Saturday, 12 November 2011

Augie Doggie — Fan Clubbed

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Captain Zoom Zoom, Newscaster, Gorilla – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Hecky Krasnow.
First Aired: week of January 18, 1960 (rerun, week of July 18, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-017, Production J-54.
Plot: Daddy fills in for an ailing Captain Zoom Zoom at Augie’s birthday party.

One of the pitfalls of watching so many Hanna-Barbera cartoons over the years is you watch one and end up saying to yourself “I know that from somewhere.” Situations, voices, characters. They all seemed to get used over and over by the studio, sometimes with a new take and sometimes barely whitewashed over. Eventually, and slowly, the cartoons suffered through the inbreeding of ideas. Ask me if I’d rather watch Huckleberry Hound or Squiddly Diddly.

A nasty case of Hanna-Barbera Déjà Vu has struck me again watching this cartoon. The character at the centre of this is one Captain Zoom Zoom, who has a catchphrase of “Fweep, fweep, fweep, fweep, fweep!” “Consarn it, Yowp,” I said to myself (or would have if anyone still used the word “consarn”), “I know someone had that ‘fweep’ catchphrase in another cartoon. Who was it? Pixie and Dixie? Elroy Jetson? Magilla Gorilla?”

The internet tells me the correct answer is Wally Gator in an episode I can only presume was written by Mike Maltese borrowing from himself. My aging brain tells me it was also used somewhere else but I can’t think of where. Consarn it. (Note: the answer is in the comment section).

There are a few other familiar things in this cartoon. It’s another one where Daddy reluctantly does something to please Augie only to get bashed around for his trouble. And Augie does a variation of the line he stole from Sylvester, Jr. by putting the back of his hand to his raised forehead and exclaiming “Oh, the birthday shame of it!” And, of course, the ‘TV space captain’ idea got a workout several times as well. Perhaps it’s appropriate in this Maltese effort, as his caricature once appeared as Captain Schmideo in a Warners cartoon.

Animating this short is Dick Lundy, who arrived at Hanna-Barbera in March 1959. Don Duckwall worked under Lundy at Disney and told author Don Peri “He knew a lot of good short cuts that you could take that would save you time but not endanger the product.” That, of course, is a helpful talent for anyone employed in limited animation. I’m lousy at picking out animators but Lundy does something in this cartoon he did in Million-Dollar Robbery. Lundy’s Augie and Daddy look wired. You’ll see them with huge grins or angular, open, happy mouths even when they’re not talking. Occasionally he did this with the other characters that had snouty head constructions like the Daddy clan—Quick Draw in the jeep at the start of the third scene of Bull-Leave Me, for example.

An innocuous statement by Doggie Daddy sets up the cartoon. It’s Augie’s birthday and he’s looking at a cake. “Make a wish, Augie, and if you blow out the candles, your wish will come true.” But Daddy thinks Augie’s wished for skates, a scout bugle and a super-jet model. He’s not even close. Augie wished that Captain Zoom Zoom would be his guest of honour. So now Daddy’s stuck. He promises Augie he’ll go out and flag down Captain Zoom Zoom. Note the hyper expression on Daddy. Where’s he going to find Captain Zoom Zoom? Aha! The TV station. Art Lozzi has painted the streetscape in pastel colours; you’ll find the same effect in some Snooper and Blabber cartoons, like Laughing Guess.



Daddy tells Captain Zoom Zoom that Augie wants him as a birthday guest-of-honour. “Are you kidding? With my spilitting headache? And my dizzy spells? Out, out, out! Out at once,” is the response from the jerk TV star. Daddy’s apparently so upset, he’s forgotten about his nice 1960 Clinton convertible and is walking home. But aha again! He sees a Hallowe’en display in a store window where you can rent a Captain Zoom Zoom costume. So that’s what he does. “How coincidentally can you get?” Daddy asks the audience.

Wait a minute. Space hero of a little boy. Sick and can’t visit his home. Dad gets a costume and fills in. Say, isn’t that the plot of Elroy’s Pal (December 1962)? Yes, I believe it is. How coincidentally can you get?



Cut back to the disappointed Augie. But hark! From atop of telephone/telegraph pole comes the cry of “fweep, fweep” etc. It’s Doggie Daddy in a Captain Zoom Zoom outfit as he crashes through the living room window and lands, butt up, in Augie’s birthday cake.


Augie (talking to Daddy’s butt): I knew you’d come, Captain Zoom Zoom.
Daddy (with head through the table bottom): I’m down here, boy.
Augie (talking to Daddy’s head): I knew you’d come, Captain Zoom Zoom.



