Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hercules and the Mighty WHA-hoo

Next to The Adventures of Clutch Cargo (and his pals, Spinner and Paddlefoot), The Mighty Hercules has the worst animation the world has ever known. I've been watching them on Teletoon Retro lately while knitting my grandson a Minecraft Creeper. No, really! I am, and it's turning out well. The cartoons look a lot better than they did on a grainy black-and-white TV, but they're still pretty bad.

I must have been about nine when I started watching these - slavishly, every day after school. Sure beat the hell out of Captain Jolly and Poopdeck Paul, hosts of a chintzy Detroit kids' show that everyone watched because there was bloody-well nothing else to watch, we got three channels or something, and didn't want to watch Art Linkletter, Queen for a Day or Tennessee Ernie Ford.

My favorite scenes were with Hercules and Pegasus, even though Pegasus was almost as irritating as Newton, that rotten little centaur who talked in a Mickey Mouse voice and repeated everything he said. What was irritating was his whinny, which was straight out of Sound Effects Central. There was a high-pitched sort of trilling noise, then a full-out neigh, but they kept repeating the same two sounds over, and over, and over again.

I was shocked to hear identical whinnies in a lot of old Westerns, making me realize how much of movie and cartoon sound tracks is totally fake. You can even hear it in early sitcoms: certain laughs crop up again and again, even on different shows, meaning it's a generic laugh track on a loop. My brother and I noticed this to great hilarity, first on I Love Lucy, and then on Pete and Gladys and I Married Joan. There was this one person laughing that stuck out, a sort of high-pitched "WHA-hoo!" that we would notice - in fact, it was a sort of game, to see who could collect the most WHA-hoos. It was identical on every show we watched, and cropped up at least three or four times per episode. And do you know, I still hear them today when I watch old sitcoms, and wonder just how dead that person must be after all these years.

And my teachers, certainly my grade school teachers, all dead now, and most of my high school teachers, and even the people I used to work with in the ratshit jobs I had in my twenties - probably a lot of them are dead by now too. It gives me pause. But not a lot, because I never did like them very much anyway.

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