Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Sonic in Ultra Sonic (1993)

Sonic The Hedgehog (Jaleel White, Family Matters) locates his missing uncle, but discovers that Robotnik got his paws on the relative first. Here's "Ultra Sonic":



Now would be a good time to let you all know Sonic is headed to the big screen this fall, in time for Thanksgiving. Ben Schwartz takes over as the voice of Sonic, who somehow winds up on Earth. Jim Carrey plays Robotnik. "Sonic The Hedgehog" lands in theatres in early November.

"Ultra Sonic" merits an A-.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Getting Schooled: Baby Huey in Operation Immunization (1995)

I don't get the issues with anti-vaccination fanatics who've been led to believe, and, in turn, are spreading misinformation to everyone else about vaccination being an alleged cause of autism. If these mooks went to school and learned a few things about autism and other maladies, we wouldn't have such drivel.

Anyway, in 1995, Baby Huey was used as an object lesson in vaccination for children. Here's "Operation Immunization":



If I'm not mistaken, storyboard artist Stephan DiStefano, formerly with DC Comics, also worked on Ren & Stimpy. Just sayin'.

Rating: B.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Teenage Toons: Fat Albert in The New Father (1981)

"The New Father" refers to a pending stepfather to Fat Albert's friend, Buffy (an uncredited Ericka Scheimer), who has some reservations about her mother dating again after becoming a widow.

In a way, I can relate. My late ex-girlfriend lost her mom at an early age. When her father remarried, she didn't get along so well with her stepmother, and that led to some emotional & psychological traumas that she carried to the very end.



Skip past the Brown Hornet segment, and you'll be fine.

Rating: B.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Looney TV: Tick Tock Tuckered (1944)

Porky Pig & Daffy Duck star in "Tick Tock Tuckered", a remake of a short Porky made seven years earlier, "Porky's Badtime Story". Both were directed by Bob Clampett.

Call it a primer on making sure you get to work on time.......



Yes, this is a Blue Ribbon reissue, the only way this is available online. Look at it this way. Daffy seems a little more believable than Gabby Goat, Porky's original co-star, who didn't last long.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Toonfomercial: Remember Underoos? (1978)

Ah, Underoos. A brand of children's briefs whose main gimmick was that the briefs were designed and marketed as comic book tie-ins.

Being a teenager in 1978, I was outside of the target demographic for the product. Now, if they put out t-shirts, that'd probably be a different story.

Scope the commercial, and when they get to Shazam (Captain Marvel), you can see why DC inevitably gave in and made the name change nearly 40 years later....



Unfortunately, while Underoos are still around, they're not being heavily promoted. Fruit of The Loom, which originally marketed the product, has since outsourced it to a smaller company.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Saturtainment: Our Gang in Free Eats (1932)

Art Linkletter may have coined the phrase, "kids say the darndest things", but they can also do the darndest things.

Case in point is this Our Gang entry from 1932, "Free Eats", marking the debut of Spanky. The kids are invited to a charity event promising free food, but some enterprising crooks intend to spoil the party. Billy Gilbert (no relation to ye scribe) is one of the crooks. As for his "wife", that ain't no lady at all! In truth, it's a pre-Rifleman Paul Fix in drag, more than 25 years before he was cast as Micah opposite Chuck Connors.



Did they really think passing off adult midgets as toddlers would actually work around real kids? Apparently, Stymie's smart enough to know the difference.

Rating: B.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: Doom Patrol (2012)

With the live-action Doom Patrol currently airing on DC Universe, the streaming service also has the three shorts produced for Cartoon Network's ill-fated DC Nation block in 2012.

This 75 second nugget is a compartmentalized adaptation of a classic story from the comics. The cliffhanger format is intentional, but only three shorts were produced, mostly as teasers.



The intent was to use the interstital portion of DC Nation as an incubator for possible spin-offs. That led to the still-on-the-air Teen Titans Go!, but there was better material to be had, such as the above.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: Justice League vs. The Fatal Five (2019)

The latest Justice League animated movie is available on DVD & DC Universe.

