Monday, October 31, 2016

Spooktober: Zombies in Love (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

Our final Spooktober entry comes from Archie's Weird Mysteries.

Veronica uses a love potion intended for Archie, but it seems everyone's gotten a whiff.......



No rating.

From Out of the Recycling Bin: Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special (1978)

In order to produce holiday-themed specials for CBS, Warner Bros. would cobble together clips from a collection of older, classic shorts, and create a new, wraparound storyline.

Such was the case with 1978's Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special. Some of the shorts excerpted in this show had been used in edited form on The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show on Saturdays, so the challenge was on parents to recognize where they'd seen certain clips.

We've previously reviewed some of the shorts, such as "Hyde & Go Tweet". You try to figure what comes from where.



No rating. We didn't see this the first time.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spooktober: Garfield's Halloween Adventure (aka Garfield in Disguise)(1985)

Earlier this month, we showed you a PSA featuring Garfield. I'm told that the images of Garfield and Odie were lifted from our next entry.

Garfield's Halloween Adventure, originally titled Garfield in Disguise when it first aired on CBS in 1985, has Jim Davis' orange-furred feline (Lorenzo Music) and Odie trick or treating as if they were kids. The episode also features songs performed by Music and the incomparable Lou Rawls.



Of course you know that a couple of years later, Garfield would begin a lengthy run as part of CBS' Saturday morning block. The more recent CGI-driven Garfield Show doesn't really hold a candle, and its only advantage is allowing for Garfield's lips to move.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: Exploration Earth (All-New Super Friends Hour, 1977)

Aliens from the distant planet Zeno (or should that be Xeno?) invade Earth. Their attempt at "scientific study" is anything but, as far as the Super Friends are concerned. Scope out "Exploration Earth".



Looks to me like the Zenoian leader's designs might've been lifted from some similarly drawn aliens from Filmation's 1966-70 New Adventures of Superman, don't you think?

Rating: B.

Spooktober: A McDonald's promotion you may remember (1979)

Back in the day, McDonald's used to emphasize selling gift certificates, usually around Christmas. In 1979, they tried the same promotion around Halloween, using a talking pumpkin.......



Funny thing. This is the first time I've seen this ad.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

From Comics to Toons: The Thing in Junkyard Hijinks (1979)

The Yancy Street Gang thinks the junkyard where their clubhouse is located is private property. The Thing has other ideas in "Junkyard Hijinks":



I'm all about civic pride and all that, but it seems the Yancy Street boys wouldn't know the first thing about it, much less spell "civic".

Rating: B-.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Faerie Tale Theatre (1982)

I will warn you now that I, because I don't have premium cable channels such as Showtime, have never seen Faerie Tale Theatre, which ran for six "seasons" between 1982-7. Hence, there won't be a rating for this next item, presented as more of a public service.

Actress Shelley Duvall ("The Shining", "Popeye", etc.) developed the series while on the set of "Popeye", as she was reading some classic fairy tales while on the set. Two of her "Popeye" co-stars, Paul Dooley and Robin Williams, would eventually appear on Faerie Tale Theatre. In fact, Williams, fresh from Mork & Mindy, starred in the pilot episode, "The Tale of the Frog Prince".

For now, here's one of the final episodes of the series, from March 1987, "Rip Van Winkle", starring Harry Dean Stanton in the title role, and co-starring Ed Begley, Jr. (St. Elsewhere):



Duvall would follow up with Tall Tales & Legends, which didn't quite have the staying power. I have no memory of either series airing in syndication, but they should have. We'll look at Tall Tales another time.

Animated World of DC Comics: Plastic Man vs. Superstein (1979)

Plastic Man encounters a version of Frankenstein's Monster that is much more intelligent than Mary Shelley had ever conceived. "Superstein" (Stanley Ralph Ross, using his Grodd voice) actually is doing some research to try to find a power source he needs. It's just too bad he's also a bit of a mama's boy.



