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