Sunday, December 31, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes; The Mighty Heroes vs. The Drifter (1966)

We've seen how villains will use entire cities as a means of making fast money. "The Drifter" uses a gravity ray to uproot the city of Good Haven, and decides he wants $10 million dollars for the city's safe return to earth. Enter the Mighty Heroes, and the predictable, ensuing chaos.



In some cases, such as this one, the episodes were split into two segments, at 5 and 3 minutes, respectively, on weeks when Mighty Mouse was the backup feature. This ensured that both features would have equal billing, a lesson Hanna-Barbera ignored with their split-feature series (i.e. Space Ghost & Dino Boy) that same season.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

From Comics to Toons; Snuffy's Fair Lady (1963)

It's time to back to the woods with Snuffy Smith & Barney Google.

When a charm school opens, Louweeza decides to sign up in order to improve her appearance. Well, it's clear she's not an Eliza Doolittle type, and instead of a Henry Higgins for an instructor, the teacher (Paul Frees, who also voices Barney & Snuffy) is a ballet instructor. Didn't we see something like this with Popeye & Olive Oyl, too?

Here's "Snuffy's Fair Lady".



I'd think they'd have gone for the obvious and done the parody of the movie, just to see if they could poke fun at "My Fair Lady"....

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Monkeemen (1966)

Yes, even The Monkees got into the act when it came to superhero satires. Their Monkeemen personas only appeared about twice in the course of their 2 season run (1966-8).

Those personas come into play briefly in the episode, "I've Got a Little Song Here". Mike Nesmith gets swindled by a con man (Phil Leeds), and when their initial foray into crimefighting actually goes for naught, the guys come up with a better plan. Out-conning the con man.



As we all know, Micky Dolenz would later dip into the world of cartoon heroes (Wonder Wheels in particular), and Davy Jones paid a call on Scooby-Doo and his friends.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Harley's Holiday (1994)

From The Adventures of Batman & Robin (formerly Batman: The Animated Series):

Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin) has been declared sane and released from Arkham Asylum. However, attempting to go shopping with her pet hyenas in tow leads to nothing but chaos.

Marilu Henner (ex-Taxi) and Franklin Cover (ex-The Jeffersons) guest star in "Harley's Holiday".



Now, if WB can get Harley's creator, Paul Dini, back from Marvel, maybe a Harley solo series is in order......

Rating: A.

From Primetime to Daytime: Monkees in a Ghost Town (1966)

As the title of this episode implies, The Monkees, with their car out of gas, pull into a ghost town, unaware that it's also a hideout for some bank robbers. Lon Chaney, Jr. & Rose Marie guest star in "Monkees in a Ghost Town":



Rose Marie would return in "Monkee Mother", her 2nd & final appearance on the show. This episode is dedicated in her memory, as the actress passed away Thursday at 94.

No rating.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Zorro in The Tyrant (1981)

Zorro with a sidekick? Yep.

In Filmation's 1981 adaptation, Zorro (Henry Darrow) often rode with a servant, Miguel, wearing brighter colors and a reddish mask, an excuse for the studio to redraw certain shots from The Lone Ranger.

In "The Tyrant", Zorro & Miguel must expose a visiting general for the greedy outlaw he really is.



It's a pity this lasted just the 1 season, as it deserved a better fate.

Rating: B+.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Mind of the Master (Fantastic Voyage, 1968)

From Fantastic Voyage:

Guru (Marvin Miller) falls into a coma when he is attacked by an unknown assailant. He telepathically contacts Jonathan Kidd (Ted Knight) in the middle of the night to alert him and the rest of the CMDF team to his whereabouts.

From there, "The Mind of the Master" becomes the closest thing to an actual adaptation of the original novel upon which the 1966 movie was based. Oh, by the way, the common misconception with the movie was that Isaac Asimov's novelization of said film is mistakenly assumed to be the original source material.



Fantastic Voyage turns 50 in 2018. Anyone think a remake is in order for this series? Fox, are you paying attention?

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Strolling Bowling (1979)

Japan's Tomy introduced Strolling Bowling back in 1979 for the kiddo's to learn how to bowl. It's a 3 piece set consisting of a wind-up bowling ball with feet and a two-part lane. Unfortunately, after a quick check of Tomy's Wikipedia page, it's not around anymore.

Scope the ad.



This wasn't the only bowling game on the market at the time. Ideal had come out with Snap Bowling a few years earlier, and I actually owned one of those. Strolling Bowling was for a younger target demo.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Toon Sports: Popeye in Fantastic Gymnastics (1979)

In season 2 of The All-New Popeye Hour, Popeye's Treasure Hunt was replaced with the short-lived Popeye's Sports Parade. Short-lived because only six of these shorts were made. Apparently, Hanna-Barbera didn't feel comfortable attempting to adapt some sports-themed shorts that the Fleischers had previously made under this particular banner.

