By KJ Dell Antonia,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Once-funny now-clichéd cat thwarts authority.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There's certainly no intentional social message here, but the "good guys" are the gangland cats, and the "baddies" the cops, although it all plays out in a very sedate manner. Some character stereotyping typical of the original '60s time period.
Violence & Scariness
Some minor classic slapstick cartoon violence in the Three Stooges vein -- friends whack each other over foolish comments, fingers are caught in mousetraps, etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is one of the many cartoons in which the rogues are smart (well, at least one of them is) and the cops aren't. Top Cat always beats the police in any contest of wits, although he never actually gets the riches, fame, or cushy home he's looking for. Top Cat is one of those characters -- like Yogi Bear, Daffy Duck, or even the Lucky Charms rabbit -- whose appeal lies partly in his constant, fruitless striving. Plenty of very mild slapstick cartoon violence and dated situations, but not much else to worry about.
Where to Watch
Based on 3 parent reviews
Hanna Barbana's best cartoon!
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Classic but not the best
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What's the Story?
TOP CAT was a primetime Hanna-Barbera offering from 1961-1962. The show uses classic sitcom plots that are translated to a classic cartoon world in which Top Cat (voiced by Arnold Stang) and his gang of harmless cats live in a New York alley, attempting mild get-rich-quick scams and cons. They never succeed, but they always outwit Officer Dibble and the rest of the police force.
Is It Any Good?
Pretty much a knock-off of the '50s' Phil Silvers Show, today Top Cat is about as funny as, well, The Phil Silvers Show and is more of an artifact of its time than anything else. Violence is minor and stereotypes abound, but since all of the characters are even more two-dimensional than in most cartoons, the stereotyping matters less than you'd think. While Top Cat is pretty harmless, there's better stuff out there, even at this level.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the characters' motivations. Do you think Top Cat really wants to leave behind his alley gang for a life of ease? Does Officer Dibble really dislike Top Cat? Families with older kids might enjoy talking about how the plots of these cartoons are the same ones that play out over and over again, particularly in older sitcoms. Would they still work for today's shows? Why or why not?
- Premiere date: September 27, 1961
- Cast: Arnold Stang, Maurice Gosfield, Paul Frees
- Network: Boomerang
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Adventures
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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