Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Get On The Line (1969)

The Archies' 3rd album, "Jingle Jangle", produced only the title tune as a potential Top 40 hit. Today's selection, "Get On The Line", was used in the primetime special, Archie & His New Pals, and subsequently was replayed on The Archie Comedy Hour. A continuity error is fairly obvious less than a minute in when drummer Jughead is also in the audience, sitting alongside Sabrina, whose boyfriend, Harvey, is on her other side.

 From the closing credits to Archie & His New Pals:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. the Insect Raiders (1966)

In this installment of The New Adventures of Superman, the Man of Steel (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth) is pitted against the "Insect Raiders", masked humans pretending to be, judging from their costumes, dragonflies. It's either that, or the artists tried to create some sort of reptile-insect hybrid, and failed, big time. Like, the animated roaches in those Raid ads looked more legit than these idiots.

Edit, 7/20/22: We've located the title card for this episode.

It seems like whomever was in charge of storyboarding this episode didn't know what kind of insect he had in mind. Save for the transparent wings, you'd swear these were reptile-men instead of insect-men. Not good. Not the worst in the series, either.

Rating: C.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Literary Toons: The Greatest Adventure: Stories From the Bible (1985)

Talk about slipping through the cracks!

The Greatest Adventure: Stories From the Bible was a direct-to-video series produced by Hanna-Barbera that launched in 1985, and ended with its 13th & final episode, "The Easter Story", in 1993. It merits mention here because it did air on Sunday mornings for a time on USA Network. However, today, you'd be hard pressed to find it.

Around the time this series began, the Japanese anime series, Superbook, had ended production, and was soon to make its way to the US through CBN. Greatest Adventure takes two college students and a Middle Eastern youth through Biblical times, thanks to a magical doorway. Now, understand that this actually takes away from the presentation of each episode, in this writer's opinion.

3 years ago, I reviewed "The Easter Story" in my other blog, The Land of Whatever, without using a video. Someday, we'll post that episode here, but for right now, let's take a look at the story of "Queen Esther". Helen Slater ("Supergirl") essays the title role, with Werner Klemperer (ex-Hogan's Heroes) as Haman, who is looking to wipe out the Jews for his own selfish ends. Klemperer wasn't doing a lot of acting by this point in his career, as he had shifted toward becoming a conductor of classical music.

Hanna-Barbera spared no expense in finding celebrity guest stars to fill out the episodes. Take for example Lorne Greene as Noah, a few years after the 60's icon (ex-Bonanza) had made the movie "Heidi's Song" for H-B. If you can find these episodes on DVD (and they are available---somewhere), excuse the time travelers, as they are representing our school and college age viewers in the audience. You know, kind of like Wendy & Marvin on Super Friends a decade earlier, but a little more out of place.

Rating: B-.

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Scooby-Doo Show (1976)

After 8 years on CBS, Scooby-Doo moved to ABC as part of a revamped Saturday morning lineup that saw Scooby's creators, Joe Ruby & Ken Spears, return to Hanna-Barbera after a 4 year absence, during which time they'd worked at DePatie-Freleng and 20th Century Fox, the latter on a live-action primetime series (Planet of the Apes), and develop two series for their original employers in Jabberjaw & Dynomutt, the latter of which was coupled with Scooby in a hour-long block.

The format was pretty much the same, with Mystery Inc. at a random location to solve a randomly developing mystery. You might as well have been stocking up on color-by-numbers books, since they were actually more entertaining.

However, the producers added to Scooby's family by introducing two cousins--Scooby-Dee, an aspiring actress, and Scooby-Dum, a Mortimer Snerd-inspired dullard who was about as sharp as stale cheese. Unfortunately, Scooby-Dee wasn't used as often, as there were only one or two movie-centric stories out of the 40 episodes produced over three seasons. Dum & Dee, oh by the way, seem to have faded into obscurity in recent years, since the writers of the DTV movie series have not seen fit to bring them back.

Following is the open used in syndication during the 80's. Shaggy (Casey Kasem) tries to sing. Stress tries.

