Thursday, September 29, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Inspector (1965)

Loosely based on Peter Sellers' legendary Inspector Clouseau in the "Pink Panther" movies, The Inspector starred in his own series of DePatie-Freleng theatrical shorts, beginning in 1965. 4 years later, the series was used as the backup feature when Pink Panther debuted on NBC.

Comic Pat Harrington (later of One Day at a Time) voices both the Inspector and his aide, Sgt. Deux-Deux. In addition, taking his cue from Dragnet's Jack Webb, the Inspector narrates his own adventures.

"Le Quiet Squad", produced in 1967, uses an old plot that was used in other shorts years earlier. In this case, the Inspector must ensure that his boss gets some much needed peace & quiet. When this aired on NBC, the intro music used for the Panther's shorts was also used here.

Interestingly, when DFE produced new bumpers for The Pink Panther Show, Harrington was not brought back, as the shorts had come to an end. Instead, actor Marvin Miller, who was the 3rd man to essay the voice of the Commissioner, a role more commonly associated with Paul Frees in the minds of most fans, took over as the Inspector, in pursuit of the Panther, in a way tying this to the movie series.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

From Primetime to Daytime: Batman (1966)

To think that it started as a mid-season replacement series in January, 1966, then became a pop culture phenomenon.

Indeed, Batman captured the public's attention when ABC introduced the series in the 2nd half of the 1965-6 season, and it became a to-do stop for a number of celebrities, whether it was to be a villain of the week, or just to stop by.

Oh, and here's the open everyone knows from seasons 1 & 2.

In season 3, with ratings slipping, ABC opted against a spin-off pilot and added Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) to the mix. Unfortunately, the series ended six months later.

Death was a rarity on this show, and the only known fatality came in the opening two-parter as Molly (Jill St. John) was killed off, leading Batman (Adam West, ex-The Detectives) to utter the famous line, "What a way to go-go.".

It is well known, of course, that in the course of the series' 26 month history, 3 actors played Mr. Freeze, including filmmaker Otto Preminger. Even the late Frank Gorshin, who won an Emmy as The Riddler, was subbed out for one storyline, with John Astin (ex-The Addams Family) filling in. When the feature film version of the series was shot during the season, Julie Newmar, at the time the definitive Catwoman, had a previous commitment, so former Miss America Lee Meriweather, later of Time Tunnel & Barnaby Jones, subbed. Broadway star Eartha Kitt took over in season 3, which might've given the producers of the 2004 "Catwoman" feature film an excuse to use another African-American, Halle Berry ("X-Men") in the title role.

Batman merits inclusion in our archives because after the series ended, some stations, including WRGB in Schenectady, aired the show on Saturdays after the network cartoons. WRGB aired the show 6 days a week at one point, before passing the show to another station in the market.

This weekend, Batman will be returning, as the series joins the Me-TV lineup (check local listings)

These days, Adam West is keeping busy voicing his animated likeness as the mayor of Quahog, home of Fox's Family Guy. Series creator Seth MacFarlane must be a fan......

Rating: B+.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Rubik the Amazing Cube (1983)

Rubik's Cube was a popular game in the early 80's. In fact, it was so big, one local player adopted the handle of "Professor Rubik" when he called into an area radio station's primetime show on a regular basis.

In 1983, Ruby-Spears Productions was given a license to adapt the game into a cartoon----by making the cube a sentient entity! Now, that's enough to make you go completely loco, don't ya think?

As it was, Rubik the Amazing Cube lasted one season. It was touted as the first cartoon to use Latino protagonists as lead characters. Two years earlier, the Super Friends had welcomed a Latino hero, El Dorado, but he was meant to be a supporting player all along, and was written out of the show within 3 years time. As for Rubik, his voice was done by actor Ron Palillo (ex-Welcome Back, Kotter), who'd made his toon debut two years earlier as well, as a porcine drill sergeant (literally) in Laverne & Shirley's animated series. The Latino teen group, Menudo, recorded the show's theme song.

Here's the open, uploaded by crakkerjakk:

It's easy to suggest that whomever pitched this idea to the network, or even to the producers in the first place, might've been a few fries shy of a happy meal.

Rating: D.

