The cartoons produced by Leonardo/TTV copied many of their characters and situations from the golden age of America's old-time radio shows. A few examples: Phineas J. Whoopee's closet full of cascading junk was copied from 'Fibber McGee and Molly'. Tennessee Tuxedo's walrus sidekick Cholmondeley was based on Finnegan, a character in 'Duffy's Tavern'. The canine sleuth known as the Hunter was vocalised by Kenny Delmar, using the same voice he'd previously used for playing Senator Claghorn on Fred Allen's radio show. All of these 'tributes' to old-time radio are welcome, because they were funny the first time and were funny again in these animated incarnations.
Each episode of 'The Beagles' began with a gimmick borrowed from the old-time radio sitcom 'Blondie'. "Don't touch that dial!" yelled an animated cartoon character, engaged in some bizarre activity. "It's time for the Beagles!"
'The Beagles' followed the cliffhanger format initiated in Jay Ward's cartoons, with the characters experiencing a serialised adventure in four consecutive instalments (two per half-hour show), the first three chapters ending with the characters in some peril to be continued next time. The Beagles were a couple of musical hounds, apparently (in their cartoon universe) major recording stars. Stringer was the tall endomorph extrovert guitarist, who usually had to rescue his shorter, chubbier and more neurotic partner Tubby, the bass player. (Typically, Tubby would get caught in some disaster and would bellow 'String-gaah!' in his Noo Yawk Jewish accent, summoning his taller buddy.) The Beagles were managed by Scotty, a mercenary Scottish terrier who was always trying to squeeze one more hit song out of his overworked clients, and constantly dreaming up bizarre publicity stunts that triggered most of the dangers for the Beagles.
In one adventure, the Beagles had just written a sure-fire hit song called "Sharin' Wishes Over Dishes", thus inspiring Scotty to get the Beagles employed as dishwashers (huh?), which will supposedly be a great publicity stunt for the new song. Tubby falls into a giant automated dishwashing machine. Can Stringer rescue his buddy, or will Tubby get scalded to death by hot detergent? Tune in next week, kiddies! Another time, the Beagles have written a song called 'Thanks to the Man in the Moon'. Scotty decides to publicise this song by having the Beagles dress up in spacesuits and pose in the airlock of a real rocketship. Of course, Tubby accidentally bumps into the control panel, sending the Beagles to a distant planet where they contend with giant aliens. Hoo boy.
'The Beagles' was predictable and repetitive with it, but did feature two nice gimmicks. The songs performed in each adventure by Tubby and Stringer were surprisingly good, ranging in musical style from borderline soft-rock to gentle ballads, with intelligent lyrics. The other gimmick (also used at about this time by Jay Ward for 'Hoppety Hooper') was a trailer at the end of each half-hour show, previewing a brief clip of the most exciting portion of next week's episodes. 'The Beagles' was not especially good, but it was more pleasant - and funnier - than a lot of the mindless cartoon rubbish which has polluted Saturday mornings in more recent years. All of the cartoon series from the Leonardo/TTV studio (including 'The Beagles') tend to be very similar in style and humour to Jay Ward's cartoons, without ever being quite as good as Ward's. By the way, the 'Treadwell Covington' credited as executive producer in Leonardo/TTV's cartoons isn't a real person: he's a nonexistent in-joke, equivalent to 'Ponsonby Britt OBE' in the cartoons made by Jay Ward's studio.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?