Thursday, June 21, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends meet the Waternen (1973)

"The Watermen" was the season, and, at the time, series, finale of Super Friends when it aired in 1973.

Aliens from a silicon-needy planet arrive on Earth to steal some silicon. Frank Welker, Sherry Alberoni, Shannon Farnon, & Casey Kasem voice the aliens. Norm Alden doubles as Professor Matey, who joins forces with the Justice Leaguers.



ABC kept bringing Super Friends back as a mid-season replacement the next three seasons. Ratings went up, leading to the reboot that began in 1977.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: An early Fritos cartoon ad (1963)

Here's a little short commissioned by Frito-Lay to promote Fritos corn chips back in 1963. Mel Blanc is among the voices heard here.



School's out in upstate NY, but today's kids probably aren't reaching just for Fritos anymore.......

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Leon White, aka Vader (1955-2018)

He hasn't yet been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but maybe he will be next year, posthumously.

In the course of his wrestling career, Leon White, otherwise known as Vader, or, Big Van Vader, won 3 WCW World titles, 3 IWGP titles in Japan, and 3 Catch Wrestling Association titles in Austria. Not bad for a former Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman whose NFL career was cut short due to injuries in the 80's. White transitioned into wrestling, first with the AWA, which gave him the nicknames "Baby Bull" and "Bull Power", then, to Japan, where his Big Van Vader persona emerged.

As Vader, White returned to the US in 1990, signing with World Championship Wrestling, then aligned with the National Wrestling Alliance. On their syndicated programming, Vader showcased his incredible agility for a man listed at over 400 pounds (announcer Tony Schiavone said it was "well over 300 pounds). In this clip, a handicap squash, you couldn't tell that Vader was meant to be a heel, or rulebreaker......



The helmet and cowled mask gave way to a new mask not long after.

Vader came to the then-World Wrestling Federation later in the 90's, and that led to a recurring gig on ABC's Boy Meets World. In the context of the series, Vader was the father of one of the school bullies, played by Ethan Suplee.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summertainment: Little Lulu (ABC Weekend Special, 1978-91)

With summer right around the corner, thoughts for kids turn from school to summer camp.

Marjorie Buell's Little Lulu is brought to life in this ABC Weekend Special entry, which was first shown in 1978, and last aired, as this video implies, in 1991. We know this based on the commercials, including an ad for the ABC Western, The Young Riders. Capt. O. G. Readmore is no longer a puppet, but strictly an animated character by this point. Neil Ross is heard as Readmore in the open, but a 1984 interstital appears to have Frank Welker, who voiced the puppet version of Readmore, in place of Ross.

Back to Little Lulu. This first offering is set amidst the equal rights movement of the 70's. Lulu and her friends get to join the boys at summer camp for the first time.

Personal note. I spent two seasons at a summer day camp in the hometown. Said camp has long since closed, but back in the day, my brother & I would hike up the hill to get to the camp, then walk home. The camp, like Camp Wackadoo, was co-ed, but at the time, I wasn't interested in finding a girlfriend. That would come later. Much later.

The cast includes Laurie Hendler, Tim Reid (WKRP In Cincinnati), Robbie Rist (ex-Big John-Little John, The Brady Bunch), Beverly Archer (later of Major Dad), and Billy Jacoby, the latter of whom appeared in a few more Weekend Special episodes. The program ends with a promo for the sequel, The Big Hex of Little Lulu, with narration by Dick Tufeld, who was the studio announcer for ABC's Saturday morning shows for a few years.

Here's Little Lulu:



As most fans know, Lulu was a brunette in the comics, but not here. Meh.

Rating: B-.

Saturtainment: Squddly Diddly in Nervous Service (1965)

Squiddly Diddly (Paul Frees) is bored, so he decides to leave the aquarium. As it turns out, a sign promising free travel tricks Squiddly into enlisting in the Navy. Here's "Nervous Service":



Rating: B.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: No More Kings (1975)

With Independence Day 2 weeks away, let's take a trip back in time with Schoolhouse Rock. Lynn Ahrens wrote & sang "No More Kings":

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy in Finger of Doom (1967)

Superboy (Bob Hastings) faces off with a scientist (Ted Knight) who was engulfed in cosmic rays while investigating a rogue star. His mind unhinged by the destruction of his lab, Dr. John Bailey becomes a criminal with a "Finger of Doom":



As you can see, this was taken from the Superman-Batman Adventures cable package that aired on USA & Cartoon Network.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Literary Toons: The Bollo Caper (1985)

From the ABC Weekend Special:

Humorist Art Buchwald's novel, The Bollo Caper, was adapted for television by independent animator Rick Reinert, who produced several episodes of Weekend Special, sharing the animation load with Ruby-Spears and DIC during the 80's. If you thought Buchwald was all about political satire, think again.

Bollo (Michael Bell, Smurfs, etc.) is brought to the US, ostensibly to be killed and his fur turned into a coat for a wealthy aristocrat. However, he knows that he is a rare breed, a golden leopard, and turns to Congress for help.

Unfortunately, this comes during an era when some genius at ABC decided that O. G. Readmore (Frank Welker) needed a co-host on a steady basis, and the best they could do, save for a guest appearance by Vincent Price (likely to plug 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo), was Jon Bauman (ex-Sha Na Na, Pop 'n' Rocker Game, Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour), back in his familiar guise as Bowzer, long before the dimwitted greaser packed on the pounds. At the time, Bauman had moved on to become one of VH1's first VJ's. Poor O. G..



I'm going to see if I can find any episodes hosted by either Michael Young (Kids Are People, Too) or Willie Tyler & Lester down the road.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Teenage Toons: Fat Albert in Little Girl Found (1981)

Fat Albert (Bill Cosby) and the gang lose their TV set when a young runaway (Erika Scheimer) steals the set and sells it to earn some easy cash. However, she needs the gang's help when she runs afoul of some older thugs. Here's "Little Girl Found":



Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Show & Tell (1973)

From Soul Train:

Al Wilson cracked the top of the pop charts in early 1974 with "Show & Tell", released as a single in October 1973. What you might not know is that "Show" was a cover of a minor Johnny Mathis record that reached the top 40 in 1972, and would be Mathis' last hit for a few years. Wilson's version also cracked the top 10 on the soul chart.



I remember hearing this on the radio quite a bit in the fall of '73, and wishing I could learn the lyrics, in case I ever landed a steady girlfriend. Unfortunately, I never did learn the song......

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Saturtainment: Don't Hustle an Ant With Muscle (1970)

Here's an entertaining Ant & The Aardvark short, this one culled from an NBC broadcast in the 70's.

Charlie Ant (John Byner) is, as usual, on the run from the aardvark (Byner), and runs through an open window into an empty house, where he finds a bottle of vitamins, and that gives him an idea.

The moral is in the title: "Don't Hustle an Ant With Muscle":



Righteous!

Rating: A.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Toons After Dark: Huckleberry Finn in Lilliput?! (1968)

From The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

Huck (Michael Shea) isn't old enough to be married, but when he's washed ashore on a certain island, its king (Paul Frees) offers his daughter's hand in marriage to him.

Yes, even though The Adventures of Gulliver was airing over on ABC on Saturday mornings, the king's name was changed, along with some of the residents, as Tom Sawyer (Kevin Schultz, ex-The Monroes) and Becky Thatcher (LuAnn Haslem) catch up to Huck in Lilliput. Here's "The Little People":



Rating: B.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Toon Rock: Hip to be a Square (1989)

From Sesame Street:

It took three years, but the PBS series parodied Huey Lewis & The News' 1986 hit, "Hip to be Square". Paul Jacobs is the singer on "Hip to be a Square":

You Know The Voice: Frank Welker (1973)

For all of his accomplishments in animation, Frank Welker has never had a regular live-action gig. The closest he came was an unsold pilot for ABC in 1973.

Frank is part of the ensemble, headed by Richard Dreyfuss, in an adaptation of Joseph Heller's Catch-22, which Paramount was hoping would be a challenger to a well known CBS series, M*A*S*H, which, like Catch-22, had first been in theatres three years earlier, but was far more successful.

Frank first appears around the 3:50 mark as a pilot, and, danged if he doesn't sound like he's using his Fred Jones voice from Scooby-Doo.



More on Catch-22 over at The Land of Whatever.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry in The Mouse From HUNGER (1967)

How much fun can you have in 6 1/2 minutes? Try this Tom & Jerry entry from Chuck Jones, for instance. Jones and director Abe Levitow parody MGM's The Man From UNCLE, which was in its 3rd season on NBC when "The Mouse From HUNGER" was released in April 1967.



What few sounds were made came from----who else?---Mel Blanc. The Rube Goldbergian entrance Jerry makes into his spy HQ is worth the price of admission alone.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Prince Planet (1965)

Japan's Prince Planet premiered in 1965 under the title, Prince Boy Papi, and lasted just 1 season. The series was first imported to the US a year later, as you'll see, with American International Pictures holding the US rights. In those days, there was plenty of advertising here for the Peace Corps, and so, as it was translated, Prince Planet was an agent of the Universal Peace Corps.