In "Fantastic Gymnastics", Popeye (Jack Mercer) is a pizza shop owner/delivery man, specializing in--wait for it---spinach pizza. Olive (Marilyn Schreffler) is a gymnast, being coached by Wimpy (Daws Butler). Bluto (Allan Melvin) is a rival coach, and naturally is looking for any illegal advantage he can get, including copping some of those same spinach pizzas that are being fed to Olive's team.

The climax of Popeye & Bluto improvising away from the arena is worth the price of admission alone in a tribute to those old classics.



Notice how Butler gave Wimpy a W. C. Fields-esque voice, nothing like previous characterizations (which had been done by Mercer, among others). The gimmick, otherwise, remained the same.

Rating: B+.

Game Time: H. R. Pufnstuf on the Dating Game (1972)

Christmas was yesterday, but I couldn't pass this up until next year. In fact, I meant to use it during Countdown to Christmas, but forgot.

Anyway, the year is 1972. H. R. Pufnstuf had moved from NBC to ABC, still rerunning the same episodes first produced 3 years earlier, and the last time that Pufnstuf had appeared in a first-run episode was a guest shot on Lidsville in 1971. With Pufnstuf entrenched on Sunday mornings on ABC, as opposed to Saturdays, but not getting enough eyeballs (due to affiliates blacking the show out for local or syndicated programming), ABC brokered a deal between the Kroffts and Chuck Barris to have Pufnstuf (voiced as usual by Len Weinrib) to appear on a Christmas Day edition of The Dating Game with Jim Lange. As Lange notes in introducing Pufnstuf, the mayor of the Magic Island was appearing at Knotts Berry Farm at the time.

This is from a broadcast that aired on Game Show Network (GSN).



Don't ya think they could've located Jack Wild for this spot?

Rating: B.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Toons After Dark: A Chipmunk Christmas (1981)

Alvin & the Chipmunks began their association with NBC in 1981, two years before they landed a berth on the network's Saturday morning lineup.

A Chipmunk Christmas was the first Chipmunk special, and the first project without creator Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., as Ross, Jr. took over voicing Alvin and Dave Seville. He also enlisted the aid of toon legend Chuck Jones to put this one together, which is why it looks miles better than the series produced by Ruby-Spears and later DIC with Bagdasarian Productions, first for NBC, then Fox.

Alvin gives up his harmonica in order to cheer up a young, ailing boy,  but has to scramble for a new one when he & his brothers land an important gig. This was a rerun shown around 1986 (Alf's 1st year), while Kidd Video was still on the air.



Rating: A.

Merry Christmas, everyone. We'll be back tomorrow.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with Dennis The Menace (1960)

From season 2 of Dennis The Menace (also available at The Land of Whatever):

Dennis (Jay North) wants a horse for Christmas, but his parents (Herbert Anderson & Gloria Henry) got him a phonograph, or, record player, instead. Undaunted, Dennis searches for the horse. Of course, chaos follows.....



Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Krusher? (1979)

Back in the late 70's, Kenner had one of the hottest toys on the market with the elastic Stretch Armstrong. So, Mattel decided they wanted a piece of that action.

Unfortunately, the following ad for Krusher represents the first time I've ever seen or heard of this product. Yes, it's a knockoff of Stretch's enemy, Stretch Monster, and maybe that's why it failed.

Personal note: My family moved to downtown Troy in 1979. I'm still living in the same apartment nearly 40 years later, and there used to be a toy store in the neighborhood. It's long since closed, replaced by a coffee house/restaurant. I remember going there a few times, and I never once caught sight of Krusher. Then again, teenage me was more interested in board games.......

Cartoon icon Gary Owens narrates the ad.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: The Polar Express (2004)

Chris Van Allsburg's holiday tale is brought to life via motion capture/CGI/3D animation in 2004's "The Polar Express".

A young boy (Daryl Sabara) sees the titular train pause for a stop in front of his house. Curious, he ventures out, wearing only his PJ's, slippers, & jacket. The Conductor (Tom Hanks) invites him on board, and the adventure begins.

The supporting cast includes Eddie Deezen (ex-Dexter's Laboratory), Frank Welker, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, Nona Gaye (Marvin's daughter), and Peter Scolari, working with Hanks for the first time, I think, since their days on Bosom Buddies in the early 80's. Josh Groban's hit, "Believe", was the big hit off the soundtrack.

Here's the trailer:



Visually striking, as this was one of the first animated films to employ motion capture technology. Hanks performs a couple of numbers on the soundtrack, a long ways away from his attempts at rapping in "Dragnet" back in 1987. If it airs this weekend, go out of your way to see it, if you haven't already.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto vs. Snow Creature (1966)

From season 1 of The Lone Ranger:

Tonto (Shep Menken) rescues a trapper from a "Snow Creature", then discovers that the beast is under the control of....well, that would be telling, now, wouldn't it?



Forgive the video quality provided by DandyDeal.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: An episode of the New Woody Woodpecker Show (1999)

Here's a complete, sans opening & closing credits, episode of Fox's revival of Woody Woodpecker.

How Woody managed three seasons on Fox, I'll never know, given how Fox tended to shuffle programs off the schedule on whims, especially in an obsessive quest to counter-program Pokemon on WB.