What's in a name?: The Hanna-Barbera idea machine

Bear with me, gang, while I indulge in a little rant here.

Now, as we all know, a lot of Hanna-Barbera's earliest successes were derived from other sources, be it other television shows or movies. I thought I'd compose a little list.

The Flintstones: It's common knowledge, of course, that the first H-B icon of the 60's was inspired by a 50's icon, that being Jackie Gleason's Honeymooners. In turn, the travails of Fred & Wilma and their friends would become a template for future H-B domestic sitcoms, such as The Jetsons, and, much later, The Roman Holidays.

Top Cat: As I outlined when I reviewed this show, ol' TC was based on one Master Sgt. Ernest Bilko (Phil Silvers), so maybe it wasn't so much of a coincidence that Maurice Gosfeld, who played Private Doberman opposite Silvers, was part of the supporting cast.

Wacky Races: It's been said that this first H-B sports series was inspired by the movie, "The Great Race", which had an ensemble cast that included the likes of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. In turn, the two Races spin-offs, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop & Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines, were based on films. Perils was a left-handed homage to the silent melodramas of the 20's, while Dastardly drew inspiration from "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines", I believe.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: The last H-B icon of the 60's got his name from a little scatting by Frank Sinatra in his song, "Strangers in the Night".

It's pretty much a given that Dynomutt, Dog Wonder and his human owner-partner, Blue Falcon, were a throwback to the campy, mid-60's live-action Batman, which was ironic in that by the time creators Joe Ruby & Ken Spears introduced Dyno in 1976, Batman was part of the H-B family, as he & the Super Friends had been licensed to the studio and the original series was in reruns at that point.

Sticking with the SF, most of us have known for years that the Wonder Twins, Zan & Jayna, were modeled after singers Donny & Marie Osmond, whose variety series was airing on ABC when The All-New Super Friends Hour bowed in 1977. According to Marc Tyler Nobleman's Noblemania blog, and sources quoted therein, supposedly, the Exorian sibs got their names from Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and his wife, Jane. Now, it happens to be a coincidence that Tarzan, licensed to Filmation, was airing on CBS at that time, so you can draw your own conclusion. As for the Osmond connection, well, take the points off the Twins' ears, and Jayna's up-raised ponytail, and, well, what do you think?

Hanna-Barbera's 1974 rookie class included three more media-inspired entries.

Hong Kong Phooey, of course, cashed in on the growing popularity of martial arts movies. Devlin was inspired by real-life stuntman Evel Knievel. These Are The Days had to draw inspiration from CBS' The Waltons. Going back 2 years, you have to believe that Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home, a syndicated offering, was derived from another CBS hit, All in the Family, but without the heavy emphasis on social commentary.

Now, I've discussed most of these series individually in the past, but I thought it'd be a good idea to look at the trend the studio created. Unfortunately, this kind of history lesson is lost on the current regime at Cartoon Network, which could stand a few lessons.

Toonfomercial: Superman peanut butter (1983)

I'm not entirely sure if this was animated at Hanna-Barbera or not. One thing is for certain. A different actor other than Stan Jones was hired to be the voice of Lex Luthor for this ad shilling the short-lived Superman peanut butter, put out by Sunnyland in 1983. Not sure if Danny Dark, who was the voice of the Man of Steel in those days, did this ad, either. Uploaded by panbiscuit to YouTube:

I never tried the stuff, and I hardly even saw it in stores in my area, to begin with!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: It's A Sunshine Day (1973)

"It's a Sunshne Day" is the song most associated with The Brady Kids, but was originally introduced on the parent series, The Brady Bunch, in January, 1973. Subsequently, the song was added to the cartoon soundtrack. Joramma20 uploaded this karaoke-style clip, which has the lyrics on the screen to make it easier for you to sing along. The clip ends with a portion of the show's open.

For what it's worth, and this has been pointed out to me by many on other boards, the poses for the Kids' musical numbers were redrawn from The Archie Show. You simply sub Greg for Archie, Jan for Veronica, Bobby for Jughead, and so on. Cindy is not an analogue for the Archies' mascot, Hot Dog, however. Hot Dog often had a baton so he could pretend to "conduct" the band, if you will, but that isn't the case here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tooniversary: Dial M For Monkey (1996)

As we discussed previously, Dial M For Monkey was one of the backup features on Dexter's Laboratory. As you can see in the intro, Dexter never believed that his pet would amount to anything, and so the science-obsessed youth gave up experimenting on Monkey, unaware that the simian was in fact endowed with super powers after all.

