Saturday, January 16, 2016

Jetsons – The Good Little Scouts

The Flintstones had a cub scout episode. Yogi Bear had a cub scout episode. And the Jetsons had one, too. Whether it had to do with the fact that Bill Hanna was a lifelong supporter of the Boy Scouts, I don’t know, but the Jetsons’ effort is pretty weak.

Larry Markes’ story is here and there. It opens with a superfluous act about folding clothes, has Mr. Spacely’s son Arthur as a whiny jerk, then suddenly being friendly for the rest of the cartoon, and ends with Spacely concluding George Jetson is brilliant (as a child psychologist), which strikes me as a little out of character for the abusive boss.

The stars of this cartoon are the layout and background artists, unfortunately unidentified as the Jetsons cartoons now in circulation are ‘80s prints with all but writer credits removed. They created wonderful buildings and settings in this episode. Also unfortunately, my Jetsons DVD set has a huge gouge in the first disc so it won’t play and I’ve had to get a fuzzy, compressed version of “The Good Little Scouts” off the internet. The frame grab quality isn’t that great.

There are at least two animators on this cartoon. Ken Muse is easy to spot in the second half. The first one is Don Patterson, judging by the eye blinks and bit lips. His Yogi Bear cartoons feature the same kind of drawing.



Patterson is also animating dialogue with stretched necks jutting up.



I’m not an expert in identifying animators so I can’t tell you if someone else worked on this cartoon. It looks like there’s someone different in mid-cartoon after Jetson and the scouts land on the moon.

Dick Beals plays Arthur Spacely and two Martian cub scouts, all with different voices. Jean Vander Pyl gets in a pyl of voices, including her Ma Rugg and snooty matron voices for two of the mothers and a sultry Lana Luna, the Siri-esque voice of the Galaxy Spacelines stewardess, who is “a transcribed announcement.” Evidently people in the future know what a transcription is. Mel Blanc and Don Messick also get “Other Voices” credits, while Penny Singleton doubles as cub scout Orbit’s mother. Among Messick’s voices is RUDI (Referential Universal Digital Indexer), the computer that beats Jetson at cards. It’s that wavering voice Don M. uses for aliens in other cartoons (Yogi Bear, Augie Doggie, eg.). Since this is the 1960s version of the computing future, RUDI runs on tapes and is half the size of a room.



Markes comes up with a cub scout song around the melody of that futuristic hit The Caissons Go Rolling Along. I can’t make out all the lyrics (this is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, after all), but the first two verses are:

We are strong, we are brave,
In ten years, we’ll even shave.
We’re the space cubs of Troop 54!

Through the storm, through the sleet
Draggin’ grandmas through the street.
We’re the space cubs of Troop 54!


Inventions: the talking clothes folder/repairer, the visi-phone and some kind of litter vacuum that is used on the lunar surface.



The premise of the cartoon is George is forced, somehow, by Spacely to take a troop of cub scouts on a field trip to the moon. Here are some of the great exteriors. I’ve snipped together some backgrounds that are panned. The first drawing is of Grand Central Space-tion; I can’t put together the whole thing because there’s an overlay (you see part of it to the left).


You can click on the backgrounds above to make them bigger. I sure wish I knew who designed them.

The moon is a blue-ish, stalagmitish place, as you can see below (the kids and Martians get in the way of one of the frames below). I love the see-through tents the cub scouts use.



And here’s the version of the Spacely Sprockets exterior shot. While it may appear the same painting was used in all the cartoons, there are subtle differences. This one has cars in a parking lot (and artificial green turf, it would seem).



Whoever the background artist was this time added some modern art on the wall and plants outside the apartment window.



That’s it for this post. If you can decipher verse three of the “Troop 54” song, leave the lyrics in the comment section.
Late note: Someone has. We have the best readers here.

17 comments:

  1. Here's my good deed for the day:

    We are strong, we are brave,
    It's ten years till we even shave,
    We are the Space Cubs
    of Troop 54.

    Thru the storm,
    thru the sleet,
    dragging grandmas thru the street.
    We are the Space Cubs
    of Troop 54.

    If your bones get bent
    in an accident,
    we know the proper knot to tie.

    ELROY: GET A STRETCHER!
    We can cook,
    we can bake,
    but we get a bellyache.
    We are the Space Cubs
    of Troop 54.

    ELROY:LET'S HEAR IT, MEN!
    We are the Space Cubs of Troop 54.

