Saturday 29 June 2013

Augie Doggie — Little Wonder

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Museum Guard – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin, Geordie Hormel, unknown.
First Aired: week of January 9, 1961 (rerun, week of June 19, 1961).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-034, Production J-105.
Plot: Daddy decides to raise Augie Doggie to be a genius.

There are cartoons where Augie Doggie is a boy like any other (“Pint Giant”). There are cartoons where Augie Doggie is a boy genius (“It’s a Mice Day”). And then you have this cartoon where Doggie Daddy wants his boy to be a boy genius.

This is an innocuous cartoon. There’s nothing spectacular in it but nothing terrible, either. Bob Carr’s the animator, which means you get the basics and not much more. Tony Rivera’s got a couple of layouts that are a welcome change from Paul Sommer’s audience-looking-at-a-stage perspective. And Monte’s backgrounds are tamer than they were a year earlier, though he still likes to put a transparent flower-patterned chair in the Daddy home.

I like his pinkish clouds, too. I thought Art Lozzi used to go for the same kind of effect where the cloud becomes lighter and airier at the bottom. You can see how simple the buildings are. They have TV antennas. I presume the greenery in the background is on an overlay.

Mike Maltese’s best dialogue in the cartoon comes in the scene where Daddy is trying to educate Augie at a natural museum. There’s a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. The two pull off what could be an Abbott and Costello routine.

Augie: How many bones does it got, Dad?
Daddy: Oh, just oodles, Augie, oodles.
Augie: How many is “oodles,” father of mine?
Daddy: Oodles is da number of bones he’s got.

So Daddy uses his “math-meh-matical prowess” and counts them.

Daddy: Hey, Augie, dere are two thousand ten bones—give or take a few hundred.
Augie: Gosh, that’s just oodles of bones, isn’t it, Dad?

The cartoon’s premise is simple. Daddy reads a news story about Rodney Q. Brilliant, age 9, who has an I.Q. of 460. Is he harbouring a boy genius, too, Daddy wonders. That’s when Augie enters the picture, playing all the roles in a battle between cowboys and Indians, including an appearance by El Kabong, mask and all, flying on a rope. Never mind the childish game, Daddy says, how’s his I.Q.? Augie responds by naming a bunch of other letters of the alphabet.

Daddy figures the boy’s I.Q. is only about 300, so he decides to increase it in the next scene by having Augie ask him questions about Mother Nature. Daddy can’t answer any of them. So Daddy takes him to the museum we mentioned earlier (nice angular layout by Tony Rivera) where a uniformed guard startles him into wrecking the “pre-hysterical monster” skeleton (also known as the “Tyranerdo-roarius Rex”). “If dere’s one ting I can’t stand,” says Daddy, “it’s a guard who won’t let you count bones.”

Back home, Daddy tells Augie to “stop acting your age” (he is pretending to be a super-jet) and split an atom “scien-teh-tifcally.” He gives him a walnut to practice on first. After figuring out some math (Augie is wearing a green visor), he works out the distance where he can catapult a huge boulder from a tree onto the nut. Instead, it crashes into the Doggie home, destroying it. Augie cries about how he miscalculated the wind velocity, tells “disappointed dad,” whose head is sticking out of the wrecked chimney, he’s “just an average boy who’s got the best dad in the whole world.” Dad smiles and tells us how glad he is Augie doesn’t need a high I.Q. for that.

