L-r: Pancho, Toro (aka Banjo, Fatso).

TIJUANA TOADS

Original Medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: DePatie-Freleng
First Appeared: 1969
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Two years after the advent of The Frito Bandito and amid the growing furor that accompanied him, The DePatie-Freleng Studio (Super President, The Inspector) proved it was still possible to make a cartoon about Mexican stereotypes without raising …

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… very much of a stink — provided you showed them months apart and made people go to movie theatres to see them, instead of getting "in your face" with the viewers on their own TV screens, several times a day.

Tijuana Toads, an Hispanic, amphibian comedy pair named Toro and Pancho, debuted on August 6, 1969, in a cartoon titled, of all things, Tijuana Toads. It was directed by Hawley Pratt, who had assisted Friz Freleng back in the Looney Tunes days, when they worked on such classics as Tweety & Sylvester and Yosemite Sam.

Toro, the fat one, was the dominant partner. He was voiced by Don Diamond, whose most prominent other voice role was the fat sergeant (here, named Gonzales) in the Zorro segment of Filmation's The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour. Pancho was the skinny one who got ordered around a lot. His voice was done by Tom Holland, whose only prior role in animation was also a spoof of Mexicans — Slowpoke Rodriguez, a supporting character to Speedy Gonzales.

The Tijuana Toads came along in the waning days of theatrical animation, and got swept away with the tide along with all the rest. Their series, consisting of 17 cartoons, ended with Flight to the Finish, released April 30, 1972. Along the way, it introduced two characters that would be spun off into series of their own, The Blue Racer and Crazylegs Crane.

But they found new life on NBC's 1976-77 season, when The Pink Panther headed up a show that ran 90 minutes, and featured The Ant & the Aardvark, Misterjaw and whatever else could be fitted in from the DePatie-Freleng inventory. But with an object lesson provided by the now-defunct Frito Bandito, they were renamed. Toro became Fatso and Pancho became Banjo (no relation), and together they were The Texas Toads. They were re-dubbed without accents, and some scenes were re-shot. A few new episodes were made.

As such, they lasted only a year. But they were back to their old selves three decades later, when Boomerang, the cable station that specializes in old animation, started airing most of their old theatrical cartoons. Confusingly, however, a few Texas Toads episodes got into the mix, so viewers aren't quite sure who the stars are.

— DDM

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Text ©2007-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DePatie-Freleng.