Rating: B-.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Spooktober: The Halloween Door (The Real Ghostbusters, 1989)

The Real Ghostbusters, in its 4th season on ABC (5th overall---don't ask), were granted their only primetime special. The Saturday edition had expanded to an hour to give Slimer (Frank Welker) his own half-hour of comic adventures.

However, "The Halloween Door" is a half-hour in length, and, oddly, starts with a song. "Touchin' Old Magic", performed by the Ghostbusters themselves (Welker, Dave Coulier, Maurice LaMarche, & Buster Jones), before the drama begins.



Yeah, you're getting the "music video" twice. Can't be helped. This next clip is missing the opening scenes.



Coulier (Full House) was actually trying to do a Bill Murray imitation, rather than Lorenzo Music, who'd left to do Garfield & Friends. Apparently, Jones didn't sing after all, as Bus Boys frontman Brian O'Neal sang Winston's parts.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Spooktober: Betty Boop's Halloween Party (1933)

Betty Boop's 1933 "Halloween Party" wasn't really banned. The person who posted this video to YouTube was looking for click bait from curious viewers. Instead, it's the Fleischers at their most surreal. Who else would have paintings of witches come to life to scare off a party-crashing gorilla?



Silly, harmless fun. That's all it is. They just don't make cartoons like this anymore.

Rating: A-.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Toons After Dark: Downtown (1999)

By the end of the 90's, MTV was looking for the next big hit cartoon. It had been two years since Beavis & Butt-Head had ended, and its spinoff series, Daria, needed something to complement it on the schedule.

Downtown, they say, should've been it. Series creator Chris Prynoski had worked on "Beavis & Butt-Head Do America", and was given the green light to develop his own series. Unfortunately, one season of 13 episodes was all Prynoski got, as MTV, seeing the ratings, cancelled Downtown. Prynoski, however, persevered, and would later work on Megas XLR for Cartoon Network, and Motorcity for DisneyXD. Both of those series were also short-lived for whatever reason.

I never got to see the show, so there isn't going to be a rating. For now, scope the episode, "The Con", with WWE superstar the Undertaker as a special guest star.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Looney TV: Hillbilly Hare (1950)

Where does Bugs Bunny find the funds to travel to such distant places as the Ozark Mountains without burrowing?

Not that it matters, but director Robert McKimson sent Bugs off to the Ozarks in 1950's "Hillbilly Hare". We've previously sampled the riotous dismantling of "Skip To My Lou", setting up the finale, but now we have the whole enchilada.



Apparently, the Martin brothers weren't exactly top of their class in school. Assuming, of course, they ever graduated.

Rating: A-.

Sunday Funnies: Funniest Pets & People (2006)

Nearly 10 months after it began airing as a digital subchannel for the local Fox affiliate here, Laff TV debuts on Time Warner Cable systems in the  home district. Among the entries on the schedule is a cable series that first aired 10 years ago.

Funniest Pets & People has been lurking around since it launched in 2006. Executive Producer Brad Lachman might be better known for the 80's variety series, Solid Gold, than for this 2 year America's Funniest Home Videos wanna-be. Voice actor Rob Paulsen is the host-narrator.



Funniest Pets airs on Laff in the pre-dawn hours every day just about. Truth is, it's worth recording when you need a laugh on a bad day.

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tooniversary: Adventures From The Book of Virtues (1996)

I'd imagine that there are churches using videos from the PBS series, Adventures From The Book of Virtues as teaching tools for Sunday School or even Vacation Bible School, 20 years after the series first hit the air.

As memory serves, Virtues did air, fittingly enough, on Sunday mornings in some cities, but today, any PBS affiliate would be wise to pair it with the 2 hour Bookworm Bunch block and Redwall for a 3 hour block that would make the FCC proud. I know I would if I was a programmer.