"A Very Woody Christmas": Woody (Billy West), stuck for a gift for Knothead & Splinter, falls for a scam being run by Buzz Buzzard (Mark Hamill). To borrow from another famous icon, of course you know this means war.

"It's a Chilly Christmas After All". The usual Chilly Willy story, variation #10310.

"Yule Get Yours": Woody tries to impress Santa.



Rating: B.

Game Time: The Battle of the Dodgers (Sports Challenge, 1972)

The beauty of Sports Challenge was the prospect of two generations of the same team coming together to play against each other.

Such was the case in this 1972 meeting pitting Dodger greats from Brooklyn (Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson) and Los Angeles (Wes Parker, Maury Wills, Frank Robinson).

Posted in memory of host Dick Enberg, who has passed away at 82 from a heart attack. More on Enberg in The Land of Whatever. For this reason, we will forego our rating, especially considering we reviewed Sports Challenge some time back.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry in Solid Serenade (1946)

Here's a rare treat. A Tom & Jerry short in which Tom talks.

The hook to "Solid Serenade" is Tom wooing an attractive female. He gets around the guard dog by using his stand-up bass as a pogo stick, then launches into "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby", made famous by Louis Jordan. Ira "Buck" Woods is the vocalist. Otherwise, Tom's dialogue is spoken by toon veteran Billy Blecher, who otherwise had worked for WB and the Fleischers.

One of Hanna & Barbera's best efforts for MGM.



Rating: A.

Countdown to Christmas: Santa Claus shares breakfast with Fred & Barney (1988)

Here's a Pebbles cereal ad that's been around for nearly 30 years.



For once, Barney is foiled. This would be one of the last times Mel Blanc voiced Barney, as we lost Mel a year later.

In the 90's, they had Jim Cummings dub over Santa's lines, but otherwise it was the same commercial. Don't ask why.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Celebrity Toons: The Three Stooges in Super Everybody (1966)

The Three Stooges took their turn at skewering superheroes in 1966's "Super Everybody".  A conk on the head has Larry dreaming that Moe & Curly Joe have become superheroes. Then again, just about everyone has.....



The basic design of the Super Curly & Moe-Man costumes would later be used by Hanna-Barbera for The Robonic Stooges, which came out in 1977 as more of a 3-way parody of The Six Million Dollar Man.

Not one of the better entries, as the plot felt like it was driven home by a sledgehammer.

Rating: C.

Countdown to Christmas: A Scooby-Doo Christmas (2002)

A Scooby-Doo Christmas was the first of 2 primetime specials during the What's New Scooby-Doo era (2002-5) on Kids' WB!, but today you'd be hard pressed to find it on Cartoon Network and/or Boomerang, 15 years after its initial airing.

In a twist on a classic Halloween tale, Scooby and the gang try to unmask the Headless Snowman. James Belushi, Mark Hamill, Kathy Kinney (The Drew Carey Show), and Peter Scolari are among the guest stars.



Reportedly, CN is commissioning a new Scooby series after Be Cool, Scooby-Doo was considered a flop, but considering that 1) there was a great deal of viewer apathy over the show and 2) it was relegated to Boomerang because of network programmers' obsession with a certain superhero comedy that shan't be mentioned by name here, Be Cool was doomed right from the start.

Rating for A Scooby-Doo Christmas: A.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Little Lulu in Chick & Double Chick (1946)

Marjorie Buell's Little Lulu was meant to be a distaff complement to Popeye at Famous Studios, since Paramount had retired Betty Boop. However, the series didn't last very long. Just a small handful of shorts, beginning in 1943.

A few years ago, I acquired a DVD that purportedly collected, according to the text, material from HBO's attempt at reviving Lulu for a new generation, with British comedienne-singer Tracey Ullman attached. Maybe I read the text wrong, because the DVD didn't have anything from the HBO series, just 8 shorts, including this next item, 1946's "Chick & Double Chick", in which Lulu (Cecil Roy) has to ensure her pet dog doesn't disrupt the hatching of some eggs.....



I found it entertaining just the same, but good luck finding Lulu on TV.

Rating: A.

Toon Legends: Scooby-Doo in Whatta Shocking Ghost (1976)

Winter's right around the corner (starts Thursday), and because of early snowfalls in some parts of the Northeast, ski resorts have gotten a headstart on the season. No better time, then, for a winter-themed episode of The Scooby-Doo Show from Scooby's 1st season on ABC.

The gang's all-weather Mystery Machine runs out of gas in the town of Winterhaven, suddenly deserted thanks to the 10,000 Volt Ghost. Watch for a key clue early in the episode that actually gives away one of the villains....



In memory of Heather North Kenney (Daphne), who passed away over the weekend at 71.

Rating: B.

Looney TV: The cereal that didn't make it (1968)

What we have here, folks, is a "test cartoon" shown to focus groups to see if they'd be interested in what would be the last collaboration between Warner Bros. & Post Cereals.

