|Spoofing the then-popular superhero and spy genres, The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show was cartoon giant Hanna-Barbera’s first project for the NBC network.
Atom Ant starred a very able arthropod who could not only fly, but also lift more than ten times his own body weight. Atom Ant communicated with his superiors via the antennae on his helmet, awaiting their orders to go capture an array of enemies, whose names were conveniently listed in Atom's "Crook Book." Even though Atom was not so easy to see, he could always be heard, shouting his battle cry of “Up and at ’em, Atom Ant!”
On the other half of the bill was Secret Squirrel, Agent 000, the James Bond of the rodent kingdom. Wearing a trenchcoat and laden with gadgets, the agent and his fez-wearing sidekick, Morocco Mole (who sounded a lot like Peter Lorre), worked for Double-Q Agency in England. Together they eluded such villains as Yellow Pinky, whose name somehow didn't instill as much fear as Goldfinger. But after all, this was Saturday morning.
As powerful as the two heroes were, they were also gracious, sharing their air time with two other Hanna-Barbera cartoons. The first was Precious Pupp, a conniving dog with a very raspy laugh, who lived with Granny Sweet. The young-at-heart Granny was always speeding off on her motorcycle, leaving Precious to play man of the house.
Rounding out the show were The Hillbilly Bears, a clan who lived in the mountains and lazed around to the sound of the banjo. Paw Rugg, the muttering head of the family, spent most of his time asleep, awaking only to blast someone off his property with a shotgun. Maw Rugg smoked a pipe and ran the house, while daughter Floral and son Shagg were constantly wreaking havoc and avoiding responsibility.
After just over one season together, the two title heroes parted ways to star in their own self-titled shows. But less than a year later, ant and squirrel realized they worked better as a team, and The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show was reborn for a final season.
The show would only last until 1968, but Secret Squirrel wasn't done gracing the small screen. More than 25 years later, the nutty agent could be seen in all-new episodes on Hanna-Barbera’s 2 Stupid Dogs, accompanied by Morocco Mole and a bull superior.