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Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Airing Date: September 30, 1960
Stars: The Flintstones
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Flintstone Flyer © Hanna-Barbera‘The Flintstone Flyer’ was the very first Flintstone episode aired on television. The story was one of two already conceived before the series went to production and used to sell the series (the other one was ‘The Swimming Pool‘).

The episode establishes many aspects of the series: the setting may be in the stone age, this is a rather poor excuse for a suburban situation comedy depicting very a very standard family from mid-20th century indeed, complete with modern inventions like cars, telephone and television (how the latter two work is never revealed). This is little wonder, as the series was modeled after ‘The Honeymooners’ (aired 1955-1956), which features remarkably similar characters (for example, they love bowling, too).

Hanna and Barbera’s stone age is one of pure fantasy, and features dinosaurs coexisting with humans, despite the fact that dinosaurs had died out 65 million years before the dawn of man. In that respect ‘The Flintstones’ stand in a long tradition: dinosaurs co-existing with man could be seen in e.g. Willis O’Brien’s short ‘R.F.D. 10,000 B.C.’ (1916), in the Alley Oop comics (starting in 1932), in ‘Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur‘ (1939), in ‘Prehistoric Porky’ (1940), and Fleischer’s Stone Age cartoons from 1940.

The Flinstones tells about Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. The two are neighbors in some suburban area of ‘Bedrock’ (population 2500). They both love bowling, and are willing to lie to their wives (Wilma and Betty, respectively) to go out to play their favorite game. When bowling, Fred has a particular walk on his toes, and when excited he shouts ‘Yabba-dabba doo!’.

In this particular episode, the guys want to go bowling, while they have to go to the opera with their wives. So, Fred pretends to be ill and then the two literally fly off to the bowling alley, using a flying machine Barney has invented before. The opera itself is a typical mismatch of Wagnerian costume and bel canto singing, a trope frequently encountered in cartoons.

The complete cartoon moves at a steady pace, and by 2018 one can only conclude that the humor is rather dated. One cannot resist the thought what poor marriages these must be that one cannot be honest to each other. This sets the tone of many episodes to come: by now they only seem to demonstrate the inequality between men and women at the time.

Moreover, little to nothing is done with the stone age concept: we watch monkeys grabbing the pins, and a soda machine that’s operated by a man, but that’s about it.

No, despite Warner Bros. veterans Warren Foster and Michael Maltese working on the stories, the classic status of this very first animated series to be aired on prime time must come from its appealing designs by Ed Benedict (who had designed cavemen before, for Tex Avery’s ‘The First Bad Man’ from 1955), clever layouts by Dick Bickenbach and Walt Clinton, and great background artwork (e.g. featuring olive skies) by Art Lozzi, Fernando Montealegre, Robert Gentle and Dick Thomas. Even the limited animation (by the likes of top-animators Ken Muse, Carlo Vinci, Ed Love, Don Patterson and Dick Lundy) remains quite interesting throughout, even if the designs are rather off at times.

Watch ‘The Flintstone Flyer’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Flintstone Flyer’ is released on the DVD-set ‘The Flintstones: The Complete First Season’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: July 12, 1947
Stars: Foghorn Leghorn, Henery Hawk, Sylvester
Rating:  ★★★½
Review:

Crowing Pains © Warner Brothers‘Crowing Pains’ is Foghorn Leghorn’s second cartoon, and it immediately starts where the first (‘Walky Talky Hawky‘, from the previous year) left off: Henery Hawk wants to catch a chicken, and Foghorn Leghorn tricks him by pointing out somebody else as a chicken. This time it’s Sylvester, in an early appearance.

The cartoon is full of Warren Foster-penned nonsense, but the interplay between the four characters (the barnyard dog is also involved) doesn’t develop very well, and seems an early forerunner of the odd pairings of characters of some Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1960s. Unlike those, however, ‘Crowing Pains’ remains an enjoyable cartoon, albeit not among McKimson’s most inspired shorts.

Watch ‘Crowing Pains’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: April 12, 1947
Stars: Daffy Duck
Rating:  ★★★
Review:

Birth of a Notion © Warner BrothersDaffy Duck tricks a dog called Leopold with a ‘poisoned bone’ to let him stay at his house during the winter.

Unfortunately, the dog’s owner is an evil scientist (a caricature of Peter Lorre) who happens to be looking for a duck’s wishbone. This leads to a wild chase full of pretty weird gags and off-beat dialogue penned by Warren Foster.

‘Birth of a Nation’ is the second of two Warner Bros. cartoons featuring Peter Lorre as a mad scientist, the other being ‘Hair-Raising Hare’ from 1946. New voice artist Stan Freberg does an excellent job in mimicking and parodying Lorre’s typical voice.

Watch ‘Birth of a Notion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Daffy Duck cartoon No. 36
To the previous Daffy Duck cartoon: The Great Piggy Bank Robbery
To the next Daffy Duck cartoon: Along Came Daffy

‘Birth of a Notion’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Six’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 March 26, 1949
Stars:
 Daffy Duck, Porky Pig
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

Daffy Duck Hunt © Warner BrothersWith ‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ Robert McKimson returned to the subject of Daffy’s very first cartoon, ‘Porky’s Duck Hunt’ (1937).

