Colonel Bleep (partially found animated TV series; 1957-1960)
Colonel Bleep is an American animated science fiction television series. The series was created by Robert D. Buchanan and Jack Schleh and was produced by Richard H. Ullman Inc and Soundac. The show was best known for being the first animated TV series produced in color. Its original air run lasted from 1957 to 1960 and went through reruns until approximately 1971.
The series starts with the titular character who hails from another planet called Futura. As an interplanetary intelligence agent for the Futura High Command, Colonel Bleep is assigned to investigate signs of trouble across the universe, including the distant planet Earth. On Earth, Bleep begins his exciting adventures with two unlikely companions: Squeak the child-like puppet and Scratch the powerful caveman. As a puppet Squeak was once a theater actor until he vowed to work for Bleep as a space deputy. The puppet lacks a mouth, which prevents him from speaking (despite there being a few episodes where Squeak could talk). Regardless, Squeak is filled with curiosity as of most little boys. For Scratch, he once fell asleep throughout the evolution of mankind and did not wake up until the day of the first nuclear explosion (July 16th, 1945), blowing him "right out of the past and into the present." While Scratch may lack in brains he makes it up in muscle with the help of his super strength and his spiked wooden club. Together the three main characters represent the three-time phases: Colonel Bleep of the future, Squeak of the present, and Scratch of the past. These heroes live in their headquarters on Zero-Zero Island and the three vow to work together as they try "to maintain right and justice throughout the vast galaxies of the universe."
Throughout the series, various episodes are based on a certain element.
- Travelogue Episodes: Episodes where the main trio travel across different planets and places on Earth.
- Zero-Zero Island Episodes: Episodes revolving around the characters' adventures on their home island.
- Villainous Episodes: Episodes revolving around sinister plots made by the following antagonists: Dr. Destructo, The Black Knight of Pluto, Bruto the Black Robot(often referred as the Black Robot), and Black Patch the space pirate.
- Space Patrol Episodes: Episodes that involve flying space scooters and the giant starship called the Trav-a-Lab.
Colonel Bleep was created by Robert D. Buchanan and Jack Schleh. It was also produced by Soundac and Richard H. Ullman Inc. The show was originally titled The Adventures of Colonel Bleep and was originally designed to be an animated quiz show, which featured cartoon episodes, quizzes, riddles, and other interactive content. The show would be hosted by a TV star of a variety of children's shows such as Bob Lawrence, who played the role of Captain Star during a wraparound for The Colonel Bleep Show. According to Schleh, he did not have any money to produce the show, so he hired a newscaster named Noah Tyler, who took the role as the show’s narrator. However, Tyler did voice all of the characters whenever they spoke, although they were mostly silent. The art style of the show was heavily influenced by the mid-century art style and Googie architecture. However, this style was rather simplified due to the studio having a limited budget.
Originally the show was supposed to last for 52 episodes, but it later expanded to 78 and eventually 100, much to the dismay of the creators. Although it is assumed that the actual number of episodes lasted up to 104.
The show was first syndicated on television on September 1957, but the show was first copyrighted in 1956. The show was sponsored by several food companies: Loblaw’s Food Stores, Table Queen Bread, International Shoe, 7-11 Markets, Foremost Dairies, Spaulding Bakeries, Pinemount Daries, and Maypo Cereal.
Soundac itself was an animation studio formed in 1951 and founded by Bobby Nicholson, who left the company to work on The Howdy Doody Show. Buchanan replaced Nicholson as the new president of the company. The studio originated in Buffalo, New York but it later moved into Miami, Florida and Hollywood, Florida. While Soundac is best known for producing Colonel Bleep, it is also known for producing other game shows such as Musical Tune-O, Watch the Birdie, and Dollar Derby. The company also created another animated series titled Mighty Mister Titan, which relates to fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. The studio also created animations for two interstitial series: The Weather Man and Colorskope. Soundac is also known for producing over 4,000 animated commercials, but only a small portion of these commercials remain today. Production in Soundac lasted as late as 1981, but it is unknown when the studio closed down.
