Tuesday, 24 November 2009

"Tijuana" have some fun...?

For many people who don't really know, DePatie-Freleng studios produced more than just "the Pink Panther" since it opened its doors. With a majority of the old WB Animation crew when Warner Bros closed its animation dept. down, DPF was also responsible for making "Roland and Rattfink", "the Ant and the Aardvark", "The Inspector" and, most obscure of all, "the Tijuana Toads".

The latter series starred Toro and Pancho, two Mexican Bullfrogs who have "inherited" the same characteristics of Warner Bros' previous one-shot stars Manuel and Hose, two "me-hee-can" crows.
Now the toads were an interesting series with a more interesting history - they only appeared on television by being redubbed as the "Texas Toads" to be less offensive to their viewing audience. But the original Tijuana heritage was the novelty of this fun little series; while obviously showing the stereotypic Mexican behaviour and stupidity, it's what most fans remembered and adored most of all. And this 1970 entry, "Hop and Chop", takes the stereotypicness just a little further... :D

While this seemed like a somewhat tired gag at the time (the portrayal of the Japanese Beetle's appearance and "diarogue") the story and animation is really very, very funny! This was down to Grant Simmons, from the Grantray-Lawrence Studio with partner Ray Patterson. He was hired by DePatie-Freleng to do some direction in 1970 but completed only two cartoons (this one, and a Roland and Rattfink entry "The Foul Kin") before his death that same year. And it's a shame because Grant's two sole entries seemed more "animated" and bouncy, along the same lines of Art Davis and Hawley Pratt's contributions to the studio during their time.

Each and every frame rate of the toads looks brilliant - every expression, every eye blink just makes me grin from ear to ear...so here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:


Another interesting fact was that the Tijuana Toads would also introduce three future stars from DePatie-Freleng - The Blue Racer (debuting in "Snake in the Gracias") would gain his own series alongside the Japanese Beetle (who in turn would be given a new colour and voice) as well as Crazylegs Crane (who would feature in several other Tijuana and Blue Racer shorts before landing his own series in a future Pink Panther TV Show).


Please share your thoughts on the Toads themselves if you wish :)

3 comments:

  1. Of the two he directed I like this one more, but yeah, imagine how DFE would've been different if Grant Simmons lived longer.

    Grant was apparently involved in DFE's TV side more, though. He was one of the directors in "Here Comes the Grump" and he apparently directed on several episodes of "Dr. Dolittle", which aired a year after he died (that should give you an idea of how long TV cartoons were in production).

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  2. Very cool.:) I see what you mean with the toads' expressions here, just fun to watch.:) I would think they overreacted too much with the title change, if you ask me. It's just harmless fun, really.

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  3. I'm certain that, though Japanese Beetle's colour did change, his voice was still that of Tom Holland. I never understood the re-dubbing. It's OK to 'offend' Texans but not Mexicans? It's Stiletto Mafiosa all over again.

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