Friday, October 31, 2014

Toon Sports: The Ramblin' Wreck (Where's Huddles?, 1970)

Author's note, 5/4/17: Have to rewrite the text since the original poster who provided the video lost his account, and the video has since been replaced.

For the 2nd consecutive episode, Where's Huddles? addresses the issue of Ed Huddles' plus-sized sidekick/teammate/neighbor, Bubba McCoy (Mel Blanc). In "The Rambling Wreck", after being warned to steer clear of a prized car belonging to neighbor Claude Pertwee (Paul Lynde), Bubba accidentally wrecks the car, prompting Ed (Cliff Norton) to try to repair the damage before Claude returns from vacation.



I'd later learn that Hanna-Barbera had used this same plot for their pilot pitch to the networks, but using different actresses, particularly Nancy Kulp (The Beverly Hillbillies) as the players' wives.

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On the Air: Teenage Fairytale Dropouts (2012)

Teenage Fairytale Dropouts was developed in Mexico in 2012, and has migrated around the world, debuting on The Hub (now Discovery Family) in May of this year.

If the basic concept sounds remotely familiar, that's because MTV had a similarly themed series, Clone High, just a few short years ago, airing in primetime. This time, though, the kids are the offspring of famous characters such as Merlin and Pinocchio. And, yeah, it's almost as bad.

Following is a sample clip:



With Election Day next week, the episode about a race for class president seems mighty appropriate, don't you think? I just wish they tried this with CGI instead of flash animation.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spooktober: Bone Chillers (1996)

Thanks to the popularity of R. L. Stine's Goosebumps on Fox, ABC wanted their piece of the horror-lit action for their Saturday morning lineup. Unfortunately, Betsy Haynes' Bone Chillers was a bust, cancelled after 1 season.

Bone Chillers, like Goosebumps, used mostly unknowns, but one, Linda Cardellini, later went on to greater things, such as the first 2 "Scooby-Doo" live-action movies (she'd later work on the Mystery Incorporated series), and primetime roles on Freaks & Geeks & ER. Veteran Charles Fleischer ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", ex-Welcome Back, Kotter) co-starred as Arnie, the janitor who helped the kids at Edgar Allan Poe High.

Following is the series finale, "Full Moon Goon":



Three VHS compilations were released in 1997, but the series is not yet on DVD. Can't see why.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On The Air: Mike Tyson Mysteries (2014)

Well, it's here. Monday saw the debut of Mike Tyson Mysteries, [adult swim]'s latest 15 minute comedy series, and, well, it's about what you'd expect.

The former World boxing champion now fancies himself a comedian, as per turns in the "Hangover" movie series, and parodies the celebrity-driven cartoons of his youth by voicing his own animated likeness. Aided by the ghost of the Marquess (actually Marquis, but factor in Mike's speech impediment, played for laughs) of Queensbury as his new mentor, Tyson has an adopted daughter and a talking pigeon (Norm McDonald, ex-Saturday Night Live) rounding out the team. The script, in typical [as] fashion, is all over the place, such as in the opener.....

Edit: 11/5/14: [adult swim], or, at least the fan channel that posted the episode, has privatized it. In its place, we give you an excerpt from IGN.:



Well, what can you do in 15 minutes? Tyson doubles as a consulting producer, since this was his idea in the first place. How many classic cartoon tropes did you spot in the episode?

Rating: B--.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Toon Sports: Off Road Racer (Catillac Cats, 1984)

Riff Raff and the Catillac Cats take up off-road auto racing in this episode. Riffy decides to enter when he learns his girlfriend, Cleo, kisses the winner. Gee, y'think maybe this is also a bit of a homage to Wacky Races?



Funny thing. Actor Stan Jones, better known as the voice of Lex Luthor to fans of the Super Friends franchise, voices both Riff Raff and Wordsworth, the latter voice seemingly a mimic of certain of Howard Morris' characters (i.e. Mayor McCheese). Like, who knew?

