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Western Animation / Laff-A-Lympics

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"Heavens to hilarity, this is it, sports fans! Participants even! Television's greatest array of stars, "Laff-A-Lympics" presents around the world, triple-team competition between, the Yogi Yahooeys, the Scooby Doobies, and the Really Rottens. The players are on the field, in the stadium even. So let's get on with it, Laff-A-Lympics!"
Snagglepuss in the opening sequence

Laff-A-Lympics is an animated television series created by Hanna-Barbera in 1977. Originally airing as a part of ABC's Saturday morning package series, Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics, which was renamed Scooby's All-Stars the following year, this was basically a Saturday-Morning Cartoon version of ABC's Battle of the Network Stars, which itself had debuted the previous year and parodied the Olympics held throughout that same year. In hindsight, it can be considered a celebration of the legacy of Hanna-Barbera, which had reached its 20th anniversary since its establishment way back in 1957. As such, the three teams that were featured consisted of characters spread out throughout the company's history, including:

  • the Yogi Yahooeys, a team of funny animals from Hanna-Barbera's golden age that were designed by Ed Benedict (with the exception of Grape Ape, who was the only post-1962, let alone '70s character in the lineup), led by the smarter-than-average bear Yogi Bear and his sidekick Boo Boo;
  • the Scooby Doobies, a team of Meddling Kids and a few superheroes from Hanna-Barbera's more recent shows of the time, a few of which were the lead characters of the other shows in the original package series. Many of these characters were designed by Iwao Takamoto, Joe Ruby, or Ken Spears, with the latter two leaving to establish their own studio that same year. This team was led by resident cowards Scooby-Doo and his closest companion, Shaggy;
  • and lastly, the Really Rottens, a team of cheaters who bear similarities to many villains and creepy characters, among others from the company's past shows. This team was led by a now villainous Mumbly (himself a blatant copy of Wacky Races' Muttley who debuted the previous year in an updated version of The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show) and Dread Baron (created for this series as Mumbly's equivalent of Dick Dastardly).

Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf provided commentary as the teams engaged in various contests of skill and endurance. Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Jabberjaw, and Peter Potamus all made occasional appearances as guest commentators, judges, and coaches.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Mumbly is a crime fighter in The Mumbly Cartoon Show, but in this series he acts more like Muttley from Wacky Races. Interestingly, both were preceded by the dog Mugger from the movie Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! (1964).
  • Adapted Out: For unknown reasons, Scooby-Dum and Sooey Pig were left out of the Laff-a-Lympics comic book.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Used in the second half of "The Grand Canyon and Ireland", where Mildew Wolf encounters a leprechaun and claims that if the leprechaun is real, then he's a butterfly. The leprechaun responds by using his magic to turn Mildew into a butterfly.
  • Artistic Licence - Geography:
    • An elephant-back race in Calcutta passes the Taj Mahal - which is actually in Agra.
    • The Cossack Dance race through Moscow ends at the Czar's Palace- which is actually in ST. Petersburg
  • Artistic License – Sports: Notably in the Hole-In-One contest where it doesn't specify the par for the hole unless it was a par 1 since the object was to get the ball in the hole in one stroke. Dinky Dalton gets it in two strokes (a cheating tactic backfired gruesomely) which technically scores as a bogey, but the announcer called it as a birdie (one stroke under par).
  • Ascended Extra: While the teams mostly consisted of lead stars, a few supporting characters such as Cindy Bear and Scooby-Dum were regulars.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Really Rottens win in "New York and Turkey" and "Morocco and Washington. D.C."
  • The Cameo:
    • Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and Jabberjaw are recurring guest stars
    • Peter Potamus and Ranger Smith both show up once each.
  • Captain Colorbeard: In the episode "Russia and the Caribbean", one of the challenges was to find the treasure of a ghost pirate named Bluebeard.
  • Captain Ersatz: Hanna-Barbera wanted to use Dick Dastardly and Muttley as captains of the Rottens, but Merrill Heatter allegedly still had part ownership of the Wacky Races characters; one issue of the comic book revealed that Dread Baron was Dick Dastardly's brother. Similarly, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels were allegedly created as substitutes for Josie and the Pussycats (due to clearance issues with "Radio Comics"note ), and Babu appeared alone because Columbia Pictures Televisionnote  still owned I Dream of Jeannie (never mind that Jeannie and Babu appeared together on The New Scooby-Doo Movies). Curiously, ABC's print ad for Laff-a-Lympics in the Sept. 10–16, 1977, issue of TV Guide had Jeannie and Josie and the Pussycats featured.
    • The order of who got bumped or replaced before whom is debated, except that Jeannie's removal was clearly last as she's counted in the opening narration and was included in the main model sheets for the series.
    • In the second season, Mumbly did get mistakenly called "Muttley".
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Every member of the Really Rottens revel in being underhanded crooks. Case in point, Daisy Mayhem is personally offended in "France and Australia" when Mildew Wolf congratulates her team for winning without cheating.
