There have been many TV shows about heroic animals (mostly dogs) who help people in need. Way, way before my time there was Rin Tin Tin, and there have been many different versions of Lassie. Leaving canines behind for a bit we also had Flipper the dolphin, Gentle Ben the bear and of course Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. However, the one I remember most from my childhood has to be The Littlest Hobo.
The first series of The Littlest Hobo was made in the sixties, but in 1979 a remake was made and this is the version I am writing about today. The show didn’t make its way to UK TV screens until the early Eighties, but it soon became a staple part of the children’s TV line up from the BBC for many years. The first series is to be released on DVD for the first time on Monday 26th April 2010, so you can relive the adventures of the amazing German Shepherd for yourself.
The Box Set consists of four discs, containing 24 episodes of doggy delights, which have obviously been through some kind of remastering process as the picture quality is actually much better than I expected. Even when I was a kid I remember the image always seemed a bit colourless when it was shown on TV, but here it’s quite vividly coloured and is quite high quality. In places some of the people seem to suffer from a bit of a halo appearing around them, but it’s normally only when you have scenes containing very light and very dark objects at the same time.
This dog was one clever canine though, as across the various stories he brings criminals to justice, helps prove that other criminals are in fact innocent, saves little girls lost in the forest, helps a prima ballerina defect to the west, and even jumps out of a plane with a parachute! One surprise for me was that there were in fact a couple of two part episodes – I thought each was self contained up until now.
For the most part the cast are not people you will recognise, although there are a few exceptions. First, Austin Powers himself, Mike Meyers, turns up as a teenager playing frisbee with his dog, then there’s another episode featuring Avenger Patrick Macnee as a down on his luck stage magician, who gets taken advantage of by some diamond thieves. Finally, Leslie Nielsen appears in an episode looking exactly as he does now.
Sadly, the box set is a little light on extras though, featuring only a karaoke sing-along of the theme tune (which is a great theme tune it has to be said) and a few images of London, the dog who played Hobo, and his siblings. To be fair though, it’s hard to know what extras could be provided, since you can hardly have a dog providing commentaries or interviews. Besides, I’d say it’s unlikely that London is still alive to be able to do a commentary even if he could. He was certainly a clever dog, but not that clever…