The Maligning #3 - The most heinous of the 3! If you have created beloved characters that have lasted decades upon decades; have had numerous merchandise created; they have been seen on multiple platforms from movies, games and, hell, bed sheets, then why, oh God, why, would you not try your damn darnedest to get a voice artist who could recreate the voices of said beloved characters? Betty Rubble in the original 60's incarnation goes from the inimitable Bea Benedaret to Gerry Johnson, fairly Seamlessly, not a lot of issue here. But once Gerry Johnson also past away, all things went to hell. The same is true about Fred's voice Alan Reed. As great of a voice artist as Henry Cordon was, he could never fill Reeds shoes and simply screeched Fred's baritone until his death in 2005. BUT it was tolerable. What was not tolerable were the absolute unfortunate voices that would plague Betty Rubble for the next 3 decades. Gay Hartweg, BJ Ward and Gay Autterson in no way shape or form, embody the spirit, cadence or likability of everyone's favorite hot neighbor! I'm sure these ladies are lovely, but to go from the bubbly verve of Benedaret, who helped create a "catch giggle", if you can call it that, to Gay Auttersons dour sounding molasses of a drawl, is the thing that resonates to me that few appreciated these characters enough to find the right voice. I bought a CD boxed set called Hanna-Barbera's Pic-a-Nic Basket of Cartoon Classics and in it was a CD with answering machine messages of the stars, you could use as your outgoing message. i don't know who did the voices, but you could tell it was the same guy and he machete'd each voice to pieces! I.E. when Super Snooper and Blabber mouse were talking, the guy barely switched from Snooper in time for the piece of dialogue spoken by Blabbermouse! His Snagglepuss was depressing and i got out a noose when he tried to muster Peter Potamus' voice!
Would Disney ever do this? Did they? NO! You cannot tell the difference in utterance between Mickey, Donald or Goofy from 1940 to 2008. Different actors have portrayed these voices and there are slight inflections that allow you to tell the difference between a Bill Farmer from a George Johnson, but for the most part it is seamless!
With the Deaths of Don Messick, Daws Butler and Mel Blanc, we have seen a constant deterioration in the world of making our favorite characters sound as they did in their original outings and its a travesty. Maybe i have a very discerning ear, as i listen to hear the differences between, say Kermit the Frog pre and post Jim Henson and all other classic cartoons whose voices have past on to the great sound booth in the sky. At this point, if Frank Welker and Casey Kasem die, H-B Characters are up crap creek without a paddle! So much of their appeal comes from the voices that i don't understand why its not given much more credence! I see they tried to have a different actor do Shaggy in some of those direct to DVD titles recently and the show that came out, but have gone back to Kasem for the good of all toondom. Not all is bleak, however, as the voice cast of The Flintstones On the Rocks was delightful! Tress MacNeille channeled the feisty spirit of Jean Vander Pyl perfectly and Jeff Bergman's Fred was a throwback to Alan Reed if ever i heard one. Another plus is Mindy Cohn as Velma in Scooby Doo. She is a welcome addition to newer Scooby toons and is very similar to Nicole Jaffe. But alas, Daphne's voice has been screwed up since the original episodes with Stefanianna Christopherson went off Saturday mornings. Even Heather North did a commendable job with Daffy Daphne in the early 80's. Who the hell is doing it now?
Please Warner Brothers, stop maligning our characters with terrible voice interpretations! I say this at a time when actually, i think it's getting better, but still, as you prepare (at least i hope you are preparing) new ways to reinvigorate these classic toons, do not accept mediocrity. If you need an idea, see my deviantart page for my interpretation of what i think you should do with the H-B franchise the link is below. I mean look at these great characters!