Saturday, February 14, 2015



I didn’t have cable growing up. My Dad didn’t believe it in. It was alpha-bet soup for me; ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and eventually Fox.  That was it in my house; fortunately, Dad had a VCR for business, so once Blockbuster invented the concept of the PVT (Previously Viewed Tape) that you could buy and watch, we were able to watch more than just what washed up on the airwaves.  Now that we’ve established that I lived in a whole ‘nother epoch of television viewership, [1] I’m going to talk to you about visiting my Granny, who DID have cable, and didn’t care what we watched as long as it wasn’t published after 1975 [2]. Part of that viewing included Nick At Nite and all those old rerun shows like; Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, The Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island, and I Love Lucy. 

From the Gold Key comic series.
What the hell does that have to do with Saturday Morning Cartoons?  Well, it means that at Granny’s house I watched, and loved, a lot of The Addams Family.  I was particularly pleased when they crossed over with Scooby Doo [4].  Did you know there was a 1973 CARTOON version of the Addam’s Family, based on the original Chas. Addams illustrations?  Because there totally was. 

Long before there was a TV show, Charles Addams was beavering away drawing thousands of ghoulishly little fun cartoons for the New Yorker and other publications.  After the TV show was successful in the mid 60’s, Hanna-Barbara capitalized on the success of the show by creating an animated property. At first it was a one-shot gimmick on Scooby Do, but was wildly popular and quickly grew into 13 oft-replayed episodes.

And this wasn’t the total chop-shop semi-animation of later Hanna-Barbara Cartoons…this was at least as good [SIC] as the animation of the Flintstones.  In all seriousness, it doesn’t offend the way some cheap jack animated cartoons of the era do (I’m looking at YOU Godzilla).  Not only is the show reasonably animated, they got some of the voice actors from the TV show to reprise their roles.  Fester is still Jackie Coogan, Lurch is still Lurch (Ted Cassidy).  Sadly for people expecting a familiar Gomez, John Astin wasn’t available and Gomez is voiced in an entirely different manner from any other depiction; less latin lover or Peter Lorre wanna be and more good-natured weasel.   Another fun thing about this show is playing “Spot the other Hanna Barbara voice actors”.  For example, Papa Smurf [6] takes a turn as a film flam man.

Get it on AMAZON!
To give the series a little movement and more freely reflect the tone of the comics Addams did (which were rooted in bizarrely humorous circumstances that could be found anywhere) and to throw in a little nod to kustom kar kulture, the Addam’s Family gore-geous [5] Second Victorian style home was converted to the carriage of a hot rod jalopy cum RV.  Like the Tardis, the Addam’s mobile is way way WAY bigger on the inside (hell, the moat digging machinery alone would take up more space than the entire vehicle…oh yeah, the car has an automatic moat digger). 

Storylines revolve around the typical eel-out-of-water antics you’d expect, with people trying to swindle or take advantage of the Addams’ kooky and generous nature and generally failing.  One oddity about the cartoon is that for all the menagerie present in the TV show, the cartoon chooses to introduce an octopus (Ocho) and an alligator (Ali) as animal sidekicks.  Fortunately, they don’t talk or anything, and behave more like creepy versions of Lassie.

The there was a SECOND Addams’ Family animated show in the early 1990’s, which I have not watched.  Perhaps if I can track it down I’ll followup.

Despite some changes in the popular lexicon and the absence of cell phones and computers, the 1970’s edition of the show holds up really really well.  I started watching it on Amazon on demand for this review, and it has temporarily taken place of pride in the evening rituals with my daughter as a great treat if she’s been really good.  That’s right - my techno-savvy 6 year clambers for a cartoon 7 years older than I am.  And we BOTH enjoy it.  I’m given to understand that a manufacture-on-reman set can be ordered from Amazon, so consider picking that up for YOUR little monster.

As a side note, apropos of nothing, I am informed by Carrier Bat that I will be participating on a panel about the Addams Family and The Munsters at Anachrocon the last weekend in February.  If you are there, by all means stop by and say, “Hi”.

(1) seriously, what do you mean you had to tune in to watch a show?)
(2) Unless it was her “Stories”. Granny loved to watch her stories in the afternoon. And you could watch with her, as long as you didn’t talk or move.  So I’ve pretty much seen whole swathes of “General Hospital”, “The Young & The Restless”, and the “evening stories” like “Dallas”.  Also a lot of Murder, She Wrote.[3]
(3) Always loved Murder, She Wrote.  Although in my head it had more punctuation:  “Murder!”, she wrote…
(4) I liked it way better when the Addams Family guest starred than when it was The Harlem Globetrotters (although they were ok too).
(5) I see what I did there.
(6) Don Messick

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