Thursday, February 28, 2013

Celebrity Toons: Scooby-Doo meets Laurel & Hardy (1972)

Here's another season 1 gem from The New Scooby-Doo Movies. The Mystery Inc. crew travels to Vermont for some skiing, and meet up with the legendary comedians Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy (voiced by Jim MacGeorge & Chuck McCann, respectively). In turn, they have to deal with "The Ghost of Bigfoot".

Now, come to think of it, wouldn't Bigfoot be way off the beaten path in Vermont? Of course. Bigfoot allegedly was based in the Pacific Northwest, not in New England, so that should tell you something about the predictable hijinks.......!

Edit, 4/14/21: The video was deleted. We'll sub the title card until we can locate another clean copy:

Chuck McCann would later portray an Oliver Hardy impersonator as a villain on the primetime drama, Matt Houston, and has been vastly underrated as an actor over the course of his storied career.

Rating: B.

From out of the Recycling Bin: Young Samson & Goliath get babyfied (2002)

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, after The Herculoids & Galaxy Trio suffered the indignity of babyfied micro-episodes mocking their adventures, the nimrods at [adult swim] did it to Young Samson & Goliath, too. I don't know exactly how many of these babyfied toons there are total, but this again illustrates the lack of respect [as] had for the 60's super adventure line. They think it's funny. I call BS and say it's blasphemy.

I'd like to know who green-lit this crap and retroactively send out a set of my infamous Weasel ears. Rating: F.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From Primetime to Daytime: Cheap Seats (2004)

Proving they were perfectly willing to poke fun at themselves, ESPN Classic unveiled a snarky series in the vein of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 back in 2004. Cheap Seats lasted just 2 years, ending in 2006, but certainly deserved to last a little longer, given the volume of material in the shared ESPN/ABC library.

Twin brothers Jason & Randy Sklar served as hosts for the series. In case you wonder, Jason's the one with the glasses. The story goes that the series was meant for a fictional ESPN anchor, Ron Parker (Michael Showalter, ex-The State), who, as you'll see in the following video, is taken out when a cabinet falls on him mere minutes into the series premiere. Soon after, you have long-time ESPN anchor Dan Patrick (now with NBC) doing a voice over narrative to explain the scenario.

These days, the Sklars have returned to the airwaves, this time in a series of spots for Time Warner Cable, replacing Mike O'Malley (ex-Yes, Dear) as celebrity endorsers for the cable giant. Meanwhile, let's look back at the first episode of Cheap Seats, which deals solely with Mid-South Wrestling, circa 1980. The card apparently had previously aired on The Golden Age of Wrestling, which aired periodically on Saturdays at the time, as did Cheap.

Well, they are more coherent in commentary than Beavis & Butt-Head could've ever hoped to be. For what it's worth, the MST3K crew actually guested on the show. That might be worth looking into. After the first 10 episodes, Cheap was slashed in half, down to a more manageable half-hour, and this episode was later re-edited into the shorter format as a two-part episode.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Sugar, Sugar (1969)

A few months back, I posted a clip of Ron Dante, the singing voice behind Archie Andrews, performing The Archies' lone #1 hit, "Sugar, Sugar". Now, let's return to 1969 for the original video, taken from an episode of The Archie Comedy Hour. The gang's working the Riverdale Carnival until it's time to play. Principal Waldo Weatherbee introduces the band, and Archie (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone) queues up "Sugar, Sugar".

The cool part to this clip, uploaded by Windsorbear, is seeing Sabrina's kisses turn Reggie into a frog and Archie into a rabbit, if but for a short time.

Tooniversary: Scooby-Doo Meets Speed Buggy (1973)

Time for another episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. As with Jeannie, Speed Buggy got the rub from appearing with Mystery Inc. in the episode, "The Weird Winds of Winona", which I think might be the first time that two radio legends, Casey Kasem (Shaggy) & Mel Blanc (Speed Buggy), worked together on the same project.

Edit, 7/14/2020: The episode has been deleted. In its place is a title card:

Speed Bugs title card

Anyone that followed Speedy's own series knows that they copied some things from the Scooby playbook, such as Debbie (Arlene Golonka, ex-Mayberry, RFD) charming Speedy into solving the case at the last possible moment. Of course it helped that Debbie, like Daphne, was a hottie. Hmmm.......

