Saturday, 22 January 2011

Augie Doggie — Watch Dog Augie

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Augie, Burgurglar – Daws Butler.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Emil Cadkin/Harry Bluestone, Phil Green, Hecky Krasnow.
First aired: week of October 19, 1959 (rerun, week of April 18, 1960).
Production: Quick Draw McGraw Show No. M-004, Production No. J-17.
Plot: Daddy agrees to let Augie be a watchdog, then disguises himself as a burglar just as a real burglar arrives.

You have to wonder whether animation writers 20, 30 years ago looked at this cartoon with a bit of envy. Because it couldn’t get made in 1980. Maybe even in 1970.

There have always been do-gooder claques that feel programming directed at children must be either educational or cultural. Nothing else. They coughed up asinine lists in the 1950s of “bad” shows. The nascent television industry ignored them. Critics ridiculed them. Roy Rogers was on the list. How could Roy Rogers be bad, the critics rhetorically asked. Everyone knew Roy Rogers. Everyone knew he wasn’t bad.

But the turbulent ‘60s were a time of loud protest. New groups rose up and with them came studies about “violence” and other evils that filled children’s programming, complete with figures and learned opinion (after all, these were “experts” talking, not concerned moms like in those ‘50s groups). Television had become a huge cash cow like radio had in the ‘40s and inherited radio’s absolute paranoia about offending anyone lest the ratings fall. Critics jumped on the bandwagon. They still knew Roy Rogers. But they didn’t know The Herculoids and were willing to take the word of the new claques about “bad” action/adventure shows like it, especially if that made them look they were on the High Road of Morality. And so TV cartoons got emasculated. Suddenly, all kinds of things couldn’t be shown in cartoons that kids had seen for a couple of generations. “Imitative violence,” said the do-gooders. “Nonsense” is, more or less, what Joe Barbera and other producers said in interviews in the ‘70s and beyond.

Which brings us to this cartoon. The main gag involves a gun. Wielded by a child. Shooting his father. In 1960, no one would have thought twice about it. Comic violence, you know. Ten, twenty years later, it never would have passed the every-situation-is-grave censors. It probably wouldn’t today, unless it was on at night when cartoons seem to be able to do and say almost anything.

However, that’s a debate for another time. Let’s look at this early Augie effort without all that baggage.

Being early in the series, there are a few things that are different in this cartoon. Daddy has a buckle on his collar in close-ups, and both the father and son have triangular dots on the muzzle in some shots, both likely from Bick’s layouts (Yogi Bear originally had the same dots). And the premise is different than what Mike Maltese would have used as the series wore on. It’s difficult to believe the later scientific-genius version of Augie would have balked at the idea of going to college (he even had a pennant in his room in one cartoon).

It seems there was a conscious decision at Hanna-Barbera as the Augie series was going into production to try to use flat designs for the inside of the Doggie household. Otherwise, I can’t see Dick Bickenbach giving it a try. One would expect them from Ed Benedict, considering the look he gave ‘Deputy Droopy’, ‘Billy Boy’ and a bunch of other cartoons at MGM. You can view a toned-down example in ‘Nag Nag Nag,’ the third Augie cartoon to be aired. Bob Givens laid out the first one, ‘Foxhounded Hounded Fox’ with a similar design philosophy. This cartoon was the fourth and Bick has come up with a pretty simple, basic, flat living room design in the opening, one that’s not as much fun as Ed’s stuff.

Your animator is Carlo Vinci, which means you get to see all of Carlo’s little trademarks—thick bars of teeth, back-up-then-stretch-dive exits out of scene, a lot of rubbery head shakes, and even a bit of semi-smear animation.

Carlo occasionally gave characters angular walks in the first season of the Huck show. Here, he’s giving Augie an angular run to open the cartoon (and we see him run past the same chair four times) before coming to a little stomping stop. Carlo liked angular poses, too, as we see when Augie emulates Sylvester, Jr. and strikes up his “oh, the shame of it” look.

