Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mule madness

Raise your hand if you used to watch Francis the Talking Mule on Saturday mornings!



I used to watch Francis movies. Abbot and Costello movies. Charlie Chan movies. Okay, so maybe my TV viewing wasn't confined to the morning—it must've seeped into the afternoon... Because I also used to watch actual shows, like The Bugs Bunny-Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show. See, right there—90 minutes of morning television. I can't imagine what my kids would watch if I just let them have unfettered access to the TV for an entire Saturday. As it stands, their weekend morning viewing depends on how early they rise and how busy our day might be. If fairly early and not too busy, they crawl into bed with us and watch an hour of TV, mostly retro cartoons saved on our Tivo, while we lie there with pillows over our heads wondering why we bother even pretending we can stay up late and get crazy on weekend nights. Sigh. Anyway, right now Space Ghost, The Herculoids and Galaxy Trio are in heavy rotation. Left to their own devices, who knows.

I digress. Francis. Apparently the popular 1950s film franchise about the droll Army mule was based on this novel, not the other way around. I am sure I will never read it, though I dig the cover (especially the back cover). (But is that grounds for keeping it?) The guy behind the movies went on to create Mr. Ed, which is quite possibly one of my favorite shows of all time—and talk about having a good idea and running with it, huh? A little peanut butter on the gums and voila! Wisecracking equine! Never gets old!

On the subject of Saturday-morning animal shows, I am reminded of Run Joe Run. I'm not sure if I ever loved a show as much as I loved this one. The drama, the heartache. Imagine The Fugitive but the wronged protagonist on the run is a German shepherd, falsely accused of attacking his beloved trainer. Unlike Francis, Joe was a very intense, taciturn fellow. Watching this clip makes me a little verklempt. Don't think my kids could handle it.

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