Was the Original Ending to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Changed Due to Viewer Complaints?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: The Misfit Toys were never saved in the original airing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Holiday specials hold a unique place in television history in that they tend to be the only classic programming to still be aired every year on network television. Other non-holiday programs like The Wizard of Oz or the Mary Martin Peter Pan specials were annual network traditions that gradually faded away. However, films like It’s a Wonderful Life and animated specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer continue to air decades into their existence. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, for instance, will mark its 50th anniversary next year, airing every year since it debuted on NBC in 1964.

A problem with airing specials from decades ago today, though, is that there are many more commercials per every televised hour these days. So classic television shows have to be edited to make room for these commercials, and since Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was originally an hour-long special, it does not have the freedom that A Charlie Brown Christmas has to avoid edits by simply airing the original A Charlie Brown Christmas (which ran in a half-hour time slot) in an hour-long time slot with some additional filler material to make it work (even then, A Charlie Brown Christmas has had other notable edits, which I’ve spotlighted in the past here). So Rudolph has seen a number of edits over the years, with songs being trimmed, songs being cut and whole scenes being eliminated entirely.

However, interestingly enough, one of the biggest changes in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer since its original airing in 1964 was an added scene. You see, the first time around, the Misfit Toys were never actually saved!

Continue reading “Was the Original Ending to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Changed Due to Viewer Complaints?”

In What Weird Way Did Muttley and Dick Dastardly Get Their Own Show?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Muttley and Dick Dastardly were removed whole cloth from one show and added to another.

While Wacky Races was not a big hit, Hanna-Barbera were fans of the Penelope Pitstop character and the Dick Dastardly and Muttley characters, so as soon as the show ended, they developed a new show for the three characters in 1969.

It was to be called the Perils of Penelope Pitstop, and Dick and Muttley were to serve as the bodyguards for Penelope’s brother, who would always be trying to save Penelope from various perilous situations.

Before the show began production, though, it was determined that Dick and Muttley were too good of a pair of characters to “waste” as supporting characters in another series.
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Was Mumbly Invented to Replace Muttley in the Laff-A-lympics?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Mumbly was created as a stand-in for Muttley in the Laff-A-lympics.

In a similar vein to the Wacky Races, in the late 1970s, Hanna-Barbera released another short-lived television series called Laff-A-Lympics.

In it, three teams of Hanna-Barbera characters competed against each other in a series of Olympic-style events from all over the world.

There were the Yogi Yahooeys (consisting of talking animal characters), the Scooby Doobies (consisting mostly of cartoon shows that starred human characters) and the Really Rottens (consisting of the bad guys from cartoons)…

The Really Rottens were led by Mumbly, a dog with a distinctive laugh/snicker and his co-hort the Dread Baron.

Here they are with their team…

and by themselves…

So, quite naturally, it was thought that the two characters were meant to be stand-ins for Dick Dastardly and Muttley…

And that almost certainly IS true.

The reason is most likely the fact that, as mentioned in the previous legend, Hanna-Barbera did not own the two characters outright, so they substituted look-alike characters.

However, people think that Mumbly and the Dread Baron are just re-named Muttley and Dick Dastardly, and that is not so, at least not in the case of Mumbly (Dread Baron was created just for the Laff-a-lympics).

Mumbly might have BECOME a stand-in for Muttley, but that was not how it always was!
Continue reading “Was Mumbly Invented to Replace Muttley in the Laff-A-lympics?”

Was the Animated Series Wacky Races Originally Intended for a Live Action Game Show?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Wacky Races was originally going to be a game show.

As mentioned in a previous installment of TV Urban Legends Revealed, Hanna-Barbera had a short-lived animated series in the late 1960s called Wacky Races, which featured a group of colorful personalities all racing against each other.

The main villain on the show was Dick Dastardly and his sidekick, Muttley (who had a distinctive laugh/snicker)…

An interesting aspect about Wacky Race is to look at the producers behind the program.

If you look at Hanna-Barbera’s TV series, you will not find very many joint productions. They basically handled their properties on their own.

On the same token, Heatter-Quigley Productions (a company formed by TV writers Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley) also tended to handle their properties on their own.

Not only that, but their programs were entirely different genres.

Hanna-Barbera did cartoons, while Heatter-Quigley produced game shows.

Their most famous game show was Hollywood Squares…

So why, then, did Hanna-Barbera and Heatter-Quigley co-produce Wacky Races?
Continue reading “Was the Animated Series Wacky Races Originally Intended for a Live Action Game Show?”

How Did the Writing Staff of the Simpsons Get “Revenge” on Justin Timberlake?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: The staff of The Simpsons got a measure of revenge on Justin Timberlake after he took issue with the dialogue that they wrote for him for a guest appearance.

Since leaving his popular boy band ‘N Sync in 2002, Justin Timberlake’s success has exceeded pretty much everyone’s expectations. First he became a world famous solo recording artist, releasing four hit albums (the first three of which have each gone multi-Plantium, meaning that they sold at least two million copies apiece, and the latest album is already nearing 500,000 copies sold since its release at the end of September 2013) along with eight top ten singles on the Billboard charts and three number one singles (including the quadruple-platinum selling 2006 smash hit “SexyBack”).

As if that was not enough, he then became a bit of a movie star, releasing a number of films (including a strong performance in the 2010 hit film The Social Network as Sean Parker, one of the founders of Napster).

And as if that was not enough, he has also become an acclaimed comedic actor on television, winning two Emmy Awards for his performances hosting Saturday Night Live in 2009 and 2011. Timberlake is the youngest host to host the comedy show five times.

