Old Time Radio at OTRCat!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A choleric screed on the relative superiority of the 1960s

I look at the world as it is, and go back in my mental video vault, and find it lacking. Mene, mene, tekel upharsin. The standard complaint (since the '60s, at least. Thanks, Mothers Coalitions!) is "You shouldn't have thirty-minute commercials for toys disguised as cartoon shows". Apparently the Mothers Coalitions live their lives in tooth-grinding frustration. My Little Pony, much? G.I.Joe? Lego??!

Well, kiddies, there was one cartoon that sets itself apart for sheer originality, timelessness, writing and art talent. It is truly superior!
Because Michael Rye.
Because Shepherd Mencken.
Because Marvin Miller.
Because Richard Beals.
Because Agnes Moorehead.
Because Hans Conreid.

CBS showed a Format Films (Halas and Batchelor-animated) series from 1966 to 1969.

"The Lone Ranger".

It did not employ the current fad of using Hollywood Pretty Faces as featureless tapioca animation voices. (John K's bleat on this is here.) They used radio actors, people adept at projecting personality and action with their voices rather than by arching an eyebrow, or giving a wry smirk. It is magic to the ears...and to the eyes! The animators used chinagraph pencils on cels, and used paper, cut and torn, to add texture. Beautiful work.

Vic Schoen provided the outstanding score, including the William Tell Overture arrangement.

The villains ranged from greedy bigshots to midget masterminds (Tiny Tom, voiced by Dick Beals, was definitely forged from the same stuff as Dr. Loveless in "The Wild Wild West"), to eeee-VILL spider ladies who use venom gas to enable their perfidies.

I recently acquired *ahem* a grey-market DVD set of the entire series - so grey-market that the discs are not even Sharpie-numbered! (I had ordered a set from The Mego Store back in '06, and not only did I not receive them, I never received ANY responses to my several enquiries over the years. Yeah, I whined just now.) THESE I received in short order, and the quality ranges from static-ey 14th generation VHS transfers (rare), to transfers from original 16mm reels, which are amazing! 

I leave you with an episode from YouTube, hopefully better than the opening above (but c'mon...they used the word "outlawry"! They did not talk down to the widdle kiddles. Rather like first-season "Supercar".)


Michael W said...

Oh God! What a fantastic series. One of the better memories from that time. Absolutely loved Shoen's arrangement of the classic theme . . . and, as you pointed out, it also provided a "The Wild Wild West" fix for those of us who weren't getting enough.

I particularly remember one of the "Tonto" episodes. It was one where Tonto had visited a lawless town and proceeded to use his own unique form of (ahem!) persuasion to put everyone on the path of Righteousness. When he later on revisited the town (accompanied by the Lone Ranger), everyone was enjoying ice cream, being polite and generally doing everything short of singing "Kumbyah".

The motto of the lesson: Behave or Tonto'll beat the ever-lovin' crap out of you.

(And a pox upon "Mothers Coalitions". Otherwise known as: why, after decades of their work, are so many more children such unspanked brats then they were back in the 60s? Give me my way and kids would be getting solid doses of the original Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Space Angel, unedited Warner Bros. cartoons, Woody Woodpecker, etc. etc. and so forth and so on.)

Speaking of the grey-market (where the Emptor should definitely Caveat), I happen to have "ahem" releases of Mighty Heroes and Super President. You pays your money you definitely takes your chances.

The Aardvark said...

I did not mention that Tonto regularly had solo episodes, which seems ground-breaking for the times. He was as much the hero as the Ranger!

Michael W said...

He also had a pet eagle. How cool was that?

The Aardvark said...

Exceeding kewl.

The Aardvark said...

Of course, nowadays, Tonto's eagle would have been retconned into his spirit animal or familiar.

Why do I think of these things?