Chief Justice Michael Stailey's patience has been worn to within an inch of its breaking point.
The world's biggest little detective.
In Hanna-Barbera's continual milking of the Scooby-Doo, Where are You! formula, we get one of the lamest variations yet.
Facts of the Case
"Uncle Inch" (Lennie Weinrib aka the voice of Scrappy-Doo) a man literally one inch tall, works as a private eye for the Finkerton Detective Agency and a boss who wants nothing more than to fire him. Inch's support team consists of his niece Laurie (Kathy Gori, Hong Kong Phooey), her boyfriend Gator (Bob Lutell), and their dog Braveheart (Don Messick aka Scooby-Doo). Together they set out to solve impossible crimes and prove their worth to Mr. Finkerton (John Stephenson, Jonny Quest).
I am an unabashed Hanna-Barbera fan, but even I can only suspend disbelief so far. How does a man one inch tall even exist? How small was he when he was born? Did his mother even know she was pregnant? Who makes his clothes? How does he manage not to get killed 100 times a day? I could understand if there were some mythology to the series, some kind of scientific experiment gone wrong for which he's now determined to live a normal life. But there's none of that. We are simply expected to accept the fact this man, who also happens to be a complete idiot, continually solves mysteries which stump the rest of the crime solving community. Really?!
But the head scratching does not stop there. Oh no…Inch High Private Eye was also highly prophetic series. In 1973, the writing team had conceived of the mobile phone in the shape of a makeup compact; of course Star Trek: The Original Series beat them to it with their communicators, but this thing could call land line phones when there was no cellular technology available. They also gave us the "Hush Mobile," a precursor to today's Hybrid cars which make very little noise. Even more confounding is the fact that The Finkerton Detective Agency needs an 8-story building to house their operation which, as best as I can tell, only consists of a handful of employees. What?!
Long before The Simpsons and South Park, H-B was notorious for using celebrity impersonated voices to draw in an audience. Here, Lennie Weinrib is doing his best Jack Benny, as the put upon Inch; Bob Lutell is nothing more than Jethro Clampett (Max Baer) from The Beverly Hillbillies; and the various crooks du jour conjure images of Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, other notable Warner Bros. gangsters.
I shouldn't be so harsh. After all, the show only lasted 13 episodes, and still retains some inexplicable fan love from constant re-airings on the Boomerang network. But come on…"Super Flea" finds Inch being hired to train fleas in a criminal flea circus, "The Doll Maker" introduces Inch's recurring nemesis Supomi who creates living dolls to steal furs, and "The Mummy's Curse" is a leftover script from any one of Scooby's first three seasons. Ugh.
Presented in glorious standard definition 1.33:1 full frame, Warner Archives transfers are consistent with previous H-B complete series releases, exhibiting a fair amount of dirt and scratches, vibrant colors, and plenty of traditional animation goofs. The Dolby 2.0 Mono track is just fine for the material, although you'll quickly grow tired of hearing the theme song which plays in its entirety to open and close the show. There are no extras, and remember not all Warner Archives titles function in all DVD players.
I'm eternally grateful to Warner Bros. for preserving and compiling these series for generations to come. However, there are far more entertaining series deserving of a release than Inch High Private Eye—Clue Club, Banana Splits, and Captain Caveman. Can we get going on those, please?
Missed it by THAT much.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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