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Wacky Races
April 19, 2010 3:54 AM   Subscribe

Wacky Races ran on CBS from September 14, 1968 to January 4, 1969 The cartoon was unusual in the large number of regular characters, twenty-four in total: the twenty-three people and animals spread among the 11 race cars, plus the unseen (and never identified) race announcer. Another unusual feature of the series is that the stars of the show are the villains as opposed to the heroes. Whizzin' To Washington (Pt. 1, Pt. 2), Real Gone Ape (Pt. 1, Pt. 2), Idaho a Go Go (Pt. 1, Pt. 2).
posted by twoleftfeet (37 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I grew up watching this... The villains actually got there own show called Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines better known (although wrongly) as Catch The Pigeon.
posted by ACair at 4:01 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


*their. My bad
posted by ACair at 4:01 AM on April 19, 2010


As soon as I read this, I heard Muttley's laugh in my head, dredged up from god knows where in my brain.
posted by marxchivist at 4:06 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, light jail sentences won't do it.
The potential rewards are huge; but the amount that these scum cost society is even larger.
posted by jadayne at 4:17 AM on April 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


I remember spending a long time in primary school perfecting my Muttley laugh, and I got it spot-on after a while.

Now, I can't do it at all - at least not without sounding like a dirty old man having a coughing fit. This makes me sad.
posted by metaxa at 4:23 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. That's... odd. Maybe I'm totally mishearing this, but I don't think so: at about 5:23 in the first part of 'Whizzin' To Washington' one of the Ant Hill Mob seems to very clearly exclaim "Jesus, boss! The police!" How cool is that? A kids show back in the 60s that included casual blasphemy. I suppose that the sort of goddamned jackasses who join Focus on the Family these days were too busy protesting against the Fair Housing Act and beating up anti-war activists to notice at the time.
posted by MarchHare at 4:25 AM on April 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow, so I learn the truth too late to do me any good.

I remember seeing this in reruns and assuming the Slag Brothers were Captain Caveman and thus that the show was some kind of lame "Scooby Doo Meets Abbott and Costello" mashup. Turns out that the causality arrow between the Slags and the Captain goes the other direction.
posted by DU at 4:31 AM on April 19, 2010


I'd like all 17 episodes. But some more:
  1. See-Saw to Arkansas (Pt. 1, Pt. 2)
  2. Eeny Miney Missouri Go (Pt. 1, Pt. 2)
  3. Race to Racine (Pt. 1, Pt. 2)
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:36 AM on April 19, 2010


at about 5:23 in the first part of 'Whizzin' To Washington' one of the Ant Hill Mob seems to very clearly exclaim "Jesus, boss! The police!"

That's most likely "Cheese it" Or "Cheezit." A euphemism for "Let's get the hell outta here." Trust me...a cartoon character saying "Jesus" in the manner you suggest would've gotten pulled wayyyyyyyyyy before it ever aired, back then.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:52 AM on April 19, 2010


Loved that show as a kid, and I also tried very hard to perfect the Muttley laugh. For related fun, check out the life-size working replicas of the vehicles that appear at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 4:54 AM on April 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Slack-a-gogo...Holy cow, that's so cool! It's like my childhood come to life. Or the 'shrooms have kicked in...

The amazing thing is that these cartoons are a prime example of the Hanna-Barbera factory at their height of production powers. Damn near every other cartoon on Saturday morning were HB productions at that time. It was definitely a case of "quantity IS quality", but, once in awhile, they'd hit on something a bit above their usual dreck. Wacky Races was a guilty pleasure to this kid, who, if anyone asked, would swear he watched nothing but Jonny Quest and The Jetsons.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:10 AM on April 19, 2010


I loved that show when it came out, but then I was four so pretty much the prime age. Saturday mornings were magical times for kids back then, four or five hours of new kids shows on all three(!) networks. Late September was a huge deal for little kids, full of anticipation about the new shows coming out.
posted by octothorpe at 5:18 AM on April 19, 2010


