fbpx

The Top Ten American 1960’s SF/Fantasy Pet Companions

April 13, 2019 | By | 1 Reply More

American baby-boomers, most of them anyway, will recall the Golden Age of television that served as escapist entertainment during the turbulent times of the 1960s. As the real-life turmoil saturated the nation with race riots, assassinations, the Vietnam War, political chaos and college demonstrations, the small boob tube strived to take us into another direction of innocuous distraction. Indeed, American TV was not what one would call sophisticated by any means of the imagination. Still, there were signs of innovation starting to break through in Science Fiction programming (‘Star Trek’ anyone?) and the fantasy genre of witches, monsters, Martians and genies were all the rage.

Some will agree that the top scene-stealers in American SF/fantasy TV network shows were the supporting animal characters that served as steady companions to their human counterparts. Granted that some of these pet companions were incidental to the television shows, some of them were instrumental. In The Top Ten 1960’s SF/Fantasy Pet Companions, we will look at some of the kooky creatures (real and animated) that graced the American television landscape in the complicated age of the 60s where TV viewers formed an appreciation for these showbiz critters. Were these heralded beasts pet-worthy in your estimation? Did they prove to be essential companions in the world of SF/fantasy broadcasting? Let’s take a look at what America and other countries experienced during their TV viewing habits in this particular decadent decade.

(NOTE: The Top Ten American 1960’s SF/Fantasy Pet Companions are listed in alphabetical order)

1.) Aristotle from The Addams Family (1964-1966):-

Okay, some may struggle to remember the presence of cherubic Pugsley Addams pet octopus Aristotle from the creepy sit-com ‘The Addams Family’. Truth be told is that the eerie Aristotle was one of a few peculiar pets that the oddball Addams clan housed. Although not memorable to the majority of TV addicts in Fantasy Land, Aristotle proved to be instrumental to his nurturing family as a pet that basically resembled the strangeness and unique scope of surrealism that this collection of familial freaks represented. As a pet to the average ‘normal’ person, Aristotle would be a ghastly sight to behold. But to his credit, he was refreshingly different, distinctive and fit in with the rest of his kooky caretakers. Certainly, Pugsley was not the easiest child to trust with a fragile pet. One would doubt him being the type to have a delicate dove or harried hamster as his trusty companion. Thank goodness the icky charisma of Aristotle goes way beyond being considered a formidable seafood dish.

2.) Astro from The Jetsons (1962-1963):-

Now who in the world can not recall the affable and excitable space mutt Astro Jetson from the 60s sci-fi cartoon ‘The Jetsons’? Astro was an important staple to George, Jane, Judy and Elroy and alas…to us the TV viewer. Always jumping, hopping and rushing with enthusiasm to his owner in the hapless George Jetson, it seems that Astro would have made a fine four-legged companion for anybody to cherish. The lovable futuristic fleabag was definitely on par with his human family. Heck, Astro was even included in the opening credits of the show. There are not too many supporting animal characters that can say they were essential enough to get a shout out in their show’s opening introduction. Clearly, Astro Jetson’s iconic bark matches his playful bite.

3.) Debbie the Bloop from Lost in Space (1965-1968):-

Poor Debbie apparently did not get the proper love from the ‘Lost In Space’ producers. Debbie the Bloop was featured in the early season one episodes as middle child Penny Robinson’s pet alien space monkey with the super-enlarged Mr. Spock-like ears. The outer space chimp made a “bloop”-like sound hence the moniker. Lost in Space fans are still not certain as to why Debbie was unceremoniously forgotten as the series continued. If anything, Debbie’s existence gave some needed relevance to Penny’s bland character (after all…little brother Will had the Robot and older sister Judy was canoodling with Major West). It is too bad that Debbie the Bloop was merely reduced to a typical Lost in Space trivia question instead.

4.) Dino from The Flintstones (1960-1966):-

Dino Flintstone, dinosaur royalty or at least this was understood when he was part of America’s favorite prehistoric first family in Hanna-Barbera’s classic Stone Age cartoon fantasy ‘The Flintstones’. Much like ‘The Jetson’s Astro, it appeared that Dino was appreciative and enthusiastic to jump all over his master Fred. Actually, perhaps Astro was modeled in personality after good ole Dino! The purple Dino was very instrumental as the pet companion that served his purpose well in the household. Loyal, playful, engaging and energetic, Dino was the Flintstone that most of us would like to share a bone with during our downtime. Sure, Fred was occasionally grouchy. Wilma was stern and straight-laced and Pebbles was a cute little squirt, but Dino was the spark plug that was alert and ready for the world. Even the Rubbles’ pet Hoppy could not outshine the likes of the dynamic Dino.

 

 

 

5.) Fang from Get Smart (1965-1970):-

Perhaps there were a few partners that may have lasted longer in terms of tolerating the bumbling antics of Maxwell Smart aka Agent 86: there are Agent 99 (code name: Susan Hilton), Hymie the robot and occasionally the even more klutzy Larabee. But the one unique partner that we took an instant liking to was that shaggy spy in the clever canine form of Fang. Indeed, Fang was instinctive, intelligent and certainly marched to the beat of his own drum. Fang definitely had more on the ball than Max. In fact, it seems like almost everyone was a few steps ahead of simple-minded Smart. In the few ‘Get Smart’ episodes that showcased Fang, we saw how invaluable this mission-oriented mutt was to C.O.N.T.R.O.L.. In fact, the rival spy organisation in CHAOS probably would have feared the intrepid pooch more so than his human agent counterparts. The adorable Fang was a riot and among the most skilled animal companions on 60s TV. Forget ‘Get Smart’. How about the spin-off ‘Fetch, Fang’?

