July 02, 2016

LAFF-A-LYMPICS

LAFF-A-LYMPICS
(ABC, September 10, 1977-July 31, 1979)


Hanna-Barbera Productions

MAIN CAST:
Don Messick – Scooby-Doo, Mumbly, Announcer, Boo Boo Bear, Mr. Creeply, Creeply Jr., Dastardly Dalton, Pixie
Casey Kasem – Shaggy Rogers
Daws Butler – Yogi Bear, Augie Doggie, Blabber, Dirty Dalton, Dixie, Hokey Wolf, Huckleberry Hound, Mr. Jinks, Quick Draw McGraw, Scooby-Dum, Snagglepuss, Super Snooper, Wally Gator
Mel Blanc – Barney Rubble, Captain Caveman, Speed Buggy
Frank Welker – Dynomutt, Jabberjaw, Magic Rabbit, Sooey Pig, Tinker, Yakky Doodle
Julie Bennett – Cindy Bear
Joe Besser – Babu
Scatman Crothers – Hong Kong Phooey
Bob Holt – Dinky Dalton, Grape Ape, Orful Octopus
Gary Owens – Blue Falcon
Laurel Page – Mrs. Creeply, Taffy Dare
Marilyn Schreffler – Brenda Chance, Daisy Mayhem
John Stephenson – Doggie Daddy, Dread Baron, Mildew Wolf, The Great Fondoo
Vernee Watson – Dee Dee Sykes

            From 1977-1979 Hanna-Barbera dominated two hours of Saturday mornings on ABC. This programming block was dubbed Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, and featured 11 minute episodes of Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, 22 minute episodes of The Scooby-Doo Show and reruns of Scooby-Doo, Where are You!, and, the focus of this particular entry, Laff-A-Lympics.



            The show was a combined spoof of the Olympic games and ABC’s Battle of the Network Stars. 45 characters from across Hanna-Barbera’s library, as well as several new ones, were organized into three teams to compete in outlandish sporting events for points that would land them gold, silver or bronze medals once they were tallied up by the episode’s end.

Now let’s meet our competitors:

The original Scooby-Doobies: Babu, the omitted Jeannie, Tinker, Speed Buggy, Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Dum, Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, Dee Dee Sykes, Taffy Dare, Brenda Chance and Captain Caveman.


            -The Scooby Doobies: Featuring characters primarily from the 1970s mystery-solving cartoons, the Scoobies were named for their team captain Scooby-Doo (Don Messick). Also appearing with him was Shaggy Rogers (Casey Kasem) and Scooby-Dum (Daws Butler), Scooby’s dim-witted cousin from The Scooby-Doo Show. Joining them from Dynomutt, Dog Wonder were Dynomutt (Frank Welker) and Blue Falcon (Gary Owens); from Speed Buggy were Speed Buggy (Mel Blanc) and Tinker (Welker); and from Jeannie was Babu (Joe Besser). Jeannie herself was also slated to appear, but when Columbia Pictures succeed Screen Gems as her rights holder, they denied permission for her use (Hanna-Barbera created and owned Babu). Instead, the producers replaced her with Hong King Phooey (Scatman Crothers). Similarly, they had also intended to use the characters from Josie and the Pussycats, but their rights were held by Archie Comics. In their place, they the cast from Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels: Captain Caveman (Blanc), Brenda Chance (Marilyn Schreffler), Taffy Dare (Laurel Page) and Dee Dee Skyes (Vernee Watson).

The Yogi Yahooeys: Yakky Doodle, Huckleberry Hound, Hokey Wolf, Wally Gator, Boo Boo, Yogi, Grape Ape, Blabber, Snooper, Augie Doggie, Doggie Daddy, Quickdraw McGraw, Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks.


            -The Yogi Yahooeys: Featuring characters primarily from the 1950s-60s library of anthropomorphic animal characters led by Yogi Bear (Butler). With him were his supporting characters of Boo Boo (Messick) and Cindy (Julie Bennett), as well as Yakky Doodle (Welker) from his The Yogi Bear Show segment. Also included from The Huckleberry Hound Show was Huckleberry Hound, Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Hokey Wolf (all Butler) and Pixie (Messick); from The Quick Draw McGraw Show was Quick Draw McGraw, Snooper, Blabber, Augie Doggie (all Butler) and Doggie Daddy (John Stephenson); from The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series came Wally Gator (Buter); and from The Grape Ape Show Grape Ape (Bob Holt).