Now, while most people seem to think the franchise jumped the shark with the debut of Scrappy-Doo in 1979, it may have actually happened with Scooby-Dum. Like, did you really think a great dane with the IQ equivalent of an average person's shoe size actually fit in with his cousin and his friends? The sad part is, when Scrappy---and later, Yabba-Doo---came along, Dum & Dee were sent far, far away, and so we never saw the whole Doo family together until much later.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Toonfomercial: Top Cat for Kellogg's Corn Flakes (1961)

Back in the day, it was common to see the stars of your favorite programs shilling for the sponsor during commercial breaks. Hanna-Barbera had a standing contract with Kellogg's, which sponsored some of their early programs.

Disabled1955 brings us this rare piece from Top Cat, in which TC (Arnold Stang) tries scamming Officer Dibble out of his Corn Flakes.......

Monday, March 25, 2013

It Should've Been on a Saturday: The Most Important Person (1972)

Remember The Most Important Person? It was a series of super-short pieces that helped promote cultural diversity and other social topics, using a mix of live-action & animation. These bits usually ran 3 1/2 minutes in length from beginning to end.

Close to home, WTEN (now an ABC affiliate) aired the series on weekday mornings, as part of a children's package leading to their Good Ship News mini-newscast. If memory serves, I believe these bits also aired in New York on either WPIX or WNEW (now WNYW), I forget which one it was for certain. Too bad they're not around on DVD today.

ToonORama uploaded "Oops-I Made a Mistake":

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Q (1965)

Some of you might wonder how Adam West (ex-The Detectives) landed the role of Batman and became a pop culture icon in the process. Well, it seems the answer comes in this mid-60s commercial he made for Nestle Quik as Captain Q.

Adam's less-than-telegenic co-star, I believe, is radio & cartoon legend Paul Frees, who really was everywhere back in those days, it seems. For what it's worth, there's another commercial out there with both actors, only in this case, Frees is narrating a bit for Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes in which Adam plays a father teaching his young daughter how to handle a spoon. That's one for The Land of Whatever in due course, but for right now, meet Captain Q........

Saturday School: ABC Fun Fit (1985)

A year after earning Olympic gold, gymnast Mary Lou Retton joined ABC's Saturday morning lineup in a series of 5 minute segments airing twice each week.

Unfortunately, viewers may have gotten a little tired of Ms. Retton by then, as her cherubic face was on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes, and had been on a number of magazine covers post-Olympics. For that reason, the ABC Fun Fit series died a quick death, cancelled after 3 months.

Perhaps the network might've been better off if they struck a deal with Hanna-Barbera and had Mary Lou interact with Scooby-Doo. Then again, ol' Scoob was on his last legs with the network at that time, too.

Resetcounter uploaded this sample video.

Rating: None. Didn't see any of these bits.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Saturday School: Mousercise (1983)

When it launched 30 years ago, the Disney Channel was a premium (pay-cable) service, and the only time ye scribe got to see anything on the channel was when the cable company had a free preview period, which was the equivalent of a PBS channel holding periodic pledge drives. That is to say, they were hoping to draw more subscribers to the channel. A few years ago, Disney Channel was upgraded such that it was available to everyone, although their On Demand channel is a premium service for some odd reason.

Anyway, during those halcyon days, one of the more popular shows on the channel in the early morning hours was Mousercise, which was Disney's entry into the growing exercise program genre, as aerobic exercise was quite hot in the early 80's. Then again, so was Mousercise hostess Kellyn Plasschaert, so I'd not be surprised to hear of teenage boys, working out with their younger siblings, but actually tuning in to see Kellyn.

Unfortunately, Mousercise is now confined to the Disney vaults, and Kellyn passed away 4 years ago at the age of 40. Following is the show open.

The series aired every morning, if memory serves, so it fits under the "Saturday School" heading.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tooniversary: Scooby-Doo meets Don Adams (1973)

We present this 2nd season offering from The New Scooby-Doo Movies with special guest star Don Adams (ex-Get Smart) as "The Exterminator".

