Animation Trails
November 13, 2019 posted by Charles Gardner

Spacey Invaders III: Hanna Barbera Opens Hailing Frequencies

As the fledgling Hanna-Barbera studios (originally called “H-B Enterprises”) regrouped an assemblage of ex-MGM animation veterans and refugees from other studios such as Walter Lantz (Alex Lovy) and Terrytoons (Carlo Vinci) to produce some of the first widely-popular TV animation, they were quick to capitalize upon the craze of galactic travel and general “space age” consciousness – adapting to the times by building even their first TV venture squarely around such themes. It’s a true rarity for an entire installment in this series to concentrate on one studio – but H-B made the outer space visit such a regular part of its “footage factory”’s output that it could almost be expected to crop up in nearly every show they produced. For purposes of brevity (and sanity), this article will not attempt to provide a fully comprehensive list of all such instances. Particularly as the ‘60’s progressed, H-B would attempt to treat these invasions more and more seriously – in such settings as “Johnny Quest” and the various superheroes manufactured for Saturday mornings in the wake of the popularity of ABC’s live-action “Batman” and Filmation’s surprise success in reviving “Superman” for CBS. I am not a great fan of H-B’s efforts in these directions – nor of 60’s “super” cartoons in general, most of which I feel were half-hearted efforts at best. I will instead concentrate on some of the highlights of episodes that made us laugh – usually in the “funny animal” or prime-time outings of the studio, with the well-known animated personalities that became Hanna-Barbera legend and their legacy.

In their new series, Ruff and Reddy for NBC – the 13 chapter serialized comedy- adventures of a cat-and-dog best friend duo (voiced by Don Messick and Daws Butler) – the inaugural story penned by Charles Shows, Planet Pirates (premiere 12/14/57), begins with a radio scare about the sighting of a flying saucer. Reddy, a fan of TV space opera, is ready with his official “Captain Comet” space helmet and toy ray gun (really a water pistol). Ruff thinks the whole affair is just goofy. But a real space ship spies them asleep in their backyard, and two robotic aliens (who talk in a unique form of wobbly-sounding falsetto gibberish that became a regular part of Don Messick’s verbal bag of tricks – to be used again to heavy effect in the later series “The Herculoids”) use a tractor beam to abduct our heroes into the ship. R&R hide out in the cockpit, while the aliens burn through the door with the Whamma-Bamma-Gamma Gun. But Reddy grabs the weapon and gets the drop on them, just as the saucer encounters a weightlessness zone. Ruff accidentally grabs a lever as he floats upward, opening a ceiling hatch in the saucer, through which the abductors float helplessly into space. But gravity takes hold again as they come within the pull of the all-metal planet, Muni-Mula (aluminum, spelled backwards). Another tractor beam pulls the ship inside the planet. They are taken to a supreme robot, known as “The Big Thinker”, and forced to serve as models for the casting of molds in their image, from which an army of look-alike metal Ruffs and Reddys is stamped out to create an Earth invasion force.

But a surprise waits in store, as “The Big Thinker” is revealed to be a hollow prison for another Earthling – a scientist named Professor Gizmo, who was the first to discover the planet in a crashed rocket, and who, because of his own brain power, has been enslaved to act as the planet’s visible emissary. The real “Big Thinker” is a voiceless mechanical brain (who built him is never revealed) – who Reddy casually dispatches with one blow. “I cannot tell a fib. I did it with my little hammer”. He fails to realize the brain has a bodyguard – a giant robot called “the Creepy Creature”. Cornered, Reddy turns to his Captain Comet water pistol – and rusts the robot solid! Our heroes and Gizmo race to the partially refurbished “S.S. Gizmo” rocket, and after several near-catastrophes manage a blast-off through the walls of the hollow planet, and succeed in warding off the Muni-Mula air force (robots wearing propellered beanie hats) with a surprise package containing a leftover Fourth of July firecracker. But on their way back to earth, a meteor collides with their ship, knocking out most of their controls. They land the hard way – crash landing on the peak of Mount Cucamonga – the very place Gizmo blasted off from in the first place. Left in traction, no one believes our trio have ever been to Muni-Mula – and their rocket gets traded to a used car lot as a battered wreck. But the story ends on a hopeful note, as Gizmo and Ruff work on the construction of a new S.S. Gizmo – while Reddy dozes off from work for forty winks in the framework of the soon-to-be nose cone.

