On to day three! As you might surmise from the vintage tube-TV to the left, today’s wanderings take us through some classic TV programs of my youth. Mind you, with exploding cable networks starving for content, you’ve got a lot of old TV shows out there, but I think we can stir up a few musty memories, just the same. I’ve tried to stay away from the obvious, but it’s a personal journey, so who can say…
The original dancing frogs, tea kettles and anthropomorphic creatures, Merrie Melodies was the chief source of exploding imagination combined with great music. There was some content that wouldn’t get off the scripting table in today’s oh-so-sensitive world, but it was hilarious and immensely entertaining and (amazing) it didn’t turn me into a twisted, stereotype-laden stupid man.
Kimba was created in the then-new “Japanimation” style (if you’ve seen the original Speed Racer, you know what I’m talking about). Plenty of scenes of Kimba “racing” along, mouth agape with the “speed lines” passing below his paws. Wow, that’s fast! (And pretty cheap, production-wise).
I can’t seem to find anyone who remembers this oddball cartoon, once again in that same Japanese style. Prince Planet gained his powers when his “P” pendant filled to the top, signifying his energy was recharged. He could fly and do all sorts of super stunts…for as long as his “P” was full. I never thought that was icky until just typing that sentence.
Such was the claim to fame of Snagglepuss, a bit of a cowardly lion and pretty evocative of the future Pink Panther, his famous expression above was only exceeded by his other popular phrase, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”.
Snaggle was a back-up on the Quick-Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear cartoons (yeah, those were great, but you probably already remember them).
Since we’re in a lion section, I’d like to give a shout out to Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har: “Oh me, oh my!”
We’re now into our time travel section, kicking off with Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Anytime you have animals wearing glasses, you’re sure that character is the smart one. Don’t be fooled by Sherman’s glasses (by the way, he’s the kid), he’s usually the one getting into trouble.
I always recall this cartoon as Mr. Wizard, but it’s really Tooter the Turtle. Mr. Wizard is his lizard (of course, since it rhymes) friend that waves a magic wand sending Tooter into adventure (and trouble). He is always brought back safely with the famous rhyme, “Twizzle, twazzle, twozzle, twome, time for this one to come home”. I could never fully remember the first part, but I always remember that last line!
As if “Tennessee Tuxedo will not fail!” (a line I repeated so many times I learned to do a Don Adams impersonation) was not enough reason to watch, you also had Mr. Whoopee’s Three Dimensional Blackboard (affectionately referred to as 3D-BB).
Suave, professional and daring, he was the mold-breaker private eye. Future TV P.I.’s would be unkempt, clumsy or just ordinary. Not Peter! Plus, he had one of the best themes ever created for TV.
A Blake Edwards creation, I also throw a shout out to another of Blake’s shows at the time, “Mr. Lucky”.
Another of TV’s greatest themes, and keeping it in the family (he’s Mike’s Dad), Chuck Connors as the Rifleman. A swell western with a rock-jawed hero who totally sold the image of a old-west rancher who had uncanny skill with his Winchester rifle. The “trick” was, he could shoot it rapid-fire, as anyone who watched the opening credits (with that great theme music) would witness.
I used to watch the Johnny Weissmuller movies, so when Ron Ely brought the jungle lord to the little screen, you could find me there watching him and Cheeta and Jai (his young native friend). Oddly, there was no Jane in the series.
Ely performed his own stunts and apparently injured himself more than a few times, but I’m sure that added to the convincing feel of the show.
Didn’t I tell you about animals with glasses?
This was a dopey show (or at least dopey when you look at it now), but we were simpler then and easily amused. Besides, talking animals are always funny.
Move over Beverly Hills and wait for it, Green Acres, here’s your original rural America comedy. Well, in Green Acres’ case, that’s for certain, since it was a spin-off of this home-spun country comedy.
Sure, it’s not the type of thing a young boy in South Florida would normally choose to watch, but Mom liked it and, by extension, so did I.
Really, the “bad” guys were the most fun in this show. Sure, Bob Crane and his kooky gang were entertaining as the nominal “stars”, but Klink and Schultz stole the show and had some of the most memorable scenes and lines.
I never get tired of quoting, “Address the ball” “Hello ball!”
Perhaps “weird” is a stretch, but the 60’s was a time of variety shows and performance comedy. You had tremendous individual comedians. I fondly remember Red Skelton, though he seems underappreciated today.
Mom was a big fan of the comedy shows. Soupy, Lucy, Carol, etc. To me, Red was king. He combined fantastic physical comedy with great comedic timing. Plus, he always seemed to be having a ball! The lasting memories I have are of him cracking up in the middle of sketches.
Oboy, was that long. Sorry kids! Don’t feel mad if I didn’t hit one of your favorites, like as not, I enjoyed ’em, too. I wanted to make sure I touched on as many of the obscure ones as I could before my fingers tired.