Sunday, September 27, 2015

Beatles Cartoons 50 years later

For some fans, it wasn't the Ed Sullivan Show or A Hard Day's Night or even hearing the Beatles on the radio that got them into the band--it was the Beatles cartoons, which premiered 50 years ago.   The Beatles cartoon show was only broadcasted in the United States and was on ABC along side the likes of George of the Jungle (watch out for that tree), Casper the Friendly Ghost and Spiderman. 

The cartoons were over the top cheesy with cartoon gags and jokes.   The show typically showed the Beatles traveling to some country and getting chased by girls.    It pushed the Beatles' sterotype of their personalities, as first seen in A Hard Day's Night to the extreme.   George was the quiet one, John was the smart one,  Paul was the cute one and Ringo was the dim-witted but lovable one (remember his laugh...huh huh huh yeah).    The speaking voices weren't even the Beatles or for that matter even a close imitation.   However, there was one thing the Beatles Cartoon series had that was strong and memorable---it had real Beatles music.     Every week Beatles' songs sung by the Beatles was featured in the show and the most ingenious idea---there was a sing along section.   Usually George and Ringo introduced the sing along with a silly gag and then the real Beatles voices were heard with the words underneath.    This way the young fans got to learn the words to the Beatles' songs and even if you were "too old" to watch Saturday morning cartoons, if you were a Beatles fan, you couldn't resist watching the show in order to hear Beatles' music.

The Beatles' cartoons haven't held up as well over the past 50 years as their music or movies, but they are fun.      In the late 1980's, when I first became a Beatles fan, the cartoons were shown on Mtv on Saturday mornings.   Even these were edited versions, as by the late 1980's the cartoon were already dated.     This is most likely the reason why we have never seen the Beatles cartoons officially released by Apple (who bought the right to them).     There is a lot of humor in the cartoons that today would be considered "politically incorrect."   I recall there being a lot of jokes about the Chinese and Japanese, but I am sure there are more than that.    However, there have been a lot of cartoons from the 1960's and before that showed things that aren't socially acceptable today and they have been released on DVD with warnings, so I haven't given up hope for the loveable moptop cartoon quiet yet.

If you are interested in reading a book about the Beatles' cartoons, I highly recommend Mitch Axelrod's book called Beatletoons.      This book is well written and researched by a high respectable Beatles fan who is part of my favorite Beatles podcast, the Fab 4 Free For all.   If you haven't read Beatletoons, you should!

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