The Ace of Space (12/1/58), from The Huckleberry Hound Show, finds Pixie and Dixie reading from an issue of “Captain Blastoff” comics – where every other word of dialog seems to use the word “Blastoff”. Jinks the cat decides to join the frivolity with his cat-and-mouse shenanigans, donning a goldfish bowl as a space helmet and arming himself with a toy gun that shoots rubber darts. Interrupting the reading session, he takes aim with his weapon and pins Dixie to a wall with the rubber dart, then warns the mice not to show their faces around here again. As the mice sulk inside their hole, a stange whining noise is heard outside. They witness miniature flying saucer crash landing outside their window. Running outside, they see the emergence from the cockpit of a green space mouse, smaller than themselves, but armed with a ray gun and wearing a glass space helmet. They try to run away, but the mouse takes aim, and freezes Pixie and Dixie in mid air with a zap from the mouse’s weapon. But the space mouse is friendly, and merely holds them long enough for introductions in his own space language (consisting only of the words “binka binka binka”). He unfreezes our heroes, and presents a card to them – “Captain Micetro from the planet Mousetro”. Dixie asks if they have cats on his planet, and Micetro shakes his head no. “How come?” asks Dixie.

The space mouse points his ray gun at a mailbox – and disintegrates it. Dixie gets the idea what happened to the cats. Getting an even better idea, he borrows the visitor’s helmet and ray gun, and decides it’s time Jinks went the same way. He almost feels brief remorse at the idea – until another of Jinks’s darts hits his rear end, and he reacts that Jinks is “asking for it”. Aiming the gun, Dixie “evaporates” Jinks’s milk bowl. Jinks leaps at him, but Dixie toys with Jinks, using the freeze ray to halt him in mid-air – then drop him flat on his face. Jinks realizes something is very wrong, and tries to hide under various furniture and behind closet doors – all of which Dixie disintegrates. Not wanting to get “discombooberated”, Jinks hides under a piano. Dixie disintegrates its legs one by one – sending the piano crashing down on Jinks. Finally, Jinks has nowhere to hide, and is cornered. As Dixie is about to pull the fatal trigger – he awakes from sleepwalking atop his bed, to be told by Pixie that he was having a nightmare. When Dixie reveals his dream. Pixie decides no more comics for space goofy Dixie, tossing the “Captain Blastoff” issue out the window into a trash can. Out of the can emerges Jinks, revealing himself to be an avid reader of the same pulp. “Love that Captain Blastoff”, he states, as we iris out upon his intense reading.

Cop and Saucer (12/21/59) presents Huckleberry Hound in the familiar role as an officer of the law – but with an unusual assignment. As a call comes in for his patrol car (identified by a number so long it takes 20 seconds for Huck to realize, “That’s my car”), Huck is assigned to investigate a report of an unidentified flying object landing in the park. Huck informs us, “Our duty is to check all rumors – Even if they’re ridiculous.” Arriving at the park, Huck comes bumper to side-panel of a flying saucer parked in the road – but mistakes it for “one of them foreign cars”. He spots someone to interrogate about the vehicle – an all-metal spaceman, shaped something like a cylindrical bullet with holes on the sides for arms to extend through, a radar antenna on its head, and a tiny eye-hole for two beady eyes to peer through.

Huck crashes on the Moon in this View-Master Slide

When Huck asks about the “car”, the spaceman just emits a series of beeps. “It’s just a routine question, sir”, replies Huck – “No sense gettin’ riled.” The spaceman pulls out a ray gun and almost blasts Huck’s head off. “A kid’s toy like that can be downright dangerous in an adult’s hands”, says Huck. The spaceman clutches Huck by the neck with a metal claw. Huck confides to the audience that this guy doesn’t realize they teach all officers judo at the academy. But the spaceman flips Huck repeatedly, throws him helplessly against the ground, then flings him though the air into a tree trunk. “Of course,” remarks Huck to the audience, “there’s new holds comin’ along all the time.”

Eventually, Huck finds himself forced to write a citation. But as he writes the ticket, the spaceman produces a disintegration ray and blasts a hole through the center of his ticket book. Huck doesn’t stick around this time, but hides in the protection of a mailbox to attempt to think out his next strategy. Another blast from the ray gun – and the mailbox is gone. Huck hides in a birdhouse, and meets the same results. He rows a boat out to the middle of the park lake – but the spaceman rolls himself on wheeled feet onto a pier, and aims his gun at the water. The lake disappears, leaving Huck suspended in his boat in mid-air. “Now cut that out!” yells Huck, and he lands with a thud in the lake bottom. He runs for his police car, and attempts to radio for backup. But another ray blast obliterates the car. “That did it. That DID IT!”, responds Huck, drawing the line at destroying police property. He insists that not only is the spaceman under arrest, but that he take Huck to the station house “in your car”. The spaceman picks up Huck and carts him into the space ship, then takes off – not for the station, but into outer space. While Huck stands inside the ship, believing he is cracking down on the spaceman busy at the controls, a radio broadcast from Earth is picked up on a loudspeaker – as an announcer laughs at the reports the police have received – not only of a flying saucer taking off from the park, but with a policeman inside! Huck looks out the window, and sees the Earth disappearing far below. “He reluctantly concedes agreement with the announcer: “Yup, it’s hilarious,” then breaks from a half laugh into a wail of tears for the fade out.

