Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saturtainment: The Krofft Superstar Hour (1978)

After 2 seasons, ABC cancelled the Krofft Supershow. Undaunted, Sid & Marty Krofft, who'd also lost Donny & Marie to the Osmond family's own production company, and flopped with a Brady Bunch variety show, moved back to NBC with The Krofft Superstar Hour in 1978.

The Supershow's pre-fab house band, Kaptain Kool & the Kongs, had split up, with Michael Lembeck (Kaptain Kool) and Debra Clinger (Superchick) landing primetime gigs on CBS. Lembeck joined the cast of One Day at a Time, while Clinger flopped in the drama, The American Girls. That left the other half of the Kongs, Turkey (Mickey McMeel) and Nashville (Louise DuArt), still in their season 2 outfits, to be part of the Krofft Superstar Hour repertory company, supporting the new house band, the Bay City Rollers, who were trading off their hit, "Saturday Night". However, the quality of the support segments took a dive, as we've shown in recent days.

Lost Island was a mishmash featuring H. R. Pufnstuf, Weenie the Genie (Billie Hayes) from Lidsville, and characters from Land of the Lost, plus Sigmund (Billy Barty). Barty essayed a dual role as Otto, the assistant to evil Dr. Deathray (Jay Robinson), who was a retooled Dr. Shrinker, but, as we noted yesterday, Robinson ate way more scenery the second time around, which may have hastened NBC's decision to trim the fat and cut the series to a half-hour 2 months into the season.

Horror Hotel had Hayes reprising her other role as Witchiepoo (from H. R. Pufnstuf), now the proprietor of the hotel, whose only regular tenant was HooDoo (from Lidsville). Paul Gale took over for Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game), who apparently was scared off returning to his first Saturday gig after Uncle Croc's Block flopped three years earlier.

The Kongs passed the torch to the Rollers by guesting on the opener, but a video I had acquired turned out to be devoid of sound, so that's been deleted, and we're starting anew with this show.

The following clip offers a medley of 50's hits. To wit:

"Rock & Roll is Here to Stay" (Rollers). Sha Na Na did a better cover on their show and in the movie, "Grease", earlier that year.

"My Special Angel". CHiPs star Erik Estrada made his singing debut covering the Bobby Helms classic.

"Born to Hand Jive". Scott Baio, at the time appearing on another NBC series, Who's Watching The Kids?, was out of place and tune on this track, which Sha Na Na covered in "Grease" as well.

"Be Bop-a-Lula". Billy Barty teams with ex-Mouseketeer Sharon Baird, for once able to appear as herself, after playing various characters on other Krofft shows, to cover Gene Vincent's classic. Baird had not done any musical numbers since her Mickey Mouse Club days, but she & Barty made quite a cute couple.

The medley finishes with a chorus of "Rock & Roll is Here to Stay".

Barty had done some numbers on Donny & Marie, one of which is up over at The Land of Whatever, and, as I've found out, had done some cabaret shows, too. Who knew?

Rating (based on what I've seen): C-.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Spooktober: The Skeleton Dance (1929)

Now, this will make your skin crawl.

Walt Disney's "The Skeleton Dance" was the initial entry in the Silly Symphonies series, and the biggest surprise, perhaps, is that acclaimed composer Carl Stalling, better known for his work at WB, not only composed most of the music for this short, but came up with the basic idea! Scope!

Elements of "Skeleton Dance" would later be reused in the Mickey Mouse short, "Haunted House", which apparently was also released in 1929. Hmmm.

Rating: A.

Krofftverse: The Lost Island (1978)

The other day, we presented one of the two regular features from the short-lived Krofft Superstar Hour, that being Horror Hotel. Now, here's the other feature, which was equally short-lived, The Lost Island.

H. R. Pufnstuf (voiced by Len Weinrib), Weenie the Genie (Billie Hayes, reprising from Lidsville), and Sigmund, far, far away from his sea monster family (Billy Barty, voice by Walker Edmiston) are stuck on the island, which also serves as a gateway to the Land of the Lost, as the stop motion footage looks like it may have been recycled from that series, which had only ended a year earlier, only to return in the 90's.

And, then, there is Dr. Deathray, formerly known as Dr. Shrinker (Jay Robinson). Similarly, Shrinker's assistant, Hugo (Barty) has been rechristened Otto. You'll notice that in this episode, Otto & Sigmund are never in the same scene together, else another actor would be wearing the Sigmund costume.

Anyway, Robinson chews up even more scenery than he did on Krofft Supershow two years earlier. Not good.

The plot to this episode: Pufnstuf is ill, and Weenie, along with Barbie (Louise DuArt), must find a cure. To do it, the ladies have to travel to the "City of the Doomed" (Land of the Lost),. where they meet the Sleestak king, Enik (voiced by Walker Edmiston). Unfortunately, Deathray is headed in the same direction, but on a completely different quest.......

Robinson must've had Rudy Vallee as a voice coach, they sound so similar. Seems as though the Kroffts picked the characters at random to use here, but viewers saw right through the disjointed format, which is why the series was trimmed to a half-hour after about a month or two, leaving the Bay City Rollers and the Horror Hotel skits.

Rating: D.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Krofftverse: The Lost Saucer crashes in Beautfiul Downtown Atlantis (1975)

Should it surprise anyone that the Kroffts would have their take on Atlantis? Of course not.

In this episode of The Lost Saucer, Fi (Ruth Buzzi) & Fum (Jim Nabors) have another malfunction that sends the saucer splashing into the underwater city.

Now, I'm not entirely sure if guest star Bob Quarry is the same guy who headlined a couple of horror movies as Count Yorga.........

We noted this before, but it bears repeating. Tommy Oliver, who arranged the theme song that was composed and sung by Michael Lloyd (ex-Cattanooga Cats), is better known for his own stints as a musical director for Name That Tune and Face The Music. Like, who knew?

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: A Ricochet Rabbit 4-pack (1964-5)

Following is a 4-episode block of Ricochet Rabbit, taken from a VHS release.

"Space Sheriff" (1965): Ricochet (Don Messick) & Droop-a-Long (Mel Blanc) travel to outer space to catch a monster of an outlaw.

"Cactus Ruckus" (1964): Droop's nephew, Tag-a-Long, drops by, so Ricochet tells him a tall tale about an earlier adventure.

"Big Town Show Down" (1964): A big city police chief (John Stephenson) sends for Ricochet to catch the Creep (Stephenson again) and his two simian bodyguards.

"West Pest" (1965): Ricochet squares off against Rocky Rattler.

Plus, a trivia segment.

Blanc voiced some of the outlaws by recycling his Yosemite Sam voice.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Li'l Abner in Kickapoo Juice (1944)

Al Capp's backwoods hero, Li'l Abner, appeared in only 5 animated shorts, all produced by Columbia during Screen Gems' 1st go-round as a theatrical brand, and all in 1944. The first, "Kickapoo Juice", offers the origins of the oddball moonshine, which apparently was created by Hairless Joe and the Native American Lonesome Polecat.

Unfortunately, the black & white print is all that's available right now. Too bad no one's willing to take a chance today.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spooktober: The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper (1996)

In the wake of the live action/CGI adaptation of Casper that starred Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci a year earlier, the Friendly Ghost returned to television after 16 years away in a mid-season replacement series that aired on Fox (and later, Fox Family).

As established in the movie, Casper's full name is Casper McFadden (voiced by Malachi Pearson), who died of pneumonia as a youth, and it seems he's smitten with young Kathleen "Kat" Harvey (Kath Soucie), whose father is a scientist. As we'll see in the first short, "Paranormal Press", Casper's school schedule isn't quite the same as Kat's, enabling him to join Kat at Friendship Junior High against her wishes, though she finds that he can be quite helpful.

I cannot recall if Spooky's girlfriend, Pearl, or, Poil, as Spooky always calls her, had appeared in the 1963 series. Here, though, she's presented as being a bit of an absent-minded airhead, contrary to her comic book portrayal as a domineering type. Spooky is established as being Casper's cousin, which I'm not sure might be the case in the books.

Kat has her share of struggles dealing with the mean girls in school, as we'll also see. The supporting cast also includes Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons, Aladdin) taking over for Bill Pullman as Dr. Harvey, and Ben Stein, one year before getting his Comedy Central game show, is heard as a teacher. Since this was a Universal-Harvey-Amblin co-production, some of the Amblin crew (i.e. Sherri Stoner) came over from Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky & The Brain, & Animaniacs.

The lineup:

"Paranormal Press": Casper helps Kat start her journalism career at Friendship Jr. High, with predictable results.

"Another Spooky & Poil Moment": Spooky tries to impress his teacher, but Poil seems to be uncharacteristically fouling things up. Weak point of the show.

"Deadstock": Casper takes up the bagpipes, annoying Kat, but it leads to a concert....

I like the idea of Casper actually wearing clothes in this series as he tries to fit in. Fox farmed the show out to Fox Family (now Freeform as a Disney cabler) after ratings began to decline.

Rating: B (down from my original review).

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mighty Man vs. Big Mouse & Magnetman (1979)

Mighty Man (Peter Cullen) was Ruby-Spears' answer to DC Comics' Atom, who was appearing occasionally over on Super Friends. Unfortunately, this mighty mite was not a scientist, but rather another Bruce Wayne knockoff, Brandon Brewster, whose best friend, his dog, Yukk (Frank Welker, using a variant on his Dynomutt voice) was the world's ugliest dog, such that he had a toy dog house cloaking his face.

