Friday, April 28, 2017

From Comics to Toons: It Came From the Sewers (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 2000)

The Archie's Weird Mysteries episode, "It Came From The Sewers", takes its cues from the horror movie, "Alligator". In this case, the reptile actually is Jughead's pet, which got lost and went into the Riverdale sewer system, where it ran across some toxic chemicals, and, well......

At least no one was killed.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Frankenstein, Jr. vs. the Incredible Aqua-Monsters (1966)

Frankenstein, Jr. (Ted Cassidy) & Buzz Conroy (Dick Beals) battle Dr. Hook and his "Incredible Aqua-Monsters".

Don Messick is the narrator and the general.

I have to remind you guys to check out DC's Future Quest, the final issue of which will be arriving soon. In it, Buzz & Frankie's origin is finally revealed, but with a twist. We never met Buzz's mom in the 1966 series, but she's in the book, instead of Buzz's father, Professor Ted Conroy, who, according to series writer Jeff Parker, was killed off. I think what Parker was going for was a different perspective for Buzz by switching parental units. In case you haven't checked out the book, H-B's 60's heroes are coming together against a common threat, as F. E. A. R., the H-B answer to Hydra, if ya will, have recruited the services of Jonny Quest's arch-nemesis, Dr. Zin, and Race Bannon's ex-girlfriend and frenemy, Jezebel Jade. 

Rating for "The Incredible Aqua-Monsters": B.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tooniversary: Tonto vs. Queen Bee (1967)

From season 2 of The Lone Ranger cartoon:

Tonto goes it alone to end "The Reign of the Queen Bee". Some question as to the actress voicing Queen Bee. A comment thread on YouTube suggests June Foray. I'd otherwise suspect Agnes Moorhead (Bewitched), who had appeared in two episodes as Black Widow. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to contribute.

Forgive the video quality.

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Bugs & Daffy shill for Tang (1960)

Bugs Bunny is working the carnival, looking to give away some Tang. Naturally, Daffy Duck just has to have some any way he can get it.

The clip, as you can tell from the sponsor tag, is from the primetime Bugs Bunny Show. Dick Tufeld is the show announcer.

One of the rare times that Daffy actually got one over on Bugs.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tooniversary: The Spooky Fog of Juneberry (The New Scooby-Doo Movies, 1972)

Four weeks after "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner", Don Knotts returns to The New Scooby-Doo Movies. This time, Don is closer to his most famous alter ego of Deputy Barney Fife (The Andy Griffith Show) as he helps Scooby and the gang solve the mystery of "The Spooky Fog of Juneberry".

It's just too bad Hanna-Barbera couldn't convince Andy Griffith himself to do the show, and he wasn't the only A-list star that passed up the opportunity. Today, The Andy Griffith Show does air on weekends depending on where you live, as well as weekday syndication and cable. Knotts, of course, had cut his teeth in toons with "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" a few years prior to his two meetings with Scooby.

Rating: B.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Schooled: Time Out (1979)

Time Out was a series of PSA's produced by NBC Sports (!) during the 1979-80 season. I at first thought these were used on Saturday mornings, and maybe they were, but these seem to have been more prevalent during, of course, sports programming.

With summer a couple of months away, Kim Richards, at the time appearing on Hello, Larry, helps explain what a lifeguard does.

The poster on YouTube got the date wrong, as the copyright, albeit somewhat fuzzy, shows this is from 1980.

I don't know how many of these were made, but they are hard to find.

Rating: A.

Rare Treats: Duffy's Dozen (1971)

Hanna-Barbera had attempted to get back into primetime well before the short-lived Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour made a cameo appearance on NBC in the late 70's. Unfortunately, their family-centric cartoon, Duffy's Dozen, never got past the pilot stage.

The clip opens with Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera, appearing in sketch form on the screen while the execs do the talking, making their pitch. 12 adopted children and a sheepdog create a very big family for the parents (Janet Waldo & John Stephenson). Duffy's Dozen didn't sell, but Hanna-Barbera, undaunted, went with a big family the next year, by adapting the adventures of a certain Hawaiian detective. Yep, subtract two kids, turn the sheepdog into a smaller breed, subtract the mother, and you have The Amazing Chan & the Chan Clan.

Casey Kasem not only voices one of the boys, Alan, but is also the park ranger and the end-of-pitch announcer.

I think you can see why this didn't work out.

Rating: B--.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: The Wonder Twins & Wonder Woman in Cycle Gang (1981)

A young boy & his grandfather run afoul of a "Cycle Gang" in this Super Friends short from 1981. Seems the Highway Angels didn't like the station wagon "kicking dust in their faces" as it passed by. Then again, the grandfather didn't see the bikers. The Wonder Twins & Wonder Woman have to step in to resolve the issue.

As it seemed to happen in almost every Wonder Twins short, Michael Bell (Zan/Gleek) adds an extra role or two, in this case, there's no mistaking him trying to do a younger boy's voice as Bobby. Not sure about any others.

Hanna-Barbera, DC, & ABC must've caught some flak for the Twins' 1977 shorts, which, as one correspondent here noted a ways back, amounted to glorified PSA's, hence adding one of the veteran heroes for the later episodes, usually Wonder Woman or Batman & Robin. Too bad the Highway Angels weren't brought back.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Getting Schooled: The Kingdom of Could Be You (1973)

From the same folks who created The Most Important Person comes The Kingdom of Could be You, which, like Most Important Person, aired initially on Captain Kangaroo (1973-6) before moving into syndication.

However, this happens to be my first look at Kingdom, as, understandably, I was in school while Kangaroo was on, and didn't see it in syndication. Insofar as I know, it didn't air on WPIX, WSBK, or WNEW. 'PIX was the NYC home to Most Important Person.

Let's take a look at the opener:

Short, amusing, and in need of a return to the air.

Rating: A.

Saturtainment: Rockumentary, Saved by The Bell style (1991)

Saved by The Bell spoofs pop culture as well as MTV's Rockumentary series (profiled in The Land of Whatever earlier this week) in this season 3 episode. Radio & cartoon legend and former NBC studio announcer Casey Kasem makes his 2nd appearance as himself, this time serving as narrator/guest host, and as the show goes along, takes on a Rod Serling vibe........

The opening theme was slowed down to add time and avoid the copyright police. Meh, whatever.

There is a stand-alone clip of "Friends Forever" on YouTube, so we'll showcase that another time. Conspicious by her absence was Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie), which is curious in and of itself.

Worth noting: In season 4, NBC finally aired some earlier episodes that had been held back for reasons known only to the network, which made things a little bit strange in screwing up what continuity the series had. The episodes set at the Malibu Shores resort with Ernie Sabella (Perfect Strangers) and Leah Remini (later of The King of Queens) were part of season 3 as well. By that point, NBC was double-running Bell for a full hour every Saturday, which continued through the New Class era (1993-2000).

Rating: A. One of the better episodes of the series.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Winsome Witch in the Hansel & Gretel Case (1965)

It's way past time we caught up with Winsome Witch, so let's take a trip into her enchanted forest and meet a couple of kids who try to pass themselves off as a famous pair of literary siblings in "The Hansel & Gretel Case". I think this was one of Dick Beals' first jobs for Hanna-Barbera, although I could be wrong.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Toonfomercial: Popeye shills for Chunky Soup (1999)

Wal, blow me down!

Popeye swaps his trusty spinach for a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup for this ad, produced in 1999, with Scott Innes as the voice of the comic strip icon.

Well, let's see. Popeye has shilled for oatmeal, soup, orange drink, video games, and other products, but have you ever seen him actually do a spinach commercial, after all these years? Hmmmm, wellllll....

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Literary Toons: Clifford, the Big Red Dog (2000)

Writer-artist Norman Bridwell's Clifford, the Big Red Dog, was brought to television by Scholastic Productions and independent producer Mike Young in 2000. The series lasted 2 seasons, spread out over 3 years (2000-03), followed by a prequel series, Clifford's Puppy Years.

Clifford (John Ritter) is the family pet of the Howards, and more specifically, is owned by Emily Elizabeth Howard. When not with the family, Clifford is on various misadventures with his canine friends. Ritter's passing in 2003 may have been what put an end to the series, although Scholastic & PBS could've arranged for the British cast to take over if needed. Yes, they had a separate cast for British broadcasts of the series. I just don't get it.

"Welcome to Birdwell Island" explains how the Howards moved from the city to the island.

It does look like a form of flash animation, doesn't it? Taking the original character designs that Bridwell created and transferring them onto a computer to animate them was meant to be the hook for the kids that were reading the original books.

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice: Louise Williams (1982)

Let's try this one again.

Seems every time I post this particular episode of Three's Company, it ultimately gets pulled due to copyright infringement issues. Hopefully, this won't happen again for a while.

Anyway, in "Critic's Choice", Jack (John Ritter) has to impress a food critic (Jay Garner, ex-Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), but at the same time, this primo gig puts Jack in a compromising position as it relates to a date with a stewardess (Louise Williams).......

It does sound like Louise used a little of her Jayna voice with this role, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tooniversary: The Herculoids vs. Destroyer Ants (1967)

Aside from Atom Ant, who preceded the Herculoids by 2 years, ants were largely regarded as menaces. In the case of the Herculoids, they had to battle an army of three-eyed "Destroyer Ants".