In Mars’ Little Precious (2/8/60), from the “Quick Draw McGraw” show, it’s not exactly an invasion – but a babysitting job for Augie Doggie, who communicates with the red planet like a ham radio operator with a high-tech super radio set of his own invention. His pal from Mars, Boinka Boinka (never seen – only heard in deep-voiced gibberish mixed with a few English phrases), hires Augie and delivers to his home via flying saucer a small baby carriage also shaped like a miniature saucer. Doggie Daddy as usual thinks Augie is using his overactive imagination, but when the top of the carriage is flipped open, to reveal a green Martian baby with a small prop on his head, all Daddy can say is “What will the neighbors think?” Augie tries reading the tyke fairy tales – but falls fast asleep at hearing his own reading. The baby climbs out of the carriage and wanders across the living room. Daddy catches him and deposits him back in the carriage. The baby questions this with a “Bunka Bunka?” Daddy tells him to go to sleep, or it’s “Spanka Spanka”. The baby has other ideas, and twirls his propeller to become airborne.

Flying out the window, he encounters a tough watchdog in the next yard. But one look at the baby, and the dog digs himself a hole bound for China. Back in the house again, Daddy closes the lid on the saucer carriage, shutting baby in like a clam. But baby merely operates some controls inside, and the wheels and handle of the carriage retract into the body, making the saucer fully operational. It sours out the window, and a panicked Daddy gives chase. As typically occurs in a Michael Maltese script, a cop is encountered during the chase, disbelieves Daddy’s story, but gets a fast wising-up when he sees the green kid in the compact saucer. He picks up a police phone, and asks, “Hello, Sarge. About that police triple retirement program. I’m ready, ready, ready……” Baby finally flies the saucer back to the house, just as Boinka Boinka returns to pick him up. Before leaving, Boinka informs Augie of a tip that a friend of his on Jupiter could use a babysitter too. Augie runs to his space radio – but is not the first to arrive there, as he finds he is unable to hail the planet. Daddy confides to the audience, displaying the fruits of his secret labors, “Sometimes for a boy’s own good, a father’s gotta pull a few wires!”

Yogi Bear enters the genre with Space Bear (2/22/60). On his usual rounds of seeking tourist handouts, Yogi mistakes a flying saucer for a tourist sports car, and, as a camera emerges, poses for pictures assuming some goodies will follow. But the ship exits with no goodies. At their home planet, the surveillance photos are shown by a purple alien (Don Messick again, this time talking English in a lower register, but with another creepy alien wobble to each syllable), who announces that more info is needed preliminary to invading earth, and that one of their kind shall disguise to match the Earth creatures and mingle with them. Indeed, one alien has donned a Yogi suit – but with the added touch of a ray gun. Arriving on Earth, he is met by a car full of tourists who honk at him for blocking traffic. He responds by disintegrating their car. A call goes to Ranger Smith, who shrugs it off. “These tourists forget where they park their car – then blame it on the bears.” But more distress calls follow, with more disintegrations. Even the real Yogi encounters the visitor – and almost gets his head blasted off for his troubles. He resolves, however, not to report the stranger – as to do so would violate the code of the bears – but observes that one troublemaker like that could ruin their whole racket. The space visitor finally arrives at Ranger Smith’s office – and both disintegrates Smith’s desk, and blasts a hole in the side of the cabin. Smith decides Yogi is off his rocker, from too much stress of the park rules. An all points bulletin goes out to find Yogi – and shoot to kill. The real Yogi winds up in the line of fire at the picnic grounds, wondering, “All this for one little picnic basket?” He retreats to his cave, but finds the alien inside. Yogi rushes him, and boots the alien out the door, code or no code.

Ranger Smith appears, and orders the alien to drop his gun. The alien tries to fire – but the gun is out of disintegrator juice. The spaceman runs for his saucer, and takes off. The ranger is shocked to see Yogi make a getaway in a saucer, but brightens immensely into happy hysteria as he realizes Yogi is gone at last from his life. At that moment, the real Yogi shows up, amidst the Ranger’s cheers of “I’m free!” “Why not, sir? It’s a free country”, replies Yogi. The ranger slowly raises his eyes, and sees what he hoped he’d never see again – and breaks into tears. “I didn’t know he cared!”, declares Yogi for the iris out.

