It’s a two for the price of one Monday for the letter P today…if indeed I finish this by the end of Monday as I’ve started rather late…
So we’ll crack on without further ado! And first up today, P is for…
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
That title itself probably constitutes three Ps! But anyway. This was definitely my all time favourite ‘classic’ Hanna Barbera cartoon. It ran for only 17 episodes between 1969-1970 in the USA though this was before I was born, so, as with most classic cartoons, I’m assuming it was on throughout the late 70s and 80s too, as that would be when I remember it from. Of course, the characters of Penelope and the Ant Hill Mob also appeared in Wacky Races, which might be why I felt it was longer, but as it was The Hooded Claw who I liked best (yes, yes, it’s that weird villain thing I had again) then Wacky Races never quite held the same draw for me as he never appeared in it. (The Perils of Penelope Pitstop was a spin off show from Wacky Races by the way – fact fans.)
In the Perils of Penelope Pitstop, the perils come in the guise of her evil uncle, Sylvester Sneekly (snigger!) who is trying to diddle her out of inheritance. This he does vai the most elaborate disguise (well at least his suit changes colour, he wears a cloak, an eye mask and a hat!) of The Hooded Claw, along with his two henchmen, The Bully Brothers.
He comes up with all sorts of over the top plans to kill Penelope (like tying her to a train track or sending her into a pit of crocodiles, as you do) rather than embezzling her fortune in some more subtle way. Guess it wouldn’t make such a good cartoon for kids that way, would it? Anyway, to me, he was the most hilarious villain with his brilliant evil cackle (which isn’t really that evil – more comical) and I thought he was great! Then there was Penelope of course, always quite helpless when he captures her, but surprisingly ingenious with a nail file! The Ant Hill Mob (a little band of what look like a cross between New York mobsters from the 1920s’30s and the seven dwarfs) always try to rescue her in their pretty useless car – Chug-a-boom – with hapless and hilarious consequences, only to have Penelope usually managing to escape all by herself anyway and having to rescue them. I didn’t really like Penelope I have to admit. I don’t know why. Possibly the way she cried ‘Heulp! Heulp’ was a bit too annoying for me! Or perhaps it was because she was too stupid to notice The Hooded Claw was her uncle in the worst disguise ever! No, my reason for watching the show was solely to discover what ridiculous plan the Hooded Claw would come up with and to see how The Ant Hill Mob would cock up the rescue. Oh and to see if one day Sylvester Sneekly would actually succeed in one of his ridiculous plots. He didn’t. Obviously! Boooooooooo!
And now… on an altogether different track, my second choice for TV gold from my childhood for the letter P is something possibly a little less well known. Another one from the Land of Oz…P is also for…
Pugwall was an Australian kid’s TV show which aired here around the 1989 mark for a couple of years, so I was about 14/15 years old. It followed the life of 13 year old Peter Unwin George Wall – Pugwall for short – and his quest to become a rock star with his band – The Orange Organics. (As I type this everything is being said in my head in an Aussie accent – a bit like when I wrote about Neighbours!)
Anyway, Pugwall was brilliant. Very similar to Saved By The Bell (a US teen comedy from around the same time, though I think I preferred Pugwall as it was more light hearted) in that Jason Torrens, who played Pugwall, used to speak to the viewers in little asides from the action (just as Mark-Paul Gosselaar did as Zack Morris).
It kind of meant you were always rooting for the character whatever was happening, as it made it all feel more personal, like you were more involved in the programme and invested in the character – I suppose a little bit like when writers address the reader. I kind of liked that element in Roald Dahl’s books and David Walliams does it a lot too. Having the main character talk to us always meant it felt like you were in on the joke, especially as he would often be griping (as teens often do) about his parents. You could identify and empathise completely with him. You could also empathise with him when he was being wound up by his little sister ‘Marmaloid’ (Marion) who, much to Pugwall’s chagrin, got in on the act of making a song with her own band, – well a rap actually – called ‘ThevMarmaloid Rap.’ I can still hear it in my mind! It was awful – intentionally awful mind! *Googles to see if it’s around on You Tube….) Ooh yes…here it is! Gosh I must’ve only ever seen that once yet it stuck in my head! How strange.
Anyway, a little bit like Neighbours, Pugwall was always sunny and bright (or perhaps that was just the fashions of the late ’80s into the early ’90s – neon was so in then…!) The show was also focused on Pugwall’s band The Orange Organics and I guess most teenagers dream of being popstars or in bands; I was no different. Pugwall may well have only been living his dream from his basement, but dreams have to start somewhere. Together with his mates – Stringbean, Bazza and Orfo – there was also the complication of a teen romance and love interest in the guise of Jenny. Basically it was a very light-hearted, comedic look at teen life.
Pugwall is a good teenager though who, although rebels a little against his parents, actually holds them in high esteem. He calls his mum Supes as she’s like Superman when she’s cleaning the house – at super speed and he nicknames his dad Herohead.
But of course what stands out in my memory most about Pugwall, as was often the case for me, was the opening credits and theme tune! “Nobody tells me what to do – no not me!” But he sings those lyrics with the cheesiest grin slapped on his face (no attitude at all) and a badge clad beret worn at a jaunty angle! Hilarious! Loved it so much!
I hope one of the posts for P has given you some unexpected memories to look back on. I wish I’d had more time to delve more into these two in more detail. But if you’d like more reminiscing…well there’s always good old You Tube!
Thanks for reading! 🙂