Long Tails, Ears for Hats

Following the success of The Monkees and the Beatles cartoon series in the middle of the 1960s, the gates opened for a flood of pop-inspired kids TV shows, many of them animated.  The golden age for shows like these was the period between approximately 1968 and 1974. We’ve mentioned a few here previously, such as the Banana Splits and the Beagles. Today we’ll mention a few more.

The first trickle in the eventual flood was The Archie Show, which premiered in the fall of 1968. Archie cartoons would appear in various configurations and under various titles for a decade, and in the late summer and fall of 1969 would produce the “Stairway to Heaven” of bubblegum music when “Sugar Sugar” topped the charts. That same fall, Hanna Barbera launched Cattanooga Cats, a cartoon anthology show featuring four different cartoons, including the adventures of a rock band made up of cats in hillbilly garb—the Cattanooga Cats, of course. One of the Cats was voiced by Casey Kasem. A version of the show is still running on Cartoon Network, and its theme song is a fairly potent earworm.

In 1971, The Jackson 5ive began a two-year Saturday morning run on ABC. The first part of the first episode is here, in which their discovery by Diana Ross is, well, fictionalized. Watch it for the opening, featuring a tightly edited medley of “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “Mama’s Pearl.” Supposedly none of the Jacksons provided voices, although that little kid sure sounds like Michael. Berry Gordy was a recurring character, voiced by veteran voice actor Paul Frees. In 1972, The Jackson 5ive switched focus from the brothers to just Michael. This gave Rankin/Bass, the same studio that produced The Jackson 5ive, an opening to produce a show called The Osmonds, cloning The Jackson 5ive right down to reusing some of the same animation.

(Given the success of “ABC,” there was no question that the Jackson Five would eventually do commercials for Alpha-Bits cereal. There are a couple of them at YouTube, like this.)

Also in the fall of 1971, Hanna Barbera launched Josie and the Pussycats, based on a comic book from the same people who published Archie comics, and I’ll bet you remember its theme song—another of the most potent earworms in kids TV history, featuring the line that’s the title of this post. Another bodacious earworm was the Pussycats’ 1971 single “Every Beat of My Heart,” the failure of which to make the charts represents one of the greatest failures of mass taste in pop history. One of the singers on the record was Cheryl Stoppelmoor, later to become famous as Cheryl Ladd.

In the fall of 1972, Hanna Barbera retooled Josie and the Pussycats, turning it into Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, which is just wack. But Josie was not the only pop TV show to get a sci-fi update. In 1974, with The Partridge Family having run its live-action course on ABC, CBS produced an animated version of it, Partridge Family 2200 A.D., which propelled the family into the future. The show’s opening is below. Note the kids playing tennis by manipulating buttons, Pong-style.

Similarities to The Jetsons in the clip are not coincidental. The project that became Partridge Family 2200 A.D. apparently started as an update of The Jetsons, in which Elroy would have been a teenager, then somebody decided an absurd Partridge Family update would make more sense. But it’s wack.

Tip of the hat to Kliph Nesteroff, maestro of Classic Television Showbiz, who also maintains Saturday Morning Blog, and who collected several of these clips and others for a series in which he recreated the Saturday morning lineups on various channels for various years of the 1960s and 1970s.

At Kliph’s main site today: Harry Reasoner does not like him no hippies. There’s hours of time to be killed over there, so you’d better take the rest of the day off.

2 thoughts on “Long Tails, Ears for Hats

  1. Oh. My. God.

    I don’t know what’s worse — the story in that Jackson Five cartoon, the Muzak’d version of “I Want You Back,” the $5 ticket charge for Diana Ross, or the fact that there’s a freaking laugh track on a cartoon.

  2. I loved the animation on the Jackson 5 cartoon. Heck I love much of the TV from that era when color TVs first came out… There was nothing subtle about the color schemes used. The Dick Cavett Show, Let’s Make a Deal, and the aforementioned cartoon (as well as others of the same era) all used those bright vivid over the top colors and wanted to make sure American families were taking full advantage of their brand new COLOR TVs!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.