The only other exception that presented ants in a positive light came a year later in a Micro Ventures short. Today, this episode would be a little bit longer with additional expository dialogue to try to explain the motivations of the ants.

Rating: B.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Celebrity Toons: The Enterprise encounters a Practical Joker (Star Trek, 1974)

Passing through an energy cloud has a strange effect on the USS Enterprise. The computer (voice by Majel Barrett) begins playing pranks on the crew, which has to also deal with the Romulans.

From season 2 of the animated Star Trek, here's "Practical Joker", or at least 5 minutes of it, courtesy of CBS,which owns the rights.

Star Trek: The Animated Series airs Sunday nights with 2 back-to-back episodes to kick off Heroes & Icons' block of all six Trek series (the 5 live action series run Sunday-Friday from 8 pm-1 am ET). Check your cable system to see if you have H & I.

Rating: A.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tooniversary: A Family Circus Easter (1982)

Bil Keane's long-running comic strip, The Family Circus, was adapted for television one final time with an Easter special in 1982. The strip continues today, with Jeff Keane as writer-artist, carrying on the family tradition.

There will be no rating for this one, as I'd never seen it prior to today. Keep an ear open for jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie as the voice of the Easter Bunny.

Happy Easter, everyone. We'll see you on Monday.

Saturtainment: Remember Saturday Morning Fever? (1978)

ABC had Funshine Saturday (1973-8) and All-Star Saturday (1978-9). CBS had various umbrella titles for their Saturday blocks in the 60's & 70's, but not on a consistent basis. In 1978, NBC contracted with the folks behind Schoolhouse Rock and the short-lived Metric Marvels to produce a series of quick bits, used to segue into each of their programs for that season's Saturday Morning Fever block. Unfortunately, the disco theme went over like a pair of cement jeans. That's how bad things were at NBC back then.....

It didn't help that all the characters used the same generic disco moves. Not much thought was put into this at all. Nearly 40 years later, it still looks bad.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looney TV: We, The Animals-Squeak! (1941)

Bob Clampett's 1941 Porky Pig entry, "We, The Animals-Squeak!" is a parody of a popular radio show of the period, We, The People. Porky (Mel Blanc) introduces us to Kansas City Kitty (Sara Berner), an Irish house cat, who spins a yarn about rescuing her son from gangster mice. Watch for the twist ending.

I must've seen this a dozen times back in the day on cable. Couldn't get enough.

Rating: A.

Tooniversary: Sonny the cuckoo bird turns 55!

Sonny, the cuckoo bird mascot of General Mills' Cocoa Puffs cereal, turns 55 this year. Following is Sonny's debut ad, even though at the time he didn't have a name. Actor-comedian Chuck McCann, known at the time as a kids' show host in New York, is the voice of Sonny here.

For the last few years, Larry Kenney (ex-Thundercats) has been the voice of Sonny, while McCann eventually returned to voice Gramps when the latter character resurfaced in 2010. And, yes, Sonny still goes cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, at 55.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Popeye & the Polite Dragon (1960)

Popeye (Jack Mercer) spins a yarn for Swee'pea (Mae Questel) about a most unusual creature from back in his great, great grandfather's time in "Popeye & the Polite Dragon":

Sounds to me like a knock-off of The Reluctant Dragon, don't you think?

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: John Erwin (1974)

John Erwin spent most of his voice acting career at Filmation, but he also did some commercials, too. Rare, though, is the time when he appeared in front of the camera.

John stepped in front of the camera with a group of kids, including a then-unknown Gary Coleman, a few years before Diff'rent Strokes made Coleman an icon, for a Valentine's Day ad for Hallmark. Yeah, Valentine's Day was two years ago, but why wait 'til it comes around again to share this rarity?

This ad reportedly aired during a Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast on NBC. Today, the Hallmark Hall of Fame lives on, airing on Hallmark Channel. I wonder if they could be persuaded to pull older commercials out of the vaults........

Toons After Dark: Easter Is.... (1970-4)

This was previously reviewed at The Land of Whatever some time back, so I thought I'd share it here:

While the copyright says 1970 in barely legible print at the end of the show, most sources claim it was actually released in 1974. Anyway, this is one of three specials produced by Lutheran Television and featuring a young boy, Benji, and his dog, Waldo. The voice cast includes Les Tremayne and, in a rare role at the time, Darla Hood (ex-Our Gang/The Little Rascals). I don't recall seeing too much of this as a youth, but here it is.

Rating: None. As I said, I barely remember seeing it, if at all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Herculoids in Return of the Ancients (1981)

From Space Stars:

The last descendants of a lost civilization arrive on Quasar, bent on avenging the destruction of their race, but The Herculoids have other ideas. Here's "Return of the Ancients":

Typical of the period, including incidental music from Super Friends, which was also used on Godzilla and, of all places, Fonz & the Happy Days Gang. I kid you not about that last one.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Allan Melvin (1969)

Allan Melvin was one of the busiest actors in Hollywood in the 60's. In addition to frequent guest appearances on The Andy Griffith Show & The Dick Van Dyke Show, Allan spent a few years at Hanna-Barbera, where his body of work included Magilla Gorilla, The Banana Splits, The Adventures of Gulliver, and guest star gigs on other shows, including Atom Ant.

In 1969, just before being signed for The Brady Bunch, Melvin was shilling for Liquid Plumr, which at the time was relatively new, and will reach its 50th anniversary in a couple of years.

Not sure how long he maintained this gig or how many commercials he made, but this was tailor-made for him as an everyman.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in Day of the Dragon (1966)

The Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) is called on to protect a small town from a marauding pair of outlaws piloting a metal monster in "Day of the Dragon":

This particular trope would be used in other cartoons through the years, and just as effectively, too.

Rating: A-.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Ways I Love You (1970)

From Pterixa and Archie's Funhouse comes "The Ways I Love You", prefaced with a quick joke bit with Betty & Veronica flanking Archie (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone):

Veronica's jealous pout would actually be a portent of things to come.

Today, in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's twisted alternate reality series, Afterlife With Archie, Archie had finally gotten down on bended knee and popped the question. Problem is, whenever the series returns (because it's interminably slow due to the author's Hollywood commitments), both Betty & Veronica have been killed off.

Meanwhile, over on Riverdale, they've teased Betty and......Jughead? OY!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

From Comics To Toons: How did the Spider-Friends come together? (Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, 1983)

Back in the 70's & 80's, if an animated series was renewed for a second season, the order would drop from 13 to 8 episodes, as was the case with, for example, Thundarr The Barbarian. Not so with Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. Only three new episodes were produced for the 2nd season, covering each hero's origin.

For the 3rd & final season, there would be 8 episodes, for a final total of 24. Included was "The Origin of the Spider-Friends", in which narrator Stan Lee explained how Spidey, Firestar, & Iceman came together as a team, and how Angelica Jones (Kathy Garver) & Bobby Drake (Frank Welker) joined Peter Parker at Empire State University.

If J. Jonah Jameson's voice sounds familiar, it belongs to Super Friends narrator Bill Woodson, who was quite the busy fellow back then.

In fact, in addition to Welker & Woodson, at least three other Super Friends cast members also were guests on Amazing Friends, as Michael Bell, Bill Calloway, & Stan Jones were all heard during the course of the series.

No rating. I have no memory of seeing this episode.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saturday Morning Ringside: Scooby-Doo takes up wrestling for the first time (A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, 1990)

From A Pup Named Scooby-Doo:

The Scooby-Doo Detective Agency takes on a case of an attempted hostile takeover of their hometown wrestling promotion. If the episode title, "Wrestle Maniacs", looks familiar, it was used more than a decade later on What's New Scooby-Doo, as we've previously discussed.

Some tropes in this series, such as Shaggy & Scooby's childhood heroes, Commander Cool & Mellow Mutt, didn't carry over to What's New, although, of course, they would become well acquainted with superheroes later on in life, as seen in The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

And, for you comics fans, I don't think anyone would ever have considered that this show's cast has two generations of animated Robins (Casey Kasem & Scott Menville). Like, who would've ever known?

No rating.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Toon Sports: Porky's Baseball Broadcast (1940)

Porky Pig (Mel Blanc) tries his hand at play-by-play in Friz Freleng's 1940 romp, "Porky's Baseball Broadcast". The gags come flying at a fast pace, and, compared to the iceberg pacing of today's baseball games most of the time, you'd be left dizzy....

Maybe Porky should've taken broadcasting lessons from Jimmy Stewart.......

Rating: A.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy has a Devil of a Time (1966)

Superboy (Bob Hastings) cons a pair of small-time crooks into thinking his Halloween party disguise is the real thing in "A Devil of a Time":

This wouldn't work in today's climate.

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: Swamp Thing (1990)

After 2 feature films in the early 80's, DC Comics' Swamp Thing made the transition to television in 1990 when producers Michael Uslan & Ben Melniker, hot off the success of Tim Burton's "Batman" a year earlier, put together a deal with MTE, a lesser known arm of MCA, and with DIC, which had experimented with live-action programs for children, to bring the character to life once more.

