November 27, 2021

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIGHTY MOUSE AND HECKLE & JECKLE

 

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIGHTY MOUSE AND HECKLE & JECKLE
(CBS, September 8-December 22, 1979)
 
Filmation Associates, Viacom Productions

 
 
MAIN CAST:
Alan Oppenheimer – Mighty Mouse, Oil Can Harry, Swifty, Narrator, various
Diane Pershing – Pearl Pureheart, various
Frank Welker – Heckle, Jeckle, Quacula, various
Norm Prescott – Theodore H. Bear, various
 

 
            CBS was looking to bring Mighty Mouse back to television for the first time since Mighty Mouse Playhouse went off the air in 1967. CBS had purchased the Terrytoons studio back in 1955 and eventually closed it in 1972. Without an animation studio of their own to produce new content, they licensed out their works to others. In this case, Filmation got the task.

Mighty Mouse escorting Pearl Pureheart.


            Once again, Mighty Mouse (Alan Oppenheimer) was protecting the world and his love interest, Pearl Pureheart (Diane Pershing), from the evil machinations of Oil Can Harry and his all-new dim-witted stooge, Swifty (both Oppenheimer). Their encounters could happen in any time period, with Pearl and the villains adopting roles specific for the era (however, Mighty Mouse remained the same). Several changes were made to the Mighty Mouse formula for Filmation’s series. The characters abandoned their operatic dialogue delivery from the theatrical shorts mostly, as producer Lou Scheimer would recount in his book Creating the Filmation Generation, to reduce the necessity to hire additional actors that could sing for roles he and fellow producer Norm Prescott would fill in the various episodes (although Mighty Mouse would still belt some lines out, like his catchphrase: “Here I come to save the day!”). They also abandoned the faux serialization tradition of starting off each entry as if it were a continuation of some non-existent previous part. Instead, events would unfold as Mighty Mouse usually watched for trouble through a giant telescope from his cheese-like fortress on a cheese-like planet in space. One all-new story, “The Great Space Chase”, was serialized across the entire season. In keeping with broadcast standards of the time, the violence was severely toned down or non-existent when compared to the theatrical features.

Heckle and Jeckle at odds with their canine adversary.


            As a second feature for this venture, Mighty Mouse was joined by another Paul Terry creation: Heckle & Jeckle (both Frank Welker, who also voiced most of the characters in their segments). Heckle & Jeckle are magpies that look alike, but one spoke in a stereotypical Brooklyn accent while the other in a British one. Their creation came about because of Terry’s desire to have twin characters, as unique a concept at the time as utilizing magpies for the base animals. The pair made their debut in 1946’s The Talking Magpies originally as husband and wife before being given their lasting attributes with The Uninvited Pests, voiced over their run by Sid Raymond, Ned Sparks, Roy Halee and Dayton Allen. The pair had a warped sense of humor verging on antagonistic; playing outlandish practical jokes on unsuspecting victims and opponents—particularly their foil, Dimwit Dog—and a propensity for disguise gags. 52 Heckle & Jeckle shorts were made. When Terrytoons was sold to CBS, their shorts were packaged and broadcast on television on CBS Cartoon Theater and in their own The Heckle and Jeckle Cartoon Show. As with the Mighty Mouse segments, their antics were severely toned down to reduce their malevolent and sadistic overtones. However, they still remained somewhat madcap in their antics; particularly with 4th wall breaks that took advantage of their being cartoon characters. Jeckle was depicted as the smarter of the pair, and Dimwit continued to serve as a regular antagonist in a variety of roles.

Quacula arises from his coffin.


            Newly-created for the series was Quacula (Welker); a duck version of Dracula. He would sleep all day in a coffin shaped like an egg in the basement of Theodore H. Bear (Norm Prescott, imitating Joe E. Ross) and would arise at night to try—and fail—at terrorizing Theodore and other citizens. Theodore would attempt to come up with plans to rid himself of Quacula once and for all so that he could get some sleep; but those failed about as much as Quacula’s efforts.

Storyboard from "The Great Space Chase".


            The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle debuted on CBS on September 8, 1979. The series originally ran for an hour with two Mighty Mouse shorts bookending a chapter in his serial adventure, and two Heckle and Jeckle shorts with a Quacula sandwiched between them. The characters largely stayed in their own adventures, however Heckle and Jeckle did appear in a Mighty Mouse and one of their shorts was basically another Quacula cartoon. Additionally, Filmation’s trademark educational touch was represented by PSAs of Mighty Mouse talking about the environment and Heckle and Jeckle talking about homonyms between the segments. The series was written by Dave Bascom, Ron Card, Bill Danch, Dan DiStefano, Buzz Dixon, Coslough Johnson, Ted Pedersen, Creighton Barnes, Marc Richards, Nancy Schipper and Sam Simon. Notably, this series was the writing debut of Paul Dini, whose father was a friend of Prescott’s and began his Filmation career lighting models. John Kricfalusi also got his start storyboarding for the series and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (although he would call his Filmation tenure an “embarrassment” for him later on), and later went to work on the next Mighty Mouse series, Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. The series’ music was composed by Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and Prescott (Jeff Michael), with the theme by Dean Andre and Prescott.