Augie gets different music cues depending on the role he’s taking on when playing cowboys and Indians. The El Kabong part has the harmonica version of “La Cucaracha” heard on quite a few Quick Draw McGraw cartoons; I haven’t tracked its source. Same with the war dance cue when Augie’s playing a native. My guess is it’s by Geordie Hormel and contained somewhere in the Hi-Q ‘X’ series.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Daddy reads paper.
0:55 - Indian War Dance Music (?) – Augie pretends to be an Indian chief.
1:01 - ZR-94 CHASE (Hormel) – Augie pretends to be a cowboy.
1:05 - La Cucaracha (Trad.) – Augie pretends to be El Kabong.
1:12 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Augie pretends to be the cavalry, dying scene.
1:34 - CB-86A HIDE AND SEEK (Cadkin-Bluestone) – IQ scene.
2:00 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Daddy and Augie in park.
3:10 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – Daddy and Augie in museum.
3:55 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Daddy counts bones, Daddy slips.
4:29 - fast circus chase music (Shaindlin) – Daddy falls, Guard cries.
5:07 - GR-248 STREETS OF THE CITY (Green) – Augie pretends to be super-jet, walnut calculations, catapults boulder.
6:32 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – Boulder takes off, house destroyed, Dad in chimney.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

Thursday 27 June 2013

Mike's Daughter

It’s been a pleasure and privilege to chat on-line with many people about cartoons, and it’s been a special joy to talk with those who worked in the animation industry or their families. Over the last couple of years, I’ve exchanged notes back and forth with family members of my favourite cartoon writer, Mike Maltese.

So it’s with sadness I pass on word that Mike’s daughter Brenda passed away yesterday morning.

Brenda grew up as an only child. Her brother Michael died a day after birth. After graduation, she worked in the ink and paint department at Disney before taking a secretarial job at Warner Bros. where, of course, her father worked for almost 20 years before going to work for Hanna-Barbera. She met her future husband there and they were married for 53 years. She later opened Maltese Management, a theatrical management agency. (No, I don’t believe a singing frog her father wrote was among the acts she booked.)

Not too many days ago, she came down with an infection that spread to her brain. It was sudden and a shock.

I never met Brenda but I’ve corresponded her daughter Lisa. From what I can tell the Malteses were a loving, caring family who touched many lives. They were rightfully very proud of Mike’s fine work in the cartoon industry.

My condolences to the extended Maltese family on their loss.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Two Tales of Don Messick

When you think of TV producers, Don Messick’s name likely doesn’t come to mind. Sure, he must have played several over the course of his career at Hanna-Barbera, but he actually co-owned a production house at one time.

The business was the brain-child of one Robert Emerson Clampett. Bob Clampett is, of course, known partly for directing some wild theatrical cartoons at Warners Bros. But he also got into the TV business as early as 1944, in a failed and premature venture with someone named Patrick Michael Cunning to develop cartoons for TV. He finally did it about 16 years later when he opened Snowball, Inc. and made Beany and Cecil cartoons. Snowball had a short life and Clampett had to bring in his brother-in-law (see
Animation World Magazine, October 1999) to keep the studio afloat financially. Clampett’s biggest success in the ‘50s came with the Beany and Cecil puppet show. He developed a couple of other puppet shows for KTLA in Los Angeles that were syndicated in other U.S. cities. But he also tried another puppet venture and he convinced Don Messick to invest in it. Messick had been working for Clampett on a KTTV morning show in 1956; on one edition in February, Clampett introduced Messick as a hypnotist regressing a puppet to its former life in a spoof of the Bridey Murphy case. Broadcasting magazine announced in its issue of April 30, 1956.

Clampett Starts New Firm To Produce Commercials BOB CLAMPETT, producer of Time for Beany and other shows starring puppet and cartoon characters including "Cecil, the Seasick Sea Serpent," has announced his entry into the field of radio and tv commercials. Following formation of his new producing and distributing organization, Clampet-toon Commercials, Inc., Mr. Clampett revealed he has developed a new process of producing puppet commercials for tv in a fraction of the time required by the various animated cartoon drawing systems. Mr. Clampett said he will utilize the new process in production of commercials for national advertisers, using a number of newly- created characters and voices in addition to those already developed. Three of his key "Beany" staff, Don Messick, Walker Edmiston and Bill Oberlin, are associated with him as stockholders and vice presidents of the new firm. John R. Jacobs, Hollywood attorney, will serve as business manager. A nationwide sales organization is being set up under the head of Chris Haywood, distributor of tv films.

Whether the company ever produced anything or whether Messick got any return on his investment is a question lost to the ages. Suffice it to say, Messick never worked for Clampett again.