The Really Rottens: Daisy Mayhem, Sooey, the Creepleys, Ortful Octopus, Dread Baron, Mumbly, The Great Fondoo, the Magic Rabbit, and the Dastardly brothers.

            -The Really Rottens: The bad guys of the series who resorted to all sorts of under-handed tricks to win, which would often backfire. This was the most unique team of the series, in that the majority of the characters were specifically created for the show. It was originally intended to use the pair of Dick Dastardly and Muttley to lead the team, but they were co-owned by Heatter-Quigley Productions and made unavailable for the series. As a substitute, Hanna-Barbera took Mumbly (Messick) from The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show and changed him from a heroic detective to a villain, since he bore a strong resemblance to Muttley and had the same vocal effects. Dread Baron (Stephenson) was created for the show and bore a strong resemblance to Dastardly (revealed to be his twin brother in the Laff-A-Lympics comic series) and the Red Max from Wacky Races. Dinky (Holt), Dirty (Butler) and Dastardly (Messick) Dalton were cowboy brothers who appeared in both The Quick Draw McGraw Show and The Huckleberry Hound Show, making them the only other previously existing characters on the team.

Rounding out the team were the Creepleys (Messick & Page, respectively) who were based on a combination of The Gruesomes from The Flintstones and Mr. & Mrs. J. Evil Scientist from Snagglepuss and Snooper and Blabber, and their pet Ortful Octopus (Holt), who was a hybrid of Squiddly Diddly and the Gruesome’s pet Occy; magician The Great Fondoo (Stephenson), who took inspiration from Abner K. Dabra from the book Yogi Bear and the Cranky Magician, and his Magic Rabbit (Welker); and Daisy Mayhem (Schreffler), bearing a strong resemblance to Moonbeam McSwine from Li’l Abner especially by having a pet pig, Sooey (Welker).

Mildew Wolf and Snagglepuss.

The episodes were structured in a similar fashion to an Olympic broadcast with an unseen announcer (Messick) and hosting and commentary by Snagglepuss (Butler) and Mildew Wolf (Stephenson, replacing Paul Lynde) from It’s the Wolf!. As the series was on ABC, Snagglepuss and Mildew, along with other Hanna-Barbera characters enlisted as guest announcers and judges, wore the recognizable yellow jackets of ABC Sports announcers. Other Hanna-Barbera characters would also make frequent cameo appearances in the audience or being interviewed by Mildew.

Dragon-ing in China.

Much like Wacky Races, the characters competed all over the world and the Rottens would always be on the verge of winning until their foul tricks cost them the lead, and occasionally points. Unlike Races, however, sometimes their tricks weren’t against the rules, actually allowing them to win. The show was also a rare Hanna-Barbera production to not feature a studio laugh track.

Snagglepuss interviews guest referee Jabberjaw.

Laff-a-Lympics debuted on September 10, 1977 featuring 16 11-minute episodes, each usually shown in groupings of two. In 1978, only eight more episodes were produced for a second season before the show, and the entire programming block, was cancelled and replaced by The Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show.

The winnahs!

And the results?
The Scooby-Doobies – 14 wins
The Yogi Yahooeys – 7 wins
The Really Rottens – 2 wins
One three-way tie

The original DVD release.

In 1996, four VHS tapes were released by Warner Home Video containing two episodes each, while in the United Kingdom only one tape was released splitting up several episode segments into two individual episodes. In 2010, eight episodes were released between Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics Volume 1 and Volume 2 along with a bonus episodes of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!. The remainder of the first season was released in 2012 on Scooby-Doo! Laff-A-Lympics: Spooky Games, which also featured a new special: “Spooky Games”. Later editions of that DVD were retitled Laff-A-Lympics: The Complete First Collection.

Marvel's Laff-A-Lympics comic.

