Sunday, March 25, 2018

Look Out For That Tree!

George of the Jungle from 1967 is by Jay Ward and Bill Scott, the masterminds behind the amazing Rocky and Bullwinkle shows. They tried to capture that zany irreverent magic again with George of the Jungle and in my opinion they caught it. The show has a slightly more glitzy look since it was animated in these United States by Hollywood talents, but that doesn't hurt it at all, since the creators don't let the slightly more sophisticated animation hurt the pacing or the quality the scripts.

Each episode feature one George of the Jungle cartoon. George of course is a spoof of the immediately recognizable Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and it's a parlay on the films which makes many of the gags work. I did catch at least one giant gorilla called Kerchak though, so there is some recognition of the novels. George is assisted by is girlfriend Ursula who he cannot seem to pay enough attention to even remember her name or her gender. He' likewise confused by his elephant companion Shep who George insists is a dog -- Shep seems also to be confused on this issue.

And then there's my favorite George character known merely as Ape, an urbane highly intelligent gorilla who sounds just like Ronald Coleman. I didn't even know who Ronald Coleman was when I was a kid, but I always loved Ape's ironic comment son George's stupidity. When I finally got to see Coleman, I immediately thought of Ape.

Some research tells me George was based, at least in part, on George Eiferman, a bodybuilder with small renown. A picture does show a remarkable kinship between the two Georges.

Each show featured a Super Chicken cartoon. This is a terrific send up of the superhero shtick with the wildly rich Henry Cabot Henhouse III becoming Super Chicken with the help of his musketeer costume and a "super sauce" brewed by his assistant Fred who serves it to him often in a martini glass. The duo keep a wonderful patter going as they confront an array of villains like the Zipper, the Geezer, the Oyster, Merlin Brando, a giant living Toupee, and even my fave, a dope called Salavador Rag Dolly.

Also on display each episode is a race by Tom Slick, an all-American hero in the mold of the classic ultimate Mountie Dudley Do-Right. Tom races around the globe converting his car the "Thunderbolt Greaseslapper" for all sorts of events (cars, trains, planes, boats, submarines, skateboards, and even blimps) and often battling  the nefarious Baron Otto Matic and his hapless henchman Clutcher. Tom is adored by Marigold who will literally do anything for him and often scolded by Gertie Growler, his mechanic and just about the only character in the cartoon who sees the absurdity of the situations.

All of these features were put into comic book form by the folks at Gold Key. I think I owned at least one of these at one time, but I don't have them now. A nifty reprint would likely not be cost effective, but there's always hope.

The George of the Jungle cartoons were gathered up several years ago in very colorful package. The gags hold up very well and the cartoons are breezy and brisk entertainments which are ideal for a gloomy day. You can't watch these and not feel better -- they're too much fun.

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  1. Replies
    1. Of course it is! Thanks for the correction sir.

      Rip Off

  2. Announcer: With that the mighty chicken took to the air to track down Rotten Hood.
    Super Chicken: You drive Fred and I'll think.
    Fred: What about?
    Super Chicken: I'm trying to figure out where Rotten Hood is hiding.
    Fred: Why don't you use your Super Vision?
    Super Chicken: If I had any supervision I wouldn't be running around in this funny suit!

    1. Outstanding gag! I think they used it a few times on the show. I really came to appreciate Fred on this viewing.

      Rip Off

  3. I loved pretty much everything Jay Ward did, including trying to secede and establish Moosylvania as a private country.
    But, somehow, i've never seen reference to George Eiferman as model/inspiration for George Of The Jungle. Looking at his face, it's easy to see the inspiration of his look. Very cool bit of info.
    Trivia Tidbit - my mother was nicknamed Fred, in part due to Super Chicken.

    Yeah - we liked Jay Ward.


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