The video we're presenting is actually a 2-for-1 offering, as Prince Planet returned to the airwaves in Chicago in 1974, with puppeteer Steve Hart hosting the program. By this time, kids show hosts had largely disappeared across the country, save for larger markets such as Chicago and Los Angeles. I know this to be true here at home because the local stations didn't use hosts for cartoons on mornings or afternoons until WXXA brought in Ranger Danger in 1992 in an attempt to revive the genre.

Right now, here's the premiere of Prince Planet, as it was presented in black & white.



I am only going to guess here, but it appears Hart was one of a number of competitors trying to unseat Bozo's Circus as the #1 kids show in the Chicago market back then. He puts on a decent show, and I wonder if, with the use of "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" as a character on the show, if Hart educated his audience about the great fire in Chicago many years earlier.

Rating for Prince Planet: B.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Family Toons: Judy Takes Off (The Jetsons, 1985)

If there exists a record for the longest duration between seasons, The Jetsons probably has it. Hanna-Barbera revived the series in 1985, 12 years after the end of the original series.

There were some changes in the interim. In order to sell toys, a spring-legged alien, Orbitty, was added as a secondary family pet. Cosmo Spacely (Mel Blanc) becomes even more envious of George (George O'Hanlon), and devious as well.

In "Judy Takes Off", Judy (Janet Waldo) goes on vacation with her cousin, Melissa (guest star Didi Conn, ex-Fonz & The Happy Days Gang, Benson), who is no longer the demure wallflower Judy remembers. With his wife in the running for Woman of the Year, Spacely decides to hire a sleazy detective to spy on Jane (Penny Singleton). George does some spying of his own, just to keep Judy out of danger.



The open & close were edited off for copyright reasons.

Rating: B.

Saturtainment: Wally Gator in Swamp Fever (1962)

Wally Gator (Daws Butler) gets more than he bargained for when he sneaks off to the Everglades with Twiddle (Don Messick), who is trying to find a suitable playmate for Wally. Of course, Wally's hoping for more than just a playmate in "Swamp Fever":



The familiar intro was edited out to avoid copyright issues.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Teenage Toons: Fat Albert in Gang Wars (1985)

It is the darkest episode of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids in the course of its 13 year run.

In "Gang Wars", Albert (Bill Cosby) steps in to try to not only prevent a gang war, but to protect his new friend, Fernando, whose brother, Tito, is one of the gang leaders, conscripting his younger sibling into his gang. In an example of how the anti-violence rules had been either excised or relaxed in the 80's, this was the most violent episode of the series.

Unfortunately, there isn't a complete copy to be had, so this 15:00+ edited excerpt is all we have.



Cosby never meant for Fat Albert to be physically tough, but, rather, a voice of reason. In a different context, I don't think the Green Street Gang would've been so cocky.....

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Touche Turtle in Whale of a Tale (1962)

In his very first adventure, Touche Turtle (Bill Thompson) is recruited by Captain Ahab (Don Messick) to battle Moby Dick. Alan Reed (Dum Dum) doubles as narrator of "Whale of a Tale":



5 years later, Hanna-Barbera would adapt Moby as a hero, with no connections to his literary roots. Unfortunately, his "super whale" phase lasted just 1 season of original episodes.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Toon Rock: Say We're Sweethearts Again (1994)

From season 2 of Batman: The Animated Series:

Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin, Days of Our Lives) sings a jazzy ode to her on-again, off-again lover, The Joker, while Robin tries to rescue Batman from gangster Boxy Bennett. We'll have the complete episode, "Harlequinade", another time.



As reported in The Land of Whatever the other day, Harley will be part of DC's 2nd annual series of 1-shots with the Looney Tunes gang, out at the end of August, as will Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime meets Daffy Duck, and Harley hangs out with Gossamer. Order your copies now!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Saturtainment: A complete episode of the Groovie Goolies (1970)

Time for a visit to Horrible Hall, home of the Groovie Goolies.

Dailymotion poster Boomer titles his posts based on the song of the week, in this case, "Population Party" by the Bare Bones Band.



As was the case frequently, Sabrina and her Aunt Hilda made brief appearances before being spun off into a separate half-hour show the next season. Larry Storch recycled his Phineas J. Whoopee voice from Tennessee Tuxedo for Dracula.

Rating: B.

Family Toons: The Addams Family Goes West (1973)

If there was one thing that sank Hanna-Barbera's 1973 adaptation of The Addams Family, it was the absence of John Astin & Carolyn Jones as Gomez & Morticia, after they had guested on The New Scooby-Doo Movies a year earlier. Only one season of episodes were produced, and, reportedly, cycled through a 2nd year, though I cannot confirm Wikipedia's claim.

Future Oscar winner Jodie Foster had signed with H-B to do The New Scooby-Doo Movies episode, "Wednesday is Missing", taking over for Ken Weatherwax as Pugsley, and reprised in the subsequent series. Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester) & Ted Cassidy (Lurch) returned as the only core cast members carrying over from the Addams' meeting with Mystery Incorporated. H-B's grand dame, Janet Waldo voiced both Morticia & Grandmama, doing a near-perfect mimic of Carolyn Jones as Morticia. Len Weinrib (Inch High, Private Eye) was cast as Gomez, and anyone expecting Astin to return was wishing he did. Astin finally did in the 1991 series.

There are a few episodes now available on Dailymotion, but in black & white, due to the simple fact that getting the original color prints is very difficult, even with the series released on DVD through Warner Archive a couple of years back.

In this episode, the Addams Family makes one last trip out west....



As was the case a year earlier (and would be again in '91), H-B used Charles Addams' original designs for the Addams brood, but also added the pets that weren't part of the 1964-6 live-action series.

Rating: C.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Daytime Heroes: Hector Heathcote in Drum Roll (1961)

Let's take a trip to colonial times with Hector Heathcote in 1961's "Drum Roll". Hector (John Myhers) is a drummer for the fictional 33 1/3rd company of the Colonial Army. You can figure out the rest.

Note: This is the original theatrical release, not edited for television use.



Rating: B.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Tooniversary: Superboy Meets Mighty Lad (1968)

From the Batman-Superman Hour:

Superboy (Bob Hastings) discovers a potential ally, or rival, as the case may be, in the form of Mighty Lad (Ted Knight, who also narrated), who really isn't what he seems.....



Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but......

Rating: B+.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Toonfomercial: Meet Chiquita Banana (1944)

In the 40's United Fruit, the parent company of Chiquita Bananas, decided to promote their product with an animated commercial shown only in movie theatres with the coming attractions. Singer Monica Lewis is the voice of Chiquita here.



Don't know who United Fruit commissioned to do the animation for this one, but this looks tasty.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Rare Treats: Bill Cosby vs. Fat Albert, aka The Weird Harold Special (1971-3)

If but for a twist of fate, Bill Cosby could've stayed at NBC with Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids. However, the network wasn't interested at the time in a show that had the goal of educating its audience at its core.

In 1971, as we've documented, Cosby began working on PBS' Electric Company, and had also shot the live-action-animated hybrid special, Aesop's Fables, to start his association with CBS. As noted when we reviewed Aesop, it was a collaboration between Filmation & Lorimar. Cosby had also completed a second special for Filmation, but it took two years before it saw the light of day.

In May 1973, eight months after Fat Albert launched on CBS, the gang moved over to NBC for one night, as NBC held the rights to The Weird Harold Special, or, as it was known on the screen, Bill Cosby vs. Fat Albert. They went Weird Harold, thinking viewers might be fooled into thinking it was something different. As it was, it was never shown again on network television, due to the simple fact that with the series itself airing on CBS, it was bad form for the gang to suddenly appear on a rival network, even if it was for one night, coming as it did four years after the Ken Mundie-produced Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert! had aired on NBC.

The plot is a simple one. The guys are racing homemade go-carts down the dangerous Dead Man's Hill. Cosby not only voices his younger self, Mushmouth, & Fat Albert, but also his father and a convict. I believe that is character actor Henry Silva as the judge.



It's said this episode ultimately surfaced when the series moved to syndication in 1984. Today, however, is the first time I've seen it.

Rating: A.

Famous Firsts: The series premiere of Devlin (1974)

Our famous first episode this month features Devlin.

Inspired by real-life stunt biker Evel Knievel, this short-lived ABC series from Hanna-Barbera told the tale of three orphans, Ernie, Todd, & Sandy (Michael Bell, Micky Dolenz, & Michelle Robinson), who were part of a traveling circus, with Ernie the star attraction.

In "Victory Over Fear", Ernie faces a career crossroads. Seems weird to have this story as the opener, doesn't it?



Bell & Dolenz had previously worked together when Bell guest starred on The Monkees a few years earlier (previously documented). As with These Are The Days, Devlin utilized some familiar names from primetime and elsewhere in the supporting cast, including Don Diamond (ex-F-Troop), Maytag pitchman Jesse White, and Bob Hastings (ex-Jeannie, McHale's Navy, Superboy).