Thorzdad: Well, probably. That was my first thought too, but (and I can't believe I'm overthinking this plate of Hanna-Barbera-brand beans) wouldn't an exclamation of 'cheeze it!' have been better addressed to the car's driver? And I'd have thought the creators would've anticpated that transmission static and other limitations of the day could make it too easy to mishear something like this and written dialogue that was less open to misinterpretation.
posted by MarchHare at 5:18 AM on April 19, 2010


Penelope Pitstop. Rowwrrr.
posted by stargell at 5:25 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Weirdly enough, I think of Wacky Races almost every day, as the person at the desk across from mine at work uses a mouse with no mousepad, and the quiet scrapy sound is very similar to Muttley's laugh.
posted by elizardbits at 5:31 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Complete series: 34 episodes on DVD region 1 or region 2 (Amazon)
posted by Lanark at 5:35 AM on April 19, 2010


Don't forget Penelope Pitstop's spinoff, too!
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 5:39 AM on April 19, 2010


"Cheese it! The cops!" is a set expression from olden days.
posted by gubo at 6:18 AM on April 19, 2010


Back then there were so many cartoons on Saturday you had to plan your morning cartoon watching schedule carefully. Even then, compromises had to be made because there were so many good ones. No DVRs or VCRs back then. It was always a time of great excitement in the fall when the new shows were previewed. I was pissed off when I missed the debut of Scooby Doo because I signed up for some YMCA Saturday morning camp thing.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:38 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Viva la Boomerrang! A lot of these episodes repeatedly play on there.
posted by czechmate at 6:41 AM on April 19, 2010


I can still do a dead-on Muttley laugh but my wife has threatened to divorce me if I do it one more time so you'll just have to take my word for it.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:47 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks ever so much for posting this. I always found Muttley's laugh impossible to imitate, but my friends and I would always imitate (poorly) his method of cursing, usually at Dick Dastardly. A prize for improving on our version, which came out something like: "Rack'm smack'm Rick Rastard'd."

P.S. It's also great to read that elizardbits thinks of Wacky Races every day. This makes my own obsessions seem so much less extreme.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:51 AM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too true, Daddy-O. I remember perusing the TV listings early in the fall with my brother and trying to decide which channel to watch at what time. 1975: "Okay, we can watch Hong Kong Phooey at 8, then Bugs Bunny at 8:30. Scooby Doo is on at 9:30, but at 10 we have to choose between Shazam + Isis or Land of the Lost." Sometimes we had to negotiate — I remember sessions of "I'll give you Dynamutt at 9:30 if you'll give me Ark II at 11."

It was exactly like planning which conference sessions to attend, but with a lot more Cap'n Crunch.
posted by cisko at 7:03 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, the memories. I have to make room on my Netflix queue for some of this.

One of my favorite cartoon theme covers is the Reverend Horton Heat's cover of the Jonny Quest theme and Stop the Pigeon (which you can hear here as the soundtrack to some guys doing parkour).
posted by immlass at 7:49 AM on April 19, 2010


Didn't they have a lot of "wacky chase" shows in this time period, because the networks were worried about violence, but the kids still craved "action"?
posted by jonp72 at 8:13 AM on April 19, 2010


This was my absolute favorite cartoon ever as a kid. I had wacky racer bed sheets and I used to love to run around singing 'Stop That Pigeon'. Man, they don't make shit like this anymore.
posted by spicynuts at 9:10 AM on April 19, 2010


Every year I looked forward to the Saturday Morning Cartoon Preview Specials as much as I did Christmas (I'm pretty sure Hong Kong Phooey trumped Santa in 1975). Each of the networks would run them before the new season started. Months before the new season started I would start getting excited, and that week I would watch each TV special and, with the aid of the TV Guide preview spreads and comic book ads, I would chart out my viewing plan of attack. I wish I still had the Saturday Morning grids that I'd make, because I ranked my first choice show for every half hour, and then had an alternate ready in case a new cartoon didn't live up to my expectations. I even looked forward to the new commercial bumpers.