In 1968, Post & WB thought it might be a great idea to produce a cereal featuring the Road Runner. Beep Beep cereal, however, didn't get past this stage, even with the inestimable William Conrad narrating the ad. Once Bugs Bunny and friends stopped shilling for Post and other General Foods brands like Tang and Kool-Aid, the cereal maker forged a licensing deal with Hanna-Barbera, and, well, you know how that has gone.....



Perhaps fittingly, Gold Key comics, a sister company to Whitman as part of the Western Publishing group, was producing a comic book featuring our fast feathered friend under the title, Beep! Beep! The Road Runner, which lasted through the mid-70's at least.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Magic Crystal of Kabala (Fantastic Voyage, 1968)

Filmation's loose adaptation of Fantastic Voyage turns 50 next year. It's been a while since we screened an episode.

In "The Magic Crystal of Kabala", the CMDF has to prevent some major disasters by destroying the titular jewel, in the possession of carnival mage Mephisto (Ted Knight, using his Penguin voice, or a variant thereof).



I wonder how many other voices Knight recycled from working on the Batman toons for CBS?

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Major Matt Mason? (1966)

Mattel, seeing the popularity of Hasbro's original G. I. Joe, decided they needed their own heroic action figure for young boys. So, in 1966, the company introduced Major Matt Mason, an astronaut. However, Mason's lifespan on the shelves wasn't very long. I have no memory of seeing any Mason toys in the stores as a teen, so I'd wager Mason was sent into permanent quarantine sometime in the 70's.

Apparently, the mindset at Mattel was that because Mason wasn't somehow linked to Barbie, his line wasn't selling. Then again, kids preferred Joe to Matt. Period.

Here's a sample ad from 1968. Narrated by Ernie Anderson.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: A Wish For Wings That Work (1991)

Berkeley Breathed's seminal comic strip, Bloom County, was raised from the dead 2 years ago, and now appears whenever possible on the creator's Facebook page. Hey, it happens.

Anyway, Breathed had ended the strip originally in 1989, moving on to another, short-lived strip, Outland. Characters from both strips factored into a 1991 book that was adapted for television by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment & Universal for CBS at the end of that year.

A Wish For Wings That Work centers on fan favorite Opus the penguin (Michael Bell), who asks Santa for the titular wings. If you followed the original Bloom County, rife as it was with political and social satire, you'll love this. Unfortunately, Breathed wasn't thrilled with the finished product, which found its way to DVD 10 years ago. Opus is joined in his quest by Bill the cat, who does manage to fire off one of his infamous hairballs. As Opus explains in his letter to Santa, Bill "had his brains replaced with Tater Tots", which would explain why Bill can't speak.

Other voice talent in the special includes John Byner and the usual suspects (Frank Welker, Joe Alaskey, et al). Scope out A Wish For Wings That Work.



Apparently, CBS shared Breathed's sentiments, as this has not been repeated anywhere since its initial airing.

Rating: A-.

Retro Toy Chest: Stratego (US) (1961)

Stratego celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. Now, you're thinking, wait a minute. 75 years?

It's true. Stratego was developed in the Netherlands back in 1942, and licensed for foreign distribution in 1958. In 1961, Milton Bradley (now part of Hasbro) obtained a license to produce the game for American youth. Today, there is, of course, an electronic version of the game.

Because of its military theme, one would think, without knowing its origins, that Stratego was M-B's answer to Risk, a Parker Brothers game. Of course, Parker Brothers was also absorbed by Hasbro, but I don't think they'd be continuing both products.

Anyway, check out this classic ad.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Lone Ranger in Terror in Toyland (1966)

Here's another Lone Ranger solo story, this one from season 1 of the first animated series.

Tiny Tom (Dick Beals) escapes from prison, but his attempts at avenging himself on the Ranger (Michael Rye) are, amazingly, as futile as the Toyman vs. Superman.

Here's "Terror in Toyland".



I doubt that kids would've noticed that Beals was also the voice of Buzz Conroy, creator and sidekick to Frankenstein, Jr. on the same network (CBS). Tiny Tom was the closest thing the Ranger had to a recurring villain.

Rating: B.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Game Time: A Christmas episode of I'm Telling! (1987)

With Christmas a little more than a week away, let's serve up a slice of the DIC/Saban co-production, I'm Telling!. Host Laurie Faso dons a certain red suit near the end of the show.....



Didn't see this one the first time, so we'll forego a rating in the name of making this a public service.

Daytime Heroes: She-Ra and the Sea Hawk (1985)

I should've mentioned this when I posted the He-Man/She-Ra Christmas special the other day, but the news from Netflix is that Dreamworks Classic, the current rights holder to the Filmation library, is bringing back She-Ra in 2018, where it'll air on Netflix. For devotees of the Princess of Power, you can say, it's about time, since She-Ra was not included in the 2 He-Man revivals (1989 & 2002), although there were, supposedly, plans to bring her back in the 2002 series had Cartoon Network not decided to cancel it.

Anyway, let's go back to 1985 once again, and She-Ra's first encounter with the Sea Hawk, who'd be a prospective boyfriend for Princess Adora........



Rating: B+.