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Crest Team (1980's)

Crest is one of Procter & Gamble's most recognizable brands, such that they've expanded from just toothpaste to making Crest a secondary brand of mouthwash, after, of course, Scope, in recent years. Back in the early 80's, someone devised an ad campaign that would fit perfectly with some of the animated fare of the day. Can you guess which genre inspired the Crest Team?

Anyway, there were a handful of commercials made, all narrated by toon veteran Jackson Beck, in which the Crest Team thwarted the Cavity Creeps. Let's take a time trip back to Toothopolis (translated, we all have a Toothopolis, effendis)............

Too bad they won't bring these classic toons back for today's audience......

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturtainment: Greatest Sports Legends (1972)

In the 70's, local stations filled Saturday afternoons with syndicated programming when the networks didn't have any sports programming. Shoot, even PBS got in on the act with The Way It Was, hosted by veteran announcer Curt Gowdy. Have to remember to post that sometime.

One of the most enduring series to come from this period was Greatest Sports Legends, which was meant to be to sports what David Wolper's original Biography was to news figures in general. The difference was, producer Berl Rotfeld chose certain athletes, some retired, like Paul Hornung, the former Notre Dame & Green Bay Packers star, others active at the time or soon to retire, like Tom Seaver, to serve as hosts. Jayne Kennedy (The NFL Today) might've been the only non-athlete as host. Unfortunately, Wikipedia's entry on the series is badly in need of completion, as it doesn't have all the episodes listed. I do remember sitting at home on many a Saturday watching and learning.

Steve Rotfeld, Berl's son, is marketing and continuing to produce the series for the home video market, trying to get it back on the air in some form, especially considering the series marked its 40th anniversary last year. Rotfeld has a YouTube channel, from whence we get this teaser clip of an episode focusing on Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams. Seaver was the host for this particular show when it initially aired.

It does sound like the late Harry Kalas narrating the highlight clip, doesn't it?

Rating: A.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Does Cartoon Network need a change at the top? Yes!

I was reading the Star brothers' shared blog, Twinsanity!, the other day, and one of the twins was discussing the usual whining from some uninformed soul on one of the message boards, in this case ToonZone, where the Stars used to frequent. An Australian poster using the name of American actress Miranda Cosgrove (ex-iCarly) was complaining about Cartoon Network's latest bone-brained decision, in this case cancelling Young Justice & Green Lantern to make room for Beware the Batman & Teen Titans Go! in the DC Nation package, rather than expand the block for 2 hours and let all four shows air together for a time as a sort of transitional phase.

As the Stars are quick to point out, CN, like all networks, is in the business of making money. If a show isn't performing in the ratings, it's not going to hang around very long. That's been the nature of the television business for as long as I can remember. CN, however, also is keeping a close eye on the sales of tie-in action figures and other toys, and if anything related to these DC-centric shows ain't moving, well......!

It hasn't been too long since Green Lantern & Young Justice had been reinstated to the schedule after a questionable hiatus at the end of 2012, a decision CN suits are still refusing to explain four months later. The ratings stagnated, but don't ya think CN's mishandling of the two series had something to do with that downturn? Of course. Instead of being honest with their viewing audience, CN has been, to paraphrase Nick Lowe here, too cruel to be kind. Translated, they don't care about their target audience or the comics fans of different demographics that are also tuning in. All they care about is the almighty dollar, and that's the way it's always going to be.

The problem is, for every original idea that comes along, like Adventure Time or Regular Show, which think outside the box and draw boffo ratings, older franchises, a category that the DC characters fit into, are not drawing. That's because CN, a sister company to DC, doesn't know how to properly market the toons based on their corporate sibling's properties any more than Warner Bros. does. As noted in the review for Adventure Time, that series' comics counterpart isn't being published by DC, but another publisher. Gee, ya wonder why, don't ya?

