Monday, April 29, 2013
Dino in "Stay Out"
Story and Direction: Joseph Barbera
Teleplay by: Stewart St. John
Storyboard: Robert Renzetti
Layout Designer: Drew Gentle
Background Stylists: Jerry Loveland & Craig Robertson
Music: Gary Lionelli
Voices: Henry Corden, Frank Welker, Jean Vander Pyl
Produced in Association with Wang Films Productions Co.
Reviewing this short feels kinda strange. As you can tell by the title card, it's a Flintstones cartoon, so in a series supposed to showcase new cartoons made by young, aspiring cartoonists, this one feels like a cheater, as it uses established characters and the director himself has more experience (almost 60 years at this point!) than anyone else so far. The saddest part is, this short isn't very good. Also, one could argue this was a pilot for a Flintstones spin-off, but did we really need another of those?
Fred is going out bowling and leaves Dino with the task of keeping the cat out of the house. The cartoon is then pretty much a series of jokes involving the cat somehow making it back inside even though Dino keeps throwing him out. Every time the cat comes back there's a different gag that plays, such as the cat appearing on the TV, posing as Santa Claus and a baby, and appearing in the shower. Fred returns and sees the cat is still inside, so Dino tries to explain through gestures (easily the best animated scene in the short) what happened, but Fred doesn't buy his excuse. They all go to the shed so Fred can prove Dino didn't do his job, only to find the shed filled with identically-looking cats. Fred and Dino then go back to the house, but the cat is already inside, and has locked them out. The cartoon ends the same way the closing sequence of the classic series ends, except with both Fred and Dino banging on the door.
The concept of this cartoon is one that has existed for decades, which consists in one character trying to get rid or avoid another characters, but all attempts fail. This is something that Tex Avery conceived back in the classic years, going as early as the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Tortoise Beats Hare". He would later take this concept to MGM and immortalized it, most notably with the Droopy cartoon "Northwest Hounded Police". Now, I don't mind each director taking a shot at a classic concept, but one like this needs good jokes to go along, and this is where the episode falls flat. All the gags are either not funny (the tiger skin rug), rather dumb (the Baby scene), or go for way too long ("The Evil Guard Dog"). Heck, even the Dexter's Lab episode "The Continuum of Cartoon Fools", released a few years after this short, does this concept A LOT better.
There are also a few things that bug me about this short. First, Wilma is present in the short through one off-screen line at the beginning, then she never leaves the house. She's obviously there when all the ruckus between Dino and the cat is going on, but she never intervenes or does Dino make any attempts to make sure she's fine. Fred even calls for her at the end of the episode. Why not make a single establishing shot that shows her asleep with ear-muffs or something? Would have worked just fine and gotten rid of an inconsistency right away.
On another note, I love Frank Welker. The guy is a great actor with an unparalleled talent for doing animal voices... but his Dino just doesn't work. In the original series, Mel Blanc gave Dino a puppy-style voice which fit with the playful personality of the character, but Welker gives the character some sort of grunt, making him sound like a pig more than a dog. It's just not the same, and at some points it's rather annoying. I don't want to blame this entirely on Welker either, as he was likely directed to do it like this. I find it hard to believe he can't do puppy barks.
All in all, there isn't really much to say about this one. It's okay, I guess, but there isn't anything about this one that stands out, unlike the previous three shorts. There are a couple of gags that are mildly amusing, and a couple of cute shots, mainly of the cat, but other than that, I can't say I'm a big fan of this one. I probably won't bother watching it again now that this review is done.
This is a cute expression on the cat ("Who, me?") after Fred tells Dino he's a rather tricky one.
Funny face on Dino here as he tells Fred there's nothing to worry about.
This is a funny walk cycle. Needs to be seen in motion, obviously.
I also like the scene where Dino puts the cat out and opens and closes the door numerous times to make sure he's still there. I particularly like the part where he slooooowly closes the door.
This scene just went too long. In fact, when I first saw it, I thought the "THE END" sign meant the actual short was ending.
This part is really annoying. First, the cat reads the cards out loud as he shows them, which is redundant. Then, he keeps asking for things to eat he immediately rejects, although one could argue he's doing it just to screw up with Dino, but it still feels dub. Finally, Dino discovers the cat when he briefly lifts the baby hat to show the audience that it's really him, as if we didn't find out already.
As I said, this scene is the highlight of the short. The animation is a bit more fluid, and Dino does some great communication through gestures.
This is kind of an animation goof. Not only are the running cats obviously a looped sequence, but they look bigger than the one with Fred and Dino, and we've established they're all the same size (otherwise the running gag doesn't work).
I do like this part at the end, mainly because it always bothered me that at the end of the original closing credits, Fred never bothered to enter the house through the window, but here the cat actually closes it.