Friday, December 15, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Popeye in Fashion Fotography (1960)

Olive Oyl (Mae Questel) wants to have her picture in a fashion magazine, but things ain't working out. She tries to take her own picture. That fails. Popeye offers to take the picture, but that doesn't work. Same for Brutus. See who gets the last laugh in "Fashion Fotography".



A rare case where Popeye & Brutus end up on the same side. But it isn't good when Olive looks bad as a result.

Rating: B--.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger vs. the Border Rats (1967)

Here's a rarity from the 1966-8 Lone Ranger series. The Ranger (Michael Rye) goes it alone against "The Border Rats", outlaws who've managed to evade the law on both sides of the border, but they're not that clever....



Rating: A-.

Saturtainment: The Patchwork Family (1972)

Back in the day, WCBS in New York was home to a locally produced program that aired ahead of CBS' Saturday morning block. Problem was, The Patchwork Family actually had just 1 season of first-run episodes (1972-3), and would remain in eternal rerun until 1989.

Former WPIX hostess Carol Corbett served as hostess here, partnered with a puppet named Rags (Cary Antebi, The Magic Garden). Now, I'm at a loss to figure out how WCBS could've given up on this show so quickly. The series reportedly was in national syndication as well, with those reruns continuing for a whopping 16 years.

Seeing as how I live in upstate NY, and no local station picked up the show, I can't fairly rate it. So, as a public service, we offer this sample clip.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985)

For all intents & purposes, the season finale of She-Ra: Princess of Power in 1985 was "A Christmas Special". Of course, She-Ra's twin brother, He-Man, had top billing. His series was in reruns after production had ended a year earlier.

Man-at-Arms (Alan Oppenheimer) & Prince Adam (John Erwin) have finished a brand new transport vehicle intended for use against Skeletor (Oppenheimer). However, Orko (Lou Scheimer) has snuck aboard, and accidentally launches the Sky Spy. An attempt at landing the Sky Spy by magic takes Orko to Earth, and......!



It turns out She-Ra was renewed for a 2nd season, but became a weekly series because Filmation couldn't have 2 daily series at the same time anymore (Ghostbusters was launched in 1986). He-Man's adventures continued as he joined the cast of his sister's show. Unfortunately, when He-Man was relaunched a couple of years later, She-Ra wasn't included.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Tusk the elephant? (1973)

Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies has gone through a number of mascot characters over the last 60 years. Currently, Snap, Crackle, & Pop appear on boxes of both Rice & Cocoa Krispies, the latter on their 2nd tour of duty.

Around the end of 1973, Kellogg's and their advertising agency replaced Ogg the Caveman with Tusk, an elephant who wore glasses, which in turn is unusual in and of itself. The redoubtable Paul Winchell is the voice of Tusk and sings the jingle du jour.



Tusk departed in 1982, replaced for a time by Snap, Crackle, & Pop. It's a shame.

Retro Toy Chest: Tuesday Taylor (1976)

In the 70's, Mattel's iconic Barbie was facing, ah, stiff competition from other toymakers.

Kenner (now part of Hasbro) tried with Dusty, but she didn't survive the decade. Then again, neither did our next subject.

Ideal, out of Hollis, Queens (Run-DMC's home turf), introduced Tuesday Taylor, originally known as Tiffany Taylor, around 1976. Her gimmick was that her hair could switch from blonde to brunette and back again at her owner's whim. You'll see in the ad montage. One poster on YouTube commented that the name change might've been because of an adult film star named Tiffany Taylor, and Ideal didn't want to be associated with adult movies, understandably.

One of the later ads features, supposedly, a very young, pre-fame Brooke Shields.

The following montage was posted by Ira Gallen (TVdays):



The name change brought with it a cooler ad campaign, but, as noted, Tuesday Taylor's not around anymore.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Even Christmas trees need love, too (1980)

This next item comes from Kellogg's during their "It's going to be a great day" ad campaign in the 80's.

Tony the Tiger (Thurl Ravenscroft) and the gang find a tiny tree in the snow, too small to be considered for Christmas in most folks' eyes, but not Tony's.....



Tusk (the elephant with glasses) was the mascot for Cocoa Krispies at the time, but didn't last long.

You Know The Voice(s): Jackie Joseph, Marvin Kaplan, & Olan Soule (1968)

From Gomer Pyle, USMC:

Gomer (Jim Nabors) gets a baby carriage by mistake, but his efforts to do the right thing and return the carriage lead to nothing but trouble, especially when the store detective thinks Gomer's a shoplifter.

Jackie Joseph is a clerk at the returns department. Olan Soule is a manager, and Marvin Kaplan? Well, he's the featured guest star in "The Carriage Waits":



This episode aired yesterday on Decades as part of a weekend-long binge block of Gomer Pyle. No rating, as I didn't see the whole show, not knowing about it until too late.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Freedom Fighters: The Ray (2017)

CW Seed's latest animated DC offering is Freedom Fighters: The Ray, which focuses on a modern-era itineration of the Golden Age hero, who was introduced to viewers during Crisis on Earth-X 2 weeks ago.

