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Before Adult Swim

24 Apr, 2007 By: John Latchem

Many of today's animated comedies aimed at older viewers — “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” “King of the Hill,” “South Park” — benefit from a lucrative trend started in 1989 by “The Simpsons.”

Before “The Simpsons,” however, came Hanna-Barbera's groundbreaking animated sitcom “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home,” which aired in prime-time first-run syndication from 1972 to 1974.

Like “The Simpsons,” “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home” spun off from a sketch featured on a more-established series. “The Simpsons” debuted as a series of shorts on Fox's “The Tracy Ullman Show” in 1987, while “Wait Till” was based on a segment called “Love and the Old-Fashioned Father” shown on ABC's anthology series “Love, American Style” in 1972.

Timed for Father's Day, Warner Home Video will release Wait Till Your Father Gets Home: The Complete First Season June 5 (prebook May 1) as a $44.98 four-DVD set.

“We have more than 8,000 animated shows in our library,” said Dorinda Marticorena, VP of family, animation and sports marketing for Warner Home Video. “This is a niche cult classic that has been a point of inspiration for a lot of current shows. It's one of our favorites, and we're glad it's finally coming to DVD.”

Described as an animated “All in the Family,” the show features a dysfunctional clan working through the issues of the day. The father, Harry Boyle, is voiced by Tom Bosley (better known as the dad on “Happy Days,” which also debuted on “Love, American Style”). His eldest son is lazy, his daughter is rebellious, and his younger son, Chet, is greedy and opportunistic. The older kids take on traditionally liberal sentiments, while Harry leans conservative and his wife remains neutral.

“I think it was one of the first shows to portray a wife and mother in a more independent, defiant role,” Marticorena said.

Stoking the political fires is Harry's militant right-wing neighbor Ralph, a Richard Nixon lookalike who seems to be the inspiration for the “King of the Hill” character Dale Gribble.

In addition to the first 24 episodes, the boxed set includes two short featurettes: “Animation for the Nation” places the show in its historical context, and “Illustrating the Times” focuses on the making of the series.

“‘Wait Till Your Father Gets Home' was a television program that was ahead of its time,” Marticorena said. “We think this DVD will find a contemporary audience as many of its themes and plotlines still resonate with today's viewers.”

Marticorena said this timeless quality makes promoting the title easier than other properties more firmly grounded in their time period. The show is fondly remembered by many viewers who grew up with it, and reruns can be seen on Cartoon Network's Boomerang channel.

“We definitely target fans who were in the demographic when the show was first broadcast,” Marticorena said. “Our research shows people who watched these shows as kids or teenagers enjoy bringing the DVDs into their homes, and they also enjoy them with their kids.”

The DVD also has a connection with recent Oscar history. In early episodes, Chet was voiced by Jackie Earle Haley, a best supporting actor nominee for Little Children.

“When we're fortunate to have a strong voice cast, we want to present that front and center,” Marticorena said.

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