This cartoon was developed from a local t.v. puppet show that aired in Los Angeles years before by Bob Clampett of Warner Brothers fame. It consisted of the adventures of a ship led by Captain Huffenpuff and his motley crew of Beany (a young boy wearing a - you guessed it - beanie - a plastic hat called a "Beanie-Copter" actually was marketed from this series by a toy company - Mattel?), a crow who resided in the crow's nest of the ship - he was rarely ever featured in the series and Cecil, billed as Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent. Cecil didn't ride on the ship
he swam along with Beany and the Captain wherever they went. Cecil,
or Cece (Sees), as Beany called him, basically had a long neck sticking out of the water and you never saw what was below the waterline, which prompted audiences to muse, "Did he have legs and feet, or was there just more neck?" Huffenpuff was essentially a coward who excused himself regularly to skulk off to his cabin whenever danger threatened. Beany was an overly sunny little blond guy with an annoying chuckle and Cecil (basically, the star of the show) provided the comedy relief with his husky, dopey, gravelly voice.
The antagonist was a crook-nosed baddie in a black cape-and-hat named Dishonest John, who, whenever he showed up in an episode, sat on the sidelines and tossed monkey-wrenches into whatever the crew's objective was. Many a child on a playground during this time would utter Dishonest John's signature dastardly laugh when plotting a foul deed against a playmate - "NYAH ah AAAAH!" D.J., as he was referred to by Cecil, had a voice reminiscent of Hans Conried, the voice of Captain Hook from Disney's animated Peter Pan, however, the voice was supplied by another actor entirely.
The various episodes placed the crew in plots such as discovering the dreaded Boo Birds, ghostly birds with a penchant for mischief directed toward our heroes, encountering the giant gorilla, "Ping Pong" and also, seeking to capture the "Wild Man," a bongo-playing beatnik artist in a leopard skin whose voice was supplied by Scatman Carothers ("Wild, man, wild!" "Don' bug me, man. Dooon' bug me!").
Probably the best episode out of the entire series was one where the crew goes to the moon to start a theme park called "Beanyland." As they travel through space, Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" plays along with the starlight backdrop. This cartoon was created shortly after Disneyland's debut and definite fun was poked at it (especially with the mention of where they would place a "Darned Old Duck Pond"). Captain Huffenpuff would rise into the air, a la Tinkerbell, and wave a wand issuing sparkles that would cause the park to raise magically from the surface of the moon. The resemblance to Disneyland was obvious.
There were puns aplenty in this series. It was very, very juvenile in one sense, yet packed jokes that only adults could get. There was lots of lampooning of famous characters which included, of all people, a Keely Smith-type character in the "Vegas" episode. Another episode included a sawfish named "Jack the Knife" who would break into a rendition of a song that sounded all too much like Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife," finger-snapping and all.
I loved this series - until it aired too long on Saturday morning. I could practically recite the dialog from memory. Still, the series remains a pleasant memory from my childhood.
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