Only Dick Durock, who essayed the title role, returned from the two movies, with Swamp Thing more eloquent than he'd been presented in the comics up to that point. The series represented a blending of elements, if you will. Scottish writer Alan Moore had rebooted Swamp Thing a few years earlier as a plant elemental, but there were also concepts based on his original origin, as conceived by Len Wein and the late Berni Wrightson in the 70's. The series lasted three seasons on USA, and the series now airs Saturday afternoons on Heroes & Icons (check listings) with back-to-back episodes at 12 noon (ET).

There are no complete episodes available. As we did when we first reviewed the series over at The Land of Whatever, we'll give you the intro, this from season 2.

Between seasons 1 & 2, an animated miniseries, produced by DIC, aired first on Fox, then on NBC as part of Chip & Pepper's Cartoon Madness, with Len Carlson taking over for Durock as Swamp Thing.

Rating: B+.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Mayhem (Wishkid, 1991)

Macaulay Culkin's short lived animated series, Wishkid, may have lasted just 1 season, but it appealed to the kids in all of us. Particularly those with Walter Mitty-esque fantasies.

Take the episode, "Captain Mayhem", for example.

James Thurber would've been proud. Unfortunately, viewers were tuning this show out, leading to NBC ditching animation for a while.

No rating.

Toonfomercial: The introduction of Life cereal (1961)

Quaker Oats added Life to their line of breakfast cereals in 1961. I have to guess that Jay Ward was commissioned to produce the animated introductory ad, narrated by----who else?----Paul Frees.

A few years later, Quaker went for a more cerebral approach with "The Great Life Debate", a series of ads that featured Paul Winchell "debating" Jerry Mahoney and 50's exercise instructor Debbie Drake with a young gymnast. The Winchell spot has previously been covered.

Of course, the most famous ad campaign introduced America to "Mikey" in the 70's.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tooniversary: The Chiller Diller Movie Thriller (The Scooby-Doo Show, 1977)

When Scooby-Doo moved to ABC in 1976, Hanna-Barbera began expanding the family by adding two cousins. Scooby-Dum (Daws Butler) was inspired, in a fashion, by Edgar Bergen's Mortimer Snerd. And, then, there is Scooby-Dee.

As you might guess, Scooby-Dee (Janet Waldo) was a play on actress Sandra Dee, but only made one appearance, in 1977's "The Chiller Diller Movie Thriller", in which Dee is making a movie while being stalked by the phony ghost of the week.

You've heard the expression, "kissin' cousins", right? Seems Scooby-Doo-&-Dum tend to forget that Dee is kinfolk, too......

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Discover The World With Bugs Bunny (1991)

To be perfectly honest, I hadn't seen any of the following PSA's when they first aired. I'm guessing that after ABC re-acquired the rights to Bugs Bunny in the mid-80's, they sought to find a way to use Bugs to teach the young viewers.

1991's Discover The World With Bugs Bunny is a series of short interstital PSA's encouraging kids to hit the local libraries, either at school or the public library, to learn about history and geography, among other things.

Since this was one of the first new projects involving Bugs since the passing of Mel Blanc, Greg Burson took over as Bugs for this series.

Too bad Cartoon Network/Boomerang can't be bothered to exhume this.

Rating: A.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Celebrity Toons: The first episode of The Gary Coleman Show (1982)

Our famous first episode this month comes from the first episode of The Gary Coleman Show.

For those that didn't know the format, Andy LeBeau (Coleman), apprentice guardian angel, had two adventures in each half-hour episode. Andy's antics frustrated his supervisor, Angelica (Jennifer Darling, ex-The Six Million Dollar Man/The Bionic Woman). Hanna-Barbera and NBC, seeing how the shorts format had come back into style in recent years, opted for 2 10-11 minute "shorts" in each episode of both this series and its other freshman entry, Shirt Tales, which managed to be renewed for a second season. Viewers, it seemed, tired of Andy rather quickly, and were content with seeing Coleman weekly on Diff'rent Strokes.

Now, let's check out "Fouled Up Fossils":

It's too bad Andy only had one mortal outfit to wear on the show. It might've helped if his halo could change the colors of his clothes once in a while.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Potato Head Kids (1986)

Potato Head Kids was a component of the 1986 anthology series, My Little Pony 'n' Friends, along with the Glo Friends & Moondreamers. Perhaps Hasbro over-reached a tad, along with Sunbow & Marvel Productions, by expanding on the Mr. Potato Head franchise. In effect, they created their own modern day version of Hanna-Barbera's Flintstone Kids, which premiered the same year, and had some of the same actors working on both shows (i.e. Kenneth Mars).

Since I was working during the day, I never watched the show, and I'm only looking at this for the first time. Check out the episode, "Potatolympics":

Marvel/Sunbow also did a Mr. Potato Head series, but this was taking the idea a step too far.

Rating: C.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Frankenstein, Jr. meets a UFO (Unidentified Fiendish Object)(1966)

Frankenstein, Jr. (Ted Cassidy) and Buzz Conroy (Dick Beals) square off with alien warlord Zargon and his robot warrior, Destructo. Here's "UFO: Unidentified Fiendish Object":

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Superstar Barbie (1976)

Barbie is in the spotlight again in this edition of Retro Toy Chest.

The year is 1976. Mattel decides to upgrade their iconic fashion figure with Superstar Barbie. This version would only last through the end of the decade, but there were accessories galore.

Actress Judy Strangis (Electra Woman & DynaGirl, ex-Room 222, Wheelie & the Chopper Bunch) did the promos at least for the first year.

Now, who's cuter? Barbie or Judy?

Two years later, one accessory in the line was Superstar Barbie Fashion Face, which enabled young women to try outfitting Barbie from the neck up. Tammy Lauren (Who's Watching the Kids?) appears in the ad. Michael Bell (Super Friends) is the announcer.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Toons After Dark: Mystery Solvers Club State Finals (Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, 2011)

An ailing Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) dreams of pairing Mystery Incorporated with 70's Hanna-Barbera stars Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, and Jonathan Muddlemore, aka The Funky Phantom. Scooby's illness nearly prevents the gang from taking part in a tournament of mystery solving, as if there was really anything of the sort.....

The problem I had with this episode was the deconstruction of Muddlemore, repackaged as an out-of-work actor, and completely debunking the concept of the 1971 Funky Phantom series. Muddlemore had previously appeared on Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, and was treated slightly better than this. All this did was ensure that Funky Phantom could never be successfully revived. Jabber & Speedy really weren't given much to do, and if producer Mitch Watson actually had a clue, this could've been best served as a two-parter, instead of a done-in-one atrocity. Either that, or swap out Muddlemore in favor of either Hong Kong Phooey or Inch High, Private Eye, who were never considered for use in the series.

Rating: C--.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looney TV: Remember Tweety's Global Patrol? (1992)

Tweety teaches recycling in this 1992 PSA, presented under the heading, Tweety's Global Patrol. Did they really need another excuse to make Sylvester a fall guy?

This spot had to be in heavy rotation for at least two years. The YouTube poster recalls seeing this in 1994, but the copyright date, barely visible, tells us its actual point of origin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saturday Morning Ringside: Wrestle Maniacs (What's New Scooby-Doo, 2005)

I had this one up before, but it got taken down due to copyright issues. Not so this time.

From What's New Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Inc. gang get in the ring to solve a mystery in "Wrestle Maniacs". If only they knew that more than a decade later, they'd be breaking bread with the promotion they're parodying here, the WWE:

I don't think this was even considered when they wrote the two WWE-Scooby movies over the last three years.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Green River (1969)

Here's a black & white clip from American Bandstand, going back to when VH1 had rerun rights. Dick Clark introduces, then interviews, Creedence Clearwater Revival. In between is a performance of their #1 hit, "Green River":

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tooniversary: Letterman stops a traffic jam (1972)

The Adventures of Letterman turns 45 this year. Let's turn back the clock to a time when our hero had to stop a magically created traffic jam, all because Spellbinder (Zero Mostel) turned a family's car into a jar for his own amusement. Here's "A Jarring Experience".

Sixty shorts were produced over the course of five seasons (seasons 2-6 of The Electric Company). Much like, say for example, Scooby-Doo, Letterman fell into a pattern that was almost never broken.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. Simon the Pieman, round 2 (1968)

Batman has his hands full when Simon the Pieman (Ted Knight) returns, bent on stealing some Turkish coins, for starters. Unfortunately, this would be Simon's last appearance, as when Filmation gained a new license for DC in the mid-70's, they created new villains for The New Adventures of Batman, despite the fact that by the time that series launched in February 1977, the original 1968 cartoons were in syndication. Here's "A Perfidious Pieman is Simon".

One thing bugs me. How did Simon/Mother Goose know the Mayor would send Barbara to pay a visit?

Rating: B-.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Looney TV: Naughty Neighbors (1939-92)

The Hatfields & McCoys' famous feud is skewered in Bob Clampett's 1939 Porky Pig opus, "Naughty Neighbors". Here, the Hatfields have been rechristened the Martins, with Petunia (an uncredited Bernice Hansen) and Porky as the leaders of the families.

