T-shirt #288 - Underdog
Today's blog entry is dedicated to my best friend Tom Meyers who arrives today for a visit and a gaming orgy. Fifty year old men playing the same game they played in their youth. Though I started playing D&D at the age of fourteen, Tom discovered it in his twenties. Neither of us had the luxury of playing it in our childhood (as many others will reminisce that they did) since the game was not "invented" until 1974.
(Yeah, yeah, if you want to get TECHNICAL, oh geeky readers, the game of Dungeons and Dragons technically began in some form with the publication of the Chainmail rules for miniature play in 1971, but the first three booklet boxed set came out in 1974; I played it for the first time in 1976.)
But today is about UNDERDOG not Dungeons and Dragons (though Underdog would make a great character in D&D).
Underdog was possibly my first superhero. First seen on NBC in 1964, Underdog predates Atom Ant (1965) whom I wrote about in T-shirt #111, according to the Underdog Wikipedia. Though I did not have a blue cape, I did have a red blanket that my mother would pin on me, so I could run around as Underdog: "There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!" But my favorite battle cry is surely:
"When Polly's in trouble I am not slow, for it's hip-hip-hip and away I go!"
Though I did not have a blue cape, I did have a ring with a secret compartment in which to hide my "Underdog Super Energy Pill," which was often a vitamin supplied by my mother, though sometimes, since I may need many energy pills per day, a tiny candy that would fit inside the ring.
Okay, I am probably not being accurate. I just remembered that Mighty Mouse first appeared in the 1940s and was a staple of CBS Saturday morning cartoons from 1955 to 1967. And the mouse had a red cape like mine. I do recall crying out "Here I come to save the day!" (Mighty Mouse's battle cry) often, so surely I played at being Mighty Mouse, but I have more vivid memories of play as Underdog. And though I would like a Mighty Mouse shirt and toy, I do not own either, and given my recent binge-spending on T-shirts and such and sundry, I am cut off (by my own hand and choice).
Underdog ran for 124 episodes until 1967 but continued in syndication until 1973. This is important because I may not have seen all the episodes that began to air when I was two years old. However, with nine years of broadcasting, I surely managed to see them all at least once and usually all of them multiple times by the time I was eleven years old.
Underdog is a good example of how classic cartoons of yesteryear are kept alive. In the pictures, you see me with an Underdog plush toy, an Underdog PVC doll, and an Underdog T-shirt. The shirt is worn and old. It's one of my older shirts, and it's losing its thickness. I need a new one.
The toys demonstrate two very smart marketing ideas. Toy companies and others who hold copyright on the best cartoons of our childhoods have figured out that two things will happen with the release of Underdog gear: adults will buy the stuff for themselves (as I have done) and adults will buy the stuff for their kids. The Underdog PVC sits atop my TV in my office (as seen in the photo above), and though I have not found the perfect place for the Underdog plush, he's here, sitting nearby as seen in my office tour in T-shirt #268. Also, I have more Underdog gear that I did not have easy access to for the photos.
My friend Tom Meyers arrives for a visit today, as I mentioned, and he has bequeathed to me all sorts of Underdog stuff: a lunchbox, a storage bin, and a few other things that I cannot readily recall. And of course, DVDs. With streaming video, DVD, and YouTube, it's easier than ever before for a parent to say to a child, "Hey, do you wanna watch some Underdog with me?" And the love of this great cartoon continues, like a virus, but a virus of love.
Wednesday, when I took my own Underdog, Satchel, for a walk, I stopped to chat with the neighbor across the street and his little boy, Caleb, who was wearing a Scooby Doo cap. Caleb explained that he is a massive Scooby Doo fan and began extolling the virtues of some movies he had seen. And so, the generation gap is bridged. The love of the old cartoons continues, though unlike Underdog I believe that new Scooby Doo material is currently being produced.