It's just too bad Chumptoon Network/Boomerang can't find room on the schedule for this show anymore.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Aquaman vs. The Fiery Invaders (1967)

Aquaman (Marvin Miller) & Aqualad (Jerry Dexter, Shazzan) battle "The Fiery Invaders" in this short story by Dennis Marks. Narrator Ted Knight also voices both aliens.



Today, this would get more time.

Thought I'd put this up since DC decided to pair Aquaman with Hanna-Barbera's futuristic Jabberjaw in a 1-shot special released yesterday. I'll have a review up this weekend over in The Land of Whatever.

Rating for "The Fiery Invaders": B.

Getting Schooled: Fat Albert in Faking The Grade (1985)

College students had their final exams earlier this month. Locally, so did a private academy, such as LaSalle Institute. Other schools will have finals in a couple of weeks. Fittingly, then, we present an object lesson, courtesy of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids.

Dumb Donald (Lou Scheimer, who went uncredited throughout the series' 13 year run as a voice actor, only taking credit as a producer) learns that his grades are failing, and he needs to man up to score a passing grade on his finals, otherwise, he'll be left back and won't advance with the gang. A slimy older student tries to convince Donald that everything will be okay if he's "Faking The Grade":



Ironically, this episode premiered in July 1985, after the school year had ended. Go figure.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

On The Air: Dallas & Robo (2018)

Debuting today on YouTube Red is Dallas & Robo, a warped sci-fi cartoon, and I do mean warped.

Dallas Moonshiner (Kat Dennings, ex-2 Broke Girls, who's also a producer) is a former stock car racer who now travels the galaxy with an AI with the soul of a poet, or he claims (John Cena, Total Bellas, American Grit, etc.). The all-star cast also includes Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night), Stephen Root, Clancy Brown, and Milana Vayntrub (Lily from the AT&T commercials).

The opener was posted on Reddit earlier, and is sanitized for your protection:



Cena doubles as an executive producer, but his performance resembles an average night for him in WWE. The mix of flash animation & CGI only works to a fault. I think series creator Mike Roberts might've wanted to pitch this to [adult swim], but may have been turned down, and YouTube offered him a slot on their Red channel.

Rating: B--.

Saturtainment: Tom & Jerry in Farewell, Sweet Mouse (1980)

You probably know that Cartoon Network & Boomerang have some of the shorts from the 1980 Tom & Jerry Cartoon Show in their rotation. Here's one of the better entries in the series.

A leaky roof creates issues for the boys in "Farewell, Sweet Mouse":



Yes, some of the gags were recycled from the old classics, but this was a trip. Oh, by the way, co-producer Lou Scheimer, I believe, is the DJ.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Toon Legends: Woody Woodpecker in The Screwball (1943)

Woody Woodpecker takes his turn at-bat skewering baseball in 1943's "The Screwball".



Director Alex Lovy would leave Universal soon after, only to return in 1955, but might be better known for his later work in television at Hanna-Barbera.

Rating: A.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Teenage Toons: A complete episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1970-1)

These Sabrina, The Teenage Witch shorts would serve as the series finale.

"Tragic Magic": Sunspots are wreaking havoc with Sabrina's powers when she's trying to help Jughead (Howard Morris) with his magic act.

"A Nose For News": Reggie (John Erwin) is named editor of the school paper, and that means Sabrina (Jane Webb) and her aunts could be outed once and for all, although Hilda & Zelda were running that risk all the time, dressed in "traditional" witchly attire.



Sabrina was not a vital part of Archie's TV Funnies (1971), and would only return when 1973's Everything's Archie recycled the earlier shorts.

Rating: B.

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Chopper Bunch (2001)

While Wheelie & The Chopper Bunch marks its 45th anniversary next year, Cartoon Network, three years prior to the series' 30th anniversary, commissioned a Web Premiere Toon that featured the Chopper Bunch, but no sign of Wheelie or his gal, Rota.

Unfortunately, the only YouTube copy available was recorded off a camera phone. Scope it.



Given what little time they had, there wasn't really enough time to really send up Japanese anime as they intended. Then, there's the fact that Scrambles, the weakest member of the Bunch, gets to be a hero? Crazy, man.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Family Toons: The Runaway Horse (These Are The Days, 1974)

These Are The Days was part of a freshman class from Hanna-Barbera sold to ABC in 1974, along with Devlin, Hong Kong Phooey, & the live-action Korg: 70,000 B. C.. Unfortunately, a lot of folks, especially in my market, didn't see the show due to the local affiliate blacking it out in favor of syndicated programming.

However, as the series approaches its 45th anniversary next year, episodes are finally available on YouTube. With the Belmont Stakes two weeks away as I write, why not take a look at "The Runaway Horse", in which Ben Day (Andrew Parks) corrals the title animal, and has to sweat out a waiting period before claiming the horse as his own. In the interim, he's talked into entering the horse, christened Pegasus, in a race at the county fair.

Voice talent in the series also includes Jackie Earle Haley (also heard on CBS' Valley of The Dinosaurs), June Lockhart (ex-Lassie, Lost in Space, Petticoat Junction), Pamelyn Ferdin, Frank Cady (ex-Petticoat Junction, Green Acres), Micky Dolenz (Devlin), William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show), and H-B regulars Janet Waldo, John Stephenson, Don Messick, and Henry Corden.



Now, doesn't it come as unsurprising that Pegasus' former owner saw an opportunity to reclaim it after all the abuse he heaped prompted the horse to run away in the first place? As Ben became obsessed with Pegasus, the previous owner had a different, less ethical obsession.

Had ABC seen fit to air the show at an earlier air time, this might've had a better chance of succeeding. As it is, four episodes were held back until the following season, as only 12 of the 16 episodes produced actually aired, with the remaining four making up season 2.

Rating: B.

Daytime Heroes: The Copy Cat Caper (The Dick Tracy Show, 1961)

Today, he is derided as a negative stereotype, but Go Go Gomez (Paul Frees) was a regular part of UPA's syndicated Dick Tracy Show in 1961. As this clip shows, this was reissued in 1989, ahead of Warren Beatty's live-action adaptation of Dick Tracy.

In "The Copy Cat Caper", Gomez is sent to track down Sketch Paree and the Mole, who are using a Tracy Halloween mask to pull bank robberies. But, first, a Crimestopper tip from Tracy (Everett Sloane).



Go Go was also UPA's answer to Speedy Gonzales, but not as funny.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

You Know The Voice: Louise "Liberty" Williams (1973)

Let's try this one again.

From season 4 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show:

Mary heads to New York with bestie Rhoda Morganstern (Valerie Harper) for the wedding of Rhoda's younger sister, Debbie (Louise "Liberty" Williams), who's only 21. Debbie falls into the category of forgotten siblings because she was never heard from again, and when Rhoda was spun off into her own series, she was given another sister, Brenda (Julie Kavner, currently on The Simpsons). Nancy Walker (McMillian & Wife) & Harold Gould play Ida & Martin Morganstern. Brett Somers (Match Game) also guest stars in "Rhoda's Sister Gets Married":



I think Debbie's parting gifts included a case of Bounty paper towels, which Nancy Walker was shilling for back in those days.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Getting Schooled: Fat Albert in Mainstream (1979)

You might want to fast forward past Brown Hornet for this installment of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids.

I think it's fair to assume that Dennis, the gang's new classmate, would be diagnosed today as being autistic or having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), as the word, "retarded", is no longer acceptable.

As for Brown Hornet, the never ending serial was on fumes by this point. This episode was first broadcast in 1979, but the wraparound open & close is for the 1984 syndicated series.



Brown Hornet gets a C.

The episode itself is a B-.

Animated World of DC Comics: DC Super Hero Girls finally comes to Cartoon Network

After being available only online and On Demand since their launch a couple of years ago, Cartoon Network is welcoming DC Super Hero Girls in an all new series coming later this year or next year.

Lauren Faust, whose resume includes Powerpuff Girls and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is on board as a show-runner. No firm premiere date has been set as of press time. To refresh everyone's memory, here's a compilation of season 1 installments, including the opener, which has previously been posted here.



Since then, more DC heroines, including Mera and one of the newest Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz, have been added to the cast. As long as CN doesn't screw around with it, we're fine.

Long as I'm talking news here, there has to be a downside to things.

CN also has green-lit a new Thundercats series. That's the good news. The bad is that it's another lame comedy series in the vein of Teen Titans Go!, but the character designs look more like the work of the Steven Universe crew. Take that however you wish. Thundercats Roar is set for a 2019 debut. Following is a trailer:



Turns out the show will look more like TTG than the above trailer.

Will they never learn?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Toons After Dark: Fred Flintstone as The Dabba Don (Harvey Birdman, Attorney-At-Law, 2002)

The Sopranos was one of the hottest cable shows at the time it was being parodied on Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law during the latter's 1st season.

Fred Flintstone (voiced here by Maurice LaMarche) envisions himself as a Tony Soprano type, and tries to work out a business deal with Harvey (Gary Cole), while Peanut, the former Birdboy, is trying to insinuate himself with "Freddie". Archived footage from The Flintstones is used with new dialogue dubbed over.



