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Let's Give It Up For Josie!

Discussion in 'Hanna-Barbera' started by emeraldisle, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. emeraldisle

    emeraldisle Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

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    Saturday mornings rocked in 1970 when Hanna-Barbera brought "Josie And The Pussycats" to the small screen. Although it joined "The Archies" in the rock and roll cartoon genre, and the "Josie" comic books were part of the Archie comic book line, I never considered this a sister show, as the "Archie" cartoons were produced by Filmation.

    All the same, it was truly likeable. Josie McCoy, Melody Valentine, and Valerie Brown were joined in their thrilling adventures by Alan Mayberry, siblings Alexander and Alexandra Cabot, and Alexandra's snickering cat Sebastian. Although there were none on the show, I myself did make a couple of Sebastian Cabot jokes.

    These adventures had them visiting Bombay, Paris, and so on, before encountering villains like The Secret Six, The Evil Eye, The Countess, and a direct descendant of Captain Nemo(!) Now, I only saw these episodes when I was able. During the show's first season, most of my Saturday mornings were spent at the YWCA(sorry, Village People). The first season also had them featured on the CBS-produced "In The Know," before it became "In The News" a year later, and dropped them. In addition, they also briefly appeared in Rice Krispies ads, turning "Snap! Crackle! Pop!" into a rock tune.

    Last night, OUB posted one of Melody's quotes from the show. In the early 80's, a friend and I quoted some of her other lines, like "Yes, Mustard. I'll get the ketchup," and "Does your machine make Son-Cones, Mr. Scorpion? I just love them." Yet sometimes, she showed facial expressions like shock when Captain Nemo revealed his plans to sink all ships on the high seas, and an "I don't like what's going on here" look when the Scorpion's henchmen captured her along with her drum.

    Alexandra was in the love to hate category. All she tried to do was steal the spotlight and Alan from Josie. Although the songs were specifically written for the show, I expected "American Woman" to play each time Alexandra pursued Alan, and sometimes did get him away from the others.

    The episodes "Strangemoon Over Miami," in which Dr. Strangemoon sent Melody, Alex, and Alexandra off in a space capsule, and "The Jumping Jupiter Affair," in which the gang dealt with criminals disguised as aliens, probably made H-B decide, "Why not have them up against the genuine article?" Hence....

    "Josie And The Pussycats In Outer Space." Here, the gang was launched into space, due to Alexandra's relentless need to be the star. Honestly, someone should let the air out of her inflated ego. I always wanted to say that. Anyhow, they always landed on some strange planet or planetoid, where an alien villain would be plotting to conquer Earth, or even their own planet. Bleep was added in the pilot episode, and was more of an asset than a hindrance. I was very pleased to see that Valerie continued on as the brains of the outfit. But I was truly amazed by Melody's abilities to understand and translate Bleep's bleeps, and to tame the animals under Arkapus's control. Aside from him, my favorite villains were Karnak, who kidnapped Josie, and built androids, Captain Braggo, the space pirate, and Menton the robot, who was able to duplicate himself, and who was holding the Cat People's Queen Felina prisoner. My least favorite episode was "The Hollow Planet," which I quickly realized was merely a remake of "Don't Count On A Countess." The only difference was that all but Val were turned into little kids(thought Val did accidentally turn Alexandra into an old woman).

    One gripe I had was that in the episode "The Mini-Man Menace," the others refused to believe Melody when she spotted General Midgko's spaceship, and tried to convince her she was hallucinating! I doubt if they'd have done that if one of the others had seen it. It seemed to me they ignored her since they knew she wasn't the brightest team player. That's tantamount to bullying.

    Although their efforts to return to Earth kept failing, their final animated appearance in "The Haunted Showboat," an episode from the second season of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies," implies that they did make it back safely. Either that, or the outer space adventures took place in an alternate universe. I suspect the latter, due to Bleep's absence in this episode. After all, Melody was her usual cheerful self, and didn't seem to be mourning the loss of her pet.