"Justice League vs. The Fatal Five" brings the villains from the future world of the Legion of Super Heroes into the present, in pursuit of the newest Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerrero, Doom Patrol). A Legionnaire has also moved back in time to try to stop them, and needs the League's help.

In this scene, Jessica, along with the League, checks out the Legion Museum....



Some well known alien Lanterns make appearances as well, which will delight fans of the Green Lantern Corps.

Rating: A.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Daytime Heroes: Mario Meets Koop-Zilla (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, 1989)

Holy ravioli! The Super Mario Bros. travel to Sayonara to try to stop arch-foe King Koopa, who has morphed into a parody of Godzilla in "Mario Meets Koop-Zilla".

Meanwhile, in the live-action wraparound, the brothers (Lou Albano, Danny Wells) recruit a fortune teller (guest star Kaye Ballard, ex-The Mothers-in-Law) to help them win a sweepstakes, with the predictable results.....



The series marks its 30th anniversary this year, but Mario & Luigi have been around longer than that, of course.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Daytime Heroes: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir (2015)

Before we begin, let us take a moment of silence to mourn the recent termination of Sinclair Broadcasting's KidsClick block, which waved good-bye a few weeks back.

Mourning over.

Sinclair acquired an interesting French-English adventure series, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, which first premiered in South Korea in 2015.

You have a pair of teenage heroes, and complicated romance that makes the classic Archie comics look normal by comparison.

Marinette, aka Ladybug, has the hots for Aiden, though she is unaware that he is also her crime-fighting partner, Cat Noir. In costume, Cat Noir is hot for Ladybug, reversing the drama of their civilian selves.

The series is currently on Netflix after its run in syndication ended, so if you couldn't program your DVR to tune in to pre-dawn airings on KidsClick, now's the time to catch up.

We'll get you started with "Stormy Weather":



Nice CGI, but the plots tend to be repetitive....

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Saturtainment: Thunder in The Desert (1938)

Depending on where you lived back in the day, there was a syndicated series that aired old Westerns whose running times were edited ever so slightly to fit a hour-long format. As memory serves, Roy Rogers served as the host for this anthology series.

Among the Western stars featured was Bob Steele. Baby boomers are more apt to remember Steele from his later role as Trooper Duffy on F-Troop (1965-7), which we've featured here from time to time.

In the 30's & 40's, Bob was under contract to Republic Pictures, which churned out films at a rapid pace, but also for a low budget. Apparently, there wasn't enough money in the budget to hire a proper choreographer for the fight scenes in 1938's "Thunder in The Desert". If you don't get it, you will after you see the picture.



Simple, easy to follow plots, but poor fight choreography. I've seen wrestling matches that sold punches better than that.

Rating: B--.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Thou Shalt Not Kill (Shazam!, 1974)

This episode of Shazam! has a moral message that fits right in with the Sunday School crowd. Captain Marvel (Jackson Bostwick) races against time to gain a stay of execution for a horse who was bound for execution upon his owner's passing. However, the owner's niece cares too much for the horse, and a disabled ranch hand would like nothing better than to see his former boss' final wish granted.

Pamelyn Ferdin (ex-Lassie, Curiosity Shop, Sealab 2020, etc.) and John Karlen (later of Cagney & Lacey) guest star in "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Bear in mind the audio is a bit ahead of the video.



Pamelyn would return to Filmation three years later to star in Space Academy, and in between logged a lot of time doing primetime guest roles (i.e. Baretta).

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tooniversary: Lord of The Nerds (Recess, 1999)

From season 3 of Recess:

TJ breaks his collarbone playing kickball, and is forced by school policy to spend recess with the "pale kids", but, as he finds out, it isn't as bad as people make it out to be.......

