1 9 6 7 – 1 9 7 0 (USA)
17 x 30 minute episodes
In the finest Jay Ward tradition, George of the Jungle – set in the appropriately warped Imgwee Gwee Valley in Africa – was a great kids’ cartoon with humour that adults could enjoy.
George was a dim-witted, clumsier version of Tarzan, who, despite the warning in the catchy opening theme to “watch out for that tree,” would inevitably eat bark as he splatted into trunk after trunk.
But his awkwardness was only one of life’s daily difficulties for the hunky, loin-clothed ape-man.
George would often forget that his curvaceous wife Ursula (voiced by Jay Ward staple June Foray) was a woman and that his pet Shep was an elephant, not “a big, grey, peanut-eating dog.” Luckily, George was often helped out by his more-human-than-ape friend, the erudite Ape.
Sharing the half-hour was Super Chicken – aka. Henry Cabot Henhouse III – an ordinary, run-of-the-coup millionaire fowl who became his alter-ego after downing some Super Sauce.
With the help of his reluctant and cowardly lion pal, Fred, Super Chicken would fly around in his Supercoupe tracking down criminals.
Fred, who wore a backwards “F” on his shirt and doubled as Henry’s butler, was always reminded by his employer, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred!”
Rounding out the programme was a third segment, Tom Slick. Tom was the coolest racing driver this side of Speed Racer.
With his never-fail optimism, Tom would calmly tell his girlfriend, “There’s no such word as failure in auto racing, Marigold” as he competed in his trusty vehicle, the Thunderbolt Grease-Slapper (which could be converted into virtually any type of racing vehicle, from a train to a stock car racer, drag racer, racing balloon, swamp buggy, submarine – even a miniaturised skateboard).
Good-guy Tom – assisted by his elderly mechanic, Gertie Growler – would repeatedly have to face cheating competitors like the Teutonic Baron Otto Matic and his stupid lackey Clutcher.
The last of the Jay Ward shows, George of the Jungle was continuously repeated in syndication and brought back in reruns on Fox in 1992 and ABC in 1995.
In 1997, the show was made into a live-action Disney film starring Brendan Fraser, which won a new worldwide generation of fans to the tree-hugging twit.
Baron Otto Matic