Let's take a look at the duo's first two adventures from 1979. "Big Mouse, the Bad Mouse", and "Magnetman".

Pedestrian. Seems R-S were parodying themselves, since they created Dynomutt and Blue Falcon 3 years earlier.

Rating: C.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spooktober: Drak Pack in Color Me Dredful (1980)

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."--George Santayana

Four years after Bill D'Angelo and his partners had tried out the concept of classic movie monsters being reposited as superheroes, Hanna-Barbera tried the same tack with Drak Pack, produced through their Australian studio.

In the opener, "Color Me Dredful", Dr. Dred (Hans Conreid) decides to strip the world of much of its color. That idea alone illustrates the lack of thought that went into this series.

Don Messick did his best Peter Lorre impersonation to effect the characterization of Toad, presented here as a lovable bumbler that you hoped would turn on Dred and change his ways. Didn't happen.

Well, at least this offered an example of why this show failed.

Rating: C--.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Spooktober: Horror Hotel (Krofft Superstar Hour, 1978)

Let's take a trip to one of the regular skits from the Krofft Superstar Hour, Horror Hotel.

Billie Hayes reprised as Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo from H. R. Pufnstuf, but instead of continuing her feud with Pufnstuf, she now ran the hotel, aided by her hench-monsters from Pufnstuf, plus Pufnstuf's pal, Dr. Blinky. Len Weinrib & Walker Edmiston voiced the characters. The hotel had one regular tenant, Horatio HooDoo (from Lidsville), with Paul Gale doing his best to mimic Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game), who was the original HooDoo. Seems Witchiepoo is trying to make a go of it running a legit business. Pufnstuf would surface in the series' other regular feature, Lost Island, which we'll look at another time (Hayes reprised her Lidsville role as Weenie the Genie, in Lost Island).

In this skit, HooDoo brings in organist  Egor Strange (Jay Robinson) to provide entertainment at the hotel. When that doesn't work, the Bay City Rollers take over....

You'll notice that as HooDoo, Gale has the same kind of eye makeup that Witchiepoo has, largely because it compensates for the fact that he doesn't wear glasses, as Reilly did.

Robinson was also part of Lost Island, but his Krofft Supershow character of Dr. Shrinker was renamed Dr. Deathray, and Hugo (Billy Barty) was renamed Otto. Did they really think that by changing networks, they'd fool viewers?

Rating: B-.

Toon Sports: Popeye in Let's You & Him Fight (1934)

Popeye and Bluto battle again, this time in a boxing ring at Yank'em Stadium (a parody of the original Yankee Stadium). The fight game will never be the same again after "Let's You & Him Fight".

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Looney TV: Daffy Duck For President (2004)

20 years ago, noted animator Chuck Jones wrote and illustrated Daffy Duck For President, a cautionary tale, if you will, of Daffy's short-sighted aspirations to eliminate best frenemy Bugs Bunny, mostly to put an end to duck hunting season.

Seven years later, and two after Jones' passing, WB adapted the book into the following short subject, with the late Joe Alaskey (ex-Out of This World) as both Bugs & Daffy.

Apparently, Daffy didn't completely understand the Constitution, just like a certain sitting President........!

Rating: A.

Krofftverse: Magic Mongo in Musical Magic (1977)

The Kroffts must've known that they had a bad egg on their hands with Magic Mongo during season 2 of the Krofft Supershow, such that they had one of the Kongs, Nashville (Louise DuArt) cross over in the episode, "Musical Magic".

Mongo (Lennie Weinrib) catches a cold, and loses his powers when he passes the cold germs onto the visiting Nashville. Bart Braverman guest stars, along with Larry Larsen (the Dorse from Lost Saucer).

I don't think Kaptain Kool or the rest of the Kongs were similarly used in crossovers within the Supershow. I may be wrong, though.

Rating: C-.

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Hercules in Return of the Mask (1963)

Not long ago, we introduced you to Murtis, aka The Mask, sworn enemy of The Mighty Hercules. Well, he's back, this time after an ancient goblet that Newton & Helena have uncovered. As long as Murtis has the Mask of Vulcan, he's invincible, so how does Herc beat him this time? Watch and see.

Not as good as the first time, and I don't think Murtis was seen again.

Rating: C.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Krofftverse: Bigfoot & Wildboy battle alien invaders (1977)

Bigfoot & Wildboy marks its 40th anniversary this season. Developed by Joe Ruby & Ken Spears as a replacement for Electra Woman & Dyna Girl on The Krofft Supershow, the series was filmed instead of taped, although, as you'll see in the episode, "UFO", the flying saucer was the product of some videotape "magic".

Ned Romero (ex-Dan August) co-stars as Ranger Lucas, whose daughter, Susie (Monicka Ramirez) often aids our heroes (Ray Young & Joseph Butcher).

After Supershow was cancelled by ABC, Bigfoot returned as a summer replacement series in June 1979, but was not renewed. Some people probably wish it was, as long as a certain dog was bumped off the schedule........

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

You Know The Voice: Olan Soule (1967)

When Jack Webb brought Dragnet to NBC as a mid-season replacement in 1967, he brought along character actor Olan Soule (ex-Captain Midnight), who had a recurring gig on the original Dragnet in the 50's. The role was the same, but the name was changed. Soule still played a forensic scientist, Ray Murray, who was originally known as Ray Pinker in the 50's version.

In a rare case of Murray being on-site for an investigation, "The Big Explosion" has Murray joining Joe Friday (Webb) and Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) in locating some stolen gelatin dynamite. As you'll see, the trail leads to.....well, that would be tellling!

The experience of working on both Dragnet series and Captain Midnight would ultimately lead Olan to be cast as Batman in Filmation's 1st animated incarnation more than 18 months later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spooktober: The Ghost Busters meet viking ghosts (1975)

The Ghost Busters encounter the ghosts of Erik The Red (special guest star Jim Backus) and Brunhilde (Lisa Todd, Hee Haw), who are looking for a flag that can prove the Vikings discovered America, or so they claim, before someone named Lothar the Hun, or even Columbus, for that matter.

As before the audio is a bit ahead of the video due to poor sync.

Seems Spencer (Larry Storch) was desperate to make money, hence turning the office into first a music, then, at the end of the show, dance studio. Just a silly subplot that only had a minor link to the main story.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Toon Sports: The Wrong Lumber Race (Wacky Races, 1968)

Like, the Wacky Races crosses the border through lumber country in Canada en route to Oregon, eh? Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) and his latest schemes are doomed to fail, eh? Like, of course, eh, so let's take off for the "Wrong Lumber Race".

As we've documented, the series was co-produced by Heatter-Quigley with an eye toward a game show format mixed with the races. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

In memory of Merrill Heatter, who passed away on Sunday at 90.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Tooniversary: The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne (1992)

When a prominent judge (guest star Carmen Zapata) is the victim of blackmail, Batman finds the trail leads to Professor Hugo Strange, who discovers that the Dark Knight is in fact Bruce Wayne, and tries to auction that information to the Joker, Two-Face, and the Penguin.

Here's "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne", adapted from a Steve Englehart story from Detective Comics 15 years earlier.

Mark Hamill (Joker) & Paul Williams (Penguin) double as the blackmailers.

Rating: A.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Spooktober: Popeye in I Don't Scare (1956)

Even though Popeye's 1956 vehicle, "I Don't Scare", is set on Friday the 13th (which comes up this week), it would also fit for Halloween. Jack Mercer (Popeye) also wrote the script.

Of course, in the context of the story, it's not really Friday the 13th. Bluto (Jackson Beck) messed with the calendar to mess with Olive & Popeye.

Rating: B.

Peyton Manning thinks he knows music. NOT! (2017)

Even though he retired after winning the Super Bowl with Denver after the 2015 season, Peyton Manning remains a perpetual presence during NFL telecasts thanks to his endorsement deal with Nationwide insurance. After trying to croon to the beat of the company jingle the last couple of years, Manning now thinks he can teach country star Brad Paisley the right way to do the jingle.

Unlike his bits for DirecTV two years ago, Manning is not the least bit funny here. And Paisley knows something about comedy, as he had the late Andy Griffith appear in one of his videos a few years ago.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Hercules vs. the Defiant Mask of Vulcan (1963)

The Mighty Hercules descends to Earth from Mount Olympus to battle a new foe, one later identified as Murtis, and possessor of the "Defiant Mask of Vulcan", which, when worn, makes Murtis invincible.

Murtis would return at least once more, but with the same result.

Rating: B-.

Spooktober: The Ghost Busters meet Merlin (1975)

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Filmation was hoping to sign Carl Ballantine (ex-McHale's Navy) with the intention of getting him a series of his own. Instead, Ballantine guested on not only Uncle Croc's Block, but also in this episode of The Ghost Busters, as "Merlin, the Magician". Ex-Bowery Boy Huntz Hall and Ina Balin are the other guest stars.

Forgive the fact that the audio is not in total sync with the video.

