Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Calvin and the Colonel

Calvin and the Colonel (ABC 1961-62), to me, is probably one of my favorite animated sitcoms. Maybe that's not a fair assessment; they literally took old Amos 'n Andy scripts and drew over it with talking animals, but it's a still a great example of a well-written animated sitcom, maybe on-par with the best Simpsons episodes (talk about an odd comparison!).

After its one season run on ABC it entered syndication and stayed there up until the late 1970s. It was also distributed internationally; Japan, for example, aired the show around 1967 as OK! Calvin, while Australia aired it for quite a while, at least until the late 1980s.

Most video copies in circulation came from 16mm black-and-white network prints although somebody is offering DVDs of episodes in color (I'm guessing it was transferred from the syndication prints).

In the meantime, here's one of the episodes in b&w, Nephew Newton's Fortune (first aired April 21, 1962). Features voices by Freeman Gosden (Colonel), Charles Correll (Calvin), Virginia Gregg (Maggie Belle), Beatrice Kay (Susan), and Paul Frees (Judge Clutch), with June Foray voicing Calvin's ex-fiancee. No clue on who voiced Newton, the doctor, and the taxi driver.

EDIT: Joe Flynn did Newton's voice and Paul Frees did the doctor and the cab driver. In addition, much of the animation was done by Phil Duncan. Thanks to Yowp and Mike Kazaleh for the infos.


Chris Sig said...

Having heard a lot about this series from numerous sources, it's great to finally see a full episode for the first time - really found myself chuckling away at many scenes, notably June Foray as the Spanish seƱorita, with a good balance of visual and verbal comedy.

Rather impressed, too, at the quality of the animation, for a made-for-TV production around this time. Seems like this production co. didn't cut corners when delivering witty punch lines (no pun intended!) and expressions :)

Thanks for sharing!

Will Finn said...

I remember seeing this when i was real little but then it literally disappeared (another series called Q.T. HUSH was ran around the same time and likewise vanished). i did not know till years later that it was derived from AMOS N' ANDY. Looks like they tried to capitalize a bit off the POGO comic, where the minstrel show voices were mollified by less offensive visuals...

Interesting to note that George Bruns did the music, who was also doing Disney scores as the in-house music guy at the time. I guess no one at Disney was bothered by the conflict. Bruns was a fantastic Dixieland musician, as the lively theme indicates.

Also interesting: the writer/producer team are the same guys who wrote for LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and created THE MUNSTERS.

Final comment: this show is comparable to the TOTAL TELEVISION output on visual & technical terms but it was done in the USA and looks marginally more polished. Too bad that this unit could not compete with the off-shore company.

Brubaker said...


Funny you mention Total Television. The first three seasons of the "King Leonardo" show was animated at the same place that did C&C, Creston Studios (formerly known as TV Spots).

TTV eventually switched to Mexico for the last season of King & Odie, as well as on their future projects.

Will Finn said...

Well that makes sense. I knew there was some studio in Hollywood that did a lot of the early TTV stuff but didn't know the name of it. There were dozens of them around that time, very few of them still in operation when i got here in 1978.

Anonymous said...

"TTV eventually switched to Mexico for the last season of King & Odie, as well as on their future projects"

That Makes Me Wonder, Why Did They Stop Subcontracting Animation to TV Spots (Creston Studios) and Instead Switch their Output to Gamma Productions in Mexico? Did Creston Close Down or Something or Maybe their Budget Got Extremely Low. Can Anyone Answer that? Thanks! Asim.

Brubaker said...

Mexico was cheaper. Nothing more.

Anonymous said...

"Mexico Was Cheaper, Nothing More"

Oh Speaking of Which, Judging by that Tennesse tuxedo and Superman Soaky Toy Commercial "" (is that either Bradley Bolke or Jack Mercer voicing Tennessee tuxedo, I Remember Mort Marshall did his voice on Frosty Os Ad and It Was Awful and Screechy) I Wonder why TTV/Leonardo Hesitated to Use the Old Paramount cartoon studio to do the Animation, I Bet they were just as cheap as Gamma Productions Was, And If they had Used Paramount/Famous to do the animation on Tennesse tuxedo/Underdog to People that Knew what they were doing as opposed to Mexican Amateurs who didn't care at all, It Would have been probably much more watchable. And With Gamma Productions Began A Very Bad Trend : Outsourcing Animation, I Personally would never forgive Jay Ward for this, especially since he afforded to Have the Fractured Fairy Tale Cartoons Done At TV Spots, Why Couldn't he do it for Rocky and Bullwinkle, Where they Too Cheap?.