Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Small Screen Same as Big Screen

Tex Avery’s T.V. of Tomorrow may have been onto something. There’s a gag about the ubiquitousness of Westerns on the tube. At the time the cartoon was released in 1953, there was only one Western in prime time, The Lone Ranger on ABC. In the 1958-59 season, ABC had three of them on Sunday night alone. There were at least two Westerns on the prime time schedule every evening.

So perhaps T.V. of Tomorrow is predicting the 1958 season. A viewer gets angrier and angrier as he turns the channel and each station is running a Western. He punches a hole in his picture tube and heads to the Rialto movie theatre to get away from Westerns.

He sits down. A romantic title appears on the big screen. Suddenly he turns all coy, with a batting of eyelashes that Chuck Jones would love.

Suddenly, the music changes. It’s the William Tell Overture, punctuated with gunshots. Here’s the man’s reaction. Avery’s given up on the huge eye takes from the 1940s (at least for this cartoon).

Cut to the screen. It’s the same Western that was on all the TV channels.

Tex and storyman Heck Allen bring back the Western as their closing gag.

Ray Patterson, Bob Bentley, Grant Simmons, Mike Lah and Walt Clinton are the animators with the uncredited Ed Benedict handling designs. Your narrator in this short is Paul Frees.


  1. Saturday morning was prime time for us kids in the earlier 1950s, and the main attractions were TV cowboy shows and cowboy movies. After school weekday afternoons had more cowboys. The frequent sound of gunshots and galloping horses in his home would have been very familiar to Mr. 1953 TV Viewer.

  2. The patron to the right of Mr. Lovey-Dovey apparently headed for another seat after the title flashes on the screen, perhaps sensing a flailing freak-out was imminent.

  3. Didn't he joke about wider ratio TV screens in that? In the 70s somebody told me that there would never be widescreen TV that you could show Cinemascope films on un-panned ans un-scanned, because "stations aren't interested in showing movies, they're interested in showing commercials".