No, Don Messick is best known as a voice actor, one who fortunately got a little bit of national press recognition during the later years of his career when, frankly, the cartoons he worked on didn’t measure up to Yogi Bear or Quick Draw McGraw (even the Yogi of the ‘80s didn’t measure up to the Yogi of the ‘50s).

Here’s one of several feature newspaper stories I’ve found; this was published by the Utica Sunday Observer-Dispatch on June 30, 1985. If I had to pick a favourite voice of Messick’s (besides Yowp, of course), it wouldn’t be the ones he picked.

His voice is very smurfy
Gannett News Service

Recognize these lines?
“Yogi, Mister Ranger isn't going to like this!”
“Let’s all have a Smurfy day.”
The next question is harder. Who spoke those lines?
Nearly everyone has seen his work, yet no one knows who he is.
Don Messick, one of Hollywood’s leading voice characterization artists, has been creating the personalities of cartoon characters for more than 30 years. He has been the voice behind the role of Boo Boo Bear and Mister Ranger, Astro of the “Jetsons,” Scooby Doo and most recently the blue-skinned, pint-sized Aesop, Papa Smurf.
Messick smurfed into Cincinnati recently as part of the 1985 Colonel Sanders Memorial March of Dimes Campaign. The fund drive is to help children with birth defects, and in support of clinical research. As part of a 10-city tour, he also will be entertaining hospital children. Theater and stage shows were the early training ground for Messick, whose cartoon career included one of the earliest Hanna-Barbera shows, "Ruff and Ready.” [sic] He was the voice of Ruff.
He has appeared in more than 3,000 cartoon episodes but he admits he has a particular fondness for two of his characters.
“For different reasons, I think Scooby Doo and Papa Smurf (are my favorites). I’ve gotten letters from youngsters who, when they have a personal problem that they can’t solve, will go up to their rooms, cry or whatever and ask themselves — ‘Now what would Papa Smurf do?’”
After three decades in the industry, Messick’s voice still is in demand. He is the voice of Snap, in the Kellogg’s Snap, Crackle and Pop Rice Crispies commercials. He has noticed a change in cartoons: some he feels are too violent. But that, he said, is only a reflection of our society.
“Children have been playing with toy soldiers and ray guns ever since I can remember ... It’s to be expected, it’s so popular in the movie theaters.”
The golden age of radio was a strong influence for Messick; it is one of the tools he uses to create his voices. “Those radio stars were my idols; it was such a pleasure to sit back and imagine; the mind was such a screen for the imagination then.”
His current role as the popular Papa Smurf will be joined next fall with the return of an old role, that of Astro. Messick said Hanna-Barbera has just finished the filming of 56 new episodes of “The Jetsons” featuring the original cast of 20 years ago. He will be part of the coming Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera.
Married 32 years, Messick and his wife have a son, 29, and live on the California beach, 90 miles from Hollywood. They have a dog, Dina, and Merrick notes he has played a number of dog characters.
“It’s so nice to have a dog to come home to,” he said. “You don’t have to put up any pretenses with a dog.”

It’s nice to see Don M. doing something for young viewers off the screen as well as on.

Actually, there’s one other thing that doesn’t come to mind when you think of Don Messick: the ballet. No, he didn’t dance. But we’ll have something on that in a future post.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Yogi Bear — Love Bugged Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Vera Hanson, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Male Bear – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Girl Bear – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: week of February 13, 1961.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-051.
Plot: Yogi spends all his time trying to charm his new girl friend.

Warren Foster’s philosophy on love:

● Women play abusive games with men and don’t care about it.
● Women are fickle and will run off with any guy.
● Men are stupid enough to put up with either one or both of the above.

Well, that’s pretty much the impression you’re left with from this cartoon. Or from Popeye cartoons when it comes to the second item, for that matter. Come to think of it, Foster wrote gags for Popeye cartoons in the ‘30s, didn’t he?

