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My Feedback on The Little Rascals Animated Series

Discussion in 'Hanna-Barbera' started by Dave Koch, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

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    Hi, I'm a new kid on the block to these forums..

    I noticed that the animated Little Rascals series received low ratings during its run on ABC in 1982-84 (ABC was a very low-rated network at that time before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? debuted, if I recall).

    But my opinion? I think it was a great show. I may be part of the minority who really enjoyed the show during its 2-year run. In fact, it was my most favorite cartoon of that decade, in my opinion.

    I remember the "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat" episode where an abnormality occurred when Darla wore brushes on her bare feet in one scene. Makes me wonder if Fred Flintstone was her inspiration?

    As much as I would like to see such show on Boomerang someday, it's doubtful it's going to happen any time soon. I read on another thread that the actor who played Porky filed a lawsuit for using his name and likeliness on the cartoon without his permission, and was later settled out of court. That particular actor died in October 2005. I wonder if his death will likely have paved the way to allow the show to air on Boomerang or appear on DVD?

    All I can say is, it was a great show. If it won't appear on Boomerang or on DVD, all I can hope for is for someone to upload episodes to YouTube someday.

    Speaking of YouTube, the Pac-Preview Party from 1982 - emceed by Dick Clark, who would host the debut of The New $25,000 Pyramid the next day - did contain at least one episode of The Little Rascals and is on YouTube, though it's not the same.
  2. RascalsFan84

    RascalsFan84 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    You may remember me as 1980sRascalsFan. To sum it up, I have lost my password under my 1980sRascalsFan account, so I have decided to start fresh with my latest alias, RascalsFan84. So to the mods, please close my 1980sRascalsFan account.

    As for the 1980s Little Rascals series, I am wondering why the series hasn't been seen in the U.S. or in North America since ABC cancelled the series in 1984. I noticed that, since 1993, the series aired in syndicated reruns in the UK and Ireland, possibly in France after that, and currently in Germany (has been for some time now). I also believe it may have aired in Australia during the late-80s/early-90s. It has aired nowhere else in the world except for Europe since 1993. I wonder if the rights to such series are held in Europe now, and I wonder if it is no longer held in the U.S. in the wake of Porky's lawsuit? I have a funny feeling the lawsuit brought on by Porky may have resulted in the show's demise in 1984.

    If anybody wants to see such series in North America, all we can do is hope that more episodes appear on YouTube sometime down the road. We got five 11-minute shorts so far, so we have 30 more to go.
  3. James Vipond

    James Vipond Intern Forum Member New Member

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    Welcome back, RascalsFan84! I, too, would like to see more of Hanna-Barbera's Little Rascals shorts on YouTube: not only the 11-minute cartoons, but also the 30-second shorts from the first season. In my opinion, Patty Maloney did some of her best voice acting work in the role of Darla Hood.

    I understand that these shorts have been shown in Singapore, on MediaCorp Channel 5, with English audio and Chinese subtitles. Yet they haven't been broadcast in the United States for almost 30 years! According to TVShowsOnDVD.com, Warner Home Video holds the North American DVD rights to the animated Little Rascals series.
  4. artytoons

    artytoons Administrator I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    The concept had promise in animated form but the humor in the episodes I saw in its original ABC run sort of fell flat. The spontaneous comedy and off the the cuff humor in the live-action Hal Roach shorts were hard to capture in cartoon form.

    The voice actors performed well, especially Julie McWhirter-Dees as Alfalfa.

    I remember Petey the pup being something of a clone of Richie Rich's Dollar...imagining he is a hero in a certain dangerous situation only to meet with slapstick disaster when attempting the heroic feat in "real life". Porky didn't speak too much and usually had Buckwheat explain what Porky was thinking of. Woim tended to repeat everything Butch had said.

    Nice try.
  5. peterhale

    peterhale Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

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    The cartoon series was, however, better than the stop-motion attempt made in the 70s.