Snooper and Blabber (cat and mouse detectives, from the Quick Draw McGraw Show), get their crack at space antics in Outer Space Case (6/12/61) – receiving a call from Mars to investigate the disappearance of a royal jewel. They are picked up in a flying saucer and whisked away. Following up on the backwards wordplay of “Muni-Mula”, the Martian language makes use of several phrases backwards. “Layor Ecalap” is the Royal Palace. “Layor Ybur” is the stolen Royal Ruby. “Layor Yeknom” is the Royal pet Monkey, who turns out to be the culprit.

And a good deal of chasing takes place in the “Layor Nehctik” – the Royal Kitchen (Snooper catches on quick, and figures this phrase out without being told by any of the locals). The jewel is ultimately returned, and the problem of the Monkey solved by bringing him back to Earth as Snooper’s new office assistant. After all, he works for peanuts.

Unavailable for recent reviewing was Augie Doggie’s last cartoon from his regular series, “Vacation Tripped” (10/20/61), in which Augie has re-established his radio contact with outer space, and solves the problem of a vacation destination for himself and Daddy on a tight budget by wrangling transportation to Mars for a hunting trip (floating the whole house to the red planet). There they encounter an aggravating Martian “rabbitoid” called a Greech, who engages Daddy in Bugs-Elmer style antics. On their return to Earth, the pooches discover their house has been “invaded” by the greech, a new missus, and a rapidly multiplying family – who remain as Augie’s house guests.

Several episodes of H-B’s unofficially-named “New” Cartoon Show of 1962 (consisting of Touche Turtle, Wally Gator, and Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har) spotlighted aliens. Flying Saucer Sorcerer calls in the services of Touche Turtle to investigate a flying saucer landing. The alien from Mars, half Touche’s size, looks a lot like a purple version of Fred Flintstone, but talks in a formal British accent ne picked up from tuning in the BBC. He wants to see the Earth, but realizes he might scare the natives, so has come prepared with a helmet featuring an atomic interchanger. Talking Touche into inserting his finger in a hole in the device – the two characters swap bodies! The alien leaves to explore, telling Touche to wait here until he gets back. “Where could I go?”, replies Touche, “To a masquerade party?” The usual mistaken identities and run-ins with the law follow. In the better “Out of This Whirl”, strong vocal support is added, as Howard Morris provides a sterling read for a nervous space-age kid- show host, whose impersonation of a Martian receives threatening letters from “The Great Granooka” – the real ruler of Mars (again voiced in falsetto tremolo by Don Messick), who insists he’s giving Martians a bad name. Granooka travels to Earth to force the “Captain Martian” show off the air. The station owner hires Touche and Dum Dum as bodyguards for Captain Martian.

Outside the studio, a game of saucer vs. helicopter hide and seek ensues, with Granooka eventually getting the drop on Touche and evaporating his helicopter. He completes his mission by entering the studio, and disintegrating Captain Martian’s uniform, leaving him standing in his underwear. The Captain addresses his audience, saying “Wonka Wonka Dunk, which in Martian means I’m gettin’ the heck outta here!” The station faces financial ruin, until Touche provides the solution – replace the fake with the real thing. Granooka’s new show, “Have Gun, Will Disintegrate”, is an instant hit. While Touche and Dum Dum watch at home, complimenting the show’s realism, a blast from Granooka’s gun comes out of the TV screen and disintegrates their chairs. “How realistic can you get?”, responds Touche.

In Gulp and Saucer, Lippy and Hardy attempt a picnic lunch, when a tiny purple Martian the size of an ant lands an equally tiny ship and plants a flag in the cherry atop Lippy’s layer cake, proclaiming the conquest of Earth by Mars. Being ant size, Lippy thinks the Martian is fair game for a fly-swatter. But the Martian pulls out a mini-disintegration ray and burns the swatter to a crisp. A prolonged food-fight ensues with the Martian disintegrating item after item – until his ray runs out of steam and he gets klonked by a watermelon. He tries once more with a larger ray in his ship, but crash lands and surrenders. Finally making peace with the Earthlings, he asks for a handout, and is rewarded with a sausage ten times his size, which he eagerly devours.

Planet Zero (3/1/64), a Magilla Gorilla cartoon, follows the same basic plotline from “Popeye, the Ace of Space” (1953) – Space aliens abduct a typical Earth specimen for study preliminary to invasion. Magilla? Typical? An examination of his brain reveals a peanut. (Of course, it’s Magilla holding up a real peanut begind the fluoroscope.) A heat chamber of 1200 degrees reduces Magilla to six inches tall – but he instantly pops back to normal size. And a clash in the arena with a space robot ends with Magilla presenting the aliens with a bag full of the robot’s leftover parts. Needless to say, Magilla is sent home to deliver apologies to the Earth that the aliens “were only fooling.” Unfortunately, Mr. Peebles won’t believe him, and Magilla spends the night blowing bubbles after having his mouth washed out with soap. This film is notable for an economy of effort on background painting, as every alien setting uses backgrounds that look like they are absolutely lifted from some old “Jetsons” episode!

