Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines: Catch the Pigeon!

Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines-min

Here was a childhood obsession for us (another one). Starring a carrer pigeon, Dastardly, and Muttley, and some aeroplanes, boy did we have it on VHS and watch it over and over.

And why!? Because it was a lot of fun. And kids like fun! But there’s something about this one show (and the confusion about its name) that make it extra special. Let’s explore it today with some pigeon-based reminiscing.

What’s Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines?

It’s a spin-off from Wacky Races and it ran from 1969-1970.

The show features the exploits of Dastardly (voiced by Paul Winchell) and his dog Muttley (Don Messick) as they attempt to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon.

They’re also joined by bumbling aviators Klunk and Zilly (also voiced by Messick).

Their various efforts are constantly thwarted by the hyper-intelligent carrier bird, who revels in their misery.

Not that Muttley cares. A mischievous character, he doesn’t exactly seem to be on Dastardly’s side.

And voice actor Messick also created this glorious wheezing laugh for him.

Now… *deep breath*. For the last 30 years or so we thought this series was called Catch the Pigeon. It isn’t.

Whilst researching the show and reminiscing about it, the first thing we came across was a lack of a mention to a bird in the title.

Confused, we went off and then found out what its real name is. Confounding!

Erm… why isn’t it called Catch the Pigeon? This was quite a shock for us. Let’s explore this matter with utmost urgency!

It’s Not Called Catch the Pigeon?

No, it isn’t. It’s called Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines (or just Dastardly and Muttley here in the UK).

You can understand why our childish minds would have thought otherwise. From the intro sequence, Dastardly yells the phrase over and over.

We looked it up online and plenty of other people have the same issue, convinced it’s called Catch the Pigeon (or Stop the Pigeon).

False memory (the Mandela effect) is one thing we can attribute that to. Pierre Janet and Sigmund Freud investigated the concept.

Well, psychoanalysis or not we think this is an outrage! Decades of lies! Still, at least the show was good fun.

What Was Dastardly and Muttley About?

Over 17 episodes, the dastardly duo attempt to catch/stop a carrier pigeon.

As part of the Vulture Squadron, they want to ensure the bird doesn’t deliver essential messages to the opposition.

That bit isn’t clear, but even as kids we presumed the series was set in a World War. It’s just not mentioned very much.

However, Dastardly has to deal with “the General”, who calls the aviator’s base and roars furiously into the phone if he doesn’t have the bird yet.

Dastardly also has that moustache twiddling, fighter pilot look about him.

William Hanna and Joseph Barbera created the series. The former was also responsible for directing. Larz Bourne, Dalton Sandifer, and Michael Maltese wrote the episodes.

Each episode invents some crazy new way for the pilots to try and outwit the pigeon. And, inevitably, every time they end up losing badly.

To which Dastardly usually announces, “Drat and double drat!” Here they are trying to catch the pigeon with an anvil concept.

So, the show emphasis their ingenuity. They often create some of the most absurd (borderline genius) ways to get hold of the pigeon.

Yet due to various foibles (and the bird’s higher intelligence), they’re typically left in a heap amongst the destruction of their contraptions.

And then Muttley does his wheezing laugh. Or looks apologetic for making an error.

For us as kids, we maniacally watched it over and over. We obsessed about it. That was the early ’90s, no doubt.

But as far as we’re aware, in that sort of disappeared off TV. Or we lost our VHS copies. Or we matured enough to make the cultural leap to Garfield and Danger Mouse.

Back in 1969, though, the show followed directly after Wacky Races. That ran in America (and across the world afterwards) with much success in 1968.

There was a reboot of it in 2017 and the show and its characters continue to enjoy a cult following.

But Catch the Pigeon (or whatever the title is) has become lesser known. And invariably forgotten. Which is a shame. It was good fun.


  1. Wow! I totally forgot about this series, yet I could hear Muttley’s laugh before it showed on the video – so the memory is there. It’s slight but I remember that laugh, and Dastardly’s lovely stasche.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An absolute gem, and, along with Hair Bear Bunch proof positive that everyone at HB in the late 60s and early 70s must have been totally off their trolleys on bonne merde.

    Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the only Wacky Races spin-off – remember “Perils of Penelope Pitstop”? – Frankie Goes To Hollywood certainly did… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it doesn’t strike me as the most conservative show in history. Looking at Wacky Races’ intro and the psychedelia overload is remarkable.

      I do remember, vaguely, the Penelope Pitstop one. And Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I didn’t know that song had a nod to her. I have learned much during the research (and aftermath) of Catch the Pige… Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines.

      Big title, really, they should have just gone all out for Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines Try to Catch/Stop a Carrier Pigeon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Frankie GTH thing was in “The Power of Love”, which IIRC was spoken at the beginning as well as sung somewhere in the song, too – “I’ll protect you from the Hooded Claw…”, who was of course the villain in Penelope Pitstop.

        Just remembered another HB “what were they on??!!” ‘toon that very few seem to remember – “The Great Grape Ape Show”. Makes Hong Kong Phooey look like a National Geographical documentary about owls…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t remember this series, though I watched a LOT of ‘Wacky Races’ as a kid and can still bring to mind that Muttley snicker. Yeah, he wasn’t EXACTLY on Dick Dastardly’s side, was he. One thing I never found out until much later was the full name of the anti-hero. Of course, Richard Milhous Dastardly would have gone over my head anyway when I first saw it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Muttley was a mischievous fiend! The thing I realised yesterday is how exhausting trying to do the snicker is. It’s a skill you can’t learn.

      Do you know Muttley’s full name? Or is it just Muttley? *snicker*


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