Saturday, August 6, 2016

Yakky Doodle – School Fool

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bill Keil, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper, Kid – Vance Colvig; Pugsy, Teacher – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions
Plot: Chopper protects Yakky from a bully in class.

There are two things that we learn from this cartoon: twelve divided by three is 129, and Yakky Doodle cartoons are sure weak without Fibber Fox or some other wisecracking antagonist.

The bad guy in this cartoon is a puppy who can dish it out but can’t take it. Mike Maltese builds up some sympathy for the naïve Yakky who’s picked on by the little canine jerk, but the story isn’t laden with gags or much silliness. Maltese, to reiterate a point I’ve made before, just doesn’t seem inspired by the Yakky series and had, I suspect, much more fun writing for Snagglepuss (eventually, Yakky was given to Tony Benedict).

Yakky’s pretty ignorant in this one, too. Yakky is in a classroom. Chopper makes an entrance, announces himself to the teacher, and even talks to Yakky. But after school, Yakky says to himself “Boy, Chopper’s going to be so proud of me when he hears how I can do my divided-bys.” Uh, Yakky, he already KNOWS. He was in the class with you. He saw it. Maybe that puppy was onto something when he had Yakky wear a dunce cap. Yeah, I know Chopper was wearing a wig, but still...

(As an aside, when did dunce caps become obsolete? Can you imagine the lawsuit if a kid were forced to wear one today?)

This is a rare cartoon in that Vance Colvig gets to do a voice other than Chopper’s. He plays a kid in school who sits behind the bully Pugsy. But wait. The teacher tells Chopper to sit behind Pugsy. Where’d the kid go? He vanishes for the rest of the cartoon.



Interestingly, there isn’t a lot of violence in the cartoon. At the end, when Pugsy challenges Yakky to a fight, Chopper gets involved but doesn’t directly retaliate against the kid. Instead, he uses a slingshot to cause an apple to fall off a tree and onto Pugsy’s head. This lack of direct violence seems to have pretty much become mandated in cartoons by the networks a few years later when they started bending over for do-gooder groups. The only other things that happen are Chopper flicking Pugsy’s head to make him swallow the peas he’s going to shoot at Yakky (not very hurtful) and sitting on a tack (butt violation jokes were pretty standard at Hanna-Barbera). Here’s Bill Keil’s expression on Chopper, who sits on a tack by mistake. He’s doing a good impression of Lucy Ricardo.



Keil’s animation is workmanlike, Dick Thomas’ backgrounds are functional (Yakky and Chopper seem to live in the countryside) and the sound cutter fills the score with familiar background tunes from “The Flintstones” and “Loopy de Loop.” If you’ve seen this cartoon and can pick out some moments you liked, post what it was in the comment section. But if I never saw this cartoon again, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

8 comments:

  1. Pugsy is yet another character who showes how much Daws loved doing Jerry Lewis's voice. Chopper has, interestingly, a funny closing line where he says, if I recall, the twelve divided by three's 129 quote you mentioned..SC (and Yowp, it IS sad that Bill and Joe didn'yt let yhou appear in more cartoons, Yowp chasing Yakky..now that would be an interesting cartoon..)SC

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  2. I think the lack of violence was because it wouldn't have seemed right for Chopper to beat up a little kid, so they found ways around it.

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    1. The kid isn't a hulk like the youngest of the Three Bears who Maltese wrote for.

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    3. True, but the youngesat of the Three Bears is like Yakky (even miscalulating as Yakky, and humorously at the end, Chopper do, in the finale, 1951's "A Bear forTrue, but the youngesat of the Three Bears is like Yakky (even miscalulating as Yakky, and humorously at the end, Chopper do, in the finale, 1951's "A Bear forPunishment". If Anything, the litle kid's like Pa (Henry).:)

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  3. Yep, dunce caps and book straps. Surprised they didn't have inkwells at their desks.

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  4. Cartoon classrooms often mix up various species of animals for students. But early Hanna-Barbera cartoon classrooms would routinely mix up humans and animals! The classroom in this cartoon caters to humans, dogs and ducks- and taught by a human teacher who seems more like a college professor.

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  5. "Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to teach and try."

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