Saturday, December 3, 2016

Looney TV: A Hare Grows in Manhattan (1947)

This next Bugs Bunny short has its roots in two places. First, an autobiographical piece credited to Bugs (Mel Blanc) was published in Coronet magazine in 1945. Two years later, not long after the publication of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the magazine story was adapted into "A Hare Grows in Manhattan".

Bugs is interviewed by Lola Beverly (Bea Benaderet, parodying Louella Parsons, a prominent gossip columnist of the day), and recalls his early days.

Up until today, I'd never heard of Coronet. The magazine existed for 75 years (1936-71), but I'd never seen a copy even in second hand stores.

Rating: A.

Sunday Funnies: The Singing Mountie (F-Troop, 1966)

F-Troop began its second season with a parody of Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, except that the fellow claiming to be Sgt. Ramsden, "The Singing Mountie" (Paul Lynde, Bewitched), is actually a thief using his stolen position to frame a Canadian trapper, Lucky Pierre (Larry Storch in a dual role).

Lynde uses his past experience on Broadway to good use in doing some singing during the show, but the irony is that the real Ramsden (Don Kent), who turns up at the end of the show, sings the same songs.

During this season, the show became even more formulaic, with Agarn (Storch) and O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) making more frequent visits to the Hekawi camp. Considering that Frank DeKova (Wild Eagle) was promoted to one of the show's featured stars in the new open, this was to be expected. Looks like the artwork used on the show might've been designed by an artist like the late Jack Davis, who worked for many years for Mad Magazine and TV Guide.

Lynde had played villains before, having appeared in a dramatic role on Burke's Law a couple of years earlier as a duplicitous doctor, and while F-Troop wasn't totally campy, it did prepare Lynde for his transition to cartoons three years later.

Rating: B+.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Countdown to Christmas: Santa's Surprise (1947)

Here's a Famous Studios Noveltoon that puts an entirely different spin on Santa Claus.

Contrary to later pop culture, Santa is depicted in "Santa's Surprise" as living alone at the North Pole, single and without elves to run his workshop. A group of kids from around the world stow away aboard Santa's sleigh to do some house cleaning while Santa sleeps.

As you'll see, this served as a back-door pilot for Little Audrey, who made her debut in this film, and would graduate to her own series the next year.

The only quibble is an aesthetic one. How did those kids survive without coats and hats, aside from the Dutch boy?

Rating: B+.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends close a Sink Hole (1981)

Greed makes guys do strange, often silly, things.

Take Diamond Jack, for example. His greed leads him to create a robot giant cobra to create a "Sink Hole" to keep the police and the Super Friends occupied while he adds to his ill-gained collection....

You get the feeling, I'm sure, that this was starting to get monotonous.

Rating: B-.

Retro Toy Chest: Give-a-Show Projector (1959)

Now, here's a product that I can actually say I've had as a youth.

Kenner's Give-a-Show projector launched in 1959, and I have a memory of having one of the early 1970's models as a kid. I say that with some certainty because I remember having a Josie & the Pussycats slide or two included in the package. Suffice to say, it didn't last very long, because once the battery ran out, it was never replaced.

Today, the projectors are still being made, but for overseas markets, and Hasbro, which took over Kenner 25 years ago, doesn't produce it for US markets anymore.

Here's a commercial from 1968, featuring Kenner's Gooney Bird mascot, who would be retired six years later.

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell & Bea Benaderet (1962)

From season 1 of The Beverly Hillbillies:

Jed (Buddy Ebsen) and the family return to the Ozark mountains on a Christmas vacation, where Jethro's mom, Pearl (Bea Benaderet, The Flintstones) is still pining for Mr. Brewster, a businessman (Frank Wilcox). Paul Winchell guest stars as Homer Winch, who's got eyes for Granny (Irene Ryan).

Here's "Home For Christmas":

This was included on Mill Creek's Holiday Classics DVD box set.

Rating for the episode: B.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Family Toons: Popeye presents Pip-Eye, Pup-Eye, Poop-Eye, & Peep-Eye (1942)

Once upon a time, Popeye had quadruplet nephews. In later years, they took one of the nephews out, leaving three.

"Pip-Eye, Pup-Eye, Poop-Eye, & Peep-Eye" made their debut in 1942.

It's almost as if Popeye himself had been cloned 4 times over in juvenile form, but the quads lack maturity, it would seem. Then again, kids weren't that into vegetables, not just spinach, back in those days. We would later see the boys take up music in what would be their best effort.

Rating: B.