1. I used to watch the Wacky Races every Saturday morning with my brother. We would bet on who the winner would be. Penelope Pitstop? Professor Pat Pending?

  2. Mel, thanks for that help.

    I’m still missing some factors that might explain the dialogue. So, “Wacky Races” was a tv show… A little look-up verifies that it was a Hanna-Barbera product. So the character’s expression “the wacky races of years” is saying something about the past year’s ranking among all years (in his experience) — do we take it that the show was not well regarded?

  3. Yes, it’s less puzzling now that “Wacky Races” is seen as a name. When printed in the all-caps speech-bubble style, that wasn’t obvious, and I tried to work it as part of a description. “Wasn’t this a wacky year, like the races” … erm, what?

  4. I think the insinuation is that the “Wacky Races” were full of frenetic action, but without lasting meaning. At the end of every “Wacky” episode, nothing significant had changed: the next episode started with the exact same premise: every character trying doing their best to beat the rest to the end of the rat race. Here we are at the beginning of 2022, but as far as Covid is concerned, things are just the same as they were in January of 2021.

  5. I still call most random dogs I meet Muttley in honour of Dick Dastardly’s sniggering mutt. The programme – which I see from Wikipedia only had 17 episodes – was nuttily enjoyable, as I recall. I also saw The Great Race, a 1965 movie starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, which Wacky Races was based on. My memory assured me it included Terry-Thomas but apparently not… he was in the conceptually similar (big techy race, set around 1910, ending in Paris) Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, also made in 1965, where his character was indeed dastardly. Both those films I saw in the cinema when they came out.

    However, I still don’t really get the joke in the cartoon.

  6. Kilby, I really like that explanation and was on your side entirely, but then noticed that the character says that he’s been waiting all year to use the reference. He couldn’t have known that 2021 would turn out like this when he thought of it at the start of the year.

  7. Wacky Races was rebooted a few years ago on the Boomerang channel, and the main villain, Dick Dastardly, was the villain of the recent Scooby-Doo movie. As for this strip, I am unfamiliar with it and it’s characters, but everything seems to just call out references to things for references’ sake these days

  8. I would guess the element of the show Wacky Races that they are invoking is the seemingly never ending mishaps. Just when a driver thinks things are going well something would pop up to make them stumble. There would be a detour, road block, etc. Of course Dick Dastardly’s plans never worked out (like Coyote) and the “good guys” always came through unscathed. If only that had been true about 2021 (or 2020).

  9. “However, I still don’t really get the joke in the cartoon.”
    “..the exact same premise: every character trying doing their best to beat the rest to the end of the rat race.”

    Well, not every character; half of them were doing their best to keep the rest of the racers from beating them to the end.

    And those Dastardly :~) characters can be thought of as the various conditions that tried to keep us from getting to the end of 2021: pandemic (death, social isolation, shutdowns, loss of business, no restaurants for dates), climate (fires, floods, tornados, Texas caught with no defense against freezing) , attack on the Capitol, non-stop attack on democracy, Scarlett Johansson’s loss of income when Disney released her completed movie on-line before it could be released in theaters (even though I meant that to be funny, she IS in the Top 20 list of charitable celebrities), and several other other crises.

  10. I had never heard of Wacky Races, but I think The Great Race was one of the best comedies ever.

  11. I had never heard of Wacky Races, but IMHO The Great Race was one of the best comedies ever.

  12. The Great Race : I still laugh about the mustache bit or should I say the half mustache bit. Oh it’s so cold that…

  13. @ U.V. – I am rather ashamed to discover how much time I wasted as a kid watching a show that consisted almost exclusively of repeats. Of course, since the individual episodes were hardly distinguishable from each other, perhaps it’s not that surprising that I never noticed.

  14. I’m aware of Wacky Races but I never watched much of them. I mostly know Dick Dastardly and Muttley from Laff-a-Lympics.

  15. @Powers

    The Dick Dastardly and Muttley expies that appeared in Laff-a-Lympics were the Dread Baron and Mumbly. The Dread Baron was created for Laff-a-Lympics while Mumbly had previously appeared in his own show as a good-guy detective (hence his trench coat). The pair later appeared as the villains in the bizarre made-for-TV movie Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose.

  16. For some reason, I always confused Muttley/Mumbly for Droopy, which looking at it now makes no sense whatsoever. I guess the initial confusion about Muttley and Mumbly, and one of them being added to the roster of the crappy Tom and Jerry show of the time (And Muttley, too!) must have opened the door to wider confusion… (it’s the Tom and Jerry, Grape Ape — and Mumbley too! — shoooow!)

  17. There were actually (at least) two Dick Dasterdlys, and presumably two Muttleys. The first seen was the villain of Wacky Races, which was set contemporary to it’s original broadcast, 1960s. The second saw him as a World War I German pilot, trying to intercept American messenger pigeons. It was later officially decided they were father and son (although I personally think it should have been Grandfather/ grandson). And Dread Baron is the younger Dick’s brother.

    In my headcanon, there were also two Penelope Pitstops, and two Ant Hill Mobs. I can’t find any reference to this being officially confirmed, but it’s the only thing that makes sense.

  18. Back when “The Great Race” was a new movie (and I was MUCH younger) I read an article about it being filmed. The article had color photos, so I am guessing that it was in “LIfe” magazine as it is the most likely grown-up magazine with color photos I would have read.

    What stuck in my mind was the pie fight scene was talked about in the article. It took several days to film. At the end of each shooting session they had to take photos of each of the actors/tresses in the scene and what color spots of “pie” was on each of them and where and what size and shape the spots were for continuity for the next shooting session.

    it being mentioned here has brought that article back into my head.

  19. I love some of these ‘not getting old TV show reference’ discussions! They go off the rails faster than, uh, an episode of, um…’The Funny Vroom Vroomers.’

  20. Each half-hour WACKY RACES episode included two races, so one could argue the gag is that 2021 went like a quarter-hour — less, allowing for commercials. Dastardly and Muttley were villains but there was no designated hero, so who won was irrelevant. Except perhaps to kids wagering.

    While we’re on movies: THE GREAT RACE starts strong, goes limp when they reach snow, and reactivates when they get into the Prisoner of Zenda parody. “Give me some FIGHTIN’ room!”

    THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES is a definitive Big Comedy Movie, with lots of functional aircraft. Benny Hill, then unknown to Yanks, is the fire brigade chief who mostly just reacts to people landing in a nearby sewage farm.

    THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES, aka MONTE CARLO AND ALL THAT JAZZ, is a hybrid of both. The team behind DYMITFM is back, along with Terry-Thomas and Gert Forbes echoing their previous characters. Tony Curtis is a cocky Harold Lloyd clone; Peter Cook and Dudley Moore are two British officers/inventors. Lavish, but not as good as either previous film.

    Speaking of Prisoner of Zenda, I self-published a novel … (sounds of a scuffle and a door slamming)

  21. narmitajn – Thank you.

    We did not get the Saturday Evening Post and this was an extended article. I don’t think “Time” would have had it and not sure if they had color photos then – hence my guess at “Life” Those were the two magazines that my parents subscribed to and I would peruse, so Life made the most sense of the two.

    My magazines back then (I would have been 12) would have either been “Barbie” or the teen idols type of magazines (depending on when I switched) – neither of which make sense for what I remember, plus it seems to me that the article was not aimed at “young people”.

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