 

 

6.) Gin Gin from I Dream Of Jeannie (1965-1970):-

Gin Gin was the cute little pet companion to Jeannie. However, Gin Gin was also the four-legged foil to Major Nelson, Major Healey, Dr. Bellows and General Schaeffer. In fact, Jeannie’s seemingly sweet pawed pal was a bundle of misbehaving to the whole darn space program at NASA. So what was Gin Gin’s hang-up that made him such a tiny terror to those that were at the center of his wrath? Well, Gin Gin did not like individuals in uniform…period! The sight of a uniformed human made the damaging doggie go berserk. According to Jeannie, Gin Gin’s backstory of bad attitude resulted because some Arabian guards were awful in the way they mishandled him. So any person of authority, while wearing a uniform, is in for a hell-raising hound that becomes invisible and attacks the uniform by shredding it to bits. Gin Gin was so destructive that one of the characters on the show described him as one ‘amazing unseen missile’ or something to that effect. Jeannie received much sweetness from the crazed Gin Gin but, as for others…well, try not to wear your spacesuit around the diminutive doggie devil, okay?

 

7.) Kitty Kat from The Addams Family (1964-1966):-

Imagine trying to change the cat litter box for this behemoth of a beast? Yes folks…Kitty Kat is another one of the pet companions stemming from the bizarre household of the Addams Family. There is no mistaken Kitty Kat’s ominous roar to the outsiders that are brave enough to step foot inside the haunting household of the Addams clan. But to Kitty Kat’s family, especially Morticia, that mighty roar is nothing but an affectionate purrrrrfect sound of affection. The benign beast fits in perfectly with the freaky family that ruled the prime time airwaves in the mid-60s. Are you brave enough to try placing a flea collar on Kitty Kat Addams?

 

8.) Mr. Ed from Mr. Ed (1958-1966):-

A horse is a horse of course of course…’ Okay, is anybody in the mood to break out the ‘Mr. Ed’ theme song? Why not, it’s a rather catchy tune! America’s favourite talking horse amused TV viewers for eight seasons on the fantasy-based comedy ‘Mr. Ed’. The garrulous equine teamed up with exacerbated human buddy, Wilbur Post, to spearhead the goofy chuckles in this vintage surreal sit-com that tickled one more so than a stable of horse feathers. Mr. Ed had to be extremely likeable in order to keep the watchers of this silly-minded romp continuously content. One of television’s famous bombs, ‘My Mother, The Car’, bombed tremendously because the premise of a talking antique automobile was too juvenile to be taken comedically. But a talking horse…hey, that’s something different to consider in an amusing way. I gather that hippies were not the only one taking acid trips in the 60s when watching these wacky programs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.) Rocky and Bullwinkle from The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle (1961-1963):-

Hands down…Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket ‘Rocky’ J. Squirrel is this author’s/reviewer’s favourite cartoon in the entire universe. Yes, I am showing my unapologetic bias for our diligent duo in the dim-witted but delightful Bullwinkle and the sensible yet shifty Rocky. Hailing from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, the oddball tandem took us on so many off-handed adventures as their twisted antics entertained and enthralled both youngsters and adults with their naughty satirical humor that tackled such topics of the day such as the Cold War.  Also, Rocky and Bullwinkle were always able to duck and dodge the nefarious ways of their constant nemesis in Russian spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale whether they knew of the dastardly duo’s evil intentions or not. Whether the latest sci-fi gizmos or other notorious contraptions coupled with Boris’s and Natasha’s wicked scheming, it remained clear that the popular pairing of Rocky and Bullwinkle was a match made in hilarious heaven.

 

10.) Spot from The Munsters (1964-1966):-

What can one say about Spot Munster? For starters, he is a mysterious fire-breathing dragon that lives beneath his family’s lifting stairway. Spot is perhaps one of the most curious creatures to play a role as a household pet on ‘The Munsters’. There is no doubt that little Eddie Munster enjoys his carnivorous companion much like a normal child would cherish a parrot or hamster. Much like their competitive creeper rivals in the Addams Family featured on another TV network, ‘The Munsters’ were terrorising outsiders to a world not ready for their kind. Of course the running gag is that Herman, Grandpa, Lily and the aforementioned Eddie were strangely odd and spooky to those in the real world. Cousin Marilyn was the only acceptable beauty of the lot, although she was the unflattering pariah within her own freakish family. So it is safe to assume that Spot was just as acceptable as an innocuous pet to join the ranks of so-called normalcy in the Munster realm of comical shenanigans. Certainly Spot made it fashionable being a holed-up dragon with notable TV credits long before his ilk succeeded in other areas of entertainment. Try telling this particular Spot to fetch a ball…we dare you!

(c) Frank Ochieng (2019)

 

Tags: ,

Category: Fantasy, MEDIA, Scifi, TV

About the Author ()

Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

Leave a Reply

error

Enjoy scifi? Please spread the word :)

SFcrowsnest