SPACE KIDETTESMedium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1966
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Kid gangs are such a staple in fiction of all sorts, not least cartoons, that they function in practically any setting — the old west (Boys' Ranch), an inner-city ghetto (The Newsboy Legion), funny animals (The Get-Along Gang), the prehistoric past (Cave Kids), or whatever. Here's one that's set in The Future — not that vast, mysterious time we can see only glimpses of but never quite catch up with. This is The Future
of space ships, flying cars and any number of stylized futurization tropes, the one inhabited by toons as diverse as Jetta of the 21st Century and Magnus, Robot Fighter, 4000 AD.
This was a future as interpreted by Hanna-Barbera, most prominently seen in The Jetsons. The difference is, that future setting was urban, family-oriented, and bound to a planet's surface. Space Kidettes was set in the wilderness of outer space; and in that series, family connections (i.e., parents) were as irrelevant as they'd been in Tom Terrific and would later be in Rainbow Brite. They were kids on their own, occupying an adult-free clubhouse, which, like that of The Legion or Super Heroes (which, by the way can be seen as a kid gang in a superhero setting), resembled an old spacecraft, except the Legion's was flat on the ground and the Kidettes' floated free in space. The Kidettes operated out of what looked like an old Mercury or Gemini capsule, the only real-life models Americans of the time (pre-Apollo) were familiar with.
The show debuted September 10, 1966, on NBC. The gang had a membership consisting of two boys, two girls and a dog. Scooter was voiced by Chris Allen (Hoppity Hooper). Countdown was Don Messick (Hamton Pig in Tiny Toon Adventures). Snoopy (no relation) was Lucille Bliss (Crusader Rabbit). Jenny was Janet Waldo (Morticia Addams). Messick (Yogi Bear's partner, Boo Boo) also did the voice of their dog, Pupstar. Messick often did the studio's non-anthropomorphic animals, such as Kaboobie the Camel, Sebastian the Cat, and Scooby-Doo.
The Kidettes flitted around space, doing good deeds. But that, while nice, doesn't generate so much interest it can sustain a half-hour Saturday morning cartoon show. Fortunately, they also happened to possess a treasure map, which was coveted by Captain Skyhook, a pirate, and his sidekick, Static. The sidekick was by far the more evil of the pair — he wanted to torture and maim in pursuit of the map whereas the captain only wanted the map and insisted his foes not be harmed because "they're just little kids!" Both of their voices were done by Daws Butler (Cap'n Crunch).
The Space Kidettes weren't one of Hanna-Barbera's more spectacular smash hits, lasting only one season of 20 episodes. They did appear in a comic book, but only one, the final issue of Gold Key's Cave Kids. They had a brief afterlife in reruns, but those petered out after a few years. Nowaday, they're mostly forgotten.