The changing face of television in the 1970s was reflected by almost every network and studio at the time, including Hanna-Barbera.
By 1972, the haven for such friendlier, fantastical faces as Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, and Scooby-Doo could no longer resist the realism that creative minds such as Norman Lear brought to television. With this influence, Hanna-Barbera debuted Wait Till Your Father Gets Home on September 12, 1972.From its stories to its characters and look, this prime-time sitcom would differ from Hanna-Barbera’s others shows. Airing in primetime, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home centered on the Doyle family – kids Alice, Chet, Jamie, and parents Harry and Irma.
Unlike The Flintstones or The Jetsons, the sitcom setting wouldn’t be prehistoric or futuristic; it would be contemporary. Although the Doyle’s had a dog named Julius, there would be no Dino or Astro to add a flair of cartoony comedy to the proceedings.
Legendary animator Iwao Takamoto, who worked on the show, recalled in a documentary for the show’s DVD release what happened when a storyboard artist first got the script for Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.
Takamoto recalled, in the documentary, that the artist “…sent the script back, just filled with notes of ‘You can’t do this in animation. There’s too much dialogue. Where’s the action?’”
Additionally, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home would very pointedly deal with such edgier topics as the generation gap, sex, and bigotry. Quite the change from quaint lil’ Bedrock.
The show was written by veteran TV scribes Harvey Bullock and Ray Allen, and it debuted as a segment on Love American Style, a popular romantic comedy anthology series on ABC. The original segment on that show was dubbed “Love and the American Father.”
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home would also come with its distinct style that was very different from Hanna-Barbera’s standard output. An artist named Marty Murphy, who had created comics for Playboy magazine, was brought on board to create character designs and the overall tone for the show.
In addition to the characters in the show looking more like Murphy’s comics than the studio’s more familiar design, the show’s backgrounds were minimal, with few props, furniture, and other items behind the characters.The voice cast of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home included many of the studio’s “stock players” and new actors. Tom Bosley, who would gain fame as dad “Mr. C.” on Happy Days two years later, was the father’s voice, Harry Doyle. Joan Gerber played his wife, Irma, with Kristina Holland as daughter Alice, Lennie Weinrib, and David Hayward as son Chet and (then) child actors Jackie Earle Haley and Willie Aames as youngest son Jamie.
Baritone-voiced comedian Jack Burns was pompous neighbor, Ralph Kane and other voices were provided by such studio stalwarts as Daws Butler, John Stephenson, and Don Messick.
Additionally, Wait Til Your Father Gets Home boasted guest stars, such as comedienne Phyllis Diller as a detective investigating a robbery at the Boyle house and Don Knotts as a beekeeper the family asks to help remove a swarm of bees from their home.
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which ran until 1974, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. And five decades later, while the Boyle’s may not be as widely remembered as Fred and Wilma, the show deserves a revisit and recognition for taking animation in a decidedly daring new direction.