Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Written by Hombre Divertido
Yes, before The Waitresses, The Go-Gos, or The Bangles, there was the all-girl rock and roll group Josie and the Pussycats.
Born in the pages of Archie Comics at the hand of Dan DeCarlo, and brought to the small screen by the legendary Hanna Barbera in a cartoon that combined the adventures of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and the music group format of The Archie Show, Josie and her Pussycats made for some good Saturday morning fun. In watching the complete series (16 episodes) recently released on DVD as part of the Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection, it would appear to be an overly used template, but in 1970, it was quite fresh. Hanna-Barbera would repeat it in many forms over the years: The Funky Phantom, Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, The Great Grape Ape, Fangface, Captain Caveman, and the list goes on. The difference with Josie and the Pussycats was they were a rock group that got involved in adventures.
Josie, the leader of the group, would sing in each episode backed up by dingy comedic vehicle Melody on drums whose singing voice was supplied by future Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd, and Valerie who was the brains of the outfit, working out on two tambourines. She would constantly get the gang out of jams by rewiring machines, robots, etc. Valerie is also credited with being the first regular appearing African-American character on a Saturday morning cartoon show. Also along for the ride were their roadie and Josie’s boyfriend Alan, their manager Alexander, who was voiced by Shaggy himself Casey Kasem, Alexander’s sister Alexandra, and Alexandra’s cat Sebastian.
In each episode Alexandra, who had a crush on Alan making her jealous of Josie, would attempt to get some quality alone time with him for who knows what. Her antics would invariably send the group off in the wrong direction where they would run into some evil character who would take them prisoner. There was rarely a mystery to solve as in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? which premiered a year earlier.
If anything was lagging in these shows it was the music. Unlike The Archies who played complete songs and had a hit with “Sugar Sugar”, in most of the Josie and the Pussycats episodes we got brief pieces of songs usually played over chase scenes. Nonetheless, the characters were memorable enough for Hanna-Barbera to invest in again. After the conclusion of their one-season run, they were immediately brought back in a new show entitled Josie and The Pussycats in Outer Space that lasted for two seasons (16 episodes).
There is only one extra in this two-disc set, “The Irresistible Charm of Dan DeCarlo: The Man and His Art.” It profiles the creator of Josie and the Pussycats with an in-depth look into the life of this talented artist. This is a well-made documentary that leaves you wanting to know more.
Recommendation: More extras would have been nice, but this is fun stuff to be watched in doses.