This is the kind of cartoon that drives continuity fanbois nuts. Yogi tells Boo Boo he doesn’t believe in love. But what about Cindy Bear, who Yogi had a crush on years earlier in Jellystone Park? Well, Cindy wasn’t invented until the following season and nobody cared if the backstory fit each and every cartoon that came before it. Obsessive fans only started getting worked up about even the most trivial inconsistencies a couple of decades later.

Something else continuity freaks would probably find maddening is this is the fourth cartoon in the 1960-61 season that takes place at the opening of the park season (the others are “Booby Trapped Bear,” “Bearface Bear,” “Do or Diet” if you’re not keeping track). How many openings in a year are there anyway? And this is the second cartoon of the season where Yogi decides to explain the birds and bees to Boo Boo.

This is also one of seemingly countless cartoons that opens with narration over a pan of the Jellystone Park scenery. There’s a shot of one of the many designs for the entrance gate to the park, followed by a slow pan to the right over a background by Vera Hanson, wife of Production Supervisor Howard Hanson, originally hired at MGM to work in the Tex Avery unit at the behest of Ed Benedict, according to John Kricfalusi.

Yogi tells Boo Boo about the birds and the bees. “The birds have feathers and the bees make honey.” Boo Boo gives the audience a bit of an incredulous look. “And that’s it?” he asks. “Gee, I thought it had something to do with love. Where does Dan Cupid and his arrows fit in?” Yogi assures him there is no such thing. “Do you think for one moment they would let a curly-headed kid run around in three-cornered short-shorts and shoot people with arrows? They’d send a kid like that to bed without any TV.” Yogi explains his first love is tourist-type food and he has no interest in a nearby female bear. Of course, while this conversation’s going on, Cupid descends from somewhere and shoots Yogi in the butt with an arrow (with a suction cup on the end). So much for tourist-type food. The chase is on after the giggling female.

Now the love-chase is on, with the unidentified female bear treating Yogi like crap just to be an itch. Or a similar word. She shoves the gentlemanly Yogi to the ground. She trips him, sending him flying. Yogi gets his rhymes in: “Hey, hey, hey! Don’t run away!” and “The feminine ruse but it’s no use.” He tries to impress her by walking on his hands (like Mr. Jinks did to try to win the female neighbour cat in “Woo For Two,” also written that season by Foster) and then one hand.

Meanwhile, Ranger Smith is upset. Five hours have passed and Yogi hasn’t stolen one picnic basket. He thinks Yogi is sick, that the bear broke a leg—no, both legs—and he’s lying out in the damp forest, helpless and hungry. I like how Foster builds up Yogi’s “ailment.” Smith starts carrying Yogi to the Ranger Hospital for intravenous food. But Boo Boo tells him Yogi isn’t sick; he’s only lovesick. The Ranger tosses Yogi to the ground in disgust. But then he reminisces. “I remember when I was courtin’ Martha. I laid off sardine and onion sandwiches for weeks.” Hey, wait. In “Wound-Up Bear,” his wife’s name was Mabel. Continuity!!!!

Back to the chase. “Little honey-bun likes her fun,” Yogi rhymes. “Fun” in this case is the fiendish female pushing a log connecting two cliffs while Yogi’s on it. He falls into a stream. The animation shows the girl chuckling but the sound-cutter left Don Messick’s feminine giggle off the sound track this time.

Finally, Yogi wises up. He sees the girl with another bear. “Well, it’s better to have loved and lost than loved and won.” Yogi philosophises. “With her sense of humour, I hope he’s a got some kind of hospital plan.” So Yogi goes back to stealing picnic baskets. He didn’t lose a girl, he tells Boo Boo, he gained an appetite. Things are back to normal.

Daws Butler uses his Gleason voice for the male bear. He’ll use it next season for Bruno, the burly bear who tries to win Cindy away from Yogi in “A Wooin’ Bruin.” The unnamed female bear clad only in pearls and a hair bow vanished after this cartoon.

