Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Saturtainment: King Leonardo & His Short Subjects (1960)

In 1960, Hanna-Barbera was dominating the animation landscape on television, and would soon conquer primetime with The Flintstones, but the door was opening for other, smaller animation studios to grab a piece of the pie.

Total Television, often confused with Jay Ward's production company because they used the same Mexican animators, was the brainchild of a group of advertising executives who'd had a contract with General Mills. The first series out of the Total Television factory was King Leonardo & His Short Subjects, which spent 3 years on CBS from 1960-3 before being folded into Tennessee Tuxedo & His Tales, which lasted another couple of years.

King Leonardo (Jackson Beck) ruled the fictional African nation of Bongo Congo, but was repeatedly besieged by his jealous near-twin brother, Itchy, and his gangster sidekick, Biggie Rat. Itchy wanted the throne for himself, but was presented as none-too-bright and dependent on Biggie, and, later, the even more nefarious Dr. Mad, to fulfill his goals. King Leonardo had one loyal aide, "True Blue" Odie Cologne, whose absence figures prominently in this parody of the famous Jacqueline Kennedy tour of the White House, "All Alone Leonardo". Uploaded by BullwinkleCanada.

Sadly, King Leonardo & His Short Subjects, despite being reissued in syndication years later, hasn't had the following of later Total series like Tennessee Tuxedo or Underdog. It was during its syndicated run that I first encountered the King and Odie and the rest of the cast, and I found that the formula, especially involving the villains, was duplicated on Tennessee Tuxedo. That doesn't help matters now, does it? Of course not.

 Rating: B-.

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