I never got to see the show, so there won't be a rating. Right now, let's give you a season 1 episode, "Faith", with guest stars Edward Asner as Daniel and Alfre Woodard as Harriet Tubman.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Spooktober: Mr. Magoo as Dr. Frankenstein (The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, 1964)

The gimmick to The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo was that Magoo (Jim Backus, Gilligan's Island) was acting in theatrical productions and putting aside his own disability. The usual gags about Magoo being nearsighted are used in the preambles, such as the one coming up, to set up the adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

The opening & closing credits have been edited off.



No rating. I have little memory of seeing this one.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: The Wonder Twins in Game of Chicken (1977)

The Wonder Twins try to convince a pair of teenage boys to avoid playing a "Game of Chicken". Michael Bell (Zan/Gleek) also voices Lance, one of the two boys.



Seems Zan & Gleek might've been watching Flintstones reruns to learn how to bowl. Poor Zan got taken to school again.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Taka (1967)

You have probably noticed that the producers of the 1966 Lone Ranger series gave Tonto (Shep Menken) an eagle as a sidekick of his own, as if he needed it. Anyway, "Taka" stars in his own short, with cameos by Tonto and the Ranger (Michael Rye).



Rye doubles as Nakoni, the Native American scout accompanying the hunting party. Apparently, he's not from Tonto's tribe, else he'd have recognized Taka right away. Have to say this was highly amusing.

Rating: A.

Spooktober: The Devil Went Down to Georgia (1979)

This also appears at The Land of Whatever:

It is likely one of the biggest Halloween anthems of all time, even if it wasn't meant that way. Here's the Charlie Daniels Band, from The Midnight Special, with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia".

Toonfomercial: Remember Keebler's Soft Batch cookies? (1985)

Keebler is now part of Kellogg's ever-expanding food empire (the company also purchased Sunshine some time back, and recently took over the Pringle's line of potato crisps from Proctor & Gamble). Back in the day, not a day went by without at least one commercial promoting one of Keebler's expanding line of cookies.

One such example is Soft Batch, which was introduced in 1985. Let's visit the famous hollow tree and look in on Ernie (Parley Baer, ex-The Andy Griffith Show) and his mom (presumably June Foray) as they inspect the development of their new product. Danny Dark (Super Friends), the long time announcer for Keebler, narrates.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends face Terror at 20,000 Fathoms (1979)

From The World's Greatest Super Friends:

"Terror at 20,000 Fathoms" is a left-handed adaptation of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Captain Nemoy (Bob Holt), aided by an android doppleganger of Batman (Olan Soule), intends to use nuclear warheads for some nefarious purposes. Even though Superman & Wonder Woman are away, Supes' pals from Kandor come in mighty handy.



Rating: B+.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Spooktober: Boo To You, Winnie The Pooh (1996)

A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh returned to primetime in 1996 in Boo to You, Winnie The Pooh.

Ever-timid Piglet (John Fiedler) wants no part of trick-or-treating, prompting Pooh, Tigger (both voiced by Jim Cummings), and company to organize a "Hallowasn't" party. Chaos ensues. John Rhys-Davies (Sliders) narrates, and comes off sounding almost like Sebastian Cabot, who narrated a number of previous primetime Pooh specials.



No rating.

From Comics to Toons: Garfield "teaches" trick-or-treat tips (1989)

Garfield (Lorenzo Music) and his dimwitted frenemy, Odie, tag along with some trick-or-treaters while a narrator explains what kids should wear on Halloween.



I'd think this ad could still play today, don't you?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Looney TV: Little Red Riding Rabbit (1944)

Bugs Bunny crosses paths with a rather obnoxious parody of a fairy tale heroine in "Little Red Riding Rabbit". This 1944 Friz Freleng entry is significant in that this is the first time Mel Blanc is credited for his work, although he's also joined by Billy Bletcher and Jack Benny Program castmate Bea Benaderet, who voices Red, depicted as a 40's bobby-soxer.



