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Cool McCool


Cool McCool was not a great cartoon show. In fact, it was downright poor. Created by Bob Kane (of Batman and Courageous Cat fame), and produced by King Features’ Al Brodax (Yellow Submarine), it originally aired on NBC Saturday mornings in 1966. It’s not bad enough to qualify for my Comic Con Worst Cartoons screenings, and it’s neither good enough to recommend. I could never warm up to the character – I think it’s either his phony mustasche or his lame Jack Benny personality, or perhaps his outdated appearance of what a spy should be. It just doesn’t quite work. This clip on You Tube will give you a taste. A boxed set of the complete series on DVD comes out on March 13th (they sent me an advance copy) and, sadly, I cannot recommend it.

I say “sadly” because the DVD is practically a tribute to my favorite New York City kid-show host Chuck McCann. Chuck (pictured in the center, above) did almost all the voices on the show – and he’s great. Bob McFadden (left, was McCool) and Carol Corbett (right, another New York kiddie show host) did all the other voices and the set features commentary, interviews, classic clips and bonus material all paying tribute to McCann (perhaps best known outside of New York as the voice of Sonny and Gramps in those Cocoa Puffs commercials – and his co-starring role on Far Out Space Nuts). If you grew up watching McCann in the 1960s you might want this DVD just to relive some cherished memories with an old friend. Otherwise, you can forget it.

  • Cyber Fox

    I think your a little too harsh on Cool McCool
    It’s a decent piece of Nostalgia (Just like The Cattanooga Cats)

  • Christopher Cook

    You’re right on the mark about Cool McCool. There was just an air of ordinariness about the show, and having Cool’s penchant for speaking in spoonerisms to mine laughs just didn’t work. A twinge of remembering a time when cartoons didn’t rely on grossouts and toilet humor may be present but that’s about it.

  • Chuck McCann was half the reason for watching television on Sunday mornings. He read all those comic strips dressed in different ridiculous outfits for each strip. I can still remember – some 40 odd years later – some of his lines. The “Dragon lady” reading her strip would say, every week, “Terry and the Pirates by George Wunder … and it’s a wonder that we ever get to it.” I can still hear his falsetto voice, too. There was just so much mugging as McCann dressed in drag as a Chinese woman would get through the strip. Nothing like this on tv today. Too bad, something’s lost in not having hosts like McCann and Sandy Becker making us laugh.

  • Jason Wentworth

    Wouldn’t Chuck McCann be best known (by those who lived through the 70’s anyway) as the fellow on the other side of the medicine cabinet (“Hiiiiiiii Guuuuuuuuuuuuyyyy”) in Right Guard anti-perspirant commercials?

    That was how most people knew him when, in 1978 at age 6, I was lucky enough to meet the guy at Knott’s Berry Farm. He was apparently taping a TV special there (we also sighted Lucille Ball and Burl Ives that day). He was as nice (and as generous with his time) as you could possibly imagine.

  • Michael Rebain

    Thanks for the link to the Chuck McCann videos. I still recall his show with great fondness, especially his reading the comics from the Sunday News dressed as Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, Dondi or the Dragon Lady.

  • I, for one, watched it religiously! At the age of 13, I was truly in the peak of my toon-watching age. I enjoyed its “Get Smart”-ness, the music was, indeed, “cool,”….and i especially adored the Benny-esque voice!

  • Are you not recommending it because of the quality of the transfer or your hatred for the cartoon?

  • R Mills

    One of the main things this cartoon suffers from is good timing. Timing is one of those areas of animation that doesn’t get recognized enough. You can have great design and drawings but without great timing it will lose everything. These days timing gets lost because the dialog takes up the majority of the cartoon and gives little opportunity for business. Cool McCool suffers from a similar fate. I don’t blame the voice actors but the writer and director for not allowing anything more than mediocre business and dialog. Everything in this cartoon is even. For example take a look at the car entry, top opening and Cool dropping in.

    Though this is definitely not a Tex Avery cartoon a lot can be learned from Tex in how he can make even mundane business fun to watch simply by the timing.

