Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrity Toons: The Abbott & Costello Cartoon Show (1967)

If you thought that all Hanna-Barbera produced between 1966-68 were superhero cartoons, you'd be wrong. Granted, NBC had the juvenile comedy-adventure Space Kiddettes, but otherwise, the only other non-superhero programs the studio produced over that two year period featured a pair of teams of comedy legends. One was Laurel & Hardy. The other, which we'll focus on here, was Abbott & Costello.

Bud Abbott & Lou Costello were one of the preeminent comedy teams of the 20th century. Like, who hasn't heard or seen their legendary "Who's on First?" routine? They had conquered radio, movies, & television, and the latter medium wanted to welcome them back. One problem. Costello had passed on shortly after their live-action sitcom had ended. Well, that wasn't a problem for H-B, which, after signing Abbott, brought in comic Stan Irwin to stand in for Costello. The result was a one-season syndicated wonder, produced amidst all the super-action shows in 1967.

In concept, this was no different than an earlier venture that featured animated incarnations of Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, and that duo would eventually get to meet Scooby-Doo. There would be 4 short cartoons for each half-hour show, each running about 5 minutes. Bud & Lou would be in one precarious misadventure after another. The lack of continuity allowed for creative flexibility that could put them anywhere at any time.

The real problem was that most stations didn't have a real place to put the show. Sure, it could be used on a Saturday to sub for a network program that the local affiliate didn't feel was a hit, and, for those who still had weekday kids' shows, the episodes could be broken up over the course of a week. I think it may have been that lack of station coverage that led to this show being cancelled after 1 season. I actually got to see some of these cartoons years later on cable, when channel 5 in New York brought the series back for a run.

2reelers uploaded this extended open & close, something rarely seen.

Not only was the animated Abbott & Costello no different than Laurel & Hardy, but you could plug any of H-B's funny animal characters, like, say for example, Huckleberry Hound, in the same situations, and there'd not be much difference.

Rating: B-.

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