Monday, December 14, 2015

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Little Rascals (1982)

Hanna-Barbera obtained a license to produce a series of animated cartoons featuring The Little Rascals, better known, of course, as Our Gang to older fans, in 1982. That was the good news. The bad news? It was put together in a 90 minute block with fellow frosh Pac-Man and with Richie Rich (3rd season), largely because ABC felt none of the three could stand on their own, although that could've been proven otherwise with the Rascals, given that the original Hal Roach shorts were in syndication at the time, and airing as pre-school fodder in some cities, like New York (WPIX).

Scott Menville, son of writer Chuck Menville, was cast as Spanky. Impressionist Julie McWhirter (ex-Casper & The Angels) voiced Alfalfa and Woim, the sidekick of neighborhood bully Butch (B. J. Ward), with Patty Mahoney (ex-Far Out Space Nuts) as Darla.

Like Pac-Man, the Rascals lasted just 1 season of new episodes, which is a shame, but that is the network's fault for not recognizing the appeal of the characters. The other problem was that H-B stablemate Smurfs aired opposite the block over on NBC. Ballgame over.

Here's the episode, "Rascals' Revenge". Spanky (Menville) is the announcer in the cold open, and Pac-Man (Marty Ingels) queues up a commercial break leading to some Richie Rich shorts and a Pac-Man cartoon. However, the video cuts off at the end of the bumper.

Something got lost in the translation of the shorts to Saturday morning TV, notwithstanding that two other studios (or maybe just one?) had the license before H-B, as we've documented.

Rating: C.


Goldstar said...

One possible reason why Hanna-Barbera's "The Little Rascals" series didn't last very long was because ABC didn't promote it very much. "Little Rascals" had the misfortune to premiere the same season as H-B'S "Pac Man" cartoon, which was the network's "it" show at the time. ABC's Saturday morning premiere day was even called "Pac Man Day'.

Goldstar said...

Some more Rascals trivia: Buckwheat was voiced by (then) child actor Shevar Ross, perhaps best known for playing Arnold's friend Dudley on "Diff'rent Strokes". For obvious reasons, the character was updated to be more politically correct, such as having the character speak perfect English and giving him a talent for inventing. Shevar Ross also voiced Eugene on Ruby-Spears' "Mork & Mindy" cartoon on the same network during this same era.

hobbyfan said...

Seems ABC missed the boat that year, promoting the inferior Pac-Man over the Rascals.....!

Darla Fanbridge said...

Actually,The Little Rascals ran for two seasons. The second season was part of "The Monchhochis/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show" - but only one 11-minute segment aired per week, with nine new segments produced, and four repeats from the first season aired sporadically. I think it was the Smurfs that made this series fall out of favor.