Hi there. How'd it go?
You might say it was a smashing... failure. And by the way, for a computer, you stink!
Who said I was a computer? I'm an automatic pop up toaster. And I'll prove it.
[toast pops out, burying aardvark to the neck in toast]
[to the audience]
Anybody got a pound of butter?
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From 1969 to 1971, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, the same studio responsible for the often wonderful Pink Panther and The Inspector cartoons, produced 17 cartoons featuring The Ant and the Aardvark. They always focused on a frustrated aardvark (for those who don't know, aardvarks are a species closely related to anteaters) in his hopeless pursuit of one clever, smart-mouthed ant. The characters were designed in same witty style as the Pink Panther and Inspector characters, and John Byner, who was at the time a very popular TV comedian, did both their voices perfectly. The title sequence was charming, with the letters coming to life and chasing each other, and most of all, the delightfully upbeat music, composed and conducted by Doug Goodwin, was so good that every member of the studio band was listed in the credits.
Unfortunately, the Ant and Aardvark cartoons were just never that funny. Despite having the same writers as the Pink Panther and Inspector, the jokes and slapstick almost always fell flat. Part of the problem was that the basic concept was derived from the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons which producer and studio head Friz Freleng had directed during the 40s and 50s. The Ant and the Aardvark series was never able to transcend its derivative nature, to the point where the final cartoon, "From Bed to Worse," was a scene-by-scene ripoff of one of the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons.
This is a real shame, because there was potential here for something much more enduring. The Ant and the Aardvark is one of the few cartoon series that I actually would like to see remade by modern animation talents, in the hopes of unearthing that potential.
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