Most of the music cues are changed when a scene ends. The little tune that has muted trumpet stabs heard in several Pixie and Dixie cartoons during this season makes an appearance when Yogi walks on his hands. There’s no music when Cupid arrives, just the familiar Hanna-Barbera harp sound effect that was used for a number of years.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:26 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Hormel) – Narration, pan over forest, shot of cave entrance.
0:44 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose) – Yogi and Boo come out of cave, birds and bees talk.
1:47 - harp effect – Cupid floats down.
1:50 - LAF-25-3 zig-zag strings and bassoon (Shaindlin) – Cupid tip-toes, girl bear walks, Yogi shot with arrow, Boo Boo asks “What happened?”
2:27 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi looks at arrow, Yogi walks after girl, Boo Boo looks at arrow.
3:00 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi introduces himself to girl, she shoves Yogi.
3:17 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Yogi on ground, tripping scene.
3:45 - LAF-93-2 comedy flute and quack cue (Shaindlin) – Yogi hopping on hands scene.
3:59 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger solo scene.
4:30 - TC-436 SHINING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi picks flowers, Ranger tosses Yogi.
5:15 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – “I might have known,” Ranger and Boo Boo talk.
5:47 - LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Girl bear runs, Yogi in stream.
6:10 - LAF 27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Yogi in bush, girl with other bear.
6:33 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger in station.
6:59 - LAF-74-2 LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Yogi runs with picnic baskets.
7:10 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Flintstones Weekend Comics, June 1963

You wouldn’t think there’d be a nice for the little uber-cute neighbour girl Amber to show up in the Flintstones comics once Pebbles came along, but that wasn’t the case. Amber appears again in one of the Sunday comics 50 years ago this month. And we get more of the “thinking” Dino this month as well. Baby Puss fans will be disappointed to see our favourite sabertoothed pet is absent again.

About the only thing interesting is the June 2nd comic are the two non-square panels. The gag is set up pretty well. Curious Dino peers out in the top panel.

Here’s the selfish, mooching Amber in the June 9th comic. The last panel is the best, as usual, with Fred and Amber turned away at different angles. No word whether Amber is related to Cary Granite. Once again, Pebbles is here for, well, no reason at all.

June 16th features the innermost thoughts of Dino. The story’s cute but I don’t really see the Dino of the TV show being as bitter. Triceratops toy alert! (see first panel). Looks like it’s the same artist from the week before. Bick Bickenbach maybe?

Dr Spock becomes Dr Sprockrock in the June 23rd comic. Did Pebbles spell her own name in blocks in the first panel? I like how the layouts are at a slight angle; notice the couch in the first panel in the middle row and the car two panels over (with the smoking volcano in the background).

Pebbles doesn’t appear in the June 30th home movies comic. It’s odd considering there was a whole cartoon episode devoted to Fred annoying everyone with his home movies of Pebbles, but that show didn’t air until the following season. Herb and Laura? I wonder who they’re named after. Herb’s expressions are great.

As usual, click on each cartoon to get a larger view.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Snooper and Blabber — De-Duck-Tives

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, J.B. Sportley – Daws Butler; Duck – Red Coffey.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: 1961?
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-030, Production J-92.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber hunt for a rare Tralfazian duck.

Oh, no. Not that duck again!

Well, not only is the future Yakky Doodle constantly bawling for his mama more than a Connie Francis song in this cartoon, he’s incredibly stupid as well. He can’t tell the difference between his own mother and a wooden decoy, or a mouse with a feather-duster for a tail spouting Al Jolson.

So it is that Mike Maltese takes the endless parental caterwauling of the duck and turns it into a central point of a cartoon. And, as usual, a character who has a chance to put the feathery thing out of its misery doesn’t have the heart to do it. And, also as usual, Maltese embroiders the story with funny turns-of-phrase and gets bonus points for incorporating everyone’s favourite word “Tralfaz” into the cartoon.

Oh, we get Carlo Vinci, too. Not the really quirky Carlo of 1958. But the studio’s workload hasn’t knocked all the distinctiveness out of him. Here’s one his famous big sideways mouths.

