As part of the Hanna Barbera Classic Collection, the Warner Archive Collection has released Wally Gator: The Complete Series. The two-disc release presents the 52 cartoons the character starred in, which first appeared as part of The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series on ABC from September 3, 1962 – August 30, 1963. Wally Gator was one of a trio of cartoons the series aired. The other two were Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har and Touché Turtle and Dum Dum.
The series is similar to Hanna Barbera’s hit cartoon Yogi Bear (1961-1962). Wally Gator is a hat-collar-and-cuff wearing anthropomorphic alligator voiced by Daws Butler doing his Ed Wynn impersonation, most notably the laugh. Wally frequently escapes the zoo to the consternation of diminutive zoo keeper Mr. Twiddle (voiced by Don Messick), who is as effective as a wrestling referee when it comes to containing him. Wally is frequently a passive character as things usually happen to him and by episode’s end, he is either in or on his way back to the zoo.
In the very first cartoon, “Droopy Dragon,” Wally easily escapes as he always does. His cage isn’t locked and he uses a broom to pole vault out of the zoo, which is located in Florida since Wally talks of heading back to the Everglades. While smoking a cigar, he is pursued by a rich man (having a butler named “Jeeves” gives his wealth away), who sees Wally with a cigar as a smoke-billowing dragon and fancies himself a knight like his ancestors. The pursuit and abuse Wally receives reveals life on the outside isn’t so great, but that’s all forgotten by the next episode.
That is a frequent formula for Wally, who is roughed up by a wolf and grandmother in “Little Red Riding Gator,” by a lady gator in “Bachelor Buttons,” and a young Indian boy in “Semi Seminole.” During “Rebel Rabble,” Wally finds himself competing against Beauregard for the hand of Hominy. The latter are both Southern gators, but no explanation why they see Wally as a Yankee when he comes from same Everglades, but logic was the least of the concerns of the writers/animators.
There was a hint of continuity from “Gosh Zilla” to “Camera Shy Guy.” In the former, he takes a bunch of super vitamins and grows to gigantic proportions, which leads to a producer wanting to put him into a movie. It turns out to be a dream, but in the next cartoon, Wally not only wants to escape, but he wants to be a movie star. The producer he encounters in each has the same name and appearance, but a different voice and studio.
There’s a Play-All option, but there are no chapters so one can’t skip over the opening theme. It’s too bad Hanna Barbera didn’t have credits for those who worked on the cartoons. Mel Blanc appears in a few cartoons, such as “Knight Nut,” “Gourmet Gator,” and “Carpet Bragger.” In the latter, his voice is reminiscent to Foghorn Leghorn
The quality of the video varies and looks pretty rough at times. There are dirt, lines, and scratches. Some of the cartoons look faded in terms of color and focus, almost like they are copies of originals. There is also a bit of jitter. In particular, “Birthday Grievings” almost left me dizzy from the amount of movement at the start of a flashback. During the last few episodes, the colors of Wally’s snout and underbelly fluctuate between yellow and green. The audio has hiss and crackle, but the dialogue, music, and effects can be made out.
Wally Gator cartoons are delightfully silly, but best in small doses because of the similarity of the plots. Some viewers might be put off by the condition the cartoons are in, but many fans should be glad to have The Complete Series in their library thanks to the Warner Archive Collection.