Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Hanna-Barberians: THE JETSONS Season Three and JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS IN OUTER SPACE ""

Monday, July 14, 2014


THE JETSONS - Season Three (1987)
THE JESTONS is a show with a much more curious past than I was previously aware of. Hanna-Barbera, anxious to put a different spin on their monster hit THE FLINTSTONES (which was apparently the most financially successful network animated show until THE SIMPSONS) they set about creating one season (only one at first) of THE JETSONS for the 1962 ABC fall TV schedule. No more new episodes would be made until 1985, when season two was produced for syndication. For some reason, I assumed that the show had a good 3 year plus run in the 60s as opposed to just the single season and then more episodes twenty plus years later. So, in rewatching these episodes (I had definitely seen a few of them years ago), I realized that it was hard for me to tell that they were produced in the 80s. Maybe I missed something, but it very much felt of the same piece as the original run. The actor's voices perhaps sounded a bit different, and the episodes seemed a touch tired as far as the plots went, but other than that, of the same cloth as the 60s shows. A few things that made THE FLINTSTONES such a hit at the time it came out were not only it being the first animated prime-time show, but also the way that they cleverly "stone age-ified" everything so that it was easily relatable. Situations, everyday problems and so forth were often cleverly transposed onto Fred and Wilma and their Bedrock home town. Also, the show was very much an animated prehistoric version of THE HONEYMOONERS, which was an enormously popular show that had only taken off about three years prior to THE FLINTSTONES. Watching THE JETSONS now is quaint and funny and it is still amusing to see the "futuristic" lifestyle stuff that HB was able to come up with. The show isn't quite as good as THE FLINTSTONES of course though, nor was it nearly as popular and I think I can now see why. For one, it's just not as funny. Fred Flintsone is a much more interesting and less passive paternal unit than George Jetson. Secondly, Fred Flintstone was an extremely blue-collar, working-class kinda dude. I think people like that kind of character more and more can relate to them. George Jetson, as much as he was perhaps supposed to be a working-class type still comes off as rather affluent in many ways and this is perhaps due to the "modern" amenities he is afforded as part of HB's portrayal of the broader futuristic lifestyle. The bottom line is that George just ain't no Fred. Watching this season three set made me long for the earlier episodes at least or and also to watch THE FLINTSTONES MEET THE JETSONS (which also came out in 1987).

Here is a promo for THE JETSONS (1st season) from 1963:

THE JETSONS Season Three can be purchased on DVD here:

Based on my very little research, I have been able to determine that JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS IN OUTER SPACE was one of the earliest incarnations of the "IN SPACE" type spinoff/sequelization (later made popular by horror franchises with entries like LEPRECHAUN IN SPACE and JASON X). The original JOSIE series was of course based on an ARCHIES comic book property that was developed by Hanna-Barbera. THE ARCHIE SHOW had been a good-sized hit on Saturday mornings during the 1968-69 TV season. IT was made by Filmation studios at the time. HB wanted to ape said success so went after JOSIE and created their own teenage-band/music show (not before trying and failing to make a show called MYSTERY FIVE - which apparently later became SCOOBY-DOO). I find it kind of amusing in retrospect that JOSIE was the ripoff show as I believe it to be much more well-known today than THE ARCHIE SHOW. Who knows what exact factors play into this, but I would assume it had something to do with the syndication deals that Hanna-Barbera was able to strike and how those deals inundated American TV audiences with their shows for decades upon decades. I also find it interesting, as I mentioned, that it was HB's tooling around with the idea of this show that led to SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU? which has of course become one of, if not their most widely remembered property to date (and which continues to generate all kinds of new content to this very minute). Anyway, I always saw JOSIE and JOSIE IN OUTER SPACE as second tier SCOOBY-DOO knockoffs personally. I certainly enjoy them nonetheless, as does my 5 year-old daughter (btw, if you haven't introduced your kids to HB cartoons in general, you really should). I have a specific fascination with all the SCOOBY knockoffs that HB did throughout the 70s and early 80s. So PUSSYCATS IN OUTER SPACE is of course quite similar to the earthbound PUSSYCATS show, but with the addition of the gang now exploring new worlds and so forth each episode. The musical format is pretty much the same here though. The other thing that was added was the character of "Bleep"(voiced by the incomparable Don Messick himself) who will be most enjoyed by your little ones I would think. All in all, I am and always will be a sucker for Hanna-Barbera cartoons of this era, especially those that have dropped slightly into more obscurity like this one has.


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