Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
The Ruby-Spears logo that followed some of their shows.
In 1977, ABC executive Fred Silverman felt that Hanna-Barbera Productions’ quality was starting to slip due to their overextending
themselves on a multitude of projects. Feeling they needed a little competition
to not only lighten the load but keep their quality high, Silverman set up
former Hanna-Barbera employees, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, with their own studio: Ruby-Spears Productions. Silverman had recruited Ruby and Spears to oversee the
development of Saturday mornings over at CBS,
and then took them with him to ABC to continue that job.
The kids and their Wolf-Buggy.
For their very first
production, they revisited the formula for their greatest creation, Scooby-Doo, with a dash of inspiration from I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and
created Fangface. The series focused on a group of teenagers who, traveling
around in a dune buggy dubbed “The Wolf-Buggy”, solved mysteries and foiled
crimes perpetrated by monsters and evil masterminds. Comprising this group was
the handsome Biff (Jerry Dexter); his smart girlfriend, Kim (Susan Blu); the
stocky Puggsy (Bart Braverman), who tended to make up words constantly; and
tall, lanky simpleton Sherman “Fangs” Fangsworth (Frank Welker, patterned
after Joe E. Ross). Puggsy and Sherman were heavily based on Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall from The Bowery Boysseries.
Monster vs. Monster.
This group had a bit of a
twist: one of them was a werewolf. Indeed, the Fangsworth family had a curse
placed upon it where once every 400 years a member of that family would be born
a werewolf, as explained in the opening narration by John Stephenson. Whenever
Sherman was exposed to the full moon—be it real or merely an image when the
kids needed to call upon their “secret weapon”—he transformed into Fangface: a
furry werewolf with a single giant fang. Conversely, whenever Fangface saw the
sun or its image, he’d revert back (usually at the most inopportune times).
Fangface would always ingest Puggsy whole, holding him in his mouth until Biff
or Kim rubbed his foot to calm him down (this also happened whenever Fangface
saw or heard anything remotely related to food). This was a subconscious
reaction to Puggsy’s constant taunting and teasing of Sherman’s cowardice while
in his human form. You see, they were essentially two separate people with
contrasting personalities, as Fangface was much braver than Sherman, and
neither knew of the other’s existence. Despite always being almost eaten,
Puggsy was constantly teamed up with Fangface whenever the kids would split up.
Fangface also somehow retained his trademarked baseball cap despite losing the
rest of his clothing (which reappeared whenever he changed back to human form.
Hey, this IS a kid’s show!) from which he could pull a variety of items out of
in various situations.
Sherman’s sole role was
comic relief, but whenever he became supremely scared he came up with a brilliant
idea to save himself. Fangface didn’t take away from that role. He had the
propensity to howl whenever he saw his own reflection and enter into a feral
state whereby he ran only on instinct, often leading him to attack Puggsy. The
kids did manage to turn this state to their advantage in a case most of the
time by letting him loose on the bad guys. Despite being a werewolf, the public
at large didn’t seem to acknowledge that fact, treating meeting Fangface as an
everyday normal occurrence.
Sherman, Baby Fangs, and their alter-egos.
Fangface ran on ABC beginning on
September 9, 1978. The series was written by Mark Jones, Elana Lesser, Norman Maurer and Cliff Ruby, with music composed by Dean Elliott. The show failed to gain the ratings or notability of the Scooby franchise and was cancelled after
a single season. For the following season, Ruby-Spears tried to give their
creation a second life by including Fangface as a segment
Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show. The
segment retained the mystery solving format, however episodes were shortened to
11 minutes rather than a full 22. It was also renamed Fangface and
Fangpuss to include the new character: Baby Fangs (also Welker),
Sherman’s infant cousin who, despite the original opening narration’s declaration,
also inherited the ability to transform into a werewolf. Sherman was unaware
that Baby Fangs was Fangpuss, becoming scared whenever encountering him in wolf
form. However, unlike Sherman, Baby Fangs remembered his time as a wolf.
Fangpuss also seemed to share his cousin’s affinity for inflicting pain on
Puggsy. Unlike the previous season, the werewolves’ sun weakness was never