    Charles King, the syndicator of the original Hal Roach shorts, decided to try remaking them in colour using model animation sync'ed to the original soundtracks. He signed up a UK animation team (probably Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Pasquale Ferrari - the animators of the Camberwick Green/Trumpton/Chigley series) to make 10 films.

    LittleRascalsFollies36stopmotion.jpg
    Still from Follies, one of the proposed series of Little Rascal Colour Specials




    ElsieBossing_PasqFerrari.jpg
    Still from The Tale of Elsie Bossing, a public information film animated by Pasquale Ferrari. The models are very similar to those in the stop-motion Rascals films.



    However, the simple shuffling walk, headnods, and arm waves that had worked so well under the narration of Camberwick Green were totally insufficient to carry off the pantomime performances needed to match the Rascals soundtracks. The results were incredibly dull and plodding, and the project was cancelled after King had seen the first handful of films.

    Click here to see the stop motion Follies (if you can bear it!)
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  6. RascalsFan84

    RascalsFan84 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    I wonder if this may be an indicator that the animated Little Rascals series may end up getting a DVD release in the foreseeable future? If it was to appear on DVD, I would be on cloud nine as much as you would be. After all, we are long overdue to see this lost 1980s cartoon series again in some form, whether on YouTube or any form.

    I never saw the stop motion animated version, but from what it sounds, I agree with Peterhale that the 1980s animated series was ten times better. I also think the 80s cartoon was better than the B&W version, in my opinion. I don't think there was any controversy and politically incorrect content involved in the 80s cartoon version as opposed to the B&W shorts (maybe adults smoking cigarettes was prevalent, but such content would be deemed suitable for viewing by kids from the 80s who are now in their 30s and maybe early 40s).
  7. Thinice

    Thinice Intern Forum Member New Member

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    I remember the show but do not recall watching it much. I grew up on the original Little Rascals shorts and must have been burnout, when the cartoon was released. Still would be nice to see a release.
  8. RascalsFan84

    RascalsFan84 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    I think there were at least two episodes where Pete the pup never met with disaster. One of the episodes was "Class Act", where in the end, a poodle Pete befriended kissed Pete as if she was in love with him. And in the "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat" episode, I don't think Pete ever met with disaster thoughout that episode - in the end, Pete blew a whistle as if he was celebrating the transformation of a riverboat inherited by Spanky into a restaurant.
  9. RascalsFan84

    RascalsFan84 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    I am reviving the thread to provide some more information.

    I did discover on YouTube a trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation, which is titled "The Little Rascals Save The Day", supposedly due out later this year (it was originally said to be released by Christmas 2013, but I think it got held back). I did discover that the characters being focused are the same characters featured from the H-B series, and I never saw Stymie or other characters, as far as I know. I also noticed some kind of machinery, but I wonder if it was any of Buckwheat's creations?

    If these are true, then this may be a sure sign that the H-B series may, to say the least, get a DVD release, maybe to accompany the new movie. Of course, for now, it's all wishful thinking.
  10. peterhale

    peterhale Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

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    It seems the live-action movie is going straight to DVD - Amazon is accepting bookings for an April 1 release.
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  11. RascalsFan84

    RascalsFan84 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    One thing I noticed, about the French dubs of The Little Rascals - they did exist on YouTube a while ago, but now I can't seem to find them. I wonder if one of the companies that are involved in the joint ownership of such series did a copyright claim on both "Rascals' Revenge" and "Alfalfakazaam!"? And I wonder if "Pete's Big Break" was claimed by one of the joint owners a long while ago?

    If so, there go my hopes for seeing more episodes of the animated Little Rascals series on YouTube. I can only hope for a DVD release someday.

    Also, while on the topic of The Little Rascals, I would like to ask, I learned that the Atlantic Canadian network ASN (now branded as "A", I think?) did use to air all the Season 1 episodes of such series in syndication. I haven't heard of any Season 2 episodes that have ever been rebroadcast since its only airings in the U.S. in 1983-84. I do know that the syndication package of Richie Rich did consist mainly of adventures from the first two seasons, unless I am mistaken. Is it possible that the syndication package only contains 13 full episodes each with two 11-minute shorts and one 30-second vignette all from the first season?
  12. Joe Davis

    Joe Davis Member Forum Member New Member

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    I've gotten a hold of a few Rascals cartoons lately, thanks to a generous retro TV collector. Here's a nearly complete episode of the Pac-Man/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show. I had to get rid of most of the Pac-Man segments due to copyright issues.