Why bring this up? Because [adult swim] is bringing Harvey back from the dead in an all-new special airing later this year. Cole and Stephen Colbert will return. With Colbert a little extra busy these days with the Late Show on CBS, one wonders if he'll promote the special.

One of the better episodes of the series, which from this desk isn't saying much.

Rating: B-.

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. the Crime Doctor (1993)

From season 2 of Batman: The Animated Series:

Batman (Kevin Conroy) has to rescue one of his childhood benefactors, Dr. Leslie Tompkins (Diana Muldaur), who's been conscripted to aid the Crime Doctor for an important operation. You see, Dr. Matthew Thorne, aka the Crime Doctor, is the brother of mob boss Rupert Thorne (John Vernon, ex-Delta House). Rupert needs heart surgery, and since he already has brother Matt under his thumb, he arranges for Leslie to be Matt's nurse.

Joseph Campanella guest stars in "Paging The Crime Doctor":



In memory of Campanella, who passed away last week at 93.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tooniversary: Lassie's Rescue Rangers meet The Imposters (1973)

It's one of the oldest tropes in television. Evil twins. In this case, in this episode of Lassie's Rescue Rangers, Lassie & the Forest Force are framed for a series of robberies by a mad scientist who has developed robotic doubles of the entire team, animals included, in a scheme likely borne out of sheer envy. Ted Knight has a dual role as the villain (what a shock).



When Dandy Deal posted this video two years ago, he cut the video off a wee bit too soon, and at the time had a habit of doing that. One of these days, the series, if it isn't already, should be on DVD. NBC-Universal now owns the rights by virtue of Comcast's purchase of Dreamworks Classic.

Rating: B.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Looney TV: Hollywood Steps Out (1941-2)

This Merrie Melodies entry, "Hollywood Steps Out", does its share of tweaking the show business elite. The original title card was lost from this print, and that explains the remastered, relatively generic version created two years ago.



Today, you couldn't do anything like this.

Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman & Catwoman meet again for the first time (The Batman, 2003)

Over the course of its 5 seasons, The Batman reimagined the Dark Knight's world. The series is set early in the career of the Caped Crusader (Rino Romano), but some of the changes to ally and enemy alike didn't quite jibe with established canon, as if the producers wanted to create their own pocket universe.

As has been documented, the Joker was rebooted with a Rastafarian 'do. Like, did anyone ever imagine the Clown Prince of Crime being into reggae or ska music? Penguin was given more of a positive makeover, of a sort, as it was established that Oswald Cobblepot's family was in or around Bruce Wayne's tax bracket.

And, then, there is Catwoman.

Selina Kyle (Gina Gershon) was given a modified version of her 1966-8 black catsuit, and the fact that, in her first appearance, "The Cat & The Bat", she steals Batman's utility belt, even wearing it for a time, is a homage to the first, and some say, still the most definitive Cat, Julie Newmar (though Michelle Pfeiffer & Anne Hathaway might have something to say about that).

However, Batman & Catwoman don't realize that the latter's prey belongs to a member of the Japanese Yakuza.......



Does anyone here think that Det. Ellen Yin (Ming-Na, currently on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD) was meant to be a stand-in for Renee Montoya, who'd bowed on Batman: The Animated Series 11 years earlier?

Oh, and keep an ear open for all the "Easter egg" references to various writers & artists who'd worked on the Bat-books over the years, including Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, & Walt Simonson.

Rating: A-. One of the better entries in the series.

Friday, May 18, 2018

You Know The Voice: Len Weinrib (1964)

From season 1 of Burke's Law:

Len Weinrib makes the first of his two appearances on the series in the episode, "Who Killed What's His Name?". Len plays Cully, a bartender, who provides the detectives with some info on a suspect in a murder case. Len shows up around the 20 minute mark in an episode that also features Dick Clark (American Bandstand) in a rare acting role.



Weinrib & Clark would each return in season 2, but in separate episodes and fresh roles. We had Len's 2nd season appearance before it was taken down, and we're on the hunt for it. As for Dick? Well, if you ask nicely, I'll keep an eye for it. Same goes for episodes with other Archives favorites such as Henry Corden and Jackie Joseph.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tooniversary: A complete episode of the Archie Show (1968)

Here we go with another Archie Show:

First up, Jughead (Howard Morris) decides he & Hot Dog are detectives, after getting a PI kit in the mail. Pity Archie & Reggie (Dallas McKennon & John Erwin). After gathering the pearls from Veronica's broken necklace, Jug mistakes them for thieves, and vice versa.

Then, Reggie's cousin Percy visits. If you thought Reg was a handful.....



Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tooniversary: A Little Fairy Tale (1983)

From season 1 of The Littles:

When Henry Bigg's friend, Marie, is threatened with transfer to a private, all-girls school by her father if she comes home with a bad report card, the young woman decides to run away after getting a B and a C in addition to a set of A's. Lucy Little decides to run away, despite getting straight A's on her card, just like Henry. Her goal, however, is to try to encourage Marie to come home.....



Good stuff.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis meets Bigfoot (?)(1975)

From season 1 of The Secrets of Isis:

Reports of "Bigfoot" prompt Isis (Joanna Cameron) to investigate, only to discover the legendary man-beast isn't around after all. Neil J. Schwartz (Happy Days) and Scott Colomby guest star.



Yep, a tall hermit can be mistaken for a "Bigfoot". Back then, the frenzy over Bigfoot was just ridiculous.

Albert Reed (ex-Chase) played the school principal, but didn't appear in every episode.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Homecoming, part 2 (Teen Titans, 2005)

Let's not waste any time. Here's the conclusion of Teen Titans' 5th season opener, "Homecoming", marking the animated debut of the Doom Patrol.



All in all, it was predictable, and it certainly suggested that this was a backdoor pilot for a possible DP series, but Cartoon Network didn't take a chance. All that was missing was the DP's founder and original leader, Niles Caulder.

In the books, Steve Dayton (Mento) was the adoptive father of Gar Logan, aka Beast Boy, whose other identity hadn't been revealed on this show until this episode. As we've documented, the warped minds behind this series opted to give Gar a more bestial appearance, which hasn't improved much in the six years since Teen Titans Go! launched. If you want the "real" Gar, check out the DC Super Hero Girls shorts available On Demand or online, or the graphic novels in the series from DC.

Rating: B.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Planet in Missing Linka (1993)

From season 1 of The New Adventures of Captain Planet (season 4 overall):

Linka (Kath Soucie) heads home when she learns from her brother that their grandmother has taken ill. Wheeler (Joey Dedio) & Ma-Ti (Scott Menville) accompany Linka, but Wheeler secretly remains behind. Meanwhile, the rest of the team investigates a toxic spill in a small town.

Here's "Missing Linka":



If there were any hints of relationships on this show, it would be Linka & Wheeler, wouldn't it?

In memory of Margot Kidder, who had taken over the role of Gaia from Whoopi Goldberg with the change in studios from DIC to Hanna-Barbera. Margot passed away today at 69.

Rating for "Missing Linka": A.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Teen Titans meet the Doom Patrol (2005)

Teen Titans kicked off its 5th & final season in 2005 (the five seasons were produced over a 3 year period) by introducing Beast Boy's old team, the Doom Patrol, in the 2-part episode, "Homecoming". Here's part 1:



We'll save the rating for when we present part 2, which will be tomorrow.

So, you might ask, what's the occasion? Well, word just came across the wires earlier today that DC has chosen the Doom Patrol for a live-action series to air on their new DC Universe streaming service, beginning next year. As with the forthcoming Titans live-action series, Doom Patrol is being entrusted to----who else?---Greg Berlanti, as if he doesn't have enough on his plate already. At the rate things are going, Berlanti may as well be offered a stake in the CW, even though he also has shows on NBC (Blindspot, just renewed for a 4th season), Netflix (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, coming soon), Lifetime, and, in the fall, two entries on CBS, in addition to the 2 DCU online entries. Now, that's busy with a capital B.

You Know The Voice(s): Dallas McKennon & Robert Ridgely (1971)

Daniel Boone had been off the air for nearly a year or so by the time this Ford truck ad began airing. Dallas McKennon (Cincinnatus) is featured, along with future 70's icon Pat Morita and Robert Ridgely. Not sure if that's Robert impersonating "The Duke" himself, John Wayne. Anyway, Dal took a break from recording Archie's TV Funnies for this spot.



Not sure if Dallas did any other live-action work after this, or just went back to doing cartoon work.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis in The Show-Off (1975)

From season 1 of The Secrets of Isis:

In "The Show-Off", an arrogant student learns a lesson in humility the hard way. First, Isis (Joanna Cameron) rescues him after his ladder breaks. Later, on a Science Club trip, he and some of his classmates, along with teacher Rick Mason (Brian Cutler), are trapped in a cave with an escaped gorilla.



The episode was directed by Arnold Laven, which reunited Laven with one of his former charges at Four Star, producer Arthur H. Nadel. The two previously worked together on The Rifleman years earlier. What I'm not sure of is if it's either Bob Burns (Ghost Busters) or someone like Janos Prohaska (ex-The Andy Williams Show) as the gorilla.