Unfortunately, the original black & white version is unavailable, so all we have is a 1992 colorized print, as shown on Cartoon Network (the colorized version first aired on Nickelodeon). The music you hear at the start is performed by the Sons of the Pioneers.

If you look close, you might catch Daffy Duck making a cameo appearance, just because.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Living Barbie (1970)

Barbie has been one of Mattel's biggest franchises, her look & style evolving over the course of time.

In 1970, Mattel experimented with a "living" Barbie doll whose movements are meant to approximate that of real young women. Actress Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch) stars in this ad.

Maureen had been doing Barbie ads for Mattel before signing on for Brady Bunch. Gee, y'think maybe this is where they found her?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Johnny Smoke? (1960's)

The American Heart Association didn't intend to scare kids away from smoking with this next spot, but the message was as clear as it could be.

The AHA and the Ad Council chose a Western theme because there were so many Westerns on television at the time. That said, it would've made sense to have a star of any TV Western, be it Lorne Greene (Bonanza) or James Arness (Gunsmoke) or even Richard Boone (Have Gun..Will Travel). Instead, a then-unknown Broadway star, soon to become a Hollywood icon, was chosen to narrate this ad.

James Earl Jones tells the tale of Johnny Smoke:

Personal note: my late father began smoking in his teens, but never tried to convince me to follow his lead. He knew I'd seen all of those anti-smoking ads. Also, I'd seen a few older kids lighting up while I was in grade school. Not my scene.

Saturtainment: An episode of the Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show (1974)

There is at least one episode of The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show available on YouTube, and here it is. However, it isn't a first-run episode. A network promo narrated by Danny Dark (Super Friends) plugs the 1975-6 season, with the addition of Far Out Space Nuts, Ghost Busters, & Isis. The Hudsons were moved to Sundays for the '75-76 season, which would end the series' run.

Keep an eye open for announcer-series regular Peter Cullen. If you've ever wondered what the future voice of Optimus Prime and other classic 80's characters actually looked like back in the day, well.....! Also, if you wonder why NBC & ESPN have used the "coaches' clicker" so much, it's actually a gimmick that began with Andy Williams' primetime show back in the day, which, like the Hudsons' shows (primetime and daytime) were produced by Chris Bearde.

To think that this series came about because the network wanted to keep the Hudsons around after their summer 1974 series had run its course, having ended 10 days before Razzle Dazzle premiered.

Rating: B.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Celebrity Toons: Scooby-Doo meets Sonny & Cher (1972)

We've noted that some of the celebrities who appeared on The New Scooby-Doo Movies were on the CBS roster, including Dick Van Dyke, Tim Conway, Sandy Duncan, and our next guests, Sonny & Cher, who had a comedy-variety show on the network.

Of course, it should be noted that in season 2, the series also helped establish a pair of studio stablemates who bowed in 1973, Jeannie & Speed Buggy, in much the same way that Space Ghost introduced Hanna-Barbera & CBS' 1967 freshman class.

Right now, let's check out Sonny & Cher joining Mystery, Inc. to solve "The Secret of Shark Island".

Standard, and by this point, cliched.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry meet Robin Ho-Ho (1975)

Tom & Jerry are in Sherwood Forest, hoping to join the Merry Men, but this Robin Hood, or, more specifically, "Robin Ho-Ho", is more interested in teaching his troops how to laugh heartily.

This comes 17 years after "Robin Hoodwinked", which was the inspiration for this short.

I was SO digging Jerry's innovative improvisation of shooting an arrow. Robin hoped to trick Tom, but that didn't work. Hmmm, I wonder why......

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: The Flintstones for Shriners Hospitals (1980's)

The Shriners Hospitals not only contracted with Warner Bros. for a series of PSA's featuring Looney Tunes characters, but also Hanna-Barbera for The Flintstones.

First up: Fred (Henry Corden) appears on television to make an appeal for the Shriners:

Today, you'd get in trouble for using the word "crippled". "Disabled" would be more appropriate.

Next, Fred schools Dino on one particular Shriners patient:

Not exactly sure when these were initially broadcast.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Looney TV: Tweety teaches safety (1982)

We've previously presented PSA's sponsored by Shriners' Hospitals featuring Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck. Tweety works the same room in this short spot.

Ignore the date the poster put up on his video. The copyright date of 1982 is correct.

You Know The Voice(s): Cliff Norton & Louise Williams (1977)

Aside from 1970's Where's Huddles?, Cliff Norton is better known as a character actor in films & television. In 1977, Norton was part of an ensemble cast for an unsold pilot showcasing Andy Kaufman. Unfortunately, as documented over at The Land of Whatever, Stick Around was passed over by all three networks at the time (NBC, ABC, CBS).

Kaufman plays an android aide to Vance (Fred McCarren). Norton is a neighbor who had been cryogenically frozen until "two weeks ago", as the story goes. Norton could easily be mistaken for fellow character actor Harold Gould due to his similar facials.

Around the 20-21 minute mark, scope the platinum haired hottie looking to buy Andy away from Vance and his wife, Elaine, when Vance decides he's had enough of Andy's bumbling. Louise "Liberty" Williams had been working on Bustin' Loose prior to this pilot. Of course, good fortune would come her way later in the year, thanks to a certain Saturday morning franchise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Mayhem of the Music Meister (2009)

From Batman: The Brave & The Bold:

In one of the campiest episodes of the series, a new villain, the Music Meister (Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother) surfaces with plans for world domination. His powers, though, cause not only Aquaman (John DiMaggio), Black Canary, Green Arrow, & the Batman (Diedrich Bader) to sing, but villains he's hired himself, in this case Black Manta, Grodd, and Clock King.

In truth, Green Arrow (James Arnold Taylor) is fortunate not to actually sing. He'd probably never hear the end of it. Anyway, "Mayhem of the Music Meister" is considered one of the more popular episodes of the series. We previously featured the track, "Drives Us Bats", so now, with the Music Meister being brought to life in tonight's episode of The Flash by Glee alumnus and avowed comics fan Darren Criss, let's take you back to the debut of the Music Meister.

We all know Green Arrow & Black Canary have been an on-again, off-again item in the comics, and this episode helps set that table, though I'm not so sure about Dinah ever crushing on Batman........

No rating.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Toon Sports: Coach Pebbles (?) (Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, 1971)

With the World Baseball Classic winding down, and the regular season two weeks away, it's also appropriate that we find, on this first day of spring, a baseball themed episode of Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm.

When Fred (Alan Reed) develops laryngitis right before a big game, Pebbles (Sally Struthers, All in the Family) steps in to coach his pee-wee team.

A few years later, Hanna-Barbera did a ret-con by putting Pebbles (now voiced by Pamela Anderson) and Bamm-Bamm in the "Little Big League" in their first primetime special. 

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. the Attack of the Killer Bees (1977)

I don't know exactly how many movies were made involving killer bees in the 70's, but the Super Friends were caught up in this particular trend. Aquaman (Norman Alden) and Samurai must deal with a deadly swarm in "Attack of the Killer Bees". Yeah, I know, original it ain't.

I can't recall exactly, but it wouldn't have been any more than a coincidence if General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios was one of the sponsors when this was first aired in November 1977.........

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Johnny B Goode (1973)

The legendary Chuck Berry revived one of his signature hits, "Johnny B. Goode", in a 1973 appearance on Soul Train. Like, dig it!

In memory of Berry, who passed away at 90.

Celebrity Toons: Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner? (1972)

Don Knotts appeared in 2 episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies during the 1st season. Here, he channels fellow comedy icon Jerry Lewis as he adopts a variety of disguises, confusing Scooby and the gang, in "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner?":

Don would return in "The Spooky Fog of Juneberry", paying homage to his most famous character, Barney Fife.

Rating: B.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sinbad, Jr. & the Sun Wizard (1965)

Yesterday, we presented one of Hanna-Barbera's Sinbad, Jr. shorts. This time, we'll go to original producer Sam Singer's catalogue, as Sinbad (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone) takes on "The Sun Wizard":

Once American International gave Singer the boot, that pretty much spelled the end of his producing career.

Rating: A-.

Toons After Dark: The Magic Shillelah (The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1968)

Begorrah! Top o' the evenin' to ye! 'Tis St. Patrick's Day, after all.

To mark the occasion, let us travel back in time. The year is 1968. The setting is the series premiere of The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck, Tom Sawyer, and fair Becky Thatcher have gotten themselves lost in a myriad of alternate dimensions while eluding Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy). Och, what do we have here? Some leprechauns have espied Becky, napping and unaware of "The Magic Shillelah". Dennis Day is among the guest voices heard in this tale.

'Tis a sorrowful pity the journey was not ended before public eyes. That is to say, the series was cancelled a'fore it could reach its proper conclusion. Perhaps another day, someone can adapt these humble efforts to expand upon Mark Twain's original concepts.......

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sinbad, Jr. & His Magic Belt (1965)

A ways back, we served up a Sinbad, Jr. short that was produced by Sam Singer and Trans-Lux. Well, as we documented, American International wasn't happy with the product, so they turned the animation over to Hanna-Barbera. With that came a casting change, as Dallas McKennon (Daniel Boone), who had previously worked for Singer on Courageous Cat five years earlier, was cut loose in favor of Tim Matheson (Jonny Quest) and Mel Blanc (The Flintstones, Secret Squirrel, etc.).

