The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
"I'll get you, Penelope Pitstop!"
Headlined by one of the most fetching females in animation, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop was one of two animated series spun off from Wacky Races. Implied to be set between 1911 and 1930, the series was strongly influenced by The Perils of Pauline, a silent movie serial.
The heiress Penelope, a classic Damsel in Distress, was the ward of Sylvester Sneekly. Unknown to her, Once an Episode Sneekly assumed the identity of the Hooded Claw. With the aid of his identical twin henchmen, the Bully Brothers, the Hooded Claw caught Penelope in one Death Trap after another, in hope of taking over her inheritance. Invariably, the Hooded Claw would explain his trap in detail to Penelope.
Although she often escaped the Hooded Claw's traps on her own, Penelope had friends in the Ant Hill Mob, a group of seven little men whose car, Chugaboom, may have been a prototype for Speed Buggy. The Interactive Narrator was also on her side, providing advice and encouragement. Frequently, after the Mob rescued Penelope, she had to rescue them from an unintended consequence of their heroics.
- Action Girl: Penelope Pitstop might have been naïve and prone to danger, but she was actually far more capable than she looked and often saved the day.
- Affectionate Parody: Penelope and the Ant Hill Mob may have been gentle caricatures of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- It was actually lampshaded back in the first episode of Wacky Races, "See-Saw to Arkansas", where the mob dressed up as the seven dwarves to give people false directions. Penelope was the first one they misdirected.
Clyde: If she follows my directions, she'll end up in the middle of the LaBrea Tarpits!
- Animated Series
- Anti-Sneeze Finger: Penelope does it to herself in episode "Tall Timber Treachery".
- Balloonacy: In "The Boardwalk Booby Trap", the Hooded Claw gets rid of the Ant Hill Mob by giving them helium balloons that cause them to float away.
- Bond Villain Stupidity
- Bound and Gagged: It happens to Penelope Once an Episode, if not more often.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: Main titles only.
- By Wall That Is Holey: "They would forget to close the window!"
- Chained to a Railway: It's even in the credits.
- Characterization Marches On: May be a little odd for Wacky Races fans seeing Penelope and the Ant Hill Mob as devoted allies (especially the aforementioned instance where the Mob try to use dirty tactics on Penelope).
- Coat, Hat, Mask: The Hooded Claw
- Comic Book Adaptation: Penelope appeared in four issues of Gold Key Comics' Hanna-Barbera Fun-In and two issues of Golden Comics Digest. The digest stories had Sylvester Sneekly as Penelope's neighbor (she owned a ranch in those stories) instead of her guardian.
- Conveyor Belt of Doom
- Cool Car: Chugaboom
- Media Research Failure: Animation historian Jerry Beck claimed in his book The Hanna-Barbera Treasury that this series "featured the Ant Hill Mob as [Penelope's] chief rival". Probably never seen an episode before in his life (or watched Wacky Races instead).
- Crazy Prepared: Pockets seems to have a gadget for every occasion.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Both Penelope and the Ant Hill Mob, both examples were rather haphazardous and prone to getting into danger easily but were resilient and resourceful in saving the other when they were in peril (which happened a lot).
- Dastardly Whiplash: The Hooded Claw.
- Deadpan Snarker: Clyde and the Hooded Claw.
- Death Trap: At least one per episode.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: The Hooded Claw in "Wild West Peril" after Penelope makes off with his hot air balloon.
Claw: Help! Police!! (covers his mouth)...oop...what am I saying?!
- Damsel in Distress: Both parodied and played straight with Penelope.
- Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: In one episode, Penelope returned a fallen baby eagle to its nest.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: In "North Pole Peril". Only this trope excuses that.
- Evil Laugh: The Hooded Claw, in spades. His voice actor was clearly into this specific part of the character and delivered those evil laughs with great gusto.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: This show is about Penelope Pitstop. She is in peril. Many times.
- Falling Chandelier of Doom: "The Treacherous Movie Lot Plot"
- Genre Blindness
- Genre Savvy: In "Carnival Calamity", the Hooded Claw actually realizes that his henchmen are stupid and that he needs more effective goons. Considering he usually is the typical Genre Blind villain most of the time, this would be a momentary subversion.
- Hammerspace: Pockets was known for this.
- Heel Face Turn: The Bully Brothers in the series finale, "London Town Treachery". The Claw intends to fire them after the Ant Hill Mob -- turned into miniature Mr. Hydes from a spiked tea -- put Penelope in a peril, leaving the Brothers with no alternative but to try to rescue Penelope.
- The Ant Hill Mob themselves were originally rival racers in Wacky Races that shot at other racers with Tommy guns a few times, so they probably count.
- The Hyena: Yak-Yak of the Ant Hill Mob.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes
- Improvised Parachute: In "Jungle Jeopardy" Penelope used her scarf as a parachute after jumping from a plane.
- Interactive Narrator
- Illegal Guardian
- It's Raining Men: Or in this case a woman, as noted in Improvised Parachute above.
- Lazy Artist: In many episodes in certain scenes, the straps of Penelope's helmet are colored the same as her hair.
- Karma Houdini: Though he was a luckless villain that fell victim to his own devices a lot of times, the Hooded Claw was naturally never caught or discovered and ended nearly every episode making a Villain Exit Stage Left.
- Meaningful Name: Six members of the Ant Hill Mob. It quickly becomes clear what Dum-Dum, Pockets, Snoozy, Softy, Yak-Yak and Zippy do.
- Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: We never find out what happened to Penelope's parents, or why they were crazy enough to entrust her guardianship to Sneekly.
- We can presume they're deceased, as Penelope lampshaded in the episode "The Hair-Raising Harness Race," in which she is attempting to win the Pitstop Cup in said race:
Penelope: Dear daddy would have wanted it that way. He paid for the cup, y'know.
- The Mobsters Who Don't Do Anything: The Ant Hill Mob doesn't do very much mob-type stuff.
- Granted being the heroes of the show, there isn't a lot mob-like they can get away with anymore, they did a bit more in Wacky Races where they were more antagonistic.
- Mummy: The Hooded Claw naturally mummified Penelope for one of his schemes in the Egyptian themed episode "Arabian Desert Danger".
- Never Say "Die"
- No Kill Like Overkill: The Hooded Claw's traps always consisted of some kind of crazy Rube Goldberg-esque setup that would eventually lead to Penelope's death. More often than not, the Claw would always spend nearly a minute explaining how the trap works, and Penelope often takes advantage of the time it takes for the trap to go into action to save herself.
- No Name Given: The Bully Brothers.
- Non-Indicative Name: The Hooded Claw. No hood, no claw. I guess he just thought the name sounded cool.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Six of the mobsters.
- Only One Name: Clyde of the Ant Hill Mob.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The Hooded Claw did this a lot, and sometimes would wear his purple ribbon mask with them, too.
- Parasol Parachute: In the first episode, "Jungle Jeopardy", a single small umbrella is enough to lower the entire Ant Hill Mob and Chuggaboom safely to the ground.
- Packed Hero: In "London Town Treachery", the armored Ant Hill Mobsters are similarly canned, with their faces on the labels.
- Pink Means Feminine
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Penelope looooves pink; all the mobsters except Clyde wear blue suits.
- Powder Trail: "Jungle Jeopardy"
- Pretty in Mink: In "North Pole Peril", Penelope wears a fur-trimmed coat.
- Psycho Electric Eel: Two of them are used to power a Death Trap in "The Treacherous Movie Lot Plot".
- Puny Parachute: Penelope's Improvised Parachute above.
- Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: The Hooded Claw could be the poster boy for this trope.
- Shout-Out: From the debut episode, "Jungle Jeopardy":
Penelope: My arch enemy, the Hooded Claw!
Claw: Who did you expect? Dick Dastardly?
- Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: In "Hair-Raising Harness Race", while Penelope is trapped in a shed filled with explosives, the Hooded Claw has the Ant Hill Mob bound with a rope and hanging from a tree limb. A magnifying glass is set so that the sun's rays will burn the rope and send the mob plummeting into a deep chasm.
- Southern Belle: Penelope, natch.
- Speed Blitz: Why do you think they call him Zippy?
- Spin-Off: Of Wacky Races
- Statuesque Stunner: Penelope is tall, blond and gorgeous.
- Stealth Insult: The narrator throws in a doozy after the Claw has a fit over a plan gone wrong:
Claw: Hey! I protest!
Narrator: Why not? Everyone else is.
- Stern Chase
- Stop Helping Me!: Played with. The Ant Hill Mob often were successful in saving Penelope, but frequently got themselves in trouble in the process, requiring their rescued friend to help them out.
- Stylish Protection Gear: When Penelope needs protection, it will be fashionable.
- Too Dumb to Live: Why do you think they call him Dum-Dum? What an Idiot!!
- He certainly was the luckiest of the mob. Penelope kissed him twice.
- Tunnel King: One of Zippy's many talents.
- Walking the Earth
- Walk the Plank: The Hooded Claw attempts to force Penelope to walk the plank in "Arabian Desert Danger". And, yes, the incongruity of forcing someone to walk the plank in the desert was Lampshaded. The cannonballs were an interesting addition, though.
- We Will Meet Again: Done at the end of almost if not every episode with the Hooded Claw vowing to get Penelope "next time".
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Penelope would never believe that her guardian Sneekly was the Hooded Claw, even after she pointed out many times that they look just alike. In "Big Top Trap", Sneekly actually revealed to her that he was the Hooded Claw and she still didn't believe it!
- Upon seeing the episode again, one can see that Sneekly saved his butt by assuming his normal identity and volunteering his time at the circus as a quick-change artist. His getting up as the Claw was just him showing a sample to Penelope, again to cover himself. Penelope idealistically doesn't believe Sneekly would stoop to that level. Little does she know.