And here’s a stretched-dive exit by the duck.

You’ll notice the duck in this cartoon is green. Paul Sommer, the layout designer in this cartoon, also made him green in another cartoon that season, Augie Doggie’s “Let’s Duck Out” where, yet again, Little Biddy Buddy was whining for his mother.

Maltese’s opening is pretty standard. There’s an opening shot of the private eyeball, this time on a window. Snoop answers the phone with a rhyme like Archie the Bartender on Duffy’s Tavern: “Snooper Detective Agency, forget your blues, we’ll find the clues.” As usual, Blab makes an aside to the audience about detective work while the phone call is in progress. This one is: “The mark of a good private eye is to make the most of an opportunity.” That’s because Snoop has been offered $30,000 for a duck. Snoop responds with “What’ll ya give me for two elephants?”

The next scene is in the “featheralistic” trophy room of J.B. Sportley, who has the English hunter’s voice (and moustache) from the popular Yowp cartoons. Perhaps because Yowp failed to catch a duck two years earlier, Sportley had hired Snooper and Blabber to capture a rare Tralfazian duck, discernible by its distinctive quack. The name “Tralfaz” was later recycled on The Jetsons as Astro’s original name, but has a long animated history, going back to the Snafu cartoons made during the war at Warners.

Snoop and Blab park themselves in a lake with a “genuine imitiation” decoy. Enter the little green duck, wailing for its mama. Snooper has to rescue his decoy after the stupid duck takes off with it, mistaking it for his mother (“I’m excruciated with joy,” Snooper facetiously says, after Proto-Yakky asks him if he’s happy to see the duck reunited with his mother). “Leave us retrench to our cabin,” Snoop says to Blab and that’s where the rest of the cartoon takes place.

“We’ll try it again at the crackle of dawn,” says Snoop. There’s a knock at the door. “Be hasty pudding and see who it is,” he tells Blab. Guess who? The pathetic duck wants to say goodbye to his mama. Snooper kicks him out, but he comes back through the chimney and wants “mama” to tell him a bedtime story. “Leave me tell one,” says the annoyed Snoop. “Once-t upon a time there was a pesky duck who was put out of the house.” Snooper drops him out the door. “And Snoop lived happily ever after. Heh heh. Chuckle, chuckle.” Cut to the pissed off duck on the porch. “Aw, I don’t like that story at all, at all, at all.”

The duck comes back in and steals the blanket from the bed where Snooper and Blabber are sleeping (still wearing their trench coats and hats) because “mama” is cold (the duck first stands on its head and wiggles its toes for the decoy). Snooper’s had enough. He clues in the clueless duck that his mama is made of wood. With the soothing strings of Phil Green’s “And They All Lived Happily Ever After” playing in the background, Hanna-Barbera’s King of Self-Pity starts crying. But wait! He’s crying like a rare Tralfazian duck, worth “30 thousand grand dollars” dead. To quote Mike Maltese’s dialogue from a famous Warners’ cartoon: Now’s your chance, Hawkeye—Shoot ‘im, shoot ‘im!! But no. Sentimental Snoop decides to forego the money and “give the broken-hearted little trike a live mother.” Cut to the final scene where Blab is poorly disguised as a duck. “Climb upon my knee, Sonny Boy,” says Blab. If the duck can be convinced a wooden figure is his mother, he can be convinced by Blabber’s disguise that even Mr. Magoo should be able to see through. Blab gets kissed by the duck and avoids the temptation of breaking into something the Al Jolson song book.

“Sometimes, bein’ a private eye assistant has its compensations,” he tells us as the closing iris signals it’s time for the pre-Yakky to appear on another H-B episode before changing colour and getting his own series.

The sound-cutter doesn’t generally change cues in mid-scene. However, he back-times the woodblock-and-flute music so it ends with the cartoon.