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Toon Legends: Scooby-Doo vs. the Diabolical Disc Demon (1978)

It's been a while since we showcased Scooby-Doo, so why don't we take a trip back to 1978, when Mystery, Inc. (though not going by that appellation at the time) took on the case of "The Diabolical Disc Demon". As memory serves, the episode title card was edited off some syndicated prints, aside from this one.....



Yes, the villain is modeled after KISS bassist/vocalist and later actor-reality show star Gene Simmons, whose costume predictably lent itself to be copied like this. KISS, it should be noted, made a live-action movie for Hanna-Barbera around the same time that you'd be hard pressed to find today.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saturday School: Two Rabbits Too Many (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, 1970-1)

Emmanuel Mateer, Jr. brings us another episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch from the Filmation years.

Well-meaning Sabrina (Jane Webb) tries again to pep up downtrodden Jughead (Howard Morris), but her success spell has an unexpected side effect. Jughead starts behaving like a rabbit, just in time for Riverdale High to be audited. Uh-oh.




Study the image of Sabrina's cousin, Ambrose (Morris). In both the current Secrets of a Teenage Witch series, and the just-launched Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book, Ambrose has been de-aged into a warlock around Sabrina's age or older, and not the comedy relief he was presented to us as back in the day. I prefer the adult Ambrose myself. What about you?

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spooktober: When Halloween Was Forever (The Real Ghostbusters, 1986)

From season 1 of The Real Ghostbusters:

Pre-Halloween jobs are getting harder for the Ghostbusters. Could there be some major supernatural threat behind this? J. Michael Straczynski, before he earned sci-fi credentials with Babylon 5, cut his teeth writing for cartoons like The Real Ghostbusters and the original He-Man & The Masters of the Universe. "When Halloween Was Forever" allows him to demonstrate a flair for comedy, as well.



I think I can see why Lorenzo Music was replaced as Peter after 1 season. It wasn't because he left to do Garfield & Friends, but the fact that he has one basic voice, which gets tweaked a tad depending on the character. And Ray (Frank Welker) sounds more like a grown-up Fred Jones, doesn't he?

Rating: A-.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Literary Toons: The Get Along Gang (1984)

The Get Along Gang marks its 30th anniversary this year. American Greetings introduced the characters through their subsidiary, Those Characters From Cleveland, and managed to land a television deal. Twice.

The pilot episode was produced by Canada's Nelvana Studios for Nickelodeon, presumably in the first half of 1984. Former Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian, who'd previously scored some specials for Nelvana, recorded the theme song. However, by the time the fall schedule was announced, the series had switched animation houses to DIC, and was picked up by CBS. That also meant that some of the voice actors were changed. For example, Charles Haid (Hill Street Blues), the original voice of Montgomery Moose, was replaced by a considerably younger actor with a little more cartoon experience in Sparky Marcus (ex-Richie Rich, The Bad News Bears).

Unfortunately, only 1 season was produced at DIC, and CBS kept it around until 1986. Here's the intro to the CBS/DIC version:



No rating.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Spooktober: The Last Halloween (1991)

To be honest with you, I wouldn't have known this even existed, were it not for a review that appeared over at Twin Factor the other day.

The Last Halloween, if I'm not mistaken, will go down in history as the last live-action television special produced by Hanna-Barbera. The last live-action series, Wake, Rattle, & Roll, had bowed a year earlier. Co-authored and directed by Savage Steve Holland, who'd later bring us Eek! The Cat and some other goodies, Last Halloween might as well have been alternately titled, "Mars Needs Candy", because four bizarre beings from Mars arrive on Earth searching for something called "coobi", or, in our language, candy. As was noted at Twin Factor, M & M/Mars, now known simply as Mars, Inc., was the primary sponsor, which is why this has such a sweet plot. Sweet in terms of candy, that is.

