Saturday, 9 June 2012

Augie Doggie — Big Top Pop

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Gerard Baldwin; Layout – Bob Givens; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches, Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voices: Augie Doggie – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Hecky Krasnow, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, unknown.
First Aired: week of Oct. 26, 1959 (rerun, April 25, 1960)
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-005, Production J-29.
Plot: Doggie Daddy tries to please Augie by being a circus performer.

Doggie Daddy was no Wile E. Coyote but you can’t notice a bit of a resemblance in a few of his cartoons, like this one. Daddy engages in a series of blackout sight gags of tasks that end in complete failure, with the longest one at the end. Of course, there’s no Wile E. nefariousness at play. Daddy’s just going through stunts trying to please his son, much like he did in “Tee Vee or Not Tee Vee.”

Writer Mike Maltese once told historian Mike Barrier he had a whole supply of Coyote gags ready to use and I have to wonder if he dipped into his files and quickly put a bunch of them together, then moved on to the next cartoon. Maltese is known for his odd wordplay but there isn’t a lot of it here, just the sight gags, as if he didn’t have time to craft a lot of funny lines. Unfortunately, limited animation doesn’t always help sight gags, but dialogue can make up for it. So what we’re left with is an average cartoon as the audience watches Dear Old Dad suffer yet again.

This cartoon also features a pairing-up of two guys who soon ended up at the Jay Ward studio—animator Gerard Baldwin and background artist Joe Montell. Baldwin’s telltale trait at animating dialogue is here; he moves the mouth way up and in on the snout.

And you can pick out Montell by the dots that he uses to represent buds on plants.

Baldwin only worked on a few cartoons at Hanna-Barbera while Montell seems to have lasted through the 1959-60 season.

The cartoon opens with satchel-carrying Augie bidding farewell forever to “tops of the pops” “who’s been more than a mother to me.” He’s running away to join the circus. Fortunately, Daddy’s been reading a book on “child sick-i-cology” telling him to “go along with the gag until he finds a new interest.” So that’s what happens. Daddy says he’s running away, too, but makes the mistake of saying they have to work up an act because Augie walking on his ears isn’t enough. The whole set-up scene takes up a minute and 45 seconds so it’s like Maltese is padding a bit.

Let’s go through the gags. Whether Dear Old Dad got his circus supplies from Acme, I don’t know, but some seem to be the same kinds of things Wile E. Coyote bought.

● Daddy tests out a wire-walking act. He drops the balance pole to lighten the weight and ends up bashing into a tree branch overhead, over and over.

● Daddy lifts off on a teeter-board and somersaults times. He’s supposed to land in a chair but goes through the chimney of the house instead. The camera shakes on a background drawing of the chimney and there’s crashing sound effect, followed by a puff of smoke. Not even a cut to a wasted Daddy with a quip.

● Daddy attaches a wheel to his nose to go upside down on a zip line with Augie standing on his feet. When they reach the ground, the momentum buries Daddy. Maltese evidently had “Whoa, Be-Gone!” (1958) in his mind. That’s the cartoon he wrote at Warners where Wile E. Coyote uses a wheeled helmet to zoom upside-down on a wire.

● A clown act is deemed safer. Augie hides in a fake firecracker. When Daddy lights it, Augie pops up and squirts him in the face with a water pistol. “Instead of a large kaboom, we got a little squoit. Heh, heh, heh” says Daddy, sounding like he’s rehearsing lines. Augie pulls the trigger. Kaboom. Daddy to audience: “I tink we all knew dat was gonna happen.”

There’s an animation choice here that puzzles me. There’s an explosion and a drawing of Doggie Daddy after the initial blast (see below left). Here’s not even singed. But then after a couple of alternative black and white frames, Daddy’s all marked up. Why isn’t he blackened a bit right after the explosion?

● The two are on trapezes (don’t ask what they’re hanging from) that collide. Daddy drops to the ground. Again, the crash is a camera shake, a sound effect and Augie closing his eyes and putting his feet together.

● The big finale. A 100-foot dive into a trampoline, “then poor Dad, uh, dear Dad” is supposed to bounce into a cannon and be shot into a safety net (footage is taken up with a pan over the lawn to the net). The blackened Daddy never makes it out of the exploding cannon.

Ah, but Augie’s through with the circus and has another interest—“just like dem sick-o-lo-logical books said,” as Daddy tells us—raising crocodiles in the bathtub. Daddy tells us before the iris out, “After tryin’ ta raise a boy, I tink I would welcome crocodiles.”

Jack Shaindlin wrote a bunch of newsreel music perfect for stories about circuses and sports events, and some of it makes its way here. There’s a medium march with a second half that sounds a lot like his “Sportscope” but it’s not the same music. The trapeze music was heard in the Huckleberry Hound cartoon “A Bully Dog” the same season. It may be a Sam Fox library cue but Shaindlin wrote similar arrangements. The sound-cutter tends to use longer pieces for the gags and Phil Green shorties if there’s reaction dialogue.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbara-Curtin)
0:25 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Augie says he’s leaving forever.
0:56 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Daddy puts nose in child psychology book, decides to humour Augie about the circus.
2:10 - related to SPORTSCOPE (Shaindlin) – Pole gag.
2:48 - rising scale music (Shaindlin) – Teeter board gag.
3:28 - GR-457 DR QUACK SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Daddy talks to Augie.
3:43 - fanfarish music (?) – “Once again” scene of Augie and Daddy.
3:50 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy on zip-line, skids into ground.
4:00 - GR-346 FIRST BUDS (Green) – Augie talks to Dad.
4:09 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Clown act.
5:07 - trapeze music (?) – Trapeze scene, Daddy and Augie crash into each other.
5:24 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Bluestone-Cadkin) – Daddy falls below.
5:30 - related to SPORTSCOPE (Shaindlin) – Trampoline scene.
6:31 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Daddy calls from inside cannon, “I’ve got another interest now.”
6:50 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “It woiked!” Daddy talks to camera.
7:09 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. This also has a bit of a connection to a (kinder, gentler) version of Maltese's "Bear Feat", which featured Pa and Junior Bear training to be circus performers. Even on TV in 1959, I doubt they could have gotten away with the failed suicide end gag Mike and Chuck did in that circus wanna-be picture.

  2. As far as I know, the only Augie episode to end with "Custard Pie Capers", a staple of the Snooper & Blabbers.

    While attempted suicide as a gag may have been largely eliminated from TV cartoons, Maltese pulls off another gag that would really set off modern censors and parent groups: the 'fake gun turns out to be real' routine also used in the Snoop & Blab short BABY RATTLED. Even Daddy comments on its inevitability. Of course this being a pre-1970 cartoon, the consequences of a 'real' gun (just like an explosion) aren't that much worse than from a fake one.

    The fact that Augie would have access to a real gun doesn't seem to be an issue, either.

  3. Re:Howard Fein:
    The gag was used on a "Top Cat" where TC [Arnold Stang] and Pierre [John Stephenson] fight over Goldie [Jean Vander Pyl]. It's a closing gag.You've got, as you stated some years ago on rec.arts.animation, the whole set, you'd know the title.Steve.

  4. I'll also had that "Custard Pie Capers" was in, and ended in another "Augie",
    "Horse Fathers".And that ain't no horsing around from this horse.