Writer Joanna Lee tries to have it both ways in her story for Jane’s Driving Lesson. On one hand, she’s tearing apart the chauvinism of the immediate post-war era that men are better drivers than women. But to get there, she gets her laughs by showing what a menace on the roads a woman is (two of them, if you want to consider an incidental character holding up George Jetson in traffic). “Har, har, look at the lousy woman driver” is the punch-line over and over. True, Lee ends the cartoon with a woman driving a bus that George is forced to take, but the woman isn’t exactly an example of femininity.
What’s bothersome about this cartoon is how Jane Jetson’s character is bent for the sake of a plot. Jane has always struck me as the most level-headed of the adults on The Jetsons (tired comedy clichés of shopping and jealousy notwithstanding). But in this cartoon she’s completely oblivious to the fact she’s doing anything wrong by bashing into cars and signs. However it suits the story as we’re all supposed to laugh at the stereotype of the inept woman behind the wheel.
Jane’s incompetency proves to be a boon, as it helps capture that hold-up man of the future, Knuckles Nuclear (who is out of prison since his last appearance in The Space Car episode). Yes, that means there are cops in this cartoon. The story even re-uses the gag of a traffic cop turning on a TV set, where a live judge passes sentence on George, who rants about women drivers but is a careless one himself. I haven’t stopped to count them, but there seem to have been an awful lot of Jetsons cartoons featuring police of some kind.
Lee takes a little while to get to the plot. The first few minutes are taken up with a sequence in a barber shop. There was a Jetsons episode where Jane tried out a number of hairstyles concocted by a dome over her head. In this cartoon, it’s George’s turn.
Let’s turn our attentions to some of the background art. Sorry, I don’t know who the artist is.
Some inventions of the future:
George anticipates googling for answers to crossword puzzles by using his computer. No one in the ‘60s realised tape machines would become obsolete.
Computer selector for various barbering functions. Considering how it worked, would a real barber have done any better?
A fire hose that zones in on a fire. Almost.
The Menulator. Very handy.
The good old Visiphone.
Generic drugs. Did Big Pharma die in the future?
This is yet another Hanna-Barbera cartoon with Disappearing Watch Syndrome. A character wears a watch for the part of the scene where it’s needed, and it disappears forever. You saw it on The Flintstones; it happened in the old Warner Bros. cartoons, too.
Ken Muse animates a good portion of the cartoon. I won’t attempt any guesses beyond that.
Howie Morris supplies a few voices in this one, including the nervous Mr. Tweeter and the non-barber. Janet Waldo gets a chance to try out a couple of voices. She’s the ditzy driver, with a voice in the style of Barbara Jo Allen’s Vera Vague (whether the two worked together in radio, I don’t know). She’s also the butch bus driver.