The indisputable leader of the gang,
He's the boss,
He's the VIP,
He's a championship,
He's the most tip-top, Top Cat” Theme song.
It's the early sixties and you are in front of your TV set watching an animated show about a smooth talking cat on the make and his gang of misfit moggy sidekicks.
In 1960 the Hanna-Barbera studio found itself with a huge hit on its hands with the animated series The Flintstones, a cartoon show about a 'modern day' stone age family.
They soon followed this series up with another that introduced the lovable confidence trickster cat and his rascally accomplices.
In the same way that The Flintstones was based on The Honeymooners, the new cartoon show was roughly based on the popular live action comedy TV show The Phil Silvers Show (You'll Never Get Rich / Sgt. Bilko.)
The voice of T.C. was provided by Arnold Stang and sounded remarkably like Bilko.
The members of the alley cat gang, Spook, Fancy-Fancy, The Brain, Choo Choo and Benny the Ball, roughly correspond to members of Bilko's platoon.
The character Benny the Ball was particularly like Pvt. Duane Doberman from The Phil Silvers Show and was even voiced by Maurice Gosfield who had played the part of Doberman.
Brains was named somewhat ironically, as the character was often shown to be dimwitted. Top Cat was affectionately referred to as T.C. by his friends.
Of course no cartoon show would be complete without a regularly appearing adversary. The adversary (of sorts) in this show was police officer Charlie Dibble who was frequently trying to chase the feline gang from Hoagy's ally.
The relationship between officer Dibble and the Anthropomorphic Cats contained an element of affection.
The policeman didn't try that hard to arrest any of the gang, he mainly tried to thwart their scams and tried to prevent TC from using the police telephone for personal calls.
The cats also often went to great trouble to get officer Dibble out of hot water, after being the cause of the policeman's troubles of course.
When the show was first aired in 1961 (by ABC,) it was shown in black and white, it had to wait for re-runs before it could be seen in glorious color.
The BBC broadcast the show in the United Kingdom. However there was a slight problem. The BBC is a non-commercial station and no advertising or sponsorship is permitted, and at that time there was a very popular brand of cat food called, you've guessed it, Top Cat.
The BBC felt that they were not able to air the show with it's existing title, so the title cards were changed and the show was rechristened Boss Cat. But confusingly, the theme song was unchanged and the character was continuously referred to as Top Cat, or TC, throughout the show.
As the shows were made for television, the budget was not huge and the animation was not as detailed as cartoon shows made for showing in movie theaters. However the TC series seems to have had more care and better production values applied to it than most of the the Hanna-Barbera television output.
The characterizations were first class and the humor, although primarily aimed at kids, could always be appreciated by adults.
Surprisingly, only one season, of 30 episodes, of the cartoon show were made, the shows were frequently repeated and it's possible that even today, nearly fifty years on, TC can be enjoyed somewhere in the world.
Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry cartoons, directed by Hanna and Barbera, 1940-1957, were absolute masterpieces of animation. Beautifully drawn, very fast paced action and lovable, likable characters.