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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.