Uh, oh. Now Augie wants Daddy to meet Captain Zoom Zoom. The rush-and-change-identities bit works better in live action because the actors are obviously struggling to quickly change to continue the ruse. Cartoon characters can zip at any speed so you lose the sense of effort and, therefore, the comedy. Maltese tries to make up for it by having the re-emerged Daddy pop up into the broken window and call out “Hello, Captain Zoom Zoom, you ol’ son of a sea cook.” People haven’t used that one since they were saying “consarn it.”

Uh, oh, again. We now suddenly learn from Augie Captain Zoom Zoom can zoom through walls and asks Daddy in his Zoom Zoom guise to go through the side of his brick home. Daddy’s plan to stop short of the house gets foiled by that skate he got Augie for his birthday. Daddy trips on it. You can guess what happens next. Actually, it’s kind of cool. He rides the skate through the wall, lands on a tea dolly (“Anybody for tea?” Daddy asks the viewers), which stops at an open window, through which Daddy flies, springs up from a hammock between two trees, crashes through the roof, then rolls out toward Augie on a chair while reading a book. It’s almost as elaborate as some of Maltese’s gags got in Roadrunner cartoons but, unlike Wile E. Coyote, Daddy isn’t beat up at all. “Read any good books lately,” he casually says when the chair stops.



Daddy Zoom Zoom bids farewell to Augie, but there’s a minute, 45 seconds left in the cartoon, so something’s got to happen. A heretofore unheard radio suddenly pipes up and news is intoned that a dangerous escaped gorilla is out there. Daddy boasts he’ll capture the gorilla one his way “to the outer spaces.” Augie asks how he’ll do it. At moment, the gorilla grabs Daddy around the neck. But Daddy’s so engrossed in acting out his tale of derring-do he doesn’t notice until he promises he’ll look the gorilla in the eye, and realises he’s actually doing it. Now Daddy sounds more like William Bendix than Jimmy Durante, as he surmises to the audience “What a revoltin’ development dis is!”



The gorilla chases Daddy, who dives into a manhole to get away. The gorilla grabs the Zoom Zoom cape and the costume comes off Daddy.

A tired Daddy drags himself home in the final scene, where Augie is sitting on the couch with the gorilla, happily wearing the Captain Zoom Zoom costume. They’re watching you-know-who on TV and letting out with a “fweep, fweep.” Daddy ends the cartoon with some fweeps as he resigns himself to watching the show, too.



No surprises in the musical score. We get a couple of snatches of Hecky Krasnow’s ‘The Happy Cobbler’, probably the only piece of music in the early H-B cartoons to have an electric guitar. As you can see, copies of most of the music aren’t available.


0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:25 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Augie blows out candles, wants Captain Zoom-Zoom, Daddy will flag him down.
2:08 - PG-181F MECHANICAL BRIDGE (Green) – Daddy “fweep, fweep”, decides to go to TV station.
2:22 - PG-177C LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Daddy in car, arrives at station.
2:31 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Daddy knocks on door, Captain Zoom Zoom has headache, Daddy decides to buy costume.
3:17 - jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – Daddy flies in as Captain Zoom Zoom, Augie wants him to go through brick wall, Daddy zips out of scene.
4:42 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Daddy runs, crashes through house, rolls in on chair.
5:14 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – “Have you read any good books?”, newscast, gorilla grabs Daddy, Daddy realises gorilla has him.
6:20 - related to Suspense Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – “What a revoltin’ development...”, dives in sewer.
6:43 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Everyone watches Captain Zoom Zoom on TV.
7:09 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

4 comments:

  1. Hmmm..you missed Harry Bluestone & Emil Cadkin's names for the opening cue "Romantic Jaunt" in the
    credits beginning in your post, but to your credit you did acknowledge the cue in the music cue breakdown below.[Along with the dominant Jack Shaindlin with the several Phil Green cuts and repeats of Hecky Krasnow's "Happy Cobbler".]

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  2. "Captain Zoom-Zoom" also appeared in a "Snooper and Blabber" episode that season (he's Blab's favorite TV hero as well).

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  3. Yeah, that's where it was Anon. He even has a headache in that one, too. Thanks.

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  4. You know, I was thinking of a story idea entitled "The Return of Captain Zoom-Zoom" because I've been writing quite a few stories so far and I just think this idea is very nice.

    Anyways, nice "tooning" in there!

    TTFN!

    Ryan

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