  • Cartoon Physics: At one point the Rottens were in a skiing event and when they pass Huckleberry lazing in an armchair on skis, they pick him up and pass him back to one another before putting him back. Somehow Huckleberry's skiing armchair stays at the same speed and the Rottens pass it.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The competitors wear their team shirts over their normal attire (where applicable). The YYs wear red uniforms, the SDs are blue, and the RRs are green.
    • In Brazil, shirts like that are used as admission tickets to some Carnaval parties. They're called abadás. It is unclear whether Laff-a-Lympics was the inspiration for the scheme, but one Brazilian troper definitely doesn't remember such use from before the show's time.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: In the 13-issue comic book series published by Marvel, each story had a central plot with the usual event participation. In the comics, Scooby-Dum (Scooby Doobies) and Sooey Pig (Really Rottens) were left out. A 14th issue, about a vengeful college professor, was not published. A special giant-sized story, "The Man Who Stole Thursday", featured most of the regular stars and cameos from other classic H-B characters. The series also revealed Dread Baron and Dick Dastardly were brothers.
  • Composite Character: Orful Octopus combines traits of Squiddly Diddly and Occy the Octopus, the Gruesomes' pet octopus from The Flintstones.
  • Catchphrase: Mildew Wolf likes to refer to other characters as "savages" (usually in some variation of "They're all savages! Savages!"). This is an invention of the series, he does not have this quirk in the original It's the Wolf! shorts he debuted in. As explained below, this might be a reference to his original voice actor Paul Lynde, although ironically Lynde did not reprise the role in this series. Mildew is instead voiced by John Stephenson this time around. Lynde did voice Claude Pertwee in the 1970 summer series Where's Huddles? where he regularly referred to football players Ed Huddles and Bubba McCoy as "savages," which would make this a Call-Back of sorts.
  • Darkhorse Victory: Played for Laughs in the Fox Hunt event where the Fox gets 25 events thanks to a string of bad luck on the parts of the competitors.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: The Rottens want to win by cheating. The one time they win a competition legitimately, it leaves them pissed off, although they don't object to winning individual events legitimately.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: One episode has the Dread Baron distracted by Taffy posing on a tree branch, distracting him while swinging across vines and causing him to fall.
  • Driven to Madness: In season two, Mildew has stated that enduring the competition is enough to drive him—and anyone—cuckoo. Sure enough, the end of one episode has him in a strait-jacket and committed to a mental ward.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Downplayed with Daisy Mayhem, who goes barefoot even in cold and snowy climates.
  • Expy: Most of the Really Rottens were made up of this.
    • The Dread Baron is a ridiculously blatant one of Dick Dastardly.
    • Issue #13 of the comic book portrays Dread Baron and Dick Dastardly as being "brothers".
    • Three of the Rottens are the next incarnation/redesigns of the Gruesome family from The Flintstones (who in turn were expies of Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist).
    • Daisy Mayhem is an evil version of the Li'l Abner character Moonbeam McSwine. Hers is the only instance on the show where the original character is not from Hanna-Barbera, though arguments can be made that she's a Palette Swap of Taffy Dare of the Teen Angels.
    • In a Robot Chicken skit that parodies Munich, the Great Fondoo lampshades this fact.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Mumbly was originally a police detective.
  • Fanservice: In issue #13 of the comic book, Taffy of the Teen Angels is seen in a skimpy bikini.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the Canada sled race, pause when Mildew and Snag are shown talking. Jeannie can be spotted standing between Babu and Hong Kong Phooey. She also pops up in the wide shots during the Dyke Building event and during most of the Viking Longboat race.
  • The Ghost: The Narrator and Announcers make multiple references to unseen "judges" that often hand out rulings and penalties. In the trivia What Could Have Been entry, it would appear at one point Hong Kong Phooey and Spot were to have filled this role before Spot was dropped and Phooey joined the Scooby Doobies.
  • Golden Snitch:
    • Usually, the points awarded for each event are 25 for the winner, 15 for the second place and 10 for third but some episodes have one event that offers a 50-point-bonus or all points are given to a same team. It doesn't always guarantee overall victory for the team that wins it.
    • At least two events were contested to a scoreless draw.
  • Got Volunteered: In one episode, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy had to play the last event because the other Yogi Yahooeys took steps back when Yogi called for volunteers. As Doggie Daddy said, he and his son were volunteered by a bunch of backstabbers.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mildew Wolf was originally an antagonist, in the "It's the Wolf!" segments of The Cattanooga Cats. On that show, Mildew was voiced by Paul Lynde, who by 1977 was subject to scandal. John Stephenson would voice Mildew on Laff-a-Lympics.
  • Human Ladder: The Rottens used one of these to win a "Freestyle Pole Vault" competition; in this case "freestyle" meant "anything goes", so it wasn't cheating, but they sure abused that loophole for all it was worth.
  • Inept Mage: The Great Fondoo and Babu most of the time.
