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.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Toon Rock: (How to be a) Millionaire (1984)

England's ABC scored their last American hit in 1984 with "(How To Be A) Millionaire", off the CD, "How To Be a Zillionaire". Don't know the animation house responsible for this video, but it's definitely different from the animated clips made a few years later for Elton John ("Club at the End of the Street") and Rod Stewart ("Motown Song").




Toonfomercial: Bullwinkle bowls for Cheerios (1965)

Bullwinkle (Bill Scott) continued to shill for Cheerios well after his series had ended production. I guess Jay Ward figured, as long as his company was commissioned to produce ads for Quaker Oats, a rival to General Mills, why not continue to crank out some work for Cheerios, using Bullwinkle?

Here, Bullwinkle tries to bowl and shill at the same time.



Paul Frees is the narrator. I don't get how he and others could mispronounce "protein" back then. Here, it is pronounced, "pro-tee-en", but I've always said it as "pro-teen". Go figure.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sunday Funnies: Dudley Do-Right in Trading Places (1963)

Dudley Do-Right was added to Rocky & His Friends beginning with the 3rd season (1961-2). Only 5 shorts were produced that year, but the number would start to increase with each successive year. In 1969, Dudley was spun off into his own Sunday morning series, as the franchise had returned to ABC after finishing its initial run on NBC.

"Trading Places" closed Dudley's 3rd season as part of Rocky & His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show. In it, Dudley (Bill Scott) swaps jobs with Nell Fenwick (June Foray), but Nell's father, Inspector Fenwick (Paul Frees) tries discouraging Nell, even after she's captured Snidely Whiplash (Hans Conreid).



Nell never even bothered getting fitted for a uniform, probably because, as we'd see, her father wouldn't have allowed it. That flaw hurt the humor in this story.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Saturtainment: I've Got Ants in My Plans (1969)

In 1969's "I've Got Ants in My Plans", we are introduced to a 2nd Aardvark, this one being green. Charlie Ant (John Byner) really has his work cut out for him this time.



The Green Aardvark would return in "Odd Ant Out" a year later, and we've previously screened that one. Pretty much the same thing, but with a different plot.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Southern Nights (1977)

It's been a while since we showcased something from The Midnight Special, but I couldn't resist this time. From 1977, here's Glen Campbell, with a cover of Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights":



In memory of Campbell, who passed away today at 81.

Monday, August 7, 2017

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

Last night, SyFy premiered the latest in the "Sharknado" series. The well's going to run dry on that real soon, since there's a finite number of ideas for that "franchise".

Meanwhile, let's turn the clock back 40 years and scope out this Wonder Twins short, as Zan & Jayna have to help two boys avoid a "Shark".



That had to be one of the biggest sharks ever. I think what happened is that what was originally meant to be a great white shark may have mistakenly started as a whale, and then the artists realized their mistake, but too late to redesign the predator.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Roland & Rattfink (1968)

DePatie-Freleng tried to expand their line of comedy shorts beyond The Pink Panther, Ant & The Aardvark, & The Inspector, at the end of the 60's. However, Roland & Rattfink, a human-centric riff on the adversarial conflicts of, say, Tom & Jerry or even the Panther himself and the Little Man, didn't really catch on, with 17 shorts produced between December 1968 and April 1971.

For all but one of these shorts, the vocal effects were performed by Len Weinrib. In "Hurts & Flowers", which carries a 1968 copyright but was released in February 1969, Rattfink tries to spoil Roland's good times, which pacifist Roland always responds with a simple daisy.



Roland & Rattfink, according to at least Wikipedia, had appeared on one of the Panther's NBC shows, but I cannot confirm that, as I don't recall seeing these two on TV. This was DFE's way of reaching out to the huppie culture of the period, which unfortunately, based on the low output, tuned them out.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Inspector in Plastered in Paris (1966)

I've heard of wild goose chases, but this one's a real trip.

The Inspector (Pat Harrington) and Deux-Deux (Harrington) take a radio call from the Commissioner (Paul Frees) to catch an elusive crook named X. Wait for the twist ending to "Plastered in Paris".



Considering how the Inspector made the Commissioner look foolish so often, I guess this was a little bit of payback.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturtainment: Misterjaw in Aloha Hah Hah (1976)

Just to prove that pirates are people, too, Misterjaw goes after a 2-man pirate crew in "Aloha Hah Hah".



This literally is a 2-man show, as Arte Johnson & Arnold Stang double up as the pirates.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Simon (1978)

Milton Bradley got into the electronic game business in 1978 with Simon, in which players had to follow the instructions via flashing lights on the game board.

Nearly 40 years later, Simon has been rebooted and the line expanded by Hasbro, which acquired Milton Bradley in the 80's. Nothing, though, beats the original ad campaign, with a poem recited by horror legend Vincent Price.



Price also shilled for two other Milton Bradley games, Hangman & Stay Alive, both of which I played. Simon? Not so much. In England, the same commercial played with a British actor reciting the same poem.

Tooniversary: An episode of Baggy Pants & The Nitwits (1977)

Baggy Pants, the feline Charlie Chaplin-wannabe, is finally on YouTube.

An enterprising poster mixed and matched episodes of 1977's Baggy Pants & The Nitwits, the last original series that DePatie-Freleng sold to NBC. I say mixed & matched because a quick check of the episode guide reveals that the two shorts you're about to see were not originally presented together.

There are bumpers, but no closing credits.

"Baggy Pants & Forgetful Freddy": What DFE was hoping for was not only a homage to Chaplin, but another pantomime cat in the tradition of The Pink Panther, who was in his final season at NBC. Here, Baggy gets mixed up with a wealthy gentleman who becomes angry when a bell rings.

