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The Wacky Races are a series of car competitions in which 11 racers race in locations throughout North America. The rules are extremely lax and allow for almost any vehicle design, power system and a wide range of tactics like combat and shortcuts. Despite this loose rule structure, competitors Dick Dastardly and his dog sidekick, Muttley, are still determined to cheat in their own ineffectual way.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
The show was inspired by the film The Great Race (1965). Natalie Wood (playing Maggie DuBois) became Penelope Pitstop (even wearing the same pink racing outfit). Dick Dastardley was based on Jack Lemmon's character Prof. Fate and Dastardley's sidekick Muttley was loosely based on Peter Falk's Max Meen. See more »
The Hanna-Barbera series "The Wacky Races" emerged as a slapstick antidote to the violent superhero shows which had saturated the overall landscape of Saturday Morning cartoons during the 1967-1968 season,and when it premiered as part of the brilliant CBS-TV line-up of Saturday Morning shows at the height of the 1968-1969 season,it set off some sort of precedent when a season after its debut,but spun off not one but two other cartoons while continuing its run on the network. The series ran on CBS-TV from the premiere episode of the series on September 14,1968 through the final installment of the series on September 5,1970 with repeated episodes from the first season produced by Hanna-Barbera productions. This was however one of the original Hanna-Barbera potpourri of shows that basically recycled the same formula which assembled a huge cast of characters and involved them in some kind of repetitious activity. The main antagonists in the never ending worldwide car race were the racers themselves and their situations,and to put it bluntly was repeated three times in various carbon copy format during the entire decade of the 1970's(which in turned several animation studios used the same formula for various shows...Filmation and DePatie-Freleng took the same story lines and characters to put in their own shows).
Basically,if you seen one episode of "Wacky Races",you've seen them all,since they rigidly in just about every episode follows the same plot each time:and this was a bunch of animated "theme" automobiles raced across various parts of the country and the world amid manic antics. As far as the characters were concerned they consisted of the following. There was the log-car driven by a beaver and a lumberjack; a spooky-mansion car driven by monsters;an Appalachian backporch car driven by a bunch of hillbillies and a bear;a car with a big engine driven by a handsome young stud;a dainty pink car driven by a female counterpart(Penelope Pitstop);a roadster driven a Ant Hill Mob,a gang of dwarfes in 1920's style clothing. Each episodes follows the same recipe as with one car ahead,and then the others that would used special tricks to catch up. But the straw that stirred the drink and what made the show interesting to watch was the duo of Dick Dastardly and his assistant snickering dog Muttley in their Mean Machine always trying to find ways to cheat,but at the end of each episode he would always failed miserably. The following year,Hanna-Barbera made a spin-off series of "Wacky Races" titled "Dastardly and Muttley" which featured these two characters as part of a squad of villainous World War I flying aces who flew a single four-seater plane(The other two pilots had weird speech impediments as their character shtick.). The pilots were given the job of stopping a heroic carrier pigeon and just like in about every episode was repeated with Dastardly trying any scheme he can to stop the pigeon only with mixed results. The was definitely the version of The Road Runner and the Coyote but not nearly as clever visually. This was part of the CBS-TV schedule for the 1969-1970 season. The other "Wacky Races" spin-off that came around for the 1970-1971 season,"The Perils of Penelope Pitstop",was totally different from the rest of the pack,with one exception. In fact,it was one of the weirdest shows to ever appear on Saturday Mornings. This show was a combination of Snow White,and the combination of the 1930's serial The Perils of Pauline with just about every clinche every added for grand measure. They took two of the characters of Wacky Races;Penelope Pitstop and made the Ant Hill Mob her guardian protectors. In just about every episode she was also stalked,pursued,and sometimes captured by her evil guardian The Hooded Claw(voiced to perfection by Paul Lynde). The Ant Hill Mob was always riding in just a nick of time to her rescue. There was a strange undercurrent to the show too: since Penelope spent large proportions of each episode either tied up or otherwise in bondage. Not to mention some of the kinkiest S&M ever devised for a children's show. The series remained in repeated episodes until mid-1971,where CBS finally got rid of Wacky Races once and for all.
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