When I was a kid, they still showed Merrie Melodies and Loony Tunes cartoons bright and early most weekdays before school on the Ramblin’ Rod show. I think they had them on channel kptv 12. My brother and I used to get up to watch a show called ‘The Great Space Coaster’, which almost seems like a joke or a dream now, except Mark Hamil was on it once, so that gave it validation.
We’d go get our cereal and the bowl of sugar (We were progressive children, and believed in progressively sweetening our breakfast till the remaining milk in the bowl was a horrifyingly sweet sugar sludge which would harden into cement throughout the day, capturing wayward cornflakes like petrified leaves in the morning’s fossil record.) and watch loony tunes till we had to go to school. We claimed characters as favorites, so some cartoons got to bask in our approval while others, like Porky Pig, were barely tolerated.
My favorites as a kid were: Bugs, Taz, Pepe le pew, Tom & Jerry, the chickenhawk kid and Foghorn Leghorn. Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner were pretty cool, too.
Wile E. Coyote, of course, came to have universal truths that were revealed in adulthood. It’s probably the cartoon with the most cross over appeal. What seems like a fascinatingly stupid and amusing endeavor to a child comes to seem like a fairly good survival technique when you get to be a grown up.
Yes, Wile E. seemed to be nearly killed at the end of every episode, but his single minded pursuit of his heart’s desire kept him pushing forward, and his extreme tunnel vision kept him from looking around and noting that his hometown was a major dump. We learned that desperation breeds both danger and ingenuity, true. And his constant and repetitive failures make him intriguing and rather lovable, a point many adults are comforted to recall in later life.
I really liked the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons the best though. I couldn’t help rooting for the blustery rooster. According to wikipedia, Foghorn’s speech and characteristics were patterned after ‘Senator Claghorn’, a character on the Fred Allen Radio Show. I’d never heard of the Fred Allen Radio Show, and even if I’d listened to it religiously, Foghorn Leghorn still would have stuck in my mind as the animated rooster embodiment of James Garner.
I’m not sure where the impression came from, but it’s still strong. It might be the distinctive way in which both of them speak, or the sort of swell-chested confidence, and naive attempts to set others straight. I was familiar with Garner because my mom used to watch detective shows in the late afternoon. All too often this meant that jowly fella in the black and white court series, what was his name? Not sure. He was always super intense and serious. (Mom thought he was handsome. Gag me.) Later, Magnum P.I. would fill the niche, and we’d be grateful if for no other reason than we liked Higgin’s doberman pincers, and their troubled relationship with the P.I.
(Mom also thought Tom Selleck was a hottie.)
She never expressed any yen for James Garner when she watched the Rockford Files though, and in this case I hafta seriously question her taste. Even though James Garner for me embodies the human equivalent of an animated rooster, this did not stop a small passion from developing. James Garner was always so ….tall, so… reasonable, so very… tall. And when he turned the fire on for one of his lady friends? Wow, James Garner could do the smoldering eye thing like nobody’s business. It was such a contrast to his friendly, reasonable voice.
Contrast is hot.
I definitely leaned more towards the human James Garner than I did toward Foghorn Leghorn; a relief, following on the heels of my first great passion for Mighty Mouse. A dysfunctional relationship, that: I would thrill to imaginings of being flown through the air, clutched to his strong, tiny chest; but I was just as likely to fantasize about him getting caught by his cat tormentors and tortured in true cat and mouse fashion. It was a love/hate relationship.
Anime porn only holds the barest of appeal nowadays, so I think I’ve left that Mighty Mouse phase firmly behind, but I happened to catch a few minutes of a pre-Rockford film with James Garner in it recently, and oh my gosh. Wasn’t he a handsome git? I almost didn’t see the anthropomorphized rooster in the tilt of his chin, the lean of his body. Yup… almost.
(contender for the least believable gunfight of all time:)