Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Top Cat

TOP CAT is one of the first cartoon shows I remember watching. (Not the first; that’s probably HUCKLEBERRY HOUND.) But I was a huge fan of TOP CAT and never missed an episode during its two-year run, which probably explains why I can still hear the theme song in my head.

What I didn’t know at the time is that just like THE FLINTSTONES was inspired by THE HONEYMOONERS, TOP CAT also drew its inspiration from a live-action comedy, in this case THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW. I’ve never been a Sgt. Bilko fan. The show’s original run was just a little before my time, and for some reason it never showed up in reruns around here when I was young. I’ve seen clips from it on various shows, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a complete episode.

From what I’ve seen, though, it’s easy to recognize the similarities between TOP CAT and THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW: a scheming, wisecracking, opportunistic leader of a bunch of lovable schmoes, only with cats instead of G.I.s. Hey, it works. One of the actors from THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW even provided the voice for a similar character on TOP CAT.

This is another series where I haven’t seen any episodes in almost fifty years, so I don’t know if it holds up. But I certainly remember it fondly.


Todd Mason said...

It would hold up for you probably only with allowance for nostalgia (the H-B folks damned near exhausted their scripting abilities for years with the early HUCKLEBERRY HOUND, which I found watchable when my seven years younger brother was enjoying them for the first time some decades back). But there was a parody the other week on one of the comedians' podcasts or perhaps a BBC radio show I listen to, so if I can find that, I'll post a link here...

August West said...

As a kid I didn't miss an episode. I still see one now and then on the Boomerang Cartoon Network (DISH Network carries this) and to me they still hold up. Love when TC and Officer Dibble tangle it up with each other.

James, A good pick.

George said...

AMAZON has Top Cat - The Complete Series (1961) for $31.99. It sure brings back plenty of memories for me!

michael said...

The website Cartoon Brew has discussed the new TOP CAT movie that is being made in Mexico right now.

The reaction has been not totally bad.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

You are not alone Mr. Reasoner! The entire family regularly watched TOP CAT during its run on Cartoon Network India in early 2000. Two other cat shows/movies we were fond of watching were the 1970's O'MALLEY AND THE ALLEY CATS and THE ARISTOCRATS, particularly alley cat Thomas O'Malley and the feline Duchess, and then the more recent Swat Cats. Do you still get O'Malley comics by Gold Key?

Anonymous said...

Loved Huckleberry Hound. What good memories.

Ed Lynskey

J. Steven York said...

I think we must be around the same age, as I have about the same association with this show. I also have vivid memories of Top Cat sticker book I owned. My reptile brain loved the smell of the glue on the back of the stamp-like stickers, and held onto that particular memory tightly.

If anything, I loved Huckleberry Hound more though.

Another early cartoon from the era that I loved was "Ruff and Reddy,"


Instead of chasing each other like Tom and Jerry, the title characters went on pulpish (sometimes sci-fi) adventures in serialized format.

James Reasoner said...

Thanks for reminding me of RUFF AND REDDY. I loved that show, too. Might just write about it in a week or two.