Monday, November 5, 2012

THE HEATHCLIFF AND DINGBAT SHOW (dvd review)

Warner Archive / Released August 14th, 2012


The Pitch
The sassiest, frassiest, classiest cat, Heathcliff, jumps from the comic strip to the TV screen in the first of his animated adaptations and is joined by the silliest trio of monsters ever seen, the aptly named Dingbat and the Creeps. The feline half of the show is pure classic Heathcliff high jinks, with the highfalutin’ low-livin’ tomcat living the life while romancing Sonja, avoiding the dog-catcher and tormenting Spike. And as an added soupcon of catnip, Heathcliff is voiced by the legendary man of 1,000 voices, Mel Blanc!

Meanwhile, a dog heads up the second half, but this is no common canine. Dingbat is a vampire dog, who with fellow Creeps the fat skeleton Sparerib and teamleader Nobody, a talking jack-o-lantern, makes up the strangest service biz ever seen, Odd Jobs, Inc. So grab a seat and get ready for the funniest antics this side of alleyway and graveyard in this complete 2-Disc, 13-Episode collection.

The Review
Heathcliff anchored this short lived series (which led to the character's solo series) which featured the comic strip cat, who was a far more clever feline than the obese lasagna eating Garfield.  The series focused on Heathcliff, his girlfriend Sonia and Spike the dog.  All in all, a pretty faithful adaptation with some fairly clever writing within pretty standard situations.

The co-feature starring Dingbat was the surprise.  A supernatural series, Dingbat was a vampire dog and his supporting cast included a shape-shifting "big boned" skeleton Sparerib and Nobody a jack o'lantern with feet.  Together they run a business called Odd Jobs, Inc. which they operate from their customized motorcycle with a haunted house on the back.  This segment is far more unconventional and as a result, a bit more entertaining.  There's a bit of a warped undertone to the series, that make it's brief run understandable.

Produced by Ruby-Spears, both series contained fairly average animation (which was common for it's time; the early Eighties), but is actually fairly funny.  Voice work is spectacular and a major reason for this set's success; Among the talents participating are Mel Blanc, June Foray, Frank Welker, Avery Schreiber and Don Messick.  Extras are non-existent.  The Heathcliff and Dingbat Show certainly satisfies the nostalgiac viewer and is sure to make new fans for younger viewers.  Recommended.

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