The main problem is at the top with Stuart Snyder & Rob Sorcher, two executives who don't know anything about marketing animated programming. They desperately want CN to compete with and be more like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel and their sister networks. They treat Boomerang as a recycling bin for more recent CN fare that didn't pass muster and have tons of classic cartoons sitting in the vaults with no place to go. They don't care what we older viewers think. They don't care they're burning out Adventure Time & Regular Show by airing it on an almost daily basis. All they want is the bottom line. Apparently, they're not hearing the footsteps from the 2+ year old The Hub, which has overtaken CN, in this writer's opinion. Worse, they're letting some quality programming go elsewhere.

WB has deals in place with The Hub for older shows like Batman: The Animated Series and Animaniacs. CN lost The Marvel Super Hero Squad Show to The Hub last year, and will soon see Star Wars: The Clone Wars shuffle off to DisneyXD thanks to Disney acquiring the Star Wars franchise. The Man of Action studio, largely responsible for Ben 10 & Generator Rex, was hired by DisneyXD to develop Ultimate Spider-Man, which has been largely a bomb, but renewed for a 2nd year anyway, thanks largely to how Marvel & Disney have successfully marketed their product. While the loss of Clone Wars couldn't be helped, much of CN's failings when it comes to their action programming falls at the feet of Snyder & Sorcher, who'd rather try to force live-action programming onto the schedule, even though the viewers don't want it. Time Warner seems to like what they've done, so they're in no hurry to replace them, but, in truth, they have to, in order to save CN & Boomerang from falling into total irrelevancy.

Adventure Time, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball (as bad as that really is), and other current shows aren't going to last forever. However, while CN has opened a doorway for innovation, as demonstrated with the three shows I just mentioned, it is shutting the door on established properties by showing them a total lack of respect. The 2011 remake of Thundercats, while well received, is out of production, and reruns are being burned off on the revived Toonami block, airing overnight Saturdays on [adult swim]. Same for Sym-Bionic Titan, which came from the pen of Genndy Tartatovsky (Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, "Hotel Transylvania"). Why did Thundercats fail this time? CN won't admit it, but they may have sabotaged things with their crazy quilt scheduling practices. That's all I'll say.

For CN & Boomerang to survive, Snyder & Sorcher have to go. There was someone on one of the message boards who was suggesting that someone like Jean MacCurdy or Margaret Loesch, the latter of whom worked for Marvel Productions & Hanna-Barbera in the 80's, could be brought in to right the ship, provided, of course, they don't get scooped up by The Hub first. CN needs someone with enough experience and understanding of children's programming, and once they do, they can send Sorcher & Snyder on their way, or at least reassign them to one of the other TW networks, like TruTV, which in fact is where those two clowns belong.

On The Air: Adventure Time (2010)

Cartoon Network has had 15 minute series since the days of Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast, but they've mostly been the exclusive domain of their [adult swim] division. Currently, the network has a couple of shows of that modest length. We've previously reviewed MAD over in The Land of Whatever, but now let's take a look at one of the network's hottest shows, Adventure Time.

Set in a post-apocalyptic land that closely resembles something out of comics' Golden Age, Adventure Time tells the tale of 14 year old Finn and his canine sidekick, Jake, who is gifted with magical abilities. Finn has a strong moral code, which is rare in today's youth, making Finn a worthy role model. Under that hat he always wears, Finn has blonde hair, in case anyone asks.

The odd thing is, CN acquired this series after it'd been commissioned as a pilot for rival Nicktoons. Who'dathunk? There is a comic book version of the series, but---surprise, surprise---it isn't being published by DC. Instead, Boom! Studios acquired a license to do a series, and the last I checked, it was a hot commodity as well.

Here is the intro:

I think the humor may be a little too mature to allow the show to air on Saturday mornings, which is actually where this Emmy nominated series belongs, in this writer's opinion.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rein-Toon-Ation: Sabrina: The Animated Series (1999)

It was just a matter of time.

As the live-action Sabrina, The Teenage Witch entered its 4th season on ABC, the network added an animated prequel, which recast Sabrina as a 12 year old. DIC (now part of Cookie Jar, and part of the Disney family at the time, making it a sister company to ABC) collaborated with series star Melissa Joan Hart's production company, Hartbreak Films, and with producer Savage Steve Holland (ex-Eek The Cat) to bring Sabrina: The Animated Series to the air. 65 episodes were ordered, to air in syndication and/or UPN's Disney's One Too weekday block while concurrerntly being part of Disney's One Saturday Morning on ABC. ABC was able to keep the series running until October 2001, when it was cut to make room for Mary-Kate & Ashley In Action.