I have circled the subject of growing up and letting go quite a bit. I do not believe we must let go of all things dear to our hearts from childhood as we get older as some pathetic example of being "adult," which, in my mind, is simply a form of self-imposed misery and serves no purpose but producing misery and possibly resentment. Granted, I no longer put on my little red cape and run around taking energy pills from my secret compartment ring and crying out the rallying heroism of Underdog, though I surely would play such a game with a little boy or girl who was still afloat in the deep ocean of the imagination and the animistic universe if I had the chance. But I find it immensely comforting having my Underdog PVC figure watching over me as I work, and when I see Underdog perched on the TV next to the Mystery Machine clock and Robby the Robot, I am placated. I feel secure in knowing that though many things have changed in my life since I was that little boy playing at Underdog, many things have remained the same. With the modern world, we can keep these things from our past in our hearts, we can easily reconnect with these loves of yesteryear, and smart companies new and old market brand new products that we can purchase and enjoy anew and/or share them with the small children in our lives.
|I removed the tag. Can you see it?|
I am an adult. I pay bills; I work for a living; I have a mortgage; I shoulder responsibility. But none of that excludes me from enjoying Underdog much as I did when I was two years old, and seven years old, and nine... and anyone who expects adults to divest themselves of childhood loves is an unpleasant and bitter Scrooge, which brings me to my next subject. Ah... streamy connections.
I just finished reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol via audio, narrated by Jim Dale, who brilliantly narrated the HARRY POTTER novels. Much in the same way that Scrooge learns to keep Christmas in his heart and practice goodwill toward his fellow men year around, so too, is this blog a journey of discovery of the things I wish to keep in my heart, those things that--like Christmas--embody the spirits of love, charity, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, and so much more. As I think about what I want to share in content for each shirt, I discover more and more about myself and the things that matter to me. There's more than an affection for popular culture icons here. There's a growing aspect of my greater spiritual connection to others and to the universe, which is a subject for another time. Stay tuned.
Underdog is surely a part of the milieu of my greater journey of identity, individuation, and spiritual awakening. For real. And so the Blog Journey continues...
Compare this opening intro trailer above for Underdog with the one for Mighty Mouse.
In working on this blog, I found an awesome resource: Don Markstein's Toonopedia: a vast repository of toonological knowledge.
Of course, there's an Underdog entry: UNDERDOG ON TOONOPEDIA.
CARTOON SUPERHEROES or RELATED - comic ones
Excluding traditional heroes like Superman and Spider-man, I am trying to make a list of either anthropomorphic heroes or comedy-focused cartoon heroes, which excludes favorites like Space Ghost or the Herculoids as per my list in T-shirt #101 - THE JETSONS and excluding Looney Tunes, which is an amazing category all of its own.
This is probably an incomplete list. I am always hoping with this work that someone will leave me a comment saying "Hey, you forgot.... blah blah." Like what was that one cartoon with the big robot that sort of looked like the Frankenstein monster but was giant sized and a little boy worked with him?
Mostly, I tried to keep the list to animals but that was very limiting, so there are some excursions, such as the Mighty Heroes Frankenstein, Jr., and Roger Ramjet, who are awesome!!
THE TOP LIST
- Scooby Doo
- Atom Ant
- Mighty Mouse
- The Mighty Heroes
- Frankenstein, Jr.
- Sherman and Mr. Peabody!!
- Roger Ramjet
- Casper the Friendly Ghost
- Secret Squirrel
- Hong Kong Fooey
- Captain Caveman
THE OTHER BOTTOM LIST, not necessarily super but funny or favorite
- Gumby and Pokey
- Rocky and Bullwinkle
- Tenessee Tuxedo
- Huckleberry Hound
- Quickdraw McGraw
- Woody Woodpecker
- Heckle and Jeckle
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch ( I know she's not an animal but this was a favorite cartoon.)
I found episode one on You Tube but I cannot access it via Blogger. Check it out if you are interested. Meanwhile, here's two good ones (which ones are not good, after all, I mean, come on, man...).
First, "The Magnet Men" and then "Simon Says Be my Valentine."
First, "The Magnet Men" and then "Simon Says Be my Valentine."
|My Facebook friend and neighbor|
had this on his wall, so I copped it, as it seems
to fit the Underdog theme very well.
And at the risk of making this even longer (and I was going to include comic book reviews - geez), I cannot resist including some comic book covers of Underdog Gold Key comics as well as some others I owned, like the one farther above for Frankenstein Jr.
COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 77 shirts remaining
- chris tower - 1401.03 - 18:20