JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS IN OUTER SPACE
(CBS, September 9-December 23, 1972)
Janet Waldo & Cathy Dougher (singing) – Josie
Barbara Pariot & Patrice Holloway (singing) – Valerie
Jackie Joseph & Cheryl Ladd (singing) – Melody
Jerry Dexter – Alan M. Mayberry
Casey Kasem – Alexander Cabot III
Sherry Alberoni – Alexandra Cabot
Don Messick – Sebastian, Bleep
Josie and the Pussycats became an event, with musicians of various levels of notoriety coming on to play for the series’ soundtrack after producer Danny Janssen defended keeping the character of Valerie (Barbara Pariot & Patrice Holloway) black when the studio wanted to change her to white. The follow-up season to the show, unfortunately, wasn’t as remarkable.
For the 1972-73 season, Hanna-Barbera decided to revamp the show. As depicted in the second opening sequence used, the band was taking promotional photographs in front of a new spaceship when Jealous Alexandra (Sherry Alberoni) knocked them all into the capsule and caused it to accidentally take off, leading to Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.
|Bleep, Alan M. and Josie character models.|
Structurally, each episode was the same as the previous series: the Pussycats would end up in a new location (in this case, a planet) where they would stumble upon malevolent forces (in this case, aliens) and have to escape capture during a music-laden chase scene. However, the music was not as much of a focus this time around after the failure of the previous series to generate The Archies-level interest in the fictional band. Aside from the new character designs featuring the band in matching space suits, the only new addition to the program was the character of Bleep (Don Messick): a fuzzy alien who spoke only in “bleeps” that Melody (Jackie Joseph & Cheryl Ladd) could understand. An element of Lost in Space was thrown in by the characters constantly trying to find their way home from uncharted space.
|Their rocket ship model sheet.|
Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space debuted on CBS on September 9, 1972. It was written by Larz Bourne, Tom Dagenais, Phil Davis, Fred Freiberger, Joel Kane, Heywood Kling, Draper Lewis, Dennis Marks and Paul West with the music supplied by Hoyt Curtin. Many of the designs came from artist Alex Toth with Jerry Eisenberg handling others. The show only ran for a single season of 16 episodes. CBS kept it on its schedule until 1974, but ultimately did not order any further installments.
|One of the band's intergalactic foes.|
Hanna-Barbera, however, wasn’t quite done with the Archie Comics characters. The Pussycats appeared in a 1973 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies teaming-up with Scooby (also Messick) and the gang. They were also intended to reunite with Scooby on his team for the Battle of the Network Stars spoof series Laff-A-Lympics, but the rights had expired by then. The Hanna-Barbera series Speed Buggy was notable for recycling several plots from the Josie series.
In 1976, Rand McNally published a book based on the original series called The Bag Factory Detour. Worldvision Home Video released a VHS collection of 3 episodes in 1980, with a second volume in 1985. The episode “Warrior Women of Amazonia” were featured in a clip episode collection of Hanna-Barbera in the United Kingdom. In 2010, Warner Archive released the complete series to DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection.
|Josie and friends in manga style.|
Although another attempt to bring Josie to TV has yet to materialize, the Josie comic ran until 1982, ending after 106 issues. The Pussycats continued appearing in various Archie publications, notably as an alternating feature in Archie Giant Series and Archie & Friends. In the early 2000s, Archie experimented with giving the band a manga makeover and a new origin by Tania del Rio. In 2016 the series was given another makeover as part of Archie’s line-wide reboot of its comics. The new series ran for 9 issues and was written by Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio with art by Audrey Mok.
In 2001, Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a live-action Josie movie. Directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, the film featured Rachel Leigh Cook as Josie McCoy, Tara Reid as Melody Valentine and Rosario Dawson as Valerie Brown as they become embroiled in a government plot to extort teenagers for their hard-earned babysitting money by producing their music laden with subliminal messages. The film was a box office bomb, only earning around $15 million against its $39 million budget. The Pussycats returned to live-action in 2017 as members of the dark TV series Riverdale. The entire band was reimagined as African Americans with Ashleigh Murray as Josie, Asha Bromfield as Melody and Hayley Law as Valerie.
Also in 2001, Cartoon Network created and aired a short called “Musical Evolution” which featured the Pussycats singing the original theme song in different musical styles with accompanying artwork and outfits. The Comedy Central series Drawn Together, which was a “reality show” featuring various cartoon characters living together in the same house, included a direct parody of Valerie in the character of Foxxy Love (Cree Summer).
“Where’s Josie?” (9/9/72) – The band befriends Bleep while Josie is kidnapped by Karnak, who is intent on reconquering the planet Zelc.
“Make Way For the Multi-Men” (9/16/72) – The band must save the queen of a planet of cat people.
“The Sleeping Planet” (9/23/72) – The band helps expose a corrupt Prime Minister in the theft of a device important to planet Arcobia.
“Alien Alan” (9/30/72) – Alan is brainwashed to serve the ruler of a magnet planet.
“The Water Planet” (10/7/72) – The band’s ship is stolen by aliens intent on conquering Earth.
“The Sun Haters” (10/14/72) – The band must stop a race of giants from extinguishing the sun.
“The Mini-Man Menace” (10/21/72) – Robots kidnap the band and take them to the villainous Mitchko.
“The Space Pirates” (10/28/72) – Captain Braggo’s robotic space pirates capture the band’s ship to use to loot and plunder other ships.
“Anything You Can Zoo” (11/4/72) – The band ends up in a zoo on planet Kaltex while the ruler plots to attack Earth.
“Now You See Them, Now You Don’t” (11/11/72) – Aliens that can turn invisible seem unstoppable until Melody develops the same power after chewing gum.
“The Four-Eyed Dragon of Cygnon” (11/18/72) – Two aliens attempt to convince the band to help them against a dragon.
“The Forward Backward People of Xarock” (11/25/72) – Tyran has a weapon that zaps everything into going backwards.
“The Hollow Planet” (12/2/72) – Aliens in a planet-like ship plan to enslave others by using a ray to turn them into children.
“All Hail Goddess Melody” (12/9/72) – The natives of planet Gezzner worship Melody as their goddess due to her resemblance.
“Outer Space Ark” (12/16/72) – The mad scientist Arkapus uses a sonic transmitter to train the local animals into a conquering army.
“Warrior Women of Amazonia” (12/30/72) – A planet ruled by women captures the band and uses mind control to have the girls join their ranks, leaving Alan and Alexander to save them all.
Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2020.
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