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Sam The Sheep Dog and Ralph Wolf are probably two Looney Tunes
characters who are unfamiliar to a lot of viewers.....me included. As
fellow reviewer here, Robert Reynolds, points out: the prints in this
series featuring those two don't seem to be available, although I have
seen these two characters in another cartoon somewhere. Perhaps they
weren't available when he wrote that in 2002.
Ralph, by the way, is an earlier edition of "Wile E. Coyote" of "Road Runner" fame. Here, we get to see him a little different and get to hear him talk (although not much). These guys pretend to be buddies but once the day starts and they go their separate ways - it ain't so: Sam is guarding the sheep and Ralph is after them! At the end of the day, they are buddies again and goodnight to each other as if nothing happened!
The stories are all the same, whether it is Ralph and Sam or Wile and the Road Runner. One is after something and just never gets it. In the process, he (Ralph, in this case) gets brutalized every time. The inventive methods the wolf uses are almost always funny. In fact, I think these Ralph-Sam 'toons are just as good if not better than the Road Runner efforts. For example, the bridge made out of firecrackers was outstanding!
This series of shorts was brief (seven in total), but it's one of Chuck Jones' best concepts and, sadly, not a single one appears to be in print at present, which is a pity, because they are hilarious. Sam and Ralph are an interesting combination and the idea that forms the core to these is great! The ending to this one is particularly good. The ending to the last of the shorts (Woolen Under Where) is the best of them all, but this one's is a very close second. Cartoon Network runs the Sam and Ralph shorts fairly often, but they really should be in print. Well worth watching. Recommended.
OK, so people watching the Ralph Wolf-Sam Sheepdog probably will agree
that Ralph looks almost exactly like Wile E. Coyote, except of course
for his red nose. And, in both series, the canine character has a goal
but always gets maimed in his attempts to catch it.
However, there is another aspect to this series: Ralph and Sam's friendship. They check in for work each day, cordially greeting each other. During working hours, they remain enemies. For lunch, they become buddies once again. After lunch, they resume their antagonistic personalities. At the day's end, the two are pals yet again. One might see this as a possible allusion to Cold War* tensions, or even to people's daily lives. Chuck Jones said that sheepdogs only become sheepdogs when they go to work. Don't we all have to change our personalities just a little when we go to work or school? Another aspect is the flip side of the Wile E. Coyote-Road Runner cartoons. Whereas WEC never traps his prey, Ralph often does (only to have Sam clobber him). While RR spends nearly all day running, Sam chooses a spot from which to watch the sheep and almost never moves from it (except to deal with Ralph). Parallel worlds, but different lifestyles.
Of course, the main point is to have fun watching the cartoon, and you most certainly will. I recommend it.
*Speaking of Cold War tensions, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Sputnik. The USSR sent a satellite around the earth and sent the first man into space, but the USA landed on the moon, so I guess that it balances out.
At the beginning of the cartoon, they both exit their neighboring
houses on the way to work, Sam tosses the paper at Ralph/Wilee's door
to let him know it's time to go, he comes out eating a piece of
cantaloupe for breakfast. Just little bits and pieces of hilarity that
make these cartoons so funny; it's stuff you'll never see any other
kind of cartoon.
The Ralph/Sam cartoons are basically the same as the Road Runner/Wilee cartoons but instead of the Road Runner, it's sheep and the sheep can't defend for themselves like the RR, so Sam watches over them. Otherwise the premise is the same and they're absolutely some of the funniest WB cartoons ever. This one is a classic.
You can get this great cartoon on Looney Tunes Volume 3 (on Disk 4 of the set). A must for any Looney Tunes fan.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ah yes, another day, another dollar -- or whatever these two guys are paid -- but however much it is, it can't be enough for poor Ralph who staggers home at the end of this shift in such rough shape that Sam actually offers to do both jobs tomorrow. The characters' off-hours friendship is more firmly established in this episode, where, in the opening scene, we see Sam thoughtfully sliding Ralph's newspaper to his front door. But once the whistle sounds, the two are mortal enemies and Ralph's attempts to "steal wool" are constantly thwarted by Sam's iron fists. Ralph seems even more like Wile E Coyote here, especially in light of what happens to him in the last few minutes of this hilarious cartoon, when he's blasted by a cannon and then battered and bruised by boulders, logs and even a flying tree!! No wonder the poor guy needs a vacation at the end of the episode.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cleverly directed by Chuck Jones, "Steal Wool" is a Warner Bros.
cartoon starring Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog. After they go through
their usual morning ritual of going to work together and clocking in,
this cartoon then gets down to business. Sam guards the sheep while
Ralph tries to steal them for a snack. Wherever Ralph goes, Sam goes,
but we never see Sam move; Ralph sneaks over toward a sheep and WHAM,
Sam appears, and you can be certain he's not too happy.
Here are my favorite moments from "Steal Wool". As Sam catches Ralph with a sheep, Ralph pushes the sheep away and dances a quick jig; he ends up with an accordion nose. Some wonderful sound effects abound during the final gag involving a giant rubber band and two huge boulders.
You know what's peculiar about the relationship between Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog? Ralph consistently gets pummeled by Sam, but when the two of them begin and end their workday, they're best friends, as though there were no such physical confrontations between them!
Another of Chuck Jones' Sam Sheepdog & Ralph Wolf shorts. The premise for all of these was the same: Sam & Ralph are friends but everyday they punch a clock and become enemies. Ralph tries to steal the sheep under Sam's protection and Sam clobbers him for his efforts. The big joke is that this is all in a day's work and whenever the two are off the clock they are still pals. It's an amusing and clever idea but that's what Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese cartoons were known for. This one has several funny gags, including one where Ralph builds a bridge out of dynamite. The animation is excellent. I particularly liked the look on the face of the sheep in Ralph's first theft attempt. It's a good short in a solid series that deserves more recognition.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . (that is, he can both protect and prey upon the lambs) to Wile Coyote, in the latter's undercover guise of Ralph Wolf. As is typical, Warner Bros. is warning we People of the 21st Century with this 1957 Looney Tune--STEAL WOOL--that this UN-American sheep business has gone on for long enough, and that it MUST be nipped in the butt (preferably by 1960). Sheep are Universally recognized as the Mammal Kingdom's most stupid member, as well as for being virtually inedible. (If cattle were sheep, we'd call our T-Bone steaks "calf," since when you order sheep in a restaurant, you have to ask for "lamb.") Sheep fur, also known as "wool," is so hideously Tough and Tangly that we've named our most abrasive iron scrubbers after it. Wool as a now-discontinued "fabric" was best known for attracting moth worms when dry, and giving off a horrendous stench when damp. Wet wool absorbs 200 times its weight in water, and infamously drowned half the sailors of the 1800s. Incomprehensibly, the venomous U.S. Wool Cartel was allowed to BRIBE three American taxpayer-funded agencies to collaborate in the machine gunning of an endangered sleeping Mama Grizzly Bear using military assault rifles fired from a helicopter in Montana this week for allegedly having TWO (!) strikes against her in respect to Satan's Sheep! This violated the Sheep Weasels' own "3-strike rule." Please join me in expressing your outrage over this travesty to the President immediately!
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