Saturday, 4 February 2012

Augie Doggie — Mars Little Precious

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Augie Doggie, Alien Baby, Irish Cop – Daws Butler; Boinka Boinka – Don Messick.
Music: Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin; Phil Green; Spencer Moore; Jack Shaindlin, Hecky Krasnow, unknown.
First aired: week of February 8, 1960 (rerun week of August 8, 1960).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-020, Production J-63.
Plot: Daddy chases after a Martian baby that Augie is supposed to be sitting.

Hanna-Barbera’s short cartoons got less entertaining into the 1960s for several reasons. One of them was the writers simply rehashed the same old gags over and over. How many times do you see the “sceptical cop” character show up about half-way into an H-B cartoon? The answer is too many. And generally, he’s Irish and ends his scene with his scepticism turned into a mental self-diagnosis, then commenting on the situation to either the audience or to “Sarge” at the stationhouse on a phone.

Said cop surfaces in this cartoon, and it isn’t even the first time a disbelieving officer of the law shows up in an Augie Doggie cartoon; ‘High and Flighty’ comes to mind (which also involved Mars). In this one, we get the station-phone ending after the cop sees the baby Martian. He calls to ask about the “policeman’s triple retirement plan.” Of course, he doesn’t retire. He just returns in another guise, series after series.

As for this cartoon, it features the adult-kid version of Augie, the one who’s a scientist, or invents stuff, or communicates with other planets. I prefer the Augie who’s more kid-like. Perhaps it doesn’t matter as Augie disappears for much of the cartoon and Doggie Daddy takes over, commenting throughout to the viewers (at one point, he says “Ain’t dat just like kids, folks?” as he looks at the camera in three-quarters view).

It seems like every Augie Doggie cartoon opens with Daddy reading the paper, but that’s actually not the case. It happened only six times in the first season (of 26 cartoons), including once in a bathtub. It happens in this one. Daddy’s talking to himself. “After a hard day, dere’s nothin’ like da newspaper...” Hey! What hard day? What exactly does Doggie Daddy do for a living? (Cashing child support cheques from Doggie Mommy has been suggested by cartoon cynics). No matter. The scene cuts to Augie gibbering on a radio the size of a desk. Must be before transistors. “Are you speakin’ Upper Slovenian or Lower Slovenian?” asks Daddy. Remember, this cartoon was made when Slovenia was never heard of; it was still part of Yugoslavia. No, Augie’s speaking Martian. “Dese kids with dere electric-tronics. What an imagination!” Daddy laughs.

But it turns out he really is talking Martian and he really has agreed to sit for Boinka Boinka’s kid. An interesting little bit of animation is when Augie runs past Daddy to go to the door. Daddy’s ears and newspaper flap (with paper rustling sound). It’s a little thing that Maltese didn’t need to add into the story, but it’s nice seeing a throwaway bit that Hanna-Barbera wouldn’t have bothered with a few years later.

Daddy’s still sceptical about the Martian stuff, even when Augie wheels in a baby carriage (shaped like a saucer) containing a green kid with eyes that aren’t filled in (like Barney Rubble’s were in the early days of The Flintstones). Daddy’s stock “After all,” observation to the audience at the end of a lot of cartoons gets inserted now. “How many fathers have a boy who’s an interplanetary baby sitter?”

Augie falls asleep reading ‘Snow White’ to the child, who decides to wander around this sets up most of the rest of the second half of the cartoon.

● The child climbs the wall and ceiling. Daddy follows then realises he can’t walk on the ceiling. Crash.
● The child lifts off like a helicopter and heads out the window, landing by the neighbour’s sleeping dog. The dog stares, blinks at the camera, then bores into the ground and covers the hole on top of him.

● The saucer-carriage lifts off and flies out the open door. Daddy chases after it and runs right into the mailbox. But why doesn’t the carriage hit the mailbox, too? It doesn’t swerve to avoid it.
● Daddy chases after the saucer-carriage down the street and runs into the Irish cop we mentioned at the outset. “Shall we have another waltz, or shall we sit this one out?” Officer O’Stereotype facetiously asks.

There’s talk galore while all this is going on, a lot of it seemingly to give Doug Young a chance to show off his Jimmy Durante impression. Maltese could just as easily left out Daddy’s chat to himself (“Come back here, you Martian mosquito” is one of Maltese’s more imaginative lines. “Wabbit season! Duck season!” it’s not).

So the carriage returns to the house, Boinka Boinka’s saucer lands and the unseen Martian comes to collect his child. Like a radio sitcom where a character has the kind of an explanatory line one never uses in a real conversation, Augie remarks “You say somebody on Jupiter needs a baby sitter?” Why not have the Martian say it? Anyway, the final scene had Augie trying to tune in Jupiter on his radio. “Maybe there’s nobody home, Augie boy,” Daddy offers, before lifting up the severed electrical cords from the radio for the audience to see. Sneaky, that Doggie Daddy.

The sound cutter apparently had loads of spare time to hunt for music. There are lots of short scenes so he’s used lots of short Phil Green cues. Spencer Moore’s oboe work-part music gets used for a couple of effects. One unidentified cue is when Augie is on the radio for the first time. It may be ‘Woodwind Capers’ by Clarence Wheeler, but that’s speculation. And the baby has his own little walking theme, with someone toodle-loo-ing on an ocarina. Hecky Krasnow wrote it.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera)
0:25 - CB-90 HAPPY HOME (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Dad reads paper, talks to Augie.
0:54 - C-C-F# woodwind underscore (?) – “Neither, Dad,” Augie on radio to Mars.
1:16 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie calls to dad, sound of saucer
1:36 - GR-333 BUSTLING BRIDGE (Green) – “Dese kids and dere imaginations,” saucer comes down, Augie rushes by dad.
1:58 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Saucer touches down.
2:01 - GR-154 PICNIC OR GARDEN SCENE (Green) – Augie talks to Boinka, wheels saucer baby carriage into home.
2:41 - THE GR-455 ARTFUL DODGER SHORT BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – Baby pops out of carriage, chatters.
2:45 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Reaction shot, Augie reads Snow White to baby, sleeps,
3:21 - SWINGING GHOSTS (Krasnow) – Baby walks past daddy in chair, Daddy rushes out of scene
3:30 - CB-87A COME AND GET ME (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Daddy retrieves baby, “Ain’t that like kids, folks?”
3:52 - SWINGING GHOSTS (Krasnow) - Baby walks past daddy in chair, Daddy follows him up ceiling, crashes.
4:17 - GR-454 THE ARTFUL DODGER SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Daddy puts baby in carriage. Daddy in chair.
4:34 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Baby flies past Daddy, out window, dog buries himself in ground.
5:06 - GR-457 DR QUACK SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Daddy with baby in carriage, carriage takes off.
5:19 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Daddy walking, chases saucer, runs into mailbox, runs into cop, baby pulls up to cop.
6:08 - GR-78 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Baby talks to officer, Daddy runs away.
6:18 - GR-98 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – Cop on phone.
6:28 - PG-161G LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Baby saucer carriage returns to Doggie home and lands.
6:34 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) Saucer drops to earth.
6:36 - GR-85 THE BRAVEST WOODEN SOLDIER SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Augie wakes up, walks to door.
6:47 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Augie at door, radio busted.
7:09 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

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