Experiments in Television: THIS IS AL CAPP (1970) and A DOONESBURY SPECIAL (1977)

7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

PIX Film Gallery


Saturday May 16th – 7:30PM
PIX Film Gallery – 1411 Dufferin St., Unit C (next door to TAIS)
Tix: $7 / $5 TAIS members

This new quarterly series is a curator-based celebration of the ephemeral, often discarded history of animation made for a television context, from animated interstitials and PSAs, to TV documentaries and seasonal specials. Our own programming committee members Kier-La Janisse and Frank “Fingers” Labonte set the tone for the series with this rare double bill, but future ‘Experiments in Television’ will be programmed through an open call to curators.

al capp

NBC Experiment in Television: THIS IS AL CAPP
(Guy Fraumeni and Ernie Pintoff | USA 1970 | 60mins | Video)

In 1967, NBC began the first in a five year run of an hour-long Sunday afternoon television show called ‘Experiment in Television’ (from which our own series derives its name) aimed at critical, experimental teleplays that ranged from comedy to drama and documentary, often engaging with the counterculture in some way. The most famous of these was likely Jim Henson’s THE CUBE (1969 – one of two episodes he directed for the series), but the most incendiary may be Guy Fraumeni and Ernie Pintoff’s THIS IS AL CAPP, about the notorious hippie-hating cartoonist responsible for the immensely influential Lil’ Abner strips (and for harassing John and Yoko during their Montreal bed-in). Fraumeni and Pintoff had previously collaborated on THIS IS MARSHALL MCLUHAN: THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE, an episode from the series’ first season, and they seem to have adopted McLuhan’s experimental aesthetic approach, making THIS IS AL CAPP an oddball production that pits lysergic visuals and frenetic editing against tirades by a man who frequently referred to hippies as “animals” and “unwashed, filthy, drug-taking hypocrites”. No matter what side you’re on, Capp’s rants are very entertaining. Featuring interviews with Al Capp, William F. Buckley Jr., David Susskind, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and fellow cartoonists Trina Robbins, Milt Caniff and Walt Kelly.

1977 - A Doonesbury Special

(John and Faith Hubley | USA 1977 | 26mins | 16mm)

On the flip side of Al Capp, and fast-forwarding almost a decade, A DOONESBURY SPECIAL – the last collaboration between animators John and Faith Hubley before John’s death – sees Garry Trudeau’s classic, Pulitzer-winning characters examine how their lifestyles, priorities, and concerns have changed since the end of their idealistic college days in the 1960s. The special was nominated for an Academy Award and won a special Jury Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and makes a perfect counterpoint to THIS IS AL CAPP, as in its day, Lil’ Abner was also renowned for the liberal political editorializing that underscored Capp’s cartooning.

Check out this insightful, poignant article by the AV Club on the importance of A DOONESBURY SPECIAL: http://www.avclub.com/article/doonesbury-special-offered-disillusioned-generatio-212489