In "Mad, Mad Movies", Sinbad is roped into making a movie for a desperate director (Blanc, using his Cosmo Spacely voice from The Jetsons), looking for a new star. This was a ream that would be used with other characters at other studios over and over again through the years. Matheson would stick with his mature voice for later roles (Space Ghost, Samson & Goliath) the next two seasons.

Typical of the period.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Goldie Gold in Night of the Crystal Skull (1981)

Time to check in with the "world's richest girl", Goldie Gold (Judy Strangis, ex-Electra Woman & DynaGirl) and Action Jack, in the series premiere, "Night of the Crystal Skull". No, this wasn't the inspiration for an Indiana Jones movie more than 20 years later, although the series came a couple of months after "Raiders of the Lost Ark"......

You can tell the influence of comics icon Jack Kirby in some of the character designs. Kirby had gone to work for Ruby-Spears a year earlier on Thundarr the Barbarian, and worked with writer Steve Gerber, who also created Goldie & Thundarr, on Destroyer Duck for Eclipse Comics. Kirby would remain with Ruby-Spears for much of the 80's, as he also had a hand in shows like Rambo and Centurians.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger vs. The Rainmaker (1967)

From season 2 of The Lone Ranger's 1st CBS animated series (1966-9):

The Ranger (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) battle a blackmailer who thinks he can control the weather with machines. Paul Winchell guest stars as "The Rainmaker":

Predictable, but worth the trip.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: John Stephenson (1957)

John Stephenson appeared in three episodes of Perry Mason during the course of the first three seasons.

In season 1's "The Case of the Runaway Corpse", John plays Ed Davenport, who is scheming to have his wife killed, but.......

Robert Burns was right. The best laid plans of mice and men do go astray.........

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Alaskan Peril (1977)

While we're experiencing a late season blizzard in the northeast, let's scope out a Super Friends adventure from 1977.

Batman & Robin join forces with Apache Chief to take on an abominable snowman in "Alaskan Peril". Plus, Wonder Woman teaches crafts.

The basic design of the snowman was later recycled and recolored, methinks, for "Bigfoot", three years later.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Gaston le Crayon (1957)

Terrytoons had hired Gene Deitch away from UPA to produce a new generation of characters for the studio in the 50's. While Deitch and William Snyder were hailed or reviled, depending on who you talk to, for their work on MGM's Tom & Jerry or King Features' Popeye & Krazy Kat in the 60's, Deitch couldn't make anything stick at Terrytoons.

Take, for example, Gaston le Crayon, a French painter who appeared in 5 shorts between 1957-59. Today, he'd be considered a walking stereotype because of his accent, his chosen profession (How many cinematic art instructors have you seen that weren't French?), or even his short stature. Allen Swift (The Howdy Doody Show), who'd later work with Deitch on the Tom & Jerry shorts, provides all the voices in what was the final cartoon in the series, "Gaston's Mama Lisa", in which Gaston latches on to a stolen copy of a certain da Vinci painting......

No rating. This is the first time I've seen any of these shorts.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rare Treats: A game show by Filmation? (The Origins Game, 1982)

You know that Filmation contributed to SFM's Holiday Network in the 70's. In turn, that syndicated series recycled a lot of movies that had aired a few years earlier in the MGM-produced Off to See The Wizard for ABC. But did you know that Filmation tried to get into the game show business?

It's true. Filmation & SFM collaborated on an unsold pilot, The Origins Game, which was recorded in February 1982. Co-created by co-executive producer Norm Prescott and Arnold Shapiro (better known for the later CBS series, Rescue 911), The Origins Game ended up as another line in the resume of game show icon Bob Eubanks (The Newlywed Game).

Unfortunately, there is no information available on the show, other than the following excerpt. Jim Korkis was a contestant on the show, and the video was posted by animation expert Jerry Beck, whose Cartoon Research webpage is the video's point of origin.

Korkis wrote a blog piece of his own on his experience playing and winning The Origins Game. He's also appeared on other games, such as Family Feud.

Let's remember, friends, that Filmation became the 2nd studio to flirt with getting into the game show business. Hanna-Barbera, you'll recall, had contracted with Heatter-Quigley for the original Wacky Races, which was supposed to be half-cartoon, half-game show, but the game part never came off. Saban would break the ice with I'm Telling a few years later.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Looney TV: Baby Buggy Bunny (1954)

When is an innocent little baby not so innocent? When he's really a 35 year old man, vertically challenged, and a bank robber to boot. Meet Baby Face Finster, Bugs Bunny's latest opponent, in "Baby Buggy Bunny", Chuck Jones' delightfully silly farce from December 1954.

Sure, it took a while for Bugs to figure out what was up, but when he did.....!

Rating: A-.

Retro Toy Chest: GI Joe & the Secret of the Mummy's Tomb (1973)

Before GI Joe became a code name for a covert government strike force in the 80's, Hasbro marketed the original Joe with the Adventure Team in a series of play sets and an advertising campaign to match.

1973's Secret of the Mummy's Tomb was also released as a book & record set, produced by Peter Pan Records. Former Filmation writer Ken Sobol (Fantastic Voyage) wrote the script, while the artwork made it look like the artist may have been one of the anonymous artists from Dell or Gold Key.

Right now, scope out the commercial, and see if this doesn't bring back some memories.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

From Comics to Toons: The Hulk Destroys Bruce Banner (1982)

I know what you're thinking. At the time, Bruce Banner was the alter-ego of The Incredible Hulk. Currently, that only applies to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since Banner was killed off in the comics several months ago (for however long that'll last). In 1982, Marvel Productions, perhaps unaware that this would be the series finale, as well as the season finale, decided to make it seem like Banner had died. Scope out "The Hulk Destroys Bruce Banner":

I never saw this episode, so there's no rating.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Toon Sports: Tom & Jerry's Wacky World of Sports (1975)

Tom & Jerry compete against each other in a decathalon in this 1975 short, "The Wacky World of Sports". If I'm not mistaken, given how Tom is doing his best Dick Dastardly impersonation in trying to play some dirty tricks on Jerry, I think this was a remake of a Droopy short for MGM more than 20 years earlier.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Toonfomercial: Pinocchio shills for AMC (1955)

Before it was absorbed by Chrysler some 20-odd years ago, American Motors Corporation (AMC) made a bid to make the Big 3 automakers (Ford, Chrysler, General Motors) into a Big 4. The best way to do that, you see, was to engage in some inventive advertising. That is to say, they made licensing deals with Disney to use some of their characters in commercials, and this included characters that Disney held licenses on themselves, such as the characters from "Song of the South" and, in this next ad, Pinocchio.

Because more than a decade had passed since the initial release of "Pinocchio" in theatres, Dickie Jones, who had voiced the title character, wasn't available. Actor-singer Cliff Edwards not only reprised as Jiminy Cricket, but voiced Geppetto as well. Pinocchio's voice in this case is by the reigning grand dame of voice actors, June Foray.

Down the line, we'll see ads with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, plus "Song of the South".

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Waldo Kitty as Catman (1975)

While I've never been able to figure out when or how Filmation gained another license for Batman, this episode of The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty may have been a precursor of things to come.

Waldo (Howard Morris) imagines himself as Catman, while trying to figure out how to rescue Felicia (Jane Webb) from Tyrone, the neighborhood bulldog (Allan Melvin).

Melvin would recycle Tyrone's voice three years later for Bluto on The All-New Popeye Hour. I think what hurt this show in the long term was that it was on too early in the morning for most kids.

Rating: B--.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: The Flintstones in The Rock Vegas Story (1962)

From Season 2 of The Flintstones:

The Flintstones & Rubbles are vacationing in Rock Vegas, but when they find they are lacking cash to pay for their hotel, they have to work off the bill, and, oh, do they ever.

Scope out Betty & Barney's musical number near the end of the show, as Barney (Mel Blanc) does a little scattin' on "When You're Smilin'". Don't ask why Betty dyed her hair platinum blonde. I don't remember why.

I'd seen this a handful of times in syndication in the 70's, as I don't recall seeing this when NBC had rerun rights.

Rating: B-.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Toons After Dark: Turner Classic Birdman, or, Busy Day For Birdman (2005)

In a rare case of cross-network synergy, Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne "hosts" an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law. Osborne's intro was taped at TCM studios in Atlanta. Meanwhile, the idiots at Williams Street Productions cobbled together selected clips of episodes of the 1967 Birdman series, redubbed with the current cast (i.e. Gary Cole, Stephen Colbert) and reanimated using Flash animation.

The idea is not only to mock the original Birdman, which [adult swim] had been doing all along, but to try to link the two series together, when they really don't have anything more in common than the lead character, and try to explain why he gave up crime-fighting and took a "regular" job.

In memory of Osborne, who passed away at 84.

I tried watching this On Demand one afternoon. They tried using the same re-animation techniques that had worked so well for them on Sealab 2021, which was one thing. Having Gary Cole try to imitate the original voice of Birdman, Keith Andes, and fail, was torture. Oh, by the way, Stephen Colbert not only voiced Falcon 7, the model for Phil Ken Sebben, but Reducto, as well.