Cameran Barkley uploaded the episode, "Barbequor". Most of the open was edited out by mistake, methinks.

Rating: A.

Saturtainment: Live Aid (1985)

It was one of those events that, when it's recalled, will have people asking you where you were when it happened.

Live Aid was, practically, the ultimate concert event, originating from two locations: Wembley Stadium in London, and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. The event was broadcast live on MTV and featured a who's who of musical acts of that era and prior.

One of the classic acts on the bill was Crosby, Stills, & Nash, who were introduced to the MTV generation a couple of years earlier with the release of the "Daylight Again" album. Here, courtesy of LiveAidVideo, the trio of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, & Graham Nash perform one of their earlier hits, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes".

Now, this was a way to shake the summer rerun blues, don't ya think?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Family Toons: Seven Little Monsters (2000)

There was a time not long ago when PBS had a Saturday morning block. In fact, a former PBS series, Danger Rangers, has shifted over to CBS this season, and there will be a review of that series down the road, trust me.

Anyway, in 2000, PBS experimented by putting together a 2 1/2 hour block of cartoons, most, if not all, of which were produced by Canada's Nelvana, which has also provided series to the broadcast networks over the years. We've previously reviewed the adaptation of Redwall, the medieval fantasy created by the late author, Brian Jacques. Turns out it wasn't the only series based on a book.

Seven Little Monsters, which aired directly in front of Redwall in some places, including my area, came from the pen of award-winning author Maurice Sendak (Where The Wild Things Are). The cast includes comic Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), and, as you'll see in the following clip, the producers secured comics & TV writer Jeph Loeb (Heroes) as one of the staff writers. Here's part one of "Good Morning", the series opener:

The series lasted just two seasons of original episodes on PBS, but lingered around a while in reruns. It aired in Canada on YTV from 2003-07, and presently is airing on Qubo (check local listings). It's just too bad PBS didn't promote their block as heavily as the other networks did theirs, because this rumbled under the radar.

Rating: A.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Fantastic Four (1978)

Marvel Comics' "First Family of Superheroes" returned to television in The New Fantastic Four in 1978. This time, DePatie-Freleng, which would later be acquired by Marvel as its television arm, produced the series. The emphasis was on "new", even though it doesn't show up in the title.

A popular, unsubstantiated rumor claims that Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, was written off the series before it began out of fear that young viewers might consider emulating his exploits. Storm, though, was replaced by H.E.R.B.I.E. (Frank Welker), who would later make the transition into the FF's comic book. The lineup change may have actually doomed the series before it really took off, and it didn't help that the original series, produced by Hanna-Barbera 11 years earlier, had returned as part of the syndicated Hanna-Barbera's World of Super Adventure block.

The casting of the remaining FF members reads like an all-star team. Mike Road (ex-The Herculoids) was cast as Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic. At the time, Road was also doing commercials on-screen for Fireman's Fund, an insurance company. Ginny Tyler (ex-Space Ghost) was Reed's wife, Sue (The Invisible Girl), and Ted Cassidy was cast as Ben Grimm, the orange-skinned Thing. Cassidy was also working for H-B at the same time, on another NBC series, The Godzilla Power Hour. He had the lead as Godzilla, and also voiced Montaro, the shaman-mentor to Jana of the Jungle. Co-creator Stan Lee was the series' principal writer, and as announcer Dick Tufeld's narration suggests, Lee may have written some of the original scripts with plans to use them in the comics. In fact, some scripts were either adapted from the comics or the original 1967 H-B series. As we all know, Lee would go on to serve as narrator for NBC's Marvel-produced adaptation of The Incredible Hulk in 1982, along with season 2 of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends.

Edit, 6/18/22: Had to change the video. Here's the intro.

Amazingly, the NBC affiliate in my home area refused to air the series. Fortunately, at that time, the cable system had a secondary NBC affiliate, WKTV of Utica, on the roster, which was the only way I was able to watch the show. I'd not be surprised to find that a number of other stations opted against this version of the FF, leading to its quick cancellation after just 1 season.

The Thing would return the next year, and return to H-B as well, but with a very uncool twist, having been de-aged into a shape-shifting teenager. I previously covered that sad story a year ago, if you want to go back and refer to it......

Rating: B.

Tooniversary: Dexter's Laboratory (1996)

Dexter's Laboratory holds the distinction of being the first entry from Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons series (aka The What-a-Cartoon Show) to graduate into its own series. Dexter and his older, dull-witted sister, Dee Dee, debuted in 1995, but we're noting when the series launched, which was in 1996. To maximize interest, Cartoon Network's sister channels, TNT & TBS, also carried Dexter for a time. Today, the series continues in reruns on Boomerang.

Dexter was the first creation of animator Genndy Tartatovsky, who currently helms CN's Star Wars: The Clone Wars. There were two backup features that appeared in season 1 and will be showcased at a later time:

The Justice Friends was a parody of both the hit sitcom, Friends, crossed with Marvel Comics' The Avengers, moreso than DC's Justice League of America (which of course begat the Super Friends franchise). Unfortunately, not too many episodes were made of this segment, which is a shame, because it was pretty funny.

Dial M For Monkey showcased Dexter's nameless pet simian, whom Dexter had used in numerous experiments. Unbeknownst to Dexter, he actually may have tapped into Monkey's latent powers, which led to his becoming a secret agent. The absurd part of it all was how Monkey (whose vocal effects were done by Frank Welker) was dating his partner, Agent Honeydew. That blew my mind. The late "Macho Man" Randy Savage guest starred in one episode.

Let's move on to this sample second season episode:

"Repairanoid": A power outage creats chaos when Dexter builds an android repairman.

"Dim": Dexter tries repairing a power outage himself.

"Just an Old Fashioned Lab Song": Dexter's parents decide he needs to learn music, and hire a tutor (guest star Paul Williams). The episode title is a riff on the Williams-penned "Just an Old Fashioned Love Song", which was a hit for Three Dog Night some 25-odd years earlier.

As memory serves, the series aired on weekends on TBS, usually as a lead-in to WCW wrestling. If I can find it, I'll see about posting the riotous parody of Speed Racer, "Mock 5", another time.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mighty Orbots (1984)

Japan has given us quite a few cartoon classics over the years, including Gigantor, Speed Racer, Astro Boy, & Voltron, Defender of the Universe. The latter series was partially responsible for Fred Silverman's Intermedia Entertainment and MGM hooking up with a Japanese studio to create Mighty Orbots, which gave the Super Friends some company in the action-adventure department of ABC's Saturday morning lineup in 1984.

Voltron had bowed a year earlier, part of a new wave of Japanese anime hitting American television. The Transformers were making the transition to television around this time, as well. Unfortunately for the Orbots, Tonka, now part of Hasbro, filed suit, claiming copyright infringement, resulting in the series being cancelled after 1 season. 'Tis a shame, as this was one of the best animated series of the decade.

Edit, 5/15/21: Had to change the video. The only episode available now is "The Dremloks", which, unbeknownst to ABC at the time, would foreshadow the adaptation of "Star Wars"' Ewoks a year later.

Regrettably, because of the litigation, the series probably will never see the light of day on DVD.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Animated World of DC Comics: The Atom vs. the "Invasion of the Beetle-Men" (1967)

From the Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure comes this, pardon the pun, short starring the "world's smallest superhero", the Atom. The Tiny Titan (Pat Harrington) battles with some alien bugs in "Invasion of the Beetle-Men":

Pat Harrington is better known to viewers from his star turn as handyman Dwayne Schneider on One Day At A Time during the 70's & early 80's, but before that, he was quite busy doing cartoons, initially as DePatie-Freleng's Inspector, and then signing on with Filmation. He was also heard on Journey to the Center of the Earth, which also bowed in '67, over on ABC. It's too bad only three Atom shorts were made, but they were all gems.

