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Clutch Cargo

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Clutch Cargo
ClutchCargoTitleCard.jpg
You won't see the X now!
Running Time: 4 minutes
Release Date: March 9, 1959 - 1960
Network(s): Syndication
Starring: Richard Cotting
Margaret Kerry
Hal Smith
Episodes: 52


Clutch Cargo is an American animated television series produced by Cambria Productions and syndicated beginning on March 9, 1959. It was a surprise hit at the time, and could be seen on 65 stations nationwide in 1960. It became popular again since the infamous 1987 Max Headroom television hijack when he was humming to the theme song and said "I still see the X."

Plot

The stories centered on adventurer Clutch Cargo, who was sent around the world on dangerous assignments. Accompanying him on the assignments were his young ward Spinner and his pet dachshund Paddlefoot. Live-action footage was used, as well, of a 1929 Bellanca C-27 Airbus; series creator Clark Haas was previously a jet pilot. Episodes were produced and then serialized in five five-minute chapters each. The first four chapters ended in cliffhangers, with the fifth chapter concluding the adventure. Haas explained that the show was formatted this way so that "the stations can run one a day on weekdays, then recap the whole for a half-hour Saturday show."

Bad Qualities

What Syncro-Vox animation looks like.
  1. The main problem of the show is that the characters have realistic, red lips instead of animating it, which could look weird and disturbing. Due to a low budget, they had to use the "Syncro-Vox" optical printing system.
    • Another reason Syncro-Vox was used because animating a mouth in synchronization with sound was difficult.
    • Granted, later shows, such as SpongeBob SquarePants, various videos on YouTube, and Annoying Orange, also used that technique, but even then, it was used for comedic purposes and not happen that often.
  2. Laughable dialogue (ex. "I still see the X").
  3. Animation Errors: Sometimes, while the characters are in a different room, it returns to the background along with the character that was already used.
  4. Choppy animation, it looked like it was missing many animation frames.
  5. Poor writing.
  6. At times, Some cels were used the same without replacing by frame-to-frame, especially for cars because the wheels were not moving.
  7. Mostly, the characters designs are stills without blinking their eyes, which is creepy.

Good Qualities

  1. The character and background designs look good, despite the realistic red lips.
  2. At least the characters themselves, as well as the voice acting are passable.
  3. Many episodes are good despite the realistic lips, poor use of cels, and choppy animation.
  4. Incredible soundtrack, including the very relaxing jungle-inspired theme music.
  5. The animal characters are the only ones who doesn't have realistic lips because they can't speak human (ex. Paddlefoot).
  6. It was the inspiration for Jonny Quest, which is often considered to be a cult classic.

Trivia

  • A clip from this series briefly appears in Pulp Fiction.
  • The series, along with other Cambria Studios works were parodied in a 2005 animated short film, Mr. Incredible and Pals.

Videos

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