Hart served as a producer and a supporting performer in this series, giving the pre-teen Sabrina over to sister Emily while voicing aunts Hilda & Zelda (Caroline Rhea & Beth Broderick in the primetime series). The animation was in line with the comedy series DIC was producing at the time, a far cry from the lush, full linework of their 80's series (i.e. The Real Ghostbusters, Inspector Gadget).

Right now, let's scope the episode, "Tail of Two Kitties", spotlighting Salem:

Archie Comics had rebooted Sabrina to fit the look of the live-action series, and did some stories based on the cartoon as well, as I seem to recall. However, with due respect to Melissa Joan Hart, Sabrina looks best in her classic look, with platinum blonde hair, not basic blonde. As a pre-teen, Sabrina's hair is longer, suggesting that it would be cut well before she turns 16, as she is depicted initially in the live-action series.

Rating: C.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Toonfomercial: Remember Prof. Goodie & Wallace the Waffle Wiffer?

Sometime in the late 60's or early 70's, Jay Ward Productions introduced a new set of characters to promote Aunt Jemima waffles, part of the Quaker Oats family of breakfast products. Professor Goodie (Daws Butler, using his Huckleberry Hound voice) and Wallace, the Waffle Wiffer appeared in a few ads, but not enough to sustain lasting popularity. By the middle of the 70's, they were gone.

Here, Goodie hides in a diving bell to cook his waffles, but Wallace inevitably shows up. The closing narration is by----who else?----Paul Frees.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tooniversary: Scooby-Doo meets Jeannie (1973)

Space Ghost's 2nd season simply consisted of a 6-part story arc told over 2 weeks, introducing viewers to Hanna-Barbera's freshman class that was on CBS: The Herculoids, Mightor, Moby Dick, & Shazzan. 6 years later, CBS & H-B decided to do it again, this time with Scooby-Doo.

In season 2 of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, there were two crossovers with series that debuted that same season: Jeannie & Speed Buggy. As we know, Speedy and his driver, Tinker, and Jeannie's sidekick, Babu (Joe Besser, formerly of The Three Stooges and The Abbott & Costello Show) would join Scooby's team during the Laff-a-Lympics era (1977-9), but Jeannie (Julie McWhirter) didn't, and neither did her master/prospective boyfriend, Corey (Mark Hamill) or his sidekick, Henry (Bob Hastings). Anyway, Jeannie, Corey, & Henry join Mystery, Inc. for an adventure that takes them to ancient Persia. As we'll see, and had previously seen during this series, Scooby had a way of charming the ladies, genies included.........!

Edit, 4/26/22: The previous video was deleted. In its place is this short excerpt.

Rating: B.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentoons: Sabrina and........Jughead? (1969)

The writers for Sabrina, The Teenage Witch must've gotten some inspiration from seeing episodes of Bewitched, or else why have Aunt Hilda put a spell on poor, depressed Jughead (Howard Morris) when he makes some disparaging remarks about witches in general when discussing his misfortune with a local fortune teller with Sabrina. The sight of Sabrina & Jughead together is enough to stir feelings of jealousy in Big Ethel, whose pursuit of ol' Juggy has her convinced she's the only one for him, and while Sabrina's own boyfriend, Harvey, doesn't appear in this story, don't ya think the writers were, ah, testing the waters of possibly having Jug & Sabrina as a couple, even in the short term?

Here, then, is "What The Hex Going On?". Yeah, two straight days of Jughead-centric Valentoons. Can your heart stand it?

Edit, 2/14/20: I've decided to post the video from 11/13/19. The actual title of the episode, as noted above, is "What The Hex Going On?". Also, the first half of the show, "Cinderella Story", is included.

Rating: B+.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: True Love Is On Its Way (1977)

Today's entry is also on The Land of Whatever, and is certainly appropriate for Valentine's Day.