The set-up that opens the cartoon is simple. Daddy wants to know why Augie isn’t studying so enable him to go to college. Hero-worshipping Augie whips out a book called ‘How To Be a Watch Dog’ and says he’s studying that to learn to be just like his dad. Daddy doesn’t want that (judging by the plot of ‘Million-Dollar Robbery’, watchdogging doesn’t pay well). Augie laments he can’t be like his dad and after the Sylvester Jr. bit, he theatrically vows “I’ll just have to eat a wiggily worm and die!” There’s a cut back to Daddy, then a cut back to Augie as a visual punch-line to the worm line.

Augie’s hyper jumping finally annoys Daddy enough that he agrees to let his son be a watchdog for the night. While Augie marches back and forth in the back yard with a rifle, Daddy decides to “disguise myself as a boiglar and scare Augie out of wantin’ to be watchdog.” At this point, a real burglar appears behind the backyard stone wall and decides to hit up the Doggie house. He lifts Augie by the barrel of the rifle (Augie is now marching in place, in the air, upside down, like nothing is happening) and drops him in a nearby metal garbage can. Finally, the pup realises “it’s dark in here”, pops his head up and spots the “really bur-gur-glar.” The extra syllable is something Daws Butler loved throwing in dialogue; the “really” is a Maltese-ism used by Augie in ‘Foxhound Hounded Fox.’

Augie rushes into the house to grab Daddy’s “really rifle.” You know what’s going to happen and I know what’s going to happen. Yup. Daddy gets blasted by the rifle the rest of the cartoon. There’s lots of running. And there’s padding to fill the cartoon. Daddy spends 10½ seconds going through a jumping, arm-waving cycle to scare Augie. Oh, the crook gets it, too. First after he gets blammed after trying to get into a piggy bank that drags on a little too long then when he tried to break into the wall safe (how many suburban homes have a wall safe, anyway?). Maltese gives a pun:

Robber: Do me a favour, will ya, kid? Go heckle the other burglar?
Robber: Forget it, sonny. I’ll get the heckle out of here myself.

For reasons of plot and not logic, Daddy simply doesn’t remove the mask to show who he is. He keeps telling Augie he’s not a burglar, only to be greeted with endless numbers of bullets. Finally, Daddy hides in an oak barrel but Augie jumps on top, pounds a lid onto it with a hammer and nails, then sits with satisfaction. But Daddy finally gets his wish. Augie decides catching a burglar is “too easy” so he’ll go to college, just like his dad wants.

Daddy peers through a knothole in the barrel. The camera moves in for a close-up and the final line:

Daddy: There’s only way to bring up a boy. And I wish I knew what it was.

Fathers in 1959 peeking at their TV set while the kids were watching probably agreed. And most, I suspect, didn’t fall victim to the do-gooders groups’ fears that their kid would grow up and shoot them with a rifle because of a cartoon. It never happened to my dad.

The only oddity in the music track is a lone snare drum used when Augie is marching. Whether Hoyt Curtin did this, or it was a specialty production piece on a library, or someone edited a drum march intro from a Phil Green bed, I don’t know. I don’t have titles to some of the Shaindlin music, alas, and ‘Fireman’ is a partial title waiting for Earl Kress’ memory to kick in so he can remember the rest of it.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:24 – EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Daddy tells Augie to go to college, Augies vows to eat worm.
1:07 – CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – “You’re going to college foirst” to end scene fade.
1:31 – snare drum (?) – Augie marches, Dad looks out window.
1:46 – GR 256 TOYLAND BURGLAR (Green) – “It’s up to his dear old dad...”, Daddy in front of mirror.
2:08 – snare drum (?) – Augie marches.
2:16 – CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Burglar appears, dumps Augie in garbage, Augie grabs rifle, Daddy appears through door.
3:18 – GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – “I hate to scare Augie this way” , Daddy turns to scare Augie.
3:42 – ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Daddy “scares” Augie. Rifle fires.
3:45 – fast chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy runs away.
4:04 – CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Augie hears noise, robber with piggy bank is blasted,
4:38 – fast chase music (Shaindlin) – Robber runs away, Augie shoots Daddy, Daddy runs away.
5:11 – EXCITEMENT UNDER DIALOGUE (Shaindlin) – Robber peeks from behind house, shot opening safe, runs away.
6:07 – jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – Daddy skips up to Augie, Augie shoots Daddy.
6:28 – fast chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy jumps through window, hide in barrel, Augie ceils barrel.
6:52 – THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Augie decides to go to college, Daddy’s eye.
7:09 – Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. 1. AUGIE doesn't wanna go to COLLEGE? A lot of people wished they coulda gone to college!!
    Hey, Augie is trying to do some GOOD for his country..

