Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Don Patterson, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Augie Doggie, Plant – Daws Butler.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-029, Production J-87.
First aired: week of November 22, 1960.
Plot: Augie keeps a hungry man-eating plant as a pet.
The cult movie favourite of 1960 was a feature that Roger Corman put together for something like $30,000 about an insatiable man-eating plant called Little Shop of Horrors. Whether that movie influenced Mike Maltese may never be known at this late date, but Maltese took the concept of a carnivorous plant that same year and plopped it in an Augie Doggie cartoon. And Maltese, known for his off-beat sense of humour, gives the cartoon a bit of a warped ending.
By the way, you can be sure Bill Hanna didn’t spend anywhere near $30,000 on this. To be honest, I don’t know how much the budget was for each short in 1960.
Don Patterson’s the animator on this one, and he doesn’t appear to have done a lot of work in the 1960-61 season. He did one Yogi, and this cartoon and, later, a few Flintstones. No Hucks, Quick Draws, Pixie and Dixie and Snooper and Blabber cartoons that I can tell. Patterson draws teeth in a closed mouth somewhat like Ed Love and he also draws closed eyes like a dissected triangle. I’ve moaned about how the animation started getting lacklustre as 1960 rolled into 1961. Patterson’s work here is an example. There are no outrageous expressions, other than a couple on the plant. Augie and Daddy’s mouth movements are basic. Even his walk cycle for the plant is simple, three drawings on twos.
Art Lozzi is the background artist and batted out ten drawings for this cartoon. I like how Lozzi has a pennant on the wall in Augie’s room from “H.B.U.” Again, nothing adventuresome. Same with Paul Sommer’s layouts. The scenes are set up like you’re watching a stage play with all the action moving from one side to the other.
The Augie we get in this cartoon is the combination of the Boy-Genius version and the Can-We-Keep-Him-Dad? version. Well, for at least part of it. “Dad of the sensitive nose” smells Augie making a noiseless explosive (no, it’s not called “Hushaboom”). Patterson gives us some perspective animation as Doggie Daddy swirls the bowl around toward the camera before the explosive in it poofs in dad’s face. Augie’s invention works and he dreams of a million dollars to give to “unscientific dad” but dad’s so annoyed with the burn marks on his face (which disappear after a brief medium shot of Augie) he demands Augie get a new hobby.
So Augie’s new hobby is growing an Africa Flora Carnivorous. “Unhobby-like dad,” à la Durante, butchers the name through the whole cartoon. It has a tremendous appetite. We learn that when it bites Daddy’s finger. Now comes a long set-up that goes for sentiment more than comedy. Over the course of a year, Augie feeds the plant. Carny, as the plant is called for short, claps its leaves together like hands (and uses one to point to its mouth) and even grows lips to kiss Augie in gratitude.
Yes, the cartoon’s half over. No, not a lot has happened.
Now Daddy decides to enjoy a late-night snack. We all know what’s going to happen. The plant eats Daddy’s cake, then drinks his milk while gets another piece of cake, then eats the second piece of cake while Daddy looks for Augie. But there are no accents even in the limited animation, not even a pair of wide eyes. The scene just rolls along at an even pace, with strings benignly skating along in the background and Daddy chatting a superfluous monologue, that any comedy potential is sucked out of it, just like the plant sucked the cake off the plate. Here are two consecutives frames.
While Daddy sees Augie sleeping in room, the plant plucks itself out of its pot and using roots as feet, toddles to the kitchen and the raids the “refridger-atator” of a roast chicken, running under Daddy (who has returned to the living room) in the process. Dear old Dad demands the plant drop the chicken, but Carny turns snarly and starts chasing after daddy, finally putting some life into the cartoon. The plant’s body is on a two-drawing cycle on ones, while the snarling head has four different positions on twos (not in a cycle).
Augie stops the action by shaming the plant. Then there’s the usual “can he stay?” routine that we’ve heard in a bunch of Augie cartoons. Not only can he stay, the final scene cuts to Augie going to school with the plant going with him as a classmate. Why did a school enroll a plant? And why is it wearing glasses; has it become near-sighted through domestication? And why is the plant following behind Augie, but Augie is on the front sidewalk of the house while the plant is clearly walking along a street? Oh, well. “After all,” says Daddy to end the cartoon, “It ain’t every dad who’s got a boy and a franica awful carnivious in the second grade.”
There are surprisingly few background tunes in this cartoon and all but one by Phil Green. We get the two main themes from Green’s Small Town Story Suite (EMI Photoplay Q5-009)—“Picnic or Country Scene” and “Parks and Gardens” (the other, “GR-157 Rural Romance,” was never used in cartoons but was also pressed on the Capitol Hi-Q ‘L’ Series).
0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Explosive concoction scene, Augie brings in plant, “No, unhobby-like dad.”
2:01 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – “It’s a little flower plant,” Daddy bitten, Augie feeds plant, plant eats cake.
3:57 - GR-154 PICNIC OR COUNTRY SCENE (Green) – Daddy realises cake is gone, plant eats more stuff, gets out of pot, carries chicken, knocks over Dad, Dad rushes out of scene.
5:46 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy runs after plant, plant runs after Daddy, skids to a stop.
6:13 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Augie shames plant, Daddy agrees to let plant stay, “It ain’t every dad…”
7:02 - GR-79 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS SHORT BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – “…who’s got a boy…”, end of cartoon.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).