Adams, of course, was no stranger to toons. A decade earlier, he was the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo, whose series was also on CBS, which is where Smart ended its run in 1971. Ten years after this show, Don would return to cartoon work with Inspector Gadget.

The plot: A fading movie actor (John Stephenson) uses all sorts of tricks to try to keep people away from his mansion while he's attempting a comeback.

Ever get the feeling Don might've been doing some moonlighting as an amateur detective himself for this story?

Rating: C.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Saturday School: Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue (1990)

Talk about one of a kind!

Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue was a 1-shot special that aired in April 1990 on ABC, NBC, CBS, USA, Nickelodeon, and a number of independent channels. Since it was funded by McDonald's, you'd think PBS would've gotten in on the action, too.

Introduced by then-President George H. W. Bush and wife Barbara, To The Rescue tells the story of a teenager who's gotten involved in drugs, leading to him stealing from his sister's piggy bank. Characters from Smurfs, Real Ghostbusters, Alvin & The Chipmunks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Muppet Babies, and icons Winnie The Pooh, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, & Garfield join together to help bring the siblings back together. This was the first time that someone other than Mel Blanc had voiced Bugs & Daffy (Jeff Bergman took over the roles, a year after Blanc had passed away). Coming as it did almost a year after the movie, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", this was the 2nd gathering of cartoon stars "under one roof", if you will.

Film legend George C. Scott ("Patton") voices the villain, "Smoke", who gets a quick comeuppance, courtesy of Bugs.

It's worth noting that even though he was a central character in the story, Garfield was used without the consent of creator Jim Davis. Hmmmmmm. Makes ya wonder what that was all about.....

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. The Chameleon (1977)

Most comics fans know that the Chameleon is more associated with Spider-Man instead of Batman. Marvel's Chameleon was introduced in the 60's as a foreign spy/master of disguise whose true face was never seen under a white mask.

Filmation's Chameleon was a 1-shot villain on The New Adventures of Batman who debuted in 1977. In truth, this Chameleon was the creation of another made-for-TV villain, Dr. Devious, but now we're getting ahead of ourselves. As most episodes in the series were wont to be this was a showcase for Len Weinrib, who voiced Chameleon/Devious and gangster Lefty (with a Humphrey Bogart mimic), in addition to his usual role as Commissioner Gordon. In short, Weinrib was the utility guy in the cast, in place of Ted Knight, who had that gig in 1968.

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (1984)

The short-lived series Wolf Rock TV aired this classic gem from Wham! (George Michael & Andrew Ridgely), which was my first exposure to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", the first single off the duo's 1984 album, "Make It Big", which opened the floodgates, as there would be more hits, including "Careless Whisper" & "Everything She Wants". Unfortunately, after another album, Wham! would call it a day while Michael went on to a solo career, pockmarked by legal troubles over some very bad decisions.

Uploaded by Wham!'s VEVO channel:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny & friends shill for Post (1960-64)

Before Linus The Lionhearted roared onto the screen in 1964, General Foods (now part of Kraft) sponsored The Bugs Bunny Show on ABC. This enabled Warner Bros. to produce a series of commercials to promote Post Cereals and Tang, a popular instant breakfast drink better known for its association with NASA and the Apollo space program.

Edit. 6/22/17: I've had to replace the video with a new 2-ad block that clearly has Hal Smith as Elmer Fudd.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: You Are The One (1972)

In the late 60's and early-to-mid 70's, Post & Kellogg's issued cardboard 45's on the backs of selected cereal boxes. Post (now part of Kraft) had licensing deals with Motown (Jackson 5ive), Archie Comics (The Archies, of course), and also with The Monkees, even though the act had drifted apart in the years after their sitcom had ended. Kellogg's also had a license with Archie (Josie & the Pussycats).