Rating: A-.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rein-Toon-ation: Heyyy, It's The King! (1977)

Heyyy, It's The King! was a component of NBC's 1977 anthology series, C. B. Bears, which we discussed a few days ago. The King (Len Weinrib) was clearly modeled after Fonzie (Henry Winkler) from ABC's iconic Happy Days, but the rest of his crew weren't exactly on a par with Richie Cunningham and his buds from 50's Milwaukee. Of course, as we noted before, Fonzie would become a cartoon star himself in 1980.

Right now, scope out "The Blue Kangaroo", as The King and his pals are looking to win a big meet.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday Morning Ringside: Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling (2008)

What do you get when you take an aging wrestling legend, a group of celebrities with nothing better to do, and mix them together? One of the silliest reality TV series to ever hit the air, that's what!

Hulk Hogan was already well established in reality TV, with Hogan Knows Best getting played into the ground on VH1. That series spawned a spin-off vehicle for Hogan's pop singer-daughter, Brooke, which wasn't quite as successful. Kind of like Brooke's attempts at reaching the pop charts. In 2008, Hogan and his former boss at WCW, Eric Bischoff, who produced the aforementioned series for VH1 through his production company, decided to go in a different direction.

It had been 4 years since the WWE's last cycle of Tough Enough aired as a component of Smackdown. Bischoff & Hogan decided to turn the concept on its ear by putting 8 celebrities through their brand of wrestling boot camp. Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling aired on VH1's step-sister channel, CMT (Country Music Television), with "preview screenings" airing at 2 pm (ET), well before the official broadcast would air (8 ET). In case you wonder, viewers on the left coast conceivably could see the show at 11 am (PT), hence the idea for including this show in our archives. As I noted in reviewing Hogan & Bischoff's latest project, Hulk Hogan's Micro Championship Wrestling, over in The Land of Whatever, the result of CCW's lone season was spoiled by the National Enquirer well before the season ended in December. Maybe the tabloid felt an obligation to their readers was more important than honoring a commitment to withhold the result, I don't know, but it killed whatever interest people might've had in the series. As I noted, former NBA star Dennis Rodman ended up the winner.

The Associated Press has their own channel on YouTube, and uploaded this excerpt from an interview with Hogan promoting the show.......

After the series ended, actors Danny Bonaduce (ex-The Partridge Family), Todd Bridges (ex-Diff'rent Strokes), & Dustin Diamond (ex-Saved by the Bell) took some independent bookings, but it's not certain whether or not they continued their mat careers or opted to sign autographs. These days, Bridges, like Hogan, has a reality show gig on TruTV. Diamond is doing stand-up comedy, and Bonaduce has turned up in TNA from time to time. Rodman? Probably sold his title belt and used the money to open a business he'd know something about, like opening a tattoo parlor.

Another Hogan crony, Bubba the Love Sponge, who overstayed his welcome in TNA a year ago, was the commentator calling the matches. As we'd later learn, he does have a face for radio.

Was it fun? Well, for a while, yeah, but if you've seen one reality show, you've just about seen them all. Hogan's trying to disprove that with MCW, and I hope for once it works, but the fact that CCW failed in the long run suggested that Bischoff put it on the wrong channel.

Rating: C+.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

From Comics to Toons: Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot (1999)

Big Guy & Rusty, the Boy Robot started as a comic book miniseries created by writer Frank Miller and artist Geof Darrow in the mid-1990's. In 1999, the book's publisher, Dark Horse Comics, decided to get into the TV business, following industry giant Marvel in that direction. Dark Horse co-produced the Big Guy cartoon with Sony's animation arm, Adelaide, and the series was sold to Fox. Unfortunately, that was the year that Pokemon had strengthened its grip as the top cartoon on American daytime television, and Fox overhauled its lineup less than 2 months into the season, so Big Guy's 1st season was just six episodes. The series was brought back after more than a year away in January 2001 as a mid-season replacement.

At first glance, Rusty looks like he was created in the images of Alka-Seltzer's old mascot, Speedy, and the iconic mascot namesake of the Big Boy restaurant chain. He was designed to be Big Guy's successor, but isn't quite as experienced or can be entrusted to carry out an assignment solo, so Big Guy (actually a man in a suit, not quite unlike Iron Man) is brought out of retirement to mentor Rusty.

