Monday, 19 January 2015
67 Top Cat aka Boss Cat
First watched : Uncertain
After a few years offscreen this Hanna-Barbera perennial returned on a Friday teatime in August 1971 prompted by the success of The Aristocats at the cinema. The title was clearly Top Cat but until the nineties the Beeb insisted on re-christening it Boss Cat out of concern that they were advertising a popular cat food. As they didn't overdub the theme tune or the many references to T.C in the show all they succeeded in doing was confusing young minds like mine.
The inspiration for Top Cat is contentious. It was originally suggested his gang was based on The East Side Kids who featured in a series of B-movies in the forties. It was later claimed the series was a cartoonised Sgt Bilko with TC'.s voicing clearly based on Phil Silvers. His tubby sidekick Benny the Ball was voiced by Maurice Gosfield who had been a cast regular on The Phil Silvers Show . Other antecedents have also been suggested.
TC. and his gang lived in dustbins on the streets of Manhattan and the plotlines usually revolved around TC's schemes to improve their standard of living and the local police patrolman Officer Dibble's attempts to thwart them and in particular to stop TC intercepting calls meant for him. His gang consist of the naive Benny, shy Choo-Choo, dim-wiited Brain, suave Fancy and resourceful Spook ( my favourite ). TC isn't the most likable of Hanna-Barbera's characters, being narcissistic and not above ripping off or stealing credit from the other members. His love-hate relationship with Dibble is one of the great cartoon antagonisms and possibly influenced Chisholm's obsession with nicking Arthur Daley in Minder.
I liked it although a lot of the New York street slang would have gone straight over my head and apparently it is the most oft-repeated HB cartoon spawning the inevitable movie in 2011.