Magilla Gorilla: The Complete Series
"No one buys gorillas anymore," laments Mr. Peebles in the initial installment ("Big Game") of this Hanna-Barbera animation. The shop owner has looked after Magilla (Allan Melvin, The Brady Bunch
) since he was a baby. Customers take the snappily-dressed simian home, he messes everything up--they bring him back. Looks like Peebles (actor/director Howard Morris, The Atom Ant Show
) is stuck with the big lug. Granted, little Ogee (Jean Vander Pyl, The Flintstones
), who makes her debut in the seventh episode ("Come Blow Your Dough"), would love
a pet gorilla, but the redheaded tot is always short of cash.
Magilla first bounded onto the boob tube in 1964. Breaking from the usual pattern, the series premiered in syndication before moving to network TV two year later. Although the gorilla appears in the title cartoon of each episode, the other segments are dedicated to Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-a-long and Punkin' Puss and Mushmouse. Ricochet (Don Messick, Scooby-Doo) is "the fastest sheriff in the west," Droop-a-long coyote (Mel Blanc, Bugs Bunny) is his foot-dragging deputy, and Punkin' (Melvin) and Mushmouse (Morris) are a hillbilly Tom and Jerry, locked in a rambunctious Hatfield and McCoy-type feud.
This Classic Collection includes 23 episodes plus eight shorts. Throughout, the gorilla is drafted by the army ("Private Magilla"), cast in a movie ("Groovey Movie"), and abducted by aliens ("Planet Zero"). After moving to ABC, the secondary toons would eventually be replaced by Breezly and Sneezly and Peter Potamus and His Magic Flying Balloon, featuring much of the same voice talent. In both cases, the suspender-sporting primate was the top star of the show. As the theme song, introduced in episode 14 ("Motorcycle Magilla"), would have it, "A gorilla like Magilla is nice at any price!" --Kathleen C. Fennessy