Hello, and welcome everybody. I’m MDTartist83, and welcome to another retro TV review by yours truly. You know, I’ve been wanting to get to this subject ever since my good friend
suggested it to me. And I figured that there’s no better time than now to go over it. But before I do so, I want to say this; “Thank you, Gumballdudley, for suggesting this subject to me.”
Well, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into today’s subject; “Dynomutt: Dog Wonder”. Now, it’s likely that most of you are familiar with this character and his respective series. But for those of you who have just heard of him for the first time, allow me to introduce you. But first, I want to go over some history. “Dynomutt: Dog Wonder” was an American cartoon series that was created by Hanna Barberra; the same company who gave us “Scooby Doo”, “Yogi Bear”, “The Flintstones”, “The Jetsons”, “Quick Draw McGraw”, “Huckleberry Hound”, “Magilla Gorilla”, “Space Ghost” (not Space Ghost Coast to Coast), and the 1970s Superfriends show, which predated Warner Bros’ Justice League by 30 years. But what is there to say about "Dynomutt: Dog Wonder" that hasn’t already been said about it before? Well, I think I should first go over how I first came to know the series. Believe it or not, I didn’t know who Dynomutt was during my early childhood. I didn’t see his show in the 80s because it was rather obscure in comparison to the more popular and well-known Hanna Barberra cartoons. And it wasn’t until the 90s, when I saw the Dexter’s Laboratory episode “Dyno-Might”, that I learned of the robotic dog’s existence for the first time. And at the time, I thought that Dynomutt was only a one shot character in that show. But it wasn’t until much later on when I learned that the character has been around since the 1970s, and that he had his own TV show around that time.
“Dynomutt: Dog Wonder”, was created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears in association with Hanna Barberra, who were responsible for distributing the show during its run. Just a quick history lesson here, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears were the same people who formed the company Ruby Spears, who gave us many shows during the 1980s and 1990s. This includes Thundar the Barbarian, the 1988 Superman TV series, the 80s Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the 90s Megaman cartoon which I reviewed earlier. And Dynomutt was perhaps one of their earliest projects. The show first aired on American television on September 11th, 1976, and ended on October 29th, 1977. The show centers around a goofy, bumbling, yet generally effective robotic canine named “Dynomutt”, who contains a seemingly infinite number of mechanical devices (weapons, tools, ect) built into his anatomy. And he even has the ability to stretch out his limbs on metal cables and use them to perform extraordinary feats. But due to his clumsy and bumbling nature, his functions are often unpredictable. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they backfire on him. Now, if you’re a fan of Inspector Gadget, this might strike you as downright familiar. But bear in mind, Dynomutt came long before Inspector Gadget was invented. So technically, he’s the predecessor of Inspector Gadget. Nevertheless, both characters have their fair share of similarities as well as their share of differences. The robot dog’s master is a Batman/Gatchaman inspired superhero known as the “Blue Falcon”, and they fight crime together in each episode, similar to how Batman and Robin fought crime together in the 60s live action Batman show starring Adam West. Only in this show, Dynomutt was the star of his show, and not his master. And I can clearly see why; because Dynomutt pretty much stole the show with his goofy and silly antics. Heck, his name is in the title, which is a clear give away that the show is more about him than it was about the Blue Falcon, despite being one of the main characters. Besides, as a robot, Dynomutt had so many advantages, while Blue Falcon was an ordinary human being. As with many other animated superhero shows of the time, no origins for the characters are ever provided. It’s never explained anywhere in the series as to why Blue Falcon assumed his persona, or who designed and built Dynomutt to act as his sidekick. For me, Dynomutt was one of the more interesting TV series of the mid to late 70s, even though it wasn’t very popular when it first aired. Sadly, the series was rather short; being only two seasons and 20 episodes long. Due to the series’ lack of popularity and a cult-following at the time, it did not last as long as the highly acclaimed and highly overrated Scooby Doo, which still continues to spawn a vast ocean of TV shows and direct-to-video movies to this very day. There have even been a few comics based on the goofy robotic dog. But they’re very rare and nearly impossible to find.
