Wait Till Your Father Gets Home

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Hanna-Barbera produced this 1972-1974 animated prime time series. Harry Boyle (voiced by Happy Days‍'‍ Tom Bosley) is a conservative businessman whose elder son, Chet, is a hippie who dropped out of college. His high-school aged daughter, Alice, is a sexually liberated feminist. Only his younger son, Jamie, shows any signs of sharing Harry's values, and his wife, Irma, stays out of the conflict (though she has dreams of finding her own identity and being more than just a wife and mother). Meanwhile, his neighbor Ralph Kane (comedian Jack Burns) masterminds an anticommunist organization so far to the right that they make the John Birchers (and more importantly, Harry) look pinko. Convinced of the imminent arrival of the godless Red hordes, Ralph and his followers have turned one end of the block into an armed camp. Poor Harry finds himself forced to navigate his life safely between all the extremes that surround him.

A deft, almost cynical, social commentary disguised as an animated Dom Com, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home had fun skewering targets from all over the social and political spectrum. On a deeper level it satirized the polarization of American society, as viewed through the bewildered eyes of Everyman Harry.

For two years this was Hanna-Barbera's second most popular primetime animated show, and as a result a number of celebrity guest stars appeared in the second season, including perennial favorites such as Jonathan Winters, Don Knotts, Don Adams and Phyllis Diller. Though it didn't last as long as The Flintstones, it was the inspiration for FOX's dysfunctional family animated sitcoms that became popular in the 1990s and the 2000s (The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad and — to a lesser extent — The Cleveland Show).

Like Happy Days, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home started life as an episode of the anthology Love, American Style.

Tropes used in Wait Till Your Father Gets Home include:
  • Animated Series
  • Bad Bad Acting: In one episode, a TV commercial for a used car dealership shows off one of its "satisfied customers". Said "customer" is obviously reading from cue cards, to the point of stumbling over the word "courtesy".
  • Banister Slide: As part of the opening credits, with Jamie doing the sliding.
  • Bowling for Ratings
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The dog Julius does it on a regular basis. Harry does it on occasion as well, although it could be explained that he's just Thinking Out Loud to make sense of this week's problem.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: In one episode Harry drops his car off at the service garage, then comes back later to find they're not finished. Perplexed that a mechanic is standing by his car doing nothing, Harry asks why the man isn't working on it. "I only do headlights," the mechanic explains. "Left headlights."
  • Crossover: One episode featured Car 54, Where Are You?‍'‍s Officers Toody and Muldoon with Gunther introduced as Irma's brother-in-law. This episode is possibly a Poorly-Disguised Pilot for an animated Car 54 series.
  • Deliberately Bad Example: The purpose of the militantly paranoid ultra-right-wing Ralph: to make Harry look moderate and reasonable.
  • Dom Com
  • Draft Dodging: When he gets his notice, Chet considers running to Canada.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Everything's Worse with Bees: In one episode Harry gets two unwanted visitors -- a colony of bees and a bumbling live-in exterminator played by Don Knotts.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: Two examples. In one, Harry slips on a dropped piece of butter in a restaurant and falls down. The restaurant owners are heavily insured, and out of fear of Harry filing a lawsuit, they offer him a settlement. Harry doesn't want to take it citing the fact he didn't injure himself, but his honesty is not respected by his family and neighbors who try to pressure him into taking the easy cash being offered. Later on, Harry becomes the defendant when a bicyclist crashes into his stopped car and decides to sue him. His lawyer (Special Guest Don Adams) is particularly inept and Harry is only saved from a losing judgment when the plaintiff suddenly decides to drop the case.
  • Game Show Appearance: To earn money for an anniversary gift, Irma appears on Let's Make a Deal, complete with Special Guest Voice Monty Hall as himself.
  • Good Ol' Boy: Harry, even though the show is set in California.
  • Granola Girl: Alice. (And Chet, for that matter.)

Alice: I hate smog. People shouldn't travel anywhere except on foot. Or bicycle.
[A car horn sounds outside]
Alice: Oh! Gotta go, there's my ride.
Harry: If you're so concerned about air pollution, why don't you ride your bike there?
Alice: But it's over three blocks!

  • Half-Hour Comedy
  • Hawaii: Irma literally dreams of a Hawaii vacation when Harry receives a tax refund check mistakenly made out for $947,000 instead of $94.70.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Ralph and Wittaker
  • Insane Troll Logic: Ralph would occasionally burst forth with classic examples, such as his declaration that a commune was actually Communist front because the words both shared the first two syllables.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Harry is amazed to find out he is the only one to want to return a computer error tax refund check for $947,000.
  • Laugh Track: Originally aired with a laugh track, but re-releases (per what appears to be an unspoken Hanna-Barbera policy) have had it removed.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Ralph tends to be a lot of talk and no action.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Ralph Kane is a twofer: his personality is based on Jack Burns' stage persona, and his appearance on Richard Nixon.
  • The Other Darrin: Two of the kids had their voice actors recast: Chet (David Hayward and Lennie Weinrib) and Jamie (Jackie Earle Haley and Willie Aames).
  • Precious Puppies: The family dog, Julius, doesn't speak, yet understands English and reacts to things said around him, usually in aside glances.
  • Rapid-Fire Interrupting: Jack Burns' character Ralph Kane frequently used the same rapid-fire interruption seen in Burns' stand-up and TV performances.
  • Richard Nixon: Ralph is designed as a Nixon caricature.
  • Scenery Censor: Done in the episode where Alice is a nude model for an artist.
  • Special Guest: Had a surprisingly large number, given how short its run was. See the main text for a partial list.
  • Theme Tune[context?]
  • Vapor Wear: On the second episode, Alice buys a dress she wants to wear to her father's special dinner. The problem is, it's see-through (and when told that she can't wear it because everyone will see her bra, Alice replies, "What bra?").
  • Welcome to the Big City: In one episode, Harry goes on a business trip to New York and gets robbed of everything but his underwear the moment he steps out of his hotel.