This summer replacement show starred Ed Huddles, the quarterback for the Rhinos, a professional football team, and his neighbor, Bubba McCoy, the team's center. They lived next door to each other and the episodes dealt with their escapades on and off the field.Written by
J.E. McKillop <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've never understood the popularity of 'The Flintstones'. Even those who enjoy that prehistoric sitcom must realise that it's a blatant rip-off of 'The Honeymooners' ... so, if Hanna-Barbera's 'Flintstones' has any merit at all, the credit for this should rightly go to the creators of 'The Honeymooners'.
Hanna-Barbera's short-lived series 'Where's Huddles' was a rip-off of their own rip-off. At least three of the four main characters are clearly copied from the two married couples in 'The Flintstones', even down to being the same physical types, and two of them with voices provided by the same voice-artists repeating their previous roles ... the main difference being that the 'Huddles' versions are more realistically drawn and better animated. Ed and Marge Huddles are the new versions of Fred and Wilma Flintstone, with Jean Vander Pyl (formerly the voice of redhead wife Wilma) now providing the voice of redhead wife Marge. Mel Blanc (formerly the voice of Fred's next-door neighbour Barney Rubble) now provides the voice of Ed's next-door neighbour Bubba McCoy, who is drawn as a Barney Rubble lookalike: a short stocky blond guy with a goofy outlook. The one arguable variant from the original formula is Bubba's wife Penny: a dim but sexy blonde who's much more interesting than Betty Rubble. Penny McCoy looks and sounds like a prototype for Melody of 'Josie and the Pussycats'. 'Where's Huddles' is such a thorough 'Flintstones' rip-off, there's even a surrogate for Dino the pet dinosaur, in the form of Ed and Marge's "lovable" mutt Fumbles, who conveniently is never around unless he's needed for a sight gag.
'Where's Huddles' was produced during that dark and shameful period when every single American television series featured Paul Lynde doing his swish routine. Here he supplies the voice of prissy Claude Pertwee, the Huddles' neighbour next-door over on the other side. A typical 'joke': after Ed and Bubba perform a vaudeville rendition of 'I Cried a River of Tears', Pertwee remarks: 'If that was "I Cried a River", you should be fined for pollution.' Hilarious, no?
Oh, yeah. Ed and Bubba are the quarterback and fullback for a pro football team called the Rhinos. Their most notable squadmate is Afro-American linebacker Freight Train, whose on screen depiction is problematic. He addresses Marge as 'Miz Huddles', as if he's on the way to de massa's house. In most episodes of this series, Freight Train was drawn as an extremely large but realistic black man ... but in one episode, he was rendered as a gigantic specimen who literally made the ground shudder when he walked. Whenever Freight Train ran interference on the gridiron, he would briefly morph into a cartoon image of a railway engine. One episode of 'Huddles' showcased the vocal talents of singer Herb Jeffries, who supplied the voice of Freight Train. When the Rhinos headed for the showers post-game, Freight Train ad-libbed a song: "I want to play football with you, dear. You'd be the only girl on my team, dear." This prompted Ed and Bubba to scat-sing backup vocals, and the three of them decided to jeopardise their well-paid football careers to become singers.
Plausibility was not a strong suit here. In one episode, the Rhinos were playing the Lions when Ed and Bubba had to sneak out of the stadium in the middle of the game. (Wouldn't they be missed?) So they stole the mascots' costumes, leading to a shot of a red car driving down the street with a 'rhino' and a 'lion' in the front seat. Har har. We see some of that horrible 'Flintstones' animation, with the car passing the same landmarks over and over and over...
The last episode of 'Where's Huddles' featured an unusual premise which indicates that Hanna and Barbera were hoping this series would run longer. Bubba and Penny McCoy both visit the same doctor (a 'wacky' cartoonish physician) for their annual check-ups. When the tests come back, it turns out that husband Bubba is pregnant! Everyone is surprised by this, but nobody considers the possibility that maybe the results got switched. This premise is made even more ludicrous by the fact that all the characters use circumlocutions for the word 'pregnant'. During the next day's football game, just before the scrimmage, Huddles sends word to the opposing team that they shouldn't tackle Bubba too hard, because of his delicate condition. This produces some sniggering from the other team, but everyone treats the pregnant footballer very gently. At the end of the episode, we get the big 'surprise' ending, with the wacky cartoon doctor revealing that Penny is the one who's preggo. This might have led 'Where's Huddles' in an interesting direction, with Bubba and Penny coping with impending parenthood. But this was indeed the very last episode of a series that certainly isn't worth reviving. I might have liked 'Where's Huddles' if it had featured more scenes with sexy Penny McCoy, and fewer scenes with Paul Lynde's nasal sarcasm.
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