Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A PAGE RIGHT OUT OF HISTORY

Famed animator & producer Joe Barbara died yesterday at the ripe old age of 95. Along with his long-time creative partner Bill Hanna, Barbara was responsible for Tom & Jerry, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Dastardly & Mutley, and The Jetsons.

Like most kids, I watched and enjoyed these cartoons. But, compared to the world of Bugs and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang, those were second tier. Sorry, but that's just how it is. I know Yogi was smarter than the average bear, and without Snagglepuss I wouldn't know what murgatroid is (come to think of it, I still don't know what murgatroid is). But the animation wasn't as good, and the wit, while sharp, wasn't at the same level. That said, I've come to praise Barbara, not to bury him. So, if I may, the two reasons I bothered with this post:
The Flintstones & Scooby-Doo.
Two of my favorites, without a doubt. I literally cannot contemplate my childhood without those two shows. I watched The Flintstones every day for most of my childhood, seeing every episode many, many times over. From the early, animated/stone-age-Honeymooners riffing straight through the very mid-sixties stylings of the Gruesomes, Ann Margrock, The Great Gazoo, and one of my favorite lines in pop culture history -- Everybody into the pyooooool -- I was a Flintstones man. Along with Mad Magazine and early SNL, I don't know where I'd have gotten my absurdist sense of humor if not for the animals-as-household-gadgets gags on those shows.

And, at least until that fucking imposter, Scrappy Doo, came along to ruin it, I was a huge fan of Those Meddling Kids, with their psychedelic bus, psychedelic Scooby snacks (a walking, talking dog who was the hippie guy's best friend, c'mon?), thinly-veiled Fred & Daphne shag-a-thon, and . . . well, Velma. I was never to big a Velma fan, but then again who was?

Anyhow, I loved Scooby-Doo almost as much as I loved The Flintstones.

So, if you'll all join me for a moment, have yourself a Scooby-snack, and let's ride with the Meddling Kids and the Modern Stone Age Family down the street in the Mystery Machine through the courtesy of Fred's two feet for a short parade in honor of the man who created all the characters. We'll have a Yabba-Dabba-Scooby-Doo time (gay, old folks welcome). That's a fact.

RIP, Joe.

21 Comments:

Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

And lest we forget Tom & Jerry, which won 7 Oscars, more than Bugs and the gang.
Do you remember the Saturday Morning H/B races? Classic stuff.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

The Wacky races, right?

10:59 AM  
Blogger Weaseldog said...

Another icon lost.

So sad.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

I am right there with you, Mike, on my own perception that Hanna-Barbara cartoons were second-tier to Looney Toons. Warner Bros kicked their butts.

But as you said, I would not be who I am today were it not for copious amounts of Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear and Flintstones. At the very least, I appreciate Barbara for contributing to who I am today.

Yes, Scooby Doo was ruined by Scrappy. Why do people do that?

Flintstones was ruined by Hollywood. Of course.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

That's the one Mike.
And who can forget Dirk Dastardley - "Catch that Pigeon"

I choose to forget "The Flintstones" was ever made into a movie, much less a sequel. Goodman I can kinda get, but the guy in the sequel? No thanks.

12:27 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Have you ever watched Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law on Adult Swim? All the Hanna Barbera characters get updated with modern problems and need the legal services of Harvey Birdman (super hero turned lawyer).

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Yes, Scooby Doo was ruined by Scrappy. Why do people do that?

There are people who torture animals, pick on weaklings, and commit other crimes and misdemeanors.

(And some of them aren't elected President.)

I dunno, Smitty. The Scappy Doo question was one of the first metaphysical dilemmas I contemplated in my young life. And I still haven't found a satisfactory answer.

Flintstones was ruined by Hollywood. Of course.

I'm with Ed on that one. I pretend this never happened.

And Ed, yeah, I loved Dastardly & Mutley & Their Flying Machines. Just the most bizarre collection of fucked-up contraptions episode-after-episode. Inspired craziness.

Remember Mutley: Medal, medal, medal.

Never saw that, DED. When is (was) it on?

12:59 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

The Wacky races, right?

Actually, I believe the name was the Laff-a-Lympics. Three teams of characters -- the Yogi Yahooies, the Scooby-Doobies, and the Really Rottens. It was sort of a cartoon ripoff of the Battle of the Network Stars, but with Blue Falcon in there instead of Telly Savalas.