In 1978, Marvel Comics began publishing a 13-issue series based on the show, as well as an appearance in Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera #3. K.G. Murray Publishing would reprint several of the Marvel books in Australia, while Fleetway Publications would reprint stories in the United Kingdom from 1980-82 in Laff-A-Lympics Annual. The concept was revisited in 1996’s Hanna-Barbera Presents #6 by Archie Comics with the “Superstar Olympics”, featuring some new characters amongst the cast. Gordy made a couple of hand-held pinball games featuring the entire cast and each team individually. Hoyle released an Old Maid card game the following year. The Scooby-Doo watercolor paint set featured several of the Hanna-Barbera characters with their Laff-A-Lympics vests on.

Huck and Grape Ape in medieval trouble.

In the “Grape Juiced” episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Grape Ape (John Michael Higgins) was accused of using steroids during the Laff-A-Lympics. The Magic Rabbit also appeared in the episode “SPF” as a victim of CyberSquatting. The Really Rottens appeared in the “Ship’rect” episode of The Cleveland Show as the crew of a boat in a Floaterboard Race. The “Ban on the Fun” episode of Robot Chicken used the show in a parody of Steven Spielberg’s film Munich with the addition of Scrappy-Doo on the Scooby team.

EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“The Swiss Alps and Tokyo, Japan” (9/10/77) – Downhill ski contest, ice skating, toboggan race, sumo wrestling, one-point tennis, baseball batting contest.

“Acapulco and England” (9/17/77) – Cliff diving, underwater relay, speed boat race, Big Ben tower climb, fox hunt, skateboard polo.

“Florida and China” (9/24/77) – Swamp buggy race, waterski contest, auto track race, rickshaw race, ping pong, gymnastics.

“The Sahara Desert and Scotland” (10/1/77) – Dune buggy race, fill up the oasis race, lock ness photograph race, three legged kilt race.

“France and Australia” (10/8/77) – Tour de France bicycle race, Eiffel Tower climb, boomerang throw, kangaroo race.

“Athens, Greece and the Ozarks” (10/15/77) – Pole vault, discus throw, rail cart race, keelboat race.

“Italy and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina” (10/22/77) – Motor scooter race, canal boat race, hang gliding, skydiving, hot air balloon race.

“Egypt and Sherwood Forest” (10/29/77) – Touch the tip of the pyramid, camel race, armor foot race, princess rescue contest.

“Spain and the Himalayas” (11/5/77) – Bullfight, gypsy wagon race, hang the bell on the abominable snowman, climbing Mount Everest.

“India and Israel” (11/12/77) – Tiger hunt, elephant bark race, sun sail sledding contest, reed boat race.

“Africa and San Francisco” (11/19/77) – Jungle boat race, vine swinging contest, roller skating, fishing.

“The Grand Canyon and Ireland” (11/26/77) – Burro race, tightrope race, catch the leprechaun, hole-in-one golf tournament.

“Hawaii and Norway” (12/3/77) – Surfing, outrigger race, Viking longboat races, long jump while wearing snowshoes.

“North Pole and Tahiti” (12/10/77) – Dog sled races, igloo building contest, around the reef paddleboat race, sandcastle building contest.

“Arizona and Holland” (12/17/77) – Wild bronco riding contest, steer roping, windmill riding contest, dyke building contest.

“Quebec and Baghdad” (12/24/77) – Lacrosse batting, Canadian tree cutting, flying carpet races, magic rope climbing.

Season 2:
“Russia and the Caribbean” (9/9/78) – Siberian moose marathon, dancing race through Moscow, porpoise race, Blubeard’s treasure hunt.

“New York and Turkey” (9/16/78) – Hansom carriage race, crown of the Statue of Liberty, unicycle race, swimming relay race.

“South America and Transylvania” (9/23/78) – Bull lasso contest, rubber rat race, spooky scavenger hunt, log roll race.

“French Riviera and New Zealand” (9/30/78) – Soapbox derby, free flight kite contest, ostrich race, mud puddle tug-of-war.

“New Orleans and Atlantis” (10/7/78) – Antique aircraft distance race, Chinese dragon race, sea horse race, mermaid rescue.

“Morocco and Washington, D.C.” (10/14/78) – Roller scooter race, sand chariot race, rally race, marine corp. obstacle course.

“Canada and Warsaw, Poland” (10/21/78) – Get your man contest, dog sled race, freestyle pole vault, pogo stick race.

“Siam and the Moon” (10/28/78) – Siamese sampan race, 3-way soccer, rocket race, moon foot race.

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