One of the things I remember most fondly from my childhood was getting up just before 6 a.m. (yes voluntarily!) when we were staying at my grandparents’ place in Sydney where they had three commercial TV channels to choose from – it seems laughable now in this digital age of 100s of channels to choose from but back in the mid-70s that was a big deal trust me -and watching all the childrens programming that ran right up until 9 a.m.
We were able to take in all manner of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, The Thunderbirds, and most especially important for me, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, which featured some of the most original characters and intelligent writing that I had ever seen in my then short life.
That it was genuinely cleverly executed on just about every level is borne out by the fact that thirty-some years later I am still delighted by the witty repartee between the various characters that populated the show.
And the two characters that delighted me even more that Rocky and Bullwinkle were Mr Peabody and Sherman who had their very segment, “Mr Peabody’s Improbable History”, in which they would journey backwards and forwards in time in their Wayback Machine.
What would start out genuinely earnest attempts to learn about history would usually end up in a frantic attempt to make sure that the events they were observing played out exactly as history said they did lest the space/time continuum be irreparably damaged.
What distinguished the segment from so many other cartoons was the fact that Mr Peabody had adopted Sherman, rather than the other way around and was the superior figure in all their adventures (although it was often Sherman who would notice something was awry).
Every episode too would end much like a Murder, She Wrote episode with Mr Peabody “delivering a droll pun much to the chagrin of the audience and Sherman.” (source: timetravelreviews.com)
Now to my great delight, mixed with more than a little apprehension, Mr Peabody and Sherman are due to be introduced to a whole new generation of what I am sure will become rabidly devoted fans.
Assuming they, and they I mean Dreamworks and director Rob Minkoff do it right of course.
I am hoping that this modern reboot will be more The Muppets (2011), which was delightfully true to everything we love about Kim Henson’s creations, than Bewitched or The Smurfs, both of which failed to adequately capture anything like the spirit of their source material.
As the interview with Rob Minkoff (below) makes clear he is acutely conscious that he must capture what made Mr Peabody and Sherman such a delight, at the time as carefully updating it, if the movie is to have any appeal.
That gives me hope that one of the great cartoon favourites of my childhood, which is due to hopefully find its place in the pop culture sun once again in March 2014, will be given the treatment it deserves.
If not, I may be forced to jump in the “Wabac Machine” and have a crack at it myself.