Friday, December 01, 2006

IT'S A HARVEY JOLLY CHRISTMAS

In 1942, Fleischer Studios, best known for their Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons in the 30s, foreclosed leaving the studio with three new owners who created Paramount Pictures' Famous Studios, who were in charge of producing Paramount's theatrical cartoons. It was here that some of the most recognizable characters were created. Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey and Little Audrey were only a few of the new batch of the Famous Studios family.

In 1959, Paramount sold the right to their characters to Alfred Harvey who used them to launch his new line of comicbooks, Harvey Comics. Harvey also started broadcasting the cartoons on television, calling them Harveytoons.

In the time that Famous Studios was making these cartoons they produced a number of Christmas episodes. I will be talking about three of them.

Herman & Katnip - Mice to Meet You (1950)

Herman and Katnip were Paramount's answer to Tom and Jerry. The premise was the same in most cartoons: Katnip, a gullible yet determined cat, gets his butt handed to him by Herman, a sharp-minded mouse, on a regular basis.

In this Christmas episode, a group of mice are being tormented by Katnip and it is up to Herman to save them through a series of clever traps that Katnip walks right into.

Even though the setting is Christmastime, the show does little to offer a Christmas message or ho ho ho or deck the halls or anything of the like.

Casper the Friendly Ghost - True Boo (1952)

Casper must save the spirit of Christmas when he overhears little Billy saying he doesn't believe in Santa.

Staying true to the theme of Casper cartoons, Casper scares away everyone he meets except a little boy (who doesn't believe in Santa but doesn't bat an eye at a ghost) and the overarching themes of friendship and acceptance is perfect for Christmas.

Casper has had many Christmas specials over the years, including a CG direct to video release a few years back. But this one is the first and it is also the best.

Baby Huey - Jumping With Toy (1957)

Baby Huey is an over-sized infant duck who lives in his own naive little world, unaware that an evil fox in disguise wants to eat him up.

In this episode, the fox dresses up as Santa in order to lure Baby Huey into a trap. But the bumbling bird always seems to cause the traps to backfire.

Like the Herman & Katnip cartoon, this one doesn't really have any Christmas offerings except the setting. But it is still a fun one to watch.

All three of these seven minute cartoons have been released in the Harveytoons - the Complete Series DVD box set.

2 comments:

brainwerk said...

Thanks for this list! It is very helpful. I'm making a DVD full of Christmas cartoons for my son. Do you know if there are any Christmas episodes on the Yogi Bear or Huckleberry Hound DVDs?

toast said...

Sorry dude, no Christmas for Yogi or Huck. However, Yogi Bear had a special in the eighties called Yogi's First Christmas, in which Huck make a cameo, and another one in the nineties called Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper.

Both are on VHS and neither of them are on DVD.

There are some great Tom & Jerry, Disney and Warner Bros. toons that I will be reviewing in the future that would be perfect for your compilation! (I may even request a copy for myself!)

Stay tooned!