"Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har: The Complete Series" DVD Review
In 1962, a group of animated animal characters made their syndicated television debuts as part of “The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series”. The package of episodes starred Wally Gator, Touche Turtle, and Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har. An entertaining DVD set starring Lippy and Hardy has recently been released by The Warner Archive Collection.
“Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har: The Complete Series” includes all 52 episodes, at approximately five minutes each, on two Manufacture-on-Demand discs. The premise is clever as Hardy is a hyena who doesn’t laugh. Additionally, he’s frequently “worry-wartin” as Lippy describes it, and Hardy often utters the refrain, “Oh dear, oh my.” He’s not like the future “Pebbles and Bamm Bamm” Hanna-Barbera character Bad-luck Schleprock, in which adverse things happen when he’s around. He’s just apprehensive. Hardy, looking very different, made his first appearance in the 1960 Snooper and Blabber cartoon, “Laughing Guess”.
Hardy Har Har's debut in "Laughing Guess"
Lippy is the con-artist of the team, looking out for get rich schemes which don’t come to fruition. The pair’s misadventures find them traveling to the Wild West, Baghdad, a Hollywood film studio, Ireland, an amusement park, and other locations. The episodes have clever titles such as “Legion Heirs”, “Charge of the Fright Brigade”, and “Easy Doesn’t It”.
Daws Butler provided Lippy’s voice, which was similar in style to 1930s and 1940s comic Joe E. Brown. Butler would use the same speech pattern in 1964 for another Hanna-Barbera character, Peter Potamus. Mel Blanc voiced Hardy, in a tone resembling his “Happy Postman” character from the Burns and Allen radio show. Hearing two of the greatest cartoon voice-over artists together as the main actors in “Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har” is a treat.
Prominent Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har cartoons
Three episodes stand out from the set. In “Hick Hikers”, the duo face an obstacle, a goat, in their attempt to conquer ‘the world’s tallest mountain”, a.k.a. Mount Fleugelhorn. As the short begins,Lippy proves adept at climbing the bluff, and tells his friend, “”Fear not, Hardy. Don’t forget I’m part mountain lion on my mother’s side.” Hardy responds, “And I’m all coward on both sides” as he bumps into the side of the cliff. By the end of the episode, the duo have used a hot air balloon and rocket ship to get up to the mountain’s peak.
A fun cartoon is a Jack and the Beanstalk themed “Baby Bottled”, in which Lippy and Hardy mind a giant’s baby while the dad goes out golfing. The golf clubs and bag are gargantuan sized. Plus, the child’s rattle and baby bottle are as tall as the lion and hyena. Physical comedy ensues. Lippy hands the rattle to the baby to play with. “That’ll pacify him” Lippy says. The baby then strikes Lippy on the head with the rattle. Hardy tells his friend, “He pacified you, too.”Lippy gets put inside the baby bottle with the milk, and the child also uses Lippy as a yo-yo, like in the opening titles.
The best short is “Witch Crafty”, where the title character transforms a prince (voiced by Don Messick) into a “homely, little hyena” who is a clone of Hardy. Later, Lippy splashes water from the witch’s cauldron on his face, and turns into another Hardy double. After being changed back into his “king of the jungle” self by the witch, Lippy ends up standing beside the “two Hardys”. He’s confused as to which one is the prince. He asks the real Hardy, “Are you a prince, too?” Hardy replies, “No, I’m a Democrat”.
Partial "See-Saw" episode of Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har
A running plot line in a few episodes is that Lippy attempts to get Hardy to laugh. In “Amusement Park Lark”, he asks Hardy, “Say when are you gonna claim your national birthright and laugh? You’re a laughin’ hyena, you know.” Lippy tells him to think of something amusing, then curl his lips and then let go. Hardy uses his friend’s suggestion, with his mouth quivering a bit, but no luck. He can’t think of anything humorous. A similar thing happens in “Gulp and Saucer”, where Hardy tries to laugh,”curls up his mouth ends” but says it hurts.
With the five minute running times of the toons, the episodes do go by briskly.
But, while the “Lippy and Hardy” episodes are enjoyable, they’re not really made for binge watching. Total running time is approximately four and a half hours. Plus, it would be nice if the Wally Gator and Touche Turtle cartoons preceded the “Lippy” segments, as they often did on local U.S. television in the 1960s. The first episodes of Wally, Touche, and Lippy and Hardy are contained in the “Saturday Morning Cartoons 1960s Volume 2” DVD set released in 2009. The complete series of Wally Gator episodes were released by in 2019 by The Warner Archive Collection, as well, but not Touche Turtle.
Technically, the audio fluctuates frequently with the different cartoons. In several of them, the volume is low. There are no subtitles with the shorts. English is the only language choice available for the toons. Picture quality is good. Aspect ratio is standard 4x3 (1.33:1), full frame. As with other Warner Archive releases, no booklet is included and the episode titles are listed on the non-playing side of the DVD’s.
While there may be some minor flaws, they don’t take away from the enjoyment of the cartoons. Hopefully, we’ll see the Touche Turtle episodes released on disc or streaming in the future.
© 2020 Marshall Fish