Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From Comics to Toons: Dick Tracy (1961)

If you've been watching Retro's Saturday cartoon block (check local listings), you're probably aware that one of the reasons that Filmation's classic series have had the moral lessons edited out is so Classic Media can add some of the other properties they own to the lineup in small doses. One of those is UPA's Dick Tracy shorts from 1961.

Tracy (Everett Sloane) didn't solve the cases himself. Instead, it was left to a rotating lineup of made-for-TV officers, including Go Go Gomez, who can be described not so much as a Mexican stereotype, but a human clone of Speedy Gonzales, and with good reason. The legendary Mel Blanc, who voiced Speedy, worked on this series, but it was another toon legend, Paul Frees, who was credited with doing Gomez for most of the series. Flattop has to deal with another ethnic stereotype in Joe Jitsu, who is unflinchingly polite, even in battle. RetroHeroes uploaded "Jewel Fool" to YouTube:

Part of the reason it's taken so long for these cartoons to return to the air is the use of the ethnic stereotypes. If these cartoons were rewritten today, they wouldn't be 4-5 minutes in length. Instead, they'd be more in a 30-60 minute format, especially with all the procedural police dramas on the air today. It would be another 10 years before Tracy would make his official Saturday morning debut, which wouldn't quite erase the stigma created by these shorts, but it was something worth watching. Unfortunately, whatever had been uploaded before from that era has been taken down.

Rating: B-.

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