Saturday 11 May 2024

That Oh-So-Merry, On-the-Telly, Huckleberry Hound

The Huckleberry Hound Show was a phenomenon. Critics liked it, and even admitted watching it. Colleges formed Huck Hound clubs. An island in the Antarctic was named for the star. It not only was the first cartoon series to win an Emmy, it was the first syndicated show of any kind to do it.

But why?

I could give you a pile of my own reasons, but let’s find out an answer from someone else.

The Huck show was broadcast not only in the United States, but in Canada, Australia and England. It was the subject of Alan Dick’s column in the Daily Herald of London on May 22, 1962.

Magic of Mr. JINKS
FOR millions of youngsters Friday teatime is the peak of the viewing week. Spellbound they watch Yogi Bear's exploits. Which is as it should be, for Yogi is glorious kid stuff.
But I know a minor poet, a university graduate, an American expatriate professional man, two market porters and a road sweeper who contrive to get home in time that evening to join their children round the telly.
What is the subtle appeal that unites such an unlikely cross-section? As a member of the Yogi Union in good standing, let me try to the drawing power of these animated animals—Yogi himself and Boo-Boo; Huckleberry Hound, the dog; Mr. Jinks, the cat. and Dixie and Pixie, the meeces Mr. Jinks hates to pieces.
My conclusion is that they have a methodical madness which interprets the subconscious loves and hates of men and nations.
Although it is Yogi Bear who has given his name to the cult, it is Mr. Jinks the Cat who sits most behind the psychiatrist's couch. He is the one who interprets our love-hate libidos, our blood-lusting and our bravado.
His everlasting feud against Dixie and Pixie, the mice, fulfils our human yearning to give the other fellow a bloody nose without really hurting him.
Here is the magic of Mr. Jinks and the meeces he hates to pieces.
They inflict upon one another the most devastating punishment. But after the horrendous impact, both sides testily shake themselves and walk unscathed away.
"I hates meeces to pieces," breathes Mr. Jinks with venom. I despises them mices."
But the day the meeces disappeared. Mr. Jinks moped on his bed, inconsolable with grief. And another day when Mr. Jinks was missing, the meeces went to pieces.
That was the love-hate relationship showing clear. You always love the one you hate.
Yogi Bear sits on the other side of the couch. He is the excitable fall-guy in all of us, the permanent sucker who never learns.
With the dead-pan expression and the self-satisfied voice, with an upward lilt like Schnozzle Durante, Yogi and his little stooge Boo-Boo always become involved.
Yogi is emotional, but self-centred with it. He is forever trying to help, while helping himself.
Huckleberry Hound—who drags out his name like a hunting cry: How-ow-ownd!—is Don Quixote tilting at windmills.
He is the good-natured, love-thy-neighbour, turn-cheek we would all like to be, and aren't.
He is the knight with a broken lance, the prince of derring-don't.
When he besieges the wicked knight's castle the portcullis is sure to fall, the moat to drain, the molten lead to pour.
And when he reaches his fair damsel in distress, she turns out to be a toothless hag.
But Huckleberry takes it all with good grace and lives to fight another day.
There they all are, our mixed-up love-hate, do-good, derring-do subconscious selves, scribbled in a psychiatrist's notebook by a gang of shadow animals. Or are they more real than we like to think? Do we all hate meeces to pieces?