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Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines

Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines was a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for CBS from September 13, 1969 to September 5, 1971. The show's working title was Stop the Pigeon, and the show's theme song (derived from "Tiger Rag" and sung by Dick Dastardly himself) repeats the phrase so often that it is easy for that to be mistaken for the show's actual title. Under the working title, Dick and Muttley were not part of the cast; a chubby, heavy-jowled Red Baron-esque pilot and a dachshund in flying goggles were the central figures. It appeared that those figures were not going anywhere insofar as development, so the characters of Dastardly and Muttley were plucked from Hanna-Barbera's earlier Wacky Races for the series.

Plot

The show features Dick Dastardly and Muttley, the comic villains from Wacky Races, as World War I flying aces and members of the Vulture Squadron, a crew of aviators on a mission to stop a homing pigeon named Yankee Doodle Pigeon from delivering messages to the other side. The show was unusual in having only two voice actorsPaul Winchell as Dastardly and the indistinctly heard General, and Don Messick as everybody else. Each half-hour episode typically features two stories, plus "Wing Dings" (short gags) and "Magnificent Muttley" (Muttley's Walter Mitty-style daydreams).

In the UK, the series remains best known by the shorter name Dastardly and Muttley.

Characters

The Vulture Squadron

  • Dick Dastardly is the leader of the Vulture Squadron, an ex-Wacky Racer turned aviator. He is still the accident-prone villain he had been in the Wacky Races. He is referred to as "DD" or "Chief" by Zilly and Klunk, and as "Rick Rasterly" by Muttley (especially when he is muttering). Although he's sometimes mean to Muttley, Zilly and Klunk, he is a nice guy (he says that to himself, numerous times to calm his nerves). When he gets angry, he usually uses his catchphrase "drat, drat and double drat", just before crashing hard into the ground. Although he does not show that very often, Dastardly likes Muttley very much... sometimes during the show, he treats Muttley with a lot more respect than the rest of the squadron (Zilly and Klunk).
  • Muttley is Dastardly's bungling canine sidekick. He rarely speaks, and when he does it usually takes the form of either (1) just cursing to himself indistinctly, usually following some misfortune that has befallen him, or (2) an excited "yeah-yeah-yeah..." at the offer of something appealing, or in response to a command/request from Dastardly. There are times when distinct single words can be discerned amid his mutterings (e.g., "Sassafrassarassa Coward Zilly"). He does, however, have a distinctive rasping laugh which he employs whenever something bad happens to Dick, or whenever Dick is describing his latest "foolproof" plot. Since leaving the Wacky Races, Muttley has learned to fly by spinning his tail like a helicopter rotor (as would Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series). This enables him to save Dastardly from falling (which frequently happens, usually accompanied by a cry from Dastardly of: "MUTTLEY!! DO SOMETHING!!"), although Muttley usually demands a medal for doing so. During Wacky Races, Muttley's popularity had grown, so when Dastardly and Muttley began production, he got his own segment, Magnificent Muttley, in which he daydreams that he is a different hero each week, usually with Dastardly as the villain.
  • Zilly is a pilot in the Vulture squadron. He is a cringing coward, forever running away and having to be fetched by Muttley. Each new plan fills him with dread, and he usually utters his catchphrase, "Ohhh dear! Ohh my!", before retracting his head into his collar like a tortoise retracting into its shell. Dastardly puts up with his cowardice because (1) he is a reasonably competent pilot who is needed to fly planes; and (especially) (2) is the only squadron member able to interpret Klunk's gibberish. In one episode, he is temporarily turned into a reckless hero via hypnotherapy, but his new heroism turns out to be even more damaging to the squadron than his usual cowardice, leaving no choice to Dick Dastardly but to change him back to normal (causing both Dastardly and Zilly to become a duo of cowards in the process).
  • Klunk is the Vulture Squadron's stout and steady chief designer and pilot. Each episode sees him developing aircraft or weapons (often missiles which home on some bizarre trait, such as a person sneezing) with odd features and attachments designed to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon. His attempts to explain his inventions are complicated by the fact that he apparently suffers from Tourette syndrome: his speech is punctuated by howls, clicks, whistles, and growls, accompanied by bizarre facial contortions. It is also possible that Klunk does not suffer from the above affliction at all, and that there is a bit of the "machine" within his mostly human form — hence, the howls, clicks, whistles, etc. Only Zilly can understand him. His eyes are never seen because of his bangs and goggles pulled over them. Klunk often assumes command in Dastardly's absence, like when he went on holiday (only to have his fun ruined by the squadron's further attempts to capture the pigeon) or suffered from memory loss. Klunk is probably the most consistent character; he is steadfastly committed, beyond all other aspects of his life, to stopping the pigeon.