Dynomutt was originally broadcast as a half-hour segment of the “Scooby Doo/Dynomutt Hour”, which aired from 1976 to 1977. Blue Falcon and Dynomutt would even make appearances in “Scooby Doo All-Star Laff-A-Lympics”, which aired from 1977 to 1978, and “Scooby Doo All-Stars”, which ran from 1978 to 1979. The series would later rerun and syndicated on its own from 1978 onwards. Not to mention, the cast of Scooby Doo would make appearances as recurring characters in Dynomutt’s show as well, assisting the Batman/Gatchaman inspired Blue Falcon and the mechanical canine in fighting crime. Originally distributed as Hanna-Barberra’s then parent company Taft Broadcasting, Warner Bros now currently holds the distribution rights to the series.
Like all other Hanna Barberra cartoons of the 70s, Dynomutt was a comedy show that relied heavily on slap-stick humor as its primary form of entertainment. And though there was no continuity in between episodes (since this was a comedy show), there was somewhat of a story to the series. Although not much information is provided. It turns out that Blue Falcon’s real name is Radley Crown. And like Bruce Wayne/Batman, is a rich businessman and multimillionaire who owns his own enterprise. When crime rears its ugly face in presence of the innocent, Radley Crown assumes the role of the Blue Falcon (similar to how Bruce Wayne assumes the role of Batman). True to his title, he wears a blue uniform that resembles a falcon due to the shape of the cape, the boots, and the helmet design. These similarities alone always gave me the impression that Blue Falcon was also inspired by the anime Gatchaman, which predated this show by four years. Aided by his trusty robotic canine sidekick Dynomutt, they immediately dash for the Falcon's Lair (situated in Crown's penthouse apartment), where they switch to their secret identities, the Blue Falcon and Dog Wonder, respectively. Blue Falcon and Dynomutt receive the report via TV screen from the secret GHQ of secret agent F.O.C.U.S. One (voiced by Ron Feinberg) and jump into the Falcon-Jet and speed into the fray against assorted evildoers. Now here’s an interesting piece of trivia, Blue Falcon was voiced by Gary Owens, who also did the voices of Roger Ramjet from the series of the same name, Space Ghost from the original 60s series, Powdered Toast Man from Ren and Stimpy, and Commander Feral from Swat Kats just to name a few of his roles. And in my review of Inspector Gadget, I mentioned that Owens also did the voice of the title character for the pilot episode before Don Adams took over the role for the rest of the series. And Dynomutt was voiced by none other than the great Frank Welker, the man of many voices. Now, I don’t need to explain who Frank Welker is since he’s been a big name in the voice acting business for decades. And the record of how many characters he has voiced thus far is quite massive. So he really needs no introduction. And believe me, I could go on and on listing all his roles. But if I do, this review will be well over 48 hours long. When voicing Dynomutt, Frank Welker provided the character with a goofy sounding Bullwinkle Moose like voice. Personally, I always thought that Dynomutt sounded a lot like Barney the Dinosaur. But when I compared the sound of his voice to that of Bullwinkle Moose, I instantly captured the alikeness. In fact, the resemblance is uncanny. Dynomutt is most recognizable by his green costume, and for his generally goofy smile. His chest plate sports a capital “D” for his name and insignia. He also has a tendency to chuckle and laugh whenever he makes corny jokes and one-liners.
