Saturday, 3 September 2016

Yakky Doodle – Dog Flight

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre, Written by Mike Maltese; Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Kid, Father – Daws Butler.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-15 (seventh Yakky cartoon).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Yakky tries to teach Chopper to fly.

Mike Maltese isn’t even trying here.

You’ve seen it in countless cartoons. Wile E. Coyote drops from a great height because a plan gets botched up. He may hold out a sign. Or he may do some bit of business when he splats on the ground. In this cartoon, Chopper falls through the chimney of a house. A kid says, “Daddy, is that Santa Claus?” “No, son,” replies the father. “It’s just a dog.” “Oh,” adds the kid.

That’s a punch line? It’s a dog, all right.

The difficulty with this cartoon is there are no antagonists. So we’re supposed to laugh at Chopper’s misfortune. But Chopper isn’t funny. And he doesn’t say or do anything funny. He just drops after one of Yakky’s failed schemes to launch him into the air. He quotes Quick Draw McGraw once and that’s about the funniest it gets.

And the dialogue...

Yakky: Gee, you don’t have much fun, do you, Chopper?
Chopper: Oh, well, I don’t mind so much. Although I did always kinda have a secret ambition.
Yakky: What is it, Chopper, huh? What is it?
Chopper: Aw, I don’t want to tell ya. It’s kinda silly.
Yakky: Now, if you don’t tell me, I won’t [something] we’re pals any more.
Chopper: Aw, now you shouldn’t oughta say things like that. It hurts ma feelin’s.
Yakky: Well, tell me then.

Yeah, tell him. Stop padding the cartoon with dialogue drivel.

Yakky ends the cartoon with Chopper’s “Ain’t that cute” catchphrase. Animation Lew Marshall pulls Yakky’s neck up during the final laugh.

Tony Rivera handles layouts. Here’s a silhouette shot of Yakky looping-the-loop in mid-air. Hoyt Curtin’s version of Man on the Flying Trapeze is played behind some of Yakky’s airborne action.

The less said about this cartoon, the better. So we won’t say anything more.


  1. Yes, those early Yakky shorts are pretty deadly dull, despite Maltese's name in the credits. Obviously, he needs funny, interesting characters to write for. All six leads in the QUICK DRAW McGRAW SHOW certainly are. Snagglepuss is. Fibber Fox, when he became part of Yakky's supporting cast later in the series, certainly was. And watching the Yakky cartoons that preceded him, it's very easy to say "When does Fibber get here?"

    For what it's worth, the 'punchline' to the gag you've cited is that the father's deadpan reaction to Chopper landing in the fireplace. That's pretty amusing, but not handled very well either. And why is the kid wearing a bow tie?!

  2. "High Fly Guy" three years earlier worked because it was the incongruity of a bear having the ego and confidence to try to teach a baby eagle to fly when he can't do it himself. Here, it's a duck who can fly trying to teach a dog who can't, where the duck is normally the passive/helpless character in the relationship, so there's just no gag material.

    The same basic plot in this cartoon would be used three years later for one of the first Linus the Lionhearted shorts, but the switch there is the 'teacher' wants the student to fail. So the end result, while not a laugh-riot, at least is more satisfying than this one.