Tuesday, 20 January 2015
68 Harlem Globetrotters
First watched : Uncertain
In September 1971 another slice of cartoonised New York culture hit our screens with Harlem Globetrotters , making the real life side the only basketball team that most people over 40 in this country, where it remains a minority sport, could reliably name. Except as I understand it - being a non-afficianado - at least in the seventies the Globetrotters were not really a team at all but an exhibition side who toured the world promoting the sport with showboating and comedy routines in non-competitive matches , a bit like that daft Asian bloke who plays in the doubles at Wimbledon. There's nothing too wrong with that ; you could make a case that in football when Manchester City or Chelsea really turn up against the lower half Premiership teams the games are hardly more of a contest . The BBC had broadcast a couple of the Globetrotters' games in the UK before buying the cartoon.
The series featured likenesses of five famous ( in the U.S. ) players though for comic effect their manager-cum-driver was replaced by an elderly Caucasian lady and they also had a dog Dribbles whose only real function was to draw attention to the similarity of the format to Scooby Doo Where Are You ?* The guys would be on tour somewhere and blunder into a situation where criminal activity was going on. After some fairly feeble comic scrapes the situation could only be resolved by - you guessed it - a basketball game where the HG's would emerge triumphant despite the match being rigged against them. This handily allowed the same frames of basketballs being rolled along shoulders or spun on fingertips to be used in every episode. None of them had much individual personality; after all when you're depicting real , and presumably quite wealthy, people you can't portray one of them as consistently stupid for example. The most surprising thing is that they managed to squeeze out 22 30- minute variations on the story.
I might be being bit too hard on it. It did have sociological significance as the first cartoon to have a predominantly African-American cast. And for me at the time it was just there; I didn't turn it off, didn't miss it when it disappeared and have remained resolutely uninterested in basketball to this day.
* They would go on to appear three times as the "Special Guests " in The New Scooby Doo Movies.