A large portion of Colonel Bleep episodes had been left missing. It is believed that when Soundac closed down, all of the studio's materials were being stored in a van including master tapes, artwork, and other equipment. Car thieves had stolen the van and it was never retrieved or restored since. This claim has not been confirmed at this time.
Despite the mysterious disappearance, 14 episodes were released on VHS by Streamline Pictures and is said that all of the other episodes in its master film were stored in a warehouse in Texas for decades and were "not intact enough to be restored." It also said that replicated films of these episodes were found during an auction. Later on, another company called Alpha Video restored 20 more episodes on DVD while F.H.E Entertainment released one episode, titled "The Treacherous Pirate," into a complication film titled Speed Racer: The Movie (aka The Speed Racer Show). This was the only episode to be visually restored at the time and the only one to be released on Laserdisc and in movie theaters. In 2018 and 2019, a YouTuber by the name of ToonTracker released 9 episodes on YouTube, but they were sepia-toned compared to the others. A kinescope reel of a children's program titled Cartoon Express, featured the episode title of Squeak and the Black Knight. Another lost episode titled The Malicious Mailman was found by film archivist Sarah Silverman in 2023. There have not been any other episodes found as of 2023.
As of 2023, the series has fallen under public domain due to a failure of copyright renewal on December 31st, 1985.
Although there are about 100 to 104 episodes, only 45 are known to survive.
|1||Col. Bleep’s Arrival on Earth|
|2||The Uncharted Island|
|3||The Earth from Outer Space|
|4||Building an Island Base|
|5||Scratch and the Sea Serpent|
|6||Squeak and the Terrible Termite|
|7||The Runaway Rocket|
|8||Man Hunt on the Moon|
|9||Scratch and his Feathered Friend|
|10||Shadows of Suspicion|
|11||The Prehistoric Present|
|12||The Magnetic Menace|
|13||The Ingenious Invention|
|14||The Relentless Rain|
|16||War in Robotland|
|20||Satellite of Death|
|21||The Invisible Gorilla|
|22||The Treacherous Pirate|
|23||The Ghastly Ghost|
|24||Ball of Fire|
|25||The Falling Star|
|26||Space Station X-1|
|27||Test of Friendship|
|28||The Lunar Luger|
|29||The Pirate Plot|
|30||The Killer Whale|
|31||Ice Demons Attack|
|32||A Windy Knight|
|33||The Rusty Robots|
|35||The Bat and the Bottle|
|36||Tunnel in Space|
|37||The Greedy Gorilla|
|39||The Wicked Web|
|40||The Evil Eye|
|41||The Treacherous Trio|
|42||The Hypnotic Helmets|
|43||Winner Take All|
|44||Knight of Death|
|45||The Malicious Mailman (upcoming)|
As of 2023, there are 21 missing episodes with their titles found, whereas the other titles are currently missing.
|1||The Incredible Icemen|
|2||The Mechanical Twin|
|3||Squeak and the Black Knight|
|4||Scratch and the Sputnik|
|5||Traffic Jam in Space|
|6||The Missile and the Moonmites|
|7||The Magnetic Moon|
|8||The Martian Mine|
|9||In Days of Knights|
|10||Terror that Ticks|
|11||The Magic Lamp|
|12||The Terrible Sleep|
|13||The Big Thunder|
|14||The Dubious ???|
|15||The War Game|
|16||The Spell of Doom|
|17||The Sinister Statue|
|18||The Double Disguise|
|19||The Big Picture|
|20||The Sinister Shortcut|
|21||Battle of the Aces|
- ↑ Cartoon Research article on Colonel Bleep. Retrieved 23 Jun '22
- ↑ Sponsor Magazine December 1957 pg. 26-27 Retrieved 23 Jun '22
- ↑ A Flyer mentioning the series having 100 episodes produced. Retrieved 23 Jun '22
- ↑ Sponsor Magazine July 1958 pg. 66 Retrieved 23 Jun '22
- ↑ Can't Wait Till Monday Morning: Syndication in Broadcasting pg.64-65 Retrieved 23 Jun '22
- ↑ A Flyer mentioning Soundac and it's history. Retrieved 23 Jun '22
- ↑ Archived website with various material from the show. Retrieved 23 Jun '22