Top Cat (ABC, 1961-1962)
This is another one of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons (of which there were many), and would you believe that this is over six decades old now, but once again I first saw this many years later. I should start by pointing out that I never remember this one being called Boss Cat, as it was credited for many years to avoid confusion with a cat food brand.
For me it was always Top Cat, even though this title actually wasn’t officially used by CBBC until the late-80s. Top Cat is a cartoon where the main characters are to some extent a feline equivalent of the cast on the sitcom The Phil Silvers Show, which just like this one seemed to be repeated in the afternoon for a very long time after the original run.
I never saw this one too much myself, but I do know that it’s considered to be one of the greatest sitcoms of its era. Top Cat starred a wise-talking cat who is the leader, and that’s beyond dispute apparently. He was probably the sassiest animated cat around after grumpy Garfield, and he always wore a big hat. But he had plenty of companions, including Benny The Ball, Brain, and Choo-Choo.
They are all alley cats who live in a row of bins in Hoagy’s Alley in Manhattan. Now I can’t help but feel that’s not very nice, this is better to watch if you don’t think about that part of it really. They are always getting caught up in various schemes, and trying to get one over Officer Dibble, who often seemed to have no idea what was happening.
I was surprised to discover that the original run of Top Cat was shown in America on ABC in a primetime slot, but it turned out that this was more of a success when moved to an earlier slot which attracted more younger viewers. And it’s also a surprise to discover that there were only 30 episodes in one series, but beyond that there were a few comics and VHS releases.
There were frequent repeat runs well into the 2000s decade, it’s rather odd to think that this was still shown in the afternoon as late as that. But in more recent years there have been a couple of films (which have been computer-generated). And not so long ago the main characters appeared in an advert for Halifax, which seemed a rather unlikely place.