Russell Tovey (ex-Being Human) reprises as Ray Terrell, aka The Ray, as this series is a prequel to the recent live-action 4-parter. On Earth-1, Terrell is just an ordinary dude who just lost his job due to corporate downsizing, after a fashion. When his Earth-X counterpart arrives on Earth-1, well, as the series shows, we'll see how Earth-1 Ray ends up joining the Freedom Fighters.

Jack C. Harris, a long time writer-editor at DC, and Joe Quesada, now at Marvel, were credited with creating the modern Ray, ignoring the character's Golden Age history. Meh. Sometime after that late 90's miniseries ran its course, Terrell was rebooted as gay, I think, by a different set of creators. Harris & Quesada had teased a hookup between Ray & Black Canary in their book, as I recall.

Anyway, the first 6 episodes were released on Friday, with more to follow to complete the bridge to Crisis on Earth-X. Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) reprises as Overgirl. However, Stephen Amell & Grant Gustin (Arrow & The Flash, respectively) chose not to play their evil counterparts, although The Flash co-stars Carlos Valdes & Danielle Panabaker are heard here, as is Iddo Goldberg, who reprises as the voice of Red Tornado from an earlier appearance on Supergirl.

Let's scope out a sample clip.



I'm guessing the remaining episodes won't be out until after the holidays, although I could be wrong about that. What we have now is totally slammin'.

Rating: A.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Rules (2012)

From season 2 of The Looney Tunes Show:

At the tail end of the Christmas episode, the cast joins together for an in-episode tune, "Christmas Rules".



Proving once again just how badly miscast Daffy was in this series, this song makes him sound even more like an imbecile.

Dog chow: Rude Dog & the Dweebs (1989)

Rude Dog & The Dweebs has the distinction of being the last series Marvel sold to CBS, back in 1989. Ever hear of going out with a bang? I'd say Marvel's last CBS entry went in and out with a whimper.

Rude Dog (Rob Paulsen) shares an apartment with the 7 Dweebs, and regularly has to deal with an evil cat named Seymour. Hey, I don't make this stuff up. Additional talent includes Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, and Dave Coulier (The Real Ghostbusters, Full House).

If Marvel was aiming at a canine-driven clone of Hanna-Barbera's Top Cat, which also ran for 1 1st run season, it failed. Badly. Rude Dog was designed largely to promote a clothing line, not toys, which might have made things a little too upscale for the target demographic.

Here's the intro, narrated in character by Paulsen.



Episodes are available on YouTube, but not in full-screen for obvious reasons. From what we could see, this show should never have gotten out of the kennel.

Rating: C.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Sharpie the Parrot? (1950's)

Today, Gillette is a component of Procter & Gamble, and their slogan is "The best a man can get" when it comes to their shaving products.

Back in the early years of television, however, Gillette had a mascot for their razor blades.

Sharpie the parrot was introduced to television audiences in 1952, appearing on Gillette's Cavalcade of Sports and the Saturday baseball Game of the Week. In the latter instance, an animated Sharpie would appear on the screen, and the jingle would play in between innings while the cameras were still on the field.

This spot, with a very British fellow, is narrated by baseball legend Mel Allen.



I wish I could tell you who did the speaking and/or singing voices of Sharpie, but that info is unavailable at the moment.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: A Snow White Christmas (1980)

Rare was the occasion when Filmation produced a primetime special. The first came in 1969, Archie & His New Pals. 11 years later, they produced what would be their last, and, like Archie, aired on CBS.

A Snow White Christmas was billed as a sequel to the classic tale. Snow White is now the queen, and Prince Charming is now King Charming. Their daughter, also named Snow White, is the protagonist here, voiced by Erika Scheimer (ex-Brady Kids, Mission: Magic). The Wicked Queen returns to extract revenge, but instead of 7 Dwarves, there are 7 Giants, most, if not all, voiced by Arte Johnson, in what may have been his only job for Filmation, as he did most of his voice work at DePatie-Freleng (i.e. Misterjaw, The Nitwits, The Super Six). In fact, one of the giants does sound a little like Tyrone, doesn't he?

Unfortunately, this hasn't seen the light of day on TV in years, ignored by cable. Scope!



The poster had the date wrong, and as you watch the video, you'll see why, as the copyright date looks a little smudged.

No rating. I didn't watch this the first time, so this is more or less a public service.

Krofftverse: Show Biz Witch (H. R. Pufnstuf, 1969)

H. R. Pufnstuf, as well as some of the other early Krofft entries, had a laugh track, which at the time was rare on Saturday mornings. Had NBC really had any faith in the show, they could've repurposed it as a primetime replacement, which wouldn't have ensured renewal, but....!

Anyway, Lennie Weinrib, the voice of Pufnstuf and some other characters, co-wrote "Show Biz Witch", in which Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) tries to get into show business in another vain effort to steal Freddy the flute.



