Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tooniversary: Cow & Chicken (1997)

One of the greatest mysteries in the development of Cow & Chicken is how human parents could possibly have sired a cow and a chicken? Only series creator David Fleiss knows for sure. The end result, in this writer's opinion, is crass, lowbrow humor that makes little sense.

Chicken (Charlie Adler) has two human friends, Flem & Earl. Cow is just looking to fit in, and occasionally indulges herself with the alter-ego of Supercow whenever Fleiss feels the need to parody superheroes. Periodically mucking things up further is the Red Guy (Adler again), a personification of the Devil who also harasses the star of the show's middle feature, I. M. Weasel and his rival, I. R. Baboon. Problem was, Red Guy was used way too often, taking away the novelty of the character. Weasel & Baboon would later be spun off into their own series, but that was only an excuse to repackage reruns with few new episodes to complement what'd already aired. Of course, Weasel was a more popular character, but with Cow & Chicken repeats now on Boomerang, the I. M. Weasel spinoff is a distant memory. Not cool.

I'm sure you know the open:




As they might've said in Valley Girl speak, 30 years ago, grody to the max.

Rating: D.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rein-Toon-Ation: The New Woody Woodpecker Show (1999)

After more than 20 years off network television, Woody Woodpecker returned in 1999 with an all-new half-hour show on Fox. That he was on Fox was the bad news.

You see, after WB acquired the Japanese series Pokemon earlier in the year, Fox felt the need to scramble their lineup in an effort to counter-program the runaway phenomenon. That meant acquiring a Japanese import of their own, Digimon: Digital Monsters, and constantly shuffling the lineup. Woody was promised for the start of the 1999-2000 season, but didn't stay in the lineup very long. In fact, he ended up as a mid-season replacement himself because of all the constant shuffling.

Universal hired modern-day genius Billy West (Futurama) as the new voice of Woody, and populated the cast with some familiar talents including Mark Hamill, BJ Ward, & Tress MacNeille. One other positive was adding Woody's niece & nephew, Knothead & Splinter, to the mix, and giving Woody a girlfriend, Winnie, who was a near dead ringer. Unfortunately, they weren't exactly Popeye & Olive Oyl in terms of chemistry.

Sadly, reruns of the series are sitting in the NBC-Universal-Comcast vaults, as no one has even dared to bring the series back. Then again, the classic shorts are sitting in those same vaults, which is why I opined in reviewing the original series that Woody has been largely forgotten.

Anyway, here's the open:



As with a lot of their series in this period, Fox dropped the ball on Woody and gave up too soon.

Rating: B-.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Alphabetic Toons: Why a fly should never taunt a frog (1969-70)

We're starting a new feature with some classic alphabetic cartoon shorts from Sesame Street. In case you wonder, yes, the evergreen PBS series has had some reruns air on Saturdays, depending on where you live.

I remember seeing this one several years ago as a lad, and was very happy to find this on YouTube a while back. In this quickie showcasing the letter F, an angry fly (Casey Kasem) rants on having to share the screen with a natural enemy, a frog. Of course, this wasn't the only contribution "Mr. Top 40" made to Sesame Street, as we've previously screened a pair of Batman quickies he made with Olan Soule during season 1.



Now, if they did this today, would they dare to use a female fly?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Toon Legends: The Woody Woodpecker Show (1957)

He's been forgotten by many, due largely to the fact that, aside from a brief comeback in 1999, Woody Woodpecker has been out of the public eye for so long.

Woody was to Universal what Tom & Jerry were to MGM, Popeye to Paramount, and Bugs Bunny to Warner Bros., an iconic cartoon star who was the linchpin of the studio's line of cartoons. Woody & his creator, Walter Lantz, first arrived on the scene in the 40's, and transitioned to television in 1957, beginning a 20-year, on-again, off-again run, often brought on as a mid-season replacement series, usually on NBC. After a few years, the series resurfaced in syndication in the 80's with a different opening than the one we have for you.....



YouTube poster Jason Beales dubbed in sound effects from Hanna-Barbera in his clip, which we added to replace the one originally shown. (4/9/14).

The Lantz stable also included Chilly Willy & Andy Panda, whose shorts also got some time on the show. Lantz's wife, Grace Stafford, was the voice of Woody for most of the run, though the inestimable Mel Blanc actually did some of the early shorts. As years went on, Woody was given a niece & nephew, Knothead & Splinter, with whom he could share adventures, and they were more prominent in the 1999 series, which aired intermittently on Fox due to that network's constant schedule shuffling.

