One day, Judge David M. Gutierrez hopes to be just like Dick Tracy—a straight-shootin' manager with a team of ethnic and cultural stereotypes at his disposal.
"Calling Dick Tracy! Calling Dick Tracy!"
Chester Gould's yellow trench coat and fedora wearing super-detective leaps off the comics page onto the small screen in a very dated series of short cartoons in The Dick Tracy Show: The Complete Animated Series.
While it's nice to see one of America's best-known detectives in his own animated series, the problem is he really isn't in his show at all. One thing to add to Dick Tracy's resume is his ability to delegate. Yes, Detective Tracy has become his precinct's finest micro-manager. Instead of giving Flattop or Pruneface what for, Tracy sends out one of his lieutenants. The "Yes, sir, Chief. Right away" promise issued by old Dick is something one expects from a politician, not a crimefighter. This isn't the worst offense of this series, sadly. No, there's plenty more wrong.
The animation here is limited at best. UPA, the show's producers, opted to use, reuse, and re-reuse footage again and again. If when watching an episode you feel that you might be experiencing déjà vu, you're not. However, you'll see much more repeated here. If you've seen one episode of The Dick Tracy Show, you've seen them all. First, the chief sends Tracy news of a criminal that needs nabbing. Tracy then promises the chief he'll get right on it. Tracy uses his trademark two-way wrist radio and calls up one of his lieutenants—of varying competence—and waits until they make their collar. In watching The Dick Tracy Show: The Complete Animated Series, one can see that very storyline played out a total of 130 times.
The series is probably most infamous for its racial stereotypes. Go-Go Gomez and Joe Jitsu are not the most progressive characters ever drawn, but the show was produced in 1961, a time when racism was more acceptable. However, one can make the case that these two characters were in some sense positive, since the pair was on the side of truth and justice. In reality, Go-Go Gomez was nothing more than a retread of Warner Brothers' Speedy Gonzalez. While Joe Jitsu is a sad recreation of Mr. Moto and Charlie Chan. It should be noted that the English don't escape stereotyping, though to a far lesser degree, in anthropomorphic police bulldog, Hemlock Holmes. For the obese viewers there's even a fat guy, Heap O'Calorie, to round out the mockery.
With the exception of the characters created for the show, all of the character designs remain true to cartoonist Chester Gould's originals. It's still great to see Tracy, Flattop, Mumbles, and Pruneface in living color. Thatâs one thing that can be said for this series.
The show looks every bit its 46 years. The picture is washed out with some noticeable dirt. The sound on this set is superior to the picture with no discernable problems or errors.
One fantastic thing about this set is its inclusion of a 64-page bonus comic book featuring three Tracy stories. IDW Publishing is putting out volumes of the Dick Tracy strip starting from the very beginning. Hopefully, the series won't turn off any potential readers from checking out the early days of Chester Gould's most famous creation.
The Dick Tracy Show: The Complete Animated Series is guilty of being a bad show. Somebody get me Tracy on the two-way and throw this show in the pokey.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Classic Media
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