Hard to believe that a few years later, Witchiepoo actually got better material to work with (Krofft Superstar Hour), but by then most viewers figured her 15 minutes were up.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Fred Flintstone as Santa Claus (Christmas Flintstone, 1964)

From season 4 of The Flintstones:

Fred (Alan Reed) must substitute for Santa Claus when the jolly old elf takes ill. Here's "Christmas Flintstone":



12 years later, in the primetime special, A Flintstone Christmas, Fred didn't believe in Santa, but that changed by the end of the show.

This should, regardless of what Cartoon Network/Boomerang suits think to the contrary, bump regular programming Christmas weekend.

Rating: A-.

Retro Toy Chest: Twist 'n' Turn Barbie w/Maureen McCormick (1967)

Previously, we've seen Maureen McCormick shilling for Mattel's Living Barbie while she was working on The Brady Bunch. This next item predates Brady by a couple of years.

In 1967, Mattel introduced the Twist 'n' Turn Barbie. While Maureen shows up halfway through the ad, it sure sounds like game show icon Wink Martindale is the announcer in this one. Check it, and let me know if that's the case.



Funny how Mattel (or anyone else for that matter) never obtained a license for Brady Bunch toys during its 5 year run (1969-74)........

Monday, December 4, 2017

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Popeye & Olive Comedy Show (1981)

Let's assume that Popeye's ratings at CBS were in decline by 1981. That doesn't really justify the network's bone-headed decision to trim The All-New Popeye Hour in half, giving Olive Oyl co-star billing in the process. No, someone at CBS noticed that Hanna-Barbera, which had a license with Paramount to adapt ABC's Laverne & Shirley by sending them to the Army, then asked H-B to do the same with Olive and Alice the Goon.

The Popeye & Olive Comedy Show had three segments each week. Gone were familiar favorites like Popeye's Treasure Hunt, which should've been given new episodes in the wake of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" that summer. In its place was a segment that had Popeye, Olive, & Bluto as cave people.

Here's the open, followed by the intro to a Private Olive Oyl short.



Airing as it did in the lunch hour zone on CBS, it was blacked out in the home district. Hence, no rating. We've already critiqued Private Olive Oyl.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas With The Joker (1992)

Christmas is right around the corner, and the Joker (Mark Hamill) wants to celebrate as only he can. Unfortunately, it's with mirth & malice instead of goodwill toward men. That means Batman has to spoil "Christmas With The Joker".



I do get the joke with Joker wearing a red sweater and a green pullover. A warped Perry Como, but it was the start of a fashion makeover "Mistah J" is still undergoing 25 years later.

Rating: A+.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger vs. Destructo (The Day The West Stood Still, 1967)

"The Day The West Stood Still" pits the Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) against a vengeance-seeking Dr. Destructo, who wants to take control of an unnamed state by freezing the citizens of the state capital with a temporary nerve gas. Not exactly Medusa, but....



The fact that the gas was temporary gave away the ending, didn't it?

Rating: B.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tooniversary: Barbie & the Rockers (1987)

Mattel was rebooting Barbie in 1987, this time positing the iconic doll as a would-be rock star in answer to Hasbro's Jem & The Holograms. However, a proposed series went no further than a 2-part miniseries that saw the name of Barbie's band change in mid-stream.

Barbie & The Rockers was given plenty of hype as far as the toy line was concerned. Meanwhile, Mattel had issued a license to DIC and Saban, the latter owned at the time by Mattel, to adapt the toy line into a cartoon.

Actress Sharon Lewis was the voice of Barbie, and posted her appreciation for the following video being posted to YouTube about 2 years ago. In this episode, Barbie/Sharon covers the Dave Clark Five's "Catch Us If You Can", among other tracks.



DIC & Mattel couldn't come to an agreement on an ongoing series. Part 2 of the miniseries saw the band be rechristened as the Sensations without any explanation, though this might've been a hint that things were falling apart. The following season, DIC rebooted and landed a licensing deal with Hasbro for Maxie's World, which we've previously covered.

No rating. Never saw this before today.

Saturtainment: Our Gang in Shrimps For a Day (1934)

Spanky and the Our Gang kids are in an orphanage run by the crooked, corrupt Mr. Crutch (Clarence Wilson), but when a wealthy patron's daughter wishes she & her boyfriend could be kids again after finding a magic lamp, a la "Aladdin", their wish enables them to go undercover to expose Crutch's scheme.

George & Olive Brasno ("Charlie Chan at the Circus") join in the fun in "Shrimps For a Day":



Leonard Kilbrick (Leonard) is the brother of Sidney "Woim" Kilbrick, the sidekick of neighborhood bully Butch (Tommy Bond) in later shorts.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: Snuffy, the Elf Who Saved Christmas (1991)

This next item hasn't made the rounds in years, flying under the radar not because it wasn't any good--I wouldn't know because I'm seeing this for the first time---but rather because there wasn't enough promotion that I can remember.

Snuffy, The Elf Who Saved Christmas was an independently produced holiday treat in 1991 that featured singer-songwriter Bobby Goldsboro ("Honey", "Watching Scotty Grow"), who's been doing a lot of work on children's programs in recent years. Bobby voices the title character, as well as the Sandman, who serves as narrator.



