October 08, 2016

THE FUNKY PHANTOM

THE FUNKY PHANTOM
(ABC, September 11, 1971-January 1, 1972)


Hanna-Barbera Productions, Air Programs International

MAIN CAST:
Daws Butler – Jonathan Wellington “Mudsy” Muddlemore, Fingers
Tommy Cook – “Augie” Anderson
Micky Dolenz – Skip Gilroy
Kristina Holland – April Stewart
Jerry Dexter – Elmo
Don Messick – Boo, Farmer Higgins, Raven/Otis Carter, Chickenman/Mr. Angus, Ichabod Crane, Mayor, Packy, Bill Sands, Lifeguard, Spirit of ‘76/Hank Miller


The Funky Phantom was part of Hanna-Barbera’s continuing trend to try and emulate the success of their Scooby-Doo franchise. Augie Anderson (Tommy Cook), Skip Gilroy (Micky Dolenz) and April Stewart (Kristina Holland) traveled with their dog, Elmo (Jerry Dexter), in their dune buggy, The Looney Duney, entering races around the country and solving mysteries they happened to come across. The only twist was they were accompanied by an actual ghost.

Augie, April, Skip and Elmo meet Mudsy and Boo.

As outlined in the theme by John Sangster, the kids had stumbled upon a mansion where Revolutionary War soldier Jonathan Wellington “Mudsy” Muddlemore (Daws Butler, using his Snagglepuss voice) locked himself and his cat, Boo (Don Messick), in a grandfather clock trying to duck two Redcoats burying treasure nearby. There they remained until the kids freed their ghosts from the clock. To make up for their cowardice, Mudsy and Boo accompanied the kids and lent a supernatural helping hand whenever needed—once they summoned up the courage to do so. Mudsy would also frequently regale the kids with stories of the Revolutionary era, complete with historical name-droppings.

These kids just love finding people in stuff, don't they?

The series debuted on September 11, 1971 on ABC. Because of Hanna-Barbera’s massive workload at the time, animation duties for the series were farmed out to Air Programs International in Australia. Like Scooby-Doo, the kids constantly encountered supernatural entities that ended up being criminals using elaborate ruses to accomplish their goals. Mudsy and Boo were the only true spirits ever featured. Unfortunately, the show failed to drum up the same success as Scooby and ended production after its single season. It did continue to air on ABC until the fall of 1972. Reruns of the series were included in the 1980 rerun package show The Godzilla/Dynomutt Hour with Funky Phantom.

The Funky Phantom comics, now with more ghosts!

A 13-issue Funky Phantom comic series was published by Western Publishing and Gold Key Comics. The comics were both original stories as well as adaptations of episodes. The original stories went away from the series and allowed some of the villains featured to actually be the ghosts they appeared to be, typically from the colonial era. One issue also had the gang travel back in time, restoring Mudsy to his flesh and blood body while the kids were reduced to spirits. A new character not featured on the show was introduced named Priscilla Atwater. She was a ghost from Mudsy’s time who was romantically interested in him and pursued him relentlessly—at least until another ghost came along and caught her fancy.

Mudsy and Boo meet Scooby-Doo.

Mudsy would later appear in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode “High Speed Buggy Chase” voiced by Chris Edgerly. Later, he and Boo appeared in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode “Mystery Solver Club State Finals” in a dream sequence with other characters from Hanna-Barbera’s mystery shows. They were voiced by Tom Kenny and Rick D. Wasserman, respectively.

The DVD.

In 2010, Warner Archive released The Funky Phantom: The Complete Series to DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection. It was also made available for digital download in the iTunes Store. 

EPISODE GUIDE:
“Don’t Fool With a Phantom” (9/11/71) – The group enters a race to win mortgage money for Farmer Higgins, but the mysterious Raven wants his property badly.

“Heir Scare” (9/18/71) – When the group gets lost they end up having to help Michael Conway who is stalked by a marsh monster after his fortune.

“I’ll Haunt You Later” (9/25/71) – Looking for the driver of an abandoned truck, the group finds themselves in a haunted castle.

“Who’s Chicken” (10/2/71) – The group has to help April’s Uncle Henry when Chickeman steals his chicken shipment.

“The Headless Horseman” (10/9/71) – Getting a flat tire outside of Sleepy Hollow brings the gang face-to-face with the Headless Horseman.

“Spirit Spooked” (10/16/71) – A Mexican race is put on hold when the gang is stopped by the Ghost of Montezuma.

“Ghost Town Ghost” (10/23/71) – Two criminals crash a western town’s celebration disguised as legendary outlaws.

“We Saw a Sea Serpent” (10/30/71) – The group investigates stories of a creature living in Black Lake.

“Haunt in Inn” (11/6/71) – The gang ends up staying in an inn where a ghost has been scaring away the visitors.

“Mudsy Joins the Circus” (11/13/71) – A trip to the circus leads to witnessing a gorilla robbing it.

“Pigskin Predicament” (11/20/71) – Thieves hide a stolen necklace in a football that ends up being used in the big playoff game.

“The Liberty Bell Caper” (11/27/71) – The Parafiend steals the original US flag and leaves a riddle leading to his next theft: the Liberty Bell.

“April’s Foolish Day” (12/4/71) – April ends up as navigator for racer Winfield Wheely, whose boss has his own plans on how Winfield will win the race.

“The Forest’s Prime-Evil” (12/11/71) – A camping trip leads to the discovery of Bigfoot tracks…and an illegal logging operation.

“The Hairy Scary Houndman” (12/18/71) – Elmo is entered into a dog show and ends up abducted due to his resemblance to a wealthy entrant.

“Mudsy and Muddlemore Manor” (12/25/71) – Muddlemore manor is haunted by a ghost called the Spirit of ’76, while a descendant of Mudsy’s nemesis plans to tear the mansion down.

“Ghost Grabbers” (1/1/72) – Two criminals disguise themselves as the Redcoats Mudsy hid from in order to capture him and find the treasure the real Redcoats buried.

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