Crowding in Arnie Barkley's bus.


Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: DePatie-Freleng
First Appeared: 1972
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Among the giants producing television animation in the early 1970s, Hanna-Barbera (Top Cat, Great Grape Ape) had the biggest reputation for ripping off the basic premises of comic strips, live-action sitcoms, other cartoons, and …

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… anything else that wasn't nailed down. But here's a Saturday morning animated sitcom produced by DePatie-Freleng (Super President, Here Comes the Grump) considered to have outdone Hanna-Barbera's attempt to "lift" the recent hit All in the Family's basic set-up. The Roman Holidays may have had a closer one-to-one correspondence of characters than DePatie Freleng's The Barkleys, but the latter's lowbrow but highly opinionated Arnie Barkley character was a better imitation of Archie Bunker than Gus Holiday.

Not that All in the Family was the only TV show that could have inspired The Barkleys. It's been accused of being a remake of The Beary Family, a series of theatrical cartoons released by Universal Studios during the 1960s; and according to animation historian Jeff Lenburg, that one was based on the late radio/early television sitcom The Life of Riley. And the fact that Arnie worked as a bus driver, combined with his grouchy demeanor, invites comparisons to The Honeymooners.

What's more, the correspondence with All in the Family fell short of precise. Instead of making any of the kids old enough to be married, the daughter became a teenager, Terri; and her husband was replaced with a teenage brother, Roger. The family was rounded out with Mom, Agnes; and, for the inevitable kid appeal, younger son Chester.

So actually, tho it's widely reputed to be based on All in the Family, it could have been taken from practically any domestic comedy. At least any such comedy where the family consisted of dog-shaped funny animals.

Arnie was voiced by Henry Corden (Fred Flintstone) and Agnes by Joan Gerber (several voices in Monchhichis and Snorks). Terri was Julie McWhirter (Baby Smurf); Roger was Gene Andrusco (Flip Chan); and Chester was Steve Lewis (otherwise unknown in voice work).

The Barkleys ran on NBC, the same network that broadcast The Roman Holidays. It also started on the same day, September 9, 1972. The two even lasted the same amount of time, one season of 13 episodes. Both then sank, rarely seen in reruns.i


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DePatie-Freleng.