Following is a sample episode:

Since its cancellation, the series has not resurfaced anywhere, and that's a shame.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: C B Bears (1977)

Citizens Band (CB) radios were the rage in the mid-70's. Hanna-Barbera decided to try to cash in with the C B Bears, a one hour series that aired on NBC in 1977.

The titular bruins starred in just one episode each week, leaving room for the following segments:

Heyyy, It's The King!: Funny animal comedy inspired by Happy Days and the growing popularity of Fonzie, who would make the transition to cartoons himself 3 years later.

Posse Impossible: Introduced in a backdoor pilot on Hong Kong Phooey 3 years earlier.

Blast-Off Buzzard: Hanna-Barbera's answer to the wildly popular Road Runner, only in this case the title bird is doing the chasing, his prey being a snake.

Shake, Rattle, & Roll: A trio of ghosts, inspired after a fashion by Harvey Comics' Ghostly Trio.

Undercover Elephant: An elephant as a bumbling private detective? Yep.

The series lasted just one season, and had the misfortune of being slotted in the lead-off position on NBC's schedule, opposite stablemates Skatebirds (CBS) & The All-New Super Friends Hour (ABC). You can guess which one survived at the end of the season.

Bill Woodson, who also was the narrator on Super Friends, is the announcer. Hewey1972 uploaded the intro for the 30 minute version:

Daws Butler used the same voice, a mimic of Phil Silvers, for Hustle that he used for Hair Bear (Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch!) 6 years earlier. The heard but never seen Charlie, a female this time, marked this as a sendup of Charlie's Angels over on ABC. Parents didn't get the joke, obviously.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Toon Legends: The Flintstones (1960)

For openers, here's the original opening sequence to The Flintstones, uploaded by syedamiralisha:

To use the phrase, "ground-breaking" to describe The Flintstones as one of the first primetime animated series would be a gross understatement. It lasted 6 years, and until The Simpsons came along 30 years later, no toon had come close to matching that mark. Homer Simpson and his clan will be starting their 22nd season later this month, and, on top of that, Seth MacFarlane, the twisted genius behind Family Guy & American Dad, is being asked to relaunch Flintstones for the Fox network. That will be ready to go within the next year or two.

After its primetime run ended, The Flintstones shifted to Saturday mornings, but not on ABC. Instead, NBC acquired the series for their Saturday block, which lasted about 5 years or so, as I believe it was gone by the time the spin-off, Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, launched on CBS in 1971. NBC would welcome back the Flintstones & Rubbles in 1978, first with The New Fred & Barney Show, and experimented with a brief primetime run around 1980. The franchise returned home to ABC with the prequel series, The Flintstone Kids, in 1986, and a series of primetime specials that led to Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm finally getting married.

As we've documented here previously, advertisers seem to prefer that the kids remain toddlers, rather than let them age naturally, and so the later toons have been all but retconned out, and that's a shame. For more than 40 years, Fred & Barney have been front & center shilling for Post Cereals' Pebbles line of cereals and the Flintstones vitamins now made by Bayer (originally made by Miles Laboratories, which was bought out by Bayer some years back). Cartoon Network has gotten into the act, with a pair of Dino shorts for the What a Cartoon Show, and the controversial special, Flintstones On The Rocks. Fred, in particular, appeared in an episode of [adult swim]'s Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law in a "Godfather" parody, among other things.

Song satirist "Weird" Al Yankovic paid homage to the series with the song, "Bedrock Anthem", which was a riff on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away", and peppered the video with classic clips from the show.

After 51 years, however, The Flintstones aren't being given a lot of respect at Cartoon Network these days. Yes, Boomerang carries the series on a daily basis, but, aside from a special mini-marathon one year ago, they didn't really do anything to mark the series' 50th anniversary, which speaks to the corporate attitude at CN more than anything else.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Littlest Lamb (1963)

One of the hallmarks of The Flintstones during its 6 year primetime run (1960-66) was how some celebrities were weaved into storylines. Singer-actress Ann-Margret was one of them, and guest-starred in the episode, "Ann-Margrock Presents". In it, Ann's tour brings her to Bedrock, but, needing to go incognito, she takes a temporary job as a babysitter for the Flintstones' infant daughter, Pebbles. Fred & Barney (Alan Reed & Mel Blanc) join her act while she's in town, this after they catch her rehearsing in Fred's garage.

