The Grump (lower left) with supporting characters, from a home video cover.

HERE COMES THE GRUMP

Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: DePatie-Freleng
First Appeared: 1969
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In many ways, The Grump, title character of DePatie-Freleng's Saturday morning cartoon Here Comes the Grump, reminds a lot of viewers of Yosemite Sam — that sawed-off, loud-mouthed, ill-tempered, red-headed guy with the huge moustache, who entertained cartoon fans for a couple of decades during the …

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… mid-20th century and is still seen in reruns, TV commercials, Looney Tunes revival movies and suchlike. In fact, the allergy-beset dragon The Grump rode has been compared to the one Sam, playing a medieval knight, used for the same purpose in Knighty-Knight, Bugs (1958, and by the way, the only Oscar winner for either Sam or Bugs). This is perfectly understandable, considering Freleng, one of the partners in the production company that made the Grump cartoons, had been the director behind Sam back in his Warner Bros. days. (It's also said that Sam's, and therefore The Grump's, personality was an exaggerated version of Freleng's own, but that's neither here nor there.)

One big difference was, while both were mis'r'ble li'l critters, The Grump was also an evangelist for misery. In fact, he was the wizard who cast a spell of gloom over the entire kingdom, which drove the plot for the series. But he wasn't a villain protagonist like The Claw or Eclipso — more like The Brain or Desperate Desmond, not that it was easy to take him even that seriously. Besides, tho the show was named after him, the heroic characters were at least as prominent.

Of these, the main one was Princess Dawn (no relation), benevolent ruler of the kingdom, who strove to lift the curse so her people could be happy again. This required a magical artifact called The Crystal Key, which could be found in The Cave of the Whispering Orchids. The problem lay in finding that cave, which she tried and failed to do in each weekly episode. In this, she was assisted by Terry Dexter, a boy from the viewers' own Earth, and a dog-like magical creature called Bip (or Bib or even Blip — spelling varies).

The good guys searched for the the key, opposed by The Grump, trying to defend his handiwork, in some very imaginative places. Cherub Land, The Lemonade Sea, Blunderland and Gagville were only a few of the places they visited. They also met some exotic people, such as The Eenie Meenie Miners, The Wily Wheelers and Peter Paintbrush. But they never did find The Cave of the Whispering Orchids, which would have ended the series flat.

The Grump was voiced by Rip Taylor (Wacky Weasel in Bonkers). Princess Dawn was Stefanianna Christopherson (Daphne in Scooby Doo), and Terry was Jay North (best known as the live-action Dennis the Menace). Tho not one of the main characters, Bip/Bib/Blip was played by the biggest star — Mel Blanc himself, whose cartoon voice career started with Porky Pig and from there rose to stratospheric heights.

The series began September 6, 1969 on NBC. 29 episodes were made, which the network ran and reran through 1971. It's since been seen as reruns, notably on The Sci-Fi Channel circa 2000, and is now available in DVD form.

— DDM

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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DePatie-Freleng.