Rating: B.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Looney TV: Falling Hare (1943)

Bugs Bunny gets a rude awakening when, after telling the audience that he seemingly doesn't believe gremlins exist, he meets one bent on destroying a military bomb. Bob Clampett's "Falling Hare" is a WWII comedy with a wacky ending.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spooktober: The Ghostbusters in Paris (Wacky Wax Museum, 1986)

The Ghostbusters are headed to Paris for the unveiling of a set of wax replicas in their honor in "Wacky Wax Museum". However, Prime Evil and the Tooth Scaries may have something to say about that.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Pie Face (1968)

One of the goofiest game ideas from Hasbro first emerged on the scene nearly 50 years ago, and is still around today.

Pie Face was introduced in 1968. The only thing that Hasbro couldn't supply was the whipped topping. That was something you had to buy at the store in order to really get the maximum enjoyment out of the game.

Here's a commercial from 1968:

Today, it's known as Pie Face Showdown, still made by Hasbro. I'm not sure if they ever stopped making the game, but there hasn't been any advertising for it in decades.

How do I know this?

Yesterday, the staff at my day job took time out for a late-season company picnic in Colonie, and one of the staff brought along Pie Face Showdown and a can of whipped cream. A couple of them took pictures of the game with their camera phones to have a few yocks this morning. As the kids say these days, this wasn't my jam, man.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Arabian Knights in Isle of Treachery (1968)

Van-gorr (Paul Frees) forces Queen Shahira to write a false note, which warns the Arabian Knights of a trap. Curiously, after being captured, Nida (Shari Lewis, who also voiced the Queen, apparently) was forgotten in "Isle of Treachery".

That one plot hole wasn't enough to ruin this episode, as Raseem carried the action most of the way.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Toons After Dark: Top Cat in The $1,000,000 Derby (1961)

Top Cat (Arnold Stang) isn't digging when his buds land gigs with a street carnival. After they give up the gigs, the boys end up in a jam when a runaway horse that Benny (Maurice Gosfeld) found runs wild through the city. After trying to force the horse out of town, TC changes his tune when he hears about "The $1,000,000 Derby".....

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Just a typical day in Memphis? (1984)

Ah, the territory era in professional wrestling. Every town, just about, would have wrestling on Saturday mornings, afternoons, or evenings, even into the wee small ones, as was the case part of the time in New York on channel 9.

In Memphis, Saturday morning for wrestling fans meant a live broadcast from WMC, Channel 5, usually around 10 am (ET). I don't know when this tradition began, and the reason for the date in the subject header will be made clear shortly. Anyway, station weatherman Dave Brown usually was at the desk, paired with Lance Russell. Sometimes, Brown would step away from the desk to act as ring announcer, as you'll see in the following episode.

This was where musician-turned-manager Jimmy Hart got his start in wrestling. The Memphis native, formerly with the 60's pop group, the Gentrys, was one of the top heel (rulebreaker) managers in the territory until he signed a contract with the World Wrestling Federation in 1985. Hart was the cornerman for actor-comedian Andy Kaufman (Taxi) in the latter's famous feud with local icon Jerry Lawler. It can be said that Kaufman was the one who made Lawler into a national star with their feud, landing them an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman. This was the territory where another manager, Jim Cornette, also began his career, starting as a photographer.

What we have today is a full episode, complete with commercials, from December 1984. Hart's "First Family" stable dominated the entire card, and, as with the then-WWWF of the 70's, Hart couldn't help himself, getting additional heat by getting involved even in jobber matches. Speaking of jobbers, who'd ever believe that Iron Mike Sharpe, the Canadian powerhouse, actually was a champ in Memphis under Hart's tutelage, but was never considered to be in Hart's WWF stables?

Gordon Solie would team with Lance Russell on TBS' NWA programming near the end of the decade.

This is posted in memory of Russell, who passed away today at 91 after complications due to a spill where he broke his hip on September 29.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Spooktober: L'il Chock'lit Shop of Horrors (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

How many times have we seen it in the movies? A computer designed to serve humankind rebels and decides on its own to take control.

In this episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries, Pop Tate runs the risk of going out of business because of a more up-to-date eatery opening nearby and proving to be more efficient. Unaware that the computer system he just installed is defective, Pop, with help from Dilton Doiley, tries to compete, with devastating consequences......!

"L'il Chock'lit Shop of Horrors", is, of course, a play on Roger Corman's "Little Shop of Horrors".

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Game Time: A complete episode of Saturday Supercade (1983)

Here's a rerun of an episode of Saturday Supercade, complete with commercials, as it aired on WCBS in New York, right before season 2. Among the commercials is a Hot Wheels spot narrated by ABC studio announcer Ernie Anderson.

Frogger: The intrepid amphibian reporter (Bob Sarlatte) and his friends face a Scooby-Doo-esque mystery involving fake aliens in "Spaced Out Frogs", penned by Paul Dini, who also wrote for He-Man back then.

Donkey Kong in "Gorilla My Dreams": The usual nonsense, with Soupy Sales as Kong.

Q-Bert heads for camp, but his serpentine nemesis, Coily, intends to crash the party in "Crazy Camp Creature". Yes, that means there's a monster loose, too.

Donkey Kong, Jr. in "Teddy Bear Scare": Junior (Frank Welker) and his pal, Bones (Bart Braverman, Vega$) are hired for a babysitting job at a carnival that gets a little complicated when they also have to catch a couple of crooks.

Rating: B.

Spooktober: V Is For Vampire (F-Troop, 1967)

The calendar has turned to October, or, as it's known here, Spooktober. To kick things off this year, we start with a season 2 episode of F-Troop.

A Transylvanian count (special guest star Vincent Price) arrives in Fort Courage, on vacation. His appearance, though, creates the predictable reaction from Agarn (Larry Storch), and, well......!

Here's "V Is For Vampire":

Co-stars Forrest Tucker & Larry Storch would encounter a vampire eventually, in an episode of The Ghost Busters.

Rating: A-.

Famous Firsts: The premiere of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (1969)

CBS decided not to renew Wacky Races after 1 season, especially considering the show was originally meant to be a hybrid with live-action game show elements included, which is why it was co-produced by Heatter-Quigley. The subsequent litigation would prevent Dastardly & Muttley, who merited a spin-off series, to be included in Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics a few years later.

There was no such litigation preventing The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, however. A left-handed homage/satire of cliffhanger melodramas, Perils relocated the titular star (Janet Waldo) and the Ant Hill Mob (Paul Winchell, Don Messick, Mel Blanc) to the roaring 20's, where the Mob must protect heiress Penelope from greedy Sylvester Sneekly, aka the Hooded Claw (Paul Lynde, who opted for no screen credit).

For our Famous First this month, we present the series premiere, "Jungle Jeopardy":

Unfortunately, Perils was also non-renewed after 1 season, continuing in reruns for another season before being pulled from the schedule.

Blanc also voiced the Bully Brothers, twin henchmen of the Claw who spoke in unison, and never seen apart. Blanc would later recycle Yak-Yak's voice, or at least some particular mannerisms, for Heathcliff in 2 series in the 80's.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Toonfomercial: Look who's shilling for GEICO! (2017)

It's been more than a decade since He-Man's last series ended. However, GEICO commissioned this ad using the original character designs from Filmation's 1983-6 series, done in flash animation, to use as part of their current ad campaign......

Not sure who's voicing He-Man here, or anybody else.

Looney TV: Daffy the Commando (1943)

I remember seeing this next Daffy Duck cartoon on cable back in the day, but good luck trying to find it today.

"Daffy The Commando", directed by Friz Freleng, was released in 1943. Daffy is sent behind enemy lines, and, of course, chaos ensues.

"Daffy the Commando" and other WWII-themed shorts have long since been banned from appearing on television, although it may have aired on Toon Heads. It's not just Daffy and his friends, but stars from other studios also have had their WWII adventures taken off the air, partly due to racial stereotypes used in these films.

Rating: A.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dino Boy in The Sacrifice (1966)

Ugg (Mike Road) has been captured and set up as "The Sacrifice" to the sun king, which is little more than a false idol. Can Dino Boy find his friend in time?

Standard fare. Nothing more.

Rating: B.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Toons After Dark: Huddles has a fumbling problem (1970)

In the pentultimate episode of Where's Huddles, Ed Huddles (Cliff Norton) develops a case of fumble-itis, and doesn't know why. Maybe it's a sudden case of the yips, but we don't know for sure. Anyway, Bubba (Mel Blanc) creates a homemade super glue to solve the problem, and to keep from getting evicted, the boys let snooty Claude Pertwee (Paul Lynde, The Hollywood Squares, Bewitched) in on the plot.

In case you didn't notice, the 9 squares featuring the core cast at the top of the show is a minor call back to not only Squares, as Lynde was the regular center square by that point, but also The Brady Bunch. Sneaky, eh?

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends meet Mr. & Mrs. Mole (1973)

A misguided couple think they have a solution to some of their problems, or at least under the surface, by stealing air conditioning units. The Super Friends encounter "The Mysterious Moles".

If there was anything that marked this initial season of the franchise, it was the recurring theme of having well meaning but misguided people causing problems. Remember, Hanna-Barbera couldn't use any of the villains just yet, that would come later, and the anti-violence rules were in effect.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: You're in the Cavalry, Charlie Brown! (Not really)(F-Troop, 1966)

Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown in the Peanuts specials, did some "face acting" in the 60's as well. Here, he shows up in a season 2 episode of F-Troop.

In "The Sergeant & The Kid", Robbins is Joey Walker, a 10 year old left to be the man of the house after his father has died. His mother (Pippa Scott) isn't quite as thrilled about her son's dream of being in the Cavalry, so Sgt. O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and the gang have to try to convince Joey his place is at home.

