When you've watched enough Hanna-Barbera cartoons, it becomes entertaining to dissect them a little bit. I mean cartoons are just like movies in some respect so it makes sense that a studio would continue to make the kinds of shows that are popular. Obviously SCOOBY-DOO was and is one of the greatest and most believed shows in the Hanna-Barbera lexicon (even to this day with its myriad incarnations). So it stands to reason that Hanna-Barbera did what they did which is take that "group solves a mystery" framework and lay it over many many other shows. You've got your very direct SCOOBY-DOO knockoffs like CLUE CLUB (which I hope Warner Archive brings to DVD soon) and GOOBER AND THE GHOST CHASERS and then further down the line you've got things like SHIRT TALES. SHIRT TALES is an interesting animal though because it's based on a series of characters which were originally created for Hallmark Greeting cards. These popular animal characters were defined by the fact that they had t-shirts which had some cute message on them. Hanna-Barbera then adapted them into this series by putting them into a SCOOBY-DOO scenario and throwing in a bit of HELP IT'S THE HEAR BEAR BUNCH! The t-shirt message thing stays and it becomes a way that these animals communicate with each other. The HAIR BEAR setup is that these guys live in a tree in this park which is run by a very Mr. Peevely-esque character who has no idea that these animals are basically a superhero crime fighting team. They live in a tricked-tree in the middle of the park, underneath which houses their very cool super-lair beneath it (complete with computer and a direct line to "the commissioner" who sends them on missions). This secret hideout is very much akin to THE HAIR BEAR's stylish cave. If you think about it, THE HAIR BEARs are obviously derived a bit from YOGI BEAR as well, so the lineage and in redding of ideas goes way back. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually not criticizing Hanna-Barbera's strategies as I've been fond of nearly every show they ever created in ine way or another. It is fun to think about how they put this stuff together though. I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the creative meetings at Hanna-Barbera. What would they have been like? Were they not even meetings? Maybe just a quick lunch would have been all it would have taken to come up with some of these ideas. I love it and I love how prolific they were in their heyday. Hanna-Barbera is, to me, pure nostalgia in a lot of ways. With SHIRT TALES, I had almost thought that perhaps I has imagined the show ever existed. When I was able to find a listing on imdb, at least I knew that I hadn't dreamed it all up. Showing some episodes to my daughter was a hoot. I remembered all the characters like it was yesterday. Bogey the Humphrey Bogart-talking orangutan was still my favorite and Tyg's signature "Toing!!" exclamation made me smile. It was funny though to see how simple the show really was. They covered two "cases" per episode and so it was a real quick setup on through to them solving/foiling the crimes. I has built it up in my head and something more epic than that, but I nonetheless loved revisiting the show. It's really a great fit for present day kids though too as the cuddly animals are quite adorable and friendly.
This SHIRT TALES Complete collection DVD can be found via Warner Archive: