Heathcliff and Marmaduke
By KJ Dell Antonia,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Slapstick animal toons are fine, if not inspiring.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
In the Marmaduke cartoons, the mayhem invariably results not from bad intentions but from the dog's size and clumsiness. Though Heathcliff responds to neighborhood bullies with violence, he never starts it and insists he would prefer to be friends. Some dated gender roles -- the heroes are always the male characters.
Violence & Scariness
Very mild cartoon violence. No weapons -- cats and dogs fight within a spinning cloud of dust, striking one another, etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that these '80s cartoons, while mild in many ways, aren't nearly as politically correct as those made today. All the heroes are male, and female characters (and sometimes even minorities) tend to appear in stereotypical guises and minor roles. There is some slapstick cartoon violence as well -- which is sometimes used to resolve conflicts.
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What's the Story?
HEATHCLIFF AND MARMADUKE ran for only a single season on ABC, although Heathcliff appeared with other characters -- including Dingbat and the Catillac Cats -- in other cartoons both before and after this iteration. Here, the Garfield-esque orange tabby defends himself easily from neighborhood bully Spike using his greater strength and craftiness. Meanwhile, Marmaduke's predicaments are the result of a combination of good intentions, great size, and native clumsiness (and very little guile).
Is It Any Good?
The one thing that makes this show different -- and even a little refreshing -- is that none of the characters are actually out to eat or deceive one another. It's impossible to find any real malice even in Spike, who doesn't want to hurt Heathcliff, but rather prove himself the stronger to his friends. Kids might even relate to the situation and envy Heathcliff his easy solution. That said, the plots aren't original, and the animation is nothing special. Overall, Heathcliff and Marmaduke is fine, if not particularly inspiring, viewing.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why TV producers would want to make cartoons based on characters in newspaper comic strips. Do you think that would make kids more likely to watch them? Why or why not? Can you think of any characters from other media that have become cartoons today?
- Premiere date: September 12, 1981
- Cast: Frank Welker, Mel Blanc, Paul Winchell
- Network: Boomerang
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- TV rating: TV-G
- Last updated: February 24, 2022
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