Co-executive producer William Hanna serves as narrator, which itself is a rarity. The cast includes Rhea Perlman (Cheers), Eugene Roche, whose extensive resume includes Kojak, The Corner Bar, Soap, All In The Family, & Magnum, P. I., and Richard Moll (Night Court), as a Lurch-like chauffeur/assistant to the main villain, played by Perlman. Two kids team with the four Martians (voiced by Frank Welker, Don Messick, and singer-songwriter Paul Williams) to save the town's candy factory from being closed, thanks to the villain's experiments involving bugs. Eeeew. That does sound a little on the gross side.

I never saw this when it first aired, so there won't be a rating. We'll just serve this up, just for kicks, especially with Halloween less than 2 weeks away.



Unfortunately, Warner Bros. is holding this in the vaults, as I don't think this was ever released on DVD.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Toonfomercial: Remember this Kellogg's ad campaign? (1976)

In the summer of 1976, CBS experimented by adding a primetime edition of their recently revived Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show, albeit in a half hour format, as opposed to the hour-long, later 90 minute, Saturday show. A couple of quick snippets from a Tuesday night airing bracket this next subject.

In our bicentennial year, Kellogg's embarked on an ad campaign spotlighting famous Americans, such as Ben Franklin & Thomas Edison under the umbrella, "Yes, we can!". The incomparable Casey Kasem narrates.



Yes, this spot also aired on Saturday mornings. I'm not sure if anyone kept the empty boxes after nearly 40 years............

Friday, October 17, 2014

Saturtainment: The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley (1994)

Not long after Full House had come to an end, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen returned, this time in a series of DTV mysteries that later migrated to the Family Channel (now ABC Family).

The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley was a comedy-musical-mystery series that was meant for the little ones. The videos were readily available at the usual places, but today, are collecting dust somewhere, like the twins' later series. Fam, for that matter, gave up on the series after about a year, likely due to 1) low ratings and 2) Olsen fatigue hadn't dissipated yet.

Warner Video On Demand's YouTube channel provides a sample clip:



Rating: B.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spooktober: Miss Switch to the Rescue (1982)

Tubetv brings us an offering from the ABC Weekend Special.

Miss Switch (Janet Waldo) returns in the sequel to 1980's The Trouble With Miss Switch. Rupert & Amelia need her help again, especially Amelia, who's been kidnapped by a warlock, who had tricked the kids into releasing him from his prison, one of the oldest tropes in fiction.

It all begins with a stranger (June Foray) delivering a package, containing the warlock, to the kids.......



No rating.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Saturtainment: Soul Alive (1977)

In 1977, with disco in full effect, WPIX in New York wanted a piece of the pie. They didn't have the rights to Don Cornelius' seminal Soul Train at the time, so the station commmissioned a locally produced music series, Soul Alive. Back then, the station's handle was more "11 Alive" than WPIX.

New York DJ Gerry Bledsoe served as the host for the series, which lasted three seasons (1977-80). I can honestly say I never watched the show, though I'd heard of it via commercials airing on the station. TV Party's Billy Ingram takes us back in time with the closing moments of a particular episode, focusing on Bledsoe's rapid fire monologue.



Eventually, Soul Train would air on WPIX, but Soul Alive was long gone by then.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Daytime Heroes: Ghostwriter (1992)

The Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) introduced a weekly mystery series for kids on PBS in 1992. Unfortunately, while Ghostwriter is probably playing overseas somewhere, it's not available in the US anymore, at a time when PBS can dust off some of their older shows for a new audience. Notwithstanding the loose revival of Electric Company, that is.

Ghostwriter, as memory serves, aired on Fridays, with month-long story arcs to keep viewers tuning in. Not just kids, but parents as well, largely because of the guest stars drawn to the show, including filmmaker-actor-activist Spike Lee, who appears in the story arc, "Into the Comics". Part one follows.......



