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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Going for Gold at the 1977 Laff-A-Lympics

How many of you out there plan on watching the 2012 Summer Olympics?

The Olympics are probably one of the most watched sporting events in the entire world.  As many as one billion people worldwide are expected to tune in to watch at least one of the Olympic events being showcased.  Thousands of athletes representing 200 different countries compete in a variety of events, all with the goal of winning a bronze, silver, or gold medal.  This year, the Olympic ceremonies are being held in London, the third time that the city has hosted the Summer Olympics (the other two years were 1908 and 1948) since the modern Olympic Games were first held in Athens, Greece in 1896.

All eyes will be focused on London, as the nations participating in the games will be cheering on their athletes in the quest for gold.  I know that I will be wishing all of my fellow Canadians the best of luck in the Olympic Games, and hope that they bring home the gold.

Traditionally speaking, Canada hasn’t done so hot in regards to gold medals least in the Summer Olympics.  The highest amount of gold medals won by a Canadian team was ten, back in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California.  Coincidentally, the 1984 Games also had the highest amount of medals won in total by a Canadian team with 44.  As far as other gold medal counts go for Canada, we ended up winning seven gold medals in Barcelona 1992 and four in both St. Louis 1904 and Amsterdam 1928.  

Embarrassingly enough, one of the most disappointing performances by a Canadian team in the Summer Olympics was in the very year Canada hosted the games.  The 1976 Montreal games were a disaster for Canada.  Not only was the Canadian team shut out of winning a gold medal (we ended up winning eleven medals total though), but the debt was so massive that it took three decades to pay it off!  Thankfully in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, we had our best gold medal performance ever for the Olympic Games with 14 won!

Go Canada!

You know, all this talk about the Olympic Games makes me think about a Saturday morning cartoon show that I vaguely remember watching as a kid.  It was a show that also had an Olympic themed setting.  Although the series aired in between the 1976 and 1980 Summer Olympics, the show did show everyone the hilarity that could occur if some of our favourite cartoon characters competed in some of the events that some of our celebrated athletes won medals for.

Today, we’re going to look back on the short-lived Hanna-Barbera cartoon “Laff-A-Lympics”.

“Laff-A-Lympics” only managed to run for two seasons during ABC’s Saturday Morning cartoon block.  It debuted on September 10, 1977, and ran for 24 episodes, which were rerun on the station until July 31, 1979.  The television show was loosely based on events that were featured in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, but also ended up having elements from “Battle of the Network Stars” thrown in for good measure.

The premise of the show was simple.  A total of 45 characters from various Hanna-Barbera cartoons were divided up into three different teams.  Each episode featured these three teams competing against each other in various events.  Now, unlike the real Olympic Games, in which cheating is strongly discouraged, in Laff-A-Lympics, it’s quite normal to have strange things happen on an Olympic course. 

The Laff-A-Lympics were hosted by Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf, and because the show aired on ABC, both characters were outfitted with bright yellow sportsjackets (which all ABC sportscasters wore back in the late 1970s).  The show also had guest characters serving as judges and commentators which included Jabberjaw, Peter Potamus, Fred Flintstone, and Barney Rubble.

I suppose that you want to know what the three teams are in Laff-A-Lympics, don’t you?  Well, here they are, written entirely in their team colours.


SCOOBY-DOO - Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Dum, Shaggy Rogers

DYNOMUTT, DOG WONDER – Dynomutt, Blue Falcon

CAPTAIN CAVEMAN – Captain Caveman, Brenda Chance, Taffy Dare, Dee Dee Skyes

SPEED BUGGY – Speed Buggy, Tinker


HONG KONG PHOOEY – Hong Kong Phooey


YOGI BEAR – Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo Bear, Cindy Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Pixie, Dixie, Mr. Jinks, Hokey Wolf, Yakky Doodle

QUICK DRAW McGRAW – Quick Draw McGraw, Snooper, Blabber, Augie Doggie, Doggie Daddy




Mumbly, Dread Baron, Dinky Dalton, Dirty Dalton, Dastardly Dalton, Mr. Creepley, Mrs. Creepley, Junior Creepley, Orful Octopus, The Great Fondoo, Magic Rabbit, Daisy Mayhem, Sooey

TRIVIA:  Originally, the Scooby-Doobies were supposed to have different characters.  It was originally planned to have Jeannie from “Jeannie” on the team, as well as Melody, Alexander, Alexandra, and Sebastian the Cat from Josie and the Pussycats.  But due to trademark rights held by Columbia Pictures Television and Archie Comics, the characters weren’t able to be used.  Jeannie was replaced with Hong Kong Phooey, and the Pussycats characters were replaced with the cast from Captain Caveman.  However, since Babu was an original Hanna-Barbera creation, he was allowed to be a part of the show.

EVEN MORE TRIVIA:  With the exception of the Daltons from Quick Draw McGraw, and Mumbly from “Grape Ape”, the people on the Really Rottens were original creations.

Here’s the fun part though.  Although the Scooby-Doobies and Yogi Yahooies were two separate teams, they ended up working together very well.  They were all friends, and when one member of the team got into a sticky situation, the other team would help him/her to safety.  The Really Rottens on the other hand really lived up to their name.  They would often play dirty tricks on the other two teams all in the name of getting an advantage in the games.  They only cared about one thing.  Winning.

And just how did teams win?  Well, after each event, they were given a set of points.  In almost all cases, the first place team would score 25 points, second place team would score 15 points, and the last place team would get 10.  In the last event, the point totals would be doubled, or teams would get added bonus points.  At the end of the episode, the team with the most points, ended up with the gold medal. 

But what the Really Rottens didn’t realize was that points could also be deducted from totals if any of the people on the team were found guilty of sabotaging events, they could lose points.  And those lost points could mean the difference between winning and losing!

In fact, over the 24 episodes of the series, I can tell you that one team won the gold medal fourteen times.  Another team only won it twice.  And the final team won the gold medal seven times.

But, wait...that’s only a total of 23 medals.  What about the missing medal? 

I could tell you.  But wouldn’t it be more fun to watch it yourself?  I couldn’t find the episode online, but if you watch the episode “Siam and the Moon”, the answer behind the missing medal is found there.

On that note, I’ll end this note by wishing all athletes competing in London the very best of luck, and may all of your Olympic dreams come true.

And if they don’t, there’s always Rio de Janeiro in 2016!

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