The back cover of Quack! #2 by Scott Shaw!


            Filmation ran into a legal complication after their series premiered. Apparently, artist Scott Shaw! had created his own vampire duck character, Duckula, that appeared in the first issue of Quack! and on the back cover of the second issue, published by Star*Reach in 1976 and 1977, respectively. While the notion of a vampire duck wasn’t really new—Scheimer himself cited Daffy Duck appearing with a Duckula in Daffy Duck #92 (1975)—what drew concern from Shaw! was the fact that he was alerted by friends at Filmation that they had copies of Quack! on hand during production and that Quackula’s character model sheet seemed to be a Bob Clampett Daffy with Duckula’s features overlayed onto it (Shaw! would recruit Clampett as an expert witness). Additionally, Duckula had his own bear supporting character named Bearanboltz, a dimwitted pastiche of Frankenstein’s monster, which again made the similarities too convenient. He filed a plagiarism lawsuit after episodes began airing. Ultimately, Filmation settled with Shaw! for $30,000 and removed the Quackula segments when the series entered reruns.



            CBS kept the series on its schedule for three years; shortening it to half an hour for the 1980 season and then moving it to Sunday mornings in early 1981. “The Great Space Chase” was edited into an 86-minute film and received a limited release to theaters in 1982 as an attempt to cash in on the anticipation of the release of Return of the Jedi. Reportedly, while it didn’t fare well in the United States, it played better overseas. Along with the film, several Mighty Mouse segments saw release on home video domestically and abroad. The entire series has yet to be released on any kind of home media or streaming service, however various segments can be found around the web.
           
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
“Mouse of the Desert / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 1 / Stop...Pay Troll / Goldfeather / Star Boars / The Golden Egg” (9/8/79) – High priest Harry summons the Egyptian god Set to help him overthrow Queen Pearl. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / To help a kid get to sleep, Mighty Mouse reads him a story about rescuing Pixie Pureheart from troll Harry. / P.I.s Heckle and Jeckle are hired to stop Goldfeather from turning stolen gold into Swiss cheese to sneak past customs. / Quacula ends up on a spaceship bound for a planet where the sun always shines. / Heckle and Jeckle trade their clunker of a car for a magic bean that grows a giant beanstalk.
 
“Planks a Lot / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 2 / The Exercist / The Heroes / House for Sale / Cavebirds” (9/15/79) – Mighty Mouse must rescue Captain Pureheart from pirate Harry seeking the same treasure she’s after. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Spy Harry uses the Trojan Horse method to capture Queen Pureheart of Athens. / Heckle and Jeckle are hit with the desire to become heroes and end up more like zeroes. / Quacula must prevent Theodore from selling his house to a wax museum proprietor. / Chasing Heckle’s new hat into a museum caveman display causes the pair to be sent back into prehistoric times.
 
“The Star of Cucamonga / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 3 / Gypsy Mice / Show Business / Weird Bear / Spurs” (9/22/79) – Harry plots to steal a valuable diamond Pearl just inherited. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Mighty Mouse must rescue gypsy Pearl from werecat Harry. / Heckle and Jeckle decide to join the circus as stuntmen, not knowing someone plans to sabotage them to get ahold of the circus. / One of Quacula’s potions turns Theodore into a monster. / Heckle and Jeckle constantly interrupt the filming of a Western.
 
“Loco Motivations / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 4 / Cats and Robbers / Birds of Paradise / Monster Mash / The Open Road” (9/29/79) – In the 1800s, Harry plans to steal a trainload of cattle bound for market. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / ‘20s gangster Big Harry attempts to intimidate Pearl into dating him and paying him protection money. / Heading to the South Seas for a vacation pits Heckle and Jeckle against a pirate and his illegal pearl-diving operation. / Theodore buys a robot monster to get rid of Quacula but it ends up causing both of them trouble. / Heckle and Jeckle are railroaded by an illegal speed trap.
 
“Blimp with the Wind / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 5 / Catula / Robot Factory / Uncle Frenec / Farmer and the Crows” (10/6/79) – Harry cheats to win an air race to circumnavigate the globe. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Count Catula lures Pearl into a lease of his castle full of deadly traps. / P.I.s Heckle and Jeckle are called to a robot factory to investigate the disappearance of parts on their assembly line. / Theodore’s hopes of joining a birdwatching club are dashed when Quacula’s uncle visits the night their committee comes over. / A land tycoon tries everything to get Heckle and Jeckle to sell their inherited farm.
 