It's been a while since we featured Kaptain Kool & the Kongs, and this time, Super Chick (Debra Clinger) sings lead on "True Love Is On Its Way". Uploaded by StreetKnight1:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentoon Week: Jughead's Girl (1968)

From The Archie Show:

A compilation of two episodes that didn't originally air together, or so it'd seem:

"The Old Sea Dog": Jughead gets the gang together for a movie, but Reggie hogs the spotlight.

"Jughead's Girl": Jug falls in love, and it's not with anyone we know! Unfortunately, this was a 1-off.

Edit: As you can tell, we'd changed the video after the original copy of "Jughead's Girl" was deleted.

I can't honestly say I've seen this one, as I was never really a big fan of Archie. No rating. Judge this one for yourselves, pilgrims.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Animated World of DC Comics: The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair (1972)

Pilgrims, you don't know how long I've waited for this one!

As we all know, Batman & Robin's 2 appearances on The New Scooby-Doo Movies in 1972 helped lay out the groundwork for Super Friends, which bowed a year later, over on ABC (Scooby was still on CBS at the time), but finding the two episodes intact has been harder to find than the proverbial needle in a haystack. Not anymore.

In both cases, the Dynamic Duo & Mystery, Inc. joined forces against the Masked Manhunters' classic foes, The Penguin & The Joker. As was the case with Batman's 1968 animated series from Filmation, also for CBS, there has been some debate as to who actually voiced the Joker, be it Ted Knight or an uncredited Larry Storch. Seeing as how Joker has more of a Bogart-esque lilt to his voice, neither actor even tried to replicate Cesar Romero's portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime from the live-action Batman. Knight was credited with doing Penguin, which I find a little hard to believe, to tell you all the truth.

Anyway, here's "The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair". Note that the open appears to be the original, as opposed to the edited version used in syndicated repeats. Cartoon Network/Boomerang has the edited open, due to the fact that the robot gunman is shooting a gun into the air......!

As soon as I find "The Caped Crusader Caper", that will pop up here, too. Now, if only I can find Superman's meeting with the Brady Kids........

Rating: B+.

Valentoon Week: Give Your Love To Me (1969)

Opulent7 brings us this nugget from the Cattanooga Cats, with Kitty Jo on lead vocals. "Give Your Love To Me" might've spurred some young'uns into their first dates back in the day.

For what it's worth, Mike Curb produced the music for the show and for Ken Snyder's 2 freshman entries on ABC that same 1969-70 season: Hot Wheels & Skyhawks. Talk about busy, and, yet, to excuse the obvious pun, he gets kicked to the curb in favor of Don Kirshner, whom Hanna-Barbera hired to serve as a music supervisor starting with season 2 of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, when it became obvious that H-B wanted to replicate the success Kirshner enjoyed with the Archies.......

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentoon Week: Parlez Vous Woo (1956)

Well, blow me down! What better way to start off Valentoon week than with a little Popeye, eh, effendis?

In "Parlez Vous Woo", from 1956, Bluto (Jackson Beck) poses as a television star known simply as "The International" as a means of winning Olive away from Popeye. Of course, this ultimately will backfire, but half the fun is watching how it all unfolds.

Now, if they flipped things around and had "The International" be some hottie, would Popeye have dropped Olive like a bad habit that quickly? Hmmmmmm.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Won't You Fly Home, Bill Spacely? (1963)

While "Epp Opp Ork Ah Ah" gets all the attention from The Jetsons' lone season in primetime, it wasn't the only song played on the show.

In the episode, "Miss Solar System", Jane (Penny Singleton) goes undercover, suspicious of George (George O'Hanlon) being assigned by his boss, Cosmo Spacely (Mel Blanc), to be a judge at the Miss Solar System beauty pageant. So Jane becomes Miss Western Hemisphere, and while we're not sure that is also Penny doing the singing, Jane wows 'em with "Won't You Fly Home, Bill Spacely?", a parody of "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?". You've probably seen an excerpt of this track used in a Boomerang house ad to promote The Jetsons.

