At some point, Penelope Pitstop must have wondered why a masked villain calling himself the Hooded Claw persistently kidnapped and attempted to do away with her. It turns out Penelope was heiress to a vast fortune and the only way her “trusted and devoted” guardian, Sylvester Sneekly, could gain the inheritance for himself was if Penelope were not around. So Mr. Sneekly disguised himself in a hat, green cape and mask and adopted the sinister alias Hooded Claw to do just that—eliminate the person standing between himself and the easy life.
The Hooded Claw hatched schemes that would do a Bond villain proud. Instead of simply doing away with Penelope, he’d capture her, then attempt to carry out some cleverly convoluted plan that afforded her plenty of time to escape. Two henchmen called the Bully Brothers, who looked, dressed and spoke exactly alike, assisted him.
Penelope had the bearing of a Southern Belle, very ladylike and proper. This was apparent by the way she formed phrases and by her southern accent, such as yelling “hay-ulp” (help) when in danger. Time and again she fell easily into the Hooded Claw’s clutches, then proved incredibly resourceful when it came to escaping.
A group of pint-sized gangster types called the Ant Hill Mob looked out for Penelope’s welfare. Whenever Penelope was in danger (which was all the time) the Ant Hill Mob raced to her rescue in their vehicle Chug-a-Boom—a self-aware car that responded to directions. At times the Ant Hill Mob were successful, but a good deal of the time their efforts resulted in their own need of rescue, and Penelope ended up having to save not only herself, but her would-be saviors as well.
Clyde, who was leader of the Ant Hill Mob, gave the mob its orders. A good many of the Ant Hill Mob’s failures were in consequence to Clyde telling Dum Dum to do something, only to have Dum Dum carry out the order in the worst possible way. There is no mystery how Dum Dum got his name. Softy was another member of the mob. He was a sensitive soul who cried continuously. Yak Yak, who was Softy’s polar opposite, thought everything was funny and never stopped laughing. Snoozy had trouble staying awake and shared driving responsibilities with Dum Dum. If someone needed an item, such as a bridge or a trampoline, Pockets could pull the item out of his coat pocket, ready for use. Lastly, Zippy was a speedster who could move with incredible quickness.
The show’s narrator (voice of Gary Owens) gave a running dialogue of the action as it unfolded. As narrator, he instilled a tongue-in-cheek sense of drama to developments, while at the same time serving the audience a healthy helping of alliteration. As an example: “Poor Penelope, is there no way that this terrible torpedo trap can be tripped up?” Occasionally the Hooded Claw or Penelope responded to the narrator or made a comment directly to the viewing audience—the Hooded Claw gloating upon his foreseeable success or upset that his plans were being openly broadcast, or Penelope calmly expressing her concern when her life was in mortal danger.
Before The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Penelope and the Ant Hill Mob were members of the cast of Wacky Races which aired the previous television season in 1968. Wacky Races had a large cast of characters who participated in races all over the globe in far-out vehicles. Penelope’s mode of dress (helmet and racing goggles) was a carry over from her look in the Wacky Races series. The Ant Hill Mob were also part of that series, but their names were different. In Wacky Races their car was called the Bullet Proof Bomb and they were named Clyde, Danny, Kurby, Mac, Ring-a-Ding, Rug Bug Benny, and Willy.