Saturday, October 05, 2013

Wide World Of Crap-tastic Cartoons, Part 2: Is That A Sock Puppet Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Plunging yet further into the world of inept children's entertainment, today's posting begins with a magnum opus that qualifies as both the worst Christmas film ever made and the worst excuse for "sock puppets" in the history of Western Civilization - the one, the only Santa In Animal Land.

And then there's the biggest thing on TV other than Uncle Miltie and the biggest thing in showbiz at the time other than Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis: The Howdy Doody Show. Here's Howdy and the gang, followed by a hilarious spoof, Howdy Deedy, from The Ernie Kovacs Show.

Again, as with Jay Ward, Alex Anderson and the Crusader Rabbit series, enterprising animators and puppeteers devised ways to crank out TV shows that entertained children but were also genuinely funny enough to NOT provoke grownups to bolt the room in abject terror and revulsion.

First there was puppeteer Burr Tillstrom, not inept in any way, shape or form - and the creator of the Kukla, Fran & Ollie Show. While it's unfair to lump this pleasant, likeable and amusing program in with reeking Cartoon Dump style disasters, the show's success did inspire a barrage of sock puppet programming.

The former director of the wildest Warner Bros. cartoons, the looniest Looney Tunes, animator-raconteur Bob Clampett, no doubt cognizant of Kukla Fran & Ollie's popularity, brought his sock puppet characters, Beany & Cecil, to the small screen in Time For Beany and promoted the show with zeal. The program boasted fans as illustrious as Albert Einstein and its top-notch writing staff included Stan Freberg, Daws Butler, Charlie Shows and (before UPA hired him to collaborate with Phil Eastman in their story department) Bill Scott.

Ultimately joining in the sock puppet brigade with tempered enthusiasm: the Jay Ward Studio, producers of Crusader Rabbit, Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Fractured Flickers, Hoppity Hooper and George Of The Jungle). For awhile, the aforementioned Bill Scott did a sock puppet version of Bullwinkle Moose - unquestionably, the most subversive sock puppet ever, and soon yanked off the airwaves with extreme prejudice!

Mr. Blogmeister's favorite sock puppet show ever - sorry, Bob, Burr and Fran (still love you) - is unquestionably The Kapusta Kids In Outer Space from The Ernie Kovacs Show.

And then there's the dark side of sock puppet-dom, the indescribable Andy's Gang. The host is Andy Devine, who took over hosting duties from Smilin' Ed O' Connell, who originated the children's program on radio. The TV version comes across as happy 1950's kidvid - but directed by David Lynch. Could PETA sue retroactively for the wanton abuse of Squeaky The Mouse here?

We at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog have yet to determine what's more infamous, Andy's Gang or Jerry Lewis' never-released The Day The Crown Cried!

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