Two years after the series ended, Sesame Workshop revived it under the title, The New Ghostwriter Mysteries, but this time, it aired on CBS as a Saturday morning entry. Sadly, it lasted just 1 season due to low ratings, and that, too, is lying in the Workshop's vaults somewhere.

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Spooktober: Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends vs. Dracula (?) (1983)

Looks can sometimes be deceiving.

Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends find this out when a man purporting to be Dracula targets Firestar (Kathy Garver) to become his bride.......



I've seen better.

Rating: C.

Sunday Funnies: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1997)

Disney made a franchise out of 1989's "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids". Two sequels, one of which was direct-to-video, ultimately gave way to a weekly syndicated series.

However, the studio couldn't convince Rick Moranis ("Ghostbusters", ex-SCTV) to return to series television, so they hired Peter Scolari (ex-Newhart, Bosom Buddies) to take over the role of eccentric scientist and family man Wayne Szalinski, who ends up putting his family in one nutty sitch after another. Apparently, the change in actors didn't bother the franchise, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids lasted three seasons.

Here is a season 2 episode, "She's Like a Fish Out of Water".



Too bad Disney insists on leaving this in the vaults, as this would fit in nicely on Disney Channel and/or DisneyXD or ABC Family today.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Animated (?) World of DC Comics: Puppetitans? ("Puppets? Whaat?", Teen Titans Go!, 2014)

Just when you thought the creative cretins behind Teen Titans Go! could sink no lower, along comes the season finale, which premiered on Thursday night.

Of course, the episode as a whole is unavailable, as there are excerpts and the following Cartoon Network promo. Maybe it's just as well.......



The puppets, or, should I say, PuppeTitans, are live marionettes, but the regular cast still provides the voices. I watched about a minute or two of this nonsense, then flipped the channel. Why did I even bother?

Rating: EF (for EPIC FAIL!!!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: First Men on the Moon (Fantastic Voyage, 1968)

Nothing, to me, says "jump the shark" about Fantastic Voyage than this episode, "First Men on the Moon". A government suit, Selwyn Upjohn (Ted Knight), wants to disband the CMDF, and brings along an unexpected aide in his son, Alvin, who supposedly is a scientific genius, but is really the worst kind of brat, as you'll see. Personally, I think Upjohn has a hidden agenda, but we'll see.........



The artistic department at Filmation wasn't exactly original with Erica Lane (Jane Webb). Her hair suggests a grown-up version of Betty Cooper from The Archie Show, while Webb didn't exactly go out of her way to make Erica sound any different than Betty or Batgirl. Maybe that, too, would explain why this show was ceased production after 1 season.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Celebrity Toons: The closest we'd ever get to an animated Bewitched (The Flintstones, 1965)

It's 1965. The Flintstones was in its 6th and final season. Bewitched was in its 2nd. Someone, either at ABC or Screen Gems, which at the time was distributing Hanna-Barbera's programming, decided to bring the two shows together, by concocting a 1-shot storyline that had Samantha & Darrin Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery & Dick York) moving pro tempore to Bedrock. H-B already had the character designs, since they provided the animated open to Bewitched.

To my knowledge, this was the only toon credit for York and Montgomery. And while reruns of Bewitched would emigrate to ABC's morning lineup, running six days a week at one point (!), apparently, no one thought to follow up on this experiment by creating an animated version of the series. The only other cartoon associated with the franchise was a Saturday Superstar Movie that featured Tabitha & Adam as teenagers, and this was right after Bewitched had ended its run. It's a pity. Anyway, Wilma (Jean VanderPyl) & Betty (Gerry Johnson, who'd taken over for Bea Benaderet in season 4) get acquainted with "Samantha":



I am not entirely sure if this episode would be included in the Flintstones rerun package that aired on NBC while Bewitched was still on the air. We do know that it aired in syndication, though.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Looney TV: Bewitched Bunny (1954)

Bugs Bunny decides to take matters into his own hands when, while reading Hansel & Gretel, he sees a similar scene play out virtually right in front of him, as Witch Hazel (June Foray) charms a pair of children into her gingerbread house. Here's "Bewitched Bunny":



This wouldn't be the last time Bugs & Hazel's paths would cross, of course.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Spooktober: Boo Moon (1953)

Casper, the Friendly Ghost used to get a lot of airplay back in the day, right along with some of his contemporaries, such as Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, and Tom & Jerry. Unfortunately, these days, cable networks don't seem to be too interested. Their loss.