Pardon the obvious pun, but this bugged the bejabbers out of me. Satire is one thing, but this was way too mean to be that.

Rating: B--.

You Know the Voice(s): Paul Winchell & Pat Harrington, Jr. (1973)

The nights are getting colder this time of year, and with Halloween 2 weeks away, that would be appropriate, don't you think? Of course.

We have a 2-for-1 special in our You Know The Voice category this time, and probably the only time that Paul Winchell and Pat Harrington (who'd dropped the Jr. by this point) shared the screen together. This one is from the short-lived NBC series, Circle of Fear (formerly Ghost Story), and was first broadcast in March 1973.

In "The Ghost of Potter's Field", Paul plays a building manager who has a run-in with who he thinks is one of his tenants (Tab Hunter). Winchell was no stranger to drama, having acted on shows as diverse as The Virginian, Saints & Sinners, and 77 Sunset Strip during the course of his career. Paul shows up around the 22 minute mark, and Harrington appears at the 33 minute mark or so. The ensemble also includes William Boyett (Adam-12), Robert Mandan (later of Soap), and Gary Conway (ex-Land of the Giants, Burke's Law).



All that's missing, because the particular vocal track has been long since deleted, is announcer Casey Kasem, who was heard at the beginning of the show.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Spooktober: The Witch's Arcade (1981)

We had this next Super Friends short up before, but it was deleted a ways back due to copyright issues. Thanks to Dailymotion and Mark Fair, it's back. The Wonder Twins & Wonder Woman are trapped in "The Witch's Arcade" on what should've been a quiet day off.....



One wonders which cartoon was recorded first. This one, or the debut of Videoman on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends during the same season.

Rating: A.

From Comics to Toons: The Thing in Circus Stampede (1979)

The Thing has his hands full containing a "Circus Stampede". What he doesn't know is that the Yancy Street Gang caused the stampede, but they should be thankful they don't run into the the Big Orange.

A clip of this has previously been used when we first reviewed Ben's solo series.



The fact that Thing never crossed paths with the Yancy Street clowns in this story actually helped things along. I should note that the Yancy Streeters' designs were recycled from the Bronto Bunch from Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm 8 years earlier. I wonder how many other times Hanna-Barbera recycled designs.

Rating: B-.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Spooktober: Raggedy Ann & Andy in The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile (1979)

Raggedy Ann & Andy made their television debuts in a 1979 CBS primetime special, The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile. One of Chuck Jones' last projects for CBS, this is the Halloween answer to Charles Dickens' oft-adapted tale, A Christmas Carol.

Young Ralph is forbidden by his Aunt Agatha to go trick-or-treating, and Agatha won't give out treats. Much like Ebenezer Scrooge, Agatha has to be reminded of her own youth. That's where Raggedy Ann (June Foray) and Raggedy Andy (Daws Butler, using his Elroy Jetson/Augie Doggie voice) come in.



Foray is also Aunt Agatha, credited as "Mrs. Hobart Donavan", in reference to her second husband, who'd passed away three years earlier. Agatha does sound like Witch Hazel, doesn't she, to a point?

The rights to this special were passed to the Disney Channel in the 80's, but hasn't seen the light of day in recent times.

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Spooktober: Mighty Mouse vs. Frankenstein's Cat (1942)

Mary Shelley's most famous tale is given a parody in 1942 as Mighty Mouse battles "Frankenstein's Cat".

Now, Dr. Frankenstein doesn't appear in this short. Also, it's clear that this was originally made when our hero was known as Super Mouse, and the renaming of the iconic Mouse of Tomorrow was dubbed in for later syndicated broadcasts and airings on CBS.



One of the weaker entries in the series. Mighty Mouse would later adopt the yellow & red outfit to gain his own particular identity, as the blue & red makes clear his origin as a parody of Superman.

Rating: C-.