Ricochet Rabbit (in a late, clever episode which I believe was aired after the series was moved from Magilla Gorilla to the Peter Potamus show) gets a chance to test out the old adage, “Be careful what your wish for” in Space Sheriff (1965). A routine day has Ricochet capturing an escaping bank robber with a trick “lariat bullet” (only available at Sheriff’s supply houses) that instantly hogties the thief in his saddle. Ricochet yawns, and observes that being the fastest gun in the West is boring – there’s no more challenges – and wishes for an unusual case.

His prayer is answered as a green Martian (looking like a walking onion with a spiral antenna on his head) walks literally through his front door seeking help. A monster called the Gruesome Grok is on the loose on Mars, and Ricochet accepts the challenge to capture him. The Martian grabs their hands, and takes off in supersonic flight to Mars. The Grok, about four times bigger than Deputy Droop-a-long, resembles an orange potato with a large tooth-filled mouth. He’s also full of tricks, greeting the sheriff with a powerful eye ray. “Hmm, 20-20 laser beam vision”, remarks a frazzled Ricochet. “Any more tricks?” Grok responds with a cannon barrel emerging from his mouth – sending our heroes riding on the fired artillery shell. Ricochet tries his lariat bullet again – but Grok swallows it, then sucks up the rope connected to Ricochet’s gun like a strand of spaghetti, drawing Ricochet with the gun straight into Grok’s clenched fist. For dessert, Grok zaps Ricochet with an electro-finger. Next, Ricochet tries his trademark speed to rush him. Grok has a feature for everything, and merely opens a trap door in his abdomen – causing Ricochet to run right through him and crash headfirst into a boulder. Finally, a secret weapon ofRicochet’s works – a pair of “super squelch” bullets, which combine to sock the Grok with boxing gloves from both sides, bonk him on the head with a large hammer, and nearly drown him in water. Grok hops into a space ship and waves “Bye Bye”, and departs. Ricochet and Droop return to Earth – but find a surprise. In their absence from their Earth duties, the town has elected a new Sheriff – the Grok! He pursues them with pistols blazing. Only one thing to do – head for the Sheriff’s supply house, and hope to load up on more trick bullets before the Grok does!

Fred Flintstone had close encounters of the worst kind multiple times in his illustrious career. In an enlargement of the script of Space Bear, Ten Little Flintstones (1/2/64), an unassuming nightly walk to empty the trash develops into a far-out adventure, as a periscope-type viewing device snaps an image of Fred and notes his ad-libbing of a song lyric out of “Yabba Dabba Doo”, and returns with such data to a flying saucer that’s landed in the bushes. There, the device emits a ray that generates ten look-alike duplicates of Fred. An alien leader (seen only as a shadow silhouette, and again voiced by Don Messick in his low-pitched version of his usual alien wobble-talk), instructs the duplicates that they are to mingle with the Earth creatures to obtain data on their habits as a preliminary step to invasion. He further instructs them that they are fully fluent in the native language – meaning that all any of them can say is “Yabba Dabba Doo”. The ten fake cavemen spread out around Bedrock. A first sneaks into the Flintstone residence, and instead of helping Wilma with a basket of clothes, dumps them on her head.

When the real Fred comes back in the house, Wilma returns the favor by dousing him with a vase full of water. A second alien Fred raids Barney’s icebox in the middle of the night, and clobbers Barney with a hero sandwich. Betty calls Wilma, and Wilma catches the real Fred sneaking a sandwich from his own kitchen to cheat on a diet Wilma’s put him on. Wilma chews him out and sends him to bed, telling him Betty told her the whole thing – leaving Fred wondering how Betty could know what he was doing behind his own walls.

The next day, Barney, scheduled to drive Fred to work, picks up one of the dopplegangers instead, making Fred late. The duplicate, arriving at the rock quarry, enters Mr. Slate’s office (by crashing through his door right past his secretary), throws Slate for a loop, and literally walks out on top of Slate’s prone form. Naturally, the real Fred is fired upon arrival – and conked with a golf club Slate was practicing with to impress a prospective client. Fred again can’t figure why being only two minutes late should bring out such a reaction in Slate.

