Thursday, November 15, 2012

Daytime Heroes: Crusader Rabbit (1950)

Crusader Rabbit holds two distinctions in television history. It is the first made-for-TV animated series, and the first to spring from the imagination of maverick producer Jay Ward. The limited animation used on the show was the result of budget limitations imposed on Ward and his business partner, Alex Anderson, and so that explains why it doesn't have what would become the signature Ward style later used on Rocky & His Freinds. In fact, the reason Rocky, Bullwinkle, & Crusader never met, much less teamed up, is because by the time Ward conceived Rocky & Bullwinkle, he'd lost the rights to Crusader.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Crusader Rabbit aired on weekdays in syndication, even though it was partly owned by NBC (another one the network let get away). In addition, the one distinction that marks it as a Ward creation is the serial format later used on Rocky, which of course was more successful, achieving iconic status.

We are presenting the very first chapter of the first serial, and doing so in memory of actress Lucille Bliss, the original voice of Crusader, who passed away last week at the age of 96 after a long and distinguished career, which included working on shows such as The Flintstones & Smurfs.

The narrative, coupled with the limited animation, makes it seem like they were adapting a children's book. Hmmmm, maybe they could've taken that route, too. Crusader returned in 1957, with Creston Studios, which would later animate the primetime series, Calvin & The Colonel, handling the animation, and with a different actress as Crusader.

Rating: C.


magicdog said...

I'd heard of Crusader Rabbit, but didn't know he was part of Jay Ward's early work.

Lucille Bliss... the voice of Smurfette? So sad to have lost another one.

hobbyfan said...

Yah, and that news was the reason I went after the Crusader footage, once I learned Lucille was the original voice. Considering she was still active well into her 90's.....! Amazing!