Family-oriented TV series, produced by MGM, in which animated versions of the "Wizard of Oz" characters were used as wrap-arounds to introduce various family-oriented films from the MGM ... See full summary »
Cartooning a Caricature of Man's Basic Instincts: Eye Poking , Tearing Out of Tonsils and Extending Stooges' Shelf Life; or Back (Slap!) to the Drawing Board!!
After about a half decade or so of revived popularity and the acquisition of new generations of fans,the Boys continued in popularity. It was becoming increasingly apparent that the artistic* control of The 3 Stooges was rapidly passing from Moe's son-in-law, Norman Maurer to the team of Mother Nature and Father Time. Their own birth certificates were making a prima facia case their against their continuing in the Movie and TV businesses.
Certainly they would not be doing a comedy picture much longer, be it a short subject or a feature, with the same gusto as before. Who could? So, what to do? How to continue working for their fans, for themselves, for posterity?
The answer was Television Animation. There was a precedent for this genre already existing. There were two examples, as a matter of fact! In A.D. 1966, the top TV animation studios, Hanna-Barberra Productions, produced and released to local stations both "Laurel & Hardy" and "Abbott & Costello" cartoons. Following the usual H & B format, they used the half hour length. Each program has an opening introductory theme song, a signature theme, 3 cartoon shorts of about 7 or 8 minutes duration and in between bridge animations.
This system had been working well for the likes of Hucklebery Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Ruff & Reddy, etc. So it was for "Abbott & Costello" and "Laurel & Hardy", and did have some more limited success.
Both members of The Laurel & Hardy team had died by this time. Oliver "Babe" Hardy passing away in 1957 and Stan Laurel in 1965. This "Laurel & Hardy " show had voices done by Larry Harmon(Stan)** and Jim McGeorge(Ollie). As for the Abbott & Costello cartoons, Stan Irwin did his best impersonation of Lou Costello on that sound track. But, Bud Abbott was still around on planet Earth and did his own voice. That would seem to be an advantage, a leg up, so to speak.
Well the Stooges were all there-at least the present day team who appeared in those Kiddie market features. Starting in 1959 with HAVE ROCKET WILL TRAVEL, the team consisted of original members, Moe Howard and Larry Fine. The Third Stooge was "Curly" Joe DeRita.*** So, Normandy Productions(Stooges own Production Co with Norman Maurer as C.E.O.), struck a deal with Cambria Animation Productions (of CLUTCH CARGO fame)to do a series. It was no FANTASIA, but it was not bad either, for Television Animation, I mean.
The format called for Color Photography and use of both Live Action and Animated Cartoon scenes. But these would not be of the mixed variety as employed by Max Fleischer's OUT OF THE INKWELL(Koko the Clown), Walt Disney's early effort, ALICE IN CARTOONLAND or the more recent WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?(1988) and SPACE JAM(1996).
Each little cartoon episodic adventure had a prologue to it. In it, The 3 Stooges were always busy in some work capacity. Much like their old Columbia Shorts, they seemed to be "those three new men." Janitors in a Dentist's Office, Window Washers on Scaffolding, Factory Workers and Gas Station Attendants were typical of locales and occupations that they had.
After an animated color sequence featuring a most appropriate, snappy and up-beat original theme music, they would open at these prelude scenes(as good a place as any to open!), do a short, little bit of business which related to the upcoming animation's story. Then the Cartoon's Title, and we'd be off.
It seemed that THE NEW 3 STOOGES never got to be a powerhouse of an animated series, being always in syndication(somebody correct me if that's incorrect), but hardly any others did, except for Hanna-Barbera's and Filmation's series(and later some others), and that was mostly Saturday morning's time slot.**** THE NEW 3 STOOGES does remain dear to my own heart, though. The stories were quick, snappy, pleasant and very Stooge-like. That's a very important factor with any "adapted"(not "adopted") cartoon series.
And there's just one other point. The use of the Live Action opening sketches may have been the most original innovation of the series. We suppose that there those viewers who look at this aspect of the series as only a cost cutting device, foisted on our Stooges by some suits and began counters. We think not.
The live portion showed us the Boys in a contemporary setting. It also gave a chance to make use of another player or two. And even old Nemesis, Emil Sitka dropped-by once or twice.
That alone made the openings worth it!
* I'll bet you that The Stooges would be as surprised as anyone to hear "Artistic" connected with their work!
** Yes, the very same Larry Harmon of BOZO THE CLOWN fame!
*** Joe DeRita was the fourth guy to play the 3rd Stooge. The late brothers Jerry("Curly") and Shemp Howard being the earliest partners in the act(not together), and funny man Joe Besser, who was in the last couple of years of the shorts, chose not to continue, not wanting to travel and never being fond of the part anyway. On behalf of 3 Stooges fans everywhere,please let us offer a belated, "Thanks, Joe!"
**** Some notable exceptions were Hanna-Barbera's THE FLINTSTONES, THE JETSONS and JOHNNY QUEST. There was also CALVIN AND THE COLONEL by Messers. Freeman Gosden & Charles Correll, the former AMOS 'n' ANDY on the Olde Time Radio, late 1920's to mid 1950's.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?