Western Animation / Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
produced this 1972-1974 animated prime time series. Harry Boyle (voiced by a pre-Happy Days
Tom Bosley) is a conservative businessman whose elder son, Chet, is a hippie who dropped out of college and does charity work, but won't get a job. His high-school aged daughter, Alice, is a sexually liberated feminist who, despite her weight, isn't afraid to wear skimpy clothes or be interested in sex (much to her parents' shock, who think she's too young and naïve to fully understand sex in the modern age or the fact that not everyone is appreciative of overweight people). Only his younger son, Jamie, shows any signs of sharing Harry's values, and his wife, Irma, stays out of the conflict (though she has dreams of finding her own identity and being more than just a wife and mother). Meanwhile, his neighbor Ralph (comedian Jack Burns) masterminds an anticommunist organization so far to the right that they make the John Birchers (and more importantly, Harry) look pinko. Convinced of the imminent arrival of the godless Red hordes, Ralph and his followers have turned one end of the block into an armed camp. Poor Harry finds himself forced to navigate his life safely between all the extremes that surround him.
A deft, almost cynical, social commentary disguised as an animated Dom Com
, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
had fun skewering targets from all over the social and political spectrum. On a deeper level it satirized the polarization of American society, as viewed through the bewildered eyes of Everyman Harry.
For two years this was Hanna-Barbera's second most popular primetime animated show, and as a result a number of celebrity guest stars
appeared in the second season, including perennial favorites such as Jonathan Winters
, Don Knotts
, Don Adams
and Phyllis Diller. Though it didn't last as long as The Flintstones
, it was the inspiration for FOX's dysfunctional family animated sitcoms that became popular in the 1990s and the 2000s (The Simpsons
, King of the Hill
, and all of Seth MacFarlane
's dysfunctional family shows, with King of the Hill
being the most like it in tone and characterization, though Mark Hentamenn's Bordertown
is more like Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
in this regard. The Simpsons
uses the show's penchant for guest star appearances and creating stories based on social issues of the day and subject matter that most other TV shows don't or can't do, while Seth MacFarlane pretty much redesigned and exaggerated
Harry, Irma, Chet, Alice, Jamie, and Julius the dog as Peter, Lois, Chris, Meg, Stewie, and Brian for Family Guy
; Stan, Francine, Steve, Hayley, Roger, and Klaus for American Dad!
; and Cleveland, Donna, Cleveland Jr., Rallo, and Robertanote
for The Cleveland Show
Like Happy Days
, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
started life as an episode of the anthology Love, American Style
called "Love and the Old-Fashioned Father," about a dad who worries that his daughter's upcoming lake trip with her free-love hippie boyfriend and his friends will lead to an orgy. The first season is available on DVD.
This show provides examples of:
- The Alleged Car: Harry buys a new car from an Honest John's Dealership in one episode, but it doesn't start after being delivered to his house (from a defective fuel pump, distributor and ignition wires), the tires burst on the tow back to the dealer, and the dealer has horrible service, taking days to make minor repairs.
- Aside Comment: Very often with Harry.
- Bee Afraid: In one episode, Harry gets two unwanted visitors — a colony of bees and a bumbling live-in exterminator played by Don Knotts.
- Big Eater: Alice, she even eats chocolates while doing her exercises.
- Bland-Name Product: While never actually mentioned by name, Harry's car looks an awful lot like a Chevrolet Corvair sedan, and the car he buys from a crooked dealership looks just like an Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The dog, Julius, does it on a regular basis. Harry does it on occasion as well, although it could be explained that he's just Thinking Out Loud to make sense of this week's problem.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Chet all over. On one episode Harry has had enough of him lazing around and tells him that from that point onwards he will have to pay for his room like any guest, hoping this will make him work. Chet starts working for a local store and revolutionizes the whole thing, even creating a special candle that is selling like hot cakes... and then he quits, after making sure that the dividends of the candle's rights will be enough to (at the price Harry set for his room monthly when it all started) cover his rate until he's sixty.