Other characters

  • Yankee Doodle Pigeon is a patriotic American homing pigeon carrying a mail bag, and a bugle which he always plays to (1) announce his presence in defiance of the Vulture Squadron; and (2) to mock the Vulture Squadron's ineptitude. In the episode "Stop Which Pigeon", he was caught but was accidentally released.
  • The General is Dastardly's superior, who always speaks (or rather, bellows unintelligibly) to Dastardly on the telephone. He is always able to reach Dastardly by phone even when Dastardly is flying (or, more often than not, falling) with randomly appearing telephones, although it is never explained how. The telephones are almost always of the old-fashioned "candlestick" design, and often delivered to Dastardly by paradrop. They also occasionally explosively self-destruct when the general hangs up. The General is an unseen character except for his uniformed arm, which occasionally emerges from the telephone earpiece to grab Dastardly's neck or strike directly on him. In one episode he pays a personal visit but only his foot is seen. In one of the "Wing Dings" short cartoons, we can see a photo of an officer hanging on the wall, which is possibly the General (although that fact was never confirmed).
  • Muttley's girlfriend is only seen in some of the Magnificent Muttley shorts. She is usually the damsel in distress whom Muttley has to rescue from Dastardly's clutches. She looks like a female of Muttley's breed (whatever that may be) but unlike him she is able to speak distinctly. She may be a figment of his imagination, although in one of the episodes we can see a picture of her on a wall next to Muttley's bed.

Various Plots

Each story features variations on the same plot elements: the Vulture Squadron tries to trap Yankee Doodle Pigeon using one or more planes equipped with Klunk's latest contraption(s), but one or more of the Squadron messes up the attempt and the plane(s) either crash, collide or explode. While they are falling out of the wreckage, Dastardly calls for help, which Muttley either offers or refuses depending on whether Dastardly agrees to give him a medal. Even when Muttley does agree to fly Dastardly out of trouble, Dastardly seldom has a soft landing. At some point the General calls Dastardly on the phone to demand results. Dastardly assures him that they will soon capture the pigeon, but the General disbelieves him and either bellows down the phone or reaches through it and pulls Dastardly's moustache or nose. Klunk then comes up with a new invention and "explains" it in his own unique way. Dastardly says "What'd he say? What'd he say?" and Zilly interprets, before attempting to run away. Once Muttley has "persuaded" (usually by biting/attacking him) Zilly to return, the Vulture Squadron take off in their new plane(s) to repeat the whole procedure over and over again. Eventually the Squadron are left to lick their wounds as Yankee Doodle Pigeon flies off over the horizon, blowing his bugle triumphantly.

Like its predecessor, Wacky Races, Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines owes a great deal to the Road Runner cartoons, with Dastardly once again taking the Wile E. Coyote role. Both characters are fanatics, incapable of giving up even in the face of repeated and painful failure. Michael Maltese, who wrote many of the original Road Runner shorts, is also credited as a writer on Wacky Races, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and Dastardly and Muttley.

Dick Dastardly's appearance in this show was based on the English actor Terry-Thomas, the moustache-twirling villain of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, the film which provided the inspiration for Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines.