I think the idea here was to at least tease a romantic interest for O'Rourke, to go along with the ongoing romantic subplot between Capt. Parmenter (Ken Berry) and Wrangler Jane (Melody Patterson). However, this ended up being a 1-shot.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Atom Ant vs. The Big Gimmick (1965)

Atom Ant (Howard Morris) battles Professor Von Gimmick and his robot, "The Big Gimmick". In this episode, we learn that Atom does have a specific weakness.....

I can't be sure, but I think Von Gimmick may have been voiced by Paul Frees, using his Ludwig Von Drake voice, or it might've been Morris in a dual role.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Looney TV: The Hasty Hare (1952)

Bugs Bunny might've thought he was done dealing with Martians. Not so fast.

In 1952's "The Hasty Hare", Commander X-2 (more commonly known as Marvin the Martian) is sent to Earth to retrieve a specimen. Guess who he encounters first??

The script gave Mel Blanc (as Bugs) an excuse to use a variation on a Jack Benny Program gag. I'm sure you know which one.

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice: Seth MacFarlane's 1st live-action series (2017)

After his last animated creation, Bordertown, flopped, Family Guy creator and all around geek Seth MacFarlane has decided to shift gears and go to live-action for his next project.

The Orville now airs on Thursdays on Fox, in back of Gotham, but I don't expect that to last very long, not when you factor in shows like Scandal and Arrow, the latter of which begins its new season in 2 weeks. Fox wisely premiered Orville on a Sunday, 2 weeks before CBS' much-hyped launch of Star Trek: Discovery. It happens that the Trek franchise, 51 years strong and counting, is being lampooned here.

A more detailed review of The Orville is over at my other blog, The Land of Whatever. For now, sample this scene, as Admiral Halsey (Legends of Tomorrow's Victor Garber) informs Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) that his ex, Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) is joining his crew......

See, MacFarlane is proving he doesn't have to be typecast as a buffoon......

Monday, September 25, 2017

Toon Sports: Life in the Pink Lane (Pink Panther & Pals, 2010)

Tom & Jerry and Popeye have nothing on the Pink Panther.

In this short from Pink Panther & Pals, the Panther takes up bowling, much to the consternation of a jealous Big Nose (formerly known as the Little Man). The Panther copies Big Nose's approach at first, but when luck goes his way, our pink friend figures out the right way to play....

And, just like Tom 35 years earlier, Big Nose's sabotage efforts went for naught. Gee, I wonder why......

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tooniversary: Abbott & Costello in Pigskin Pickle (1967)

Dandy Deal brings us a sporting Abbott & Costello short.

Bud Abbott is a football coach. Lou Costello (Stan Irwin) is the waterboy, but is pressed into emergency service as their team needs a miracle to get out of a "Pigskin Pickle".

"Clams" Chowder (John Stephenson) was a crook, alright, as if you couldn't tell right from the go. A nearly 6 minute short would probably translate to a full half hour with other characters today.

Rating: B.

Game Time: Capital Region Bowling (2005)

It has been a tradition in the home district through the years, but it went dormant when WRGB terminated TV Tournament Time several years ago. The Capital Region Bowling Proprietors Association (CRBPA) decided to give it a try and mount a new bowling show in 2005, but not on WRGB.

Instead, Fox affiliate WXXA was the new home for local bowlers, although that didn't last long. Thanks to the sponsorship of a prominent local retailer, Huck Finn's Capital Region Bowling restored the Sunday morning tradition, even after switching from WXXA to WNYA a few years back.

Unfortunately, after the 13th season ended in May, it was announced that the series would not return this year, citing financial issues, leaving WNYA with a big hole in their Sunday schedule.

So what was the problem? For bowlers, you have a $20 membership fee for the season, plus charging more than $50 per tournament, which will drain the resources for some bowlers. The member houses aren't exactly swimming in profits, either. As I wrote over in The Land of Whatever a few days ago, the best solution would be to lower the fees to something a little more fiscally feasible. Huck Finn's Warehouse is still underwriting some tournaments, and the high prices are still intact. Not good.

Rich Becker, now calling high school football for Spectrum News, was the first host, followed by veteran newsman John Craig. Craig, a columnist for The Record, was in absentia for the tapings for this episode, airing in April. Executive producer Art Hunsinger fills in, joined by local pro Kenny Hall, owner of a pro shop at Spare Time-Latham.

The hope here is that the series will eventually return, preferably with a more economically friendly budget for everyone concerned.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Literary Toons: Ferdinand the Bull (1938)

In 1938, Walt Disney acquired the rights to adapt Munro Leaf's children's story, Ferdinand the Bull. This tale of a pacifist bull has aired on The Wonderful World of Disney when NBC reran the annual Christmas episode, "From All of Us to All of You". Radio icon Don Wilson, better known for The Jack Benny Program, narrates.

Nearly 80 years later, Ferdinand returns later this year in a full-length feature film, with WWE & reality star John Cena attached. I wonder how they can stretch out this nearly 8 minute short into a hour-plus feature?

Rating: A.

From Comics to Toons; Josie & the Pussycats in The Jumping Jupiter Affair (1970)

We all know Hanna-Barbera acquired a license for Josie & the Pussycats so they could create another series of young amateur detectives stumbling onto mysteries.

"The Jumping Jupiter Affair" could've easily been a Scooby-Doo plot, with a gang of common Earth crooks posing as costumed aliens from Jupiter in order to loot a poor village in Peru.

Rating: B.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Toon Legends: Popeye's Cool Pool (1960)

Summer's over. Still, our final Summertainment entry for this year features Popeye.

The sailor is shamed by Brutus (Jackson Beck), Olive (Mae Questel), and Swee'pea (Questel again) into building his own pool. Here's "Popeye's Cool Pool":

Rating: B.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: That's The Way I Like It (1975)

Over the course of its run, Soul Train opened its stage to white artists such as David Bowie, Dan Hartman, and our next subject, KC & The Sunshine Band. The Florida-based combo appeared on Train in 1975 in support of their #1 smash, "That's The Way I Like It". Yes, it's lip-synched. So what? That was common on both Train and American Bandstand.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Lancelot Link in Surfin' Spy and The Missing Link (1970)

As summer winds down, let's spend some beach time with Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

In "The Surfin' Spy", Lance (Dayton Allen) and Mata Hairi (Joan Gerber) pose as surfers to uncover a CHUMP smuggling operation. Gerber provided all the female voices on the show. In "The Missing Link", Lance's uncle Mortimer, a British scientist, has been captured by CHUMP.

Aside from narrator Malachi Throne (ex-It Takes a Thief) and vocalist Steve Hoffman, all the male voices were performed by Allen and Bernie Kopell (Get Smart, ex-That Girl, The Doris Day Show).

Oh, I am begging either Me-TV or Antenna TV to pick this show up!

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Hangman (1976)

I'm sure you've played the game of Hangman with just a pen and paper. Well, Milton Bradley thought it'd be a cool idea to make a board game out of it.

Hangman was first marketed in 1976, the first ad campaign from MB to feature horror icon Vincent Price as a celebrity spokesman.

In this classic spot, Vincent plays a bank teller playing the game with a fellow teller and ignoring the customers...

Price was already familiar to the kiddo's from his appearances on Hilarious House of Frightenstein, and would join the cast of 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo 9 years later.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Bozo the Clown in A Glutten For Mutten (1962)

Time for another Bozo The Clown cartoon. Here, Bozo (Larry Harmon) outwits a sly fox (Paul Frees) trying to pass himself off as a sheepdog in "A Glutten For Mutten". Ignore the year listed on the video. This was actually released in 1962.

The trope of a wolf trying to steal sheep had been done better by Tex Avery with Droopy by a country mile.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Summertainment: Woody Woodpecker in The Beach Nut (1944)

Summer's almost over. That said, why not one more trip to the beach? This time, Woody Woodpecker makes a day at the beach difficult for one Wally Walrus in "The Beach Nut". Co-author Ben "Bugs" Hardaway is also the voice of Woody in this one.

Directed by James "Shamus" Culhane.

Woody's been locked in the Universal vault ever since his series for Fox ended. Let's bring him back to television, ok?

Rating: A-.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Plastic Man vs. the Spider (The Spider Takes a Bride, 1979)

The Spider decides the easiest way to gain power is to marry a queen. And, so, he covets the hand of Queen Katherine in marriage, but in order to ensure she agrees, the villain turns her aides into flies. That's more than enough to bug Plastic Man in "The Spider Takes a Bride".

I remember seeing this the first time. Not one of the better entries in the series.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: C. B. Bears search for Disappearing Satellites (1977)

Here's another entry from the freshman class of 1977.

The C. B. Bears are assigned to locate a missing scientist and figure out the mystery of some "Disappearing Satellites":

This plays out more like an episode of Scooby-Doo, come to think of it. Maybe the script was from Scooby's discard pile.

Rating: B--.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saturday School: Winsome Witch----school teacher? (1965)

Winsome Witch (Jean VanderPyl) ends up becoming "Schoolteacher Winnie" when the teacher at a 1 room school house (also voiced by VanderPyl) quits. Basically a reboot of a Droopy cartoon, "Blackboard Jumble",  from a few years earlier.

