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The Dick Tracy Show

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The Dick Tracy Show
The Dick Tracy Show.jpg
"Okay, Chief, I'll get on it right away!"
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 4-5 Minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: January 1, 1961 – January 1, 1962
Network(s): Syndication
Created by: Chester Gould
Abe Levitow
Distributed by: UPA
Starring: Paul Frees
Mel Blanc
Everett Sloane
Johnny Coons
Jerry Hausner
Benny Rubin
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 130


The Dick Tracy Show is an American animated television series based on Chester Gould's comic strip crime fighter. The series was produced from 1961 to 1962 by UPA. In the show, policeman Dick Tracy employed a series of cartoony subordinate flatfoots to fight crime each week, contacting them on his two-way wristwatch radio. Tracy himself hardly appeared on the show at all. The opening was designed so that local TV hosts dressed as policemen could introduce the cartoon by barking orders into a prop intercom, with Tracy answering "Okay, chief, I'll get onto it right away.". This show was negativity received by critics and fans.

Why It Sucks

  1. False Advertising: despite the show's title being "The Dick Tracy Show", Dick Tracy himself barely appeared in any episodes since this show focuses more on the other detectives.
  2. This show relies heavily on the usage of Chinese and Mexican stereotypes throughout the show. Most of the series draws attention not to Dick Tracy, but to his stereotypical detectives, which they poorly drawn and look offensive, especially Joe Jitsu and Go-Go Gomez.
  3. Poor and bizarre animation, much like the 1960s Famous Studios cartoons from Paramount, Format Films and Terrytoons. It ranges from being bland to plain uncanny, creepy-looking and/or simplistic. This was where UPA's animation was at it lowest, as it bottoms out with nearly every episode, which had animation quality that felt way below the usual standards of television animation of the time.
  4. Awfully weak writing.
  5. Every episode starts with the same scene where Dick Tracy says "Okay, Chief, I'll get on it right away!".
  6. Speaking of repeatability, the same show repeats phrases like "Calling Dick Tracy!" and gags like throwing objects at the villain and Joe Jitsu throws the enemy left and right. It even got to the point where it made all the episodes predictable
  7. Unlikable characters, such as Irish cop Heap O'Callory who's always stealing apples.
  8. Uninteresting and stock-like music from Carl Brandt and George Steiner.
  9. Limited stock sound effects (mostly from the GNP Crescendo, Disney and Jay Ward libraries) that will get on your last nerve.
  10. Unfunny, repetitive, frustrating, unoriginal, and/or boring humor.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The style and designs of backgrounds and characters are identical to any good cartoons from UPA.
  2. Compared to the rest of the characters, Dick Tracy is the only character whose design converges with the original design and is well animated.
  3. Villains from the original Dick Tracy comics also appear in the same show, including Flattop and Mumbles.
  4. Speaking of voice acting, Mel Blanc and Paul Frees do a good job voicing the characters, as always. Everett Sloane also voiced Dick Tracy very well.
  5. Supervisor of this series Abe Levitow (one of Chuck Jones' unit members) learned from his mistakes and in his next show "The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo" he made a Dick Tracy-themed episode, which looks better than this show.

Controversy

The Dick Tracy Show was pulled from syndication in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, and was not seen for years afterward because of what some perceived as racist undertones and use of ethnic stereotypes and accents. The show resurfaced on television in 1990 to coincide with the release of the feature film, as well as in 2006 on pay-per-view digital cable channels and DVD.

The cartoon appeared on various independent stations across the United States in June 1990 (to coincide with the release of the live-action feature film, as previously mentioned). Some Asians and Hispanics charged that characters Joe Jitsu (an Asian buck-toothed character) and Go Go Gomez (a sombrero-wearing Mexican) were offensive stereotypes. Two stations in Los Angeles removed the airings and edited episodes were then sent out while one station, KCAL Channel 9, which at the time was owned by Disney, continued to broadcast The Dick Tracy Show until July 4, 1990. Henry G. Saperstein, then the chairman of UPA, stated "It's just a cartoon, for goodness' sake." Others pointed out that the 'stereotypes' included two Europeans (Hemlock Holmes and Heap O'Calorie), and that the Joe Jitsu character (Ju-Jitsu is a Japanese martial art) was a deliberate attempt to re-introduce a sympathetic Japanese character after the passions of the last war had died down.

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