From the files of forgotten cartoon characters, The Adventures of Lariat Sam – the official follow up to Gene Deitch’s pioneering TV cartoon Tom Terrific (1957). Like TT, Lariat Sam was a serialized cartoon produced exclusively for CBS’ Captain Kangaroo show. Each of its 13 episodes consisted five “chapters” to tell its story.
After exhausting 26 adventures of Tom Terrific over five years, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) asked for a fresh cartoon from CBS’s in-house cartoon studio Terrytoons. This one would be produced in color (though the Captain Kangaroo show itself would be broadcast in black & white until 1966), and Keeshan himself would have a role in developing the stories. To this end, Keeshan enlisted his writer (and future game show host) Gene Wood to produce and co-write with Terrytoons head writer Tom Morrison. Bob Kuwahara, Dave Tendlar, Art Bartsch, Connie Rasinski would share directing duties. Dayton Allen provides all the voices (Gene Wood sings the theme song).
One thing Keeshan insited upon, was that the cartoon be non-violent. Lariat Sam intentionally didn’t wear guns – preferring to use his magical lariat to round up the baddies. Model Sheets from the original production are below. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.
The show doesn’t get the love that Tom Terrific does – and for good reason. Tom Terrific had innovative graphics, Jim Tyer animation, and clever plots (Jules Feffier was among the writers). Lariat Sam, however, has its charms. John Zago’s backgrounds are graphically interesting and Dayton Allen is having fun with the voices. But otherwise the show is a bit dull. Although compared to the theatrical Terrytoons of the same year – it might be one of the last good things the studio produced (admittedly Bakshi’s Mighty Heroes was a final shot in the arm). Here’s a compilation of all five chapters of a typical Lariat Sam adventure – keep in mind this was primarily aimed at pre-schoolers: