In 1977 NBC aired A Doonesbury Special, a short film produced by John and Faith Hubley—a couple of married animators probably best known for their work on The Electric Company—based on Garry Trudeau’s popular “Doonesbury” comic strip.
The Academy Award-nominated animation (it won a Special Jury Award at Cannes for best short film in 1978) was written by Trudeau together with the Hubleys and revolves around a question proto-Yuppie baby boomers were asking themselves a lot at that time: “Have I sold out the counterculture ideals of my younger days?”
It’s depressing to keep in perspective that when the long-running strip began in 1970, the main characters (Mike, Zonker, Mark, etc) were commune-dwelling college students. Today they’re senior citizens!
It’s difficult to imagine a primetime animated TV special in 2014 that name-checks Simone de Beauvoir or George McGovern getting commissioned by even the most recklessly adventurous network exec, but this thing is a treat. I wonder if this was the first time someone was shown smoking pot in an American television show? Even if that someone was a cartoon character, this was still something that you didn’t see so much back then…