Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday: The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968)

The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was Hanna-Barbera's last primetime entry of the 60's, lasting just one season on NBC in 1968, and airing on Sundays, where it was prone to being pre-empted or delayed during football season, airing as it did ahead of The Wonderful World of Disney.

Producer Edward Rosen also worked on the studio's other freshman series for NBC, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, which sums up his body of work for H-B, as he was long gone by the time they tried live-action again a few years later. The idea behind this show was to use live actors to play the leads, surrounded by animated characters. The central villain, who seemed to be reincarnated in some toon form on a weekly basis, was Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy, ex-The Addams Family, who was now a part of the H-B repertory company as a voice actor.). I dimly remember seeing an episode or two in its original Sunday night configuration, but, looking back, given its poor showing in primetime, it actually belonged on Saturdays. To that end, it was included in a Banana Splits syndicated package a number of years later.

Cartoonsintros uploaded the open:

If memory serves, I believe H-B took another crack at Huck in an all-animated episode of the CBS anthology series, Famous Classic Tales during the 70's. I'll have to check to verify. The non-violence edicts were already in place when this series aired, so we never saw Huck or Tom Sawyer throw a punch, even at an animated foe. Just as well.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I remember seeing this show when it was part of the Banana Splits package. As a kid I thought it was kind of cool to see classic Mark Twain characters interacting with HB animation. The theme song was fun and the kids were likeable.

I caught a couple of eps on Youtube and the show really doesn't hold up too well - mainly because the only thing it had gong for it was the live action/animation combo. The storylines themselves were rather weak and would have been undistiguishable had the entire show been animated.

I couldn't help but wonder why "Injun Joe" always turned up as the villian, yet he always played a different character with a history, so it couldn't have been Joe in disguise each and every time. Could it be that the show was meant to be a group dream with Injun Joe as their collective fear?

The show never did have a definitive ending, like so many adventure shows of its kind, so we never knew if the gang made it back to Hannibal, MO.

hobbyfan said...

Lord only knows what the writers were thinking. I think the fish out of water concept may have been what ultimately killed the show.

As for Injun Joe, I think the producers felt he was more appropriate as an antagonist, and as such was caught in the kids' collective consciousness, hence his recrurring.