Here's "Lord of The Nerds":



Rating: B.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Daytime Heroes: She-Ra in Of Shadows & Skulls (1985)

From season 1 of She-Ra: Princess of Power:

A disgruntled Shadow Weaver contacts Skeletor, bringing him to Etheria to battle his former mentor, Hordak.



Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman & Robin shill in Canada (1989)

Zeller's, a Canadian department store, obtained a license to use Batman for some store ads 30 years ago.  Joker, seen only from the rear, is the villain du jour. As the screen cap shows below, this was meant for Christmas shoppers.



Like, good show, eh?

Sunday, April 14, 2019

On DVD: Caught in a Ham (2019)

Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham, stars in his very first short, "Caught in a Ham", included on the "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" DVD we reviewed a week ago.

Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) is captured by a villain, but what follows is a wacky homage to a certain rival studio's former flagship brand, including a legendary Chuck Jones piece. See if you can figure it out.



Yes, Chuck Jones would be proud.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Way You Love Me (1988)

Karyn White made a good first impression on the R & B and pop charts in 1988 with "The Way You Love Me", which landed her on Soul Train. That's the good news.

The bad? Well, let me give you a little story from real life.

In January 1989, Karyn was on tour with Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock, and said tour landed in Albany. I went with a buddy, having purchased tickets ahead of time. Show was ticketed for a 7 pm (ET) start, but both acts were mad late going on stage. Bear in mind, both had just one CD each under their belts, and not enough material on their set lists, so fans were forced to wait almost an hour for each act. Rob was touring off the success of his hit single, "It Takes Two", by the way. The promoter was relatively new in town, and, in contrast to the artists on the bill, didn't make a great first impression in the market. Each set was less than an hour, and had the promoter known what he was doing, maybe he books a third, locally based act, to fill time wasted otherwise by dead air.

The promoter doesn't do a lot of shows in the market these days, and there's the reason why.

Now, here's Karyn:

Retro Toy Chest: Kenner SSP Racers (1960's)

Kenner got into the toy racer business sometime in the 60's with their SSP line of ripcord race cars.

I don't know exactly how long the product was in circulation, but I do know it didn't survive the 1970's. The first I remember seeing ads for the product came while watching, I think, Famous Classic Tales, which Kenner sponsored on CBS.

This ad promotes their 1972 line:

Friday, April 12, 2019

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger vs. Town Tamers, Inc. (1967)

From season 2 of The Lone Ranger:

The Masked Man (Michael Rye) & Tonto (Shep Menken) battle a protection racket that passes as lawmen. Here's "Town Tamers, Inc.". Mind the video quality.



A protection racket is a criminal scam as old as time. Posing as lawmen is just one variant that has been used again and again.

Rating: B.

On DVD: Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013)

Equal parts infomercial and character study documentary, "Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics" explores the dichonomy between heroes & villains, illustrated in clips from various cartoons, from Challenge of The Super Friends all the way to "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" (a trailer for the latter accompanies the DVD). Horror legend Christopher Lee narrates, and there are interviews with voice actors Clancy Brown, Phil Morris, & Kevin Conroy, DC staffers past & present, including Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Marv Wolfman, & the late Len Wein, and wrestler-comics fan/writer CM Punk, who was at the tail end of his WWE run at the time.

The infomercial part? We were two years into the New 52 at the time of this video, and "Flashpoint Paradox" had recently been released, so there are plugs in the narrative.

Here's a trailer:



Entertaining? Yes. Informative? Absolutely. There are also some video game clips, for more product promotion.

Rating: A.

Rare Treats: Just say 'no' to stealing (1989)

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show turns 30 this year, but in addition to the animated adventures and live-action comedy skits, there were some real world messages.

Here, Captain Lou Albano, in costume as Mario, urges kids away from a life of crime.......

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Toonfomercial: Remember Nerds cereal? (1986)

Nerds candies are still with us. However, attempting to market the brand as something else failed.