“Mouserace / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 6 / The Sun Harnesser / Foreign Legion Birds / The Magic Lamp / Mail Birds” (10/13/79) – Harry cheats in a road race to win the title of racer of the year. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Harry plans to steal plans for a device that can harness the sun’s energy to rule the world. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Theodore gets a magic lamp from the flea market and hopes its genie can get rid of Quacula. / A rival pilot seeks to ground Heckle and Jeckle’s airmail service.
 
“Movie Mouse / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 7 / Mick Jaguar in Concert / The Malcon-tents / Room for Rent / Bellhops” (10/20/79) –Harry attempts to sabotage Pearl’s production of a similar movie he plans to make to save his film studio. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Harry disguises himself as a famous rock star in order to hypnotize and capture the audience to work on his catnip farm. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Quacula follows Theodore when he tries to get away to a hotel for a bit. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Pheline of the Rock Opera / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 8 / Captain Nemo-oh-oh / Sphinx! / Morgana La Duck / Hang Two” (10/27/79) – Harry plots to kidnap rock star Pearl and hold her for ransom. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Harry plans to steal underwater farmer Pearl’s submarine to use to hold-up other vessels. / Heckle and Jeckle go on an Egyptian treasure hunt that turns out to be a tourist trap. / Morgana La Duck rises from a 1,000-year sleep and desires Theodore’s house. / Heckle and Jeckle enter a surfing competition to put a bully in his place.
 
“Snow Mouse / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 9 / Haunted House Mouse / Witch Way Outta Here? / Return of Star Boars / C.B. Birds” (11/3/79) – Harry cheats to help Catsylvania beat the American team in the winter Olympics. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Harry attempts to scare Pearl away from her uncle’s house to keep her from finding his will before he can. / A witch decides to make Heckle and Jeckle her dinner. / Quacula’s coffin is dropped into the Bermuda Triangle and he finds himself in the clutches of aliens. / Movers Heckle and Jeckle must transport a dinosaur egg while keeping it out of the hands of a bandit.
 
“Cat Ness Monster / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 10 / Rugged Rodent / Shopping Center / Time and Before / Where There’s a Will” (11/10/79) – Pearl sets out to photograph the Cat Ness Monster and instead finds Harry in a monster sub looking for treasure. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Mall employees Heckle and Jeckle chase after a crafty shoplifter. / Theodore builds a time machine to send Quacula back in time. / Heckle and Jeckle inherit a house from their uncle, but they go to the wrong address and find themselves having to deal with Quacula.
 
“Gorilla My Dreams / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 11 / Cattenstein / Identity Problem / Bungled Burglary / Time Warped” (11/17/79) – Harry plans to kidnap a giant gorilla to use in his crimes. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / Harry plans to hijack Pearl’s monster creation. / P.I.s Heckle and Jeckle mistake a visiting alien for the missing rockstar they’re hired to find. / A mad scientist steals Quacula’s coffin and makes clones of him. /
 
“Cat of the Baskervilles / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 12 / Pearl of the Jungle / Invisible Birds / Shanghai Salty / Marathon Bird” (11/24/79) – Pearlock Holmes is hired to investigate the haunting of Baskerville Manor. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Theodore’s cruise is interrupted by Quacula and pirates. / A trainer cheats to ensure his runner wins the marathon.
 
“Moby Whale / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 13 / Big Top Cat / Supermarket / Pyramid / Flowered Knighthood” (12/1/79) – Harry wants to capture a whale to get enough money to buy a grand ship of his own. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Theodore gets a job as a museum night watchman and accidentally awakens a mummy. / Heckle and Jeckle get sent back to Camelot by Merlin and compete with a knight to rescue the fair princess.
 
“The Disorient Express / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 14 / The Maltese Mouse / Astrobirds / Haunted House / Apartment Birds” (12/8/79) – Harry attempts to steal some top secret from Pearl during her train ride. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless.  / Harry attempts to trick P.I. Pearl into stealing The Maltese Mouse for him. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Theodore hires someone to get rid of Quacula. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.
 
“Beau Jest / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 15 / Curse of the Cat / The 25th Century / Magic Duck / Safari Birds” (12/15/79) – Harry plots to take over the desert fort Pearl’s uncle commands. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Theodore holds a birthday party for his friend who becomes interested in Quacula’s friend, Merlin. / Heckle and Jeckle are hired by a big game hunter to retrieve a rare bird from Africa.
 
“Around the World in 80 Ways / The Great Space Chase: Chapter 16 / Tugboat Pearl / Wonderland / The Fantastic 2 ½ / Arabian Night and Days” (12/22/79) – Heckle and Jeckle host a roast for Harry and showcase clips of his greatest capers. / Mighty Mouse must protect space-faring Queen Pearl from Harry the Heartless. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE. / Theodore brings in some superheroes to deal with Quacula. / NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

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