Here, Ann sings a lullaby for Pebbles. "The Littlest Lamb", for some reason, hasn't been adapted by anyone else for children's records since.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Pretty Mary Sunlight (1970)

In Season 2 of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Hanna-Barbera decided to add a pop soundtrack to the series, mostly for chase scenes in the 2nd half of the show. We now know that Austin Roberts, who'd later have a Top 40 hit of his own with "Rocky" in the mid-70's, re-recorded the show's theme song as well as some of those chase songs, including this one, "Pretty Mary Sunlight". GibletsNgravy uploaded this clip, taken from the episode, "Don't Fool With a Phantom":

Actor-singer Jerry Reed recorded his own version 2 years later when he appeared on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and Reed's version was chosen for the "Scooby-Doo's Snack Tracks" CD. Uploaded by thebeautybroke to YouTube:

Reed's version, understandably, was far superior. I could've used a clip from his appearance, but, I thought it'd might be better if you heard the whole song......

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saturday School: The Emperor's New School (2006)

Only two years worth of episodes were produced, but The Emperor's New School just ended a 5 year run on ABC. That's the result of the network being unable to make sweeping changes with its Disney-programmed lineup due to a corporate mandate from the Mouse House.

New School picks up where the movie "The Emperor's New Groove" left off, but Kuzco, now voiced by newcomer J. P. Manoux, must go through a full education before he can ascend to the throne. Yzma (Eartha Kitt) will do anything within her power to stop him. Disneylover97 uploaded the open to YouTube:

The late Eartha Kitt was one of three cast members who'd also done the movie, the others being Patrick Warburton (Rules of Engagement) and Wendie Mallick (ex-Just Shoot Me). Oddly enough, Warburton's Rules co-star, David Spade, was the original voice of Kuzco, but couldn't be convinced to do the series.

Rating: None. Never saw the show.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Saturtainment: Winchell-Mahoney Time (1965)

Ventriloquist Paul Winchell was a fixture in the early days of television. If he wasn't headlining his own show, he'd be making the rounds on other programs, often with his sidekicks, Jerry Mahoney & Knucklehead Smiff.

In 1965, Winchell hosted a 1 hour syndicated variety show for children, Winchell-Mahoney Time. Thanks to the magic of videotape, Winchell appears as a number of different characters in the open, uploaded by Tapthatt2012. The voices would be recycled in later years. For example, the Charlie Chaplin lookalike's voice would later be given to Fleegle of The Banana Splits 3 years later, and still later would be applied to the Scrubbing Bubbles for some bathroom cleaner ads.

Here's the open, along with the closing credits:

Rating: None. Never saw the show.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis (1975)

With the success of Shazam!, Filmation ramped up its live-action output in 1975. We have previously discussed Ghost Busters & Uncle Croc's Block, which were both cancelled after 1 season. Now, it's time for Isis.

CBS & Filmation paired Isis with the returning Shazam! in a 1-hour block, with the Kroffts' Far Out Space Nuts blocking Ghost Busters from making this a 90-minute package from the studio. As it is, the Ghost Busters, despite the poor ratings, served as a lead-in to Fat Albert, which occupied the noon slot back then.

Here's the intro:

Isis, while a daytime series, opened the door for a pair of primetime heroines a year later, as ABC spun The Bionic Woman off from The Six Million Dollar Man, and, on their 3rd try, green-lighted Wonder Woman.

The series is available on DVD, if you can find it.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

From Primetime to Daytime: Hannah Montana (2006)

Most rock stars use stage names, or pseudonyms, if their given names don't sound, well, flashy enough for  the media. The creators of Hannah Montana decided to take this to an extreme.

Hannah is not only the stage name of teenager Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus), but a full-on alter-ego, as if she were a superhero or something. See, Miley doesn't want the obsessive, 24/7/365 media coverage that most pop stars get, like it or not (i.e. Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, et al). Hence, all she needs is a blonde wig to become Hannah and go on stage and sing her heart out. Being she's still a kid, she has to balance her two lives and preserve her private life. Imagine if Peter Parker (Spider-Man) was a musician instead of a budding scientist, and.....!