    The Rascals episodes featured are "Rascals' Revenge", "Yachtsa Luck", and "Fish Fright".

  13. Joe Davis

    Joe Davis Member Forum Member New Member

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    "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat", "The Case of the Puzzled Pals" (a slight reworking of "Hide and Shriek), and "Go Kart Go". Also included are a few crossover promos that features the Rascals interacting with their costars from "Pac-Man" and "Richie Rich", as well as an ABC promo that features a clip from a Rascals episode I have yet to identify.

  14. James Vipond

    James Vipond Intern Forum Member New Member

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    Joe, I found that promo, and it includes clips from two Little Rascals shorts. The scene of the boys in front of the "Congratulations, Darla!" banner is from "Beauty Queen for a Day", and the scene of the Rascals on horseback is from either "Showdown at the Rascal Corral" or "Trash Can Treasures".
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  15. Joe Davis

    Joe Davis Member Forum Member New Member

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    "Tiny Terror," "Science Fair and Foul," and "Sea Song." There are some audio issues in "Tiny Terror" that I'm unable to fix. This is a rerun from March '83.

  16. RascalsFan84

    RascalsFan84 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat" in 1983? More like "Cap'n Spanky's Comeback" in 2014!

    I have to admit, this particular episode tops the list of my top five Little Rascals cartoon shorts. The bottom four are all from Season 2, I don't know the rankings off the top of my head, but I do know "After Hours", "Save Our Treehouse!", "The Big Sneeze" and "A Not So Buenos Dias" are among the bottom four, in no particular order. The reason for my number one choice is due to the rarity of seeing Darla being barefoot for a brief period despite wearing her dress. Definitely wasn't the real life norms for young girls in 1983, but certainly is now (even if girls are wearing flip-flops). That short was recycled during the 1983-84 season on the 12th episode (the upload is Ep. 9 of the first season). Makes me wonder if this was the highest-rated Little Rascals short of all 35 produced?

    I also have to admit, by the end of 2009, I was predicting that "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat" would appear on YouTube sometime in the 2010s. By golly, my prediction was right on the money. It's really great to see this rare gem for the first time since ABC last aired it on August 25, 1984. After it last aired, I didn't care for ABC until Who Wants to be a Millionaire premiered 15 years afterwards. I downloaded "Cap'n Spanky" in a flash the moment I discovered it, and it's in my external hard drive now.

    Hope we can see more of these rare gems, especially "The Irate Pirates", "Darla's Dream Dance", "The Serenade", "Out on a Limb" and some Season 2 episodes.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  17. James Vipond

    James Vipond Intern Forum Member New Member

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    I, too, am thrilled to see the animated Little Rascals shorts after almost 30 years! :joyful: I've downloaded Joe's videos and extracted the Little Rascals shorts into AVI files. I've updated my episode guide at Little Rascals Episode Summaries, marking with red stars those episodes that are currently on YouTube. I'd like to see "Grin and Bear It", "The Irate Pirates" and some of the second-season cartoons.
  18. Joe Davis

    Joe Davis Member Forum Member New Member

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    Glad to see everyone is enjoying these.

    All I could find from " The Irate Pirates" were these screen grabs. I'm guessing the others images are from "Just Desserts"?
    http://dessins-animes.com/das/363/name/petites_canailles

    I have to say, my favorite thus far has been "The Case of the Puzzled Pals." Seeing Alfalfa's ego get knocked down a few pegs is always a laugh.
  19. Joe Davis

    Joe Davis Member Forum Member New Member

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    Here's my take on the series, based on the handfu
    l of episodes I've been able to see.