Moving on, each episode of Dynomutt followed the duo solving some sort of crime and fighting off an assortment of villains ranging from Mr. Hyde (a nod to the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson), Gimmick, Lowbrow, Manyfaces, Shadowman (not to be mistaken for Shadowman from Megaman), Red Vulture, Glob, Fishface, Beastwoman, and Queen Hornet. And every episode in the series is written in a typical Saturday morning cartoon satire type manner. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course since a lot of other cartoon shows were like that back then. But I have to admit that the show’s charm comes directly from Dynomutt’s silly antics. A lot like Inspector Gadget, Dynomutt was very goofy, clumsy, dopey, and somewhat clueless. Again, sometimes his gadgets and weapons would work efficiently, and sometimes they would backfire on him. He tends to screw up almost regularly. And whenever Blue Falcon came close to stopping the villain and saving the day, Dynomutt would involuntarily cause the villain to escape. However, nobody ever got mad at Dynomutt despite how many mistakes he makes. Of course, Blue Falcon would sometimes call him “Dog Plunder” whenever he goofed or made a critical mistake. However, what separates Dynomutt from Inspector Gadget is that the robot dog was always focused on the job, and he would never stray away from the task at hand or change the subject. And not only that, but unlike Gadget who required the assistance Penny and Brain (another character voiced by Frank Welker) to do all the work for him, Dynomutt knew when to be serious and he would effectively help his master in fighting crime. And usually towards the end of each episode, Dynomutt’s gadgets would work in his favor, and he would help Blue Falcon get the job done. In fact, I can say with absolute certainty that despite his flaws (and believe me he has plenty), Dynomutt is a loyal assistant to Blue Falcon, and a good friend to everybody around him. He’s so loyal and dedicated to the cause, that he’d take a bullet for you. And since he’s a robot made out of steel, he could take shots and survive them. Believe me, I should know. Now, like I said before, I didn’t know about Dynomutt back in my childhood. But I did eventually see a few episodes of the show on YouTube after it stopped airing on Cartoon Network’s Boomerang in the late 90s and early 2000s. And I have to say, it’s not bad for a 70s show. In fact, it's really quite interesting. And I actually regret missing out on it in my childhood years. Because I can only imagine that had I known the show back then, I would have loved it. Especially since I’m a dog lover and a huge fan of superheroes and robots. Dynomutt was all those mixed together into one package. And for me, this is what makes the series all the more special for a 70s show.
In the mid to late 90s, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt made a guest appearance in the Dexter’s Laboratory episode “Dyno-Might”, where they were drawn in a completely different style from their 70s counterparts, but still remained true to their roots. Now, as I said earlier in this review, this is what first introduced me to the character. And this episode aired literally 20 years after Dynomutt’s official debut. Once again voiced by Gary Owens and Frank Welker, the duo returned to the small screen (although only for one episode) with a rather dark plot. The story in this episode revolves around Blue Falcon and Dynomutt as they race to the scene of Buzzord (voiced by Rob Paulsen) robbing a local museum for a Ruby of sorts. In the midst of the battle, Buzzord kills Dynomutt by driving his fist through his chest, and retrieving the ruby. But not without receiving a comeuppance from Blue Falcon, who is shocked to see the body of his beloved robot dog resting lifelessly before him. Blue Falcon races the dead and badly damaged Dynomutt to Dexter’s lab to have him repaired. Dexter is successfully able to rebuild the robotic canine. But upon reactivation, Dynomutt proceeds to trash the laboratory due to his clumsiness and goofy antics. But before he could cause anymore damage, Dexter deactivates him, and decides to “start from scratch”. In only a short span of time, he builds a brand new robot called Dynomutt X90 (also voiced by Frank Welker), to serve as Blue Falcon’s new companion. However, the new robot worked too well for its own good. Not only does it prove to be a far more efficient crime prevention unit than its predecessor, but it soon goes on a rampage, using excessive and lethal force to deal with minor crimes such as parking violation, jaywalking, and littering. Blue Falcon and Dexter (under the persona of Dextar) set out to stop the malfunctioning and rampaging Dynomutt X90. But when the robot proves too powerful for them to handle, Dexter reveals to Blue Falcon that Dynomutt X90 is not the same Dynomutt, but a completely new model made from scratch. He even admits that he built it to replace the original Dynomutt because he was a “goofy idiot sidekick”. But thankfully, the original Dynomutt’s body was left intact in the lab, therefore enabling Blue Falcon to reactivate him with his remote control device in one of his arm gauntlets. Dynomutt awakens and arrives to the scene in time to help Blue Falcon and Dexter. Disguising himself as a cat, he distracts Dynomutt X90 enough for Dexter to deactivate it. Dexter then apologizes to Dynomutt and thanks him for his help. Being the kindhearted and forgiving person he is, Dynomutt is quick to forgive Dexter for underestimating him. The episode ends with Blue Falcon telling Dexter that “It’s a goofy idiot side kick that makes a superhero super.” And with that, they leave together in their Falcon Jet, and that’s the end of the episode. Admittedly this plot sounds very similar to Robocop 2. Because if you were to watch that film, you might remember that Robocop also fought against a superior model, and won. Although he had some difficulty.
