Friday, April 17, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Defenders of the Earth (1986)

King Features Syndicate, their TV arm, Hearst Entertainment, and Marvel teamed to develop Defenders of the Earth, which brought together three of KFS' greatest adventure heroes, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, and The Phantom. Not only that, but Flash and Phantom were given teenage offspring. Mandrake's aide, Lothar (Buster Jones, Super Friends), was also given a son. It had only been a few years since Flash's NBC series had come to an end, so it was a bit of a shock to see him and nemesis Ming the Merciless return so soon.

The weird part? The team was given a super-computer that had the memories of Flash's slain wife, presumed to be Dale Arden, according to a Marvel-Star Comics adaptation of the series. Judging by the copyright at the start of the series opener, "Escape From Mongo", Defenders had been in development for a year before hitting the air in 1986. Unfortunately, the series lasted just 1 season.

Compliments of Hulu, here is "Escape From Mongo":

Nearly 30 years later, the Defenders came back together, this time on the printed page, as Dynamite Entertainment produced the miniseries, King's Watch, which has since spawned solo series featuring Flash, Mandrake, and Phantom under the King imprint. After a cable run on Sci-Fi (now SyFy) in the 90's, Defenders of the Earth hasn't aired on television. Hulu, I think, would fill that void, if they had all 65 episodes (and they don't at the moment).

Rating: None. Didn't see enough of the show to merit a rating.

Getting Schooled: CBS Schoolbreak Special (1984)

To think that ABC started it with the Afterschool Special. NBC followed with Special Treat, which, unfortunately, was long gone by the time CBS rebooted their Afternoon Playhouse into Schoolbreak Special in 1984. The Playhouse format wasn't working, so CBS figured they needed to try to cut into ABC's audience.

For 12 years, it worked. Unlike the Afterschool Special, CBS didn't have any animated entries in their series. Like their competitors, CBS used this time to tackle some difficult issues facing teens and young adults. Never was this more evident than in the 1987 season finale, "An Enemy Among Us", which starred Danny Nucci, Dee Wallace Stone ("E. T.", "Poltergeist"), and Gladys Knight.

No rating.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Fearless Fly in Invincible vs. Invisible (1965)

Well, it's been a while, but we finally have a Fearless Fly adventure available from the Milton The Monster Show. Fearless & Milton turn 50 this year, and around October, we're going to feature Milton as much as possible. For now, here's Fearless in "Invincible vs. Invisible". Bob McFadden does most of the voices, if not all of them, as he's the only one credited. The open to Milton precedes our feature.

As we've noted before, Fearless wasn't the only super insect to debut in 1965. Hanna-Barbera's Atom Ant also turns 50, but his shorts are not as readily available thanks to WB keeping them under tight wraps.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Fireball XL-5 (1962)

Gerry Anderson's "Supermarionation" series, such as Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Supercar, usually ended up in syndication when they came to the US. Not so with Fireball XL-5, which made its American debut on NBC a year after the series launched in England. Fireball would cycle through its 39 episodes over two seasons on NBC before joining its brethren in syndication, which is where I recall seeing it sometime in the early 70's, if memory serves.

Dennis Spooner, one of the show's writers, was more closely associated with ITC's line of spy & mystery series, such as Department S.

I don't have much memory of seeing the show, so we'll forego a rating. Meanwhile, Hulu brings the opener, "Planet 46":

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny as Superman (The Looney Tunes Show, 2014)

Back in the 40's, Bugs Bunny starred in a satire of Superman, "Super Rabbit". At the time, Warner Bros. didn't have the rights to the Man of Steel (Paramount-Famous Studios did), which they would obtain a couple of decades later.

As WB wrapped up The Looney Tunes Show last year, producers Spike Brandt & Tony Cervone, who'd already had Daffy Duck, as Duck Dodgers, meet Green Lantern 11 years earlier, decided to pay homage to Superman, and, more specifically, "Superman 2", with the series finale, also entitled, "Super Rabbit".

Going out of continuity, Bugs (Jeff Bergman) spins a yarn to Daffy (Bergman) about his time as the Hare of Steel, battling Brainiac (Marvin the Martian), Luthor (Elmer Fudd), and finally, in the "Superman 2" portion, General Zod (Daffy).

And dig that twist finish involving another DC legend.........

This is not the complete episode, by the way, but we'll take it.

Blowing up the thumb for a super-punch was an old Popeye gimmick, but, whatever.

Rating: A.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Toonfomercial: Do you remember Sir Grapefellow & Baron von Redberry? (1972)

It wasn't enough that General Mills had the Monster Cereals line. In 1972, the company introduced two more cereals whose animated namesakes feuded with each other. Instead of classic monsters, Sir Grapefellow & Baron von Redberry were WWI pilots. Scope this ad.

Because of the similarities between these cereals and other "Big G" products, particularly Boo Berry & Franken Berry, Grapefellow and von Redberry didn't last too long. In fact, I have 0 memory of seeing either cereal in my area.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

From Comics to Toons: The Fantastic Four vs. The Terrible Tribunal (1967)

The Fantastic Four are forced to stand trial for---get this----crimes against evil, charges levied by three of their previous foes, Blastaar, Klaw, & Molecule Man. Flashbacks pad out the tale of "The Terrible Tribunal":

Of course there had to be a bizarre world where evil was embraced. What didja expect?

Rating: B.