Rating: A-.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Toon Rock: Genius of Love (1981)

The Tom Tom Club was a spin-off from the alternative rock combo, Talking Heads. The husband & wife team of Chris Franz & Tina Weymouth were the core of the band, aided by Tina's sisters and ace guitarist Adrian Belew.

1981's "Genius of Love" was credited with inspiring Heads frontman David Byrne with continuing with the band, as Tom Tom Club released their album in between Heads albums.

Toons You Might've Missed: Aesop's Fables (1971)

Hey, hey, hey! Before he launched Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids, Bill Cosby began his association with Filmation with a primetime special, an adaptation of Aesop's Fables.

Cosby has the title role in what appears to be a pilot for another series, this one a collaboration between Filmation and Lorimar. Jerelyn Fields (Curiosity Shop) co-stars, and would return to Filmation 10 years later to work on The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! for NBC.

I should note that Cosby's first project for CBS may have been the TV-movie, "To All My Friends on Shore". I'll have to check that.

Anyway, Filmation regulars Jane Webb, John Erwin, Dallas McKennon, & Larry Storch provide the voices for most of the animated characters, and I'd not be surprised that co-producer Lou Scheimer may have contributed as well, uncredited. Speaking of uncredited, that brings us to the idea that the talking tree's voice may actually have been that of Ted Cassidy, who'd later return to Filmation for a guest gig on Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. Cassidy is not listed on any source guides.







Sounds like Larry Storch is the hare. John Erwin is definitely the fox, as there's no mistaking his voice. The Tortoise & The Hare had been adapted rather loosely for shorter pieces by Warner Bros. (2 Bugs Bunny shorts) and Jay Ward (Aesop & Son), but this may have been one of the more definitive adaptations.

Rating: B.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

From Comics to Toons: The Day The Earth Moved (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

If you think the "Tremors" movies are wack, you might want to check this episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries.

Archie is forced to carry on a family tradition on the first day of spring, unaware that it has attracted a giant albino worm, which is destroying Riverdale. "The Day The Earth Moved" has no connection with an ABC TV-movie from 25 years earlier.



Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases (Batman: The Brave & The Bold, 2011)

From Batman: The Brave & The Bold:

Bat-Mite makes his first of two appearances in the series, serving as a guest host for a trio of tales as diverse as night & day, hence "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases".

1. In an adaptation of a tale from Mad Magazine, "Batboy & Rubin" (Frank Welker & Jeff Bennett) hunt down a trio of gangs. The twist ending, when I read the original story years earlier, is one you should've seen coming, considering the source. Rubin's mannerisms suggest the tallest "Robin" ever was modeled after Jerry Lewis.

2. The second adaptation comes from a Japanese Bat-manga, as the Dynamic Duo pursue Lord Death Man (Diedrich Bader, normally the voice of Batman on this show).

3. The producers pay homage to Batman & Robin's appearances on The New Scooby-Doo Movies nearly 40 years earlier, by pitting the Caped Crusaders & Mystery, Inc. against the Joker (Corey Burton) and the Penguin (Bennett). Welker fills in as Batman here. Song satirist "Weird" Al Yankovic adds to the fun.

Oh, by the way, Bat-Mite's voice is performed here and in the series finale by Paul Reubens.



We showcased the last segment previously, but now it's time for the whole enchilada.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Getting Schooled: So Much For So Little (1949)

Chuck Jones' 1949 documentary, "So Much For So Little", earned an Academy Award. Jones also co-wrote the piece with Friz Freleng, though neither are credited for writing. Frank Graham is the narrator in a rare WB cartoon not involving Mel Blanc.



Rating: A.

You Know The Voice(s): Gary Owens & Mako (1966)

In addition to voicing Space Ghost in 1966, Gary Owens also had a recurring role as a TV news anchor on The Green Hornet. Owens was also doing promos for CBS' Saturday lineup, a gig he had at least through the 1969-70 season while also on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and also served as a studio announcer for ABC around this time, often heard doing commercial bumpers for shows such as Bewitched.

In "The Preying Mantis", Owens is heard in 2 segments, but the focus is on the plot itself. Low Sing (Mako) has corrupted a local Chinese tong while in the employ of mobster Duke Slate. The climatic battle between Low Sing and Kato (Bruce Lee) is worth the price of admission alone.



Years later, Mako would endear himself to cartoon fans as the voice of Aku, the big bad of Samurai Jack, but passed away before [adult swim] could revive Jack, which has since concluded its story.

Rating for "The Preying Mantis": A.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends have a problem with Androids (1973)

The original Super Friends marks its 45th anniversary this year, but you & I know Cartoon Network and Boomerang won't do anything about it. They didn't bother with the previous anniversary milestones, either.

Anyway, the Justice Leaguers have to deal with mad Dr. Rebos (Casey Kasem in a dual role), who's created android doubles of Superman (Danny Dark) & Wonder Dog (Frank Welker) as part of his plot. Welker also voices Rebos' aid, Loco.



Welker would later recycle his Loco voice for the Toyman 5 years later (Challenge of the Super Friends).

Rating: B.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember this ad for Scooby-Doo? (1969)

I think this aired quite a bit during Scooby-Doo's 1st season (1969-70) and the prior summer. Gary Owens (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), who would also narrate The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, narrates this ad.



To think Scooby turns 50 next year. Zoinks!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Game Time: Double Dare 2000 (2000)

Seven years had passed since Nickelodeon cancelled Double Dare and its clones. At the turn of the millenium, the series was brought back, but Double Dare 2000, which basically was a reboot of Family Double Dare, lasted just 1 season.

Original host Marc Summers had moved on, so comedian Jason Harris was brought in as the new host. As before, the show combines elements of common quizzes, with a heapin' helpin' of Beat The Clock, though sources also cite the Ideal game, Mouse Trap, as an influence.

Here's a sample clip:



Why bring this up? Because, like Clarissa Explains it All, Double Dare is being brought back by Nick, set to air later this summer. No host has yet been announced as of press time.

Rating: A.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Doubling down on the stupidity: The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour (1982)

ABC cancelled Fonz & The Happy Days Gang after 2 seasons, and without a plausible ending to the series. No matter. Fonzie (Henry Winkler) clearly made it home, as he was added to Laverne & Shirley in The Army for its 2nd & final season. Unfortunately, Mr. Cool (Frank Welker) tagged along, if but because Hanna-Barbera, Paramount, & ABC hadn't figured out yet that he was twice as annoying as the poster child for toon apathy in those days, Scrappy-Doo.

Worse, the network commissioned Ruby-Spears to develop an animated version of Mork & Mindy after that series had finished a 4 year run. Taking implausibility to insane proportions, it was decided that Mork (Robin Williams) would go further back in time to when his future wife, Mindy (Pam Dawber), was in high school.

And, if you thought this was crazy, consider that H-B & R-S were also joined together when ABC decided that Scooby & Scrappy-Doo would be paired with The Puppy's Great Adventures for another hour-long block. Don't ya wish they pink slipped the marketing nerds who thought these were great ideas?

Ok, The Mork & Mindy-Laverne & Shirley-Fonz Hour was doomed from the get-go, as whatever magic was generated on Tuesdays (Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley) wasn't there, and Fonzie & Cool were like square pegs in a round hole.

Could this have worked better? Of course, by separating the component parts.

1. You come up with the definitive series finale to Fonz & The Happy Days Gang as part of a TV-movie to set up Fonzie joining Laverne & Shirley on their Saturday show......but not in the Army. Trying to stretch out a 2-part Laverne episode without one of its key ingredients (Vicki Lawrence) didn't work the first time around, and yet it was renewed, probably at the bequest of some know-nothing network suit.

2. The Mork cartoon could've actually been a continuation of the live-action series, with Mork & Mindy married and raising Mearth (Jonathan Winters, who'd later come to work for H-B), and coming up with story ideas that couldn't be used on the parent show. If ABC hadn't figured out that the ratings from the evening shows weren't fully translating on Saturday mornings, why double down on the fool's follies?

Anyway, this video not only includes the open for the block, but bumpers narrated by Winkler & Williams, a network interstital, and two sets of closing credits.



It's like ABC thought that just because Happy Days Gang, a comedy-adventure knockoff of Josie & The Pussycats in Outer Space, was a hit, then adapting the others into animation would work, too. I've heard of being a little slow on the uptake, but this was ridiculous.

Rating: D.

Well, look who's coming back!: Clarissa Explains it All merits a sequel

Sometimes, you can go home again.

More than two decades after the series ended, Nickelodeon is planning on reviving the 1991 sitcom, Clarissa Explains it All, but this time, Clarissa Darling (Melissa Joan Hart) will be a mom herself, and presumably explaining things from her own point of view as before.

Both Hart, who recently finished her last series, Melissa & Joey, and series creator Mitchell Kriegman, are on board for what amounts to a sequel to the previous series. As of this writing, there's no exact timetable for the relaunch to begin. What you probably don't know is that after the series ended, Kriegman wrote a novel, Things I Can't Explain, which was meant at the time to be a coda to the series. Too bad it hasn't already been adapted into a movie, or is that also on Kriegman's & Nickelodeon's plate?

