Doug, by Fenzel
It’s brief, but it’s perfect: light-hearted, metaphorical, elegant, swift and sweet. My favorite instance of somebody getting carried away by a balloon (other than all those crazy folks in Roswell who got all gussied up in alien outfits over a weather balloon, of course), is a brief moment in the title sequence to Nickelodeon’s Doug. It’s hard to find the actual clip online (the far inferior title sequence from Disney’s Doug is much more ubiquitous), but there are a frightening number of videos of people dubbing it a capella, including this one:
A benevolent, metacartoonic line wakes up little Porkchop, forms a curtain that Doug lifts and passes under, immediately becomes a tightrope across which walks the apple of Doug’s eye, Miss Pattie Mayonnaise. The line twirls into a heart balloon to lift Doug off the ground before it is pulled down by the nefarious Roger Klotz and Stinky, only to become a hole that the villains slip through before Doug tosses it to his friend Skeeter, swinging in from offscreen.
It’s such a wonderful way of describing how the stories in the series are told, from the spare use of line to create minimalistic but expressive characters to the seamless ups and downs of the mental life and kind-and-gentle travails of its protagonist.
“Lifted away by balloon” fantasies are all about sweetness, and Doug’s infatuation with Patti is so sweet and touching (I always found her to be a smart, classy dame, with few of the character flaws that always seem to burden “the girl the main guy is infatuated with” in stories like this. She’s also not hypersexualized, which is rare and welcome.) that the balloon motif fits it perfectly.
Even in the context of the opening sequence, the balloon is more suggestion than representation, heightening the sense of fantasy – that the lightness expressed is the lightness of mind and heart, not really of helium and latex (or mylar if you’re fancy).
As a side note, while looking for the Doug theme song on video, I found a whole lot of Doug fan videos, and I wanted to close by sharing two of them with you. First, this rather compelling interpretation that looks as if it took a long time:
And this one, which looks as if it took a lot less, but still does the trick (warning, a little bad language).