"Rustle Hustle": The Nitwits---Tyrone & Gladys (Arte Johnson & Ruth Buzzi) head West to catch some cattle rustlers. I don't think enough kids got the idea that this was a parody of superheroes, and back then, the Saturday schedule was front-loaded with them, as this series aired around lunch time.



The open and the first few minutes of the Baggy Pants short are replayed to fill time. Don't ask.

Rating: B-.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman in Prehistoric Panic (1980)

Captain Caveman (Mel Blanc) gets to return home to the Stone Age, if but for a short time, in 1980's "Prehistoric Panic". You might think that this could've ended up being a sort-of backdoor pilot, since Cavey would return home again and move to Bedrock later that year.

One other thing. ABC brought back Captain Caveman & The Teen Angels as a mid-season replacement series in March 1980, replacing the cancelled Spider-Woman. To make room, Scooby & Scrappy-Doo was moved to 11 (ET), with Cavey airing at 11:30. The 3rd and final season for the Captain in modern times was a mix of 16 new episodes and reruns from the 1977-9 run. However, the network decided to end the series after three seasons, and, had this been the finale, instead of the 4th episode of the season, maybe this would've had a different, more appropriate ending.



The Flintstone Comedy Show was rebooted on NBC that November, and ran for 2 seasons, and, as we've previously documented, Cavey would return as a backup feature to The Flintstone Kids, but with no continuity between any of the series.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: Rocky & Bullwinkle shill for Taco Bell (1993)

For a period of about a year (1992-3), Rocky & Bullwinkle were licensed for use in commercials for Taco Bell. In each case, the iconic duo thwarted hamburgers hustlers Boris Badenov & Natasha Fatale.

Seeing as how Bill Scott & Paul Frees (Bullwinkle & Boris, respectively) passed away in the 80's, I don't know who's filling in for them here, working with June Foray.



Hamburgers being boring? Seeing as how I enjoy both hamburgers & tacos, I disagree.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summertainment: Tijuana Toads in Never on Thirsty (1970)

Every summer, it rains more in the East than it does in the West. While they suffer with droughts and wildfires in California, Arizona, and Washington, the rain hangs around the East coast like a bad neighbor that won't go away.

For the Tijuana Toads, it certainly appears as though they're going through one of those dry spells. Toro & Pancho, though, have to deal with a watchdog that looks to be smarter than he looks. "Never on Thirsty" borrows that trope from other cartoons, and some incidental music from Ant & The Aardvark.



Six years later, the Toads made their television debut, added to the expanded Pink Panther show on NBC, and rechristened the Texas Toads to avoid stereotyping, which killed the vibe.

Rating: B--.

June Foray Memorial Week: June on Green Acres (1967)

From season 3 of Green Acres:

June Foray guest stars as a Mexican immigrant recruited by Oliver Douglas (Eddie Albert) to operate Hooterville's telephone switchboard. At this point in the series, Oliver, a lawyer by trade, had acquired the town phone company. Chaos follows, of course.



Eddie Albert would later get into voice work himself, as would Pat Buttram (Haney) and Eva Gabor (Lisa). Gabor & Buttram were reunited at Disney in "The Rescuers", and Buttram also worked on "The Aristocats" (with Eva's sister, Zsa Zsa) and "Robin Hood", among other projects.

Ignore the label in the video. The poster mixed up episode titles to confuse the copyright police.

I have no memory of seeing this episode in syndication back in the day, so, no rating.

From Comics to Toons: It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969)

The Peanuts gang heads off to summer camp for the first time in 1969's It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. At the time, the specials were airing on CBS on a seemingly annual basis, and the pace would pick up during the 70's.

Charlie (Peter Robbins, ex-Blondie) and Peppermint Patty captain the teams in a lopsided battle of the sexes. The boys reflect Charlie's personality, as they can't seem to get out of their own way, while the girls prove to be more organized and superior in every event. Imagine having these kids in a Battle of the Network Stars-type competition.

The complete episode is not available. Instead, here's a compilation of clips, culminating in the infamous wrist wrestling match between Lucy and the Masked Marvel (Snoopy, of course).



Some wiseguy on Wikipedia made an editing goof, trying to claim that Chuck Jones and DePatie-Freleng had something to do with this when they clearly didn't. Probably transposed the information from The Cat in the Hat.

Rating: B.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tooniversary: The Crystal Brawl (1957)

Popeye poses as a swami to get even with Bluto in 1957's "The Crystal Brawl". The short recycles footage from two previous entries, "Alpine For You" and "Quick on the Vigor":



Paramount's cartoon division had gotten into a familiar formula by this point, as some reaction shots look similar to, say for example, reaction shots in Casper cartoons.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Famous Firsts: The 1st episodes of Underdog (1964), Commander McBragg (1963), & Go Go Gophers (1966)


Underdog's adventures usually were in the form of 4-part serials, which, in syndication, stretched across two episodes. For a period in the late 60's & early 70's, NBC would put the serials together to air them in one sitting.

The first three shorts, however, are done-in-ones that illustrate that while he is dedicated to his mission, Underdog (Wally Cox) leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Lord knows how many phone booths were destroyed when Shoeshine Boy had to change to Underdog. Anyway, those three stand-alone shorts--"Safe Waif", "March of the Monsters", and "Simon Says"--are all here, plus the debut of the Go Go Gophers ("Moon Zoom") and Commander McBragg ("Over The Falls").



We would see better from the Gophers, and McBragg got repetitive in a hurry, to the point where the joke gets lost. Underdog is back in comics, as American Mythology Press obtained a license earlier this year. The others? Not so much.

Some sources don't have "Moon Zoom" as the Gophers' 1st episode. The copyright is 1962, but they didn't debut until 4 years later. Hmmmm.

Rating: B.