Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines was a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for CBS from 1969 to 1971. The show features Dick Dastardly and Muttley, the comic villains from Wacky Races, as World War I flying aces and members of the “Vulture Squadron,” a crew of aviators who’re on a mission to stop a homing pigeon named Yankee Doodle Pigeon from delivering messages to the enemy.
The show was unusual in having only two voice actors, Paul Winchell as Dastardly and the indistinctly heard General, and Don Messick as everybody else. Each half-hour episode typically features two stories, plus “Wing Dings” (short, corny gags) and “Magnificent Muttley” (Muttley’s Walter Mitty-style daydreams).
The show’s theme song is notable for repeating the phrase “Stop the Pigeon” many times, with the result that many have come to believe that this was what the show was called.
The Vulture Squadron
Dick Dastardly is the leader of the Vulture Squadron, an ex-Wacky Racer turned aviator. He is still the accident-prone villain he had been in the Wacky Races. He is referred to as “DD” or “Chief” by Zilly and Klunk, and as “Rick Rasterly” by Muttley (especially when he is muttering). Although he’s sometimes mean to Muttley, Zilly and Klunk, he is a nice guy (he says that to himself, numerous times to calm his nerves). When he gets angry, he usually uses his catchphrase “drat, drat and double drat”, just before crashing hard into the ground. Although he does not show that very often, Dastardly likes Muttley very much… sometimes during the show, he treats Muttley with a lot more respect than the rest of the squadron (Zilly and Klunk).
Muttley is Dastardly’s bungling canine sidekick. He rarely speaks, and when he does it usually takes the form of either (1) just cursing to himself indistinctly, usually following some misfortune that has befallen him, or (2) an excited “yeah-yeah-yeah…” at the offer of something appealing, or in response to a command/request from Dastardly. There are times when distinct single words can be discerned amid his mutterings (e.g., “Sassafrassarassa Chicken Zilly”). He does, however, have a distinctive rasping laugh which he employs whenever something bad happens to Dick, or whenever Dick is describing his latest “foolproof” plot. Since leaving the Wacky Races, Muttley has learned to fly by spinning his tail like a helicopter rotor. This enables him to save Dastardly from falling (which frequently happens, usually accompanied by a cry from Dastardly of: “MUTTLEY!! DO SOMETHING!!”), although Muttley usually demands a medal for doing so. (He also alludes to a medal collection on his shelf.) During Wacky Races, Muttley’s popularity had grown, so when Dastardly and Muttley began production, he got his own segment, Magnificent Muttley, in which he daydreams that he is a different hero each week, usually with Dastardly as the villain.
Zilly is a pilot in the Vulture squadron. He is a cringing coward, forever running away and having to be fetched by Muttley. Each new plan fills him with dread, and he usually utters his catchphrase, “Ohhh dear! Ohh my!”, before retracting his head into his collar like a tortoise retracting into its shell. Dastardly puts up with his cowardice because (1) he is a reasonably competent pilot who is needed to fly planes; and (especially) (2) is the only squadron member able to interpret Klunk’s gibberish (though on one occasion, he actually repeated Klunk’s gibberish when he was asked, “Would you repeat that, Zilly?”). In one episode, he is temporarily turned into a reckless hero via hypnotherapy, but his new heroism turns out to be even more damaging to the squadron than his usual cowardice, leaving no choice to Dick Dastardly but to change him back to normal (causing both Dastardly and Zilly to become a duo of cowards in the process).
Klunk is the Vulture Squadron’s stout and steady chief designer and pilot. Each episode sees him developing aircraft or weapons (often missiles which home on some bizarre trait, such as a person sneezing) with odd features and attachments designed to catch Yankee Doodle Pigeon. His attempts to explain his inventions are complicated by the fact that he apparently suffers from a speech impediment. His speech is punctuated by howls, clicks, whistles, and growls, accompanied by bizarre facial contortions. It is also possible that Klunk does not suffer from the above affliction at all, and that there is a bit of the “machine” within his mostly human form — hence, the howls, clicks, whistles, etc. Only Zilly can understand him. His eyes are never seen because of his bangs and goggles pulled over them. Klunk often assumes command in Dastardly’s absence, like when he went on holiday (only to have his fun ruined by the squadron’s further attempts to capture the pigeon) or suffered from memory loss. Klunk is probably the most consistent character; he is steadfastly committed, beyond all other aspects of his life, to stopping the pigeon.
Yankee Doodle Pigeon is a patriotic American homing pigeon carrying a mail bag, and a bugle which he always plays to (1) announce his presence in defiance of the Vulture Squadron; and (2) to mock the Vulture Squadron’s ineptitude. In the episode “Stop Which Pigeon”, he was caught but was accidentally released.
The General is Dastardly’s superior, who always speaks (or rather, bellows unintelligibly) to Dastardly on the telephone. He is always able to reach Dastardly by phone even when Dastardly is flying (or, more often than not, falling) with randomly appearing telephones, although it is never explained how. The telephones are almost always of the old-fashioned “candlestick” design, and often delivered to Dastardly by paradrop. They also occasionally explosively self-destruct when the general hangs up. The General is an unseen character except for his uniformed arm, which occasionally emerges from the telephone earpiece to grab Dastardly’s neck or strike him directly. In one episode he pays a personal visit but only his foot is seen. In one of the “Wing Dings” short cartoons, we can see a photo of an officer hanging on the wall, which is possibly the General (although this was never confirmed).
Muttley’s girlfriend is only seen in some of the Magnificent Muttley shorts. She is usually the damsel in distress whom Muttley has to rescue from Dastardly’s clutches. She looks like a female of Muttley’s breed (whatever that may be) but unlike him she is able to speak distinctly. She may be a figment of his imagination, although in one of the episodes we can see a picture of her on a wall next to Muttley’s bed.
from : comedy-zone.net, wikipedia.org