Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Prime Time Huckleberry Hound

Hanna-Barbera’s syndicated shows for Kellogg’s—Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear—appeared in the early evening hours, a perfect spot for them in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The time period was traditional for kid programming, dating from the radio days of Superman. News programming was still only 15 minutes, so stations needed to fill the time with something.

However, 5:30, 6 and 6:30 p.m. were good hours to attract parents, as the average suburban dad would be home by then. Thus the Hanna-Barbera shows attracted a large following of adults, and that prompted John Mitchell of Screen Gems to push Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera into making a cartoon more adult-focused that could run in prime time. Thus The Flintstones was born and became a huge success.

But what of Huck and Yogi? Since adults watched them, could they be prime-time stars, too?

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera apparently thought so.

To the right, you see an ad for a Huck and Yogi show in prime-time, apparently consisting of reruns of cartoons that had aired in the early evening slot for Kellogg’s. The Milwaukee Journal’s Donald H. Dooley wrote about the show in his “Studio Notes” column on September 23, 1962.

TV CARTOON shows did not fare very well last season with adult audiences. “Calvin and the Colonel,” which used the voices of Amos and Andy, expired at the end of the season, as did “Top Cat,” which sounded like the old “Sgt. Bilko” show.
“The Flintstones” survived and the jet age counterparts of these stone agers, “The Jetsons,” begins the new season today.
Some TV people, however, feel there might still be some life in cartoons aimed at adults, and this season Milwaukee is a test market for their belief. “The Best of Huck and Yogi,” the tester, started here Tuesday [September 18] on WISN-TV (channel 12, 9:30-10 p.m.). If the series catches on here, adults all over the country might see the show next season.
The weekly shows are excerpts from recent programs aimed at children, “Yogi Bear” and “Huckleberry Hound.” Yogi’s voice, Daws Butler, said:
“This is for adults only. In fact, I’ve always maintained that these shows were much too good to be wasted on kids.”
Interestingly, the Milwaukee station was a CBS affiliate, so it was bumping network programming in prime time to run Huck and Yogi. A week after its debut, it was moved to Monday night opposite a potpourri of shows on the NBC affiliate (including Don’t Call Me Charlie!”) and the second half of Ben Casey on the ABC station. On October 15th, for example, the cartoons were “Price For Mice,” “Sir Huckleberry Hound” and “Robin Hood Yogi.”

The experiment lasted until December 17th. The following Monday, the smarter-than-the-average bear, the meeces and oh-so-merry Huck were replaced with Stump the Stars. There’s no indication what the ratings were for the programme or if “Best of” ran in any other cities. It appears their regular sojourn into prime time had ended.

3 comments:

  1. I continue to love Huck and Yogi all these years later and they fill a lot of space among my collectibles. They make me happy just as they did when they first aired so long ago! They never get old!

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  2. Back in the late 1950s-early 60s when 'prime time' started at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, WPIX in New York slotted Huck's show at 7 p.m. (which at the time would have been up against only 15 minute national news shows on the local network channels).

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    1. I sure remember the WPIX days J. Lee is referring to!

      This carried on into the early days of Magilla Gorilla and Peter Potamus, before those shows moved to Saturday and Sunday AM on the ABC Network.

      In fact, if Quick Draw McGraw hadn’t made a similar move to CBS Saturday morning about (I’m guessing from childhood memories) 1962 or ’63, we would have had a H-B show on EVERY NIGHT at 7 PM. When The Quick Draw McGraw Show moved, it was replaced by The Woody Woodpecker Show, giving us the following schedule on WPIX 11 by 1964 (again, if memory serves me correctly):

      Each night at 6:30 George Reeves in The Adventures of Superman.

      Monday at 7: Huckleberry Hound. Tuesday: Woody Woodpecker. Wednesday: Peter Potamus. Thursday: Yogi Bear. Friday: Magilla Gorilla.

      And then, once per week, The Flintstones (and for one season) Jonny Quest on ABC at 7:30.

      When The Flintstones moved to local syndication after network cancellation, it aired in on WNEW (Now FOX-5) at 6:30 – flipping the order with it now airing BEFORE the other WPIX shows in New York.

      Also about this same time, WNEW also split Quick Draw, Augie Doggie, and Snooper and Blabber into SPEARATE SHOWS of three cartoons each to air at 5 PM. Bugs Bunny may have covered the other two days, certainly one day. Can’t quite remember the other. That schedule may have been Quick Draw (Monday), Augie (Tuesday), Bugs? (Wednesday), Snooper and Blabber (Thursday), and Bugs (Friday).

      Each one of these shows opened with clips cut from one of the cartoons with a jazzy theme played over them.

      Ah, New York memories…

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