little Red gets caught up in a modern-day (by 1970s standards, at least) twist of the classic children's story that bears her name. You know, the one with the wolf. Along the way we're treated to the same entertaining song and dance quotient as we got on our first magical trip -- trippy animation sequences and all -- as well as plenty of wacky friends, old and new. I won't spoil the ending for you, but if you already know how "Little Red Riding Hood" ends, just imagine that with more karate. This would be Timer's last feature-length... feature, as he would limit his work to one-minute PSAs over the next few years before retiring to the San Fernando Valley. These specials however would continue to air well into the 80s, ensuring that generations of children would live healthy, well-rounded lives. Or something like that.
Now, for the first time ever in the history of the Internet (as far as I can tell) you can re-live Timer's "Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical, Mystery Trip" and his "Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head" right here! See the rare clips below, or click here to find out how you can obtain your own full-length, high-quality copies!