Western Animation / The Dick Tracy Show

The Dick Tracy Show is an American animated TV series based on Chester Gould's comic strip crime fighter. The series was produced by UPA for syndication in the 1961/62 season. The series consisted of 130 five-minute episodes, and each station used its own on-camera presenter, usually dressed in a police uniform.

Instead of pursuing the criminals himself, Tracy assigned the cases to various second-stringers:
  • Joe Jitsu, an Asian kung-fu master/detective.
  • Go-Go Gomez, a laid-back Mexican master of disguise who could move surprisingly fast.
  • Heap O'Calory, a stereotype Irish-American policeman.
  • Hemlock Holmes, a British-accented bulldog who was accompanied by the Retouchables, a group similar to the Keystone Kops.

Despite the show's title, Dick Tracy usually appeared at the beginning of the cartoon to assign the case, then only twice more in each animated segment. Once would be in the middle of the action, when the good guy would shout, "Hold everything!" At that point all the action would freeze, and the hero would call Tracy on his two-way wrist radio to fill Tracy in on how things were progressing. The action would resume when Tracy radioed back, "Six-two and even...Over and out!" The last time Tracy would be seen was at the end, to praise his men for their good work. On rare occasions Tracy showed up on screen during the story to get involved.

The series was revamped and re-syndicated in 1990 to take advantage of the publicity surrounding Warren Beatty's big screen version of the character. The Joe Jitsu and Go-Go Gomez cartoons were initially rebroadcast as part of the package, although they were soon pulled and only Heap O'Calory and Hemlock Holmes cartoons remained.

Tropes That Appear in The Dick Tracy Show

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: One villain, Pruneface has purple skin. Oodles, another villain, has blue hair and light blue skin.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Joe Jitsu. It's hard to say whether this is a form of Japanese Politeness in effect or Sarcasm Mode.
  • Art Evolution: Tracy looked nothing like Chester Gould's figure in the first episode "Red Hot Riding Hoods," which may be attributed to Ray Patterson's direction of the episode. Ensuing episodes had Tracy looking like the comic strip Tracy.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Joe Jitsu, especially when he's meting out punishment to the villains. ("So solly. Excuse, prease.")
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to several characters throughout the show.
  • Bully Bulldog: Averted with Hemlock Holmes
  • Canon Foreigner: Cheater Gunsmoke never appeared in the comic strip.
  • Cold Open: Inverted with a number of episodes in its initial run which used teasers before the opening titles.
  • Cool Cat: At the end of "Mardi Gras Grab," Joe Jitsu turns into a light brown one and plays the saxophone.
  • Crossover: In 1965, Tracy appeared in an episode of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, in which Tracy entreats Magoo to impersonate an international hitman and infiltrate a nest of villains (B.B. Eyes, Flattop, Pruneface, the Mole, etc.). In contrast to the cartoons of both characters, this episode plays it mainly straight.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In "The Vile Inn Case," Joe Jitsu uses invisible paint to cover up his car while he's investigating a crime by the Brow and Oodles. When the crooks chase him, Joe cannot find his now-invisible car. It's only when Oodles leaps for him and slams into the car door that Joe is able to find it.
  • Distressed Dude: Tracy in "The Manor Monster", "Kidnap Trap" and "The Copped Copper Caper", the Retouchables in "The Retouchables" and "Choo Choo Boo Boo".
  • Dog Stereotype: Hemlock Holmes is an English Bulldog with an English accent.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Go-Go Gomez appeared in a Mr. Magoo cartoon prior to this series.
  • Edutainment Show: Several of the first episodes had an interstitial narrated by Tracy about law enforcement.
  • Expy: Go-Go Gomez is basically a human Speedy Gonzales.
  • The Faceless: Cheater Gunsmoke, who appeared in only two cartoons. His face is always covered with gun smoke and it has a cigar protruding through it.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: In the Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo crossover "Dick Tracy And The Mob," it is learned that a nest of villains are trying to bring a noted felon, Squinty Eyes, into the United States. Tracy notes the similarities between Squinty Eyes (whom authorities capture upon his arrival) and Mr. Magoo, so Tracy enlists Magoo to take Squinty Eyes' place among the mob.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: "Mardi Gras Grab."
  • Malaproper: Sprinkled throughout. Joe Jitsu mentions the "Chattanoodle Choo-Choo" in "The Casbah Express."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Heap O'Calory was a caricature of actor Andy Devine. Hemlock Holmes' voice was a cheap imitation of Cary Grant.
    • Holmes' voice is virtually lampshaded in the debut episode "Red Hot Riding Hoods," which has him answering a phone call from someone that B.B. Eyes (fooling Holmes with a booby-trapped phone booth) says is named Judy. Holmes replies vibrantly, "Judy, Judy, Judy!"
    • Among the villains, Flattop sounded like Peter Lorre, Pruneface like Boris Karloff, B.B.Eyes like Edward G. Robinson, and The Brow like James Cagney.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Dick Tracy is drawn semi-realistically, whereas everyone else, animal or human, is cartoony.
  • Officer O'Hara: Heap O'Calorie.
  • Once per Episode: "HOLD EVERYTHING!!" <<<<<screeeeeeeech>>>>> "... calling Dick Tracy, calling Dick Tracy..."
    • Also: "Okay, chief...I'll get on it right away. (into wrist radio) Dick Tracy calling (name of detective)..."
    • In just about every episode with Hemlock Holmes, the villains shoot a hole and deflate Hemlock's police hat.
    Hemlock: Hey! You can't pop a copper's topper!
    • Also, the Retouchables would drive off to their assignment, leaving Holmes to run behind them. He would then grab the trunk of the car and beg them to stop, only to be catapulted onto the hood when they obliged.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Mel Blanc is the British-toned voice of the curator of Madame Torso's wax museum in "Jewel Fool," and it is really, really bad.
  • Overly Long Name: Go-Go Gomez is fond of reminding the viewer that his full name is "Manuel Tijuana Guadalajara Tampico Gomez ... Junior. — I theenk."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In "The Copy Cat Caper," Sketch Paree and the Mole use a "lifelike" mask of Dick Tracy to rob banks, but the mask only covers the front of the wearer's face and is completely static. Go-Go Gomez plays a few tricks of his own with similar cheap masks of Sketch and the Mole.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Joe Jitsu.
  • Punny Name: Joe Jitsu (a play on the name of martial art ju jitsu).
  • Rube Goldberg Device: The Brow and Oodles try to execute this on Tracy in "The Kidnap Trap."
  • Second Face Smoke: Pruneface does this to Hemlock Holmes in "The Purple Boy."
  • Skintone Sclerae: Tracy, the Brow, Itchy, Mumbles, the Mole and Pruneface.
  • Talking Animal: The carrier pigeon in "The Pigeon Coup" and Hemlock Holmes the Bulldog.
  • Token Non-Human: Hemlock Holmes
  • The Unintelligible: The villain Mumbles
    • Nick, the beatnik who gives Heap O'Calory tips on crimes in progress, may count as he communicates with beats from bongo drums that only Heap can decipher.
  • Up to Eleven: In "Racer Chaser," Joe Jitsu is pursuing Stooge Viller and Mumbles, who have stolen a race car. To catch up with them, Joe extends his car's speedometer by writing the range "150" to "500" below it, enabling him to go that fast.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Figuratively and almost literally in "Funny Money." Hemlock Holmes and the Retouchables chase Stooge Viller and Mumbles, who have a case of stolen theater box office receipts. At the end of the cartoon, Tracy tells Hemlock that the stolen money was actually stage money. Cue Hemlock collapsing in a dead faint.