Luckily, the "real" Birdman is back, as he's a player in DC Comics' Future Quest, which, unfortunately, ends next month.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto vs. the Avenger (1968)

This, it would appear, was the last solo adventure for Tonto (Shep Menken) from the 1966-8 Lone Ranger series. This time, Tonto battles "The Avenger" (Marvin Miller), the son of a Sioux chief seeking revenge for perceived wrongs.

When the Ranger & Tonto returned to CBS in 1980 for another 2 year hitch, Tonto didn't get any solo adventures. If the series were to be revived today, maybe he does, and gets treated with more respect than had been shown in a certain abomination of a movie nearly 4 years ago.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Saturday School: Motormouse & Autocat in Skill School (1969)

This next Motormouse & Autocat short recycles an old Tom & Jerry short, the title of which escapes me at the moment. Anyway, Autocat (Marty Ingels) is trying to teach his nephew, the unimaginatively named Autokitty (Daws Butler, using his Lambsy/Elroy Jetson/Augie Doggie voice) how to catch mice. Unfortunately for Autocat, Motormouse befriends Autokitty. The usual chaos follows, including some flashbacks.

Here's "Skill School":


Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: Rose Marie moves in with the Monkees! (1967)

The Monkees are faced with eviction from theirshared apartment, and the landlord, Mr. Babbitt (Henry Corden) isn't waiting around for them to clean house. Instead, a middle-aged woman, Millie, who carries a parrot and a stuffed dog for company, moves in. You might notice she's a bit, ah, eccentric. Rose Marie, fresh from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and newly settled into The Hollywood Squares, guest stars in "Monkee Mother":

As we'll see, Millie and the boys find a common ground. Rose would play a number of different characters during the series' two season run, and Corden would return periodically, as well. Oh, by the way, this is also a You Know The Voice double-play (Corden & Micky Dolenz), plus the added bonus that Rose Marie would later land a gig at Hanna-Barbera, as she guest-starred on Yogi's Gang 6 1/2 years later as the shape-changing Lotta Litter. Right now, I'm  not entirely sure if Corden & Dolenz worked together on a project at H-B. As we know, Micky worked on 4 series for the studio between 1971-7 (Funky Phantom, Butch Cassidy, Devlin, Wonder Wheels). Digression over.

Rating: A-. I remember seeing this in syndication back in the 70's and during the show's MTV run in the 80's.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rare Treats: A Where's Huddles pilot (1970)

Mark Christiansen has blessed us with this rarest of rare treats.

As we know, Where's Huddles? was a summer replacement series that Hanna-Barbera produced for CBS in 1970. Here, we have a pilot using storyboard sketches by Jerry Eisenberg, Willie Ito, & Iwao Takamoto. There are some cast changes in contrast to the final product that bowed in July 1970. For example, while the male leads remain the same, with Cliff Norton as Ed Huddles and Mel Blanc as his next door neighbor/teammate, Bubba McCoy, their wives, Marge & Penny, are played by other actresses, most notably Nancy Kulp (The Beverly Hillbillies) as Penny McCoy. When Huddles went to series, Kulp, entering the final season of Hillbillies, was replaced by Marie Wilson, with Jean VanderPyl (ex-The Flintstones) taking over as Marge Huddles. Paul Lynde (Hollywood Squares, Bewitched) is, of course, Claude Pertwee.

Trouble ensues when Claude leaves for a few days, expecting his neighbors to honor his request to keep his new car spotless. Unfortunately, Bubba decides to do his impression of a dog fetching a stick.......

With the change in actresses for Penny came a change in character design, as Penny became a blonde, reflecting the switch from Kulp to Wilson. This way, it was easier to tell the women apart. Allan Melvin (Banana Splits, Brady Bunch) is heard as well.

Rating: B-.

Daytime Heroes: The CBS Children's Mystery Theatre (1980)

In a continuing effort to emulate ABC's award-winning Afterschool Special, CBS tried out a series of periodic mysteries for kids, aimed mostly at teenagers.

Unfortunately, the CBS Children's Mystery Theatre, to my knowledge, didn't play in my home market. The local affiliate opted for syndicated programming instead. Only 5 episodes were produced over the course of three seasons (1980-3), which illustrates the struggles between divisions of the network's programming department.

This is strictly for your perusal, so there won't be a rating. Right now, let's take a look at 1981's "The Haunting of Harrington House", starring Dominique Dunne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Edie Adams, and sitcom vets Vito Scotti and Phil Leeds.

Polly is essentially a modern day clone of Nancy Drew, don't you think?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: World Beneath The Ice (1978)

From Challenge of the Super Friends:

Before we discuss our next subject, I need to address an issue that has not been corrected by the criminally unreliable Wikipedia. Whomever wrote the entry for the Challenge season has the order of each week's episodes backwards. The episodes with the Legion of Doom were in the 2nd half of the show, not the first half, as Wikipedia insists. The fact that each hour-long episode was split into two parts for syndication isn't helping matters at all, but rather creates confusion for fans.

That all having been said, our next story, "World Beneath The Ice", is a sort-of retelling of the previous season's "Invasion of The Earthors", substituting the North Pole for the earth's core for the setting. In any event, a race of people living under the ice approve of a plan to freeze the surface world as a form of misguided vengeance for oil drilling in the North Pole. Tohrahma (guest star Henry Corden) leads his crew in capturing American & Russian ships. You know the rest of the drill.

Clever use of the H-B acronym for the orchestra, don't you think?

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: Ding Dong School (1952)

What started as a regional program for pre-schoolers in Chicago turned into a national phenomenon in due course. Ding Dong School was one of the first hit shows created for children.

Miss Frances (Frances Horwich) was the teacher and the television audience were her students. The series began, as noted, as a local program based out of Chicago before being picked up by NBC. However, the first run lasted about 4 years or so before returning for a syndicated run in 1959, which lasted relatively around the same length of time.

Let's take a look at a sample episode from 1955, courtesy of Internet Archive:

I guess now we know where Elvis Presley got the idea for peanut butter & banana sandwiches becoming his favorite delicacy, according to legend, at the end of his career.

Could Ding Dong School exist today? Not under its old title, certainly.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Toon Sports: The Tumbleweed 500 (Fender Bender 500, 1990)

The Fender Bender 500 hits the heart of Texas in "The Tumbleweed 500". Since we're 4 days removed from the Daytona 500, how about taking a time trip back to this reincarnation of Wacky Races. I think there were some issues between Hanna-Barbera and Merrill Heatter over Wacky Races even up to this point, although Dick Dastardly & Muttley had long since returned to the fold, and were in a familiar position in this series. After the opening to Wake, Rattle, & Roll, we'll turn it over to Shadoe Stevens for the call.

No rating.

Getting Schooled: The Day After Tomorrow (1975)

It was a rare case of a Gerry Anderson production premiering in the US before it bowed in the UK.

The Day After Tomorrow made its debut as an episode of NBC's after-school anthology series, Special Treat, in December 1975, then aired in the UK on BBC 11 months later. Nick Tate (Space: 1999) and Brian Blessed star, with Ed Bishop (ex-UFO) narrating:

Insofar as I know, this has not been rerun in the US in recent memory.

Rating: None. Didn't see it the first time.

Sunday Funnies: Dexter meets Dynomutt (1998)

From Dexter's Laboratory:

Genndy Tartatovsky must've been a big Dynomutt fan. Either that, or, after parodying the 60's anime icon, Speed Racer, it was decided that Hanna-Barbera's bionic canine would attempt a comeback, and this episode was meant to be a back-door pilot for a spin-off series. Gary Owens & Frank Welker reprise as Blue Falcon & Dynomutt, respectively, in "Dyno-Might":

After that, it's a biography of Dexter's life, told as an opera, or, in this case, a "Labretto":

Rating: B.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Lone Ranger vs. The Trickster (1966)

It's the first of the month, and that means another first episode. This time, it's The Lone Ranger in his first animated adventure for CBS from 1966.

The Masked Man (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) match wits with a wily, wealthy, but bored villain known simply as "The Trickster", not to be confused with a more colorful villain associated with DC Comics' Flash.

You'll forgive the video quality. Cartoon Jam had to have gotten this off a VHS tape.

Additional research has revealed that Universal had commissioned Format Films and the British Halas & Bachelor studios to develop this series, with permission from then-rights holder Jack Wrather. Confusion over current rights would explain why there hasn't been a DVD release more than 50 years after its launch.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tooniversary: Super Friends vs. The Invisible Menace (1977)

From The All-New Super Friends Hour:

Superman & Aquaman must rescue a kidnapped scientist (narrator Bill Woodson in a dual role) and his experimental mining device from a greedy undersea pirate named Nemis in "The Invisible Menace":

Yes, Nemis was inspired by Jules Verne's Captain Nemo (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea), just a couple of years after Hanna-Barbera had mounted an adaptation of the novel for CBS' Famous Classic Tales. Just two years later, they would use another Nemo analogue for an episode of The World's Greatest Super Friends.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning Ringside: AWF Warriors of Wrestling (1995)

In 1994, Chicago promoter Paul Alperstein came up with a novel idea in professional wrestling, creating a promotion that would have matches contested in a format similar to boxing and the then-up-and-coming UFC.

