Six year old kids don’t know much about corporate backstabbing. But they do know when someone is being treated like crap and shouldn’t be. So it was that young me had a pretty good idea what was going on in The Jetsons cartoon, “Uniblab,” my favourite of the series.
Is there a more quotable episode?
“Name your game! Jupiter Gin! Jupiter Gin! Planet Poker! Planet Poker! Five Card Satellite! Five Card Satellite!”
“Spacely’s a stupe! Stupe! Stupe!”
“Not only is Spacely a stupe, he’s the king of the old crabs.”
Here are some of the reaction drawings of George kicking Uniblab. They’re used again at the end of the cartoon. This beady-eyed version of George surfaces in various parts of the cartoon. Hugh Fraser, perhaps?
Hanna-Barbera brushwork. George takes the tube to his apartment.
A guess on my part is Carlo Vinci worked on this cartoon. In some scenes, the characters talk with that three-angle head tilt that he used in dialogue in the Huck series. In one shot, Spacely has a bar-row of teeth similar to what he drew in his earlier cartoons at H-B (though much thinner). And it seems to me he drew characters with longer faces in several series. Here’s an example with George Jetson. I’ll accept any corrections from people who are more knowledgeable about this.
The earliest Hanna-Barbera cartoons had some pretty neat extreme poses. Things had become more lacklustre by the time The Jetsons were on the air. When Uniblab becomes a drunken mess in the cartoon’s climax and starts dancing to the “Jetsons Twist” cue, the animators could have gone a lot wilder. Instead, the movements are not too extreme, and drawings are shot on twos, with the background moved to mimic the appearance of dancing. Still, the scene works because the idea is funny and Don Messick gives a terrific performance as the drunk robot. But it could have been better.
I understand why the Hanna-Barbera cartoons used limited animation and try not to criticise the concept too much. But one scene doesn’t work. Uniblab shoots coffee at Spacely and the company’s higher executives. They don’t do anything. They just stand there. Even if the coffee wasn’t scalding them, couldn’t Bill Hanna have sprung for even two or three drawings that could have been used in a cycle showing them reacting to becoming wet? This is prime time, after all.
Still, Barry Blitzer came up with good story. The bad guy gets his comeuppance (how Henry got into the Spacely Sprockets building is left for viewers to imagine on their own) and there’s the twist at the end. If someone can think of a better episode, feel free to post a comment.