The magical world of Professor Pat Pending
“Pat. Pend.” is printed on the cardboard box containing statins. Can one have a patent pending on a generic drug? Perhaps anything is possible in the current times.
“Pat. Pend.” reminded me of a name I have been trying to recall for years: Professor Pat Pending, he was one of the racers in The Wacky Races. Walking to school, I tried to recall the others. There were Penelope Pitstop, Peter Perfect, the Anthill Mob, the Army Surplus Special, the Arkansas Chugabug, the two stone age characters who beat their car along with clubs, the spooky car, possibly others, and, of course, Dick Dastardly. I was very pleased to be able to recall so many. Would that the memory for significant things was so sharp.
I loved cartoons. Any cartoon on television was watched with avid enthusiasm, they were not plentiful. The The Wacky Races, Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones along with the The Loony Tunes cartoons, could have been screened all day every day and, for me, still retained a power to captivate. Bank holidays would always bring Disney Time and it would always be a disappointment if the majority of the programme was not selected from the animated films, even if it was umpteenth time upon which the crows in Dumbo were shown singing When I see an elephant fly.
The fascination of cartoons would have been hard to explain. If someone had asked why The Wacky Races was preferable to Jackanory or Blue Peter, or any among the numerous other programmes screened at the time, it would have been difficult to point at particular reasons. There would probably have been a shrug of the shoulders and the answer, “just because.”
Perhaps there was a touch of magical realism in cartoons, they were rooted in everyday things but were not constrained by the realities of the naturalistic world.
No matter how many times Wile E.Coyote got squashed in his pursuit of Road Runner, or Tom was flattened in his attempts to catch Jerry, they immediately sprang back into shape to continue the action. In Scooby-Doo! there would always be a naturalistic explanation of the ghosts and monsters that appeared, but there was never felt a need to explain a dog who understood every word spoken (dogs, naturally, speak English) and who was able to respond in a comprehensible language of his own.
It would have been difficult for a children’s television story that was required to adhere to the laws of nature and science to compete with the imaginative world of the animators. How can a real world children’s drama match up to a world where there are no rules?
Perhaps that was part of its attraction in those primary schooldays, when life is circumscribed by rules, a little anarchy may have seemed an attractive option.
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