Sunday, August 28, 2016

Getting Schooled: The Screwy Truant (1945)

Screwball Squirrel decides to play hooky for a day. Even though "The Screwy Truant" was released in January 1945, it's set near the end of the school year. Director Tex Avery slips in a small little teaser for a later film, "Swing Shift Cinderella", in the midst of the chaos.

The gags come fast and furious, perhaps too fast for the viewer's benefit. Avery used some of the same gags in some of his other films. Bill Hanna (as a voice actor) and Joe Barbera (co-producer) contributed to this effort.

Rating: B+.

You Know The Voice: Marvin Kaplan (1980)

This also appears at The Land of Whatever.

Marvin Kaplan (ex-Top Cat) was appearing on Alice (he was Henry, the telephone repairman) when he made this spot for Sun Giant with James Hampton (ex-F-Troop, The Doris Day Show).

Sadly, I believe Kaplan was the last original cast member from Top Cat to leave us, as he passed away earlier this weekend. Rest in peace, Marvin.

Toon Legends: Supermarket Pink (1978)

Here's a case where the Pink Panther is just like you and me.

The Panther goes shopping when he realizes his cupboards and refrigerator are just as barren as, say for example, old Mother Hubbard. Pity the Little Man when he encounters "Supermarket Pink":

As you can tell from the background music, this was used on the New Pink Panther Show when it aired on ABC.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Toons After Dark: Welcome to Eltingville (2002)

Evan Dorkin's Welcome to Eltingville didn't get beyond the pilot episode commissioned by [adult swim] in 2002, but, by all rights, it should've.

Spun off from a feature he created for Dark Horse Comics' Instant Piano anthology comic, Dorkin presented the four members of the Eltingville Club behaving like normal kids. Arguing, fighting over petty things. The language and other mature themes landed Eltingville on [adult swim] rather than Cartoon Network proper. Dorkin took on a supporting voice role in the show, as you'll hear.

Director Chuck Sheetz would also work on What's New Scooby-Doo, and other projects for WB. The music was composed and performed by the Aquabats, who'd later land their own series-----but not on CN/[as]. And, yes, the intro sequence is a homage to the 1966 Batman series, as envisioned by Dorkin.

I think Dorkin was hoping this would work, because his more familiar creations, Milk & Cheese, would've been [as] material. 

Rating: B.

Tooniversary: The Case of the Lighthouse Mouse (Clue Club, 1976)

CBS got the jump on everyone else 40 years ago this month with the launch of Clue Club. In this writer's opinion, Clue Club cannot be considered a knockoff of Scooby-Doo, whom the Club was ironically replacing on the CBS roster.

Clue Club was launched early due to the US Open tennis tournament, which CBS held the rights to at the time, and would otherwise hold back the start of their children's lineup for a week or two. While this was a novel idea, it was never duplicated, due to the simple fact that Clue Club was not renewed for another season. As we've documented before, the series was reworked into edited reruns under the title, Woofer & Whimper, Dog Detectives, as part of Skatebirds the following year, before reverting back to the original title and 30 minute format in 1978.

In "The Case of the Lighthouse Mouse", the Club has to clear their Uncle Salty (Paul Winchell, also the voice of Woofer) of the theft of some priceless jewels.

At least we know both of the boys, Larry (David Joliffe) and D. D. (Bob Hastings) were old enough to drive. Not sure about Pepper.

The biggest difference between Clue Club and Scooby-Doo was that this was more of a procedural crime drama, with the dogs acting as comedy relief. Should it surprise anyone that Whimper (Jim McGeorge) was actually smarter than Woofer ever gave him credit for?

Rating: A-.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Looney TV: Cool Cat (1967)

Cool Cat appeared in just six shorts from 1967-9, as Warner Bros. tried to adapt to the period with a hip, jive talking tiger (Larry Storch, fresh from F-Troop), pursued by big game hunter Colonel Rimfire (Storch).

Unfortunately, it would be 26 years, following the release of "Injun Trouble", the coda to the Cool Cat series, before he'd show up in The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. By then, local actor Joe Alaskey took over the role.

Right now, though, here's the debut of Cool Cat. Dig it.

I can't help but think that if WB took a chance on doing a TV series with Cool Cat in the 70's, chances are they could've gotten Scatman Crothers to essay the part. I just can't get the idea out of my head that in the 70's, ol' CC would've sounded like Hong Kong Phooey.

Rating: B+.

You Know The Voice: Stan Lee on To Tell The Truth (1971)

You might not recognize him right away, since he doesn't have the glasses he'd begin sporting a few years later, but "Mr. Marvel" himself, Stan Lee, made the first of two appearances on To Tell The Truth in this syndicated episode from 1971. Stan appears in game 2, so we'll just have to navigate through the 1st game before we get to him.

Funny thing. Dick DeBartolo, a long time writer for Mad Magazine, was a writer for Truth during this period. Ya wonder if maybe Stan was trying to lure him to Marvel?