A late Yowp note: Mark Evanier reports that “Daws told me that Snooper's voice was more inspired by character actor Tom D'Andrea...but a little by Ed Gardner.” Well, you can’t disagree with the guy who invented the voice. D’Andrea was on “The Life of Riley” TV show and if you have a chance to see any old episodes, you can hear he and Snooper have similar vocal qualities. But anyone familiar with Duffy and the show’s writing will notice the similarities there, too. I thank Mark again for his always helpful knowledge. There’s always something to learn.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:24 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Office scene, Sportly conversation scene.
1:38 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – Snoop and Blab in boat, duck shows up, Snooper shoots rifle.
2:56 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Decoy rescue scene.
3:18 - GR-155 PARKS AND GARDENS (Green) – Snoop reads paper, kicks out duck twice.
4:28 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snoop in bed scene, “Check!”
5:44 - GR-459 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – “That is a fake wooden duck,” Snoop promises duck will get a mother.
6:32 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Blab is mommy duck.
7:09 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).

Wednesday 12 June 2013

The Judy and Elroy Show

Class! Today’s lesson. This is “The Flintstones.”

This is not “The Flintstones.”

This, of course, is from “The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show,” which was one of the nails of the proverbial coffin for me when it came to Hanna-Barbera cartoons. As a viewer, I decided the studio had completely run out of ideas. It had already tried regurgitating “The Flintstones” as football players in the sorry “Where’s Huddles?” (1970). Now, it regurgitated “The Flintstones” again and added it to a regurgitation of the comedy teenager concept (“Archie” anyone?) and a funny animal sidekick (the original “Jetsons”, among others). On top of that, I wasn’t interested in Pebbles or Bamm Bamm as toddlers and was less interested them in klutzy high schoolers. And Ted Nichols or someone at the studio became enamoured with blowing a whistle in theme songs around this time, and it was enough to make you, well, regurgitate.

How little did I realise then how much the studio into reusing ideas. Recently, my attention was brought to one of H-B’s numerous proposed series.

This is “The Jetsons.”

This is not “The Jetsons.”

This is Hanna-Barbera out of ideas.

Apparently, the studio decided if it could age Pebbles and Bamm Bamm and hand them their own show, it could do the same thing with Judy and Elroy Jetson. It seems in 1973, the studio came up with the concept but it didn’t sell. Writer-designer-director Scott Shaw comments about the above drawing thusly:
Grown-up Judy here was intended to be working as a journalist; like Lois Lane, I guess that was to propel her into "adventures".
Please read Scott’s insight in the comments section about the genesis and background of the idea. I appreciate his knowledge on this.

One of the on-line animation auction has some sketches of the characters, including a kid version of Astro. About all I can say is it’s better than Orbitty from the later Jetsons incarnation.

You’ll notice Willie Ito has signed one of the drawings. Willie had been Ken Harris’ assistant animator at Warner Bros., then headed to Bob Clampett’s Snowball studio to work on Beany and Cecil before winding up at Hanna-Barbera around 1961. He worked on layouts on the original Jetsons series. I don’t know whether this is one of his drawings but it’s pretty neat.

It’s probably just as well that the Judy and Elroy show didn’t sell. The best thing about “The Jetsons” was the futuristic gadgets and I suspect they wouldn’t have been given a lot of priority on new show, just as the Stone Age gadgets took a back seat to contrived teenaged antics on “Pebbles and Bamm Bamm.” Judy’s character would have to have been changed; she was boy-crazy and not much more in the original show. Who knows what would have happened to Elroy’s persona, who inherited a bit of Augie Doggie’s boy genius personality on the original show. After all, the only distinguishing thing Bamm Bamm had as a little tyke was his strength, but it inexplicably evaporated when he morphed into a teen on his own show (as least on the shows I watched before I lost interest in the series). And because there were no takers on the show, we were likely spared theme song lyrics such as:

You’ll see Jane and George, too.
(O’Hanlon, speaking): Ooba-dooba-doo!
On the Judy and Elroy Showwwww.

(long, insufferable whistle screech).

Still, it could have been worse. Let’s hope the old Hanna-Barbera files don’t have a proposal to make George, Jane, Spacely and Cogswell into seven-year-olds.