As you can probably tell, the plot was lifted from any number of I Love Lucy episodes where Lucy was trying to cut in on Ricky's act at the Copa. Somehow, this made the big reveal that much more predictable.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

45 years of Archie cartoons---a retrospective

September will mark the 45th anniversary of The Archie Show, which finally brought Archie Andrews and friends to television after a failed and unsold live-action pilot a few years earlier. I thought we would take some time to look back at the franchise through its glory years at Filmation (1968-78), and then the subsequent revivals and reboots.

*The Archie Show (1968-9): Filmation was riding high on the success they had with DC's superheroes, so it wouldn't hurt to do business with one of DC's competitors, right? Of course not.

The format was simple. Two 10+ minute featurettes, wrapped around a Dance of the Week and Song of the Week, both introduced by Archie himself (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone). The characters were easily defined if you hadn't already read the comics. Archie was torn between sexy Veronica and girl-next-door Betty, both voiced by Jane Webb, who gave Veronica a Southern accent if only to differentiate her from Betty, who was given a voice similar to that of Batgirl over on The Batman-Superman Hour. Webb voiced virtually all of the female characters, or at least was the only woman credited. Howard Morris (ex-Your Show of Shows, The Andy Griffith Show) voiced Jughead and some of the other characters, but there was one instance where Morris had missed a recording and Hanna-Barbera icon Don Messick filled in as Jughead. I'll have that particular episode up soon.

*The Archie Comedy Hour (1969-70): As they had done with Superman two years earlier, Filmation & CBS expanded The Archie Show to a full hour, presumably to better compete with the returning Banana Splits on NBC and its stablemate at H-B, The Cattanooga Cats, over on ABC. The Giant Jukebox was introduced, along with some quick jokes & gags, a la Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. There was greater emphasis on Big Ethel's eternal pursuit of Jughead, whose fear of commitment put him right up there with Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver's 1st iconic role, from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis). The format change was prefaced with a primetime special, Archie & His New Pals, which set the table for the entire season, and not just for Archie, but also CBS' freshman class of '69, if memory serves.

*Archie's Funhouse (1970-1): Another year, another title change. This time, the gang was set up as if they were playing in front of a studio audience full of kids. It was Filmation's most ambitious project to date, and they had experimented with live-action a year earlier with the open & close to ABC's short-lived Hardy Boys series. Otherwise, it really was more of the same, but with greater emphasis on the Jukebox.

*Archie's TV Funnies (1971-3): My personal favorite of all the incarnations. Archie and company now had the run of a Riverdale television station, presenting adaptations of other comic strips. The lineup:

Dick Tracy, whom we featured yesterday. John Erwin, normally the voice of Reggie Mantle, voiced Tracy, and would recycle that heroic voice for He-Man 12 years later. Tracy had the full complement of supporting characters crossing over from the newspapers, as opposed to the made-for-TV crew UPA gave him 10 years earlier.

Nancy: Ernie Bushmiller's legendary strip, which on TV gave Sluggo equal billing.

The Dropouts: Howard Post's strip was on its last legs when they made their TV debut, and when the series ended, so did the strip.

Moon Mullins: Moon & Kayo were regulars back in the day in the New York Daily News and its sister publications under the Tribune banner.

Emmy Lou: I hadn't seen the strip at all, so this was my first exposure.

Smokey Stover: Another longtime Daily News regular, Smokey was used for the quick blackout gags Archie and his pals had done the previous two seasons.

Broom-Hilda: Russell Myers' green-skinned witch with a heart of gold was another Daily News star, and, along with Nancy, would return in The Fabulous Funnies 7 years later. June Foray was credited as the voice of Hilda in the 1978 series, not sure if it was her or Webb here.

*Everything's Archie (1973-4): Reruns from the first three seasons. The title comes from the lyrics to the theme to the first season.

*US Of Archie (1974-6): The last CBS series, as the franchise was giving way, gradually, to Bill Cosby's award-winning Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids. Archie, Betty, Reggie, & company were now reading up on their lookalike ancestors, who supposedly were present for some historical events. Tom McKenzie, of the Doodletown Pipers, took over as the singing voice of Archie from Ron Dante, who was now working with Barry Manilow. Reruns, as memory serves, aired on Sundays.