    First off, I should probably mention that I didn't grow up with this series. Rather, I found out about it shortly after I became a fan of the original live action shorts. I've since been researching the many attempts at reviving the Rascals (there really were several attempts, a handful of which never got beyond planning stages).

    In my opinion, this is one of the better attempts at redoing the Rascals.

    1. For the most part, the characters match their original screen counterparts. Most of the other adaptations fail at this aspect:
    - Spanky is still the grouchy, but lovable idea man.
    - Alfalfa is the dorky, and at times a bit cocky character we all know and love.
    - Darla is one that most adaptation writers seem to have trouble with. I do like this version of the character. She's an independent girl who isn't afraid to backtalk the boys. She also seems to be a bit more of a tomboy in these cartoons, not afraid of getting dirty with the others. The original series had a habit of making Darla annoyingly fickle. Her motives from bouncing around from one boy to another were never really made clear. And it didn't make her character incredibly likable, IMO. At least in the few episodes I've seen, none of that is present here.
    - Buckwheat is one of the few characters that doesn't match his live action counterpart. In this case, that's not a bad thing. Buckwheat's ethnic stereotype role was never particularly funny. Here, he is a far more clever person, and is usually the one responsible for the kids' Rube Goldbergesque inventions. And yet, like his live action counterpart, he is still somewhat of a tag-a-long.
    - Porky is a bit more of a one-joke character in this series. The writers seemed to take a liking to (harmlessly) poking fun at young Eugene Lee's speech impediment. This is particularly obvious in "Science Fair And Foul," where Porky's garbled speech somehow manages to break Buckwheat's robot! This partial parody of Porky shows shades of the Tom Ruegger era of Hanna-Barbera (Ruegger didn't work on this series, but future Animaniacs writer Earl Kress did). Ruegger's revivals of the old H-B shows (Yogi's Treasure Hunt, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo) would poke fun at all of the tropes that made earlier incarnations of the classic characters famous. And yet, you always got the since that it was out of love.
    - There isn't really much to say about Butch and (a much shorter) Woim. Butch is still the same tough guy (though the charm Tommy Bond brought to the character in the live action shorts made him somewhat likable), while Woim is more of a 'yeah-man' than ever.
    - Every Rascals revival that uses Waldo likes to make him a bad guy. The original Waldo was never a bad guy. A rival to Alfalfa in "Three Men in a Tub," yes. But you got the feeling that Waldo was so caught up in his own world, that he never fully realized he was a rival. This version of Waldo is clearly not liked by the Rascals (save for Darla). But he does retain the sophisticated vocabulary the original incarnation had.
    - Since Pete the Pup is in an H-B world, it's inevitable that he would be turned into an H-B dog. But somehow, that works in this series. And it's not like the live action Pete never did anything cartoonish.

    2. Despite the fact that the cartoons apparently take place in the early 1980's, the style of the original shorts is still here. Most of the situations the kids are placed in could easily have been written for the original gang. Heck, for the most part one tends to forget that the cartoons take place in an updated setting. And the fact that the writers usually worked with new situations rather than remade episodes from the original series also helps.

    3. The cartoonish humor works in this setting and with these characters. Alfalfa is usually the butt of physical gags that would have seemed out of place in the live action series.

    4. The voice actors (almost shockingly) sound like the original kids. I was especially surprised to hear how much young Scott Menville sounded like Spanky McFarland.
  20. RascalsFan84

    RascalsFan84 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    One other observation I noticed in the "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat" segment: In one scene, only briefly, Darla's shoes and socks appeared to have inverted colors. Darla's shoes were pink instead of white, and her socks were white instead of pink. I even noticed this way back in 1984 during the final ABC rebroadcasts. Someone might want to add this information to the Notes/Trivia section of the page for that particular episode on the Wikia page.

    And, regarding the Rascals, I did notice that many of the regular characters sounded like they had a southern accent (like they came from Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, etc.). However, I did discover on Wikia that the fictional town is believed to be in Southern California. If this is the case, then how on earth did Spanky and the gang drive all the way to Mississippi in their wooden car in "Cap'n Spanky's Showboat"?
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014

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