The Dick Tracy Show

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Not to be confused with Dick Tracy.
The Dick Tracy Show
Dicktracy1961cartoon.jpg
DVD release of the 1961 cartoon.
Also known as The Adventures of Dick Tracy
Genre Animation / Crime / Adventure / Comedy
Created by Chester Gould
Written by Homer Brightman
Bob Ogle
Al Bertino
Dick Kinney
Ed Nofziger
Chester Gould
Directed by Grant Simmons
Clyde Geronimi
Ray Patterson
Brad Case
Steve Clark
John Walker
David Detiege
Paul Fennell
Abe Levitow
Presented by UPA
Voices of Paul Frees
Everett Sloane
Mel Blanc
Johnny Coons
Jerry Hausner
Benny Rubin
Theme music composer Carl Brandt
Composer(s) Carl Brandt
George Steiner
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 130
Production
Executive producer(s) Peter DeMet
Henry G. Saperstein
Editor(s) Ted Baker
Running time 5 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel First-run syndication
Picture format Color (Technicolor)
Audio format Mono
Original run January 1, 1961 (1961-01-01) – January 1, 1962 (1962-01-01)
Chronology
Related shows The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo
External links
Website

The Dick Tracy Show is an American animated television series based on Chester Gould's comic strip crime fighter. The series was produced from 1961 to 1962 by UPA.

Summary[edit]

Tracy employed a series of cartoony subordinate flatfoots to fight crime each week, contacting them on his two-way wristwatch radio. Everett Sloane voiced Tracy, while Mel Blanc and Paul Frees voiced many of the other characters, including:

  • Joe Jitsu, a parody of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto (featuring many stereotypes of Chinese and Japanese culture). He is an intelligent detective who fights with martial arts (repeatedly slamming his victim to the ground while saying "So sorry!... Excuse prease!... Begging your pardon!"). He is named after the Japanese martial art of jujitsu. Benny Rubin provided his voice throughout the series.
  • Hemlock Holmes, a Cockney police bulldog (named in honor of Sherlock Holmes and with a voice patterned after Cary Grant) voiced by Jerry Hausner. He is backed up by his own police squad, The Retouchables (named after The Untouchables, but behaving more like the Keystone Kops).
  • Heap O'Calorie, a parody of Andy Devine, Voice by "Uncle" Johnny Coons. Cop with a serious weight problem and a penchant for stealing apples from an outdoor fruit stand. Before setting out on an assignment, Heap would invariably get the "word on the street" from a bongo-pounding beatnik (named "Nick") who communicated solely by beating coded messages on his drums.
  • Manuel Tijuana Guadalajara Tampico "Go-Go" Gomez, Jr., essentially a human version of Speedy Gonzales, another Blanc character, though Frees did his voice for most of the series.

A running gag had a gangster's bullet fired point-blank at one of the detectives, who would yell, "Hold everything!" The bullet would obediently screech to a halt and "wait", while the detective called headquarters for further instructions. Action would resume only after the sign-off catchphrase, "Six-two and even, over and out" was spoken at the end of the call.

Villains included Pruneface, Itchy, Mumbles, Flattop, Cheater Gunsmoke, B.B. Eyes, Stooge Viller, The Brow, Oodles, The Mole, and Sketch Paree. Usually, two villains teamed together, such as Flattop and B.B. Eyes, Stooge Viller and Mumbles, or Pruneface and Itchy. Each pair of villains had at least one member who smoked either a cigar or a cigarette on an extender.

Most of the villains were given voices that parody famous actors. Flattop sounded like Peter Lorre, Pruneface like Boris Karloff, B.B.Eyes like Edward G. Robinson, and The Brow like James Cagney.[citation needed]

The cartoons seldom involved the title character. Tracy would always open each film in his office with the dialog, "Okay, Chief! I'll get on it right away. Dick Tracy calling..." He would then hand the case over to one of his comic law-enforcement assistants, who would do all the work and take all the risks. Tracy showed up at the very end, usually by car or helicopter, to congratulate the assistant on a job well done.

Mr. Magoo crossover[edit]

UPA was also the producer of the Mr. Magoo cartoons, and a crossover was arranged between Tracy and Magoo in a 1965 episode of the TV series The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. In this episode, "Dick Tracy and the Mob", Tracy persuades Magoo (a well-known actor in the context of the Famous Adventures series) to impersonate an international hit man whom he resembles, and infiltrate a gang of criminals made up of Flattop, Pruneface, Itchy, Mumbles, and others. Unlike the earlier animated Tracy shorts, this longer episode was played relatively straight, with Tracy getting much more screen time. It's notable for pitting Tracy against a coalition of several of his foes, a conceit that would be adopted more than two decades later in the 1990 film.

Original syndicated run[edit]

These 130 five-minute cartoons were designed and packaged for syndication much in the same way Associated Artists Productions packaged the Popeye and pre-August 1948 Warner Bros. shorts. Usually intended for morning and afternoon children's television series, a local host would introduce the cartoon as part of the show.

The cartoon show was a success perhaps as a child's version of The Untouchables that was popular at the time. Local hosts of the show offered "Dick Tracy Crimestopper" badges and certificates their viewers could send in for. Mattel toys manufactured a series of toy weapons with the Dick Tracy logo and the Crimestoppers could communicate with each other by toy Dick Tracy wrist radios.

Controversy[edit]

The Dick Tracy Show was pulled from syndication in the mid-1970s, and mid-1980s, and was not seen for years afterward because of its perceived racist undertones and use of ethnic stereotypes and accents.[1][2] The show resurfaced on television in 1990 to coincide with the release of the feature film, as well as in 2006 on pay-per-view digital cable channels and DVD.

The cartoon appeared on various independent stations across the United States in June 1990 (to coincide with the release of the live-action feature film, as previously mentioned). Asian and Hispanic groups started charging that characters Joe Jitsu (a Japanese/Chinese buck-toothed character) and Go Go Gomez (a sombrero-wearing Mexican) were offensive stereotype (Even though most of the protesters were born after the series original was broadcast back in 1961). Two stations in Los Angeles removed the airings and edited episodes were then sent out while one station, KCAL Channel 9, who at the time were owned by Disney, continued to broadcast The Dick Tracy Show until July 4, 1990. Henry G. Saperstein, then the chairman of UPA, stated "It's just a cartoon, for goodness sake."[3]

DVD[edit]

The show is now available (un-cut/un-edited) on Netflix DVD rental. It has also been available for Netflix Streaming in the past, but that is currently[when?] not the case. Upon its DVD release, it received almost universally damning reviews.[4]

References[edit]

External links[edit]