Release Date:  March 5, 2005
Genre:  Cartoon
Creator/Publisher:  Big Idea Productions, Inc.

Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato are back.  In VeggieTales’ 25th episode, titled “Duke and the Great Pie War,” the gabbing veggies apply their talk-show format to several different segments, for lots of fun and good, biblical teaching.

The “show” opens with the guys talking about a reader who has written in with a question.  Seems the poor girl is having problems with a new baby, who is taking up all of her parents’ time and attention.  Well, they say, let’s see what we can do to help. 

The opening short feature, called “Babysitter in De-Nile,” tells the story of Moses’ birth – from his sister’s perspective.  Here, we get to see how truly caring a big sister can be, and what a huge impact she can have on her brother’s life.  It’s short, but it’s sweet, with some cute humor, like “Congratulations!  It’s a Boy!” banners having been scratched out to read “It’s a Baby!” and everyone whispering, fearful that the Egyptians will learn that a baby boy has been born and do away with him (implied – not stated).

We then have a little musical entertainment, called “Larry Sings the Blues,” with a special guest appearance from Blind Lemon Lincoln, who instructs his protégé on what it means to sing the blues.  To sing the blues, he says, you have to be sad.  When the concept is lost on old Larry, Blind Lemon eats his popsicle – and suddenly, Larry has something to sing about.

On to the feature film, “The Great Pie War,” which opens in song and the flipping of the pages of a fairy tale novel.  Petunia the Princess “lives as a peasant with her mother-in-law.”  Don’t ask for more, at least for now, because it’s very complicated.  Duke, we hear, is “a handsome man with the rough dimensions of a rack of lamb.”  Meanwhile, at Ye Olde Knight School, the soldiers are preparing for an eventual rematch against the Rhubarbarians, under the auspices of Three Dog Knight.  It seems that the war, many years ago, divided the country and now, the Kingdom of Scone feels the need to be prepared.  God thinking, men.  Errr, vegetables.

Eventually, we learn that Petunia is, in fact, a widow, like her mother-in-law.  Both lost their husbands in the Great Pie War and have fled to the Kingdome of Scone, where Petunia takes care of them.  The women are very poor, and they are always mocked for being Rhubarbarians.  So it comes as a great relief when the Duke allows them to harvest apples at the edges of his fields.

The Duke and Petunia have an immediate attraction for one another, so when Petunia asks him for a favor, he is happy to comply – until he hears that it means jousting against Otis the Elevated, the best jouster in the land.  The prize, however, is the key to the castle and all its contents, so the Duke eventually complies.  Otis teases him during the battle, asking him why he is doing it. 

“I’m looking out for someone else first.  That’s true love,” he says, to which Otis replies, “That’s crazy.”

As you might imagine, every veggie lives happily ever after in this tale, and Larry and Bob come back on to close out the show.  They quote Romans 12:10, which exhorts us to “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” and encourage the little girl who wrote in to the show to love her baby brother and help him, rather than be jealous of him.  That’s the reason God gives us family, they say.

As with all of the VeggieTales, the message is not only sound and biblically-based, but also applied in practical ways.  True love does mean putting others first, but that’s not what the world teaches, so when we apply it, we’re bound to be mocked.  But the results are definitely worth it.  The message is presented in a non-preachy, fun format that is very engaging for children, which explains the video’s popularity – more than 40 million since 1993, sold mostly through Christian bookstores. 

Here, we have two biblical stories.  The primary one comes from the Book of Ruth, and teaches children what it means when Ruth said to Naomi, “Where you go, I will go.  Where you live, I will live.  Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.”  As a result of her loyalty to her mother-in-law – and her willingness to live in poverty and work hard – Ruth eventually marries Boaz, her protector, and lives a comfortable life, which blesses them all.  It’s one of the most wonderful stories in the Bible, for it illustrates just how powerful godly love and devotion can be.

Although the videos are geared to school-age children, my 2 ½ year old watched this episode with me, and she adored it.  In fact, she’s been asking for it ever since.  So I guess they must be doing something right over at Big Idea Productions, Inc.  Let’s hope they keep up the good work.