Saturday, 12 October 2013

Huckleberry Hound — Astro-Nut Huck

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Huckleberry Hound – Daws Butler; Narrator, General, Reporter – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Spencer Moore, Raoul Kraushaar?
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-051.
First Aired: week of February 20, 1961.
Plot: Scientist Huck Hound is ordered to performs tests to go into space.

Like many Americans around 1960, Warren Foster seems to have been fascinated with outer space. He wrote several Pixie and Dixie cartoons where space travel played some kind of role, he came up with “Space Bear” and its alien Yogi Bear the year before, and in this cartoon, Huckleberry Hound is a space scientist. It’s a shame he didn’t put Loopy de Loop into space and leave him up there. Oh, wait. Foster wrote a similar cartoon for Loopy called “Count-Down Clown.” But I digress.

Foster gives us a little spot-gag effort here where Huck endures a setback, then comments on what happened before moving on to the next routine. It’s a pleasant, uncomplicated little cartoon and a fairly atypical adventure for Huck.

The short opens with 18 seconds of camera movement over a couple of Dick Thomas’ background drawings as Don Messick intones about space travel. Cut to Huck telling other top scientists it’s possible to put a man into space and asking for a volunteer “for glory and a possible post-humorous medal.” Cut to a disheveled room of empty chairs. The Pentagon calls.

Huck: But, sir, it doesn’t work that way. The fella that thinks it up never volunteers. It’s an unwritten law. (pause) That unwritten law has been repealed? Well, suppose I don’t volunteer? (pause) Okay, okay, I’ll volunteer. (to himself) I thought they only used firing squads in war time.

So now Huck goes through a battery of tests. They attach him to a rocket sled. The sled takes off without him (“I forgot to tighten my seat belt). Next, he’s put in a pressure chamber to test eating in zero gravity. Unfortunately, he unscrews the thermos with concentrated food too early. The reddish goop and Huck pour out of the craft (“You got a toothpick, general?). Next, the general explains a heat cabinet. Huck looks at us and says “I’m the one who thought of this stuff first, and he’s tellin’ me.” Once inside, the temperature’s 1200 degrees. Huck isn’t fazed. “I could use a little bastin’,” he tells the general. The punch is simply the old shrink-inside-a-heat cabinet gag you find in cartoons.

Next, another a zero gravity routine with the expected crashes into the ceiling and floor (General: “Our valve needs adjustment.” Huck: “So does my sacroiliac.” Huck walks with magnetic shoes but falls while walking on the ceiling (“Someone forgot to put laces in my shoes”).

Finally, it’s launch date. A reporter is on the tarmack (Reporter: “Have you anything to tell our vast TV audience, professor?” Huck: “Yes, I do. HELLLLLP!” The rocket doesn’t launch. After a pile of smoke, it falls onto its side. But Huck thinks he’s landed on Mars, and the asbestos-suit-wearing rescue crew are Martians. They place him in front of the general. “I don’t know how he got here first,” Huck tells us, “but that’s science for you.”

This was apparently the final Huckleberry Hound cartoon put into production which used the Capitol Hi-Q and Langlois Filmusic libraries. The last cartoon of the 1960-61 season features the Hoyt Curtin underscores used on “Wally Gator” and “The Flintstones.” However, the Italian TV version of this cartoon has been remixed with Curtin’s music.

0:00 - Huckleberry Hound Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin).
0:13 - TC-22 SUBLIME GHOST (Loose-Seely) – Opening narration.
0:33 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Close-up of Huck at blackboard, phone call, general and Huck talk about rocket sled.
2:22 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Huck/sled scene, Huck in capsule, “Now he informs me.”
3:08 - LAF-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – General outside capsule, goop covers him, pressure cooker scene, Huck in magnetic shoes.
5:16 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Huck walks in shoes, falls out of shoes.
5:30 - creepy muted trumpet cue (Kraushaar?) – Huck upside down, reporter on tarmack, fire crew runs, “…will rescue the professor.”
6:25 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – “And they’ve got him,” Huck carried by fire crew.
6:48 - tick tock/flute cue (Shaindlin) – General talks to Huck, iris out.
6:55 - Huckleberry Hound Sub End Title theme (Curtin)


  1. "Lawman Huck", the third of the Huck/Outlaw trilogy, used the Capitol/Shaindlin music,too. Huck not volunteering for his OWN idea reminds me of Jones's Sniffles in 1939's "Sniffles Bells the Cat"...Steve

  2. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    Here in Brazil, this Huckleberry Hound episode is aired with the Hoyt Curtin's music score, mixed with the Brazilian Portuguese classical dubbing (recorded here in São Paulo).

  3. I rarely caught this Huckleberry short. I saw it around 1993 during the salad days of " Cartoon Network ", and before that, way back in the 1960s. Interesting about the Hoyt Curtin score re-mix on some European prints.

  4. It's interesting how Huck, who's portrayed as a likable, easy-going half-wit throughout his career, can be depicted in such accomplished professions in many of his cartoons. He's a scientist in this one, and SPUD DUD, a veterinarian in PET VET, and lawman (both Western and big-city).

    As in HUCK AND LADDER, Warren Foster has a good touch with one-sided phone conversations in which we only hear Huck's end. Touches of Bob Newhart.

  5. Yowp, you do a good check on HB Cartoon Soundtracks, perhaps you can help me with the beginning of the Pixie & Dixie cartoon, Mouse Trapped? Thank you.

    1. Bob, all the cues on that cartoon are by Hoyt Curtin. I was told they were never given names.

  6. Enjoyed your review of Huck. He's one of my favorites I watched. I have Vol. 1 of Huckleberry Hound Show but didn't see this episode on it and so far I haven't seen a Vol. 2.
    Do you know if there is anymore Huck on DVD?
    - jez

  7. Jez, hi. Don't expect a Vol. 2. The first one apparently didn't sell very well. There are music rights problems with Huck's second and third seasons, but there are still enough Huck/Pixie and Dixie/Hokey cartoons around with Hoyt Curtin scores that could easily be released.
    As far as I know, only the first season cartoons made it onto DVD.

  8. Coincidently enough, here's hi res image of actual title card for this cartoon.

    1. Thanks, Wayne. I guess that was the production number we can't see at the bottom.