Suffering succotash! Today’s cartoons are lame

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I’m not pleased with the current array of Saturday-morning cartoons, what few there are.

They are not referred to as cartoons these days. Instead, we had or have animated television programming such as “ABC Kids,” “Pokeman” and “The Zula Patrol.” The latter has a science theme.

NBC abandoned its Saturday-morning cartoon lineup in 1992, replacing cartoons with the Saturday version of “The Today Show.” I was 37 when that happened. It ruined my Saturday mornings.

Back to cartoons — excuse me, animated programming — like “The Zula Patrol.” After five days of school each week during the school year, a kid needs a break from science, math, English, history, geography, calculus and recess. I got enough education during those five days a week. I did not need to learn about science on Saturday mornings.

Instead, I needed to learn about how Mighty Mouse would “come to save the day.” I needed to learn how Yogi Bear could “liberate” a picnic basket in Jellystone Park. I watched the “Harlem Globetrotters” to learn about sportsmanship. I watched “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and learned about getting along with others. See, some of those cartoons did do something more than just entertain; they helped educate me and other Baby Boomers.

But for the most part, cartoons were meant to provide fun and respite from the rigors of growing up.

To my way of thinking, the best cartoons were those that featured Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Foghorn J. Leghorn, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Rocky and Bullwinkle J. Moose and the Flintstones. I had a thing for Betty Rubble and Judy Jetson.

Thanks to the Cartoon Network and Boomerang, my ’toon favorites from my boyhood (OK, and somewhat beyond my boyhood) can be viewed not only on Saturday mornings but any day of the week.

To this day, I recall the signature phrase of many cartoon characters. Here’s proof.

Bugs Bunny: “What’s up, Doc?”

Snagglepuss: “Exit, stage left.”

Daffy Duck: “Suffering succotash.”

Huckleberry Hound: “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” (I have yet to figure out how a hound could be a monkey’s uncle. Perhaps Charles Darwin wrote something that explains it.)

Yogi Bear: “Pickanic basket.”

Yosemite Sam: “Great horney toads!”

Elmer Fudd: “I’ll get you, you scwewy wabbit!”

Muttley: “Rass, frasa, rasafrasa!”

Porky Pig: “Th-th-th-that’s all folks.”

Tweety: “I thought I saw a puddy tat.”

Popeye: “I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.”

Wile E. Coyote: When he holds up the “Ouch” sign.

Thank goodness I had Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies and Hanna-Barbera cartoons back in the day.

About 16 years ago while visiting former Washington Daily News co-workers in New York City, I came across an ad for a Looney Tunes marathon at a theater not far from where my friends lived. Later that night, as my friends were headed to see the opera “Aida,” I headed to the Looney Tunes marathon. I’d seen “Aida” a couple of times before that night. It’s a great opera, especially the “Triumphal March.” But it’s no Looney Tunes marathon of cartoons drawn before 1969.

I expected to have the theater almost to myself. Wrong! Baby Boomers packed the theater. For most of those classic cartoons, their soundtracks were not needed. Somebody or somebodies in the audience knew the dialogue to a particular cartoon.

Wile E. Coyote drew the most sympathy from the audience. All these years later, poor Wile E. Coyote continues to chase that Road Runner. Of course, if he caught the fleet-footed bird, that would put an end to that cartoon, which would put the Acme Corp. out of business.

We can’t have that. Having Wile E. Coyote chasing a jackrabbit just wouldn’t be the same.

I just can’t imagine a jackrabbit saying “Beep. Beep.”


Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. If he could be a cartoon character for one day, he would choose to be Yogi Bear. Those pickanic baskets appeal to him.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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