Wacky Races

Wacky Races

(CBS, 1968-'70) cartoon series

Based on the 1965 film The Great Race, this cartoon series follows eleven sets of odd characters as they vie to win races with their equally bizarre vehicles. The villain of the piece is Dick Dastardly who, along with his sometimes faithful dog Muttley, takes every opportunity to cheat. Many of the episode titles are a play on words of place names, and it was the title "Rhode Island Road Race" (first aired on November 9, 1968), that brought the show to our attention.

The episode itself has dang little to do with Rhode Island (beyond an early reference from the narrator that the racers are on their way to Rocky Road, Rhode Island), and the title was clearly chosen merely in order to use a pair of alliterative homophones. Still, the endlessly repeating background scenery is vaguely reminiscent of New England, with stone walls, split-rail fences, farm houses, fields, steepled churches, and covered bridges rolling by. About half-way through the episode the racers roar into Big Town, population 50,000. There, Dastardly directs one racer into a subway, then detours everyone else onto the girders of a partially built skyscraper.

It's ultimately pointless to try to discuss the correlations between a cartoon and the real world (after all, this is a medium where an anvil dropped on someone's head merely raises a very tall bump), but we can at least agree that the writers of this episode were completely unfamiliar with Little Rhody.

Screenshot of Dick Dastardly in his car

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