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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Merrie Melodies With Sylvester And Tweety

In all likelihood, many of us have never been in the situation that I am about to describe, and for a good many of us, we likely will not ever be in such a situation.

But, have any of you ever felt uneasiness around another person, or even an animal?  As if you think that the minute your back is turned, they’ll strike with full force?

I’ll admit that I’ve felt that way at times.  In all cases though, I was worried over nothing.  In most cases, I imagine that for a lot of people, their worries end up amounting to nothing. 

Well, unless you happen to suffer from extreme paranoia, and you believe that everybody in the world is out to make your life a living hell.  But, that’s a rarity.

What happens though when your fears happen to be one hundred per cent real?

Just picture yourself in this situation.  You’re trying to go about your daily business the best way you know how, but yet you’re always looking over your shoulder.  You have the sinking feeling that someone is watching your every move, waiting for you to let your guard down.  And when the right opportunity presents itself, they strike for the kill.  Or, at least attempt to.

(And, this blog entry is quickly turning into a page that one might find in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book!)

The point is that for a select few of us, having to keep an eye out for danger is a scary reality.  Some have to deal with being stalked and watched each and every day...especially if you happen to be a celebrity.

Fortunately, there are ways in which we can protect ourselves from unsavoury characters that exist solely to cause us to be fearful of our surroundings.  We can take self-defence classes to protect ourselves from being attacked or hurt by strangers and would-be robbers.  We can seek out restraining orders to keep any would-be stalkers at bay.

Or, if you happen to be a little yellow bird, you can take your enemy’s bag of tricks and successfully use them against him.

While I definitely don’t want to downplay the seriousness of having to deal with someone who creeps somebody else out, today’s blog topic deals with a couple of cartoon characters who have had to live through that scenario for sixty-five years.

Today’s blog topic examines the intricate, dysfunctional relationship of Sylvester and Tweety from Looney Tunes cartoons.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock, or don’t believe in watching television (in which case I doubt you would even be reading this blog right now), I’m sure that most of you have seen at least one cartoon featuring Sylvester and Tweety.  If you haven’t, fear not.  I’ve enclosed links to four cartoons featuring the pair, and if you click on the episode titles below, you can watch them!

I Taw A Putty Tat – 1948

I figured that I would post at least one example from a different decade, just so all of you could see how far Sylvester and Tweety evolved over the years.

But, do you know which character appeared first?

That honour goes to Tweety, who made his debut on November 21, 1942.  Though, he didn’t exactly resemble the Tweety that we all knew and loved right away.

Tweety made his first appearance in a cartoon short called “A Tale Of Two Kitties”.  He was created by animator Bob Clampett.  And, apparently his original name was slated to be ‘Orson’, if you can believe it.  Anyway, in Tweety’s first cartoon, he was pitted against two feline antagonists named Babbit and Catsello (an obvious spoof of Abbott and Costello). 

And, in this cartoon, Tweety looked a lot different.  Take a look at this screenshot below this paragraph.

Notice that Tweety’s signature yellow colouring isn’t present anywhere on his body whatsoever?  He looks a little bit pink, wouldn’t you say?  As it turned out, Tweety wasn’t initially designed to be the golden yellow domesticated canary we all grew up with.  Instead, he was more of a free spirit, a real wild child, if you will.

Certainly, the Tweety of yore was incredibly aggressive and saucy in comparison to the more watered down version we would be used to.  And, given how cunning and sly Tweety ended up, I reckon that old Tweety would have been a sight to behold!

Tweety, like most Bugs Bunny characters, was voiced by legendary voice artist Mel Blanc.  And like many characters voiced by Blanc, each one had a distinctive speech pattern.  In Tweety’s case, Blanc decided to give him a similar speech pattern as Elmer Fudd, where “L” and “R” sounds were changed to “W” sounds, and where the phrase “I thought I saw a pussy cat” was translated to “I tawt I taw a putty tat!”

For three years, Tweety was a solo act.  But around 1945, Clampett began work on a new short, which saw Tweety taking on a black and white cat, designed by fellow animator Friz Freleng.  The cat didn’t have a name at the time, and the only distinctive feature that he had was a severe lisp that caused him to spray saliva each time he said any word containing the letter S.

However, before the short could be made, Clampett left the studios, leaving Freleng as the sole animator of the project.  Freleng took on the challenge, but he made a few changes to the Tweety character.  He was the one who gave Tweety two trademarks that are still associated with him today.  He gave Tweety his big blue eyes, and his bright yellow feathers.  The cat was further developed into an anthropomorphic tuxedo cat.  He was also given the name of Sylvester.

And the first cartoon that they ended up starring in together was 1947’s Tweetie Pie.

Tweetie Pie proved to be a huge hit with fans, and the cartoon short was solely responsible for Warner Brothers earning their very first Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).

Sylvester and Tweety made a great pair, despite the fact that in almost every short that the duo starred in, Sylvester tried to have Tweety for dinner.

Literally, Sylvester spent a lot of energy trying to turn Tweety into the ultimate gourmet cuisine, right down to the last feather.

But, somehow, Tweety was always at least one step ahead of Sylvester.  Every time Sylvester reached into his arsenal of weapons, tricks, and booby traps, courtesy of the Acme Corporation, Tweety would somehow come out on top.  He would purposely get the attention of nearby dogs to chase after Sylvester.  Sometimes, Tweety would take Sylvester’s props and use them against him.  Sometimes, Tweety would have some items of his own to defend himself against Sylvester.

Most of the time, Sylvester was dumb enough to screw up his schemes all on his own without any influence from Tweety altogether.  Sylvester wasn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I mean, if you look at Sylvester’s track record, anyone he’s ever tangled with has almost always come up on top.  Porky Pig seemed to have more bravery than Sylvester did.  Sylvester’s own son, Sylvester Jr, was almost ashamed to admit that he was related to the big oaf of a cat.  And, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Sylvester would always happen to get a nervous breakdown each and every time he tangled with that baby kangaroo from Australia.

Over the years, Sylvester and Tweety have entertained generations of children, who in turn have shared the cartoons with their own children.  Sylvester and Tweety would end up sharing the stage in their own cartoon, ‘The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries’, which aired between 1995 and 2001.  The duo also appeared in the 1996 film ‘Space Jam’, starring basketball player Michael Jordan. 

Tweety even appeared in a public service announcement regarding parents being mindful of the temperature of their child’s bath water back in the early 1980s.  You can watch it by clicking here.

Yes, it’s true.  Sylvester doesn’t exactly come off in such a good light when it comes to the way he goes after Tweety...but somehow knowing that Tweety always seems to outsmart Sylvester kind of makes it all worth it in the end. 

Besides, Sylvester has at least proven that the idea of cats having nine lives is true...heck, in Sylvester’s case, he must be on his nine hundredth life at the time of this blog posting.

Um...make that 901...

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