Rating: A.

Spiderversary: Spidey Goes Hollywood (1981)

Time for another season 1 episode of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends that has a sort of familiar feel to it.

In this story, an independent filmmaker is doing a bio on Spidey, though one wonders how without learning the webhead's true identity. Mix in master illusionist Mysterio, an old foe of Spidey's who appeared in the 1967 series, and chaos follows. Of course, just 3 years earlier, The New Fantastic Four had a similarly themed episode with the FF in Tinseltown. And there's also the matter of Spider-Man having already flopped with a primetime show........



Could they have been foreshadowing Spider-Man's future cinematic endeavors 21 years before the Raimi trilogy? Hmmmmmm.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

From Primetime to Daytime: Dennis The Menace (1959)

Hank Ketcham's seminal newspaper strip, Dennis The Menace, continues to this day, even though Ketcham himself passed away a few years back. The strip also holds the distinction of being the first humor strip to be adapted for television, with a live-action series that spent 4 years on CBS in primetime before moving to NBC for 2 seasons of Saturday morning repeats.

Dennis Mitchell (Jay North) means well, but, with his youth and enthusiasm comes a tendency to be also clumsy and prone to disasters, usually involving his next door neighbor, Mr. Wilson. Old time radio veteran Joseph Kearns was cast as Wilson, but the part had to be recast when Kearns passed away during season 3. Gale Gordon, best remembered for his supporting turn on The Lucy Show, later in the 60's, took over, playing the brother of Kearns' character. As it turned out, Gordon bore a closer resemblance to Ketcham's design for Wilson. Hmmm, makes ya wonder, doesn't it?

DoddisGS uploaded the episode, "Wilson Sleeps Over", which illustrates the point I was making about Dennis being well-meaning but a bit on the clumsy side........



Dennis The Menace would return in animated form in a pair of series, both produced by DIC, in the 80's & 90's, and we'll be covering those down the line.

Rating: B.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Archie through the animated years: A look back

This time around, we're turning our attention to one of Filmation's more successful licensed franchises, The Archies. The initial Archie Show marks its 45th anniversary next year, so now would be a good time to take a look back not only at Filmation's 10 year run with the beloved characters, but the later incarnations as well.

*The Archie Show (1968-9): Seeing the success DC was enjoying with Filmation, Archie Comics entered into a deal that turned out to be a bit more profitable for them after all was said & done. The 30-minute format allowed for 2 shorts, plus bizarre dance steps, with a particular song tied to each "Dance of the Week".

The series expanded to an hour in 1969 and underwent a title change to The Archie Comedy Hour, which provided a window through which Sabrina, the Teenage Witch would be spun off into her own series. Otherwise, it was more of the same. The next year, the series title changed again, this time to Archie's Funhouse, this time putting an emphasis on the Giant Jukebox. Filmation first experimented with live-action by using an audience full of kids to give the band someone to play in front of.

*Archie's TV Funnies (1971-3): Now, the gang has somehow been put in charge of a local television station in Riverdale. The "programming" consists of adaptations of newspaper strips such as Howard Post's Dropouts, iconic series such as Dick Tracy, Smokey Stover, & Moon Mullins, and a relatively new strip in Russell Myers' Broom-Hilda, who would return when Filmation revisited the concept in 1978's Fabulous Funnies. Taking the emphasis off Archie and the gang didn't really work, as only one season of episodes was cycled through two seasons.

*Everything's Archie (1973-4): Merely The Archie Show with a new title and all repeats from the first three seasons. Filmation was killing time while trying to find an appropriate avenue for the next series.

*US Of Archie (1974-6): Supposedly, the gang had ancestors throughout history. That was the only way to explain how they could be at various points in time, including meeting Thomas Edison. For the first time in three years, there was new Archies music, with ex-Doodletown Piper Tom McKenzie as the new singing voice of Archie (Ron Dante had left and was now producing records for Barry Manilow). Unfortunately, CBS didn't give the series a premium slot on the schedule, as Filmation began to experiment with full-on live-action series (Shazam! debuted that same year). The show moved to Sundays to finish the run, ending an 8 year run at CBS.