At the golf course that afternoon, Slate fails to impress his prospective client – but is shocked when another Fred shows up, grabs his golf club, and shoots a hole in one. Despite also being physically used as a tee by the fake Flintstone, Slate is happy – as the client is so impressed with Fred’s game he assures Slate he’ll send over a big contract in the morning. As the real Fred arrives, crawling on hands and knees to get his job back, he is not only rehired, but promised a raise. Fred thinks he’s cracking up! Until one of the doubles walks right by him, greeting him with “Yabba Dabba Doo”. “Hi, Fred,” returns the real Fred – then reacts with outrage – “Fred!

That’s me!!” Chasing the first phoney, he is passed by another one. As one disappears around a corner, another comes nose to nose with Fred. Fred is livid, and figures it’s some prank of the guys from his lodge. He starts chasing Flintstones right and left. Meanwhile Wilma and Betty catch another phoney Flintstone giving a wolf whistle to a passing pretty girl – and Fred’s in trouble again. The real Fred comes along, and asks, “Did you see me pass this way? Well which way did I go?” Meanwhile, the alien leader checks in on a viewer screen on the progress of his scouts, and spots the real Fred chasing one at full speed. Sensing the plot has been discovered, he issues orders by radio for all duplicates to rendezvous at the mother ship. The duplicates all converge. Fred tries to lasso the whole troop cowboy style, but they drag him over a dinosaur like a ski jump and throttle him. Ten sets of Flintstone feet trample Fred in their haste to get back aboard ship. The saucer hatch opens, and eleven Freds enter – the real one in hot pursuit.

The alien leader discovers the real one, and he is booted out the door, as the ship takes off, presumably never to be seen again. Seeing the saucer at last, Fred realizes the whole affair was real, and that he just saved the Earth. Along come an angry Wilma, Betty and Barney. Fred tries to babble the story of what really happened to the three of them, but they refuse to believe it.

Wilma states she knows what’s what – Fred’s been having hallucinations from that diet she put him on. She tells him to come on inside for a big dinner, and forget the diet. Fred at first is upset that no one will ever know he was a hero – but the words “Forget the diet” sink in, and Fred realizes that such immediate benefits might be of more worth to him than celebrity status, and charges for the house, in happy anticipation of hefty calories.

In The Masquerade Party (11/26/65), Fred’s plans to win first prize at a Water Buffalo costume ball with a secret costume – of an invader from outer space – run afoul of a radio promotion for Bedrock’s newest members of the “British Invasion” – a rock-and roll quartet known as the “Way-Outs”. The far-out group perform in costumes that also resemble aliens, with unique segmented body sections that make them look like an assembling and disassembling stack of rock discs. The basic plot mirrors the “War of the Worlds” scare, with a local DJ given copy to read every few minutes making the Way-Outs sound like an invasion force from outer space. Fred’s car breaks down during the height of the public scare, and his invader outfit is instantly mistaken for one of the Way-Outs, leaving panic wherever he goes. After scaring off a taxi driver, and all the customers at the car hop, Fred finally hitches a ride – with the real Way- Outs. Discovering they’re singers, Fred invites them to perform at the lodge ball. But the lodge doorman hears the radio broadcast before they arrive, and Barney and the other lodge members mount a counter-attack to greet them. After enduring several pummelings, Fred’s helmet falls off, and Barney realizes he’s in for Fred’s wrath. Especially when the DJ announces a public retraction over the radio – at the behest of arresting officers. But Fred is appeased, as his costume wins a custom bowling ball as first prize. And he even gets to perform on stage with the Way- Out for a rocking finale.

Of course, Fred’s longest lasting “encounter” began with The Great Gazoo (10/29/65), (created in the wake of such sitcoms as “My Favorite Martian”), as a troublemaking diminutive green alien (voiced by Harvey Korman), labeled as something of a kook on his home planet Zetox, is relegated to assignment in the stone age, to offer assistance to Fred and Barney, who he affectionately refers to as the “Dum Dums”. Appearing only to Fred, Barney, the kids and the pets, Gazoo often left Fred and Barney with plenty to explain to their wives, the boss, etc., as his efforts to help traditionally backfire. Gazoo even helped our modern stone age family in a subsequent episode to visit Bedrock in the Jetsons’ age – But they are forced to leave in a decided hurry when the descendant of Slate reveals that a chiseler named Flintstone failed to pay back a minor salary advance back in the stone age – and owes the company millions in accrued interest! Gazoo’s invasion was not welcomed with open arms by the viewers, who apparently found the change in format too jarring, and probably contributed greatly to the ultimate demise of the original Flintstones’ series – together with the fact that a lack of sustaining plot ideas probably led to his inclusion in the cast in the first place – leaving the writers little other avenues to turn to when Gazoo overstayed his welcome. But did H-B learn from such mistakes? Of course not!

How else do you explain the existence of such later failures as Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, or Yogi’s Space Race?

