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Tv Reviews : 'Blondie' And 'cathy': 2 Funnies That Aren't

May 15, 1987|CHARLES SOLOMON

"Blondie & Dagwood" and "Cathy," two animated specials based on newspaper comic strips airing tonight at 8 and 8:30 p.m. respectively on CBS (Channels 2 and 8), attempt to find humor in women's roles in contemporary society. The material is as depressing as the level of the animation.

Neither program exploits the potential of the cartoon medium. Each depicts human characters in more-or-less realistic situations, and could have been done more effectively in live action. (There have already been two TV series, a radio show and 28 feature films based on "Blondie.")

When Mr. Dithers finally carries out one of his threats to fire Dagwood, Blondie has to get a job to support the family. Naturally Dagwood proves to be perfectly inept as a housekeeper, so Blondie turns into Supermom, serenely cooking and cleaning after working all day in a department store. Cora Dithers beats her husband into re-hiring Dagwood, Blondie cheerfully returns to being a housewife--despite her success as a saleswoman--and domestic semi-bliss is restored.

Cartoonist Chic Young, who created the strip, and his successors, Dean Young and Rick Marschall, have been milking this kind of situation comedy for decades and made it funny. Here, however, producer/director Mike Joens times the jokes so badly, they fall flatter than Dagwood's attempts at cooking, and the program looks like an undistinguished Saturday morning show.

Adapting "Cathy" presented an even greater challenge: The original strip is so badly drawn, there really isn't anything to animate. The artists do what they can, but the characters remain physically undistinguished lumps.

A good script might have carried the clumsy artwork, but "Cathy" is pretentious and sexist. The narrator's pronouncements about being single in modern society are as profound as fortune cookies, and every bit as stale. ("We're all free to be anything, and under 100 new pressures to be everything.") The running gag in the program consists of Andrea yelling "Pig!" and spraying Mace at every man Cathy meets. Hilarious.

Even more depressing is the underlying assumption that women find professional success utterly meaningless unless they're involved in a perfect romance. Cathy takes no pleasure in being named Employee of the Year by her company, but does whine and fuss because her slug of a boyfriend won't go to the banquet with her.

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