Wednesday, January 4, 2012
4095. George of the Jungle
George of the Jungle was an American animated series produced by Jay Ward and Bill Scott, who created The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The character George was inspired by the legend of Tarzan. It ran for 17 episodes on Saturday mornings from September 9 to December 30, 1967, on the American TV network ABC. The half-hour program was distributed for many years by Worldvision Enterprises, currently part of CBS Television Distribution.
Each episode featured three segments in the form of three unrelated cartoons: George of the Jungle, Tom Slick, and Super Chicken.
Unlike previous Ward series, the animation production was done in Hollywood using veteran animators Phil Duncan, Rod Scribner, and Rudy Zamora, among others. Each segment's theme song was written by the team of Stan Worth and Sheldon Allman, though the cartoons themselves had little or no music scoring, as with Bullwinkle. Ward mainstays Bill Scott, June Foray, and Paul Frees provided most of the character voices over all three segments.
The cartoons are technically more advanced than the crude animation in Ward's earlier series, which originated from a Mexican studio sponsored by Ward. He was so pleased with George of the Jungle that he allowed production to go over-budget, which resulted in considerable financial loss, ultimately limiting the series to 17 episodes.
The title segment, George of the Jungle, is a parody of the popular Tarzan stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. George (voiced by Bill Scott), is a dim-witted but big-hearted "ape man" who is always called upon by District Commissioner Alistair (voiced by Paul Frees) to save inhabitants of the jungle from various threats.
In the opening title, George is depicted swinging on vines, repeatedly slamming face-first into trees or other obstacles even as theme-song singers warn him to "watch out for that tree!" Another running gag is that George keeps forgetting that he lives in a treehouse, falling to the ground every time he leaves home.
George's "beloved mate" is Ursula (voiced by June Foray), a Jane-like character far brighter than George, whom George refers to as "Fella." (Thus the appearance of the dancing "twins" Fella and Urusla in the end titles.) George's closest friend is an ape named Ape (voiced by Paul Frees impersonating Ronald Colman) who like Ursula is far more intelligent than George. George has a pet elephant named Shep, who behaves like a lap dog or, as George refers to him, a "great big peanut-lovin' poochie," and who George thinks is a dog. Also of note is the Tooky Tooky (or Tookie Tookie) bird famous for his call: "Ah ah ee ee tooky tooky."
George's two most frequent foes are a pair of hunters named "Tiger" Titherage and "Weevil" Plumtree (voiced by Daws Butler and Paul Frees). "Tiger" Titherage, the taller of the two, wears a pith helmet and khakis and has a pencil moustache; while "Weevil" Plumtree wears a white t-shirt and shorts with a hat. Another one of the George's enemies is a mad scientist named Dr. Chicago (voiced by Daws Butler)
In 1997, the segment was adapted into a live action film, titled George of the Jungle. Brendan Fraser played the title role, with Leslie Mann as Ursula, John Cleese as the voice of Ape, and Thomas Haden Church as the villain. A direct-to-video sequel George of the Jungle 2, starring Christopher Showerman as George, was released in 2003.