April 09, 2022


(NBC, September 9-December 2, 1972)
DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
Henry Corden – Arnie Barkley
Joan Gerber – Agnes Barkley
Julie McWhirter – Terry Barkley
Gene Andrusco – Chester Barkley
Steve Lewis – Roger Barkley
            The Barkleys was one of three shows created for DePatie-Freleng Enterprises by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, in between their stints at Hanna-Barbera and running their own studio. No, it wasn’t based on the family life of former NBA star Charles Barkley (only a kid at the time, FYI). It centered on the titular family of anthropomorphic dogs that took liberal inspiration from the then-popular All in the Family, blended with the classic The Honeymooners, and even a dash of The Brady Bunch.

A family portrait of Arnie with Agnes, Terry, Roger and Chester.

            Arnie Barkley (Henry Corden) was the patriarch of the family. Like other stereotypical sitcom fathers, he was blustery, opinionated, had a deep unwillingness to keep up with the times and constantly cooked up hairbrained schemes, but he deeply cared about his family and only wanted what was best for them—regardless if they wanted it or not. Not only was Arnie a bus driver like The Honeymooners’ Ralph Kramden, but that connection was further deepened by Corden eventually taking over the lead role in The Flintstones franchise, also inspired by the sitcom, and providing dubs for star Jackie Gleason in TV edits of Smokey and the Bandit. His wife, Agnes (Joan Gerber), did what she could to maintain the house and the family peace. They had three children: teenagers Roger (Steve Lewis) and Terry (Julie McWhirter), and young Chester (Gene Andrusco).  

Arnie tends house while Agnes goes off to work in a battle of the sexes moment.

            The Barkleys debuted on NBC on September 9, 1972. It featured Frank Welker’s first voice work for the studio, joining fellow Hanna-Barbera alums Bob Holt and Don Messick, as well as Michael Bell’s first foray into voice acting. The series was written by All in the Family writers Larry Rhine and Woody Kling, along with Dennis Marks and David Evans. Art Leonardi handled all of the character designs and model sheets. He also did the opening titles, using an embroidery motif for transitions reminiscent of the old “Home Sweet Home” pattern found in many households. The series’ theme was composed by Doug Goodwin, which utilized part of “Home! Sweet Home!” by John Howard Payne and Sir Henry Bishop in its composition. The rest of the score was conducted by Eric Rogers.

Arnie doesn't like the looks of Terry's boyfriend.

            The series ran for a single season of 13 episodes, staying on the network until the new fall season. A number of episodes were released on VHS compilations in multiple languages by Intervision Video, Trans World Entertainment, Parkfield Entertainment, and United American Video Corp. In 2010, Synergy Entertainment released a 4-episode DVD for the first time. In 2015, Film Chest released the complete series to DVD paired with another of Ruby and Spears’ DFE offerings, The Houndcats. The following year, the series returned to the Saturday morning airwaves on the Retro TV network, and eventually made its way to the Classic Toons channel of Pluto TV.
“Match Breaker” (9/9/72) – A TV show gives Arnie the idea that Terry and her boyfriend are going to elope at a rock concert, which he plans to stop at any cost.
“Finders Weepers” (9/16/72) – Arnie finds $500 and plans to keep it, but when he finally decides to return it he discovers his kids unwittingly spent it already.
“Lib and Let Lib” (9/23/72) – To prove that men can do everything better than women, Arnie and Agnes switch roles: she drives his bus while he runs the household.
“Half-Pint Hero” (9/30/72) – Arnie wants to turn the non-athletic Chester into a basketball star.
“No Place for a Lady” (10/7/72) – Terry joins the auto shop class and dismantles Arnie’s car for it the night before he needs to pick up a senator for his boss’ party.
“For the Love of Money” (10/14/72) – Arnie tries to get Roger to hook up with the daughter of his now-wealthy old classmate.
“Keeping Up with the Beagles” (10/21/72) – Arnie tries a number of schemes to get his family’s attention off of their neighbors’ new pool.
“Play No Favorites” (10/28/72) – Chester feels he needs to compete with his siblings for their father’s attention, and when Arnie hurts his feelings he runs off to join the circus.
“Law and Missorder” (11/4/72) – Terry and her friends go camping with Agnes, but the boys decide to watch over them when Arnie spots motorcyclists in the area.
“The Great Disc Jockey” (11/11/72) – Arnie becomes a deejay so that he can hear the kind of music he likes on the radio, rather than the new-fangled rock and roll.
“Barkley Beware” (11/18/72) – Arnie enlists his kids’ help in getting rid of a worthless piece of land he was swindled into buying, unfortunately they end up selling it to his boss’ wife.
“Arnie Come Clean” (11/25/72) – When Arnie goes back to school to help with his new role as company president, he ends up caught in a protest against the company.
“The Talent Agency Caper” (12/2/72) – After seeing Chester in a school play, Arnie decides to push him into becoming a real actor.

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