Friday, July 4, 2014

On DVD: Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 1960's, Volume 1 (2009)

Warner Home Video experimented with the Saturday Morning Cartoons line of compilation DVD's at the end of the last decade. The first volume of the 1960's portion of the series was an eclectic mix of comedy and adventure. All but one of the series sampled on the 2-disc set have previously been covered here, the lone exception being Japan's Marine Boy, which we will get to in due course.

The lineup:

*Quick Draw McGraw (2 episodes): The series actually launched in 1959, but the episodes in the set are from season 3. The second one has its episode order slightly skewed, with Augie Doggie leading off instead of Quick Draw. Go figure.

*Atom Ant (1965)
*Peter Potamus (1964): Includes the season 2 closing bumper with Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-a-Long, replacing Breezly & Sneezly.
*Secret Squirrel (1965)
*Marine Boy (imported to the US by Seven Arts around 1966-7 or so)
*The Porky Pig Show (1963): Comes complete with bumpers and closing credits, the latter having not been seen in syndication. When the series was syndicated in the 70's, the original title opening & closing cards for each short was used, and the credits card was deleted. As it turns out, Barbara Cameron, who composed the Road Runner theme three years later, was also responsible for Porky's theme song.
*Space Ghost & Dino Boy (1966)
*The Herculoids (1967)
*Frankenstein, Jr. & The Impossibles (1966)
*Magilla Gorilla (1964): A syndicated print is used, with the original sponsor (Ideal) ID deleted. In short, this is the version most of you have seen.
*The Jetsons (1962): Title card from the 1980's revival has been added to the episode, "Rosey the Robot".
*The Flintstones (1960): "The Happy Housewife" showcases Wilma, which makes Fred jealous.
*Top Cat (1961): The Millionaire is parodied in the episode, "The Tycoon", which, ironically, would be the name of a live-action sitcom that would air on ABC a couple of years later, after they jettisoned TC and friends.

I realize the lineup is not in order, but that is what we have, plus a couple  of mini-documentaries.

The Herculoids: First Family of Quasar: Zandor and co.'s home planet wasn't really identified as Quasar until 1981's Space Stars. In 1967, it was known simply as Amzot. Don't ask. This was mostly a discussion on the influence artist Alex Toth had on the staff at that time.

Monsters of Rock: The Adventures of Frankenstein, Jr. & The Impossibles acknowledges the shortfall to the superhero shorts of the period, that being that the heroes' origins were never explained, save for the adaptation of Marvel's Fantastic Four (1967).

Saturday Morning Wake-Up Call attempts to recreate the promos from the 60's, particularly those for CBS recorded by Gary Owens (Space Ghost), whose voice has clearly lost its heroic timbre by 2009. It was more evident when the Phantom of the Spaceways guest-starred in a once in a lifetime meeting with Batman on The Brave & The Bold a couple of years later. Unfortunately, Wake-Up Call is not available on YouTube, unlike the others, which were uploaded by Cartoon Lagoon.

Sadly, most of the shorts are unavailable as well for one reason or another. We'll keep an eye out for them as time goes on.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

Monsters of Rock is also on the Frankenstein Jr./Impossibles DVD from WB On Demand.

I enjoyed watching it, but it didn't have nearly enough depth to it. So many other collections have so much more, from commentary to behind the scenes shenanigans. They barely scratched the surface here.

Did you notice the ealy storyboard drawing showing the Impossibles as "The Incredibles"? Not to mention Coil was originally supposed to be a drummer! Shortly after they were referred to as "The Incredible Impossibles" (and referred to as such in one early episode), before finally just being, The Impossibles.

As for the boys' origins, I had four possible theories:

1) The boys were born mutants/metahumnans and always had powers.

2) They gained their powers via exposure to "Chemical X" or some sort of scientific process. I don't know if it was in the production notes, or merely someone's fanwanking, but there was a mention somewhere that the boys were test subjects in an experiment conducted by the US military.

3) They were born out of an odd experiment not unlike the Powerpuff Girls. Someone combined Rock & Roll vinyl, guitars, an old spring, some bottled water and some paper dolls. "Chemical X" was all that was needed to bring the boys to life! How else to you explain such loyal, talented music makers who are never apart from their instruments?

4) The wildcard theory: The powers were in their costumes. If you think about it, the guys NEVER used their powers when they weren't wearing them.

I've mentioned before I've always enjoyed the Herculoids' 1960s adventures (the 1981 versions, not so much) and it was nice to see a short on them as well, but again, too short and too shallow.

Imagine what Saturday mornings could have been like if Peggy Charren hadn't become involved. Maybe shows like BTAS might have come a decade or more earlier! Other toons wouldn't have been so dumbed down either.

hobbyfan said...

I should mention that I picked up my copy of Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 60's in a reissue form, as it was relabeled "Kids' Favorites" for some reason. No wonder I got it so cheap.