EmmaMermaid uploaded the open to season 1, with the theme song, "Best of Both Worlds", sung by Miley herself:

For the series' final season, co-star Mitchel Musso left to pursue a music career of his own, and the series' title was changed to Hannah Montana Forever, for whatever lame reason Disney could think of. Miley's dad, country star Billy Ray Cyrus, had starred in a primetime cable drama, Doc, for a few years before signing on to work with his daughter, giving her the ultimate in on-the-job training, if you will, and it has the added benefit of getting him back on the charts, right along with Miley, who's crossed between pop, country, and adult alternative. Miley's hit, "Party in the USA", is regularly played at Tri City ValleyCats games during the summer, so, even if she doesn't land another hit series, there's always the chance the "Party" will continue on......

Rating: B-.

Friday, September 2, 2011

On the Air: Kick Buttowski, Suburban Daredevil (2010)

Kids have ambitions. Some want to be star athletes, emulating their heroes. Others want to enter politics or big business. Few actually want to enter the dangerous world of stuntmen, if not the extreme goofiness of Jackass and its ilk.

DisneyXD entered the extreme sports fray with Kick Buttowski, Suburban Daredevil, about a pre-teen whose goal in life seems to be to become this generation's Evel Knievel, albeit ironing board on wheels?

Kick (Charlie Schlatter, ex-Diagnosis Murder) doesn't get much love from older brother Brad (Danny Cooksey) and his friends. His best friend and sidekick, Gunther, seems to be his only friend. Director Chris Savino came over from Cartoon Network, where he shepherded the last episodes of Dexter's Laboratory, whose protagonist has one singular thing in common with Kick. Neither one has much variety in wardrobe. Like, Kick actually wears his stuntman suit to school!

Here's the intro:

Schlatter is no novice as a voice actor. He was the voice of Flash on Superman: The Animated Series in the 90's while also working on Diagnosis Murder. However, he makes Kick sound too adult for his age level. Well, adult as in, 18.....!

Rating: C.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From Primetime to Daytime: Even Stevens (2000)

Even Stevens has largely been forgotten in the discussion of Disney's family of modern-day sitcoms for teens and young adults. However, it served as a launching pad for two of its stars when it bowed on the Disney Channel in 2000. The series would later enjoy two brief runs on ABC, the second as a mid-season replacement after Fillmore! was dismissed in February 2005.

Most fans are familiar with Shia LeBeouf (Louis) from his recent movies, such as the "Transformers" trilogy. But even the biggest stars have to start somewhere. The same goes for Christy Carlson Romano, whom you'll see in the following clip as Renee, Louis' older sister. Most of you know Christy better as the voice of Kim Possible, and granted, she did get a lot more mileage out of that series. However, Christy hasn't been heard from much since Possible ended 4 years ago.

The one quibble I've had with the Disney sitcoms in general is that ABC could've done a lot better to promote them, rather than just pigeonhole them into the Saturday morning block. A case could've been made to have Stevens and other series, such as Lizzie McGuire, also air in primetime on the network, say, for example, on either Fridays or Sundays. Like, let's face it, while people still like America's Funniest Home Videos, that series peaked years ago, and now exists to give Tom Bergeron (ex-Hollywood Squares) something to do in between cycles of Dancing With The Stars.

Anyway, Christy is front & center in this clip from "A Very Scary Story". Uploaded by Justin James:

I guess Renee had as much trouble with Louis as Kim Possible did with her "tweebs" and/or Ron Stoppable......

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Johnny Johnny Jump Up (1969)

The Cattanooga Cats came up with a novel way of teaching kids about nursery rhymes with this ditty, "Johnny Johnny Jump Up".  Bear in mind that the Cats' songs were produced, and I think also written by Mike Curb, who was one busy fellow that year, as his Congregation also had something to do with the themes to two other ABC freshman series, Hot Wheels & Skyhawks. Coincidentally, radio legend Casey Kasem, the voice of Groovy, the Cats' drummer, worked on those other two shows as well.