*The New Archie-Sabrina Hour (September-October 1977): After a year off, the gang were back, but on NBC, as CBS was apparently no longer interested. In the interim, James Komack (Welcome Back, Kotter & Chico & The Man) had produced a 1-hour live-action pilot for ABC that at least made the air but didn't sell. However, the time away didn't change the decline in ratings. The landscape was changing, and Archie was no longer relevant to Saturday audiences. ABC owned the morning now. After a month, the 1 hour format was split into two component features--Super Witch for Sabrina, and The Bang Shang Lallapalooza Show for Archie. This season saw the debut of Carlos, a Hispanic teen who unfortunately was never seen again, as I don't think he ever appeared in the comics. The two shows were cancelled in April 1978, ending Archie's run at Filmation after 10 years.

*The New Archies (1989-90): DIC took over the franchise and tried to resurrect it with this series, which was basically the Little Archie book rebooted for a new generation. Didn't work, but DIC, undaunted, tried again a couple of years later. A companion comic book crashed & burned as well.

*Archie's Weird Mysteries (1999-2000): This was the result of a hybrid mix of Archie being crossed with one of his contemporaries, Scooby-Doo, & The X-Files. 40 episodes were produced for PAX (now Ion), but has been in and out of syndication ever since. The accompanying comic book was later rebooted as an analogue to CBS' popular CSI franchise, but was still cancelled after 3 years.

Should Archie return? Dreamworks Classic, formerly Classic Media, holds the rights to the cartoons. After seeing how Josie & The Pussycats tanked at the box office 12 years ago, it would require the right personnel and format to enable a TV revival. I should note that there was a live-action TV movie that envisioned the gang all grown-up back in 1990, which was produced for NBC (which was home to the ill-fated New Archies, and I think was a DIC production. Unfortunately, it hasn't seen the light of day in over 20 years, probably because it was not so well received.

Currently, Archie Comics has made some interesting moves. They've created alternate futures where Archie is married to either Veronica or Betty, and those stories are housed in a magazine sized revival of Life With Archie. They've also taken a chance on pairing ol' Arch with Valerie (from Josie & The Pussycats) in a short-term storyline. This is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that a lot of writers at DC and/or Marvel are afraid to try, as opposed to the let's-do-something-for-a-headline mentality that has gripped Marvel in recent years. If the suits at Archie can sell one of the above storylines to a studio (i.e. Hasbro, Cookie Jar), they could bring some fresh air to the toon landscape all over again, and in this day and age, we could use it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

From Comics To Toons: Dick Tracy vs. Mumbles (Archie's TV Funnies, 1971)

I've waited a long time for this.

One of my favorite segments on Archie's TV Funnies was the return to TV of Chester Gould's famous detective, Dick Tracy. Unlike his 1961 series for UPA, Tracy (John Erwin) was more active in solving cases, aided by longtime sidekick Sam Catchem, adopted son Junior, and, in this series, Moon Maid (Jane Webb, of course), who had been introduced in the strip in the late 60's.

Willy Carlson brings us this meeting of Tracy and his incomprehensible foe, Mumbles, whose interpreter is modeled after Stooge Viller, but uses a different name in this story. If Erwin's voice as Tracy sounds awfully familiar, it should. He used the same voice for He-Man more than a decade later.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tooniversary: The Gathering of the Team (Fantastic Voyage 1st episode, 9/14/68)

Filmation, to an extent, broke new ground with their adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage into a Saturday morning adventure series in 1968. Up until then, "origin" stories, which explained how the heroes came to be, weren't done. We wouldn't learn the secrets behind Space Ghost, for example, until a comic book miniseries published by DC nearly 40 years later. Other heroes of the era, such as Birdman & The Super Six, just appeared, no questions asked, though today would require a lengthy tale to reintroduce the characters. Hanna-Barbera's Shazzan & Frankenstein, Jr. were easily explained, as was Dino Boy.

The Combined Miniature Defense Force (CMDF) is introduced in the open of each episode of Fantastic Voyage, but the series premiere, "The Gathering of the Team", tells the story of how Jonathan Kidd, Erica Lane, & Guru joined with scientist Busby Birdwell to form the CMDF's field team. Marvin Miller (Aquaman) voices both Guru & Busby, plus some additional characters. "Gathering" first aired on Sept. 14, 1968.

