“Spacely’s a stupe!”
“Jupiter Gin! Planet Poker! Five Card Satellite!”
Who doesn’t love those quotes?
“Uniblab” is probably my favourite Jetsons episode, though a few others come awfully close. I’ve already written about Barry Blitzer’s corporate backstabbing robot in this post with some frame grabs of animation by Carlo Vinci and Hugh Fraser. I didn’t really plan on writing about it again, but there were some random things I didn’t touch on last year, so let’s do a part two post.
One of the appealing things about The Jetsons is the creative gadgets of the future that had a kernel of reality to them (well, 1960s reality). Perhaps something similar had been portrayed in a magazine like Popular Science. How bright and sunny we all were in the 1950s and ‘60s, looking forward to an improved life in the future, thanks to technology. Today, the future is portrayed in popular culture as a dark and gritty place where people have no control over their own lives. And movie and TV viewers can’t get enough of the nightmarish negativity. But that’s an essay for another time.
Who would have thought of CD-Roms or zip drives in 1962? Barry Blitzer did, apparently. Judy has an encyclopaedia (a microbook) on a little square disc.
George Jetson’s bedroom has a flat-screen TV that comes down from the ceiling. Instead of George doing morning exercises in person, he does it on a video recording by proxy. “Ah, boy, I can feel that flab meltin’.”
The special “Emergency First Aid” (with a Red Cross below the speaker-phone) screen includes a ’60s pop culture pun. The doctor’s name is “Ken Racy” instead of “Ben Casey.” Yeah, it’s a bit of a stretch. Later, we get “Sing Along With Henry,” as Blitzer takes a poke at “Sing Along With Mitch.”
There’s always a gadget on the show that doesn’t seem to work. In this cartoon, it’s a machine that dresses you according to the buttons you press (patent pending). George selects a “white button-down radiation shirt, grey flannel space suit, and black solar moccasins.” That isn’t what he gets.
In the next part of the cartoon, set in Spacely Sprockets, Miss Gamma presses a button to send George through a trap door in the ceiling to Mr. Spacely’s office above (a system that has a few bugs in it). The ink and paint department got out the dry brush again. Note the hair style Miss Gamma has.
Here are a couple of ghost exits frames. First, Judy, then Buddy Blastoff’s car. Chicken in the oven!!
Carlo Vinci lends his expertise to portions of this half-hour as well. Carlo had certain ways of drawing things, especially when it came to angles of body parts, that appeared in various series over the first few years of the studio’s life. One example is when Uniblab drops Jetson in front of the Unilube supply room. Here’s an interesting Vinci effect. Instead of an eye-take for emphasis in one scene, he simply enlarges Henry’s head.
And there’s a head-shake that’s unmistakeably Carlo’s. He did a lot of three-drawing shake cycles. This one is four. His shakes always have some parts of the face (generally the nose or eyes) pointing in a different direction than others. The shake is very rubbery.
And because we’re dealing with a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, let’s give you one of those endless, run-past-the-same-stuff-in-the-background loops. Here’s an eight-drawing run cycle of George and Uniblab. It takes 24 drawings to go past the same chair in the little alcove or whatever it’s supposed to be. Hugh Fraser again.
The establishing shot of the Spacely Sprockets building is the same one used in “The Flying Suit.”
Besides the regular voice cast, Mel Blanc and Don Messick appear, Don M. giving us a great characterisation of Uniblab. Blanc, of course, is Cosmo Spacely. Both play members of the board of directors. Hoyt Curtin’s cues are excellent as always, with a fine piece of electronic music to open the cartoon that must have been cutting edge in 1962, a nice off-key muted trumpet cue when Uniblab weaves around drunk, and a big band build up to end the cartoon.