And Harvey Birdman is hysterical. The two main voices are Gary Cole (Lundberg from Office Space) and Stephen Colbert. Terrific stuff.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

otto man - I think both answers are correct. Two different types of shows IIRC.
And I watched an inordinate amount of cartoons as a child. And still would, if I had Booomerang on my cable network.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Laff-a-Lympics. Three teams of characters -- the Yogi Yahooies, the Scooby-Doobies, and the Really Rottens.

Good memory, OM. I remember the Laff-o-lympics. And those were the three teams. Mutley -- called "Mumbly" -- was the captain of the really rottens.

But on WPIX (for the NYers among us; Looney tunes were on WNEW) there was a set of shows that reveolved around the same crew of characters: Dastardly & Mutley & Their Flying Machines, The Adventures of Penelope Pitstop, and I thought, The Wacky Races or the Wacky Racers which seemed, basically, to combine the two into one big race show.

1:55 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Harvey Birdman isn't on at anytime soon I'm afraid. Here's the lowdown:

www.adultswim.com/shows/birdman/

3:32 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Oh, and that would be on Cartoon Network.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Toast said...

Loved the Flintstones. Every Friday around quitting time I start whistling the Flintstones theme and email "Yabba Dabba Doo!" to my wife to let her know I'm leaving the office.

Hated Scooby Doo. Just thought it was the most irritating, sappy, and completely formulaic cartoon of all time.

Loved and hated Tom & Jerry. In the early years, when they just beat the living fuck out of each other, it was brilliant. Even better than Roadrunner. The shows in the later years, when Jerry grew 3x in apparent size and they had him team up with Tom as buddies? That was absolute sacriledge.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Toast said...

Yes, Scooby Doo was ruined by Scrappy. Why do people do that?

Godzilla was a compelling cartoon character until Godzuki came along. Zan and Jayna were an innocuous presence in the Hall of Justice until their spacemonkey Gleek showed up. Need I remind anyone of Bat Mite?

Cute. It kills cartoons dead.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Toast said...

But on WPIX

WPIX was the best channel ever. When we got cable in the Boston area, that was one of the out-of-market independents that Warner offerred. That channel was the crack cocaine of afternoon television.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

quitting time

Love it.

Scooby: irritating, sappy, and completely formulaic

Can't argue with "formulaic," that's for certain. And "irritating" is in the eye of the beholder, and since you were the one doing the beholding . . .

But "sappy"? Not sure I see how? Didn't seem to be too much of that sort of thing, at least not til the later years when Scrappy Doo came along to join the NY Islanders in their dual effort to destroy the remaining golden years of my childhood.

Successfully in both cases.

Tom & Jerry was just another in a long series of chase & destroy 'toons I wasn't crazy about. Woody, Heckle & Jeckle, T & J, Chilly Willy. Watched them, wasn't a huge fan.

But the Road Runner was different story. BIG fan.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I thought God-fuckin-zookie was always on Godzilla, from the Godzilla Power Hour right through the Godzilla Super 90.

Godzilla was actually a throw-away character on that cartoon, rising from the depths to DO GOOD (!!!) when ever God-fuckin-zookie got his ass in trouble. Which was every episode.

Plus, if you remember, Godzilla never did much more than roar in that "squeeze out a hard one" way.

Jana of the Jungle was part of the Godzilla Pwer Hour, right?

Speaking of cute, after Scrappy "The Shithead" Doo ruined Scooby Doo, and my childhood, forever, didn't The Shmoo show up on that show too? Or was he on one of those horrible late-70's Flintstones re-treads?

Ohhh, I'm soooooo confused.

WPIX as crack is a good analogy: cheap-ass high, of clearly low quality, but no one on earth could say no.

Sorta' like Pop Rocks.

5:48 PM  
Blogger SpaceCowboy said...

WPIX was also good to go with those regular re-runs of The Honeymooners.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I just couldn't roll with The Honeymooners as a kid.

Not saying I loved it when I got older, but I saw the humor in Jackie and Art, plus it was cool when I figured out that my Flintstones were based on the show.

But as a kid, all I saw were black & white sets, a screaming fat guy (not animated with a ironed-on 5 o'clock shadow), and women with those "weird" haircuts like my grandmothers had in the old photos.

WPIX also had the Yankees, back when they still played the Da-da . . . da-da-da-da-DA . . . da-da-da . . . song before the games. I was watching the team on WOR myself.

6:12 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Didn't WPIX also run all of the Abbott and Costello movies too?

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Could be. But really not sure.

Either 5, 9, or 11, that's for sure -- I can use NY TV numbers at this point.

Used to get a lot of Abbott & Costello & Three Stooges on TV, that I remember. The Stooges were 11 I think.

8:07 PM  

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