- Catch-Phrase: Alice's "male chauvinism" speeches and any variation thereof.
- Child Soldiers: One episode has Irma having a pregnancy scare and Harry having to deal with their children hating the fact that a new child may be coming (because they believe this is their parents cooperating with the "demographic explosion"). Ralph's (Creepy Awesome, although Harry obviously finds it more "creepy") idea is to raise the child from the cradle to be ultra-patriotic, with his help.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Ralph believes in a lot of these. For a Cold War-era militant, he believed in way too many of them.
- Crippling Over Specialisation: One of the machanics at the Honest John's Dealership where Harry buys his new car only works with windshield wipers.
- Crossover: The last episode featured Car 54, Where Are You?'s Officers Toody and Muldoon with Gunther introduced as Irma's brother-in-law, and was a Poorly Disguised Pilot for an animated Car 54 series.
- Deliberately Bad Example: Ralph, a guy so far off the deep end that he once turned down a membership in the KKK on the grounds that it was "too liberal" for him! His regular attribution of every single thing that goes wrong to some kind of Communist plot makes just about anything the fairly conservative businessman Harry does in any given situation look like the moderate approach. Ralph is so paranoid that he does a lot of objectionable things oppressive regimes do for the claimed purpose of ensuring the opposite. For instance, he once showed Harry photographs taken by Jamie that were (extremely illegally) intercepted by his group in the mail (and when questioned on it said they went through everyone's mail to make sure their privacy was being protected).
Harry: You should get a freedom medal for eye strain.
Ralph: No medals. All I want is the ultimate victory over the pinkos. And maybe a little torch by my gravesite when I go... when I go.
- On one episode Ralph proposes repurposing Liberty Island as a high-security prisoner camp, and when Harry sarcastically says that the statue's torch could work as a place to put a spotlight for the guards, Ralph wholly agrees.
- Dom Com: A downplayed example, in that it was more focused on the politics of the day than skewering suburban lifestyles.
- Draft Dodging: When he gets his notice, Chet considers running to Canada.
- Dysfunctional Family: A downplayed example. Harry does love his family, but since this show takes place in the late 1960s into the early half of the 1970s (which was the time of a lot of social and political unrest), there is going to be some friction, especially with a hippie college drop-out son (Chet), a naive teenage daughter who wants to be a sexually liberated woman (Alice), and a wife who wants to expand her horizons outside of the home (Irma).
- Early Installment Weirdness: In the pilot, Chet was introduced as having finished college instead of dropping-out (though he's still unemployed), the family had a maid working for them, and Jamie is nowhere yet to be seen. Design wise, everything looked the same though Harry had a small brown patch of hair in contrast to his Charlie Brown Baldness in the series proper.
- Harry Boyle was also drastically different. While still conservative, he was much more hotheaded, difficult to be reasoned with, yelled a lot and was even prone to threats of violence when he lets his anger get the best of him.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: The intro has a variation: While Irma sings the Title Drop, Harry is seen driving his car over a bumpy road formed by the words.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Subverted. Harry is encouraged to file one when he has a minor car accident that coincides with a tight time in the family finances. The subversion comes when he ultimate decides not to go through with it.
- Game Show Appearance: To earn money for an anniversary gift, Irma appears on Let's Make a Deal, complete with Special Guest Voice Monty Hall as himself.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Lots of the subject matter on this show was meant for adults, despite being a family-friendly show (for the late 1960s/early 1970s). The first episode centered on Harry being accused of cheating on his wife, and there are a lot of episodes centered on sex and nudity (one where Alice wants to wear a dress with a see-through top, one where Alice is asked to pose nude for a painter, one where Harry threatens to press charges against a man who is sunbathing nude on a public beach, one where the entire neighborhood is on the lookout for a Peeping Tom, among others).
- In "Sweet Sixteen", when Irma tells the lisping, metrosexually-dressed caterer that her husband is not completely sold on the idea of a catered party, he answers: "Oh, don't worry. I get along very well with fellas" (cue laugh track).
