Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines was a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for CBS from 13 September 1969 to 5 September 1971. The show was unusual in having only two voice actors, Paul Winchell as Dick Dastardly and the indistinctly heard General, and Don Messick as Muttley and everybody else. Each half-hour episode typically features two stories, plus "Wing Dings" (short gags) and "Magnificent Muttley" (Muttley's Walter Mitty-style daydreams).
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 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 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 just cursing to himself indistinctly, usually following some misfortune that has befallen him, or an excited "yeah-yeah-yeah..." at the offer of something appealing, or in response to a command or 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 and a cringing coward.
- Main article: Zilly
- Klunk is a pilot and an engineer of aircraft and weapons.
- Main article: Klunk
- Yankee Doodle Pigeon is a patriotic American homing pigeon carrying a mail bag, and a bugle which he always plays to announce his presence in defiance of the Vulture Squadron, and 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 in a wall, next to Muttley's bed.
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, Dastardly 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.
Like its predecessor, Wacky Races, Dastardly & 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 mustache-twirling villain of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, the film which provided the inspiration for Dastardly & Muttley in their Flying Machines.
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 mustache 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.
- Episode 1 - (13 September 1969)
- Episode 2 - (20 September 1969)
- Episode 3 - (27 September 1969)
- Episode 4 - (4 October 1969)
- Episode 5 - (11 October 1969)
- Episode 6 - (18 October 1969)
- Episode 7 - (25 October 1969)
- Episode 8 - (1 November 1969)
- Episode 9 - (8 November 1969)
- Episode 10 - (15 November 1969)
- Episode 11 - (22 November 1969)
- Episode 12 - (29 November 1969)
- Episode 13 - (6 December 1969)
- Episode 14 - (13 December 1969)
- Episode 15 - (20 December 1969)
- Episode 16 - (27 December 1969)
- Episode 17 - (3 January 1970)
The Magnificent Muttley segment is always introduced by Dick Dastardly saying:
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!
In each of the seventeen episodes, Muttley imagines himself in a different situation. These are the characters he pretends to be:
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- Theatre Actor
- Circus Acrobat
- Masked Avenger
- Movie Stuntman
- David Bowie
- Scuba Diver
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Car Racer
- Olympic Swimmer
- Arctic Explorer
- The nationality of the Vulture Squadron is never revealed, but the show is set in WWI and the pigeon is presumably American because of its name, thus making it likely that they are German.
- 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 Phil and the Tunes 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 16 (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).
- 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 & Muttley in Their Flying Machines until the victims were incapable of doing anything more than stumbling around and repeatedly chanting, "Stop the pigeon."
- Paul Winchell - Dick Dastardly, General, others
- Don Messick - Muttley, Klunk, Zilly, Yankee Doodle Pigeon, Narrator, others
- Produced and Directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
- Associate Producer: Alex Lovy
- Story: Larz Bourne, Dalton Sandifer, Mike Maltese.
- Story Direction: Alex Lovey, Bill Perez.
- Voices: Paul Winchell, Don Messick.
- Animation Director: Charles A. Nichols.
- Production Design: Iwao Takamoto.
- Production Supervisor: Victor O. Schipek.
- Character Design: Jerry Eisenberg.
- Layout: Lou Appet, Ed Benedict, Jim Fletcher, Don Jurwich, Lin Larsen, Jack Manning.
- Animation: Ed Barge, Emil Carle, Izzy Ellis, John Garling, Maria Jursic, Carlo Vinci, Jerry Hathcock, Bob Maxfield, Ken Muse, Morey Reden, Veve Risto.
- Background Styling: Walt Peregoy.
- Backgrounds: Dave Weidman, William Butler, Robert Gentle, Iraj Paran, Curtis Perkins.
- Title Desigh: Bill Perez.
- Titles: Robert Schaefer.
- Music Director: Ted Nichols.
- Technical Supervisor: Frank Paiker.
- Ink & Paint Supervisor: Roberta Greutert.
- Xerography: Robert West.
- Sound Direction: Richard Olson.
- Film Editing: Pat Foley, Richard Allen.
- Camera: Dick Blundell, Bill Kotler, Ralph Migliori, Cliff Shipser, Rex Stevens, Roy Wade.
- A Hanna-Barbera Productions Production
Syndication and home video
After its original CBS run, Dastardly & 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 10 May 2005 Warner Home Video released the complete series on Region 1 DVD. On 31 July 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.
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 / A Esquadrilha Abutre
- Spanish: Las Aventuras de Pierre Nodoyuna y Patán en sus Máquinas Voladoras
- Swedish: Stoppa Duvan
- Turkish: Hain Baron ve Kopegi