Sunday, 7 May 2017

Yakky Doodle in Count To Tenant

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Art Davis, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Clarence – Don Messick; Muggs(y), stray mutt – Doug Young.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-40.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Chopper feels obligated to give a home to Yakky’s new friend, a flea, but picks the wrong flea.

“What are they laughin’ at on television, Yakky?” asks Chopper. “They’re watching the Yogi Bear Show,” replies the duck.

Here’s a set-up for a cute punch-line. Personally, I’d pick Chopper saying “I hope it isn’t one of those cartoons with that annoying duck. I hate him.” Of course, Hanna-Barbera would never go for that, but any kind of reference to a Yakky cartoon or maybe even a play on Yogi’s “smarter-than-the-average” would have been good. Instead, Mike Maltese settles for Chopper’s “Now, ain’t that cute,” and laughter to end the cartoon.

There aren’t really any punch-lines or top-flight gags in this one. It simply starts with the old premise that dogs have fleas and Maltese fills 6½ minutes from there. Let’s see. Old theatrical cartoons had a flea building a campfire on a dog’s back, or a flea chopping down a strand of fur like an oak tree, so Maltese tosses those in to the story. And there’s a sword fight between the good flea and the bad flea. Maltese pulled off a flea vs. flea fight scene much better in “Fleas Be Careful,” one of three Snooper and Blabber cartoons featuring Toot Sweet, the French flea. Then again, Snooper and Blabber were ridiculous and punny characters. Yakky and Chopper are just, well, tame.

Oh, and there’s also the familiar crying/guilt trip scene with Yakky, making Chopper feel bad enough so he’ll let the duck’s flea-buddy stay on his back. Say, what kind of friend is Yakky? Who would want a dog to be flea-ridden?

The capsulized story: a stray dog scratches a flea named Clarence off him. Yakky, singing “Strolling Through the Park” (and not in time to Hoyt Curtin’s music in the background), comes across Clarence. (“You’re a flea, aren’t you?” enquires the brilliantly observant duck).
Yakky offers Clarence a home on Chopper who, quite understandably, objects. Insert the pity party scene mentioned above. Cut to the aforementioned stray dog, scratching again (nothing like reused animation to save money). This time, it’s Muggs, who changes his name to Muggsy later in the cartoon. Chopper thinks he’s Clarence and lets him stay—until he meets up with Yakky and the real Clarence. Yakky paddles Chopper with a board to get Muggs(y) off. The fleas sword-fight. The good guy wins. The stray dog animation gets reused again. Clarence’s family is scratched off but is welcomed on Chopper’s back. They’re watching Yogi Bear. Ain’t that cute? The end.

Here’s the take by Bob Bentley when the mutt realises he has a flea on him. These are consecutive drawings.

I like the dog’s design. The fleas are pretty good, too. It’s possible Dan Noonan, the layout man, came up with these.

Bob Gentle gives us zig-zag tree branches and heavy outlines around trees (see frames with mutt above). I quite like them, too. Nothing elaborate, but they fit the scenes.

Joe Barbera employed four voice actors on this cartoon, which didn’t happen very often in Hanna-Barbera’s short TV films then. Doug Young gets a couple of roles.

The “Who keeps cool when things are hot” Yogi Bear music is heard when the fleas are watching the Yogi show (which we don’t see). There’s some Flintstones music during the fight scene; the rest of the score should be familiar if you watched a lot of H-B stuff circa 1961.


  1. YOWP Now that you wrote it down, I remembered something. Wasn't “Who keeps cool when things are hot” part of the lyrics of the song for those Donald Duck classic cartoons?

  2. Those fleas have a Dixieland Droopy feel to them..

  3. YOWP One more thing: Could you possible do an article on either Betty Jean Baker, Vance Colvig, or Herschel Bernardi?