Something to think about. Mr. Acme, the owner of the employment agency Winnie otherwise is attached to, is voiced by Henry Corden, who would begin working with VanderPyl on The Flintstones more than a decade later.

Entertaining, isn't it?

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Bud Collyer on What's My Line? (1969)

For the 2nd straight day, we have a You Know The Voice entry taken from What's My Line?, but this time, we have a full episode from the Wally Bruner era. The significance of this one is that this was one of the last appearances of Clayton "Bud" Collyer before his passing later in 1969, and this was 2 years after he'd crossed over from To Tell The Truth, joining with Allen Ludden (Password), Gene Rayburn (Match Game) and Ed McMahon (Snap Judgment), to appear on Line with original moderator John Daly.

Arlene Francis was the only panelist to have appeared in each case. This time, she's joined by Ruta Lee, Soupy Sales, and a pre-M*A*S*H Alan Alda.

Well, that didn't take long. After Soupy brings up Bud's radio work as Superman, Bud puts in a plug for the Saturday series that was running at the time. Arlene can be heard mentioning she didn't know about the Superman radio show.

Some of you will recall that Soupy used to do a series of skits spoofing detectives, but it seems the work he put in as Philo Kvetch actually served him well as a panelist on Line.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Looney TV: Mad as a Mars Hare (1963)

Bugs Bunny clashes with Marvin The Martian once again in Chuck Jones' 1963 farce, "Mad as a Mars Hare". The open & close of this print have been edited off.

Yes, this is a sequel to "Hare-way to The Stars", Bugs' 1st meeting with Marvin. Seems Marv's IQ took a hit after that, don't ya think?

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Jim Henson (1974)

It wasn't so long ago that we featured Carroll Spinney, the original voice of Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, when he appeared on What's My Line?. Well, he wasn't the only Street cast member to appear on the classic game show.

Muppet maestro Jim Henson was a mystery guest in 1974, and, as with Spinney, the late Larry Blyden is the host here. Kermit, of course, is along for the ride.

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

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary for the cartoon class of 1977. At the head of the class, of course, is The All-New Super Friends Hour, and from that we get this choice Wonder Twins short, the theme of which is still socially relevant today.

When an African-American couple's car breaks down, two bigoted teens have no interest in helping. Just watch what happens when the shoe's on the other foot.

Face it, gang, racism isn't going away any time soon, as long as a certain executive is fanning the flames.

Rating: A.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Smurf Berry Crunch? (1983)

Somewhere between seasons 2 & 3 of The Smurfs, Post Cereals, then a unit of General Foods, landed a licensing deal to create a cereal based on the series.

Smurf Berry Crunch was one of what seemingly was a number of licensed properties used for cereal by Post and rivals Kellogg's & General Mills back in the day. All this did was add to the workload at Hanna-Barbera, which produced the commercials. Four years later, a 2nd Smurf cereal was added, but it didn't last as long, and the Smurf cereals were off the shelves after the series ended.

Here, Handy explains to Papa Smurf (Don Messick) that he's increased production of the cereal. Chaos follows, of course.

General Foods wasn't the only one to cash in on the Smurfs. Chef Boy-ar-Dee, now part of ConAgra, produced a line of Smurfs pasta products around the same time, and, yup, H-B did the commercials for that, too.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Rein-Toon-Ation: Jungle Cubs (1996)

Nearly 30 years after adapting Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, Disney revisited the classic characters, but this time as Jungle Cubs.

This prequel lasted 2 seasons (1996-8) on ABC before moving to Disney Channel. Today, it sits in Disney's vaults, as they couldn't be bothered to dust off the series for airing after releasing a live-action remake of "Jungle Book" a year ago.

Episodes aren't available online at present. The voice talent includes a few of the usual suspects (i.e. Jim Cummings, E. G. Daily, Pamela Adlon, Cree Summer) over the course of the 2 seasons. All we have is the intro with a revamped version of the iconic "Bare Necessities", performed here by R & B legend Lou Rawls.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Saturday School: The Adventurers' Club vs. Dr. Astro (Mission: Magic, 1973)

Time for another Mission: Magic adventure.

Rick Springfield and the Adventurers' Club have their hands full with evil astrologer Dr. Astro (Howard Morris), who intends to bring the Zodiac to life!

Morris and co-producer Lou Scheimer's children, Lane & Erika, voiced the students. While Lola Fisher is credited as Ms. Tickle, that may actually be a pseudonym for Filmation's primary voice actress, Jane Webb, since the vocal pattern resembles that of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but with more of an adult lilt.

Rating: B.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Batgirl Returns (1994)

In the context of Batman: The Animated Series, which by 1994 had been rebranded as The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Barbara Gordon (Melissa Gilbert, ex-Little House on the Prairie) put aside her mask & tights to go to college, which tells us that when she had been reintroduced to television viewers, she had been de-aged by the producers for whatever reason. Comics fans know that Barbara had already graduated from college before adopting the guise of Batgirl 50 years ago.

In "Batgirl Returns", Batgirl is duped into thinking Catwoman (Adrienne Barbeau) had stolen a priceless cat statue. However, as the Princess of Plunder herself notes when she & Batgirl meet, the method of theft doesn't match her method of operation (M.O.).

For what it's worth the sequence at the start is the extent of Batman's involvement in this episode, and tipped off viewers as to what the producers had eventually wanted to do in terms of relationships, something explored in greater detail a year ago in "The Killing Joke".

In the course of the series, they played along with what DC was doing at the time, pairing Barbara with Dick "Robin" Grayson (Loren Lester), but the teases of Bruce & Barbara, as discussed before, go all the way back to the live-action Batman 50 years ago.

Rating: A-.

Retro Toy Chest: Dark Tower (1981)

No, this has nothing to do with Stephen King, whose Dark Tower, I think, came after this Milton Bradley electronic game came & went in the early 80's.

Anyway, I hadn't heard of MB's Dark Tower until happening across the following video a few weeks back. MB, you'll recall, was getting into the electronic game business, and Dark Tower came along at a time when role-playing games, or RPG's, were emerging.

Hollywood legend Orson Welles was signed to serve as a pitchman for the product. Milton Bradley must've figured, if Vincent Price can sell games to kids, so can Welles.

At the time, Welles was also shilling for Paul Masson wines. As noted, Dark Tower didn't survive, as it was caught in the middle of litigation between MB and a pair of independents who claimed they had pitched a similar idea to MB, were turned down, and, well, I think you know how these things go.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Toon Rock: Don't Answer Me (1984)

Remember when Marvel opted to literally adapt their comics, using actual panels to animate their characters?

In 1984, the Alan Parsons Project took that concept a step further. Using the then-latest in technology, the band crafted a fictional comic book as the backdrop for their video for "Don't Answer Me", off the album, "Ammonia Avenue". You could say that "Answer" could be the forerunner to the later motion comics that Marvel and others have released.

It's too bad no one asked Arista, the band's label, about adapting Nick & Sugar into a real comic book or animated series. Would've been fun.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny shills for Weetabix (1992)

Here's a little something from across the pond. You know, from England.

The folks behind Weetabix cereal worked out a deal with WB to use Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd in this spot. Seems to the British, Weetabix was the equivalent to Popeye's spinach.....

Not entirely certain on the voices here. It's either Jeff Bergman or Greg Burson as Bugs. Not sure about Elmer.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): Son of a Gypsy (1978)

If Vincent J. McMahon, who ran Capital/Titan Sports (the parent of the World Wide Wrestling Federation) knew about "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant's other talents, he'd never have let Valiant leave the 3WF in the late 70's.

Valiant, who'd later use a version of "Boy From New York City" as his entrance theme while with the NWA and CWA, recorded "Son of a Gypsy" in 1978, with a video that premiered on the weekly wrestling program on channel 5 in Memphis (or, Mempho, as Jimmy calls it). As you'll see, Valiant grew a long beard after leaving the 3WF, which became his trademark. He also gained a new nickname, the "Boogie Woogie Man", later on.

I wonder if Valiant wrote this himself, or if Jimmy Hart wrote it for him......

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Saturtainment: Yippee, Yappee, & Yahooey in Unicorn on The Cob (1964)

Yippee, Yappee, & Yahooey were designed as a parody of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers, and used as a backup segment on The Peter Potamus Show during its 2 seasons (1964-6). The goofy guards bring the stupid in "Unicorn on the Cob", when the King (Hal Smith, also the voice of Yappee) decides to hunt the mythical creature to complete his royal trophy case.

I think this might be exhibit A as to why the guards have never been brought back, more than 50 years later.

Rating: B-.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Uncle Dudley's Wedding Day (?)(1981)

From Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!:

Aunt Minerva's hatred of the Marvel Family has a softer side. Seems she has a crush on Uncle Dudley (Alan Oppenheimer), and uses a spaceship to abduct the non-powered member of the family. Here's "Uncle Dudley's Wedding Day":

When was this episode set? Sadie Hawkins' Day?

Rating: B-.

Toonfomercial: Remember Marshal Mallow? (1980)

I know. It's early September, but the mornings have been a mite cooler of late, sooner than it usually gets around these parts. Normally, it'd be the end of the month or early October when we start pulling the hot cocoa out of the cabinet to serve with breakfast.

Anyway, while Swiss Miss is the most popular brand of hot cocoa going, Carnation (now a brand of Nestle) tried to cut in on the action in 1980 with Marshal Mallow, even creating an animated namesake to promote the product, voiced by the legendary Don Messick.......