*The Archie-Sabrina Hour (1977): After a live-action pilot produced by James Komack (Welcome Back, Kotter) failed to sell at ABC, the gang moved to NBC in a 1 hour compilation series. I've always believed this was all-new material, especially with the introduction of a new Latino character, Carlos, who didn't appear in the comics all that much, if at all. Unfortunately, viewers turned away in droves. Filmation sold a 2nd series to NBC, The Young Sentinels (aka Space Sentinels) that same season, and that also failed to fire. About 2 months into the season, NBC split the 1 hour into two component parts: Super Witch (Sabrina) & The Bang Shang Lallapalooza Show (Archie), but that didn't work, either, and the whole kit 'n' kaboodle was gone by April '78, ending Filmation's association with Archie Comics over the course of 10 years, with '76 the only year without Archie on the schedule.

*The New Archies (1987-8): After nearly a decade away, the gang returned to television, but with a couple of big changes. For one, DIC (now part of Cookie Jar) took over producing the cartoons and acquired the distribution rights to the earlier Filmation library. Second, this series was a sort-of prequel to the 1968-78 toons in that the gang are in junior high. Dilton Doiley & Sabrina were the most notable absentees from this series, though DIC would eventually do a Sabrina solo series a few years later, based off the live-action series that bowed in 1996. NBC was home to New Archies, but the result was the same. Cancelled after 1 season, though reruns would pop up on cable in the early 90's.

*Archie's Weird Mysteries (Pax (now Ion) 1999-2000): It's best described as a generous cross between the classic Archie toons from the Filmation era, Scooby-Doo, & The X-Files. DIC produced this series, too, and kept it going in syndication for years, especially considering that there were 40 episodes produced. Archie's now an investigative reporter for Riverdale High's student newspaper, and narrates each episode. Most notable were satires of Stephen King's "Christine" and the cult classic, "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman", using Veronica in the latter case.

It's been talked about that Filmation's 1981 series, Hero High, was originally meant to be a return vehicle for  Archie and the gang, this time adapting their 60's superhero personas to television for the first time, but it didn't happen, and the studio had to create new characters and an accompanying pre-fab band. Small wonder, then, that Kid Super Power Hour With Shazam! was another 1-year dud. It wasn't until some 15-odd years later that Veronica would be given a costumed alter-ego in the comics, and it was short-lived (at least for now).

Seeing as how Marvel & DC maintain a regular presence on television, why can't a smaller company like Archie do the same? A new Archie series is waaaaaaay overdue, but the only question is, will anyone take a chance? The only way to find out is to stay tooned.........


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Toon Sports: Fender Bender 500 (1990)

One of the animated components of the short-lived weekday series Wake, Rattle, & Roll was the Fender Bender 500, which for all intents & purposes was really a revival of Wacky Races with a new title and, save for Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) & Muttley (Don Messick), an entirely new field of racers, mostly Yogi Bear and his pals, which now includes Winsome Witch  (Jean VanderPyl), who's not exactly Penelope Pitstop when it comes to racing, but, well........!

Shadoe Stevens (ex-Hollywood Squares), who was hosting American Top 40 at the time and had a short-lived action series of his own, Max Monroe: Loose Cannon, earlier in 1990, was tapped to be the announcer for this series. I guess the producers could picture him at the track doing the same thing as a guest for the Indy 500 or something. Anyway, Stevens would later return to toons as Dr. Leonard Samson on UPN's revival of The Incredible Hulk, but this was his cartoon debut.

The following clip includes the Wake open, and D.E.C.K.S. the robot (Rob Paulsen) queues up the episode, "The Unfathomable 500".



As far as Dastardly goes, some things never change. There has been talk of a full on revival of Wacky Races, which hits its 45th anniversary next year, but aside from video games, although there is a pilot out there, WB hasn't been able to green-light the project. Hmmm......

Rating: B.

Daytime Heroes: Masked Rider (1995)

With the success of the Power Rangers franchise in America, producer Haim Saban continued to mine Japanese programming to develop more series for Fox. However, nothing he came up with could match the sustained popularity of the Rangers.

One such example was Masked Rider, based on the Japanese Kamen Rider Black RX, imported to America in 1995 for Fox. Unfortunately, the series was a dud, as it was cancelled after 1 season, but then Saban, determined to make the series as big as the Rangers, moved Masked Rider into syndication, and this was despite the fact that a previous series, VR Troopers, had failed to catch on as a syndicated entity.

Here's the open:



I don't know what the obsession is with bug avatars, as we'd get that in another Saban import for Fox, Big Bad Beetleborgs, in 1997, and of course you know Saban royally screwed up the animated Avengers 2 years after that, as we've previously documented. Suffice it to say, I'm not that versed in Japanese culture, which might provide the roots behind the bug motifs.

