Friday, 2 January 2015
51 The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
First watched : 1970
The second Wacky Races spin-off ran on alternate weeks to Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines ( in the UK at least ).
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop was based on a silent movie classic The Perils of Pauline which itself drew on the best traditions of Victorian melodrama, women tied to rails, black coated villains etc. As Penelope had often acted as a damsel-in-distress in Wacky Races she was a natural fit for the Pauline role but her rescuer was not as you might expect Peter Perfect or even Pat Pending but the unlikely figures of the Anthill Mob, routine fugitive gangsters in Wacky Races but now altruistically trying to rescue Penelope from mortal danger. Originally the threat was to come from Dick Dastardly once again but he was dropped before it came to the screen and replaced by the more sinister Hooded Claw ( as later referenced in Frankie Goes To Hollywood's The Power of Love ) with his identical henchmen, the Bully Brothers. Penelope was generally afforded a few more brain cells in the script but never quite cottoned on to the fact that he was actually her wicked uncle Sylvester Sneakly seeking to inherit her fortune by staging elaborate if not particularly efficient means of causing her death. There was always a time delay involved allowing the Mob to intervene.
The Mob were all re-named apart from their leader Clyde ( a caricature of Edward G Robinson ) and able to develop some individual personality away from Wacky Races. Their car the Bulletproof Bomb was renamed Chugga-Bomb and had some personality of its own with eyes on the headlights.
I actually preferred this to Dastardly and Muttley perhaps because each episode was one continuous story rather than two self-contained episodes and there was a cliffhanger carrying on to the next but it didn't last any longer with only 17 episodes being made.