Monday, October 29, 2007

Hanna-Barbera's Best: The Title Sequences

After Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and The Jetsons, Hanna Barbera Productions got into producing very different types of animated programming. Most of these shows were reactive to what was successful at the time and Hanna Barbera were very good about tapping into that. As with most HB shows, the best part of the shows were the opening and closing title sequences, which were anchored by a great theme song, terrific editing of clips from the series and some original animation.
Here's a few examples below and the first we'll begin with is Speed Buggy, which features a great 'driving' theme song matched to good action pieces featuring the main characters. The show is definitely influenced by Disney's The Love Bug (the top box office grosser of 1969) and must have had many curious viewers, but as with other HB shows, the show was never as much fun as the title sequence.

As a kid, The Wacky Races was a pretty fun show to watch. Influenced by many chase films made before it ( i.e., The Great Race, It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, etc.)
not only were the opening and closing sequences fun, but the actual episodes had some chuckles too!
The theme music was big and brassy, with neat narration by character actor, Dave Willock and some funny vocal performances by Paul Winchell, everything in this HB show seemed to work...especially the opening and closing sequences.

The Catanooga Cats was a typical HB show that featured three or four different cartoon segments. Often The actual Catanooga Cat cartoons were dreadful, but the short music segments that acted as bumpers had neat bubblegum pop tunes and fast editing. HB once again took the lead from The Monkees and Popular Beatles cartoon in the mid 60's, and started making shows that featured characters that played musical instruments. This extended to The Impossibles, The Banana Splits, Josie & The Pussycats and of course The Catanooga Cats. The best thing about this show is the opening title sequence, with a dynamic pop theme produced By Mike Curb.

I know that some of these tunes may not be everyones' cup of tea, but when the shows first came out, the title sequences did provide a good hook to get the kids to watch. Here below is the title sequence for the HB Abbott & Costello cartoon show.
Once again, the title sequence has a Big Band sound and is hands down the only good thing about this particular cartoon. Good thing HB refrained from having Abbott & Costello play guitars and drums!

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