Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends in Planet of the Neanderthals (1977)

The All-New Super Friends Hour marks its 40th anniversary this September, so let's take a step back in time----literally.

A mad scientist named Varko (guest star Mike Road) has used technology to convert 20th century Earth to a "Planet of the Neanderthals". How he did it is a mystery the Super Friends have to uncover.

As I'm sure you could tell, Casey Kasem (Robin) & Danny Dark (Superman) doubled as cavemen. The same likely for the rest of the regulars. Road had previously worked with Shannon Farnon (Wonder Woman) on Valley of the Dinosaurs three years earlier, but would shift to DePatie-Freleng for The New Fantastic Four a year after this episode aired.

Rating: A-.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Slick Sleuths (1926)

Mutt & Jeff had seen their circulation base dwindle by the time I was able to read, such that I don't recall ever seeing the strip in any newspapers growing up.

Bud Fisher's legendary duo were first introduced early in the 20th century, with Mutt debuting as a solo act in 1907. Nearly a decade later, the duo began appearing in a series of silent short cartoons, some of which are now available on YouTube.

Take, for example, "Slick Sleuths", from 1926, in which we find the boys as would-be detectives.....

The Phantom, the villain of the piece may have the same kind of abilities as Mickey Mouse's later nemesis, the Phantom Blot, but that's about it. This Phantom came across as non-descript, and as interesting as watching paint dry.

Rating: C-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Skating's Such Fun to Do (1964)

Here's a Sing-a-Long Family micro-short that's seasonally appropriate. "Skating's Such Fun to Do" would sound good airing on Boomerang right about now, assuming Da Boom can get the rights.....

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Family Toons: The Barkleys in Half-Pint Hero (1972)

Joe Ruby & Ken Spears, in their initial effort for DePatie-Freleng, clearly mined the Flintstones for plot & story ideas for The Barkleys. Case in point is the episode, "Half-Pint Hero".

Arnie (Henry Corden) thinks that his youngest son, Chester (Gene Andrusco, Amazing Chan & the Chan Clan), could make him a millionaire, just because another boy, having grown to 7 feet tall, has earned a pro basketball contract. It's get-rich-quick schemes like this, which have their roots in, of course, The Honeymooners, that were part of the reason The Barkleys failed. Viewers had seen enough similar plots from the Flintstones and other shows, and, by voting with their remotes, deemed The Barkleys as inferior and unworthy of their attention.

Of course, Arnie didn't have a best friend to be an analogue for Barney Rubble or Ed Norton, and that didn't help.....!

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning Ringside: The WWF debut of Jimmy Snuka (1982)

News has come across the wires of the passing of WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka at 73. In his memory, we present Snuka's first appearance on the then-WWF's Championship Wrestling:

Rest in peace, Jimmy.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: DinoZaurs (2000)

In the 90's, up until Fox turned over their Saturday morning block to 4Kids Entertainment, Saban was the primary packager for the network's children's shows, from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a franchise continuing to this day, to their atrocious mishandling of Marvel's Avengers and Spider-Man Unlimited.

In 2000, this next item slipped under the radar, given the network's penchant for sudden schedule shuffling without warning.

DinoZaurs was yet another import from Japan, this one a mix of traditional Japanese anime and CGI imagery. 26 episodes were produced, but it isn't clear if Fox aired them all. I know this much, though. I'm only discovering this for the first time, and thus, there won't be a rating.

As near as I can figure, this can be construed, even with the toy line that was released around the same time, as a Japanese reworking of an American series from the late 80's, Dinosaucers, which aired in syndication for one season (1987-8).

The first episode will introduce you to the concept of the series. Scope it out, and let me know if there are any comparisons to Dinosaucers.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dynomutt vs. Madame Ape-Face (1976)

Dynomutt (Frank Welker) and Blue Falcon (Gary Owens) have their hands full with a vain villain, "Madame Ape-Face". Her M. O. (Method of Operation) would be copied in Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark several years later.

Now, doesn't the design of the Big City Center Theatre look familiar? It sure does. Y'think maybe some of the staff were stumping for the eventual return of the Super Friends?

Rating: B.