One of the best aspects of Timberlake’s performances on Saturday Night Live, and likely what endears himself to so many people, is how willing he is to make a fool of himself on national television, both on Saturday Night Live and on guest appearances of his friend Jimmy Fallon’s show, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. It is always fun to see a major celebrity not take himself so seriously. However, while that is where Timberlake is today, that was not necessarily always the case. In 2001, a 19 year old Timberlake ran afoul a bit of the writers of The Simpsons when guest starring on the animated program and their “revenge” on him is pretty hilarious. Read on to see what they did!
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What’s the Secret Origin of Scooby Doo?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Was Scooby Doo really based on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

Pinpointing exactly what inspires a TV series into existence can often be a difficult proposition. I’ve done a number of legends on it over the years, like how a disc jockey’s joke inadvertently re-launched Alvin and the Chipmunks in the 1980s (including their hit TV series) or how a strange contract clause on a cop show led to the creation of Baretta. Today we look at the creation of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!…

and whether it was based on the early 1960s TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.


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Was There Really an Unaired Episode of the Simpsons Where Bart Dies?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: There was an unaired episode of the Simpsons where Bart dies.

Beyond simple behind the scenes bloopers that happen on the set of pretty much every television show that there is, there is a long history of television shows and other creative works making alternate episodes or alternate versions of their works just for their own personal amusement. For instance, there was an R-Rated version of Genndy Tartakovsky’s kids show Dexter Laboratory that was never intended to actually air (I featured the story of “Dexter’s Rude Removal” in a TV Legend here). And Mort Walker would often do explicit versions of his Beetle Bailey comic strips for his own amusement (which I featured in a Comic Book Legend here). So if Matt Groening and the staff of The Simpsons did a special one-off episode of the series where Bart Simpson died, it would not be that shocking. But does such an episode really exist? Read on to find out the truth behind “Dead Bart”!
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Was There Really a Special R-Rated Episode of Dexter’s Laboratory?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: There is a special R-rated version of Dexter’s Labratory called “Dexter’s Rude Removal.”

A couple of years back, reader Stephen C wrote in to ask:

I was wondering if u could do a tv legend on this potential rumor on the internet. The rumor is that there is a never released Dexter’s laboratory episode called Dexter’ Rude Removal that was like a rated R episode. It seems true but it could be like the seinfeld has superman in every episode rumor that is widely believed to be true but isn’t. Thanks.

Dexter’s Laboratory, in case you don’t know, was an animated television series lasting four seasons of 78 episodes. It stars a boy genius (Dexter) who often gets into trouble when his inventions go haywire. He has a dim-witted older sister named Dee-Dee.

The show was created by Genndy Tartakovsky.

The show began in 1995 and ended in 2003 (the seasons were spread out – a pilot in 1995, then two seasons from 1996-1999 and two seasons from 2001-2003).

During the initial run of the series, there were rumors about a mysterious episode called “Dexter’s Rude Removal” that was only shown at conventions and/or festivals.

Interestingly enough, when asked about it by the Deseret News’ Scott D. Pierce, Genndy Tartakovsky actually confirmed the existence of the episode. Continue reading “Was There Really a Special R-Rated Episode of Dexter’s Laboratory?”

Are There Really Aliens Hidden in Every Episode of South Park?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Are There Really Aliens Hidden In Every Episode of South Park?

The very first episode of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s television series, South Park, debuted on August 13, 1997 (this series followed two short films by Parker and Stone, both titled “The Spirit of Christmas,” that they made in 1992 and 1995. The latter one was made into a Christmas video card, of sorts, that was passed around so much that it got the attention of Comedy Central, leading to Parker and Stone getting a chance to make a pilot for the network, which led to them getting their own series). This first episode was titled “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” (Parker and Stone were definitely trying to push the boundaries of good taste right off the bat) and it told the story of how a group of alien “visitors” were visiting the small town of South Park, Colorado and performing anal probes on the citizens, including young foul-mouthed fourth grader Eric Cartman. The visitors abduct the younger brother of one of Cartman’s classmates, Kyle Broflovski, and Kyle, Cartman and their two other friends and classmates, Stan and Kenny, must rescue Kyle’s brother, Ike. Eventually, the boys use the anal probe that the visitors left in Cartman’s ass to lure them back to Earth in time to rescue Ike.

The visitors then leave…or DO they?

You see, while the aliens left, they did not leave for good, as they began appearing in the backgrounds of episodes of South Park, leading to the very popular claim that aliens have appeared hidden in every episode of South Park since. A quick Google check will bring you many references to this fact, like here from OMG Facts. Have they really appeared in every episode of South Park since, though?
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Was Krusty the Clown Originally Going to be Homer Simpson in Disguise?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Was Krusty the Clown Originally Going to be Homer Simpson in Disguise?

One of the more interesting challenges in the world of television is how to develop a spin-off. A character or a concept being strong enough to be a supporting character/aspect of a popular TV show is one thing, but taking that character/idea and developing it into something that can handle its own show is a whole other thing. Compare the way that the creators of Frasier were able to add a great cast and a strong show concept around the Frasier Crane character from Cheers against what the creators of Joey were able to do around the Joey Tribbiani character from Friends (I still think Drea de Matteo was a great piece of casting on Joey, at the very least). It’s certainly quite a challenge. That was what faced Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Sam Simon as they took Groening’s Simpsons characters and adapted them from simple shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show into their own full-length sitcom.

All sorts of off-the-wall ideas were tossed around as they tried to develop concepts for the new series. One of these ideas, amazingly enough, was that Homer Simpson and Krusty the Clown would be the same person!!
Continue reading “Was Krusty the Clown Originally Going to be Homer Simpson in Disguise?”

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