Rating: C-.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spiderversary: Knights & Demons (1981)

Spider-Man, Firestar, & Iceman welcome on-again, off-again Avenger Black Knight in this season 1 episode of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. Modred the Mystic provides the opposition in this story, "Knights & Demons".



I never saw this episode, so I can't rate it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Return of Atlantis (1980)

Now, we all know that Aquaman calls Atlantis home, or at least he did, until the current comics incarnation. But what happens when the Sea King finds ancient Atlantis rising to the surface rather unexpectedly? Trouble. Wonder Woman and Rima, the latter making her first Super Friends appearance in 3 years, and what would be her last one, try to help, but, as you'll see, it's a little complicated.



Seems they were big on female warriors on either side of the moral fence back then. I know Thundarr had his share of issues with them.......

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday School: Saved By The Bell: The New Class (1993)

NBC didn't want to let their new Saturday morning tentpole, Saved By The Bell, go by the wayside after the original class graduated at the end of season 4.  Zack, Screech, Slater, & Kelly moved to primetime with the short-lived College Years series, which ended with Zack & Kelly getting married.

Meanwhile, a new ensemble was formed over on Saturdays as season 5 began with the sub-title, The New Class, added to the title. Dennis Haskins (Principal Richard Belding) was the only holdover until season 6, when Dustin Diamond (Screech) returned to Bayside, and, as you'll see in this season 7 episode, got top billing. Screech was older, but not exactly wiser. He's still a moron.

To me, New Class was a continuation of the series, rather than starting from scratch. It made sense to reload and keep the franchise going, in the hope that, like Saturday Night Live, the series would continue to create new stars. Unfortunately, in that regard, it wasn't successful, as cast turnover was on a seemingly annual basis. New Class lasted 7 seasons, ending in 2000, but because the original gang remains popular, reruns from 1989-93 remain in demand (cable rights are shared by TBS & MTV2), but New Class is being ignored. How fair is that?

Screech wasn't the only alumni to return. Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), Lisa (Lark Voorhies), & Slater (Mario Lopez) would all return for a 1-shot sometime after Screech had returned to Bayside in order to save the school. Meanwhile, Screech brings some of the kids to Cal U (not to be confused with the real University of California), but, as per normal, his inflated sense of self-esteem takes a big hit........



And you wonder why there isn't a rush to release New Class on DVD anytime soon......

Rating: C.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Toon Sports: Hot Wheels (1969)

Independent producer Ken Snyder and his Pantomime Pictures first came on the scene with Roger Ramjet in 1965, so why did it take so long to produce another series?

While that question might never be answered, Snyder more than made up for his in absentia by returning in 1969 with 2 series, both sold to ABC. A ways back, we reviewed Skyhawks. Now, we turn our attention to what would be the last series Snyder would ever sell to the networks.

Part of the reason you don't see reruns of Hot Wheels anywhere is that the series ended up being one season and done, due in large part to complaints lodged with the Federal Communications Commission alleging that the show was a glorified infomercial for Mattel's namesake toy line. It didn't matter that there was also a comic book based on the show that came out around the same time, published by DC. In an ironic twist, legendary artist Alex Toth, who'd done character designs for Hanna-Barbera, was one of the artists associated with the book.

Years pass, and a new version of Hot Wheels, more closely associated with the toy line than the original, is currently airing on Cartoon Network. You'd think CN would find it within themselves to locate and acquire the original, just to run it on Boomerang, but no. The suits are a wee bit skittish when it comes to passing coin to find some shows that haven't seen the light of day in forever. They go el scrimpo instead.

For a while, there were some excerpts from certain episodes available on YouTube, but those clips apparently were pulled some time back. Muttley16, though, offers up the open, with theme music composed & performed by Mike Curb and his band, the Curbstones, who did the same for Skyhawks and also contributed music to another ABC frosh, Hanna-Barbera's Cattanooga Cats.



Mattel, I assume, owns the rights to the series, and probably had some leverage to take the excerpts off YouTube. I'm begging them to consider releasing this show on DVD, as it'll approach its 45th anniversary in 2014.

Rating: B-.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. "The Wicked Warlock" (1966)

"The Wicked Warlock" was a made-for-TV villain who had more than his fair share of run-ins with Superman in the 60's. This episode is his first appearance. Warlock would later be part of a group with more established rogues Lex Luthor, Prankster, & Toyman in 2 adventures, but despite his being supernatural in nature, he came across as being, well, lame.

