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Western Animation / Calvin and the Colonel

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The Colonel (left), Calvin (right)
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One of the first Prime Time Cartoon series, Calvin and the Colonel aired for one season (1961–62) on ABC. The show was essentially an Animated Adaptation of Amos 'n' Andy, except with cartoon animals. Both series were created by Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden, who also voiced the titular characters of each show; several of the original Amos 'n' Andy radio scripts were adapted for the cartoon series. The use of animal characters avoided the touchy racial issues that had plagued the earlier show.

The show's eponymous protagonists were the conniving Col. Montgomery J. Klaxon (voiced by Gosden), a fox, and his patsy Calvin T. Burnside (voiced by Correll), a bear. The Colonel was constantly coming up with get-rich-quick Zany Schemes, all of which tended to backfire. Rounding out the cast were the Colonel's wife, Maggie Belle (voiced by Beatrice Kay); her sister, Susan "Sister Sue" Culpepper (voiced by Virginia Gregg); and the Colonel's shady lawyer, Judge Oliver Wendell Clutch (voiced by Paul Frees).

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This one last attempt at keeping the Amos 'n' Andy format alive†  was not successful. The show only lasted one season; even then, it was cancelled two months into its run due to low ratings and was only brought back two months later to fulfill contractual obligations.


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Calvin and the Colonel provides examples of:

  • Ambulance Chaser: Judge Oliver Wendell Clutch is this, definitely. His role in the show is to provide the Colonel with legal loopholes in order to pull off an unlawful scheme (which most of the time doesn't work anyway).
  • Cast Herd: There are two: one with the Colonel, Maggie Belle and Sister Sue, and the other with the Colonel (again), Calvin and Judge Clutch. Even though they all appear in (almost) every episode, Calvin's on-screen interaction with the Colonel's wife and sister-in-law are minimal at best. And the only time we see Judge Cluch interacting with Maggie and Sue is at the end of "Colonel's Old Flame".
  • Cigar Chomper: Calvin
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Dell put out two issues in 1962.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: The Colonel suspected in one episode that his sister-in-law was a jewel thief known as the "Polka Dot Bandit". Then the Colonel himself got arrested because the police discovered that the thief was really a man disguised as a woman and the Colonel happened to be carrying the polka-dot dress (he was going to turn her in). The real thief was finally captured in the end, who turned out to be Sister Sue's ex-fiancé, who plotted to frame her for the robbery.
  • Dartboard of Hate: The Colonel has one of Sister Sue in his office.
  • Expy: Of Amos 'n' Andy, as described above. More specifically, Calvin is Andy and the Colonel is the Kingfish.
  • Fish out of Water: The title characters are natives of the Deep South now living in an unnamed Northern city.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: Maggie Belle and her sister Sue in the main cast.
  • Furry Confusion: Apparently, in the show's universe humans exist, but in a manner that is equivalent to animals in our world. Judge Clutch is seen watching humans perform dog tricks on TV, leading him to tell the Colonel, "Did you know they actually have people in there talking like animals? It's completely unbelievable!"
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: The Colonel, Calvin, and several other characters.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Sister Sue is a very unpleasant woman, but she's not exactly wrong about the Colonel being a slimeball.
  • Laugh Track: An animated example.
  • Limited Animation: In the style of Jay Ward.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Colonel's sister-in-law Susan. Justified in that the Colonel is not exactly an honest man.
  • On One Condition: One episode has the Colonel sabotaging his sister-in-law's wedding after he finds the will of her deceased first husband, which stipulates that the $300 a month she gets from his estate (of which the Colonel gets $200 as per the agreement when he married his wife) will be cut off if she remarries. After The Colonel succeeds in stopping the wedding, he finds out that the money would have gone directly to him instead if she remarried.
  • The Plan: Colonel's nephew, Newton (a con man himself), pulls this off when he visits in one episode.
  • Shady Real Estate Agent: The Colonel.
  • The Teaser: As with the other prime-time cartoons released at the time, Calvin and the Colonel had cold openings during its ABC broadcasts. However, in syndication reruns they were removed.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Thanksgiving Dinner", in which the Colonel — having to make good on an invitation he'd brashly extended a year earlier — scrambles to procure enough food to host thirty-six relatives for Thanksgiving at his apartment.
  • Thick-Line Animation
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: The Colonel gets one in the end of "Wheeling and Dealing", where he goes through the usual Zany Scheme in order to replace his nephew's car (which got filled with cement) before shipping it out to him in California. Where this differs from other episodes is that the Colonel's plan actually succeeds, and his wife and sister-in-law praise him for getting the job done. The Colonel admits to the audience that he didn't earn the praise and affection, but because it so rarely happens he decides to take it anyway.
  • Title Sequence Replacement: When the show went into syndication, they attached the earlier, more abstract opening sequence to every episode. In the original broadcast this opening was only used in the first six episodes.
  • Zany Scheme: The whole premise of this show.

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