Getting Schooled: Remember Farmer Brown? (1970's)

The United States Department of Agriculture ran a series of PSA's in the 70's, dating back to about 1973 according to one source, but I can't be sure of that.

In these short bits, a pair of puppets, one being a banjo playing Farmer Brown, would do a short song about various things. In this spot, Farmer Brown and Fred, a horse, sing about energy generated from bread and rice.



There are others, one with a goose, and one with a cow. Used to see these all the time on WSBK back in the day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Stunt Dawgs (1992)

Seems that Fox had doubled down on dumb ideas during the 1992-3 season.

It wasn't enough that snagging real-life comedy "stuntman" Super Dave Osborne for a Saturday morning cartoon. Oh, no. Fox also picked up a 2nd animated series involving stunt people, and it also bombed.

Stunt Dawgs counts Jeff Franklin (Full House) as one of its creators, but I'll bet you never knew that, judging from this show. How Franklin was unable to sell this series to ABC, home of Full House remains a mystery, but then again, maybe the programmers there knew something that Fox didn't.

In short, the world just wasn't ready for an animated series about stuntmen, and Fox failed twice in the same season.

Scope out the series opener, "Endangered Species":



No rating.

Toon "Sports" (?): Remember The Big Game? (1998)

For four years, before they started going totally cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, the geniuses at Cartoon Network decided to tweak a certain winter tradition by packaging together a series of classic shorts under the title, The Big Game. All it really was, quite frankly, was a means of counter-programming the Super Bowl, which is now played in February for ratings reasons after being a January tradition from the beginning.

The first installment, predictably, showcased Tom & Jerry, with commentary by Fox announcers Pat Summerall & John Madden. After that, CN turned to corporate siblings HBO and Turner Sports for the remaining three installments. There wasn't a real game being played, and if you didn't figure that out during the length of the broadcast, you must've been living under a rock or not watching at all.

Anyway, from 2000, here's The Big Game: Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote, hosted by the crew from Inside The NFL, which, oh, by the way, now airs on Showtime and NFL Network.



It got to the point where CN created an ersatz pre-game and halftime show, using various characters under Time Warner control. Apparently, the first Big Game brought in big ratings. So why did they stop after 4 years? There was only so much they could do without resorting to reruns (rematches). Like, I think they finished with Popeye vs. Bluto in 2001. They never got around to doing Bugs Bunny vs. Daffy Duck or either Elmer Fudd or Marvin the Martian.

I wasn't really that big on this convoluted excuse for a marathon. Unfortunately, CN has gotten worse since, although product quality has improved in recent years, with certain exceptions (and you know what I'm talking about).

Rating for The Big Game: C.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

You Know The Voice: Nicole Jaffe (and friends) (1969)

Jinkies! In addition to debuting as Velma on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? in 1969, Nicole Jaffe also appeared periodically on Room 222, but she's not the only name familiar to Saturday morning devotees in this next video.

Nicole appears around the 7 minute mark in the series opener, "Richie's Story". Also, keep an eye open for future Saturday stars such as David Jolliffe (not credited in this episode), later of Clue Club, Michael Gray (5 years before Shazam!), and Judy Strangis, whose brother, Sam, had been a producer on Batman and other Fox series. Three years later, Judy would transition to voice work with The Roman Holidays, but, aside from commercials for Dodge and Mattel, she's still best remembered for Electra Woman & DynaGirl. Judy plays soft-spoken Helen.



Reruns of Room 222 currently air on Aspire (check local listings).

Toons After Dark: Family Dog (1993)

In the early 90's, ABC & CBS each attempted to develop animated primetime series in answer to Fox's The Simpsons, but couldn't find the right formula.

Family Dog had its roots in a 1987 episode of NBC's Amazing Stories, a Steven Spielberg-produced anthology series that lasted just 2 seasons. Created by Brad Bird, this was your typical domestic pet cartoon, assuming your pet was raised on, say for example, Harry the Dirty Dog and Dennis the Menace.