Dynomutt even made a cameo as a picture in the "Agent Penny" episode of the Super Secret Secret Squirrel segment of 2 Stupid Dogs. In the Johnny Bravo episode “Johnny Makeover”, Gary Owens reprises his role as Blue Falcon, who along with Don Knotts and Weird Al Yankovic (the artist who gave us the song "Dare to be Stupid" which was used for the soundtrack of the original 1986 Transformers movie), redesign Johnny's show in a parody of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Blue Falcon has even had reoccurring appearances in the show “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law”. In one particular episode, particularly “Deadomutt”, Blue Falcon was depicted as a Spanish attorney by the name of Azul Falcone (which means Blue Falcon in Spanish). And as such, he was depicted having a Spanish accent. In this particular episode, Birdman was convicted of murdering Dynomutt in cold-blood. But by the end of the episode, it turns out that Dynomutt was alright, and Birdman was excused of the charge. Dynomutt and Blue Falcon have even appeared in the Robot Chicken episode "Ban on the Fun", with Blue Falcon being voiced by Kevin Shinick and Dynomutt by Victor Yerrid. Though their appearance was very brief.
In the early 2000s, Toonami advertised a series of web comics based on Dynomutt. The title of this web comic was "Blue Falcon and Dynomutt". It was made in 2000, and it was exclusively available at “Toonami.com.” I saw this comic for the first time and when it was first launched on the website. And quite frankly, I was quite surprised at how they managed to execute this reboot. The web comic featured some slick redesigns for the characters, impressive detailed artwork, and a well-written and epic plot. Now it’s worth mentioning that the plot featured in this web-comic was darker and edgier than the episodes featured in the original cartoon. It was kind of like how Warner Bros took Batman and turned the franchise into a darker and edgier series with detailed and in-depth plots. The story is a villain named Hijinx comes up with a plot to turn Dynomutt against his master, Blue Falcon. To do this, he constructs a robotic bear that when activated, goes on a rampage upon a populated city during a press conference, until Dynomutt destroys it using a built-in plug that zaps its energy. But this also kills Dynomutt in the process. With the Dog Wonder now deceased, Blue Falcon arranges a funeral for him, and he is buried in a cemetery. And during Dynomutt’s dramatic death and funeral scene, we get cameo appearances from other Hanna Barberra characters in the background. Shortly after the funeral, Hijinx's henchmen dig up Dynomutt's lifeless body from his grave, and bring him back to his lab to have the robotic canine reprogrammed to be evil, and to be loyal to Hijinx. Blue Falcon soon discovers this, and is shocked to see what has become of his robo canine companion. Hijinx orders the brainwashed Dynomutt (now being called Deadly Mutt) to kill Blue Falcon, and he nearly succeeds. That is until Blue Falcon reveals that he has created two new robotic companions, a cat and a falcon (I forgot what their names are since I only saw this comic once or twice when it was first made). And so after successfully subduing the reprogrammed Dynomutt, Blue Falcon does his best to fix him and restore his primary program. He is successful, although he did have a close call as it took a few minutes for Dynomutt's original program to kick in. His armor then turns from gray back to green. And they are reunited once again. I think it's clear to say that Dynomutt has suffered from what I'd like to call the "Optimus Prime Syndrome" if you know what I mean. Together along with the robot cat and falcon, they are successful to stop Hijinx from running rampant on the world. It was a pretty fun comic with impressive visuals and a solid story. Sadly, this comic has been deleted along with the Toonami website. And you won't be able to find this comic anywhere today. And to this day, very few people even remember that it even existed. But take it from me; I’m not making this up. This web comic REALLY DID existed at one point in time. But again, not many people seem to know about it today.
