Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Hux Pix Yux

Praise for “The Huckleberry Hound Show” came from many places right after it debuted in 1958 and one of them was the show-biz bible, Variety. It published two reviews of Huck’s debut show, one from Los Angeles (in Daily Variety) and another from New York (in Weekly Variety). The trade paper didn’t use its favourite self-invented words “boffo” and “socko” to describe the show, but the reviews were pretty favourable.

The first review, from the West Coast, was published October 9th; the series’ Los Angeles debut was on September 30th. You’ll notice a few names are misspelled.

Filmed by H. B. Enterprises for the Kellogg Co.
Producers-directors, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; animation, Kenneth Muse, Lewis Marshall, Carlo Vinci; backgrounds, Monte Alegre, Art Lozzi; layout, Dick Beckenbach; story sketches, Dan Gordon; voice characterizations, Daws Butler, Don Messick; titles, Laurence Gobel; additional dialogue, Charles Shows; music, Hanna, Barbera, Hoyt Curtain.
KNXT, Tues., 6:30 p.m. Running time: 30 mins.
Buoyed by an effective musical score and an abundance of snappy dialog, "Huckleberry Hound" emerges as a bright new cartoon series that should please not only the kiddies, but an occasional adult who is exposed to tv when the youngsters are busy monopolizing the set.
Although the situations depicted fall into the classic cat-and-mouse mold, they are peppered with sympathetically-conceived animated heroes who should win a quick new following from the Donald Duck set. If there is anything tired about this series, it is that recourse to the time-worn story line that finds the little rodents outwitting the feline and the tiny duck giving the big bear a hard time. But series is smartly conceived in that no live emcee is needed; the bridges between the trio of short cartoons are gapped capably by Huck Hound and his friends. The only interruptions are the Kellogg commercials, and even these are easy to take.
Most of the credit must go to producers-directors William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, whose versatility enabled them to script most of the sharp, up-to-date dialog and score most of the original music, which is fresh and rewarding for a cartoon teleseries. Voice characterizations provided by vocally versatile Daws Butler and Don Messick are convincing and well-differentiated. Animation and backgrounds are also plusses. Already screening in 170 videomarkets, "Huckleberry Hound" should meet with sufficient enthusiasm from viewers. It is better-than-average cartoon fare for the little screen.

This shorter review from Weekly Variety was published October 15th. Leo Burnett was the Kellogg ad agency. The end of the story is cut off on the version I have.

KELLOGG, WPIX, N. Y. (film). Producers-Directors: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; Story Sketches: Dan Gordon; 30 Mins.; Thurs.; 6:30 p. m. (Leo Burnett).
Moppet set should get some fun out of this half-hour animated series turned out by the talented duo William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Distributed by Screen Gems and bought by Kellogg for a national spot spread, it represents one of the few made-for-tv animated shorts.
Judging from the opener, Huck Hound and his animal friends, should carve a niche in the viewing habits of the small fry. Team of Hanna and Barbera did the "Tom and Jerry" theatrical cartoon series. Yap, there's a cat and mouse episode in "Huck Hound." But for the tele-version, the producers have used the semi-animation method made famous by UPA. It was effective in spots, but in other sequences the abbreviated animation detracted.
Characterizations were funny for the most part and the musical score enlivened the proceedings. One sequence about the bear and the small duck was marred by a difficult to understand voice for the duck. Story line in all the sequences was amusing and the whole thing was done so that It also has some appeal for adult [viewers].

As it turns out, there was more than the “occasional” adult tuning in, as you’ve read in posts on the blog. Several universities held Huck Hound Days. A bar and grill in Seattle was named for him. Employees at an aircraft plant made him the company mascot, to give you a few examples.

Both reviews praise the music in the cartoons, apparently unaware that Hanna-Barbera was using stock music libraries for everything except the openings, closings and bumpers. Evidently, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera agreed with the New York reviewer about the characters popping from pose to pose. That was, more or less, eliminated as the season wore on.

The reference to the duck character is interesting. For one thing, poor Red Coffee/Coffey doesn’t appear to have been listed in the voice credits, if what was published was complete. For another, the reviewer is right. Coffey is hard to understand at times. When the duck changed into Yakky Doodle, Jimmy Weldon’s delivery was much clearer than Coffey’s. The other thing is the duck appeared in “Slumber Party Smarty.” It’s generally conceded the first Yogi cartoon to appear on TV was “Yogi Bear’s Big Break.” But the reviews show that wasn’t the case at all.

Variety doesn’t appear to have reviewed a lot of new TV shows, but it not only editorialised about the Huck show, it also reviewed the debuts of “The Quick Draw McGraw Show,” “The Yogi Bear Show” and “The Flintstones.” Like many critics, the people at Variety loved Quick Draw and Yogi but weren’t all that crazy about Fred Flintstone. We’ll try to pass on what they had to say in future posts.

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