  • TJR

    Thanks for the link to the clip. Did anyone notice the line where he says he has a license to kill? I laughed in surprise at that simply because I knew that no Saturday mornng cartoon would ever get away with that today.

    I found another clip that had the opening theme song.

    I think the opening theme is kinda fun. Other than that it’s pretty flat. The villians seem like C-list Batman villains: The Owl, The Rattler. There was even a Jack in the box guy.

  • Check that picture size – we can’t really see it that good. (Of course, when I just put the pic URL in the browser, it looked fine.

    I was maybe a little too old to appreciate Carol Corbett on “Patchwork Family” in the early 1970’s (if I recall, one of the many, many people who made appearances on that show was John Canemaker), but Chuck McCann was just the tonic for otherwise deadly TV in the mid-60’s. I loved his show and thought he was just the funniest guy. Later on, I saw the clips of him being interviewed for that Channel 5 special about all the great kids hosts that station nurtured like Soupy Sales, Sandy Becker, Fred Scott, Sonny Fox, Bob McAllister, etc. And I roared at his assertion that he blew up more television studios than anyone else. Great stuff. Thanks, Chuck.

  • LNG

    Jason Wentworth happened to be at Knotts on Free Sausage Casings Day in 1978, which explains the presence of lifetime meat by-product lovers Chuck McCann, Lucille Ball and Burl Ives. They probably all drove down in Burl’s wheeled log, stopping by Pink’s on the way back to Hollywood to chase it all down with a bun full of mud.

  • I grew up in NYC and watched Chuck every Sunday, and I was delighted to find this very recent interview with him where he talks a bit about his work on this dvd, as well as many stories about the “good old days”. If you loved Chuck as a kid you will love this interview! Check it out here.

  • Esn

    You know, from the posted clips it’s actually surprisingly fun to watch. Was it MEANT to be funny because so many of the jokes are ridiculously groan-inducing? I think it definitely falls in the “so bad it’s funny” category.

    In any case, I second Bob Harper’s question: is the DVD itself good, regardless of what you think of the quality of the show Strange as it may sound, I’m actually considering getting this. It’s making me laugh, though maybe not in the way that was intended.

  • Some of my earliest memories of television involve this show, and I don’t remember it being quite *that* insipid. The character could have been a sort of “Dudley Do Right Meets Maxwell Smart with better writers, but poor McCool isn’t quite bumbling enough to be funny. Or clever enough for snappy dialogue.

    Still, I might get the set for the same reason as some other folks here–out of an interest in toon history. At the very least, I’d like to see the “My Pop The Cop” segments (featuring McCool’s Keystone Kop-like dad) which weren’t included on the YouTube clip.

  • Brian Nelson

    I gotta admit CMcC won’t rank as a classic, altho I loved it as a kid for the Bernie Green scores alone. And whenever a gaffe takes place around the house, “That will NEVER happen again, Number One!”

  • RAchel Van Den Bergen

    I loved this cartoon. I used to watch it between the age of 7-9 years old. I loved the theme tune and Hurricane Harry was my favourite character. Better than the rubbish kids have to put up with nowadays.

  • One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I suppose….As for me, I’m delighted at a chance to take a little trip down memory lane with old acquaintances like Cool McCool. Nobody’s saying it was high art or Pythonesque humor—we know that already—but it’s still an enjoyable bit of nostalgia for broken-down old kids-at-heart like myself!

  • Rachel Van Den Bergen

    one thing I remember about Cool Mc Cool was that one of the characters used to sit behind a desk puffing away at a cigar. I can’t remember whether it was Cool Mc Cool himself. With all the no smoking stuff they won’t show that now obviously but I can remember thinking how rebellious it seemed a cartoon character doing that.

  • Don

    My brother, sister and I were on ‘The Chuck McCann Show’ aired on WNEW. I saw him backstage in make up for Dick Tracy. His split screen Laurel and Hardy split my sides. I was bitten by the TV bug. The show was in 1966 during the transit strike. It was great fun – probably not for mom, who drove us there thru all the extra traffic.

  • Rachel Van Den Bergen

    I loved the catchy theme tune too. Oh all that nostalgia.