Episodes

  • Stop That Pigeon
  • Follow That Feather
  • Operation Anvil
  • Fur Out Furlough
  • Sky Hi-IQ
  • Sappy Birthday
  • A Plain Shortage Of Planes
  • Barnstormers
  • Shape Up Or Ship Out
  • Zilly's A Dilly
  • The Cuckoo Patrol
  • The Swiss Yelps
  • Pest Pilots
  • Eagle-Beagle
  • Fly By Knights
  • There's No Fool Like a Re-Fuel
  • Lens A Hand
  • Movies Are Badder Than Ever
  • Home Sweet Homing Pigeon
  • Vacation Trip Trap
  • Stop Which Pigeon?
  • Ceiling Zero-Zero
  • Who's Who
  • Operation Birdbrain
  • Medal Muddle
  • Go South Young Pigeon
  • Too Many Kooks
  • Ice See You
  • Balmy Swami
  • Camouflage Hop-Aroo
  • Have Plane Will Travel
  • Windy Windmill
  • Plane Talk
  • Happy Bird Day

Voice cast

  • Paul Winchell - Dick Dastardly, General, others
  • Don Messick - Muttley, Klunk, Zilly, Yankee Doodle Pigeon, Narrator, others

Production Credits

Magnificent Muttley

In the 17 episodes of this short cartoon, in which Muttley is the main character, Muttley imagines himself in a lot of situations. These are the characters he pretends to be:

  • Sailor
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Magician
  • Theatre Actor
  • Circus Acrobat
  • Masked Avenger
  • Movie Stuntman
  • David Crockett
  • Scuba Diver
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Car Racer
  • Olympic Swimmer
  • Arctic Explorer
  • Inventor
  • Tarzan
  • Astronaut
  • Super-Hero

The Magnificent Muttley segment always began with the verse:

Wake up Muttley you're dreaming again!
You're not Robin Hood and you're not Gunga Din! **
You're not a brave knight or a king who's been crowned;
You're just plain old Muttley, the snickering hound!

  • Some TV stations objected to "Gunga Din" because of its racist contents, which might have offended minorities, so, the footage and the dialogue was changed to show Muttley in a "Commodore's" outfit. So "Gunga Din" was replaced by the word "Commodore" showing Muttley in a ship captain's hat instead.

Also, not as many children knew who "Gunga Din" was, being a water carrier, in India, for the British regiment, so the change was necessary to tame it to a "Commodore"

The Original Run

DM-1. Fur Out Furlough (47-4) / Barn Dance (47-72) / Hot Soup (47-71) / Muttley on the Bounty / Sappy Birthday (9/13/1969)
DM-2. Follow That Feather (47-2) / Barber (47-70) / Empty Hangar (47-73) / What's New Old Bean? / Operation Anvil (9/20/1969)
DM-3. Sky Hi-IQ (47-5) / Prop Wash (47-74) / Carpet (47-76) / The Marvelous Muttdini / A Plain Shortage of Planes (9/27/1969)
DM-4. Barnstormers (47-8) / Arnold (47-78) / Pineapple Sundae (47-79) / New Mascot / The Bad Actor / Shape Up or Ship Out (10/4/1969)
DM-5. Stop That Pigeon (47-1) Grease Job (47-75) / Robot (47-83) / The Big Topper / Zilly's a Dilly (10/11/1969)
DM-6. The Cuckoo Patrol (47-11) / Automatic Door (47-82) / Airmail (47-84) / The Masked Muttley / Pest Pilots (10/18/1969)
DM-7. The Swiss Yelps / Fishing / Snap Job / Eagle-Beagle / Movie Stuntman (10/25/1969)
DM-8. Fly By Knights (47-15) / There's No Fool Like A Re-Fuel (47-16) / Springtime (47-98) / Dog's Life / Strange Equipment / Coonskin Caper (11/1/1969)
DM-9. Movies Are Badder Than Ever (47-18) / Home Sweet Homing Pigeon (47-19) The Elevator (47-81) / Obedience School / The Aquanuts (11/8/1969)
DM-10. Lens A Hand (47-17) / Vacation Trip Trap (47-20) / Parachute (47-99) / Leonardo De Muttley (11/15/1969)
DM-11. Stop Watch Pigeon (47-21) / Ceiling Zero Zero (47-22) / Fast Freight (47-90) / Home Run / Start Your Engines (11/22/1969)
DM-12. Who's Who? (47-23) / Operation Birdbrain (47-24) / Bowling Pin (47-88) / Shrink Job / Ship Ahooney (11/29/1969)
DM-13. Medal Muddle (47-25) / Go South Young Pigeon (47-26) / The Window Washer (47-128) / Beach Blast / Admiral Bird Dog (12/6/1969)
DM-14. Too Many Kooks (47-27) / Ice See You (47-28) / Echo (47-89) / Rainmaker / Professor Muttley (12/13/1969)
DM-15. Balmy Swami (47-29) / Camouflage Hop-Aroo (47-30) / Mop Up (47-124) / Big Turnover / Wild Mutt Muttley (12/20/1969)
DM-16. Have Plane Will Travel (47-31) / Windy Windmill (47-32) / Tough Break (47-110) / The Astromutt (12/27/1969)
DM-17. Plane Talk (47-33) / Happy Bird Day (47-34) / Boxing (47-85) / Magic Carpet / Super Muttley (1/3/1970)

