February 26, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: HANNA-BARBERA PRODUCTIONS


HANNA-BARBERA PRODUCTIONS
a.k.a. H-B Enterprises, H-B Production Company, Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc.
(1957-2001)

View of Hanna-Barbera's long-time home.


Key People: William Hanna (founder, director, producer), Joseph Barbera (founder, director, producer), George Sidney (founder), Harry Cohn (minority owner, Columbia Pictures president), Ed Benedict (layout artist), Iwao Takamoto (character designer, director, producer), Joe Ruby (editor, writer), Ken Spears (editor, writer), Hoyt Curtin (composer), Ted Nichols (composer)

Joe Barbera and William Hanna with some of their stars and a couple of awards.

After MGM closed down its animation division due to the declining demand for theatrical shorts, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera decided to start their own studio with a focus on cartoons for television. Live-action director George Sidney, who had worked with the two before, managed to get them a deal with Columbia Pictures’ television unit, Screen Gems, in exchange for an 18% ownership for the studio’s president, Harry Cohn. Hanna and Barbera initially named the studio H-B Enterprises (a coin toss decided whose name went first) and recruited as many of their former co-workers from MGM as possible. To compensate for the drastically reduced budgets per short on television, Hanna-Barbera made extensive use of limited animation by having their characters rendered in sections, using sound to drive the narrative over action, and by reusing as many assets as possible (walk/run cycles, backgrounds, etc.). Their first show, The Ruff and Reddy Show, proved a success on Saturday morning. Their next offerings came during prime time, notably their Stone Age sitcom, The Flintstones. Hanna-Barbera would become known for being heavily influenced by and borrowing from many other shows and movies, such as the case of The Flintstones and its similarities to The Honeymooners that almost resulted in a lawsuit from its creator, Jackie Gleason. In the late 1960s, they would begin to dabble in live-action production starting with The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (although it did contain animated sequences). Their live-action division would spin-off into its own entity, Solow Production Company headed by Herbert Solow. In 1966, Hanna-Barbera was sold to Taft Broadcasting and would begin to follow the new trend of action-adventure programming. In 1969, they launched their longest-running continuous franchise with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which has seen numerous incarnations, direct-to-video movies and film adaptations. Based on Scooby’s success, Hanna-Barbera churned out a slew of clones in order to duplicate it, like Goober and the Ghost Chasers and Speed Buggy. In 1976, after the failure of Uncle Croc’s Block, ABC-head Fred Silverman abandoned rival Filmation Associates and gave Hanna-Barbera the majority of its Saturday morning programming; increasing the studio’s presence on the air. In 1977, Scooby’s creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears left to form their own studio, Ruby-Spears Productions, which also ended up under the ownership of Taft.  In 1981, Hanna-Barbera scored another major hit with The Smurfs, which became the longest-running Saturday morning cartoon series and the top-rated program for eight years. The 80s also saw the studio develop a digitized ink and paint system to cut time and cost on the process, becoming the first studio to do so. Unfortunately, the 80s began the studio’s downfall. New competition and the syndication market saw a reduction in the amount of shows they had on air. Their parent company was suffering financial trouble and was finally bought and renamed Great American Broadcasting in 1987. Warner Bros., looking to restart their animation division, poached a number of Hanna-Barbera staff to form their new studio. Turner Broadcasting System bought Hanna-Barbera along with Ruby-Spears in 1991 and renamed it H-B Production Company, and later Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. With a new focus on Turner stations, Dumb and Dumber became the last show the studio made for network television. In 1996, Turner merged with Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) and the studio was moved to the same facilities as Warner Bros. Animation. The studio was absorbed into Warner Bros. Animation in 2001, which continued to make new productions based on Hanna-Barbera’s properties.

Hanna and Barbera caricatures among their characters.


Saturday Credits:
The Ruff and Reddy Show
The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show
Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt
Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles
Space Ghost and Dino Boy
The Space Kidettes
Birdman  and the Galaxy Trio
The Herculoids
Shazzan
Fantastic Four (1967)
Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor
Samson & Goliath
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour
The Adventures of Gulliver
Wacky Races
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
Cattanooga Cats
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Harlem Globetrotters
Josie and the Pussycats
The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show
Help!...It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!
The Funky Phantom
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
The Flintstone Comedy Hour
The Roman Holidays
Sealab 2020
ABC Saturday Superstar Movie (episodes)
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
Speed Buggy
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids
Yogi’s Gang
Super Friends (1973)
Goober and the Ghost Chasers
Inch High, Private Eye
Jeannie
The Addams Family (1973)
Hong Kong Phooey
These Are the Days
Devlin
Partridge Family 2200 A.D.
Valley of the Dinosaurs
Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch
Korg: 70,000 B.C.
The New Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show
The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour
Clue Club
Jabberjaw
Fred Flintstone and Friends
Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-Lympics
CB Bears
The Skatebirds
The All-New Super Friends Hour
The All-New Popeye Hour
Yogi’s Space Race
Challenge of the Super Friends
The Godzilla Power Hour
Go Go Globetrotters
The New Fred and Barney Show
Fred and Barney Meet the Thing
Casper and the Angels
The New Shmoo
The Super Globetrotters
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979)
The World’s Greatest Super Friends
Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo
Super Friends (1980)
Drak Pack
The Flintstone Comedy Show
The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang
The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show
Laverne & Shriley in the Army
Space Stars
The Kwicky Koala Show
Trollkins
The Smurfs
The Flintstone Funnies
The Pac-Man/Little Rascals/Richic Rich Show
Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour
The Scooby & Scrapy-Doo/Puppy Hour
Shirt Tales
The Gary Coleman Show
The Dukes
The Monchichis/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show
The Pac-Man/Rubik, the Amazing Cube Hour
The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show
The Biskitts
Benji, Zax & the Alien prince
Snorks
Scary Scooby Funnies
Challenge of the GoBots
Pink Panther and Sons
Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show
Yogi’s Treasure Hunt
Galtar and the Golden Lance
The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo
Scooby’s Mystery Funhouse
The Berenstain Bears
CBS Storybreak
The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera
Teen Wolf
Pound Puppies (1986)
The Flintstone Kids
Foofur
Wildfire
Popeye and Son
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo
The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures
Tom & Jerry Kids
Rick Moranis in Gravedale High
The Pirates of Dark Water
Yo Yogi!
The Addams Family (1992)
Droopy, Master Detective
Dumb and Dumber
Cave Kids

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