Woody Woodpecker (1944-mid 1961)
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Woody Woodpecker is an American animated series of slapstick comedy short films created by Walter Lantz in 1941 and 1972, produced in Walter Lantz Productions and distributed by Universal Pictures.
Why This Era Is "A-A-A-Awesome"
- Like the franchises of The Land Before Time and Despicable Me preceding it, it's Universal animation in its purest form.
- It was Universal Studios' flagship franchise.
- Since his debut, in an Andy Panda cartoon, "Knock Knock", the funny-looking woodpecker, Woody, quickly stole the show, received the best loved popularity, and became not only Walter Lantz's greatest megastar, but the official mascot of Universal Studios, as well.
- As his popularity goes on and on, he received comic books, clothing, video games, television programs and feature films, and even a haircut named after him "The Woody Woodpecker Haircut" which was popular among young boys back in the 1940s.
- He had some feature film cameos, including George Pal's sci-fi classic, Destination Moon, Disney and Amblin's Oscar-winning masterpiece, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Son of the Mask.
- Woody's popularity that brings the laughs to audiences all around the world, especially the USA, Canada and Brazil.
- Brazil, by the way, showed an even greater interest in the character, even surpassing its popularity in the United States and having a better legacy. There were many products that were exclusive in Brazil even in years when there were no new Woody Woodpecker cartoons like in the 90s and 2000s, and several classic cartoons are often used as memes on the Brazilian internet. That is until 2017, since the feature film was released, his popularity in Brazil has brought down to zero.
- More than any other popular cartoon character (including Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Little Audrey, Heckle and Jeckle and Tom and Jerry), Woody starred in more than 150 theatrical cartoons.
- Great direction of Alex Lovy, James Culhanne, Dick Lundy, Don Patterson, Paul J Smith, Jack Hannah, and sure, Walter Lantz
- Lots of the very best short films (especially during Seasons 1-4):
- Woody Woodpecker (the character's first major starring role)
- The Screwdriver
- The Hollywood Matador
- Ace in the Hole
- The Screwball
- The Barber of Seville (the first cartoon to feature the character's redesign from the mid-1940s)
- Ski for Two
- Chew-Chew Baby
- Woody Dines Out
- Who's Cookin' Who?
- The Reckless Driver
- Smoked Hams (depending on your wiew)
- Woody the Giant Killer
- Wet Blanket Policy
- Wild and Woody!
- Puny Express (the first cartoon to feature the character's most iconic redesign from the early 1950s)
- Sleep Happy
- Slingshot 6 7/8
- Buccaneer Woodpecker
- Wrestling Wrecks
- Helter Shelter
- After the Ball
- Get Lost
- Niagara Fools
- Home Sweet Homewrecker
- Three Little Woodpeckers
- Secret Agent Woody Woodpecker (depending on your view)
- Ship A'hoy Woody
- Flim Flam Fountain
- Gold Diggin' Woodpecker
- The theme song was catchy and totally hilarious.
- Similar to the very cute Little Audrey theme song, the jazzy version of the Woody Woodpecker theme song is wackier than ever was.
- Woody Woodpecker was the true king of the slapstick comedy cartoons, so he always outsmarts both Wally Walrus and his chief-adversary, Buzz Buzzard.
- Universal's got the right tool of slapstick comedy.
- The character of Woody Woodpecker was an all-American fine-feathered comedian.
- The New Woody Woodpecker Show and the 2018 web series of the same name both stayed true to the original material.
- Great soundtrack.
- For the 1940's Woody Woodpecker cartoons, it had a very catchy jazzy soundtrack.
- Some bad shorts (even before Seasons 5-6), including: "The Coo-Coo Bird", "Pantry Panic", "Born to Peck", "The Woody Woodpecker Polka" (depending on your view) and "Real Gone Woody" (depending on your view)
- The United Artists studio did not like the character of Woody Woodpecker, as they thought Woody was too intense. But ironically, it only distributed six Woody shorts. Finally, in the early 1950s, Universal decided to bring back Woody Woodpecker.
- During the mid-50s, the movie industry was suffering and losing money, meaning lower budgets for cartoons. By 1956, there were only seven animation producers in the short-subjects business, and by the end of the decade that number would dwindle to three. Walter Lantz and his distributor, Universal Pictures, knew that the only way to subsidize the rising costs of new shorts was to release their product to television. Norman Gluck, from Universal's short-subjects department, made a deal with the Leo Burnett Agency to release some older Lantz product on television. However, when The Woody Woodpecker Show debuted on ABC-TV on the afternoon of Thursday, October 3, 1957, this show became so successful. With the success of the TV program, Walter Lantz happily decided to return to his theatrical cartoon business.
- Since his feature film was released in theaters in Brazil (and released on home video outside Brazil), it brought his popularity in Brazil down to 0. On the top of that, it was poorly-received, due to Woody Woodpecker's extremely destructive personality which has been overly-exaggerated and his gross nature.
- In his earliest cartoons (1940-1943), Woody had a less appealing, more grotesque design, looking rough and very mean. By 1944, starting with The Barber of Seville, his was quickly replaced by his more recognizable redesign, making him a lot more appealing and extremely friendly.
- Even the great seasons have their own hiccups.
- Season 1 (the 1941-1943 shorts), while decent, isn't quite as good as the others due to Woody's personality at the time and many of his foes from this era being bland and/or forgettable. Simply put, it is not good enough to be here but not bad enough to be on Terrible TV Shows & Episodes Wiki either. It falls into the okay/mediocre category.
- Season 4 (the 1955-1961 shorts), while also great, isn't the best season (that honor goes to Seasons 2-3) due to a slight decline in the animation quality (though not as severe as the following seasons) the gags being slightly less violent than before, and some mediocre cartoons.
- Seasons 5-6 (the 1961-1972 shorts), were not well-received due to their low budget animation, not bringing the classic characters from the 1944-1954 shorts, the severe toning down of Woody Woodpecker's personality from a crazy yet likable screwball prankster into a bland, serious straight man (thankfully still likable though) as of "Franken-Stymed" (1961), and a lot of episodes that range from average to bad, although there are some good episodes as well.
- While a good cartoon overall, "Knock Knock" (Woody's grand debut) stole the ending from the 1938 Merrie Melodies cartoon "Daffy Duck and Egghead".