Like in the original cartoon Porky Pig is hunting ducks, and Daffy in particular, to no avail. He’s now accompanied by a dog (a typical McKimson design). To trick Daffy, the dog convinces Daffy that he will be tortured if he doesn’t retrieve a duck, so Daffy allows the Dog to take him to Porky. Porky takes Daffy back home and puts him into a particularly cold fridge. From now on almost all the action takes place around the fridge in a wonderfully loony cartoon (penned by Warren Foster) full of wild gags and zany animation.

‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ is one of those Warren Foster/Robert McKimson cartoons that celebrate Daffy’s looniness perfectly. Highlight is a gag in which Daffy jumps out of the fridge in a Santa suit making Porky and the dog believe it’s Christmas. This gag is a nice and equally hilarious variation on a classic gag from Freleng’s ‘The Wabbit Who Came to Supper’ from 1942, in which Bugs Bunny made Elmer believe it’s new year’s day.

Watch ‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 125
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Paying the Piper
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Curtain Raizor

This is Daffy Duck cartoon No. 49
To the previous Daffy Duck cartoon: Holiday for Drumsticks
To the next Daffy Duck cartoon: Boobs in the Woods

‘Daffy Duck Hunt’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume One’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 April 9, 1949
Stars:
 Bugs Bunny
Rating
:
★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Rebel Rabbit © Warner BrothersTo his nuisance Bugs Bunny discovers that rabbits (2 cts.) are less worth than foxes ($50) and bears ($75).

He mails himself to Washington, where the game commissioner (“I’m game”) explains to him that rabbits are harmless and therefore worthless for hunters. Bugs decides to be harmful to increase his value. And harmful indeed he gets!

A few of his hilarious actions include painting the obelisk at Washington like a barber’s pole, returning Manhattan to the Indians, cutting off Florida, and filling the grand canyon with sand. He manages to raise the prize on his head to a million dollars, but he ends in Alcatraz prison, too, wondering whether he has carried things too far…

‘Rebel Rabbit’ is full of the zany spirit of the early Warren Foster/Robert McKimson cartoons, and, together with ‘Easter Yeggs‘ (1947) and ‘Hillbilly Hare‘ from a year later, probably the best of all Robert McKimson Bugs Bunny cartoons.

This wonderfully zany cartoon features live army footage.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Rebel Rabbit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 58
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Mississippi Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: High Diving Hare

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date:
 August 7, 1950
Stars:
 Porky Pig, Daffy Duck
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Boobs in the Woods © Warner BrothersIn ‘Boobs in the Woods’ Porky wants to paint in a forest, but he’s bothered by a particularly loony Daffy.

This cartoon is a typical example of Warren Foster-penned zaniness. Daffy makes no mistake about his zany character, which is similar to the one in the Foster/McKimson outings, like ‘Daffy Doodles’ (1946), ‘Daffy Duck Slept Here‘ (1948) and ‘Daffy Duck Hunt‘ (1949): in the opening scene he introduces himself in a loony song.

Nevertheless, ‘Boobs in the Woods’ is one of the last cartoons featuring this loony version of Daffy. Two months later Jones would introduce a different type in ‘The Scarlet Pumpernickel‘.

Apart from the excellent gags, ‘Boobs in the Woods’ is noteworthy for its extremely stylized and surprisingly flat backgrounds by Cornett Wood and Richard H. Thomas.

Watch ‘Boobs in the Woods’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 130
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Bye, Bye Bluebeard
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: The Scarlet Pumpernickel

This is Daffy Duck cartoon No. 50
To the previous Daffy Duck cartoon: Daffy Duck Hunt
To the next Daffy Duck cartoon: The Scarlet Pumpernickel

‘Boobs in the Woods’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume One’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: March 6, 1948
Stars: Daffy Duck, Porky Pig
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Daffy Duck Slept Here © Warner BrothersPorky Pig tries to find a room in a town in which all hotels are full due to a convention.

When he finally finds one, he has to share it with a room mate, which turns out to be Daffy at his looniest. Daffy certainly is your worst nightmare of a room mate: he arrives singing loudly, talks to an invisible kangaroo, awakes Porky just out of curiosity, hiccups, steals blankets, puts his cold feet against Porky’s back and spills his glass of water over him. Porky, naturally, throws the looney duck out, but Daffy returns and makes Porky believe it’s morning already, and that he has to catch a train, which Porky eventually does, defying all logic.

This zany Warren Foster-penned story undoubtedly is one of Robert McKimson’s finest cartoons. The gags come fast and plenty, and are as insane as they are familiar. ‘Daffy Duck Slept Here’ is one of the last Warner Brothers cartoons to feature the looney Daffy. The result is a cartoon to laugh your head off.

On a side note: The elevator gag in this cartoon was reused in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit‘ (1988) starring Droopy as the lift boy.

Watch ‘Daffy Duck Slept Here’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 117
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Little Orphan Airedale
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Nothing But the Tooth

This is Daffy Duck cartoon No. 42
To the previous Daffy Duck cartoon: What Makes Daffy Duck?
To the next Daffy Duck cartoon: You Were Never Duckier

‘Daffy Duck Slept Here’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Three’

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