Here is "The Gathering of the Team":

Writer Ken Sobol would script virtually every episode of the series, and remained with Filmation for a few more years, even doing some yeoman work on the Archie franchise.

Rating: B.

Literary Toons: Famous Classic Tales (1970)

CBS was looking to fill some time after football on Sundays during the Christmas shopping season, or so the story goes. The anthology series, Famous Classic Tales, sponsored by Kenner Toys (now part of Hasbro) launched in 1970 with an adaptation of Charles Dickens' oft-adapted A Christmas Carol, produced by the Australian studio Air Programs International, which later moved into the Saturday morning arena, teaming first with Hanna-Barbera for 1971's Funky Phantom, then foraging out on its own with a series based on Jules Verne's Around The World In 80 Days, which was a 1-year flop for NBC.

Understandably, API never sold another show to NBC after that failure, and all subsequent programs would end up at CBS. H-B bought API somewhere in the midst of it all, but that's another story altogether.

Famous Classic Tales also gained air berths during the week, usually around Thanksgiving, as memory serves. H-B would take over producing the cartoons after purchasing API, as I do remember some of the later productions being under the H-B imprint.

There is also a YouTube channel bearing the Famous Classic Tales name, from which we get this trailer for the special, Tales of Washington Irving, which adapted Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.......

Episodes have been released on VHS, but not on DVD, insofar as I know.

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah (1962)

I'm pretty sure most of you know this classic from The Jetsons.

Judy (Janet Waldo) is so enamored of teen idol Jet Screamer that she writes a song for him. As you'll see, George (George O'Hanlon) gets in on the act as a drummer. It would take 25 years before there would be a sequel to "A Date With Jet Screamer", and it would be the full-length TV movie, "Rockin' With Judy Jetson".

Uploaded by Vincent Bartaloma:

Now don't ya think there are punk bands that could've covered "Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah"?

On DVD: Thunderbirds Are Go! (1966)

Today's generation only knows of the late Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds from a seemingly ill-advised live-action movie produced a few years ago. However, the original Thunderbirds had made it to the big screen during their golden years in the 60's.

"Thunderbirds Are Go!" pits the Tracy family against a saboteur who's trying to stop a mission to Mars. However well developed the plot, there is also a distraction in the form of a dream sequence in a space nightclub involving one of the Tracy brothers and Lady Penelope, supposedly on a date, and entertained by the "son" of British pop star Cliff Richard (Richard voices his own "offspring", of course). I can actually see why the more recent incarnation tanked.

Anyway, here's the open to the film, complete with the score by Anderson's faithful music director, Barry Gray:

Watching this film, I recognized the chauffeur, Parker, from series clips that were used in Wax's music video for "Right Between The Eyes", released some 20 years after this film. Andrew Gold & Graham Gouldman must've been fans.

Rating: C.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Saturtainment: 100 Deeds For Eddie McDowd (1999)

In some respects, 100 Deeds For Eddie McDowd was ahead of its time.

The Nickelodeon series lasted three seasons, centered on a vain bully who is turned into a dog by a wanderer known only as The Drifter (Richard Moll, ex-Night Court). In order to become human again, Eddie must perform 100 good deeds alongside the last boy he bullied.

Unfortunately, viewers lost interest in the series, and thus when it ended in 2002, Eddie was not finished. Fan fiction fanatics are encouraged to dream up their own ending scenarios. Two actors ended up voicing Eddie during the show's run. Seth Green (Family Guy, Robot Chicken) was the original, but commitments to other projects, I'm assuming, led to his departure, replaced by Jason Hervey (ex-The Wonder Years), who is now a producer. Like it really mattered. To me, it didn't seem as though Eddie was getting the idea, and was more interested in resuming his human form ASAP.  Moll is so unrecognizable as Drifter, you'd forget he was on a hit show a few years earlier.

Here's the opener, "Tagged":

It might've worked better if it started with a backdoor pilot on another Nick series, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which had stories of a mystical nature.

Rating: C.