Viewers watched as Melissa Joan Hart grew up before our eyes on Clarissa and the even bigger Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (1996-2003, ABC & WB). For right now, let's take you back to the first season, when Clarissa decides to start her own cable network....



We didn't see this episode the first time, so no rating.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Kong: The Animated Series (2000)

Nearly 35 years after his first animated series premiered, King Kong returned, but now in the simpler titled Kong: The Animated Series, which aired initially on Fox for a short time in 2000, then was farmed out to Fox Family (now Freeform), and bounced around after its lone 40 episode season.

This time, Kong is linked cybernetically to a young human, Jason, whose grandmother has invited the lad and his best friend, Tam, to Kong Island. There, Team Kong has to fend off the machinations of greedy Professor Ramone De La Porta. Well, you know how that goes.

Co-executive producer Stephanie Graziano had disbanded Graz Entertainment, and joined forces with a Filipino animation house, among others to develop this series. 2 DTV's came out well after the series ended, intended to cash in on Peter Jackson's reboot of the original 1933 movie.

In the episode, "The Aquanauts", Team Kong travels to Atlantis (!), which is based beneath Scotland (?), while De La Porta takes control of the Loch Ness Monster.



Contrived? Well, somewhat, which is why it ran just 1 season. Impatient Fox suits took the show off the air when the ratings didn't meet expectations.

Rating: B.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Two King Kong adventures (1966)

Time for a trip to Skull Island to visit with King Kong and the Bond family.

In "The Electric Circle", Kong and the Bonds run afoul of an enemy scientist.

In "Mirror of Destruction", Dr. Who, who'd menace Kong again in the live-action movie, "King Kong Escapes" (also co-produced by Rankin-Bass in one of their rare live-action efforts), tries to capture Kong for his own nefarious schemes.

There are also bumpers. Carl Banas is the voice of Professor Bond, with Billie Richards (Rudolph) as Bobby Bond, Kong's sidekick.



In a way, King Kong was posited as ABC & Rankin-Bass' answer to Frankenstein, Jr. over on CBS.

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Cat-Tails For Two (1953-61)

Bugs Bunny wasn't the only WB icon to undergo an early career makeover.

The same can be said for Speedy Gonzales, whose debut entry, 1953's "Cat-Tails For Two", presents a prototype version of Speedy. Same super-speed, but with what amounts to a buzz cut for hair, and buck teeth.

In "Cat-Tails", the felines in question are the John Steinbeck-inspired Benny & George, rather than Sylvester, who would get his chance to duel with Speedy later on.

This copy, though, is a Blue Ribbon reissue from 1961.



Of course, Speedy would improve as time went on, although he's been a victim of the PC Police in recent years.

For what it's worth, one of my ex-girlfriends, a songwriter-poet, had a song entitled, "Benny & George" back in the day, and, like the cats in this cartoon, this was inspired by Of Mice & Men.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember when Scooby-Doo had his own cereal? (2003)

Zoinks! Kellogg's obtained a license in 2003 to produce a Scooby-Doo cereal.

Predictably, Scooby's fractured speech leaves a waitress confused in this spot. Yes, that's Frank Welker and Casey Kasem as Scooby & Shaggy.



Unfortunately, it didn't survive the decade.

Teenage Toons: Kim Possible goes Full Monkey (2004)

An accident turns Kim Possible, gradually, into a half-girl, half-monkey, while having to juggle a cheerleading competition and capturing Lord Monkey Fist. Here's "The Full Monkey":



The episode title, is, of course, a play on the movie, "The Full Monty".

I'm sure you've probably heard by now that Disney is reviving Kim Possible, but this time with a live-action movie. Original stars Christy Carlson Romano (Even Stevens) & Will Friedle (Boy Meets World, Batman Beyond) recently cut a video trying to score an audition for the movie. As if that'll work. We'll have that up another day.

Doesn't Kim look fetching as a red-headed monkey?

Rating: A.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Shock to The System (Static Shock, 2000)

Our Famous First episode for May is the series premiere of Static Shock, which, over the course of four years, was shuffled in and out of Kids' WB!'s lineup due to the network being committed to anime imports such as Pokemon and having next to no space for "domestic" cartoons to air on a consistent basis. Such was the ratings war between WB & Fox in those days for the kiddo's.

Virgil Hawkins, aka Static (Phil LaMarr, MadTV), is cocky and talkative, just like Spider-Man when he started out nearly 40 years earlier. You think maybe the web-head was an inspiration to the late Dwayne McDuffie, Static's creator? Check out "Shock to The System":



Too bad Chumptoon Network & Boomerang can't be bothered to even schedule this show once in a while.

Rating: A.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Toons After Dark: Top Cat in The Unscratchables (1961)

Here's a case of Hanna-Barbera biting the hand that feeds it, in this case ABC.

Top Cat does a loose parody of another ABC series, The Untouchables, in the episode, "The Unscratchables". Benny (Maurice Gosfeld, ex-You'll Never Get Rich) swallows the valuable Hopeless Diamond, and Top Cat (Arnold Stang) has to outwit and out-con gangsters who covet the diamond for themselves.



There would be another "Hopeless Diamond" three years later, as Total Television's Underdog fought Riff Raff over it.

Rating: B.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Daytime Heroes: WordGirl (2008)

Spun off from a regular feature on Maya & Miguel, WordGirl was granted her own series by PBS Kids in 2008.

In a way, the flash animated series is a spiritual successor to The Adventures of Letterman from the original Electric Company. However, the stories are longer, and provide valuable lessons for the target audience. In another nod, WordGirl, hailing from another world, owes some of her inspiration to----wait for it----Superman and his cousin, Supergirl.

If the narrator sounds familiar, well, it's Chris Parnell (ex-Saturday Night Live), the voice behind Progressive Insurance's annoying talking Box.

In this sample, a robotics whiz (Patton Oswalt) tries to get the better of WordGirl with a "WordBot".



Rating: B.

From Comics to Toons: The Fantastic Four vs. Magneto (1978)

40 years ago, DePatie-Freleng obtained a license to adapt The Fantastic Four for television, the beginning of a partnership with Marvel that would ultimately result in the comics giant buying out the studio just a couple of years later.

Unfortunately, as has been documented previously, The New Fantastic Four, like its Hanna-Barbera-produced predecessor 11 years earlier, only had one season of 1st run episodes. The Thing would return to H-B the next year, only to be royally screwed over, as we've also documented.

Here, Magneto (John Stephenson), a long time nemesis and, later, sometime ally of the X-Men, provides the menace du jour. Here's "The Menace of Magneto":



Magneto was portrayed as arrogant and vain, much as he was in the books back in the day, but looked a little too weak as a solo act.

Rating: C.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Toonfomercial: Esso becomes Exxon (1973)

Exxon these days is now merged with Mobil, but in truth, they've always been two components of the same conglomerate.

In 1973, Humble Oil, one of the parent companies, decided to rechristen Esso as Exxon. Other advertising mascots, including Alka-Seltzer's Speedy (Dick Beals), Elsie the Cow (Borden), the Jolly Green Giant, and Mr. Peanut make appearances. Peter Thomas is the narrator.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Saturday School: Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids bond with their fathers (1973)

From season 2 of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids:

The gang's reports about their fathers' jobs ring hollow when their teacher figures out they're exaggerating, and don't really know what their dads do for a living. Their next assignment? They go to work with their fathers for a day.



Notice the mustache & beard on Bill Cosby in the live-action segments. I think he was working on a movie at the time he taped these wraparounds.

It's unfortunate that we likely won't see these classic cartoons again on television in the wake of Cosby's conviction Thursday on sexual assault charges.

Rating: A.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Young Samson in The Curse of Montambu (1967)

Finding complete episodes of Young Samson, preferably in English, is difficult, as there isn't quite as much interest in this series as there are for the rest of the Hanna-Barbera super adventure line (1966-69).

Anyway, here's "The Curse of Montambu":



Typical fare of the period.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Looney TV: Foney Fables (1942)

Now, here's a warped take on some classic tales. Friz Freleng serves up some "Foney Fables", parodying the likes of Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, and more.



Rating: B.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Three is a Magic Number (1973)

From Schoolhouse Rock comes "Three is a Magic Number", composed & performed by Bob Dorough.



In memory of Dorough, 94, who passed away earlier today in his home in Pennsylvania. Rest in peace, Bob. Your music touched us all.

Tooniversary: Alvie's Angels (Alvin & the Chipmunks, 1988)

For whatever reason, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. decided to switch animation studios for Alvin & The Chipmunks beginning with the 6th season (1988-9). However, if you look real close at the closing credit indicia, you'll see that Ruby-Spears, which produced the series with Bagdasarian Productions from 1983-8, still had a smaller hand, as they were credited with producing the series with Murakami-Wolf, although Joe Ruby & Ken Spears were no longer executive producers. After 11 episodes, Bagdasarian changed animation houses again, this time to DIC, and we'll cover that another time.

In the full length episode, "Alvie's Angels", the spotlight is on the Chipettes in a parody of---what else?---Charlie's Angels. A second parody, a mash-up of Angels and another Aaron Spelling classic, Starsky & Hutch, appears on television screens at the mall. After getting run over by a jewel thief, the Chipettes have a collective daydream which drives the story. Theodore is an analogue for Bosley, but where's Simon?



Apparently fearing that ratings were starting to drop, Bagdasarian may have decided, with an assist from NBC, and, later, Fox, to reformat the show to do more movie & TV satires. In fact, the final two seasons were under the title, Chipmunks Go To The Movies.

Rating: B.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Toon Rock: Meet The Dale Gribble Bluegrass Experience (King of The Hill, 2002)

Yee-haw! It should surprise, well, no one, that the soundtrack of King of The Hill would not only have pop and alternative rock, but also some serious country flavor.

Hank Hill (series creator/co-executive producer Mike Judge) and pals form a bluegrass band to support young Connie, a violin/fiddle prodigy who wants to gain a little independence from her strict father. So, the gang heads off to Branson, Missouri for a bluegrass competition. Unfortunately, as we'll see, ultra-patriotic, ultra xenophobic Dale lets his mouth get him in trouble again.

Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels, and comedian Yakov Smirnoff guest as themselves in "The Bluegrass is Always Greener".



I was half expecting Bill to request "Do The Bear", but that would be on another Fox show (i.e. Family Guy), if they wanted to try that.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Twinkles (1960)

Twinkles the Elephant not only was General Mills' newest cereal mascot in 1960, but he also appeared in short back-up segments during King Leonardo & His Short Subjects. George S. Irving, later the narrator of Underdog and a razor blade salesman, narrated, and the shorts, such as the following one, played out as if he was reading from a book, since the characters' mouths don't move all that much.



There are also some commercials for the cereal, and we'll take a dive into that another time.

Rating: B.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Saturday School: Animated Hero Classics (1991)

In 1991, HBO dived into the Saturday morning cartoon arena with the anthology series, Animated Hero Classics. In all, 20 episodes were produced between 1991-2004, which doesn't really put any bite to HBO's commitment to children's educational programming. Today, HBO shares the rights to Sesame Street, with episodes repurposed on the series' long-time broadcast home, PBS, but it's not quite the same as the lip service HBO gave to the government back in the 90's.

Following is the bio on Alexander Graham Bell. The open & close have been edited off.



Even though this was a Saturday series, since this is HBO we're talking about, it likely was rebroadcast on different days and at various times.

No rating.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember Coco the Monkey? (1991)

In the UK, Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies are known as Coco Pops. Coco the Monkey made his debut in the UK in 1963, and was brought to the US in 1991 in between Snap, Crackle, & Pop's runs as American mascots for Cocoa Krispies.

What Kellogg's did was recycle artwork for a Coco Pops ad in the UK, and alter the lyrics to the song. Sorry, I don't know who is the voice of Coco.



Unfortunately, Coco's stay in America didn't last long, and that's a pity, since his jingles had more bounce than some of that pre-fab pop that dominated the airwaves in those days.

Friday, April 20, 2018

On The Air: Trollhunters (2016)

From the whimsical imagination of filmmaker-author Guillermo Del Toro and from comics & TV vet Marc Guggenheim (Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, X-Men Gold) comes Trollhunters, a Netflix entry from Dreamworks which tells the story of a young human now tasked with protecting a race of trolls involved in an ages-old conflict.

The late Anton Yelchin ("Star Trek", "The Smurfs") was cast as Jim, the human Trollhunter, and had recorded enough material through the 2nd season before his passing in June 2016. The cast also includes some of the usual suspects (Mark Hamill, Fred Tatasciore) and some surprises, such as Kelsey Grammer (The Simpsons, ex-Gary The Rat, Cheers, Frasier) as Blinky, a 6-eyed, 4-armed troll who, along with Aaarrgh (Tatasciore, Avengers Assemble, Hulk & The Agents of SMASH, etc.), mentors Jim and his friends.

What we already know is that the series will end after the 3rd season which will stream later this year. Right now, though, scope out the trailer for season 1:



Guggenheim was in town earlier tonight, and screened the series premiere prior to being interviewed by Paul Grondahl of the NYS Writers Institute. More on that over at The Land of Whatever.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Shmoo meets The Amazing Captain Mentor (1979)

It was never explained how The New Shmoo left Al Capp's wacky backwoods village of Dogpatch (Li'l Abner) for the big city in his 1979 NBC series, but then, since Shmoo (Frank Welker) would end up in Bedrock a year later, I guess it doesn't matter, does it?

Anyway, in the series opener, Shmoo and his new friends encounter a superhero who's too good to be true. Super Friends narrator Bill Woodson guest stars as "The Amazing Captain Mentor".



What were Hanna-Barbera & NBC thinking, using Shmoo as a Scooby-Doo rip-off, albeit with three kids instead of four? Well, blame it, I think, on NBC, being desperate for a hit.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bruno Sammartino (1935-2018)

This is a shocker.

Word just came over the wire of the passing of WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino at age 82.

Born in a small town in Italy in 1935, Bruno emigrated to the US, and found his fame with the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation as a 2-time World champion, his last reign ending at the hands of Superstar Billy Graham in 1977. Bruno rarely competed on television, and when he did, it was usually, and understandably, a main event.

Sammartino initially retired in 1981, then made a brief comeback to fight alongside his son, David, in the mid-80's, before swapping his tights & boots for an announcer's blazer. However, he had a falling out with Vince McMahon during the late 80's over the direction of the company, and some thought he'd never return. That is, until he was inducted into the Hall of Fame just a few short years ago. Sammartino's last appearance on WWE-TV was to induct his former protege and nemesis, Larry Zbyszko, into the Hall in 2015.

From 1974, here's Bruno, in a non-title match with another future Hall of Famer, Mr. Fuji, managed by the Grand Wizard of Wrestling (Ernie Roth).



Today, you wouldn't see a match end in a pinfall after a mere back body drop. That's too simple for today's promoters, McMahon included.

Rest in peace, Bruno.

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Mouse in Swiss Cheese Family Robinson (1947)

Johann Wyss' classic tale was loosely adapted by Terrytoons as a vehicle for Mighty Mouse in 1947. You'll notice, though, that some parts of "Swiss Cheese Family Robinson" have been edited for content. Keep an eye for some sudden jump cuts near the end.



Typical fare.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Literary Toons: Swiss Family Robinson (1973)

From CBS' Famous Classic Tales, via Air Programs International of Australia, comes an adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson, the first of two animated versions of the classic tale, both arriving relatively around the same time, as Rankin-Bass produced a truncated version for their Festival of Family Classics.



As we know, there would be two live-action adaptations, one in Canada, the other here in the US, the next two years. I'm sure most of you know that Lost in Space, then & now, was a loose adaptation of the tale.

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: Mister Rogers on Sesame Street (1981)

Now, this is how you do a season finale.

As Sesame Street wrapped its 12th season in 1981, PBS, I'd imagine, arranged for Fred Rogers to make a guest appearance, interacting mostly with Big Bird (Carroll Spinney). Following is a compilation of segments from the episode, followed by the closing credits.



I am not sure if Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) ever arranged a crossover between Street and the original Electric Company during the latter's run (1971-7), but it would've been great if they did.

What do you think?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Toon Rock: I am The Very Model of a Cartoon Individual (Animaniacs, 1993)

Animaniacs turns 25 this year. Hard to believe, I know, but Warner Bros. Animation was rolling back then. Anyway, in the first season episode, "HMS Yakko", Yakko Warner (Rob Paulsen) takes the time to take a Gilbert & Sullivan piece from "The Pirates of Penzance" and turn it on its ear.....




Sunday, April 15, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember Banana Wackies? (1965)

Now, here's a cereal that was a 1-hit wonder.

General Mills introduced Banana Wackies in 1965. Jay Ward's studio was responsible for the ads, so I'm guessing June Foray & Daws Butler are the voices heard here......



Unfortunately, the Wackies were knocked from the shelves after just a year. I never heard of them until seeing ads appear on YouTube recently.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

On DVD: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)

Several years ago, DC began publishing a new generation of "imaginary stories" under the heading, Elseworlds, placing familiar characters in different chronological settings.

One of these efforts was a 1-shot graphic novel, Gotham by Gaslight, by Brian Augustyn & Mike Mignola. It suggested that Batman existed in 19th century Gotham City, during the Victorian era, or, more specifically, during the time of Jack the Ripper, who was a serial killer in England in those days.

What Augustyn & Mignola imagined was, what if Jack were in Gotham instead of London? Therein lies the basis for a loose adaptation of the book in a DTV released earlier this year.

The movie doesn't follow the book step by step, word for word, scene for scene. Instead, it adds new characters, some of whom are analogues for familiar names in the Bat-mythos. Bruce Timm serves as co-executive producer on what was the pentultimate project for long time producer Alan Burnett, who retired after the release of "Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay", the trailer of which is included with "Gaslight".