Some other Saturday morning cartoon preview fun:
ABC Funshine Saturday Preview
ABC Saturday morning 1971
Brady Bunch Saturday morning promo
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:20 AM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always found Muttley's laugh impossible to imitate, but my friends and I would always imitate (poorly) his method of cursing, usually at Dick Dastardly. A prize for improving on our version, which came out something like: "Rack'm smack'm Rick Rastard'd."

Okay, now this definitely brings me back. I remember a friend getting tossed from class (Grade 6?) for muttering this behind a teacher's back.
posted by philip-random at 9:23 AM on April 19, 2010


...my friends and I would always imitate (poorly) his method of cursing...our version, which came out something like: "Rack'm smack'm Rick Rastard'd."

I still do this, but over the decades it's evolved into something along the lines of: Sagam-fragam-mergen-grangen
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:37 AM on April 19, 2010


And here I thought I was the only person who still mutter cursed like Muttley. I was actually never that into Wacky Racer - or Speed Racer for that matter - but I loved Penelope Pittstop and Muttley.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:36 AM on April 19, 2010


I rooted for Penelope Pitstop, but was still disappointed that her car was pink. So predictable.

But I loved Muttley the best, and yes, I learned to swear like him (although my version was more francofied to fricka-fracka-frucka-fricka). But I couldn't manage his laugh unless I got a fit of the giggles while playing Flying Nun with my sister.
posted by maudlin at 10:53 AM on April 19, 2010


I was watching these on Boomerang for a while (along with The Banana Splits) and my wife, who was too young to have seen these as a kid, had her mind blown when she heard Paul Winchell as the voice of Dick Dastardly. "That's Tigger!"
posted by mgrichmond at 11:06 AM on April 19, 2010


C'mon scientists!!! Where in the rickin-rackin-frikkin-frakkin H. E. double toothpicks is my time machine? 2010 sucks and I want those carefree, sunshine-day 1970's back! Whatever happened to Saturday mornings? They used to be fun!
posted by Quasimike at 12:04 PM on April 19, 2010


Whatever happened to Saturday mornings? They used to be fun!

I blame alcohol.
posted by philip-random at 1:40 PM on April 19, 2010


The greatest frustration for a kid who was supposed to be outgrowing Saturday Morning TV at the time was the network practice of "make 17 episodes, run 6 times over two years, then discard". It threw out the bad with the good and Scooby Doo seemed the only made-for-sat-AM toon to get an 8-episode second season. H-B was ingenious in doing the Dastardly & Muttley and Penelope Pitstop spin-offs to keep the best characters alive, but they were just not the same thing.

And us toonheads know that Muttley's laugh was originated by Precious Pupp from the "Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show" of 1965, just as Scooby's voice was based on Astro from "The Jetsons". There were two Hanna-Barbera cartoon dog voices, and Don Messick (previously best known for doing Boo Boo and Baba Looey to Daws Butler's Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw) did 'em both.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:42 PM on April 19, 2010


Time for another fun fact: Wacky Races was a co-production with Heatter-Quigley productions (the people behind Hollywood Squares). Thereafter, the rights to the characters were encumbered so when H-B wanted to make a Muttley show some years later, they had to alter his appearance slightly and call him Mumbley.

And that's... one to grow on!

(P.S. Note that the Mumbley theme is the same as Tom and Jerry and Grape Ape. That's how bereft Hanna-Barbera was by that point.)
posted by evilcolonel at 3:09 PM on April 19, 2010


I was transfixed by Penelope Pitstop and "Stop the Pigeon" when I was a rugrat. I still say "rassin'-frassin'" when I need to mutter about something unfair or irritating.
posted by vickyverky at 4:02 PM on April 19, 2010


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