While Secret Squirrel, nominal star of his own show, does not appear to have had encounters with spacemen, his program stablemates covered for him with adventures of their own. Squiddly Diddly meets up with invaders in Way Out Squiddly, as yet another abduction occurs, this time by creatures who look like talking green bullets, with more space tests and a confrontation with a giant green centipede-like monster. The best gag has Squiddly attempt to hide in a small pond, only to have the pond rise from the ground – as a space creature shaped like a giant glass bowl with legs! “Naughty Astronaut” is strictly an “invasion” that’s fake, in the vein of “Woodpecker From Mars” discussed last week, as Squiddly is mistaken by a desert chapter of flying saucer fans (presumably encamped outside Area 51) for an invading alien after clinging to a runaway advertising balloon for Bubbleland, then having the balloon punctured by a passing bird.

Winsome Witch also participates in the craze twice, first with Have Broom Will Zoom, where she eagerly reacts to a radio report of flying saucers by riding out on her broom for a closer look. Captured by the space ship, she sizes up the small aliens as kids on a Halloween candy run. One alien draws a space gun on her, to which she responds that she’s seen those things in the toy store – or did they get theirs with box tops? A blast almost disintegrates Winnie – but her head magically reappears, and she teaches the “kids” a lesson by casting spells on them changing them to a frog, and a fighting dog and cat. Taken to the aliens’ home planet, Winnie meets the aliens’ rather inept leader, who asks if she is a typical Earth creature. Winnie replies. “You might say that. Of course, I wouldn’t.” The leader covets Winnie’s flying broom, and announces he will make duplicates of it to fly a legion to destroy the Earth. He tries to make a takeoff from a tall tower, but plummets. Convinced the broom is a trick device that will only work for Winnie, he has one of his subjects attempt a takeoff to prove it so – but Winnie hexes the broom so that the subject flies effortlessly, showing up the leader. The leader tries to rid himself of Winnie by pushing her off the tower without her broom – but the broom flies out of his hands and rescues Winnie in mid-air. Winnie finally settles the leader’s hash by presenting him with a duplicate broom, and even helping him to successfully take off. The leaders celebrates his success with a long joyride – only Winnie remarks that maybe she should have told him how to make the broom stop! But, she observes, he’s the leader – he’ll figure it out – someday!

In Witch Hitch, another radio bulletin cheerily announces exclusive coverage of “what may prove to be the end of our civilization” – a flying saucer landing on the lawn of the White House. Its occupant, a four-armed green alien cyborg called Og, announces his intent to “conquer your inferior world.” Winnie, flying in to investigate the disturbance, crashes into him and upsets him no end at losing his place in his speech. Finally remembering to demonstrate his superior powers, he disintegrates a tank with a beam from his helmet. Winnie complements him on a nice trick, but since the tank was government property, she zaps it back. “Now cut that out! You are making me look bad”, complains Og. Winnie eventually makes him look worse, first turning miniature and getting inside the robotic controls in Og’s head to make him jitterbug and soar through the sky uncontrollably – then casting a spell that changes him into a hog. Og claims he has an anti-spell device in his saucer, jumps into the cockpit to find it, then presses its button – and gets “Nothing! I am still a hog!” Winnie finally makes a deal with him – to change him back if he’ll go back to his own planet, to “conquer” it with love and kindness. All ends well – except for the news announcer, who somehow in the magical fallout has, without even noticing, been transformed into a centaur.

H-B’s “for hire” productions of the five minute “Laurel and Hardy” and “Abbott and Costello” cartoons also featured some half-hearted at bats for alien invaders. The Laurel and Hardy, Mars’ Little Helper, not only has title drastically similar to the Augie Doggie episode listed above, but lifts in equal portions half of the previous script, with another half culled from Warner Brothers’ Rocket Bye Baby (also penned by Michael Maltese). This time, both our heroes run a “professional” baby sitting agency, but Stan’s opened a new branch of business, taking in the Martian trade. When Ollie asks how he learned to speak Martian, Stan says he picked it up from reading the back of cereal boxes. Lifted gags from “Rocket Bye Baby” have the Martian child figuring Hardy’s income taxes, and building himself the obligatory saucer- carriage. The baby launches the saucer, taking Hardy on a bumpy ride. Laurel tries to catch Ollie with a truck-bed full of mattresses, but of course miscalculates his velocity, making Hardy crash through the roof of the truck cab instead. For the finale, the satisfied mother Martian brings six more offspring to take care of, leaving Hardy to crack up, launch the saucer-carriage himself, and fly through the skies mumbling his own impression of Laurel’s Martian dialect for the fade out.

