George is the king of the jungle and protector of all who live there. George may be dim-witted. He may be clumsy. But what do you expect from someone who swings into trees habitually? Besides, he still manages to save the jungle and it's inhabitants from the numerous threats that besiege them. George is aided by his friend, an ape named Ape, Ursula, and his pet dog/elephant Shep. Other cartoons with George of the Jungle include Tom Slick, a gallant race car driver and Super Chicken, a fowl super hero who dips into the Super Sauce. Written by
Brian D. Switzer
Oh, my, did this Saturday morning toonfare burn holes in my brainpan at an impressionable age. True, I'd seen Rocky and Bullwinkle (and Friends) and Hoppity Hooper and Fractured Flickers, and very dimly recalled Crusader Rabbit, but none of it quite connected 'til after I'd met George, Tom Slick, and Henry Cabot Henhouse the Third (formerly Hunt Strongbird Jnr) and learned they'd all descended from a long line of animated anarchists.
Three different sets of characters, each in six-or-so fast-paced minutes saturated in true Jay Ward style with puns, sight gags, character impressions and contemporary references. Animated radio sketches, if you will, along the lines of Stan Freberg and latter-day Spike Jones, but with an innocence that makes today's Adult Swim humor scattered, scatological, and unfathomable.
Varying quality in animation and backgrounds, to be sure, but before any of it truly gets the chance to register you're into the next sketch. Visualize an elephant that thinks it's a pet dog ("Good boy, Shep!"), a race car driver rolling downhill in a doughnut ("Didja ever try to eat one?"), and a monstrous toupee rampaging through Pittsburgh ("To the Souper Coop, Fred!"), then work from there with three of the catchiest theme songs you'll ever hear.
And though the IMDb lists four voice actors you may as well hear forty. I very much would've liked to have seen these legends in the recording booth. Likely lost on recent-generation viewers are characterizations of William Bendix, Eric Blore, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Colman, Frank Fontaine, Sydney Greenstreet, Alec Guinness, Richard Haydn, Katharine Hepburn, Boris Karloff, Marjorie Main, Chico Marx, Marilyn Monroe (or is that Jayne Mansfield?), Robert Newton (bass register), David Niven, Edward G. Robinson, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, John Wayne and Ed Wynn. Not to mention Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale...
Definite bonuses are the pilot episodes of George (Hans Conried narrates) and Super Chicken (William Conrad narrates). I suspect "The Bigg Race" is Tom Slick's first. And after all these years I finally heard "Fella" instead of "Bella," which solved one mystery, but who was Roger Wilcox?
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