Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Jetsons – Dude Planet

Can someone explain this to me? Why is Jane Jetson, who’s been married to her husband for years, misses and loves him terribly but, at the same time, is so completely untrusting of him that she’s certain he’s fooling around on her?

Doesn’t she know him better than that after all those years?

What a tired old sitcom staple the “jealous wife” is. But writer Walter Black drags it out to put a wrinkle in the plot of “Dude Planet,” the second-last Jetsons episode to air in first-run.

Black, however, anticipates carpal tunnel syndrome caused by too much keyboard bashing in the first part of the cartoon when the snarky Jane is forced by George to visit Dr. McGravity. The difference is Jane’s fingers are tied up in knots from all that button-pressing that’ll happen in homes of the future. Black also anticipates computerised doctor’s exams, though McGravity’s equipment looks a little cumbersome.



There’s now a flashback as Jane relates her woes. Either technology in the future doesn’t work or the Jetsons live in the worst-managed apartment of all time. The retracto bed runs amok and the food machine uncontrollable spits out Venusian toast. Dr. McGravity recommends rest at a getaway dude planet.

Doctor: You like horses?
Jane: I don’t know any.
Jane takes a Bubble cab to a travel agent, who recommends the Beta Bar Ranch on Beta 3. Naturally, everything there is robotic. She invites a hitherto never seen friend of hers named Helen, who is all worn out because her husband commutes from Tahiti to New York every day. Jean Vander Pyl would have been ideal for the role but someone else was cast. The original credits have been chopped off the version of the cartoon in circulation, but Mike Kazaleh says Helen is played by Joan Gardner, whose voice appeared in Gay Purree and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol around this time (she also worked opposite Don Messick in her husband’s animated TV opus, Spunky and Tadpole).



On to Act Two, where George, Judy and Elroy are home alone not sure how to work any of the household gadgets, which don’t work properly anyway. The robo-vacuum cleaner sucks up the Jetsons’ cat in its only appearance in the series (a small, kittenish version appears in the closing animation, as you likely know). The cat emerges around a white cloud and sneezes the dust away (Mike points out George Goepper is the animator). The food-omat captures George and the only way he can get out is being run through the wash cycle and the ironer (food of the future is ironed?), the window washer and, finally, the burnt toast ejector.



Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Black resisted the chance to use that cliché), Jane and Helen ride some mechanical horses before being told of the wonders of the Beta Bar (the best gag is the cowpokes coughing while a smokey barbecue sizzles). The stagecoach is, naturally, pulled by a robotic longhorn. And Don Messick breaks into a yodelling falsetto as the Singing Vagabond Cowboy, crooning futuristic lyrics to “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” (rockets, comets and jets are included). Despite all this, Jane misses George. And George misses Jane.



Jane and Helen take in a bucking bronco event before ordering drinks from a drone (talking in Messick’s Uniblab voice) and taking in the Venus Kid failing in an attempt at bulldogging. Jane still pines for George and calls him. I like how the Visiphone taps him to wake him up. George Nicholas animates this part of the cartoon; the beady, pop-out eyes give that away. Helen may have the best line of the cartoon during a John-and-Marsha parody.

George: Jane.
Jane: George.
George: Jane.
Jane: George.
George: Jane.
Jane: George.
Helen (turning to camera): Now that’s what I call racy dialogue.
George doesn’t want Jane to worry, so he pretends he’s partying. That brings about the aforementioned tired story line where Jane works herself to think George is screwing around “with some slinky siren...and I’ll bet she’s a blonde”—even imagining the scene as she cuts short her vacation.
Blonde: My! What fascinating eyes you have, George.
George: Ha. Ha, ha. Well, I just use them for lookin’.
Blonde: Mmmm. Lovely hair.
George: It keeps my head from slipping off the pillow at night.
Jane goes to punch the siren but smashes the Beta 3 car driver on top of the head instead.

Anyway, to wrap up the story, Jane gets home and won’t talk to George, but Henry gets them wrapped up tightly in the now-repaired retracto bed and all is forgiven.

I don’t know who the background artist is. Here are some captured drawings. Interestingly, there’s no shot of the Skypad Apartments in this cartoon, even though much of the action is set there.



Besides Messick and Gardner, Hal Smith adds some voices as well.

Mike Kazaleh points out Bill Keil also animated parts of this episode. I sure wish the original credits had been restored to the cartoons when they were put on DVD.

5 comments:

  1. Helen (Joan Gardner): "Racy dialogue.."
    Not to mention the ranch would have horses...as in race horses (completing the pun)

    Although Helen didn't return, in the 1985 Jetsons her voice, Joan Gardner (as credited!) did! (along the only other Joan in voicing, Gerber of HB's later comedic family cartoon, "Wait till Your Father Gets Home", amd like Gardner, was in cartoons by many others.) Gardner gets credited in the gang credits (a la Johnny QUestm Flintstones, Top Cat) retro-fitted on the original 1962 Jetsons.SC

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    1. Do you know which character she vioced in the 1980s ''The Jetsons''? I remember her from that cringe-worthy animated special ''The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians''.

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  2. I've been waiting for this one - it has what I think is the all time number one best use of Hoyt Curtin music from another series. Its the fast violin "travelling" music from Top Cat that underscores the scene of George driving Jane to the doctor's office ("I'm only doing twenty-five thousand!"). Perfection!! I had waited my whole life for that musical track to be issued and when it was, woah mama!

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  3. Sitcoms from the 1960s- including animated ones- skimp on continuity, but since when do the Jetsons have a cat? Just for the purpose of a comedic vacuum gag? Astro is so prominently featured in most episodes, his absence in favor or a cat is all the more jarring. It probably wouldn't be as funny if HE were caught in the vacuum.

    Not one of my favorite episode. Joan Gardner's voice as Helen is very annoying. Jane is not her usual level-headed self. And it's trivial, but Penny Singleton mispronounces the word "Whoa" with a short 'a' at the end ("Whooo-ah, Nelly!").

    Walter Black does insert some cute satirical touches about resorts and 'roughing it' as viewed from the future, especially the smoke-filled barbecue. ("Doesn't that look like fun?")

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  4. YOWP In answer to your iitial question YOWP - Because in the 1960s uncontrollable jealousy was extremely hilarious (or at least that's what we were told). You can imagine my opinion of relationship based on my Hanna-Barbera studies.

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