Ralston (no longer Ralston-Purina by this point--I think) obtained a license for Nerds cereal in 1986. Suffice it to say, if you didn't dig the candy, you probably weren't going for this, either, and because of that, it was off the shelves after a short time.

Family Toons: The Addams Family in The Roller Derby Story (1973)

Wednesday celebrates her 13th birthday, so Gomez & Morticia treat her and the rest of the Addams Family to a night out. Here's "The Roller Derby Story", presented in black & white:



Notice that Howard Caine (ex-Hogan's Heroes) is in the series cast, likely making his cartoon debut. Hmmmmm.

No rating. Just a public service.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Tooniversary: The Shmoo in The Beast of Black Lake (1979)

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

Hanna-Barbera fumbled with their license for Al Capp's shape-changing Shmoo, deciding that The New Shmoo would give NBC a Scooby-Doo knock-off for the first time since Butch Cassidy six years earlier (NBC had acquired reruns of Josie & The Pussycats as a time filler in the interim). Small wonder that New Shmoo, after three months, was merged with Fred & Barney Meet The Thing.

Anyway, here's "The Beast of Black Lake", which looks like a generic Scooby plot.....



No rating.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Retro Toy Chest: Remember The Heart Family? (1985)

Until I first ran across this next item on YouTube the other day, I didn't know this actually existed.

"This" being The Heart Family, which was introduced by Mattel in 1985, originally meant to be friends of Barbie, but the company then decided to spin them off on their own.....



The above ad was, as noted, produced in 1986. By then, any connection to Barbie had been ret-conned out.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

On DVD: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

The Academy Award-winning "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" may very well be a fitting coda to Brian Michael Bendis' nearly two decade run at Marvel.

It was Bendis, now at DC, who introduced readers to Miles Morales, a half-Latino, half-African American teenager, in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man a few years back, believing that it was time to hit the reset button with one of Marvel's oldest franchises. He did this with the Ultimate Universe, rather than the core Marvel Universe, although a later storyline would move Miles into the core universe.

"Spider-Verse", then, is a loose adaptation of the recent miniseries event of the same name that allowed Miles to meet other Spider-Men, as well as Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and an alternate universe Gwen Stacy, her world's Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld). In the movie, there are two different Peter Parkers, both voiced by Jake Johnson (ex-New Girl), one of whom is a blond, the other a more typical Parker if you know your Spider-history.

In the context of the movie's plot, the dimensional rift that brings Spider-Ham and the others to "our world" is the work of a female version of Dr. Octopus, acting on behalf of crime lord Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), whose design was lifted from some work done by artist Bill Sienkiewicz several years ago. For Miles (Shamiek Moore), it's about pleasing his police officer father, but then, he also discovers his uncle, Aaron (Oscar winner Mahershala Ali), is also this world's Prowler, also working for Fisk.

Let's take a look at the trailer:



If you get past the loud, splashy effects designed for a 3D version of the movie (and also prompting warnings upon the film's theatrical release to protect viewers prone to sensory-created seizures), and get into the story, you let yourself in on a wacky thrill ride that not only emulates some of the live-action Spider-movies that came before it, but carves its own place.

Trailers on the DVD include the forthcoming "Spider-Man: Far From Home" and "Men in Black International", plus the pending DVD release of "Hotel Transylvania 3".

Movie rating: A.

Getting Schooled: Please Don't Hit Me, Mom! (ABC Afterschool Special, 1983)

Child abuse is the subject of this 1983 ABC Afterschool Special.

Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life, The Puppy's Great Adventures) stars as a teenager whose developing relationship with a new neighbor (Lance Guest) could be imperiled after she discovers her beau's brother (Sean Astin) is being abused by their mother (Patty Duke Astin).

Here's "Please Don't Hit Me, Mom!":



Yep, from the same studio behind Facts. Nancy McKeon was part of the repertory company for the Afterschool Specials, called on by ABC frequently during her Facts run.

No rating. Just a public service.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Toons You Might've Missed: Space Kid (1966)

One of these days, we're going to do an overview of Paramount's Noveltoons series of shorts, which haven't seen the light of day on TV since a run on Nickelodeon back in the 90's.

In 1966's "Space Kid", the titular alien leaves his unnamed planet, and journeys to Earth, presumably to play.



Don't ask how he can lick a lollipop through a space helmet.

Rating: B.

Saturtainment: The Cryogenic Man (Ark II, 1976)

This ain't the 25th century of Buck Rogers, that's for sure.

In the Ark II episode, "The Cryogenic Man", a 20th century industrialist (guest star Jim Backus) and his assistant (John Fiedler) are revived from 500 years in cryogenic sleep. They intend to rebuild their factories, long torn down, and start anew, but then......



Backus, of course, would revive Mr. Magoo the next season for CBS, and toon fans know Fiedler, a respected character actor, as the voice of Winnie-The-Pooh's little buddy, Piglet, in several short films and the New Adventures of Winnie-The-Pooh, which aired on ABC years later.

Rating: B.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: Best Seller (Shazam!, 1981)

With the feature film version of Shazam!, starring Zachary Levi (ex-Chuck) opening in theatres, we'll take another time trip to when it was okay for DC to use Captain Marvel.

In "Best Seller", cousin Freckles (Dawn Jeffory, also the voice of Mary) visits, but a book she has is also a gateway for a race of "hiss-men", under the command of IBAC.



Assuming there is a sequel to "Shazam!", y'think maybe they can get someone to play IBAC?

Rating: A-.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A lesson in gender equity, 70's style (Shazam!, 1974)

You have, I'm sure, read or heard about young girls playing various sports with the boys, such as, for example, hockey, when there's no girls' hockey team at their school. I've seen that in the home district the last couple of years.

In the 70's, though, it was still tough sledding for a young woman to prove she was just as equal to her male counterparts, and that is the basis for the Shazam! episode, "The Athlete".

Butch Patrick (ex-The Munsters), who'd been doing some guest roles before and after "The Phantom Tollbooth", guest stars as an envious boy who's bullying a female teammate (Stephanie Steele).



Yeah, I know. The audio is ahead of the video for some reason.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Daytime Heroes: Kim Possible in The Full Monkey (2004)

The original video for this next item was deleted when it was pulled by Dailymotion. Fortunately, they had another available.....

Anyway, Kim Possible (Christy Carlson Romano) begins morphing into a monkey while in school, creating problems for everyone around her, including a frantic, confused Ron Stoppable (Will Friedle). Blame it all on Lord Monkey Fist's latest quest for power......

Here's "The Full Monkey":



We'll soon have a review up of the live-action movie pilot, intended to reimagine the series.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Do It, Baby & Love Machine (1975)

'Twas the weekend before Christmas, 1975. The Miracles, no longer led by Smokey Robinson, were the featured guests on American Bandstand. New vocalist Billy Griffin leads on "Do It, Baby" & "Love Machine", the latter the better known hit of the post-Smokey era Miracles.

Monday, April 1, 2019

You Know The Voice: Barney Phillips (1961)

Six years before making his cartoon debut as Shazzan, character actor Barney Phillips (ex-Dragnet) is part of an ensemble that also includes John Hoyt and Jack Elam in the Twilight Zone episode, "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?".

Barney appears beginning at the 3:50 mark.



Did you really think I'd save this for October?

Daytime Heroes: He-Man in Diamond Ray of DIsappearance (1983)

When He-Man & The Masters of The Universe bowed in 1983, Filmation and syndicator Group W ran the episodes out of production order.

While "The Cosmic Comet", co-written by Tom Ruegger, was the first episode produced, it didn't air until at the end of September. Instead, Robby London's "Diamond Ray of Disappearance" was the first episode shown, and thus is our Famous First for April, and that's no joke.



Anyway, it was a tone-setter.

Rating: A-.