Monday, July 24, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Batfink vs. Big Ears Ernie (1966)

Just to prove that his rogues gallery wasn't entirely composed of Hugo A-Go-Go, Batfink takes on "Big Ears Ernie", whose enlarged ears are his best defense against the law-----but just wait and see how Batfink spoils that strategy.

Oh, I'm just begging someone to revive this series, with longer stories.

Rating: B-.

Retro Toy Chest: Play 'n' Make (1970's)

Once upon a time, Kenner had a huge hit with their Easy Bake Oven. Hasbro, which later bought out Kenner, felt they needed to cut in on that action, and developed Play 'n' Make, a mini kitchen set that came out no later than 1977. The exact year it debuted remains uncertain, although it's possible 1977 was the only year it came out. Funny thing, though. Until today, I'd never seen ads for the product, and didn't know it existed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

On DVD: Justice League Dark (2017)

Warner Bros. visits a dark corner of the DC Universe in the direct-to-video feature, "Justice League Dark". Based on the defunct series of the same name, Batman (Jason O'Mara) investigates when a number of civilians are involved in some unusual incidents, mostly because the aggressors see their victims as demons.

In order to fight this supernatural menace, the Dark Knight finds himself briefly possessed by Deadman (Nick Turturro, ex-NYPD Blue), who convinces Batman to recruit John Constantine (Matt Ryan), and, in turn, Zatanna  (Camilla Luddington), who has had relationships with both Batman & Constantine in the past.

The villain is the sorcerer Destiny. No, not a revamp of a former DC horror host, but rather a reboot of a classic Justice League villain, Dr. Destiny. Destiny manipulates and eventually controls Constantine's friend, Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies, ex-Constantine) in a quest to regain a specific artifact that would make him akin to a god.

The supporting cast includes Marvel-Netflix regular Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman and Jerry O'Connell (ex-Sliders, Crossing Jordan, etc.) as Superman.

Here's a trailer:

As you can see, there are some genuinely funny bits mixed into the action. There are also some shocking surprises. The movie races along at a speedy 76 minutes, par for the course for a DCAU movie. Not really all that thrilled, however, with the use of Swamp Thing in this, as opposed to how he is used on Justice League Action, but, then, that's six of one and half a dozen of another, and, we'll leave it at that. Then again, I wasn't digging the Shiwan Khan look to Felix Faust, either, as that just doesn't look right on him.

They really need to concentrate on giving Zatanna a solo movie of her own. Just sayin'.

Rating: B+.

From Primetime to Daytime: Buffalo Bill, Jr. (1955)

Buffalo Bill, Jr. was a 1-year wonder that came from Gene Autry's Flying 'A' stable, and perhaps a big reason why it didn't last more than 42 episodes wouldn't be the fault of the show's cast, but rather the very large glut of Westerns on the air at the time, and that wouldn't diminish until the mid-60's. By that time, ABC had exhumed the formerly syndicated series to fill its Saturday morning block.

Dick Jones (ex-Our Gang, The Range Rider, Annie Oakley, among a number of credits) toplined as Buffalo Bill, Jr., although for the life of me I can't discern if this Bill was in fact directly related to "Buffalo" Bill Cody in real life. Jones also did his own stunts on the show.

Unfortunately, I never saw the show, so I can't rate it. This would be the kind of Western that deserves a home on cable today, though.

Right now, let's scope out the episode, "First Posse".

I wonder why Bill's sister was named "Calamity". Implying perhaps a reference to Calamity Jane?

Anyway, what some of you might not know is that Dick Jones was also the voice of "Pinocchio" in Disney's 1940 animated feature.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturtainment: Muttley becomes a stuntman (1969)

Magnificent Muttley sees himself as a "Movie Stuntman" in this short-short episode. Director Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) tries to sabotage Muttley's efforts, but......

A rare case where Zilly (Don Messick, also the voice of Muttley) is in the mix, in this case as a cameraman. It's just unfortunate that these shorts were way too short, but when you consider they also had the Wing Dings gags to fill out the half hour of Dastardly & Muttley......

By the way, Dick & Muttley will return to DC Comics in September in an all new series.

"Movie Stuntman" gets an A.

Toon Legends: Popeye in Childhood Daze (1960)

When Professor O. G. Whatashnozzle creates a machine that can send a chicken back into the egg, Brutus (Jackson Beck) decides to use it on Popeye (Jack Mercer) so he can have Olive (Mae Questel) all to himself. Here's "Childhood Daze", produced by Larry Harmon, and directed by Paul Fennell.

Kind of odd seeing Popeye (and later, Brutus) with adult faces on infant bodies. I guess the Professor has to go back to the drawing board.

As previously noted, Harmon employed some future talents from Filmation, including Hal Sutherland, Erv Kaplan, and musical director Gordon Zahler, who later worked as a music supervisor not just for Filmation, but also for Ivan Tors.

Rating: C.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Oscar Mayer jingle? (1965)

Today, Oscar Mayer is part of the ever growing conglomerate that is now known as Kraft Heinz. Yeah, mergers are a thing again. I guess they did away with anti-monopoly laws, but never made it public. Digressing. Anyway, back in 1965, this next ad made its debut, and would resurface in the 90's when Nick at Nite's TV Land debuted and began running "retromercials".

Too bad this hasn't been updated for the here & now.