The American Wrestling Federation, however, was a way station for veteran stars of the AWA, NWA/WCW, and WWF/E who were looking to extend their careers. In short, this was really no different than any number of independent promotions in the US that will sign name talent to boost attendance or, in Alperstein's case, television ratings.

AWF Warriors of Wrestling premiered 22 years ago, with former AWA announcer Mick Karch doing play-by-play alongside Terry Taylor. You won't hear it in the premiere, but over the course of the two year run, Taylor would demonstrate some skills as an impressionist, doing mimics of Dusty Rhodes, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and others, while pretending to abandon Karch in the booth.

Richard Land offers up the series opener, featuring veterans such as Sgt. Slaughter, Greg Valentine, Tony Atlas, and Tito Santana.

Matches were meant to be 3 rounds, 4 minutes apiece, with a short rest break in between rounds. Translated, it was a 15 minute time limit with a twist. Unfortunately, the AWF didn't last long on local screens, if at all, and was a distant memory by the time the bigger promotions began the "Monday Night Wars".

Rating: B-.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Looney TV: The Windblown Hare (1949)

Bugs Bunny meets the Three Little Pigs in a warped reboot of the latter's classic story in 1949's "The Windblown Hare". The Pigs aren't exactly the simple siblings as originally presented, oh no. They have to be the villains here, conning Bugs into buying the straw & stick houses that will be blown out by the Big Bad Wolf. Look for a cross-reference to Little Red Riding Hood, which Bugs skewered a few years earlier.

That's how you do satire, Cartoon Network.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Toon Legends: Shaggy becomes Shagzilla? (What's New Scooby-Doo, 2003)

It was inevitable that Shaggy's endless appetite would get him in trouble.

In the 2nd season premiere of What's New Scooby-Doo, Shaggy (Casey Kasem) is framed for the actions of a 30-foot tall robot duplicate, designed by Professor Pomfritt (special guest star William Schallert), who is jealous of a rival's success. As it happens, Pomfritt had just given Velma (Mindy Cohn) a prize for her latest invention........

Here's "Big Appetite in Little Tokyo":

Schallert had played a school teacher, also named Pomfritt, on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis nearly 50 years earlier. 

Rating: B-.

Daytime Heroes: Spider-Man vs. Dr. Doom (1981)

I've written before how the 1981 Spider-Man solo series didn't air in the home district, even though it did launch 2 days after Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends premiered on NBC. Some episodes were released individually or in groups on video.

In "Doctor Doom, Master of the World", the Latverian monarch abducts the President and places him under mind control. I've said in the past that I had assumed that Brad Crandall, long the voice of Sunn Classic Pictures, voiced Doom, but a Wikipedia entry claims that it was Ralph James (Mork & Mindy) who essayed the part. Judge for yourselves.

Note, too, that Spidey/Peter Parker is voiced by a different actor than on Amazing Friends. Seems Marvel's then-nascent television arm, formerly DePatie-Freleng, was still finding its way, as it would have made more sense to use the same actor on both shows.

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: The Flintstones meet the Wayouts (1965)

In the final season of The Flintstones, the show's writers began skewering pop music more so than in previous seasons. In fact, it was in the season opener that Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm became pop stars in a dream that Fred (Alan Reed) was having. Shindig host Jimmy O'Neill crossed over, along with the Beau Brummels, for one episode.

In the episode, "Masquerade Party", a quartet of aliens land in Bedrock, and their unique look enables a record company executive (Mel Blanc, using his Secret Squirrel voice) to dismiss the Beasties (Beatles parody) and sign a group now known as the Wayouts.

Reed is also heard as Sam Sandstone, a fellow member of the Water Buffalo lodge, who sounds suspiciously like Fred.

It just so happened that Secret Squirrel debuted that same year, albeit over on NBC, which would pick up rerun rights to The Flintstones not long after the series ended.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends try to solve The Baffles Puzzle (1973)

It's way past time to go back to the original Super Friends.

Professor Baffles (Casey Kasem in a dual role) is one of those misguided types who thinks he's doing something to benefit mankind by making all kinds of literature disappear. Ah, but there's a lesson to be learned, as Baffles is double-crossed by his henchmen. Here's "The Baffles Puzzle":

Wendy's volunteer job at the library suggests a call-back to Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, whose other job was as a librarian, per her earliest appearances in the 60's. Too bad Batgirl never got to appear in this series, as Hanna-Barbera never obtained the rights. 

Rating: B+.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Saturday School: The Tiny Sea (Micro Ventures, 1968)

Only 4 Micro Ventures shorts were produced for the Banana Splits in 1968. Here's "The Tiny Sea".

Bruce Watson (Mike) was also heard, along with Don Messick, in the Three Musketeers segments of the show.

Too bad they can't collect these shorts into a single disc DVD.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: We Are Family (1979)

Disco Larry has served up Sister Sledge's monster hit of 1979, "We Are Family", from an appearance on American Bandstand. The graphics that pop up during the performance suggest this was recorded on VHS.

The Pittsburgh Pirates adopted "We Are Family" as their theme song en route to a World Series title that fall. Sister Sledge would score again with "He's The Greatest Dancer", but then would slowly fade from the pop and R & B scenes.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger meets Mark Twain (1980)

A Lone Ranger fan channel has turned up on YouTube. The playlist includes episodes of the 1980 Filmation reboot of the series, with William Conrad, fresh from Cannon, as the voice of the Ranger. Conrad, though, was billed as J. Darnoc (Conrad spelled backwards) for some unknown reason. There's no mistaking that distinctive voice, though.

Right now, let's take a look at "The Abduction of Tom Sawyer". It's not what you think, especially considering that Tom's creator, Mark Twain, figures prominently in the story.

Filmation had first acquired a license for The Lone Ranger 8 years earlier when the Ranger, then voiced by John Erwin, made a guest appearance on The Brady Kids. Unlike the 1966 series, 2 seasons were produced, with the second season episodes considerably shorter to make room for Zorro. CBS needed another legendary hero to share an hour with Tarzan after The New Adventures of Batman and the remaining remnants of Tarzan & The Super 7, rechristened Batman & The Super 7, moved to NBC for their final season. The problem was, the Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour was buried near the bottom of the lineup. Adding Zorro the next year didn't help.

Rating: A.

Looney TV: Porky in Wackyland (1938)

Porky Pig goes hunting for what is supposed to be the last of the do-do's, but, as you'll see in "Porky in Wackyland", nothing is what it seems to be.

Keep an eye open for gratuitous use of the WB shield logo and the presence of a 3-headed parody of the Three Stooges.

11 years later, a shorter remake, "Dough For the Do-Do", was released in full color, with some elements of "Wackyland" edited out. We'll pull up "Dough" another time, and you'll see what I mean.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Toons After Dark: Carlton, Your Doorman (1980)

During the course of Rhoda's run (1974-8), folks wondered if they'd ever get a glimpse of Carlton, the doorman in Rhoda Morganstern's apartment building in Manhattan. No, they wouldn't. Nearly 2 years later, the man who gave voice to Carlton, Lorenzo Music, decided it was time to let everyone see Carlton, albeit in an animated cartoon.

Carlton, Your Doorman has only aired once, in 1980. Why that is, I don't know. It would end up being the last time Music would essay the role, but his future in cartoons was set.

Because it has become a rarity, the show is incomplete online as of right now. All we have is this little sample.

Music not only is the star, but also co-wrote and co-produced the program. After six years of playing Carlton, Music moved on, and you know the rest of his body of work, mostly as Garfield. He also spent the first two seasons of Real Ghostbusters as Dr. Peter Venkman, but left the show to work on Garfield & Friends, with Dave Coulier (Full House) taking over as Peter. And let's not forget those crash dummies ads for the Ad Council.

Co-directors Charles Swenson & Fred Wolf would later join forces with Glen Murakami and produce the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, among other things.

Rating: None. The poor audio quality of the above sample made this hard to gauge.

Animated World of DC Comics: Battle at the Earth's Core (1978)

Even though the following video uses the intro from The All-New Super Friends Hour, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, the episode, "Battle at the Earth's Core" came a year later, as evidenced by the episode title card.

Anyway, the Wonder Twins are with a new friend, Capt. Pierre Marcelle, just outside of Honolulu, when the boat they're sailing on is sucked into a huge whirlpool. The Super Friends follow the trail, and find a bizarre world at the earth's core, but not the same as in "Invasion of the Earthors" from the previous year.

The scene where the first tar monster appears was used as part of the opening montage for The World's Greatest Super Friends the very next year.

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tooniversary: George of the Jungle in Monkey Business (1967)

Look who's turning 50 this year.

George of the Jungle, Jay Ward's dimwitted send-up of Tarzan, hits the milestone. If there was ever a cartoon hero who needed to be tested for concussions, George would be it, considering how many times he's crashed into trees.

Digression over. In "Monkey Business", George (Bill Scott, who also is one of the executive producers) has to rescue Ape (Paul Frees) from a pair of poachers. Frees, of course, also narrates.

