Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dastardly & Muttley and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop

The Wacky Races were popular enough to spawn some spin offs. The first being Dastardly & Muttley. It was a logical thing. The villains provided most of the personality of the Wacky Races. What wasn't logical was where they shoe horned these two heels. For some strange reason they went back to WWI. There Dastardly runs the Vulture Squadron who's one job it seems is to stop one pigeon from delivering messages.  Muttley is of course his second in command and has been given the ability to hover with his spinning tail and a complete obsession over being given medals.  He also has two flunkeys working for him but the only interesting one is Kronk who's an inventor who communicates mostly by bird whistles.

The interaction between Dastardly and his cringing muttering cohort is still fun but the cartoon is not all it could have been.  Turning D&M into the Coyote doesn't play off their wickedness to best effect.  Also, the bird vs. plane thing just doesn't work.  The bird is so small he hardly registers on screen, and has no real personality.  The whole thing is shallow and the creators seem to have realized it.  They chop each episode in half and in the middle have a rather odd Muttley dream short where Muttley sees himself as some sort of hero.

The Perils of Penelope Pitstop is a much better cartoon. It has Penelope now the heir of the Pitstop fortune. Her guardian is trying to kill her and is secretly the Hooded Claw. Her protectors are the Ant Hill Mob and their living car Chug a Boom.

This is great fun. Every episode starts with Penelope caught in some trap. Sometimes she saves herself and sometimes the ant hill mob does the deed. In any case she is quickly recaptured by the Bully Brothers and once again put in peril. The Hooded Claw takes great joy in his villainy often breaking the fourth wall to taunt the narrator. I like that they gave the ant hill mob more personality. Some of the little guys like Zippy verge on being super heroes. Definitely a good job on using minor characters in a new way.

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