|Lassie, arguably the world's most famous celebrity dog, first fetched the hearts of moviegoers in 1943’s Lassie Come Home. The talented collie had her own radio series from 1947-50 (with Earl Keen filling in for our actual canine-heroine), but Lassie’s greatest success was dug up on television in 1954. A live action Lassie ran on CBS from 1954-71 and then continued on for three more years in syndication, overlapping with the start of this cartoon adaptation in 1973.
In Lassie’s Rescue Rangers, the title pooch lived near Thunder Mountain with the Turner family. Head Ranger Ben Turner worked with wife Laura and children Susan, Jackie, and Ben Jr. as “The Forest Force,” a ranger-rescue team that protected Thunder Mountain National Park. Lassie also headed up a group of wild animals that lived within the national park, working with the Turner family to maintain a healthy environment that was ecologically sound, and to create a safe place for tourists to hike and camp. This renegade group of animal heroes was known as Lassie’s Rescue Rangers.
The Rescue Rangers were a band of about eight animals, including Groucho the owl, Toothless the mountain lion, Musty the skunk, and Robbie the raccoon. Also of great value to the Forest Force was Gene Fox, a Native American, who was Ben Jr.’s friend. Gene knew the Thunder Mountain National Park better than even most of the animals, making him a strong ally for the Turner family as they struggled to protect the environment and save lives.
Ted Knight (Mary Tyler Moore, Too Close for Comfort) voiced Ranger Ben Turner and acted as narrator. Over the three seasons Lassie's Rescue Rangers was on the air, the show moved from Saturday to Sunday and back, but only the first season was comprised of new episodes.