Now, though, would be the right time to bring Casper back. One way is to present one of his theatrical shorts from the 50's, particularly, 1953's "Boo Moon".



Rating: A.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Spooktober: Jack O'Lantern (1972)

From the syndicated Festival of Family Classics:

Jack O'Lantern springs from Irish folklore, and in this adaptation, is a leprechaun trapped in the shape of a pumpkin. Two kids, not knowing, carved the traditional face on the pumpkin, and after a formal meeting, if you will, in the barn, get Jack to agree to be the head of their scarecrow......

All that is available in English at the moment is this trailer, which apparently also included an adaptation of Yankee Doodle (not shown).



I remember seeing this, but it didn't move me all that much.

Rating: C.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Animated World of DC Comics: Meet the Legion of Doom (1978)

From Challenge of the Super Friends and robssffanpage:

In the opening moments of "Wanted: The Super Friends", we are introduced to the Legion of Doom, whose HQ is shaped like Darth Vader's helmet for some reason. Maybe it's an inside joke, I don't know. Anyway, Lex Luthor (Stan Jones) is at the helm, as would be natural, since his nemesis, Superman, leads the Super Friends.



Of course, the complete episode is unavailable, as Warners is enforcing copyrights on a lot of Super Friends material. Anyway, for those who haven't seen the episode in a while, Luthor uses a machine to trick the heroes into pulling a few jobs, but then swerves them right into a trap, sending them toward the sun. Of course, you know how this ends.

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Spooktober: Tutenstein (2003)

Tutenstein sprang from the pages of creator Jay Stephens' Jet Cat Clubhouse comic book, and onto television in 2003, debuting on Discovery Kids and NBC. The series spent three seasons on NBC, and lingered around DK/The Hub until the end of 2011. With Hub being rebooted into Discovery Family in 9 days, given that we're closing in on Halloween, this might be an appropriate time to bring the show back.

The story centers on a young mummy, awakened after 3,000 years by an aspiring Egyptologist, who is now Tut's reluctant mentor/sidekick.

Here's the intro:



This might've worked better if Tut were able to occasionally create the illusion of being a normal young boy of the modern age.

Rating: B-.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Super President solves The UFO Mystery (1967)

Super President squares off once more with the bizarre Professor DeCordo (both voiced by Paul Frees), who steals the President's omnicar, which the government thinks is something else entirely, in "The UFO Mystery":



I don't think they ever explained DeCordo's alien-like appearance. Too bad.

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Does a Tasmanian Devil need an energy drink? (2014)

GEICO's latest "Did you know?" ad stars the Tasmanian Devil, back to his old, hyperkinetic self.



Enough said.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spooktober: Growing Up Creepie (2006)

With The Hub changing formats to Discovery Family later this month, it would be appropriate to bring back one of Discovery Kids' oddest cartoons.

Growing Up Creepie tells the story of the titular orphan, raised by insects in an abandoned mansion. She can't reveal that she has no human parents per se, otherwise, she's likely to end up in an orphanage or foster care, it would appear.

Producer Mike Young nowadays is working with the French studio, Moonscoop, and at last check, Creepie's current home is the online network, Kabillion, which has an On Demand channel on Time Warner Cable (check your cable systems). Since a lot of shows have more than one cable home these days (i.e. Family Feud), why not have DF welcome Creepie home in time for Halloween?

Anyway, here's the episode, "Attack of the Wasp Zombies":



Rating: C.