Saturday, 2 February 2019

Better Than Gobel

TV critics in Florida didn’t waste any time lavishing good opinions upon the brand-new Huckleberry Hound Show. It first appeared on TV on September 29, 1958, though in a number of cities, October 2nd was the show’s start date, including Miami and Tampa.

Two columnists in Florida noticed Huck right away. The first story is from the Miami News of October 8th.

Huckleberry Sharp Hound
Television Writer of the Miami News
As improbable as it sounds, "Huckleberry Hound" is one of the most entertaining new series of the fall television season. This cartoon program, listed as strictly for children, is vastly more entertaining and immeasureably funnier than Jackie Gleason and George Gobel.
It is much more than just another children's program. It is loaded with mild satire, witty dialogue and sharp animation. Children love it, as well they might, and adults will find it a pleasant relief from the massive drivel of new programs that generally are worse than the shows they replaced.
"Huckleberry Hound" is all the things to all men and all children; I can't think of a program capable of appealing to wider, more diversified audience.
If you think I'm kidding tune in Channel 7 tomorrow night at 7 o'clock and take a look at Jinx [sic], a beatnik cat, and Huckleberry himself, patterned after Andy Griffith.
If this one loses, you get my next program choice free.
The Tampa Times also dropped some print plaudits in its October 18th edition. The story is unbylined. It also mentions the other Kellogg’s-sponsored programmes that ran in the same time slot in the other days of the week.
Huckleberry Hound Delightful Cartoon
Designed to delight the youngsters, the 6 to 6:30 P.M. spot, Mondays through Fridays on channel 8, will undoubtedly find lots of grownups looking in. The varied program brings everything from a beguiling little cartoon of a hound ... to the great gift of the imagination Superman.
Most of the shows are time-tested favorites of the young-in-heart TV watcher, but the cartoon doggie, Huckleberry Hound, is new and the most enchanting cartoon character to come along since Mickey Mouse.
Huckleberry Hound, complete with a 10-gallon hat and a side arm worn about his fat little middle, is the delightful creation of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who produced and directed the Tom and Jerry cartoons.
Satire in the sketches may go over the heads of the tots in front of the TV . . . but the grownups will love it. And the youngsters will find enough enjoyment in the characters which include Yogi Bear, his patient little friend, Boo Boo Bear; a cantankerous cat, Mr. Jinx and two mice, Dixie and Pixie.
Huck and his friends are appearing every Thursday in the 6 to 6:30 series.
Monday's segment of the show [Kellogg’s time slot] takes viewers to Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood defends the honor of ladies fair and strives to keep England free. On Tuesdays Woody Woodpecker is the star performer. Superman and Wild Bill Hickok share in Wednesday slot, and come Fridays . . . It's Roy Rogers.
The cartoon the Times is referring to is “Sheriff Huckleberry.” It’s much in the vein of the southern wolf cartoons Tex Avery made at MGM as Huck talks to himself a lot and occasionally turns to talk to the audience, too, which makes him appealing.

Outlaw Dinky Dalton turns the barrel of Huck’s gun on our hero, who shoots his ten-gallon hat in half.

“You know somethin’? I gotta give Dinky his due,” he tells us. “He’s a smart outlaw.”

Next, Huck strolls to a phone booth to call Dinky.

“You know what? This feller’s got a right nice voice on the telephone,” Huck remarks to the viewers.

Dinky sticks his fist and gun through the phone.

“It’s Dinky alrighty,” Huck assesses to us.

When Dinky shoots Huck through the hat (and head), he says to us “Just call me drafty.”

In the best gag of the cartoon, Huck shows up in armored, only to be bashed into a wind-up toy car.

“You know what?” Huck says to us. “That Dinky’s got a right good sense of humour.” Cut to the car rolling off a cliff.

Now comes the climax, a shoot-out between Huckleberry and Dinky. Huck’s been getting the worst of it, but not now. Dinky tells him there’s a bullet with his name on it. Huck cleverly hangs a “Huckleberry Hound” sign on Dinky, and that’s where the bullet goes. It’s a switch on an old cartoon gag, but it still works.

The final scene has Huck walking left to right (walking into the sunset would mean expensive perspective animation) whistling “My Darling Clementine.” The cartoon’s narrator bids farewell to Huck. Huck stops, turns to presumably where the narrator is and waves “Adios, a-my-goes!” before resuming his walk to end the cartoon.

The difference between Huck and the Avery wolf character is that Huck may have been kicked around, but in many of his cartoons, he came out on top in the end. Avery’s wolf, to me, seems more detached, and never really trumped over an eat-everything-goat, or Droopy-and-his-kids, or the blackboard jumble (albeit directed by Mike Lah). Can George Gobel say the same thing?


  1. If the end gag was good enough for Avery's proto-Huck wolf to have used against him here (as producers, Bill & Joe were obviously paying attention to what was going on over in the Michael Lah unit). The columns effluent praise of the show's character and it's 'sharp' Season 1 animation does show that entertainment writers in 1958 were just as likely to engage in a little hyperbole as entertainment writers 60 years later.

  2. That's what I loved about Huck in the early seasons. Mister Everyman. He appealed to just about everyone. The mild satire was a big part of it.

  3. The wolf that was bedeviled by the eat-every-thing goat (kid) left in his care was probably the most sympathizable of MGM's Wolf characters.

  4. The few Gobel shows I've seen on youtube are funny.

  5. I remember that world when Huck was on TV and the excitement the day my Huckleberry Hound Fan Club envelope came. Having my Mom cut out the Huck masks off the back of the Kelloggs boxes. I miss that distant world and it is sad to say it is gone forever. But in my mind and the thoughts of many others it comes back when I see articles like this. Yowp is my vehicle for time travel.