Unfortunately, this video was deleted due to copyright issues.

Amazingly, Mort Weisinger, a DC editor who served as a consultant to the series, never considered using Warlock in the books. I wonder why.......

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Looney TV: Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers (1992)

It had been a while since Warner Bros. had produced an all-new Looney Tunes cartoon. While all of the attention accorded to the studio in 1992 was on Batman: The Animated Series, another icon made his return.

In a parody of the sci-fi classic, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", Bugs Bunny (voiced by Jeff Bergman) has to deal with crude dopplegangers of Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, & Yosemite Sam (all also voiced by Bergman) in "Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers", which also pokes a little fun at the conventions of Looney Tunes tradition to explain how Bugs has so many homes.

The producers get minus points for a brief Clutch Cargo moment with Daffy's clone, even if it was for a few seconds. As noted in the beginning of this 11 minute piece, "Invasion" was produced in part in New York as well as at WB's Burbank studios. Makes one wonder if there were any post-production issues that were somehow unresolved before release.



Rating: B-.

Saturday School: Dr. Henry's Emergency Lessons For People (HELP) (1979)

From the creators of Schoolhouse Rock comes another series of PSA's produced for ABC.

Dr. Henry's Emergency Lessons For People, or HELP!, was slotted in liberally, alternating with the various Schoolhouse components and Time For Timer. Unfortunately, during the 80's, these micro-shorts were phased out for whatever reason, but in this day and age, with a greater emphasis on educating young viewers, it might be a good time for the good doctor to make a return.

Uploaded by Muttley16:



Rating: A.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Powers Team vs. "The Wild Cards" (1985)

"The Wild Cards" happen to be the first animated incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang, a classic opponent of the Justice League. In this episode of Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, the Gang is aligned with Darkseid, but it's who's behind the mask of Ace that is a real stunner.



Amazingly, this would be the first and only time the Joker would be included in the Super Friends franchise's 13 year history. Not the best use of the Clown Prince of Crime, I'll submit, and the later usage of the Royal Flush Gang, as well as Joker, would bear that out.

Rating: B.

From Comics to Toons: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

To think that it all started with an independently published, black & white comic book that was a pop culture phenomenon in the mid-80's.

Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their television debut 25 years ago, and are still charming audiences today. As I noted in reviewing the live-action Next Mutation series, the Turtles' current home is Nicktoons (which, I'm happy to say, is finally available on Time Warner Cable in upstate NY), after spending most of the last decade between Fox & WB/CW.

The original series aired initially in syndication before being picked up by CBS as that network needed another tentpole series to go along with Jim Henson's Muppet Babies in the late 80's. The Turtles enjoyed a very successful run on the network, and reruns would later surface on USA's Cartoon Express anthology block.

I should also note that actor Rob Paulsen, who worked on the original series, is currently the only cast member who returned for the current animated incarnation of the Turtles. The 1987 cast also included former Screen Actors Guild President Barry Gordon (ex-Fish), whom some of you might also know was the voice of the Nestle Quik (now Nesquik) Bunny for many years.

From season 2, watch what happens when Baxter Stockman turns into "The Fly":



Soon, I will cover the more recent Fox/CW run. Keep reading.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends search for "The Antidote" (1977)

Apache Chief made his debut in this short from The All-New Super Friends Hour, teaming with Wonder Woman to find "The Antidote" to save a village whose citizens have been poisoned by a band of cobras. Note here that a different actor voiced Apache Chief in this tale. All subsequent appearances have Michael Rye, also the voice of Green Lantern, in the role.

Plus: A craft lesson with Aquaman (Norman Alden).



Well, it could've gotten worse, couldn't it?

Rating: B-.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Daytime Heroes: Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997)

One of the dumbest moves Mirage Studios co-founder Peter Laird ever made was a licensing deal turning TV rights to his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Haim Saban. Instead of Saban producing a new animated series, the Turtles, after 3 live-action movies earlier in the 90's, were tried out in a weekly live-action series, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, which aired Friday afternoons instead of Saturday mornings on Fox for one season of 26 episodes in 1997-8.

There were two significant things about this series. One, the Turtles met one incarnation of the Power Rangers, which at the time was Saban's #1 franchise for Fox, appearing on Power Rangers in Space. The other was the addition of a 5th turtle, a female, christened Venus di Milo, after the famous statue. Ever since Next Mutation was cancelled, Venus has been retconned out of the Turtles' canon. Laird, it is said, wasn't fond of her, and the perception is that she was forced onto the franchise by either Saban or Fox suits, the latter looking to hook female viewers since April O'Neil, the Turtles' human aide, was missing from this series.