    2.At FIRST I thought: "so people later looked at this 1959 cartoon with envy since Augie worships heroes", then I got it: THIS is the cartoon that later couldn't be seen on TV at HB as you mention in your FACEBOOK page!

    3.I remember this as one of the FEW times, along with that Groucho fox one, where there isn't a hsppy ending [for Doggie Daddy, at least.] Snooper and Blabber, as well as Quick Draw amd Baba Looey didn't always win [Snooper in "Puss 'n' Booty",1959:"Leave us face it, folks----SOMETIMES the good guys DON'T always WIN!"]. Yet Augie and his Daddy usually have happy endings, but, for Doggy Daddy, this isn't one of them [memorable line..:"Ah wish dere was a raise to raise a son" or something..]. I perfectly remember the digusted Doggie Daddy look when that fox that talks like Groucho AND Augie come over for dinner..both to "The Happy Cobbler" [Hecky Krasnow]. Nice for a change to see that Doggie Daddy DOESN'T have a happy ending. And I like that comment from the burglar:"Go chase that other boiglar".LOL

  2. Yowp and Steve. I remember seeing this gem growing up in the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News market from roughly 1960 through 1969. Then, it seemed to discreetly slip away as afternoon and morning children's shows gave way to syndicated " Super Friends " type formats. That is about the time many cartoons became VERY homogenized.

  3. Ah, this episode. I really enjoyed this one. This is Carlo at his peak, I don't recall seeing this many jump runs outside of 'Creepy time pal'.

  4. So now the identity of the early H-B cartoon that couldn't be shown on Saturday morning TV. Ironically, reruns of the QUICK DRAW McGRAW SHOW was shown on CBS' Saturday AM lineup from 1963 to '66. Of course, funny gunshot injuries were a central gag of the Quick Draw segments. Huck, Loopy, Snagglepuss, Snooper and numerous crooks were blasted many times as well. All in good fun.

    What's really ironic is that DUCK! RABBIT! DUCK!, the final entry of Chuck Jones' famous 'Hunting Triolgy' (all of which were written by Maltese, of course), ran intact on ABC and CBS Saturday AM packages from 1968 through 1985. From that point on, ABC picked up the franchise again and edited out every gunshot gag- making for a very short cartoon.

  5. The use of "really" for "real" predates Maltese- unless he used it in a WB cartoon previously. In the season 1 Yogi short "Big Brave Bear", one of the robbers hiding out in the cave comments "Gee-a really bear."

  6. Howard, you and Mr. Carras aren't reading what I wrote. I didn't say the cartoon couldn't be broadcast. I said it couldn't be made. I doubt network censors in 1980 would approve a story for Saturday morning cartoons with a child shooting his father. As you point out, old cartoons were broadcast, though network censors later butchered Rabbit Fire so badly it looked ridiculous.

    As mentioned in the post on Fox-Hounded Hounded Fox, Maltese wrote about “a really and truly woodsman” in My Favorite Duck (1942).

  7. Yowp, sorry for mis-writing this.I should have written "made".


  8. Oops- I apologize. My boyish enthusiasm for vintage TV cartoons overshadowed my reading comprehension skills. Maybe the anti-TV parent groups were right after all.

    The Saturday AM censors seemed to let up a bit in the 80s. Somehow, Jokey Smurf was allowed to give his incredibly gullible Smurfmates exploding packages in nearly every episode. Wouldn't that inspire potential mailbombers?

  9. This episode could've been made later if Auguie's gun was replaced with a water squirter or a foam ball gun that looked nothing like a real gun.