- In "Alice's Dress", during their drive discussing how sexual images seem to be everywhere these days, Irma and Harry drive down a red light district, featuring a lot of X-rated movie theaters, adult bookstores, and racy billboards. Later, when they watch TV, they see a lot of ads showing scantily-clad women or women initiating sex with men. One of the ads of note shows a woman in a see-through nightgown. She's clearly not wearing a bra underneath but it managed to get away with it because she lacked visible nipples.
- The intro includes a sequence where Alice meets her date by the door only to come back with her hair a mess and one of her sleeves stretched out. note The accompanying lyric while it all happens certainly doesn't help.
Irma (singing): Kids today like to have their own way / And what Daddy doesn't know won't hurt him.
- The Ghost: Ralph mentioned his wife several times, but she did not appear throughout the series' run.
- Granola Girl: Alice is a parody of the 1960s and 1970s version of the sexual liberation going on during that time. She's convinced that everything wrong is because of male chauvinism, and is a very left-leaning daughter of a right-leaning father. The parody comes from when she's also portrayed as ignorant of how the world works.
- Half Hour Comedy: It was a "primetime" comedy show.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ralph and Whitaker.
- Honest John's Dealership: Where Harry buys his new car, which then turns out to be a lemon.
- Intimidating Revenue Service: Harry is amazed to find out he is the only one to want to return a computer error tax refund check for $947,000.
- Jerkass: Old Sara Whittaker.
- Meganekko: Irma and Alice both wear huge glasses that frame their faces.
- Miles Gloriosus: Ralph tends to be a lot of talk and no action.
- Nosy Neighbor: Ralph and Whitaker, to an infuriating degree. It didn't mattered how much Harry tried to keep things private, next thing he knew Ralph was there to try to "help".
- Plump Pretty Teen Girl: Alice is the 2nd rotund person in her family and yet is drawn prettier than her parents and older brother and doesn't have much trouble getting dates, also wearing bikinis, mini skirts, and a see through dress with no qualms about her figure.
- The Pilot: Was an episode of the Love, American Style anthology as mentioned above.
- Precious Puppies: The family dog, Julius, doesn't speak, yet understands English and reacts to things said around him, usually in aside glances.
- Richard Nixon: Ralph is designed as a Nixon caricature.
- Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: Ralph was this before they really were widely known (and mocked). Anything from overkilling neighborhood security to try to catch a burglar to turning the child Harry possibly was going to get (although turned out that it was just a pregnancy scare) into a hyper-patriotic Tyke Bomb to talking about repurposing Liberty Island as a political prisoner camp.
- Scenery Censor: Done in the episode where Alice is a nude model for an artist.
- Soapbox Sadie: Alice and Chet take turns being this (or double-team on Ralph), depending on the episode and whatever if the "hot political issue" of the week (and that Ralph has managed to stir up accidentally). Anything from a decision to be a nude model up to raging against having a new baby brother or sister because they are against overpopulation.
- Status Quo Is God: A number of episodes have Chet finally getting a decent job and/or making enough money to start living on his own, but something always happens to ensure that he's back living with his parents again in the end.
- Theme Tune: "Wait 'till your father gets, until your father gets, wait 'till your father gets home..."
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: A couple of episodes make it clear that Chet has become this for Harry, the fact that he's Harry's son notwithstanding. The one episode where Harry actually asks Chet to pay for room and board in the hopes he will look for work actually ends up Gone Horribly Right... because he works, and marvelously so, but just enough to make sure he will be able to afford room and board until he's an old man, and then instantly quits.
- Vapor Wear: On the second episode, Alice buys a dress she wants to wear to her father's special dinner. The problem is, it has a see-through top (and when told that she can't wear it because everyone will see her bra, Alice replies, "What bra?").
- Weight Woe: One episode had Alice despondent that a new boy at school wouldn't notice her due to her weight, so she ends up dieting miserably, and her parents get in on the act; with Harry being miserable without burgers (thin Ralph talking about his meals doesn't help) and the slimmer Irma noting that if she dieted in high school, she would've gotten a cute boy.