Why can’t sitcom characters just be honest?
Why can’t they say “Honey, the boss has forced me to have dinner tonight with a female client to get a contact signed”? No, sitcom writers would rather drag out the anxious-married-man-has-uncomfortable-dinner-with-beautiful-single-woman plot. We know how it’s going to end, because the plot never changes. The wife and the woman come face-to-face in the climax scene, the misunderstanding is cleared up and the husband and wife tag out the show happy and hugging.
That’s what we get from Barry Blitzer in the Jetsons episode “Las Venus.”
And why is it that boss Spacely thinks George Jetson is an imbecile but still has him close out important business deals?
Sorry, but the plot in this one is a little too old, tired and predictable for my liking, though Blitzer adds a little change at the end. So let’s, instead, concentrate on the best part of any Jetsons episode that isn’t named Astro—the designs.
George is taking Jane on a second honeymoon to Las Vegas, which has morphed for futuristic space pun purposes as Las Venus. The Jetsons, of course, is a product of the early ‘60s, a time in Vegas of flashing neon and the Rat Pack, where a little casino action translated into innocent fun (and generally within one’s financial means for the average suburbanite). The various casinos we see in this episode all have bright lights going on and off and the designs, as usual, are imaginative. Click on them to make them bigger.
Dean Martian is about the only nod to the Rat Pack in the cartoon. I thought Frank Star-natra might be part of the bill, but we get enough “star” celebrity puns. George refers to that great dancer Fred Astar. And we get a performance from Starence Welcome, wunnerfully voiced by Daws Butler. I like how the dialogue refers to “space bubble music” but there are no bubbles in the scene. Bill Hanna saves on the animation budget.
Blitzer has some billboard sight gags. Note the parody of Williams Lectric Shave, which was advertised all over the place on TV in the ‘60s. The Cosmic Cola ad has an animated cycle of the Martian kids drinking while the lipstick ad talks to George who just can’t stop being distracted by women.
The credits were removed from the episode about 30 years ago so the cartoons in circulation now don’t tell you who is responsible for these great backgrounds. Or the animation, for that matter. My guessing average is pretty lousy for the Jetsons. I can safely say that several animators worked on it because George looks different in various parts of the cartoon. Whoever did the opening animation (and I believe he’s back at the end) has odd mouth movements. George exhibits a row of teeth, lip-biting and some tongue biting, too. George has a long neck.
A different animator is at work here, giving George several facial expressions as he hears Jane win a jackpot from a robot one-armed bandit. He’s cross-eyed, beady-eyed and a little cockeyed in some of the drawings, though I’m only posting a few examples.
Here’s part of a take later in the act when Spacely promises Jetson a shapely secretary. I’ll bet this is Don Patterson’s work here; he did a Fred Flintstone drawing once with swirling eyes and head tilted in the same way (with a little open mouth).
Part of one more take from later in the cartoon. George’s mouth is great. George Nicholas drew takes similar to this but it doesn’t look like his work.
And a couple of exit-from-frame drawings. George becomes an outline while G.G. (Gigi) Galaxy leaves behind a few multiples.
Besides the regular voice cast, Jean Vander Pyl dips into her voice collection and borrows Tallulah Bankhead for Miss Galaxy (it’s also her Mrs. J. Evil Scientist voice). She may have the best line in the cartoon; it’s a Groucho-like play on words: “In the meantime, I’ll take a good old-fashioned bath. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the expense filling the tub with old fashioneds.” Don Messick has a bunch of roles, repeating his Uniblab voice for one of the mobile robot slot machines (Barry Blitzer also wrote the great episode where Uniblab turns himself into a robot gambling casino), and playing the cop. Mel Blanc is Spacely, Judge Fairly of Lunarville, a robot one-armed bandit and the doorman at the Las Venus Venus.