Bruce Greenwood, who voiced Batman on Young Justice (and presumably will return when the series does), has the honors here. Veteran actress Tara Strong applies a variant on her Harley Quinn voice for an old crone, Marlene. Anthony Stewart Head (ex-Buffy The Vampire Slayer) is heard as Alfred.

Here's a trailer:



I never really bought into the Batman Elseworlds all that much, largely because they were mostly variations on the same general theme. Just shuffle the deck, change the setting, characters, etc., but otherwise it's routine. The movie is a 77 minute thrill ride with a shocking, surprise reveal.

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice: "Underdog" shills for Salvo (1964-5)

This next item is also at The Land of Whatever.

I remember seeing Wally Cox shilling for Canada Dry's now-defunct Sport cola in the early 70's. Little did I know that this wasn't his first endorsement deal.

While Underdog was on CBS, Wally was hired to pitch Salvo detergent for Procter & Gamble.



I'm willing to guess that this ad might've slipped into some daytime programming, especially since P & G were producing soap operas back then (i.e. Search For Tomorrow, As The World Turns), and little kids, seeing Wally flex his muscles while balancing the box on his arm, and hearing the voice, would figure out he was the voice of Underdog.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Saturtainment: The first two episodes of Motormouse & Autocat (1969)

Normally, I'd save first episodes for the first of the month, but I couldn't pass up this two-for-one special.

I think I had one of these two Motormouse & Autocat shorts up before, then had to take it down when it was deleted by YouTube. Well, right now, let's scope the opener, "Wheelin' & Dealin'", which sets the tone for this Tom & Jerry clone on wheels. Then, in "Party Crasher" (title card deleted), Autocat (Marty Ingels) intercepts Motormouse's lost shopping list, not knowing the little guy's planning something for his nemesis.



The closing music at the end of "Wheelin' & Dealin'" would be recycled for other H-B series, including Josie & the Pussycats and, of course, Scooby-Doo.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

You Know The Voice: Daran Norris (2018)

Most folks associate actor Daran Norris with Nickelodeon (Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Fairly Oddparents), but in addition to Ned, Daran has done some substantial "face acting" elsewhere in the course of his career, including a recurring gig on CW's iZombie, where he plays newscaster Johnny Frost.

Daran surfaced in this week's episode, which is available for streaming on the CW website if you missed the show on Monday, or On Demand (check with your cable provider). For now, scope the preview of the episode. Daran shows up about halfway through the clip:



Johnny is a far cry from dimwitted Cosmo (Fairly Oddparents), and it allows Daran to demonstrate some range as an actor.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Daytime Heroes: He-Man visits Stone City (1984)

From Season 2 of Filmation's He-Man & The Masters of The Universe:

Evil-Lyn is after the riches of an ancient city, whose citizens are in a petrified state of suspended animation. She tricks King Vokan into attacking Castle Grayskull, but you know that's not going to work.....! Here's "Journey to Stone City", written by J. Michael Straczynski:



Unfortunately, the closing credits were edited off. Predictable fare.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: Even bank robbers need gas (1960's)

Standard Oil Company was once a large conglomerate, but in the early 20th century, it was split into several, more familiar brands, such as Mobil, Exxon, Chevron, & Amoco (formerly American).

In the 60's, Standard commissioned this 1/2-animated, 1/2-live action spot. Mel Blanc & Stan Freberg are the voices of the bank robbers, and Blanc also uses his Maxwell engine voice from The Jack Benny Program for the getaway car.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: El Conquistador (The Lone Ranger, 1966)

The Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) is on the trail of a Mexican bandit running a protection racket in a pueblo. But who is "El Conquistador"? Find out and see.



Ok, so Taka may have given things away, but the banditos couldn't connect the dots.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning Blasphemy: The Brother Love Show (1988)

In the midst of late 80's scandals involving evangelists Jimmy Swaggert and Jim Bakker, in particular, the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) introduced a parody of evangelists in general.

The Brother Love Show was an interview segment that first appeared on Wrestling Challenge in the winter of 1988 before being moved to Superstars of Wrestling later that summer. Behind the makeup and the exaggerated speech patterns of Brother Love was his creator, Bruce Prichard, brother of wrestler "Dr." Tom Prichard, who'd later move to WWE himself, first as a wrestler, then a commentator, before leaving in the early '00's. Prichard admitted to being more of a fan of the preacher's presentation rather than his sermons, and Brother Love served the role of an agent provocateur, siding with the heels (villains), and never showing any redeeming value.

Not too surprisingly, Brother Love would also leave himself vulnerable to embarrassment & humiliation. Case in point: A visit from Roddy Piper in 1989.



About a year and a half after this segment aired, Brother Love was gone, as Prichard left the company for a time. He last revived Brother Love back in January for the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw, but nothing had changed. He's about as entertaining as watching paint dry. In the final analysis, Brother Love was just another Piper wannabe when it came to interviews.

Rating: C-.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Toons After Dark: Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs (1973)

From Rankin-Bass' Festival of Family Classics:

The Brothers Grimm's Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs had been successfully adapted by Disney many years ago. Having to compress the story into a shorter time frame proved to be troublesome for Mushi Studios of Japan, entrusted with the animation for the Festival. Judge for yourselves.



The limited animation used here was more of a detriment than usual, especially near the end when the forest animals are supposed to be dancing with joy. How Australia's Air Programs International whiffed on doing their own adaptation for CBS' Famous Classic Tales, I don't know.

Rating: C. Not a good adaptation.

Saturtainment: Sunken Treasure (Run, Joe, Run, 1974)

From season 1 of Run, Joe, Run:

Joe meets a young boy (Robbie Rist, fresh from The Brady Bunch) who ends up finding some "Sunken Treasure" that gets the attention of a seemingly harmless fellow (Chuck McCann), but the adult is a smuggler, apparently.



Rist, of course, would return to Saturday morning TV two years later with Sherwood Schwartz's Big John, Little John, and, later, Kidd Video, both for NBC, though reruns of the latter would later surface on CBS. McCann, the NYC kids show legend, would land his own series the next year, developing and co-starring in the Kroffts' Far Out Space Nuts for CBS.

In memory of McCann, who passed away Sunday at 83. No rating.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

On The Air: Constantine: City of Demons (2018)

Occultist John Constantine (Matt Ryan) returns in an all-new online miniseries, airing on CW Seed, which is also home to reruns of the short-lived live-action Constantine.

In City of Demons, Constantine comes to the aid an old childhood friend whose daughter has been possessed by a demon. There are ties to the live-action Constantine, and the continuity follows last year's "Justice League Dark" film.

City of Demons also reunites Constantine with co-executive producer David S. Goyer (Krypton), who was the show-runner for the earlier series. Goyer teams with Greg Berlanti ("Love, Simon", Arrow, Supergirl, etc.) this time around. The first 5 episodes are available for viewing after premiering at WonderCon two weeks ago. 7 additional episodes will be released later this year.

Right now, scope the opening chapter.



There are plans to release this as a full-length film with additional footage after the remaining episodes are released.

Rating: A.

Toons You Might've Missed: Smokey Bear & The Little Boy (1960)

Long before Rankin-Bass acquired a license to bring Smokey Bear to television, Smokey (Jackson Weaver) starred in this 5 minute-plus short for the US Forest Service.

"Smokey Bear & The Little Boy", narrated by Paul Frees (who else?) is a collection of smaller PSA's that apparently were cobbled together for use in classrooms.



Rating: A.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Rare Treats: The Man From Button Willow (1965)

"The Man From Button Willow" was released in the spring of 1965, but the copyright at the end of the film suggests that it could've been out sooner. That is, two years sooner. By the time it was released, star Dale Robertson was a year away from Iron Horse.

Robertson not only introduces the movie, but co-wrote some of the music, and has the lead as Justin Eagle, a government agent assigned to Button Willow. Our supporting cast includes Thurl Ravenscroft as the preacher, Howard Keel, and Edgar Buchanan (Petticoat Junction).



United Screen Arts, by the way, was Robertson's production company. I have no memory of this film having been on television. A pity.

Rating: B.

Saturtainment: Smokey Bear's Album (1969)

The back-up feature on The Smokey Bear Show was something called Smokey Bear's Album, a series of short stories that focused on a younger Smokey (voiced by Billie Richards).

Here, in "Hizzoner The Admiral", Smokey and pals go on a field trip aboard a boat piloted by the mayor, a not-so-wise old owl.



I think now you know why the show flopped.

Rating: B-.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Literary Toons: Journey to The Center of The Earth (1977)

From Famous Classic Tales:

It's safe to say the series had found its footing again after having only produced one new episode during the 1974-5 season. There were five the next year, and Jules Verne's Journey to The Center of The Earth was the pentultimate episode of the 1976-7 season.



As you can see, this was a more faithful adaptation of Verne's classic than Filmation's 1967 Saturday morning entry for ABC. However, Professor Lindenbrook is shown here as more of the stereotypical eccentric scientist. Whether or not that was Verne's original vision, I cannot say. I never read the book.

Rating: B.