Thursday, 1 January 2015
50 Dastardly and Muttey In Their Flying Machines
First watched : 1970
This was the first of two Hanna-Barbera spin-offs from my beloved Wacky Races . In a process never explained Dastardly and Muttley were transported back to a World War One setting where Dastardly was the leader of a small flying squadron trying to take out a carrier pigeon named Yankee Doodle who was conveying important messages for the other side. Dastardly was never identified as working for the Germans but the implication was there in his red plane. Only one series was made.
The character was now based on Terry Thomas in The Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines rather than Jack Lemmon in The Great Race and slightly softened as a result. He and Muttley sometimes showed affection for each other. Whereas in Wacky Races he was a free agent and could make his own ( always bad ) choices , in DAMITFM he is a patriot working to the orders of an unyielding unseen General who can always reach him by technologically impossible ( then ) telephone. He has two new assistants the cowardly Zilly and the inventive single-minded Klunk who is unable to conventionally communicate although Zilly can interpret for him. He usually comes up with the elaborate but always unsuccessful and backfiring traps for the pigeon. The show is normally remembered as "Stop The Pigeon " from its catchy title song and this was indeed the working title but someone evidently decided to go for its much more cumbersome title to ensure the Wacky Races audience carried across to the new series.
Because of the smaller cast - Don Messick and Paul Winchell did all the voices between them - DAMITFM was less inventive than Wacky Races and owed more to rival cartoons particularly Roadrunner and Sylvester with their birds in peril situations. I liked it ( and more so the subsequent spin-off ) but part of me always longed to see the duo back in the Mean Machine.