In recent years, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt made a comeback to television in an episode of “Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated”. Particularly the episode titled “Heart of Evil”. In this episode, Dynomutt is once again voiced by his original voice actor Frank Welker. But Blue Falcon is now voiced by Troy Baker. And unlike the original cartoon or the Dexter’s Laboratory episode "Dyno-Might", Heart of Evil gave more of a backstory and an explanation for Dynomutt’s origin. Apparently, according to this show, Dynomutt is not a robot; but a cyborg whose body is almost completely mechanical. And also, according to this show, it turns out that his real name was Reggie, and that he was a regular canine who belonged to Radley Crown before he took on the role of Blue Falcon. Together, they were security guards who guarded “Quest Labs”, owned by Dr. Quest (a character from Johnny Quest). After Reggie was fatally wounded by a robotic dragon, Dr. Quest revives the dog and is able to transfer his essence into a cybernetic body that is outfitted with a seemingly endless number of gadgets and devices. While Dynomutt retains his original goofy personality from the 70s TV series, Blue Falcon has undergone a dramatic change from what he’s supposed to be based on. In fact, his overall character seems WAY too similar to Frank Miller’s take on Batman. Okay, I get that they were trying to parody The Dark Knight or The Dark Knight Returns, and that they were going for a grittier and more violent version of the character. But did they have to change him so much? I mean it’s okay to base a character off of another. But there is such a thing as overdoing it and drawing WAY too much inspiration. In this case, they definitely carried it a bit too far, and they made Blue Falcon seem like another generic Batman wannabe rather than being his own character. But then again, that’s just my personal opinion. Now, I must say that I was actually quite surprised that Warner Bros even made the effort to touch upon Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. Because as of the time this episode was made, it had been almost 20 years since the characters made guest appearances in the Dexter’s Lab episode “Dyno-Might”. And they haven't had another entry in years. But I have to admit, this was definitely an interesting take on Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. And I thought it was awesome that they finally had their backgrounds fleshed out and explored so that we can better relate to them and get to know them more. Though I do admit I was quite surprised when it was revealed that it was Dr. Quest who created Dynomutt. Because for decades now, fans were wondering who Dynomutt’s creator was. Of course, for all I know, this may or may not be cannon to the series. But then again, considering that Dynomutt’s exact origins were never truly explored until “Heart of Evil” first aired, it begs the question on whether or not this is official. So your guess is as good as mine.
In 2013, the nineteenth direct-to-video film “Scooby Doo: The Mask of Blue Falcon” was released. And it once again featured Blue Falcon and Dynomutt as returning characters from their previous appearance in the TV episode “Heart of Evil”, with Frank Welker once again reprising his role as the goofy robotic canine. In this film, the duo were redesigned in a movie within the film where the second Blue Falcon named Brad Adams (voiced by Diedrich Bader) has a much darker, technologically advanced costume and Dynomutt was stripped down into a destructive, dark-looking robotic dog (similar to Sigma’s dog Velgaurder and Bass’ dog Treble). The film also featured Owen Garrison (voiced by Jeff Bennett), who was an actor that played Blue Falcon in the original TV series that he starred in and was bitter at the fact that Brad Adams was cast as the new Blue Falcon. Mr. Hyde (voiced by John DiMaggio) was the villain of the film and was the disguise of Jack Rabble (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) in a plot to steal the receipts from an armored car and frame Owen Garrison. By the end of the film, Owen Garrison was signed on to appear as the father of the second Blue Falcon for the film's sequel and Scooby-Doo is cast to play the role of the original Dynomutt.
And with all that said, it’s time to conclude this entry. Even though I was unaware of Dynomutt’s existence during my childhood in the 80s, I have known the goofy but lovable robot dog for almost 20 years now. Even though he’s been around for a much longer time than that. But ever since I first learned about him during his guest appearance in Dexter’s Laboratory, I have since grown a fascination and fondness for the character. Dynomutt may not be the most popular of Hanna Barberra’s creations given what few entries he’s had over the years. But even so, the robotic dog has since earned a special place in my heart for his charm and originality. And not only that, but he still has his fans to this day. Not to mention, next year is the 40th anniversary of “Dynomutt: Dog Wonder”. And since the duo has had guest appearances as recently as 2013, maybe Warner Bros. will do something special for the franchise. Or maybe they will just completely ignore it, and continue with their ongoing obsession for Scooby Doo. Honestly, I would not be surprised since Warner Bros. has been obsessed with Scooby Doo since the release of Zombie Island back in 1998. And not to mention there have been countless Scooby Doo movies made in the years that followed. But who knows? Dynomutt may be underappreciated by Hanna Barberra and Warner Bros. But at least the fans appreciate the series in all its glory.
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