    The show returned on NBC in the fall of 1975. During that run, for some unknown reason, the episode "All Wong In Hong Kong" was replaced by the episode "The Water Planet." But I didn't mind.

    On a final note, I admit I had problems with the original theme song's lyrics. For instance, I thought the line "No time for purrs or pats" was "No time for further chat." Once I saw them in print, I finally realized that most of them were misheard lyrics, a common occurrence in many songs.

    So keep rocking, awesome Pussycats. :) Except for the live action movie, which I ended up hating.

    Trivia Question 48: On which planet was Melody mistaken for a goddess?

    Answer: Gezner.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
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  2. oneuglybunny

    oneuglybunny Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

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    As mentioned, Filmation Studios was producing The Archies Comedy Hour to measurable success. The cartoons were largely animated versions of their comic book origins, heavily supervised by the Goldwaters. Seeing greener grass in Filmation's yard, Hanna-Barbera Studios approached Archie Comics in 1969, and asked if they had any other comic titles available for animation. One title, She's Josie, had been languishing at Archie Comics, and they saw fit to license this title to Hanna-Barbera.

    I find myself wondering if the She's Josie title was chosen because Archie Comics had little confidence in Hanna-Barbera, or whether Hanna-Barbera balked at the heavy editorial control that Archie Comics demanded, and were given Josie as a throwaway title instead of one of Archie's stronger titles, such as Sabrina or Katy Keene.

    Whatever the case, Hanna-Barbera accepted the Josie title, and ran it through their pre-production. Iwao Takamoto was Hanna-Barbera's premiere character designer at the time, and Takamoto immediately restyled the characters for maximum comic diversity: Alan Mayberry was buffed up to an earnest, muscular stalwart against Alexander Cabot III, slimmed-down to a craven wussie. Then came Josie, largely unchanged from her design by creator Dan DeCarlo as an homage to his wife, Josephine. Josie was set against the likewise pretty but ruthless and conniving Alexandra Cabot. Takamoto changed Alexandra from a bobbed brunette to a raven ponytail with a Skunk Stripe, marking her as the token evil-ish teammate. The Cabots also lost the magical powers they had in the comics, and were kept on a tight financial leash; otherwise, getting out of scrapes with villains would be too easy.

    Lastly, Melody Valentine was maintained as the gorgeous but ditzy blonde drummer of the group, but her comic counterpart, the white meganekko bookworm Pepper, was replaced by the affable African-American Valerie. Some sources state that this change bothered Archie Comics, but that Hanna-Barbera were under greater pressure to field a minority character, which resulted in one of the most positive depictions of a character of color, at least equal to Josie in intellect and competence.

    Thus, Josie And The Pussy Cats were animated as three comedy pairs: Alan and Alexander as a kind of Abbott and Costello / Valerie and Melody as a kind of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin / Josie and Alexandra as a kind of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Plus, Alexandra's cat Sebastian, used as a spell casting familiar in the comics, was made into a Civilized Animal cum Seventh Ranger as a kind of Swiss Army plot tool.

    A lot of the Pussy Cats' construction was done right. If anything, what held them back was being molded into Scooby-Doo storylines. But that's grist for another mill. Suffice to say, the cartoon Pussy Cats are among my favorites, and they took the She's Josie title out of its doldrums at Archie Comics, rocketing it to premiere status in Archie's Giant series. :D
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  3. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

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    Sort of funny- today- who the heck is Katy Keene right?
  4. Pokey J.Anti-Blockhead

    Pokey J.Anti-Blockhead Intern Forum Member New Member

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    Katy Keene is actually a pretty good comic book-the novelty was readers (usually the girls, of course) sending in and getting credited on the pages for their costumes. Katy was a model qwith her younger sister, Melissa but named..Sis. Her rival: Gloria Grandbilt. I'm a guy but I havce a handful of those...the drawing style might be too realistic in some cases.......It's actually quite fun to read if you're either a)a girl who loves fashions -or- b) a guy who loves seeing Archie comic book girls in different poses.:)
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  5. MattPriceTime

    MattPriceTime Intern Forum Member New Member

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    Ahh Josie and the Pussycats. Long tails and ears for hats. Josie is a fun show through and through. Josie prevailed as bringing out the other side of meddling kids formula, which saw baddies over ghouls. But Josie was a long stander in my childhood re-runs. Usually on weekend mornings or early morning weekdays. (Sometimes sharing a spot with it's spinoff, sometimes not) It was also ripe super chunk material.

