Dave Fleischer was responsible for many gems. Ones that were amusing and charming, though over-cuteness did come through in some efforts and the stories were always pretty thin, with appealing characters, outstanding music and visuals that were inventive and with innovative animation techniques.
'Zero the Hound' is one of eleven cartoons forming Fleischer's "Animated Antics" from 1940-1941. None of the eleven being high points in the studio's output (a long way from that), the worst even being some of the weakest they and Fleischer himself did. To me and quite a few others Fleischer's overall quality declined quite a bit in the early 40s and that can be evident in the "Animated Antics" series, almost as much as the worst of the Gabby cartoons. 'Zero the Hound' however is one of the exceptions and while it is uneven it is one of the best in the "Animated Antics" series.
Best asset of 'Zero the Hound' is the music, which is outstanding. It's lush, cleverly orchestrated, energetic, full of character and not just adds a huge amount to the action it enhances it. The animation also comes over well, it's not elaborate or ground-breaking but there are some good detail in the backgrounds that don't seem to show limitations and fluid enough drawing, the black and white also being crisp.
Jack Mercer does a nice job with the voice work, or at least with what he has. The second half is surprisingly funny and exciting, this is definitely one of the funniest "Animated Antics" cartoons. The titular character is appealing and likeable enough.
Conversely, 'Zero the Hound' is an uneven cartoon. The first half is vastly inferior to the second half and gives the viewer a false impression of the cartoon's overall quality. It is a slow starter and could easily be mistaken for being on the same level as the previous "Animated Antics" cartoons.
The first half is dull with nothing interesting or funny and it can also be very repetitive. A lot of the cartoon is very predictable and found the rest of the characters on the bland side.
Overall, surprisingly not bad at all, coming from someone not expecting much given the general standard of the "Animated Antics" series. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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