Unfortunately, viewers voted with their remotes, as six years had passed since the backdoor pilot had aired. Bird had moved on, and if memory serves he was working on, ironically enough, The Simpsons, by this point. The creative pedigree, aside from Spielberg, who had a couple of daytime toons on the air by this point, included Tim Burton and Paul Dini, the latter having graduated to icon status thanks to a certain Dark Knight.

Following is the series finale, "Family Dog Gets Good and Sick".



This wound up filed under "troubled productions". Universal & WB collaborated with Amblin (Spielberg's company) on the show, and after showing dissatisfaction with the overseas animators, had Canada's Nelvana Studios redo the episodes.

Rating: C.

Monday, October 10, 2016

From Comics To Toons: Driven to Distraction (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

From Archie's Weird Mysteries:

Betty & Veronica have a new rival for Archie's affections, but it just so happens to be a cherry (or is that blood) red convertible that Archie has christened, Betsy. "Driven to Distraction" is a very loose adaptation of sorts of Stephen King's Christine. You'll see why as we go along.



By the time they made this series, the beaten up jalopy that had been Archie's mode of transportation in the 60's had been phased out, and "Betsy" had been used in the comics before this episode. 

Rating: B.

Spooktober: Darkstalkers (1995)

Darkstalkers was based on a series of video games made by the folks at Capcom. Graz Entertainment acquired a license to do a weekly animated series, which lasted just 13 weeks. As memory serves, the series aired in Boston on WSBK, but I don't recall any stations in New York carrying the show.

If you've wondered why no one has brought this show back, it might be because it's locked in Capcom's vaults.

I didn't watch much of the show when it first came out, so there won't be a rating. For now, here's the series opener, "Out of the Shadows":



I think I get why it failed. Do you?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Looney TV: Hippety Hopper (1949)

How can anyone confuse a baby kangaroo from Australia with a tiny American mouse?

It became a running joke in the course of 16 Hippety Hopper cartoons, produced between 1948-64. Hippety never had a short all to himself, although this next item bears his name. In it, a Brooklyn mouse, contemplating suicide, is saved by Hippety, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the rodent also mistakes Hippety for one of his kin. I guess it's because they have the same skin color. Anyway, inevitably, the mouse takes Hippety home with him to confront Sylvester. You can guess the rest.



Hippety never spoke---he was a baby, after all---so everyone else had to carry the action for him. Some folks must wonder why Sylvester drew the short straw to get embarrassed by Hippety every time.

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice(s): Len Maxwell & Jack Sheldon (1964)

This clip is also at The Land of Whatever.

We previously presented Jack Sheldon doing his stand-up act on The Nut House, a failed pilot from Jay Ward. Here, Sheldon & Len Maxwell (later of Batfink) help a soldier try to record a message to his mom. Alan Sues, later of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, shows up near the end of the skit as time runs out on the show. Literally.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Literary Toons: SuperTed (1983)

In 1978, animator Mike Young,  better known here in the US for his later reimagining of He-Man, among other things, developed a series of stories about a sentient teddy bear endowed with super powers. The idea was that Young wanted to help his son overcome his fear of the dark, and in the original stories, SuperTed would also have the same phobia.

Five years later, Young reworked the origin for a series of animated shorts that aired first in the UK, then were imported to the US by the Disney Channel. This time, SuperTed was just a discarded teddy bear deemed defective by the manufacturer. An alien named Spotty (Jon Pertwee, ex-Doctor Who) brought the bear to life with some cosmic dust. Mother Nature endowed the bear with powers to fight crime. Derek Griffiths voiced SuperTed.

In 1989, Hanna-Barbera obtained a license to adapt the series for American audiences. Since SuperTed had been out of production, the battling bruin returned in The New Adventures of SuperTed as part of the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera anthology package, but, save for Victor Spinetti as Texas Pete and one other cast member, H-B opted to recast virtually every role. Danny Cooksey (ex-Diff'rent Strokes) took over as Ted. We'll review H-B's version another time.

