One More Thing: Arnold Stang And Top Cat

top cat cast.jpgWe live in amazing times. Arnold Stang dies (well, that’s not amazing) and I immediately go on a treasure hunt via the net to relive some of his work I enjoyed as a child.

Youtube is loaded with Top Cat cartoons. I chose Sergeant Top Cat (Part 1).

If this urge should come to you, don’t do it. Please. Let your memories remain memories. Don’t refresh them. Top Cat is not as good as I remembered!

This wasn’t a Saturday morning kiddie show. Top Cat ran in prime time on ABC, then mired deep in third place among the three networks.

I smiled right away because I recognized most of the voices. Of course Arnold Stang starred as Top Cat. Maurice Gosfield, who was Doberman on Sergeant Bilko played the same role here. Marvin Kaplan was also on as part of TC’s gang.

Marvin Kaplan is a guy whose name you won’t recognize but who’s been in dozens of TV shows and movies, always playing the same whiny, chubby, socially awkward guy. Trust me–to see him is to know him.

This cartoon was violent. Shots were fired indiscriminately. Bullets flew everywhere. The idea of suicide was used as the punchline to a joke! And the theme said Top Cat was the “indisputable leader of the gang.”

You’ve got to judge it by its era. Those things weren’t unusual at all in cartoons. It was a less enlightened time. It was still jarring to see today.

Top Cat was a prime time comedy with a laugh track! Isn’t a laugh track used to convince the home audience a studio audience was laughing as they saw the characters perform live? Hello? That worked? This was a cartoon! Were we that naive?

As with many made-for-TV cartoons Top Cat was minimally drawn with few ‘moving parts’ in any given frame. All colors were solid–no shading.

What really surprised and depressed me was the writing. It was horrendous. There was neither fun nor spark. The dialog and plotlne were insipid. This episode was so bad it’s tough to even describe!

Back in the 60s I though this was pretty good. Yeah, I was a pre-teenager when Top Cat premiered… still. I thought my taste was better than this.

2 Responses to “One More Thing: Arnold Stang And Top Cat”

  1. Evi says:

    I didn’t heed your warning. I watched any way.. My first reaction was it was in COLOR! (We had a very old B&W TV that seldom drew in a good picture!) I wasn’t put off by the violence–perhaps because all the cartoons were violent back then. What I was surprised at was the overall sarcasm by TC himself. I am one of the most sarcastic people I know–is it possible these cartoons did have a “lasting effect?”…Hmmm..

  2. Sean says:

    Given you’ve got a funny bone, Geoff, I would HIGHLY advise ‘Harvey Birdman’…. Top Cat made a few appearances.

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