The shorter intro at the start of this video is the one used to queue each of George's adventures.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 20, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: Fred Flintstone as Superstone (1965)

Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed) will do anything to 1) make a few extra bucks and 2) impress his daughter, Pebbles. In this 5th season episode of The Flintstones, Fred steps in when the star of the TV show, Superstone, quits, right before a scheduled personal appearance in Bedrock. This leaves Barney (Mel Blanc) to mind Pebbles, as well as his own adopted son, Bamm-Bamm.

Superstone, of course, was a parody of Superman, who would be licensed to Hanna-Barbera 8 years after this episode aired, with the launch of Super Friends.

Rating: B.

You Know the Voice: Clarence Nash (1963)

Waaaaaakkkk!!!! Clarence "Ducky" Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck, appeared as an imposter on To Tell The Truth in October 1963. Gene Rayburn (Match Game, ex-Choose Up Sides) was filling in for Bud Collyer. Panelists Orson Bean & Tom Poston would have that chore the following two weeks.

Nash appears in game 2, but didn't get a single vote from Bean, Poston, Sheila MacRae, & Kitty Carlisle.

Bean & Rayburn would switch places the following week, and the panel would correctly identify two more challengers.

There is at least one episode of Choose Up Sides now available on YouTube. We'd previously posted a standard intro, so maybe we'll get a full show up soon.

Toonfomercial: Linus the Lionhearted and Lolita la Cheeta for Crispy Critters (1963)

Before landing a Saturday morning berth on CBS, Linus the Lionhearted (Sheldon Leonard) was the animated pitchman for Post's Crispy Critters cereal. The running gag in the ads was that as soon as the name of the cereal was invoked, Linus would be run over by a horde of animal-shaped cereal pieces as if it were a real stampede.

Here, Lolita la Cheeta puts the moves on Linus. Cue the cereal stampede!

Not so sure if Lolita eventually appeared in Linus' series the following year.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Duckwood (1964)

Dandy Deal brings another "lost" Terrytoons character, Duckwood, who, according to the Big Cartoon Database, appeared in 3 shorts in 1964. Duckwood, however, appears to be the second banana, as his partner, a WC Fields soundalike, carries most of the action. Dayton Allen did the voices.

Here's the last of those three shorts, "Oil Thru The Day":

The music at the end was later recycled for syndicated reruns of Mighty Mouse in the 70's.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering Ivan Koloff (1942-2017)

It has been a tradition in wrestling that some characters aren't really foreigners or Native Americans. For example, the late Chief Jay Strongbow was, for many years, played by a man of Italian background. The late Yokozuna (Rodney Anoai), billed as being from Japan early in his run with the then-World Wrestling Federation in the 90's, was actually Samoan, and came over from the AWA, where he had been billed as Kokina Maximus, and, yes, as a Samoan. Mr. Fuji, who passed away late last year, wasn't from Japan, either, but really from Hawaii, and perhaps as a nod to his true heritage, adopted the look of the state's most famous fictional detective, Charlie Chan, in the mid-80's.

That brings us to Ivan Koloff, who passed away yesterday at 74. Koloff was no more legitimately a Russian than his storyline nephew, Nikita, was. Nikita was actually as American as apple pie. Ivan, born Oreal Parris, was orignally from the Quebec province in Canada, but after an early stint as an Irish heel named Red McNulty, adopted the persona that would define his career. Koloff, managed by Captain Lou Albano, defeated Bruno Sammartino in 1971 at Madison Square Garden to win his only World title as a singles wrestler. It was, unfortunately, a short reign, as Koloff dropped the strap less than a month later to Pedro Morales.

Strangely, Koloff is not in the WWE Hall of Fame. That might be because he spent a larger chunk of his career in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where many fans rediscovered him in the 80's when the Atlanta based superstation, (W)TBS, began beaming in the Northeast. Koloff won several tag team titles in the NWA with various partners, including Nikita and, before that, Don Kernodle.

In 1988, promoter Jim Crockett, Jr. experimented with the idea of Ivan Koloff as a babyface (good guy). Nikita had turned babyface two years earlier in an emergency when Magnum TA (Terry Allen) was sidelined by an auto accident that prematurely ended his career. Now, with manager Paul Jones having turned his back on Ivan Koloff, a "civil war" of a different kind is brewing. Footage from World Wide Wrestling, the NWA's long running syndicated program.

In 1995, Ivan Koloff renounced the partying lifestyle of the 70's & 80's, and became a born again Christian, just like Nikita. Oreal Parris became an ordained minister, a path that fellow heels Tully Blanchard & Ted DiBiase, Sr. would also walk at the end of their careers. However, Parris was also dealing with liver cancer, the result of all that partying and substance abuse. On Friday, God called him home. Maybe now WWE will consider adding Koloff to the Hall of Fame. Virtually all of the company's World champions from its early years, from Buddy Rogers to Edge, with the exception of current stars John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple H, to name a few, are already in the Hall, and Triple H had done yeoman's work behind the scenes to get Sammartino enshrined a few years ago. The "Cerebral Assassin" is also a historian, so figure he'll get the ball rolling soon enough.

Rest in peace, Ivan.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Toon Rock: What's Your Sign? (1972)

It's been a while since we queued up something from the Bedrock Rockers via the Flintstone Comedy Hour from 1972, marking its 40th anniversary this year. Here's "What's Your Sign?".

You Know The Voice: Mike Road (1958)

Before embarking on a successful voice acting career, Mike Road had been a fixture on Broadway, in films, and in television. In 1958, he landed a co-starring role in the short-lived NBC Western, Buckskin, as Marshal Tom Sellers, six years before he was cast as Roger "Race" Bannon in Jonny Quest.

Mike enters the picture roughly around the seven minute mark of the episode, "The Trial of Chrissy Miller":

More on Buckskin over at The Land of Whatever.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering George "The Animal" Steele (1937-2017)

The Grim Reaper's been very busy in the wrestling world over the last couple of weeks. First, there was Chavo Guerrero, Sr. (known as Chavo Classic for marketing purposes during his brief stint with WWE in 2004), who passed away last week. Then, in quick succession, over the last 48 hours, we've lost Hall of Famer George "The Animal" Steele, whom we'll talk about shortly, Nicole Bass, who, according to conflicting reports, either is still on life support, or may have passed on at 52, and, finally, former WWWF World champ Ivan Koloff, who lost a bout with liver cancer.

The interesting paradox with Steele (William James Myers) is that the Animal was, essentially, an alter-ego. Outside the ring, the college educated Myers was a football coach and teacher in his native Michigan who took his name from a rival football coach. This would explain why a lot of Steele's appearances were mostly in the summer. Once he gave up his academic career, Steele became a full-time wrestler, settling into the guise of a modern neanderthal with an appetite for turnbuckles. He was never a World champion, but was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

We'll look at Ivan Koloff tomorrow, but now, here's a video montage of Steele from June 1983, with Vince McMahon & Pat Patterson at the mic's. Both matches are against the same jobber, Steve King, with a promo in between promoting what would be a World title match vs. Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden.

Beneath the persona of the Animal laid a brother in Christ who was called home. Rest in peace.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. Mr. Freeze (1968)

Having been portrayed by three different actors during the three seasons of the live-action Batman, Mr. Freeze makes the first of two appearances in the 1968 animated series, voiced by Ted Knight. On a hot summer day, Mr. Freeze begins freezing Gotham City's water, then steals a whale. Check out Batman's 1st animated bout with "The Cool, Cruel Mr. Freeze":

If anything, the 1992 series made Freeze more of a sympathetic character, expanding and retooling his origins to better explain his unique condition.

Rating: B.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Toon Rock: Cold Wisconsin Nights (Sittin' By The Fireside)(1969)

While Ted Nichols was the credited musical director for the Cattanooga Cats series, the musical numbers were produced by Mike Curb, who was also scoring Ken Snyder's two freshman series for ABC that same year, Hot Wheels & Skyhawks. Curb took the sneaky route with this next track.

Credited as "Sittin' By The Fireside", this song was originally known as "Cold Wisconsin Nights", and recorded by the American Revolution about a year or two before this series hit the air. The common link? Curb produced both records, along with Michael Lloyd. Sounds to me like he used the original American Revolution track in this spot, and changed the title, thinking no one would be the wiser.

Well, it is the middle of winter, after all......

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Gulliver enters the Valley of Time (1968)

From The Adventures of Gulliver:

Seeking shelter from a storm, Gary Gulliver (Jerry Dexter) and his Lilliputian friends hide out in a cave. However, Captain Leach (John Stephenson) seals the entrance. That leads Gary and company into "The Valley of Time":

I'm sure you could tell that Flirtacia (Ginny Tyler) lived up to her name, swooning over Gary throughout the series. There was one story where Gary and his dog, Tagg, ended up shrinking to Lilliputian size. We'll have that story down the road.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Spiderversary: Spider-Man vs. the Scorpion (1967)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man's TV debut. From that first season, we present the first TV appearance of the Scorpion, a common crook who was given powers by a mad scientist hired by J. Jonah Jameson as part of the publisher's obsessive quest to discredit the wall-crawler. Here's "Never Step on a Scorpion":

Rating: B.