Right now, though, let's join SuperTed & Spotty as they try to round up Texas Pete and his henchmen in "SuperTed and the Stolen Rocketship":



Droll, not so much different from any other action cartoon of the day, save for its length.

Rating: B-.

Toonfomercial: Bugs Bunny for Yellow Pages (1960's or 70's)

I have no idea when this commercial first aired, but this is an obscurity I hadn't seen before.

Bugs Bunny (Mel Blanc) is a guest, apparently on a talk show, joined by Rose Marie (Hollywood Squares, ex-The Dick Van Dyke Show) and Johnny Brown (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, later of Good Times).



Edit, 12/22/16: Updated text.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Literary Toons: Superbook (1981)

We told you before how a Japanese anime studio was essentially commissioned by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) to produce a pair of animated series for children. We've seen the Flying House. Now, it's time to open the Superbook.

The title, of course, refers to the Bible, after a fashion, sending two kids and a robot into various points in Biblical history. Four seasons were produced in Japan in the 80's. In 2009, the series was relaunched by CBN, which now doesn't have a real network to call home, as its former space now belongs to Disney (Freeform).

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. However, we'll leave you with a sample episode, "The Best News Yet":




Spooktober: Who Believes in Ghosts? (The Brady Kids, 1973)

From season 2 of The Brady Kids comes today's Spooktober entry.

The siblings decide to refurbish a house belonging to a long-dead military man, but two crooks are hiding out, and, suspicious that the Bradys could find their loot, try to scare them out.

Here's "Who Believes in Ghosts?".



Lane Scheimer, Lou's son, took over for Barry Williams as Greg, and, well, Williams and some of the others leaving took the starch right out of the show. Scheimer comes off as flatter than a stack of copy paper. And that's being kind.

Rating: B--.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Toon Sports: The Harlem Globetrotters take up football (1970)

It all starts with the Harlem Globetrotters intent on taking in a charity football game as fans. But when one of the teams is unable to make it to the game, Meadowlark (Scatman Crothers) volunteers the 'Trotters onto the gridiron. Here's "Football Zeros":



Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends Meet Frankenstein (1979)

I had this up earlier this year, then took it down in a panic when Dailymotion got wonky for a spell. Now, it's back, this time to stay.

As we've talked about before the World's Greatest Super Friends season was mostly loose adaptations, if you could call it that at least, of literary tales most of us would be familiar with, such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Now, in the then-present of 1979, Superman, Batman, & Wonder Woman investigate when a modern-day Monster terrorizes the countryside at the behest of a descendant of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. But when the iconic heroes are captured, it's up to Robin (Casey Kasem) to make a daring rescue. Gleek has the same idea, improvising a small plane to follow through stormy weather. Where were the Wonder Twins for this one, anyway?



Easily one of the better episodes of the season. Considering that only 8 were produced per year from 1979-85, that says a lot.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Spooktober: Fangface and the Stone Cold Dragon of Gold (1979)

Spooktober means prime time for Fangface and other supernatural themed series and shorts, as you already know.

From season 2: Fangface and friends are in Hong Kong to help a friend fend off the Dragon Man (Keye Luke), who covets a priceless golden dragon.



Bad enough that creators Joe Ruby & Ken Spears tried a variation on their successful Scooby-Doo, but they jumped the shark by adding Fangpuss, who actually added nothing, other than giving Frank Welker a forum to invent some nonsensical baby talk.

Rating: B-.

Looney TV: Yosemite Sam----commercial pitchman? (1976)

Most of us on the East Coast have never heard of the now-defunct Skaggs Drug Stores, which was folded into American Stores in 1979. Skaggs was founded in Idaho, and had locations all along the West Coast.

In 1976, Skaggs commissioned an animated commercial featuring Yosemite Sam (Mel Blanc, of course) in a rare solo appearance to promote a Father's Day sale.