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: One episode features a kangaroo race as the last event. Subverted because the only entrant to ride his kangaroo's pouch is Mumbly, who uses a mechanical kangaroo instead of a real one, which isn't against any rules.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: The Teen Angels don't have a change of outfit while engaging in Olympic competition. Taffy Dare in particular is an egregious example by still wearing her short skirt and pumps in competition, while Dee Dee still has her high-heeled boots.
  • Living Prop: Hong Kong Phooey took part in two solo events (Baseball, Marine Corps Obstacle Course Race), two pair events (Rubber Raft Race with Scooby-Dum and Siamese Sanpan Race alongside Dynomutt) and two team events (Three-way tug of war and the start and end of the Viking Longboat Race). Other than that, he just stood and cheered (read: bounced up and down in place).
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The show's premise revolves around characters from various Hanna-Barbera cartoons interacting with one another.
  • Near-Villain Victory: "France and Australia" has the Really Rottens almost end up the episode's champions in spite of Snagglepuss's protests that they cheated in the kangaroo race with a robot kangaroo because the rules didn't say robot kangaroos weren't allowed, but they end up disqualified at the last minute when it is revealed that the robot kangaroo was controlled by Dirty and Dastardly Dalton.
  • Pepper Sneeze: In the "Acapulco and England" episode, Wally Gator uses black pepper to make the whale sneeze out the Yogi Yahooeys team so they can win the speadboat race in Acapulco.
  • Pseudolympics: The whole point of the series.
  • Retcon: Mumbly's Face–Heel Turn has never been fully explained.
  • Road-Sign Reversal: The Rottens mistakenly switched the signs back, resulting in disgust from their teammates (although they did get a 50-point bonus for "chivalry" because the judges thought they did it to help their opponents).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Because the series aired on ABC, commentators Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf were depicted wearing the then-standard yellow sportscoats worn by ABC Sports broadcasters.
    • Mildew Wolf referring to everyone as "savages" is a double reference to both his original voice actor, Paul Lynde (who again, originally voiced Mildew), and the Hanna-Barbera series Where's Huddles? (CBS, 1970), in which Lynde played Claude Pertwee, a character who often referred to show's football-playing Fred and Barney expies as "savages".
  • The Smurfette Principle: Cindy Bear is the only female member of the Yogi Yahooeys.
  • Spoofy-Doo: One of the competitors is a group called the Scooby-Doobies, a team that gathers Scooby and Shaggy, their expies Speed Buggy and Tinker, and Captain Caveman and the Josie and the Pussycats / Charlie's Angels expies, the Teen Angels.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Hong Kong Phooey's reactions when partnered with Scooby-Dum for the Rubber Raft Race and Dynomutt for the Siamese Sanpan Race.
  • Team Rocket Wins: In the second season, the Really Rottens won twice legitimately — episodes #18 and #22 — as much to their surprise as everyone else's. They also had a three-way tie in episode #24 of that year — all teams received a trophy.
    • In at least two shows, the Rottens finished second while the Yogis finished last in one show and the Scoobys finished last in another.
    • An issue of the Laff-a-Lympics comic book had the Rottens—under the presumption that they have now decided to play fair—winning the gold, but they were disqualified for having the Great Fondoo and Magic Rabbit kidnap and impersonate Blue Falcon and Boo Boo Bear, then have them deliberately lose for the Yogis and Scoobys.
  • Those Two Guys: Scooby-Dum and Babu were partnered in a lot of events.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Daisy Mayhem and Mrs. Creeply are the only female members of the Really Rottens. The Teen Angels are the only girls on the Scooby Doobies, and count as three (Taffy, Dee-Dee, and Brenda).
  • Unkempt Beauty: Daisy Mayhem, with her torn jeans, barefoot and split hairs.
  • Wacky Racing
  • Wolverine Publicity: Laff-a-Lympics was a subseries in a package series known as Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics. In its original two-hour format on ABC, the full show featured two half-hours of Scooby-Doo content with reruns of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and episodes of what would eventually become The Scooby-Doo Show, including reruns from The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour of the previous year, along with brand new episodes. That gave the remaining hour to Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and Laff-A-Lympics. Even with the full title, Laff-A-Lympics barely focused on Scooby outside the intro. When the show aired as simply "Laff-a-Lympics" in 1980 and 1986, only the LAL segment intro was used, but reruns on Cartoon Network, Boomerang, and even DVD releases oddly enough would freqeuntly reuse the original title, a testament to Scooby's lasting popularity.
  • Wrong Parachute Gag: Mumbly switches the tags on Grape Ape's and Yakky Doodle's parachutes during a skydiving competition. The small parachute causes Grape Ape to fall like a stone, while the large parachute leaves Yakky Doodle stranded aloft in a thunderstorm.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math:
    • Slight version here in the opening credits where it says there are 45 stars. Counting all three teams and announcers, there's 44. If recurring guest stars are counted (Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble, Jabberjaw), there are 47.
    • The real reason being that it was written before Jeannie was cut. Unless the narrator is counting himself as the 45th (and hey, Don Messick narrated a lot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons in that "Ranger Smith" voice, so why not?)