We have seen before how Saban has fumbled other companies properties (i.e. Avengers: United We Stand), and so it would appear that Next Mutation was just such an example.

Here's the intro:



The Turtles have always been more successful in animated form, as evidenced by the latest series, currently airing on Nicktoons. This was exhibit A as to why this show should've also been a cartoon.

Rating: C-.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Wonder Wheels (1977)

In 1976, Sid & Marty Krofft created Wonderbug for the Krofft Supershow. The titular vehicle went from being dilapidated to super in a matter of seconds thanks to a magic horn. I ain't lyin'. Unfortunately, the cheaper-than-a-dollar-store production values resulted in Wonderbug getting permanently sent to the junkyard after 2 seasons (1 season's worth stretched over 2).

A year later, Hanna-Barbera decided they could do a little something better with the concept. Instead of a dune buggy, they took a beaten-up motorcycle and souped it up with the help of a hidden button, turning it into Wonder Wheels, a component of the Skatebirds anthology package.

Willie (ex-Monkee Micky Dolenz) is an assistant to investigative reporter Dooley Lawrence, and is about as reliable as an empty bag. However, when danger threatens, Willie hits the button and Wonder Wheels enters the picture, with Willie now garbed in a red & yellow jumpsuit. Dooley, amazingly, never made the connection.

Here's a sample intro:



Now, you all know the meek & mild bit started with Superman, who, along with the Super Friends, aired opposite studio stablemate Skatebirds during the latter series' 1 and only season. Willie & Wonder Wheels could've stood to have gotten better writing, for one, and for another thing, maybe a little extra time for each episode. 5-6 minutes just won't cut it today.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rein-Toon-Ation: M*U*S*H (1975)

The last of the three animated components of Uncle Croc's Block was also the most legitimate parody in the series.

M*U*S*H is a funny animal parody of----what else?----M*A*S*H, but instead of being set in the Korean War or any other military conflict, this canine unit was sent into a vast Arctic wilderness that maybe only Sgt. Preston might venture into. Unfortunately, it lacked the one thing that made M*A*S*H so successful. None of the characters in M*U*S*H had any memorable personalities that would distinguish them from their human counterparts.

Retroheroes uploaded the open:



Filmation's primary writers of the period, Chuck Menville & Len Jansen, were being overextended, as they wrote for virtually all of the studio's product back then. No rest for the weary, sorry to say. A few extra, fresh for that matter, hands might have helped.

Rating: C.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Saturtainment: Wacky & Packy (1975)

From Uncle Croc's Block comes a feature that reverses the man-out-of-time concept used a year earlier in a trio of Saturday morning shows: Hanna-Barbera's Korg: 70,000 BC (which Croc replaced) & Valley of the Dinosaurs and the Kroffts' Land of the Lost. Wacky & Packy went in the opposite direction, as they came from the stone age to our time, and now seek a means to get home. Of course, they're not accustomed to modern life, though there's something to it that might actually appeal to them, like playing sports, which is the theme to the series opener, "The New York Sweats". Uploaded by----wait for it----wackyandpacky to YouTube.



To be honest, I didn't see much of the show the first time around due to other commitments, and I didn't see this much when it was recycled on Groovie Goolies & Friends a couple of years later. From what I can see of this, however, the naivete of Wacky reminds me of the Beverly Hillbillies, which I just reviewed over at The Land of Whatever earlier. However, while Wacky has more in common with Jethro Bodine in terms of intellect, that's about as far as it goes. The writers didn't do Wacky & Packy too many favors. Then again, the viewers seemed to agree, which is why the Croc series bit the dust before Christmas.

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Xiaolin Showdown (2003)

4 young monks of diverse ethnic backgrounds join forces in a fight against malevolent evil in Kids' WB's Xiaolin Showdown. The series lasted three seasons, stretched out further by reruns to about five, and remains a fan favorite long after the series' cancellation.

Jack Spicer (Danny Cooksey, ex-Diff'rent Strokes) was supposed to be a primary villain in season 1, but was more or less comedy relief because he was a bumbling goof. He'd eventually switch sides twice in the course of the series' run, but I couldn't take him too seriously.

Unfortunately, today, the series languishes in the vaults at WB, due to the internal squabbling between Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network over rights fees, among other petty things.

Xiaolinshowdown11 (naturally) uploaded the series opener.



Rating: B.