Skaggs just didn't have the reach of Rite Aid or CVS, and it cost them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Goldie Gold in Return of the Man-Beast (1981)

Goldie Gold (Judy Strangis, ex-Electra Woman & Dynagirl) & Action Jack are in Mexico, where they run afoul of a warped variation on Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Despite its title, "Return of the Man-Beast" refers to the title villain resurfacing after a lengthy absence.



In 1981, viewers still weren't ready for an action cartoon with a female lead, having previously rejected Spider-Woman & Jana of the Jungle. Today? Maybe. It all depends on whether or not Ruby-Spears is willing to bring Goldie back.

Rating: B.

Rare Treats: Archie & His New Pals (1969)

As CBS upgraded The Archie Show to The Archie Comedy Hour for a second season of teenage hijinks at Riverdale High, the network thought it best to give the gang a primetime forum.

Archie & His New Pals, fittingly sponsored by Pals vitamins for kids, hasn't seen the light of day since its initial broadcast in September 1969. It also marks the debut of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, who is making her debut at Riverdale High......



Of course, we've showcased "Get on the Line" before. Now, you get the whole enchilada. I guess it seems appropriate that, with Election Day right around the corner, Moose besting Reggie for Student Council President might be a harbinger of things to come.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Spooktober: There's Good Boos Tonight (1948)

Here's an early Casper short that hasn't seen the light of day in years on television. Frank Gallop narrates "There's Good Boos Tonight" (the title is a play on "There's Good News Tonight!").



Standard, formulaic fare.

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Spooktober: An episode of the Groovie Goolies (1970-1)

Originally presented as Sabrina & The Groovie Goolies, this next episode was repackaged under the Goolies umbrella in 1971. Apparently, this includes "When I Grow Up", by The Mummies & The Puppies (a parody, of course, of The Mamas & The Papas). Sabrina (Jane Webb) shows up early on.



I have little or no memory of seeing this particular episode, and some of the gags were recycled over and over during the course of the series' run. No rating.

Sunday Funnies: The Three Stooges in Outer Space Jitters (1957)

The Three Stooges parody 50's sci-fi movies in "Outer Space Jitters". Accompanying a scientist (Emil Sitka) to Sunev (Venus spelled backwards), the boys (Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser) become reluctant heroes when they discover that the Sunevians intend to invade Earth. Look for Dan Blocker (Bonanza), credited as "Don Blocker", in a supporting role. This video was posted at The Land of Whatever a while back.



You can see that Besser (ex-The Abbott & Costello Show) was not a good fit with the team due to his hyper-sensitivity to physical violence.

Rating: C.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: Lex Luthor Strikes Back (World's Greatest Super Friends, 1979)

Lex Luthor (Stan Jones) uses a unique reverse camera to enable another escape from prison, part of a convoluted revenge plot against the Super Friends. Because only 8 episodes were made during the World's Greatest season, this would be Luthor's only appearance, as the remainder of the episodes were based on classic literature. Lex would not return until "Revenge of Doom" a couple of years later.

Here's "Lex Luthor Strikes Back":



A portion of this episode was later shown on, of all things, an NBC interview conducted by Jack Perkins with Casey Kasem (Robin) a year or so later.

Rating: B+.

Spooktober: Shadows (1975)

In 1975, Thames Television of England introduced a horror anthology series geared for children. As was the practice of the time, however, each series, or, season, of Shadows was kept rather short. Three series were produced between 1975 and 1978, totaling 19 episodes. As a result, it isn't on a par with the adult-themed horror anthologies of the past, such as Rod Serling's Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, or even later adaptations of R. L. Stine's Goosebumps and The Haunting Hour.

Shadows made its only appearance in the US during the Thames on 9 promotion on WOR in New York in 1976, with three episodes broadcast. The opening episode, "The Future Ghost", might've been one of them.



Good way to start Spooktober, don't you think? No rating.