From 1965 to 1969, the Beatles were the animated stars of their very own Saturday morning cartoon series, which aired on ABC. Well, not exactly the Beatles themselves, as the Fab Four had no involvement in the production, other than having their songs shoehorned into each episode. Had they laid down a heavier hand, perhaps we would have been spared the post-Pepper-era anachronism of the ink-on-celluloid clean-shaven, bowl-tonsured quartet clad in the collarless suits that never made it out of 1963. Or the zany cookie-cutter plots involving slapstick misadventures in exotic locales, such as enlisting in the French Foreign Legion. Or the crummy voice work, in which John sounds more like David Niven than any Liverpudlian. But actually, when we were kids these Moptops for moppets were the public image of the Beatles to us, dated as they may have been by 1968.
But this blog post is about truly fake Beatles, not true but faked Beatles, and that's where an entity cheekily known as the Beagles enter the picture. They were the stars of their very own Saturday morning cartoon series, which debuted in 1966, created by Total Television, whose most successful programs were Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo. (You may be able to suss by its name that this was an animation studio set up expressly to sell General Mills cereals by the bushel to impressionable tykes.) Each week, music-loving little nippers would gather around the set to follow the comic misadventures of the titular singing and playing pair of canines, one tall and the other short and bespectacled — their names were, no, not Peter and Gordon but Stringer and Tubby. Managed by a scheme-a-minute terrier named Scotty, this literal Mutt-and-Jeff duo would find themselves all bollixed up in zany cookie-cutter plots involving slapstick misadventures in exotic locales, such as enlisting in the French Foreign Legion. Then they would do an original song related to the plot. The Beagles didn't have the staying power of the concurrently running almost namesake series, lasting one year on CBS with a repeat on ABC in the 1967-68 season.
Today, due to an odd circumstance (evidently someone who worked on the series died with the masters in his possession, and his wife discarded them), it's consider a lost show, with almost no episodes currently in existence. (The precious few moments that have survived can be viewed on YouTube here and here.) Fortunately for posterity, around 1967 Columbia Records released the Here Come the Beagles soundtrack album on its Harmony subsidiary, compiling the songs featured in the series — and it's a pretty decent set. Produced with the involvement of soundtrack composer Charles Fox (Barbarella, Love American Style, Happy Days), the anonymous studio singers and players standing in for the Doggy Duo laid down the Beatles-style rockers and ballads with panache, while also showing strong leanings toward garage rock and what would soon be termed bubblegum pop on other tunes.
Most important, without the Beagles, "Sharing Wishes," the greatest love song about dishwashing ever recorded, would not exist (see below).
Meet the Beagles! (All songs MP3)
Looking for the Beagles (not only the Monkees had a theme song, y'know)
Thanks to the Man in the Moon (a tenderly harmonized ballad in the Peter & Gordon — or is it Chad & Jeremy — mold)
Sharing Wishes (the best cartoon song this side of "Sugar Sugar"?)
Indian Love Dance (if only we could see the episode this song accompanied)