The Ralph Wolf and Sam the Sheepdog series was short-lived and overlooked, and unjustly so. It was a very good, and at its best brilliant, series of cartoons, and some of the best of Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies later output.
Even the weakest of their cartoons, for me their last cartoon, is still solid, and of the short-lived series in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies output featuring less famous and less iconic characters the Ralph vs. Sam series is a contender for the best and most consistent. While there are better and funnier cartoons of theirs, particularly 'Steal Wool' and 'Don't Give Up the Sheep', 'The Sheepish Wolf' is a good debut cartoon for the duo.
While what there is of the laughs are funny and well timed, there could have been more gags and more inventive ones, compared to their best cartoons 'The Sheepish Wolf' is a little bit of a disappointment in this regard. Although this is their debut, if you are like me and saw the succeeding Sam and Ralph cartoons first the story is more of the same and a bit thin on the ground.
Tighter energy may have helped a little more, there is enough of it but the following cartoons benefited hugely from Chuck Jones' involvement. The director here is Fritz Freleng and while he times things beautifully but his direction's just not as witty or imaginative as Jones' direction.
However, 'The Sheepish Wolf' is animated beautifully for relatively early on being colourful and inventively detailed with smooth and fluid character designs. The music is lushly and cleverly orchestrated, with lively and energetic rhythms and fits very well indeed. Carl Stalling also has an unequalled knack for not having music that adds to the action but enhances it, that's the case here.
As said, what there is of the gags are fun, where Sam actually throws Ralph in with the sheep not realising what he has done and Sam's dumbness manages to be funny and endearing, not annoying as it could potentially have been.
Both characters are strong and interact brilliantly together, Ralph being the slightly funnier and more interesting of the two with great facial expressions. Sam has a little more material and he makes the most of it. Mel Blanc continues to impress with consistently exuberant vocal characterisations.
On the whole, good start for Sam and Ralph but better was to follow. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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