    The cast of Josie was fun and likable. Maybe i'm odd for having liked Alexandra and Sebastian best? But i did. I liked to see them get into shenanigans. The chase music was also good. Josie serves as a fun show but not a top of the list favorite to me. I was happy to get it on DVD and relive it again.

    ---

    When Josie turned to space i felt the show maintained itself but not really going anything beyond where it was. The new theme song i thought was actually catchier at times, but still I wasn't wowed in the progress. That being said i recall Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space still being shown as much as the first series. It sometimes ran around 5-6 AM and when it did it usually was just the Space episodes with none of the originals.

    One thing i did find really cool in the space season was the Inviso's episode. The leader sounds cool and they have a cool look when the chose to show themselves, the bubble gum gag there was also a stand out good gag. I liked Josie a lot in space and on earth but overall just not one of my personal faves but i still watch them enough.
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  6. oneuglybunny

    oneuglybunny Moderator Staff Member Forum Member

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    For what it's worth, a number of people have remarked that Alexandra Cabot added a lot to the show, despite being an antagonist to Josie. I see her as a necessary foil to Josie, in that otherwise, Josie and company merely show up to sing a song, and *poof* the villain's plans are thwarted and he's repentant or arrested. Without Alexandra, Josie can easily drift into Mary Sue territory, so having Alexandra as the Token Evil Teammate adds a believable complication to Josie's life.

    It might also be worth noting that the late Iwao Takamoto did the character designs for the cartoon series. Takamoto left Josie and Melody intact, but converted Alexandra Cabot from a bobbed brunette to a raven ponytail with a Skunk Stripe, an unusual feature for a female character. Though the show never explored it, fan theory has postulated that Alexandra grew up with this feature, and was teased and ostracized because of it. She grew up with criticism and ridicule and pranks, so she adapted these mechanisms herself. Fortunately, Josie and company refrain from needling Alexandra, even when it might be warranted (except for Alexander, of course, because he's her brother), so Alexandra has loyalty to them. Note how when villains menace her associates, Alexandra will always act in their defense.

    My only qualm is that, while Josie, the Pussy Cats, and their companions, plus the cat Sebastian, were fleshed out so well that they could take on almost any comic material, their writes chose to recycle or adapt Scooby Doo story lines for them. Granted, this was a cartoon show meant for youngsters. Nonetheless, I find myself wondering what the Pussy Cats could do if they were allowed to escape the Saturday morning ghetto.
  7. artytoons

    artytoons Administrator I SUPPORT BCDB! Forum Member New Member

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    The show took the popular chase scene sequence with the good guys staying ahead of the bad guys in hot pursuit with a pop music song playing in the background (originating in the live-action "Monkees" tv show and copied by the first season "Scooby Doo" stories and the "Harlem Globetrotters" cartoon basketball games sequences) to an entertaining level. It was fun to see the gang outwit the bad guys and finally capturing the main villain and all of the henchmen in one final slapstick sequence when the song ended.

    Alexandra Cabot and Sebastian the cat were Josie's nemeses within the team but they had to stay on the sympathetic side (barely) when compared to the sinister power-mad villains bent on world conquest Josie and her pals faced...Reggie Mantle in "The Archies" and Augie in "The Funky Phantom" were similar character types. Varying shades of "evil."

    Cherie Moor was credited in the voice cast as a singer for Josie's songs. Her real name is Cheryl Stopplemoor...and later was a cast member in the series "Charlie's Angels" billed as Cheryl Ladd, who played Kris Munroe who replaced Farrah Fawcett's Jill Munroe on the Angels team.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
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