I do remember the ad, and, seeing it again for the first time since then, I think the animation might be from the folks that brought us Schoolhouse Rock!, for all we know. Anyway, Marshal Mallow didn't last long, and rode off into the sunset after a few months or so. Nestle acquired Carnation in 1985, eliminating a competitor, as Nestle was putting out their own hot cocoa (and still do).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Tooniversary: Stevie & Zoya (1987)

After dipping into the waters of cartoons by acquiring the 1965 Beatles series, MTV began commissioning original animated programming, starting in 1987.

Joe Horne's Stevie & Zoya was a series of interstital shorts, usually about a minute or less, which ran for 2 years (1987-9), airing several times a day to lead into or out of commercial blocks. Russell Johnson (ex-Gilligan's Island) is the narrator.

Yes, the bloopers are included, reportedly to create a more improvisational feel. The series has been brought back online twice, in 2010 and 2014, but, I believe, with different narrators.

Horne would return and contribute the slightly longer series, The Specialists, to the Liquid Television anthology series in 1992. His last known work for television was for Andre Benjamin's Cartoon Network series, Class of 3000.

I get the simplicity of the animation and storytelling here, tailored for the reputed sound byte mentality of the day, but one wonders if there might be a television comeback for Stevie & Zoya......

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

From Comics to Toons: The Wizard of Id (1970)

The late cartoonist Johnny Hart is known for 2 creations, B. C. and The Wizard of Id, both of which are still running today, long after Hart has passed on.

There was, once upon a time, some interest in developing Wizard into a television show. Jim Henson tried it first in 1969 with Muppet characters, a few months before Sesame Street took off and became the icon it is today. A year later, animation legend Chuck Jones took a stab at it, commissioned by ABC.

Unfortunately, the network subsequently passed on green-lighting a series. This short pilot, directed by frequent Jones collaborator Abe Levitow, and co-written by Hart with Bob Ogle, features the voices of Paul Winchell, Don Messick, and Bob Holt. Co-creator Brant Parker was credited, but did not contribute to this project.

Here at home, the Wizard no longer appears in local papers, but, as noted, the strip is still being published today, written and illustrated by Hart's grandson, Mason Mastroianni.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Henry Corden (1966)

Henry Corden was a busy fellow in 1966. In addition to a recurring gig on NBC's The Monkees, the future voice of Fred Flintstone was in demand, and guest starred in an episode of ABC's The Double Life of Henry Phyfe, a short-lived spy comedy from Filmways that starred Red Buttons & Fred Clark.

In "Jailbird Phyfe", Corden is the villain of the piece, The Butcher, who gets Henry (Buttons) in some very hot water....

What Filmways wanted to do was give ABC their answer to Get Smart, then on NBC, and it was one of two freshman series they sold to the network to replace The Addams Family (Phyllis Diller's Pruitts of Southampton, later rebooted as The Phyllis Diller Show, was the other). It would be a while, I think, before Filmways would sell another series to ABC.

It's just too bad Corden didn't land a regular live-action gig before signing on to succeed Alan Reed as Fred in 1977. Monkees was the closest he'd get.

Tooniversary: Don Osmondo in Spain (The Osmonds, 1972)

Rankin-Bass, in the wake of The Jackson 5ive going into all-rerun mode, added two more series to ABC's lineup in 1972. The network was diving back into the bubblegum pop arena with not only the Brady Kids, spun off from The Brady Bunch and launched in the premiere of the Saturday Superstar Movie, but with The Osmonds as well.

Unlike the Jacksons, the six Osmond brothers voiced their own animated counterparts, with the omnipresent Paul Frees giving voice to the made-for-TV family dog in addition to the usual supporting characters du jour. Also, the Osmonds were able to go on a world tour in the series.

The show also marked the return of record producer Mike Curb to cartoons. You'll recall that Curb worked with Hanna-Barbera (Cattanooga Cats) and Ken Snyder (Skyhawks, Hot Wheels) three years earlier, only to see all three series flop. Curb, representing MGM Records, was co-executive producer with Arthur Rankin, Jr. & Jules Bass. In case you wonder, R-B used a different animation house for Kid Power as opposed to England's Halas & Bachelor studio, which cranked out The Osmonds.

Otherwise, it was the same kind of animated sitcom silliness as Jackson 5ive a year earlier, and in this case, veteran comedy writer Earle Doud was one of the writers on the show. Doud would return with his friend, Chuck McCann, as a writer for McCann's 1975 CBS series, Far Out Space Nuts.

Right now, let's take a trip to Spain, where "Don Osmondo" (Donny, of course) has to win the heart of a mayor's daughter.

Cliched? Of course. Problem was the laugh track foisted on the show. The gags weren't that funny.

Rating: C.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Toon Rock: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me (1995)

Footage from "Batman Forever" is interspersed with an animated version of U2 in the video for "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", the 2nd single off the "Batman Forever" soundtrack.

I wonder if it was Bono's idea to have his animated self dressed almost like the Joker.......

Tooniversary: The first episode of Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids (1972)

There are those that believe that out of all the allegations levied against entertainer Bill Cosby for sexually assaulting women, a fair number of them could conceivably be bandwagon jumpers looking for an easy payday, because a lot of the allegations date back years and years, perhaps beyond the statute of limitations.

That said, we here at the Archives are dedicated to celebrating what Cosby meant to millions of kids growing up in the 70's & 80's, because those memories are not going to be tainted by what has been brought out decades later. Oh, sure, you're not going to find Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids on any cable channel any time soon, except maybe Aspire, which I think still carries Cosby's two live-action series from the 60's, I Spy (1965-8) and The Bill Cosby Show (1969-71).

Anyway, since it's the first of the month, what better way to mark Fat Albert's 45th anniversary with the series premiere, "Lying", in which we're introduced to the gang's "mentor", if ya will, Mudfoot.

It seems that Fat Albert was really part of a package deal that brought Cosby to CBS, as he also was given his first variety show that same year (1972). The variety show bombed, but Cosby would soldier on with Fat Albert for a grand total of 13 seasons (12 on CBS, 1 in syndication), his most successful series to date. Bear in mind that Cosby had left The Electric Company after its 1st season to focus on his two CBS projects.

Rating: A.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Saturtainment: Breezly & Sneezly in No Place Like Nome (1964)

Breezly Bruin (Howard Morris) schemes to get into the Camp Frostbite theatre to see a movie. Of course, while Sneezly (Mel Blanc) stands idly by, Colonel Fuzzby (John Stephenson) has his hands full with the mooching bear in "No Place Like Nome":

Maybe Breezly shouldn't have bothered with the parachute.....

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in Blast Out and The Long Drive (1981)

The Lone Ranger returns in a pair of short pieces from the 2nd season of his Filmation run for CBS. First up, the Ranger (William Conrad) and Tonto (Ivan Naranjo) meet Alfred Nobel, whose dynamite is being used by outlaws. Then, in "The Long Drive", the Ranger and Tonto join a cattle drive bound for Abilene, Kansas, to head off some rustlers. Each short closes with a factoid from the Ranger.

Speaking of factoids, Ivan Naranjo was a Native American himself, a Blackfoot/Southern Ute hailing from Colorado. Not sure if he did any other cartoons or other acting jobs.

Rating: A.

Toonfomercial: A primer on Chevron employees (1979)

This next item was originally posted over at The Land of Whatever a ways back, and at that time I promised I'd run it here, too. Well, here we are.

In this Chevron spot, we learn just what it takes for a Chevron employee to be knowledgeable about the product. Narrated by Casey Kasem.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Getting Schooled: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1963)

He has been parodied by no less than Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live, and his legacy lives on today with an animated PBS series that we've previously covered. Fred Rogers was every kid's neighbor, the nice guy next door who never had a cross word for anyone.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood's origins actually include a Canadian puppet show, The Children's Corner, for which Rogers was one of the puppeteers. He brought some of the puppets with him back to WQED in Pittsburgh, and the Neighborhood started as a regional entity in 1963 before going national on NET (now PBS) in 1968, one year before Sesame Street hit the air. Counting the time it spent as a regional only series, the show ran for an amazing 38 years before ending in 2001.

Rogers' format was simple. Soft casual conversation directed at the viewer, who was invited, if you will, into Rogers' home. There would be the journey into the Kingdom of Make Believe, home to King Friday and Daniel Spotted Tiger and their friends. That particular segment led to the development of the current Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which bowed in 2012.

In the early 80's, Eddie Murphy turned the show on its ear with a series of skits on Saturday Night Live that took viewers to Mister Robinson's Neighborhood. I have to see if some of that is available for use over at The Land of Whatever down the road. I have to believe that the character of Ned Flanders on The Simpsons was also modeled after Rogers, not so much as a parody, but a left-handed homage.

Occasionally, Rogers welcomed guests onto the show. Case in point, actress and Maxwell House pitchwoman Margaret Hamilton in 1975.

Now, I don't know if Rogers ever hosted a talk show. PBS missed the boat by not offering him one.

Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman meets the Iron Eater (1966)

Superman (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth) encounters a shape-changing alien who's crash-landed on Earth with a major appetite for iron & steel. Here's "The Iron Eater":

The creature's general look recalls the Filmation staff's earlier work on humor cartoons such as Popeye and Bozo The Clown before striking out on their own. The contrast really doesn't work here as the creature isn't as terrifying a menace as he's made out to be. One of the weaker entries of the 1st season.