Abbott and Costello’s Space Toy Tyrants is a bit more difficult to figure out, as the only print on the Internet is a foreign dub. Officers A&C investigate report of a UFO, which Costello finds fast enough, as a miniature ship lands right behind him and smacks Costello down with its gangplank. The small blue invader inside has curious intentions – as he proceeds to rob several bars of gold from Fort Knox. At one point, the bars are of course dropped to land their full weight upon Costello’s head. The alien ship hides out in a toy factory, where the lead crook and three slightly smaller henchmen masquerade as toys, but ultimately reveal themselves and get back the gold. Costello, however, accidentally starts up their space ship, and manages to grab the aliens by their antennas on a diving pass and dump them into a toy box. A police captain comes to take the aliens in, but is duped into releasing them from the toy box. Though the captain orders A&C to resume the pursuit, A&C (probably at the expense of them jobs), apparently tell him its nothing doing – do the dirty work yourself, and stand there laughing for the fade out.

Unavailable for review is the additional Abbott and Costello entry, “Cops and Saucers”. A remake of the Huckleberry Hound? I wouldn’t be surprised. Anyone with info, please fill us in.

Hanna-Barbera would carry the space invasion theme into the late days of their studio’s output, producing the feature-length special, Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears (11/20/88). The plotline is again something of an expansion on “Space Bear” and “Ten Little Flintstones”, with an army of doppleganger Yogis and Boo Boos invading Jellystone, although Yogi and Boo Boo also spend a considerable amount of time in outer space as alien abductees. The story is a bit convoluted and definitely padded in places, and lacks a lot of the fun and sincerity of earlier efforts. Ultimately, Boo Boo gets the remote control that commands the “duploids”, freezing them in place. And Yogi and Boo Boo rid the park of them by selling the duplicates to the tourists as life-size souvenir versions of themselves.

NEXT WEEK: Spacey Invaders IV: The Other Invaders.


  • As a young boy I figured out that Don Messick achieved his alien voice in “Ten Little Flintstones” by twiddling a forefinger horizontally between his lips as he spoke. I used this technique to disguise my voice when making a prank phone call to my teacher. She recognised me instantly.

  • Hopefully, the Space Kidettes will be next time. I find it interesting because of the great concept versus indifferent execution, as if an awesome show could have got out but didn’t. Plus it had that John Glenn era Space Age look.

  • How about Astronut? He inspired Xerkibub J. Spage in my old web-comic that never went anywhere…..

    • Astronut was Terrytoons and focus here is on Hanna Barbera.

    • Don’t give up, Doug. I would definitely check out any web comic about a character named Xerkibub J. Spage.

  • Gruesome Grok! The word “grok” was coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his 1961 science fiction novel “Stranger in a Strange Land”. In the Martian language, to “grok” means to understand something so thoroughly that it becomes part of you; there are a host of contextual nuances as well. It became a buzzword of sixties counterculture, which must have exasperated the ultraconservative Heinlein. No idea what he might have thought of having his neologism appropriated for a Martian monster in a Ricochet Rabbit cartoon, but I for one couldn’t be happier. Ping ping PING!

  • I want to see Ruff & Reddy in syndication again! I didn’t see all the shows on Boomerang, and their ought to be a repackaging of it, maybe paired with Loopy DeLoop, Sinbad Jr., Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello in a half-hour format with some current animation studio doing new intro/outro footage and end credits. HB also could have produced a Saturday morning “Great Gazoo”prequel series to “The Flintstones” that shows the character on his home planet long before he was sent back to the Stone Age.

  • Was The Great Gazoo originally intended to be a potential new character for a proposed second season for “The Jetsons”? Not only do I think it would make a lot more sense (although, I never had much problem with him), but I think he would be a much better new addition to the space age series than the planned idea of Jane giving birth to a third child (which would been redundant since they just did a similar thing on “The Flintstones” with Pebbles) had the series been renewed.

    • The chronology does not support your hypothesis. “The Great Gazoo” first aired in October 1965, well over two years after The Jetsons was cancelled.

      Incidentally, “The Great Gazoo” was written by future Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Joanna Lee, the first successful female television writer in Hollywood (that is, who was not part of a writing team with a male partner). She wrote a lot of great Flintstones episodes, as well as episodes of The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, and the Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo (the “Three Musketeers” adaptation). But before that, she was the actress who played the alien Tanna in the cult classic “Plan 9 from Outer Space”. In fact Gazoo’s arrogance and mellifluous voice are reminiscent of those of Tanna’s partner Eros in that film; he even has a doomsday device that can destroy the universe in an instant, though he never intends to use it (analogous to Plan 9’s Solaranite).

      I always loved the Great Gazoo episodes of The Flintstones and wish he had been spun off into his own show.

  • Too bad we wont see “Abbott & Costello” and “Laurel & Hardy” cartoon shows ever released(( I wish this day will come true someday.

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