I always did like Milton. There’s not much character there, true, but there’s something pleasantly gormless to him. He’s one of the more obscure characters, probably because he’s another character who doesn’t talk in a world of talking animals, and Pluto had been established for a long time. There were several attempts at making another, and none of them really took. There’s also no Disney cat who’s a common character that everyone remembers is a cat. As a cat person, I am deeply annoyed that the only cat is Pete, given everything about Pete.
This time, he might be Mickey’s cat. Given he’s got a bowl in the kitchen next to Pluto’s, he likely is. They’re dozing in front of wrestling, when a commercial comes on for turkey. Milton wakes Pluto up. First, they attack the TV in hopes of producing a turkey out of it. Then, they go to the kitchen to find one there. Fortunately for them, they do, but that creates the further problem of having to cook it, because heaven forbid the carnivorous animals [checks notes] eat food raw.
Boy is this early days of television. This short is from 1951. Walt, forward thinking man that he was, had already released a Christmas special for NBC in 1950, but there were only some twelve million TVs in the US at the time. Sure, we’re reaching the point where half of US households would have one, but we aren’t there yet and the programming was still a bit scanty. There were four networks at the time, but a sizable chunk of the primetime DuMont schedule was “local programming,” and a lot of the rest of it was sports, and NBC’s featured bits of local programming through the week as well.
But it’s interesting that Pluto and Milton are shown not understanding how the set actually works. They both sniff the set to try to smell the turkey, and Pluto licks the screen to try to taste it. It’s not that this is unreasonable behaviour. It’s that it is, if anything, more reasonable than the way these characters usually act. It’s more believable to see them trying to reach into the TV than trying to use the trash can as a catapult, and that’s what’s so strange about it.
For once, no complains about the pet ownership. Pluto and Milton are sleeping in the house, where the heater was clearly on. Okay, there are too many lights on and therefore Mickey, presumably, is wasting electricity. Still, it’s clear that he’s not starving the animals and that they just want something other than pet food. I’m sure that, if you asked my cat, he’d agree that he should be eating turkey—or in his case, chicken, as I don’t eat turkey and therefore don’t feed it to him—instead of cat food, and I’m a better pet-owner than Mickey.