REVIEW: Rockin’ with Judy Jetson
Hanna-Barbera was clearly running out of steam in the later 1980s as their style of animation and storytelling was no longer in synch with its young viewers. As a result, they did an awful lot of recycling of concepts including the two season-long Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 which took Yogi Bear, the Flintstones and the Jetsons and told longer, and not necessarily better, stories in ten stories. The ten telefilms ran during the 1987-1989 seasons and since then have been in rotation on cable’s Boomerang channel with Warner Archive slowly releasing them to eager fans who can’t get enough of these properties. Their last release from this series was The Flintstones Meet the Jetsons.
This week, from Warner Archive, comes the release of Rockin’ with Judy Jetson, a Jetsons’ film that puts the focus squarely on the teen daughter, who is usually overshadowed by the rest of the cast. That alone would make the 92-minute film interesting but it is another effort that clearly shows its writers didn’t know how to expand from the thirty minute confines to something longer.
Check out the official synopsis:
Despite father George’s disapproval, Judy Jetson is totally into Sky Rocker, the biggest intergalactic rock star around. When the teen icon announces a surprise concert, Judy writes a super awesome song and sends it to him. And – oops – the song is accidentally switched with an evil magic message from music-hating witch Felonia Funk. Bummer for Judy! Then Felonia goes one diabolical step further: she kidnaps Sky Rocker. What a buzz kill – but don’t freak out yet! Judy and her friends – along with brother Elroy, family dog Astro and music-loving aliens named Zoomies – set out to save Sky themselves. Is Judy Jetson the coolest Space Age teenage cartoon star ever?
Mistaken identity, switched songs, intergalactic evil queens, all manner of things so unlike the futuristic sitcom which was based on the family comedies that were so prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s. The closest to an evil witch was Endora on Bewitched. Anyway, the story is pretty dumb from beginning to end despite it being a showcase for Janet Waldo, who had been Judy Jetson’s voice since the series debuted in 1962. Writers Charles M. Howell IV and Kevin Hopps could have done better with the characters. Director Paul Sommer at least tried to make it contemporary with rock video montages and some quicker than usual edits.
The song Sky Rocket turned into a hit, credited to Judy but not written by her, is the memorable nonsense known as “Gleep Gorp”. While a bit of a catchy tune, it has become a YouTube hit for those who grew up on the show but was written similar to the bubble gum pop of the 1960s, not the music the intended audience was more familiar with. The feature boasts six songs, most of which are the same two repeated by different singers.
The vocal cast is a welcome, familiar addition as Waldo is joined by the original team of George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Daws Butler, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl, and Mel Blanc. New voices include comedian Ruth Buzzi as Felonia with the rest being fairly non-descript.
Another missed opportunity, this one is only for those with a real sense of nostalgia for ‘80s H-B material.