Rating: C.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Toon Legends: Betty Boop in Judge For a Day (1935)

Betty Boop is a court stenographer who endures way too much humilation on her way to work. Once at work, she sees that the judge isn't in yet, and tries on his robe. She then imagines some bizarre payback.

Ann Rothschild is the voice of Betty in "Judge For a Day". Mae Questel does do some other voices, but would later take on the role of Betty.

Virtually a 1-character story, when you think about it.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

On The Air: Marvel's Spider-Man (2017)

50 years ago, come next month, Spider-Man made his television debut, the last American project for Grantray-Lawrence before dismissed by Marvel & Krantz Films, which then hired Ralph Bakshi away from Terrytoons. The rest, of course, is history.

After 5 years of Ultimate Spider-Man and various sub-titles, Marvel has rebooted with a new Spider-Man solo series, which launched last week after a few short subjects had appeared prior to and after the release of "Spider-Man: Homecoming". The series is inspired by "Homecoming", as Peter Parker, wearing a homemade costume worse than the one created in the books many moons ago, begins his career while juggling the responsibilities of being a high school student and de facto man of the house after his uncle Ben (Patton Oswalt) is killed by a burglar. Ben shows up in a flashback segment in the first half of the 2-part series opener.

Newcomer Robbie Daymond is the new voice of Spider-Man, and while they were looking for someone who could be as young, dynamic, and energetic working on this show as Tom Holland brought the ol' web-head to life in "Homecoming", it works, but as with Ultimate, there's just too much expository dialogue, and in the opener, most of it comes from Peter himself.

DisneyXD has its own YouTube channel, from whence we get the first half-hour episode:

I am so not digging the prototype costume Peter has now, but don't worry, kids, he'll get the more traditional gear soon enough. Per Wikipedia, 11 episodes are on order for season 1, with some odd quirks. 2 episodes last week, 1 today and on 9/9, 2 next week, 3 on 9/16, and the 1st season wraps rather quickly---we think--on September 30. Maybe they'll run the origin shorts, which I think were online only at first, as a 12th week.

In short, this suffers from the same problem as Ultimate in that it's too noisy, this time in terms of dialogue, for its own good. Also, the CGI is inconsistent, as the vehicles don't look too realistic, as normally would be the case if the entire show were animated on computer. The characters themselves are fine, but the rest of the animation needs help.

Rating: C-.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Looney TV: Rabbit Punch (1948)

Bugs Bunny, taking umbrage at a 1-sided boxing match involving Battling McGook (later rebooted as the Crusher, voiced by Billy Bletcher), ends up in the ring with McGook. Chaos ensues in "Rabbit Punch".

The ending is a cop-out so Bugs can save face, if you will, but this farce was spiraling out of control by that point. I wonder if this wasn't part of the inspiration for how today's pro wrestling is presented.

Rating: B.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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

From The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty:

Waldo (Howard Morris) imagines himself as Captain Hurk of the Starship Second Prize, being pursued by Tyronius (Allan Melvin). Coincidentally, Waldo Kitty replaced Filmation's adaptation of Star Trek on the NBC schedule. Here's "Cat Trek":

Capt. Hurk would return in "Ping or Pongo".

As it happens, Filmation got in trouble with the estate of Walter Mitty author James Thurber, as his widow alleged that the studio had used the basic title without permission. For this reason, the series was rechristened as The New Adventures of Waldo Kitty when it was reissued as part of Groovie Goolies & Friends a couple of years later.

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): Grab Them Cakes (1985)

At the end of 1985, the then-World Wrestling Federation dove headlong into the music business with the release of "The Wrestling Album" on Epic Records. Inevitably, someone was going to be tapped to represent the promotion on American Bandstand, and that someone happened to be the Junk Yard Dog (JYD).

JYD (real name Sylvester Ritter) recorded "Grab Them Cakes" as a duet with 70's disco 1-hit wonder Vicki Sue Robinson, and I don't think there isn't anyone over the age of 10 who hasn't figured out the double entendre in the title.

Sorry, but this is the only copy of the clip available at the present time. I'll bet you anything at all that Vince McMahon, who turns 72 today, is still groovin' to this track when he works out at all hours of the day. He's that kind of crazy, you know.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tooniversary: The Great Billionaire Chase Case (Heyyy, It's The King, 1977)

It's been a while since we checked in with the C. B. Bears segment, Heyyy, It's The King.

In "The Great Billionaire Chase Case", King (Len Weinrib) decides to get an interview with an eccentric recluse, modeled as a parody of Howard Hughes (and voiced by Don Messick).

King and his pals turn 40 this year, long forgotten, just like C. B. Bears. Except at this desk.

Rating: B.

Piper's Pit goes primetime! (All Star Rock 'N' Wrestling Saturday Spectacular, 1985)

CBS' Saturday morning Fall Preview special for 1985 put a heavy emphasis on what was the crown jewel of the class of '85, that being Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling.

Rowdy Roddy Piper "took over" the show as host, creating an extra long version of his increasingly popular Piper's Pit, since the set was modeled as a larger scale version of the Pit set on wrestling programming. Musical guests Patti LaBelle & New Edition are joined by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Herve Villachaize, and much more.

The Kroffts were responsible for this hour-long special, in conjunction with Cyndi Lauper's production company, which she formed with then-manager/beau Dave Wolf.

At the time, the tradition had been for half-hour preview specials, but someone sold CBS on the idea that this would work better in an hour format. Radio personality Scott Osborne is the street reporter at the start, and Hogan appeared via satellite for reasons known only to him, it'd seem.

I didn't see this in '85, nor would I care to now. It was, after all, a harbinger of things to come. No rating.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

They say you can't fight city hall......can you? (Ballot Box Boneheads, 1985)

From Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling:

The Hulkster (Brad Garrett) and pals discover that a local mayor is corrupt, and decide to help his opponent in the upcoming election. Naturally, the crooked mayor recruits Roddy Piper (voiced by Charlie Adler) and his team. Here's "Ballot Box Boneheads".

Cookie cutter, by the numbers plot that could easily fit anywhere else.

The series' Wikipedia page is incorrect in saying the series ran for 2 seasons. It didn't. It was cancelled after 1. Wikipedia claims this was a half-hour show. It wasn't. It was a hour-long show, and was trimmed to 30 minutes in syndication when someone convinced DIC to give it another life in syndication. Shows you what some people know.

Rating: C-.

Animated World of DC Comics: Clark Kent's First Day at School (1988)

From the 1988 Superman series:

In this Family Album short, Martha Kent (Pat Carroll) drives young Clark to school for his first day at kindergarten.

Some schools around the country have already started their seasons. Classes resume in the Northeast in another 2 weeks. Thought I'd get this little primer in before then.

Rating: B.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Getting Schooled: Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel (1972)

Shamus Culhane came up with a winning series of educational shorts, the Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel, which ran in syndication beginning in 1972, at first commissioned by Bristol-Myers for their short-lived Pals vitamins, which would sponsor the short pieces. After 4 years, Worldvision took over distribution. Until today, I hadn't seen any of these shorts, and over 100 of them were produced over 4 years (1972-6). I believe that after that, Culhane moved on to the series that I'm trying to find, the Spirit of Independence, which I did see.

Anyway, the professor (Paul Soles, ex-Spider-Man, Rocket Robin Hood) intros a bio on "John Cabot".

Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. Japoteurs (1942)

Today, the US & Japan are allies, and Japan is also one of the biggest exporters of electtonics and automobiles on the planet.

More than 70 years ago, during World War II, that wasn't the case. "Japoteurs' might not be seen on television anymore, but it illustrates how Japan had been one of our enemies. Superman has his hands full in this one.

Simple and effective. Not only that, but the Japanese saboteur wasn't given much to say anyway to avoid stereotyping.

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Toon Sports: The Umpire Strikes Back (The All-New Popeye Hour, 1980)

Popeye has to rally his baseball team from a 49-0 deficit in his last at-bat, but Bluto has other ideas.

1980's "The Umpire Strikes Back" isn't exactly a reboot of the Fleischers' "The Twisker Pitcher", but judge for yourselves.

Back to the drawing board, Bluto.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Daytime Heroes: He-Man in The Cat & The Spider (1983)

He-Man (John Erwin) has to clean up some serious kitty litter when one of Skeletor's aides steals a statue that Adam and the Royal Archeologist had brought back from the temple of the cat people. Also, we find that Kitrina of the Cat People has a serious crush.....on Battlecat. Go figure. Here's "The Cat & The Spider":

You'd think Mattel would have marked He-Man's 35th anniversary with a new line of action figures (He-Man debuted in 1982, with the cartoon following a year later), but insofar as I know, that hasn't happened. Maybe they'll wait until 2022.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Bound To Lose (1982)

Jerry "The King" Lawler was a disc jockey in his hometown of Memphis before turning to professional wrestling. Every now and again, Lawler would, like his 80's nemesis, Jimmy Hart, put out a record, and in the early 80's, Lawler even made some music videos for the local promotion. We've previously shown his anti-Hart clip, "Wimpbusters" (to the tune of, of course, "Ghostbusters"), but let's turn back the clock a couple of years to 1982 and "Bound to Lose", which also turns up on a VHS compilation of Lawler matches that came out a few years later.

Too bad Jerry didn't take his musical talents national, to, like, American Bandstand, or sing on Late Night With David Letterman......