Syndication and home video

After its original CBS run, Dastardly and Muttley was shown in syndicated reruns on local stations throughout the 1970s and '80s. Some episodes were subsequently distributed on VHS tape by Worldvision Enterprises.

On May 10, 2005 Warner Home Video released the complete series on Region 1 DVD. On Jul 31 2006, the series was released on DVD R2 in the United Kingdom but only in HMV stores and its online site as an HMV Exclusive.

Cover Art DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines- The Complete Series 35 May 10 2005
  • Commentary on various episodes
  • The Vulture Squadron's Greatest Misses - Watch the Pigeon Thwart the Vulture Squadron
  • Dastardly & Muttley's Spin Offs retrospective.

Trivia

  • We never know if the Vulture Squadron is American, Canadian, German or English, because we never see a clue for the nationality of its members. (however this could be deemed untrue because the show is set in WWI and the pigeon is presumably American because of its name which would make it a good guess that they are German also because of their Red Baron like appearances.)
  • Although the Wacky Races series is never mentioned, the Mean Machine can be seen in the numerous episodes of Magnificent Muttley.
  • During the entire series, the Vulture Squadron destroys 182 planes, 2 balloons, 1 ship, 1 Zeppelin, 1 gas station and 1 train.
  • The "Stop The Pigeon" theme song was covered by the punk band Reverend Horton Heat in the 1996 compilation album Saturday Morning Cartoons.
  • Klunk is a vegetarian (it is seen this in one of the "Wing Dings" shorts).
  • Muttley's birthday is on April 16th (it is seen in the "Sappy Birthday" episode).
  • Dastardly likes ice cream with pineapple pieces, and hates lemon pies (this is seen in one of the "Wing Dings" episodes, and on Magnificent Muttley).
  • At one point in the episode "Movies Are Badder Than Ever", Muttley audibly seems to refer to Dastardly as a "cheapskate bastard" during one of his mutterings. What he actually says is "reapskate-rick-rastardry": his canine-garbled method of speaking...
  • The series was sponsored by Kellogg's cereals in its original run, and the characters appeared in several commercials for the company.
  • Dastardly worked in a circus as a trapezist. (it is seen in one of the "Wing Dings" shorts).
  • In an episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt entitled "Yogi's Heroes", in which Yogi Bear and Dastardly were the leaders of warring nations, Dastardly tortured all of Yogi's friends by forcing them to watch episodes of Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines until the victims were incapable of doing anything more than stumbling around and repeatedly chanting, "Stop the pigeon."

Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines in other languages

  • Danish: Dastardly og Muttley i Deres Flyvende Maskiner
  • Finnish: Kapteeni Sählä ja Matti-koira
  • French: Satanas et Diabolo
  • German: Fliegende Männer in tollkühnen Kisten
  • Hungarian: Süsü keselyűk
  • Italian: Lo squadrone avvoltoi
  • Japanese: スカイキッドブラック魔王
  • Norwegian: Råttesen og Bumly
  • Polish: Dastardly i Muttley w swych latających maszynach or Wredniak i Bałwan i Eskadra Patałachów
  • Portuguese - Br: Dick Vigarista e Muttley e as suas Máquinas Voadoras
  • Portuguese - Pt: Dick Detestável e Muttley e as suas Máquinas Voadoras
  • Spanish: Pierre Nodoyuna y Patán en su Escuadrón Diabólico
  • Swedish: Stoppa Duvan
  • Turkish: Hain Baron ve Kopegi

External links

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