Independent productions like this don't get the same kind of love that recognized brands (i.e. Peanuts, Smurfs, Bugs Bunny, etc.) get. It's a shame.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Sindy? (1978)

Louis Marx and Company, the original  makers of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and Big Wheel, struck a deal with England's Pedigree Toys to import & introduce Sindy to American children. Sindy had already been around for 15 years in England, and only lasted three years (1978-81) here in the US.

The ad agency working with Marx figured it might make sense to find someone who could sell the toys, and the most famous "Cindy" in show business could do the job. Enter Susan Olsen (ex-The Brady Bunch, Brady Kids), well into her teens when this ad was shot in 1978.



Sindy's still around, having been relaunched by Vivid back in 1999, but isn't available here in the States anymore.

Marvel Productions: Marvel's 1st TV arm's history (1981-93)

You all know that Marvel acquired DePatie-Freleng Productions in the early 80's, rechristening the company as Marvel Productions. Whereas DFE was a Saturday morning fixture for nearly 15 years (1966-80), Marvel Productions didn't match it in terms of longevity before being itself absorbed by New World Television in 1993 after 12 seasons. In a later post, we'll look at the New World-Fox era, but for now we'll take a look at those first 12 years. 15 series total between ABC, CBS, Fox, & NBC, and we won't include syndicated specials or daily and weekend series during this period. Keep in mind most of these programs have previously been reviewed.

ABC:

Little Clowns of Happytown & Little Wizards (1987): The only two series Marvel sold to ABC after acquiring DFE, and neither fared very well for a number of reasons. ABC was looking for something to complement The Real Ghostbusters, but these two weren't the answer.

Fox:

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a sort-of follow-up to the cult movie of the same name, and ran for 2 seasons. John Astin reprised his role from the movie, but there were some minor tweaks. Next came Little Shop, a loose adaptation of Roger Corman's original "Little Shop Of Horrors", which had been revived on Broadway. Fox would not receive another Marvel series until after the sale of the studio to New World and the eventual partnership with Saban.

CBS:

Marvel Productions partnered with Fred Silverman's Intermedia Entertainment to produce Meatballs & Spaghetti & Pandamonium (both reviewed earlier this week) in 1982. As noted previously, both series bombed, partially due to airing in tough time slots, as NBC owned Saturdays by this point.

But, things began to change when Marvel acquired a license to adapt the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons, which lasted 3 seasons (1983-6), and boasted a star-laden cast that included Donny Most (Happy Days, ex-Fonz & the Happy Days Gang) and Eight is Enough siblings Adam Rich & Willie Aames, in addition to some of the usual suspects (Frank Welker, Peter Cullen). Then, there was  Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, which would be Marvel's most successful series, running for 8 seasons (1984-91), and winning 7 Daytime Emmy Awards. Disney now owns the series, along with the Henson Company & Marvel, and will relaunch the series next year for Disney Junior.

Happy with the success of Muppet Babies, CBS ordered a 2nd Muppet series in 1985, Little Muppet Monsters, expanding the Muppet block to an hour. Unfortunately, only three out of 13 episodes made it to air before the series was given a quick heave-ho. As our Famous First for December, here's the 1st episode:



In short, the show was a victim of Muppet Babies' success. Since the other 10 episodes weren't completed by the start of the season, production was terminated, and CBS went with a full hour of Muppet Babies, starting a trend that continues today, mostly in syndicated live action programming.

No rating for Little Muppet Monsters, since I never saw the show.

Marvel's final entry for CBS was Rude Dog & The Dweebs in 1989, which didn't play in the home market due to affiliate blackout. Viewer and/or affiliate indifference led to cancellation after 1 season.

NBC:

Marvel got the ball rolling at the Peacock Network with Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, which ran for 3 seasons (1981-4) before moving into syndication. The web-head's syndicated solo series bowed the same year, but didn't get into as many homes (didn't air in the home district that I can recall). It was posited as NBC's answer to ABC's long-running Super Friends franchise, but slotted near the bottom of the lineup for most of its run. The Incredible Hulk, fresh from a primetime run on CBS, moved to NBC, but lasted 1 season of 1st run episodes (2 overall), as Marvel ultimately suffered from Filmation syndrome at NBC. That is to say, subsequent sales to the network would all bomb out after 1 year. In addition to Hulk, this list includes:

Fraggle Rock (1987). '87 was a bad year for Marvel TV, as all of their freshman entries were cancelled after 1 season (see the ABC entries above).

Kid 'n' Play (1990): Fictionalized adventures of the real-life rappers, with future Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell as Play. Co-produced with DIC.

Space Cats (1991) Marvel teamed with Saban and Alf creator Paul Fusco for this 1/2-puppet, 1/2-cartoon comedy adventure series, featuring Charles Nelson Reilly, who couldn't buy a break on Saturday mornings, having previously bombed with Lidsville and Uncle Croc's Block. Between this and The Flintstone Comedy Show (2nd series), it marked the end of Reilly's SatAM career.

We'll look at the New World-Fox era another time.