    BTW, there were two "Flintstones" scout episodes - "The Good Scout" (1961), and "Cave Scout Jamboree" (1964).

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    Replies
    1. I remember the Jamboree episode, where Fred and Barney led the scouts in a sing-along of "Old MacDonald" in different languages.

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  2. I assume Spacely treats some of his workers even worse than George, since they can't even afford flying cars and have to use the old-style rubber wheel models.

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  3. J Lee, how do you know they're not flying cars? They look similar to George's flying car to me.

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    Replies
    1. No moving sidewalk right outside the parking spaces to take them into the building.

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    2. Ah. I stand corrected. Good eye. Actually, come to think of it, George's car folded into a briefcase at the push of a button. So there was no need for him to park it. That, too, would suggest that as badly as he was treated, he was still treated better than many of Spacely's other workers. :)

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  4. This is a stupid question, but I've long wondered about prints. In this way, why are the only circulating Jetsons episodes prints from the 80s? What happened to the originals? Did they deteriorate or something? If so, why have the 80s prints lasted so much longer than the original 60s prints? Are they better quality? Or has the advent of digital technology eliminated the need to keep making new prints every so often?

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  5. I remember this episode for this helpful help message from one of the scouts:
    HEPL :)

    SC

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  6. 1/17/16
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    The "HEPL" gag was also used in a Flintstones episode as well ("Adobe Dick".) My favorite gag in this episode was George's echo call while trying to find Arnold who snuck away from the scout troop to snap some photographs on the "dark side of the moon." (this was a full decade before Pink Floyd thought up the album title.)

    "Arnolllllddd!" "Where Arrreeee Yoooouuuuuu?" "Noww wheeeeere Is Thaaaaat Stuuuuupiiiiid Kiiiiiiidddddddd?"
    Also a favorite: the exchange between George and the crusty old moon sweeper driver who claims he doesn't know where anyplace is on the moon despite living there all of his life. (to make it humorous, Daws Butler gave the old duffer the voice of Yogi Bear.) making Scout trooper George frustrated at his orneriness.


    George: "You Sure Are Dumb."
    Old Moon Sweeper: "Maybe dumb, but I ain't lost!" (LOL.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, no, The old moon sweeper was voiced by Mel Blanc.

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  7. 1/17/16
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    My Bad. Thanks for clearing that one up, George. Mel Blanc sure sounds like he does a good imitation of Daws Butler's Yogi Bear voice to me. It must be that Cartoon Network don't always show the correct voice over credits in their closing credits when re-running this series. The same thing goes with mis-leading ending credits on "Flintstones" repeats.

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    Replies
    1. To say nothing of TOp Cat repeats which endlessly circulated with the same credits.SteveC

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    2. The end credits that play on every "Top Cat" are from an episode called "Dibble Breaks the Record".

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  8. The opening act, with the scenes in the apartment and the office are Don Patterson. The middle act, at Grand Central 'Spacion', the flight, and the hike, is Jerry Hathcock. The remainder of the episode, with George searching for Arthur, Jane and Spacely ("If George is never found, he can look for employment elsewhere!"), the wrap-up at the Spacion, is Muse.

    I enjoy this episode for the atmosphere of the scenes on the moon, with excellent 'spacy' underscore from Curtin. Larry Markes provides some nice satirical touches, with the sexy 'recorded announcement' and the chaotic commercial sprawl that greets the scouts on the moon after George warns them that it's "pretty wild out there". That "half acre moon craters out of the smog zone" gag must have been quite topical in 1962, but it would go over most anybody's head now.

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    1. I also enjoyed this episode. As a train enthusiast, I loved the Grand Center Spacion part. One of the things that I found fascinating about it was that in the real Grand Central Station, at that time, the PA Announcer had a very deep voice when he announced the trains. It seemed to me when I watched it years ago, that it was the very same voice in the cartoon or at least the cartoonists went out of their way to replicate that voice!

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  9. Nobody's mentioned the juxtaposition of Space Cubs Troop 54 and the TV show, 'Car 54, Where Are You?', aired around the same time (on another network). Given that George essentially abandons his troop in search for Arthur Spacely, it wouldn't surprise me if the working title of the cartoon was 'Troop 54, Where Are You?'

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    Replies
    1. Well........Bill and Joe DID always like seeing references to their favorite TV shows. I've counted, and it looks like ''What's my line?'' was their favorite game show. It is referenced in nearly every single one of their shows - ''Snagglepuss'', ''Top Cat'', ''The Flintstones'' and others.

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