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rein-Toon-Ation: Gadget Boy & Heather (1995)

In 1995, the History Channel took another chance on the Inspector Gadget franchise, this time with a juvenile version of the cyborg sleuth.

Gadget Boy & Heather was a total departure from the original Gadget, as Heather (Tara Strong, then going by her maiden name, Charendoff) was in her early to mid 20's. Gadget Boy himself had the body designed like a grade schooler (I'd guess 1st or 2nd grader), but with the mind of a veteran detective. Don Adams voiced Gadget Boy in the first season, while all the other male characters were performed by impressionist Maurice LaMarche (Pinky & the Brain, etc.). Instead of Dr. Claw, the big bad in the series was a masked woman known as Spydra, who had 4 extra arms, but whose true face was never seen. The idea was that anyone that saw her supposedly disfigured face would turn to stone, a la Medusa, out of shock in this case.

Viewers had to wait 18 months, from the point where the first season ended, to the start of the 2nd season, which saw a change in format to Gadget Boy's Adventures in History, which saw Gadget Boy & Heather travel through time. LaMarche took over as Gadget Boy. Unfortunately, the format change also resulted in the series' cancellation.

Let's take you back to the 1st season opener, "Raiders of the Lost Mummies":

Just wasn't the same, and the magic wasn't there.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: My Old School (1973)

Now, you and I know the kiddo's will be headed back to school after Labor Day, and some colleges will be starting in the next week or two. Why don't we take a trip back in time to 1973, and Steely Dan's "My Old School", with Donald Fagen on lead vocal & piano, from American Bandstand. Bear in mind that this clip is prefaced with host Dick Clark queuing it up in a primetime retrospective of the series, probably in the late 70's or early 80's.

While the musicians were plugged in, that was for appearance's sake, as, more often than not, they usually mimed on the air back in those days.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Toons After Dark: Huddles & friends consider life after football (1970)

From Where's Huddles:

When Huddles (Cliff Norton) and friends find themselves in an all night car wash, it gives them some ideas about finding work after football.

However, snafu erupts when Bubba (Mel Blanc) is trapped in a mailbox, forcing Huddles to stall the mailman (Blanc again). Here's "Get That Letter Back":

With the NFL having started preseason games, and the CFL season in Canada in full swing, with college & high school games to follow starting in 2 1/2 weeks, maybe someone should take a flier on Huddles.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Houndcats in The Misbehavin' Raven Mission (1972)

The Houndcats are on the trail of an art thief and his gang. Here's "The Misbehavin' Raven Mission".

The Raven's true identity was just too easy, especially if you followed primetime crime dramas moreso than the cartoons that tried to emulate them.

This may have been the only cartoon credit for film star Aldo Ray, who might've been near the end of his career at this point.

Rating: B.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tooniversary: The Blue Racer (1972)

The Blue Racer was a spin-off from Tijuana Toads when his first short, "Hiss & Hers", bowed in July 1972. However, unlike the Toads, the Racer never appeared on television, although a snake that bore a resemblance to him appeared in a 1978 Pink Panther short that did air on TV.

While Bob Holt had voiced the Racer in his first appearance, 1971's  "A Snake in the Gracias", Larry D. Mann takes over beginning with "Hiss & Hers". Here, the Racer is a henpecked husband with three kids, but still runs afoul of a Japanese beetle (Tom Holland, not to be confused with the current "Spider-Man" star, though Wikipedia certainly is), who also appeared in "Gracias".

What they were looking to do at DePatie-Freleng was clone the successful Daffy Duck series of shorts with Speedy Gonzales, although Racer, while another speedster, isn't quite as clever.

Part of the reason these shorts aren't airing anywhere these days is because of the stereotyped voice given to the beetle, who does sound like Holland's mimicing Dick Tracy's old aide, Joe Jitsu.

17 shorts were produced between 1972-4, after which DFE replaced the Racer with the Dogfather, whom we'll meet another day.

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Manta & Moray in The Freedom Fighters (1978)

From Tarzan & The Super 7:

Manta & Moray discover a pair of dolphins are breaking some whales and other sea creatures from captivity, unaware that those creatures are being studied and cared for by the humans.

Here's "The Freedom Fighters":

Joan Van Ark (Moray) would pick up a live-action gig soon after (Knots Landing), and since only 7 episodes were recorded, moved her cartoon gig to DePatie Freleng for the short-lived Spider-Woman the next season. Joe Stern (Manta) may not have had any other voice jobs after this was cancelled.

Also, some of the swimming scenes, either in tandem or Manta alone, look like they were redrawn from---who else?---Aquaman.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Air: DuckTales (2017)

Donald Duck leaves his nephews--Huey, Dewey, & Louie---in the care of his estranged Uncle Scrooge while he goes on a job interview that he'll soon regret. That's just the beginning of the adventure as Disney marks the 30th anniversary of DuckTales by rebooting the series so that Scrooge (David Tennant, ex-Jessica Jones, Doctor Who) meets his nephews for the first time.

You see, Donald (Tony Anselmo) and Scrooge haven't spoken in a decade, so Huey (Danny Pudi, ex-Powerless), Dewey (Ben Schwartz), and Louie (Bobby Moynihan, ex-Saturday Night Live) have never met their other uncle. The family reunion comes sooner than planned, however, thanks to a traffic jam trapping them on the road.

Once at McDuck Mansion, the boys meet Webigail (Webby) Vanderquack (Kate Micucci, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo), whose design is radically different from the original series, and who is under the care of her grandmother, Mrs. Beakly. A few mishaps lead to the release of several odd creatures that are quickly recaptured by Scrooge and his chauffeur/pilot, Launchpad McQuack (Beck Bennett, Saturday Night Live).

The series opener, "Woo-oo", is being replayed continuously until midnight (ET) tonight, while new episodes resume in a hour-long block starting September 23, as this version will be weekly instead of a daily series. Keep an ear open for a reference to Launchpad's other series, Darkwing Duck, and I can tell you that Disney's Batman send-up will meet Donald and the gang this season.

Here's the intro. Felicia Barton sings the iconic title song.

The animation isn't quite as fluid as the original series, but I think that if this clicks, it'll get better with time. Nice opening story, but I'm not digging that we have to wait 6 weeks for the next episode.

Rating: B+.

Toonfomercial: The introduction of Glade (1956)

S. C. Johnson & Co., makers of Raid bug sprays and other products, introduced Glade Air Fresheners in 1956. Like Raid, the company utilized a mix of live action & animation in their introductory ad, narrated by Michael Rye.

The animation is not as flashy as the Raid spots, and the company had hired animation legend Tex Avery to direct the Raid ads.

Toon Rock: Why Should I Worry? (1988)

From "Oliver & Company":

This should've been a Top 40 hit, but it wasn't.

Disney's "Oliver & Company" is a modern day retelling--using dogs, cats, and rats, as well as humans---of Dickens' Oliver Twist. Oliver (Joey Lawrence, currently in Melissa & Joey) is a cat, and (Artful) Dodger is one of the dogs working for Fagin (Dom DeLuise).

In this scene, Dodger (Billy Joel) is trying to shake Oliver off his trail, leading to "Why Should I Worry?", co-written by Dan Hartman.

The film's voice cast also includes Bette Midler, Richard Mulligan (Empty Nest), Cheech Marin, Taurean Blaque (Hill Street Blues), and Roscoe Lee Browne. We may be doing a full review down the road.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Toons After Dark: The 2000 Year Old Man (1975)

In 1961, Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner began a series of comedy albums that told the story of The 2000 Year Old Man. Brooks played the title role, interviewed by Reiner.

Someone convinced Brooks & Reiner that this would make a good animated special. This aired in January 1975 on CBS, and I think it was never rerun.

This would serve as Reiner's first cartoon work since Linus the Lionhearted a decade earlier. As for Brooks, who was in the midst of a very successful movie career, this was the start of a television comeback (he co-created Get Smart, among other accomplishments), which continued that fall with the short-lived When Things Were Rotten. However, it'd be more than 30 years before Brooks would do an animated series for television again, adapting his film, Spaceballs, into a short-lived series.

From the sound of things, this might have been a direct adaptation from one of the albums, judging from the laugh track.

Color me unimpressed.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hoppity Hooper in Hair Tonic (1960)

Don't let the year above fool you, peeps. This is the pilot episode of Hoppity Hooper, four years before the series was finally picked up by ABC.

"Hair Tonic" establishes the basics on our protagonists, although Waldo Wigglesworth (Hans Conreid), a very sly fox, is actually a con man, aided by his simple-minded, bugle-playing assistant, Fillmore (Alan Reed). The two meet up with Hoppity (Chris Allen) in the frog's home while on the run from the police.

As we've previously discussed, when the series was picked up, Reed had moved on to The Flintstones (and his Fillmore does have a bit of Fred Flintstone to him, doesn't he?), so Bill Scott (Bullwinkle) took over as Fillmore. Waldo passes himself off as Hoppity's "long lost uncle" in order to gain Hoppity's confidence.....

Scott, of course, had plenty of time on his hands, as The Bullwinkle Show had ended, and Bullwinkle was only being used for commercials, as we showed yesterday. Unfortunately, there hasn't been as much of a call for Hoppity to return, unlike Bullwinkle, Peabody & Sherman, and Dudley Do-Right, to name a few.

Rating: B.