GO GO GOPHERSOriginal Medium: Television animation
Produced by: Leonardo Productions
First Appeared: 1966
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Back-up segments were deemed essential to the production of Saturday morning animation, because they were needed to fill the empty minutes left by producers who had long since decided few if any stars were capable of sustaining an entire
half-hour show. Thus, Yogi Bear had Yakky Doodle and Snagglepuss; and Space Ghost had Dino Boy. But at the same time, since they were supposedly not what sold the show, some producers placed a low priority on them.
Thus, there were back segments that got recycled a lot. The first two studios to make substantial use of this cost-saving technique were Jay Ward's, which got vast mileage out of Fractured Fairy Tales, Aesop & Son and a couple of others; and Total Television, which took the back-ups from its first success, King Leonardo & His Short Subjects, and reused them as part of the second, Tennessee Tuxedo & His Tales.
Go Go Gophers started as a step away from that practice and wound up as something even worse. The segment was first seen on Underdog's third season, where the most tired such reruns were dropped in favor of newer ones. There, they began on September 10, 1966.
The title characters were an Indian tribe consisting of two gophers. The chief was Running Board, who uttered gibberish incapable of being understood in any language, except by the other tribe member, Ruffled Feathers, who served as his interpreter. Their motive was to protect their ancestral lands, Gopher Gulch, from being despoiled by the nearby Cavalry outpost. This other fighting force also boasted only two members — Col. Kit Coyote, the commander, who was characterized as a less-than-fully-sane Teddy Roosevelt type; and his underling, Sgt. Okie Homa. Their motive was to despoil those lands.
The voice of Ruffled Feathers was done by Sandy Becker, who had earlier been Wizard the Lizard in Tooter Turtle's segment of King Leonardo's show. Running Board was George W. Irving, who later did Heat Miser in The Year Without a Santa Claus. Kit was Kenny Delmar, whose old radio character, Senator Claghorn, had inspired Mel Blanc in creating the voice of Foghorn Leghorn. Okie was, like Ruffled Feathers, Sandy Becker.
Starting September 14, 1968, the Gophers underwent a more extreme fate than being re-run as some other feature's back-up. They were re-run as stars. Their show started that day on CBS, but no new episodes were made — the 45 that had originally been produced were simply repeated. As its own back-up, it used re-airings of Klondike Cat, which went back to the old Tennessee Tuxedo show.
That show ran for a season, then the Gophers went into limbo for a long time. They began being re-released as home video during the 1990s, and are still enjoying steady sales in that market. But if they didn't get any new episodes when starring in their own show, it's unlikely they will now.