In 1972, however, Post decided to take it one step further, by having one of their own characters front a pre-fab pop group. Hence, the Sugar Bears. Basically, Sugar swapped his banjo for a guitar, as shown on the album cover you'll see shortly in the following video. However, the sound they wanted wasn't the middle of the road adult contemporary that you might've expected from Sugar's long time voice actor, Gerry Matthews, who made Sugar sound like a cross between Dean Martin & Bing Crosby. Instead, session musician Dave Ellingson was hired to be the lead singer of the Sugar Bears, who had one big hit, "You Are The One", which got a ton of radio airplay in the spring & summer of '72.

I was hoping to find a commercial promoting the single on YouTube, but no go. So, thanks to EyeoftheLioness, we've got a still shot of the album cover referenced earlier. It may interest you to know that Ellingson's wife, Kim, would go on to a more successful solo career. Better known as Kim Carnes, she hit #1 8 years later with "Bette Davis Eyes", and even crossed over to the country chart for a duet with Kenny Rogers, "Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer".

Here's "You Are The One":

Saturtainment: SFM Holiday Network (1978)

You've probably heard of SFM Entertainment, a small little company that began distributing syndicated programming in the late 70's. The company was also responsible for a pair of syndicated "networks" that presented periodic specials and/or movies.

One of these was the SFM Holiday Network, which bowed in 1978, and ran for a few years. This series lived up to its name, with movies & specials airing on the weekend of specific holidays (i.e. Memorial Day, Christmas), airing in the afternoon in most places.

Unfortunately, all we have is a modest little bumper, provided by FuzzyMemories.TV. If the music sounds familiar, it should. It's also been used on Monday Night Football from its inception in 1970.

The selection of movies in the series was hit & miss, depending on the viewer's tastes. Sadly, with cable having expanded like it has in the 35 years since SFM began this series, it isn't about to return for a new generation.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Literary Toons: Journey Back to Oz (1972)

Filmation's adaptation of the sequel to The Wizard of Oz took 10 years from development to theatrical release in the UK, and another 2 before it saw the light of day in the US. Journey Back To Oz sends Dorothy Gale back to the land of the yellow brick road to visit her friend, the Scarecrow, but a new wicked witch, who happens to be the sister of the two that Dorothy killed previously, sees an opportunity for revenge.

Journey made its television debut in 1976, airing on ABC, with live-action wraparound segments added and hosted by Bill Cosby (Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids), who landed the gig because he was fronting a Sunday night variety show for the network that year. It wasn't until about a year or two later when I finally saw the movie, after it was shown on the syndicated SFM Holiday Network, a periodic series of movies that aired on Saturday afternoons.

Only one cast member from the original movie adaptation of The Wizard of Oz returned for the sequel, but this time, Margaret Hamilton was playing Dorothy's Aunt Em. Dorothy herself is voiced by Liza Minelli, whose equally famous mom, Judy Garland, played the role in Wizard more than 30 years earlier. The all-star cast also includes Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Paul Ford, Paul Lynde (this came a year before Charlotte's Web), Mickey Rooney, & Herschel Bernardi.

Here's the trailer:

We'll do a review on the SFM Holiday Network another time.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Toons You Might've Missed: Bon Bon Parade (1935)

We're starting a new feature here in the Archives that we hope you really like.

Columbia tried to compete with Disney, WB, & MGM for the toon crowd in the 30's & 40's, under the direction of Charles Mintz. Subsequent releases would bear the familiar Screen Gems name in the indicia, so that tells us that brand came full circle when it was revived as a 3rd movie brand in the 90's.

Up today is "Bon Bon Parade", a Color Rhapsody that spins the tale of a street urchin who is magically transported to Candy Land. There are a trio of characters made to look like the Three Stooges, but don't have the voices. As such, "Bon Bon" was included on a Stooges DVD compilation from Sony.

Let me know what you think of this cartoon.

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rein-Toon-Ation: Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures (1987)

It was hailed as a critics' darling, but all it took was one moral zealot to shoot down Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures.

Maverick animator Ralph Bakshi's triumphant return to television was cut short when Rev. Don Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, raised a stink over a scene in which Mighty Mouse was sniffing flowers, and Wildmon and his clueless acolytes thought this was promoting drug use.


This was one of the first instances of the AFA, one of the moral watchdog groups based in the South that want to force television networks and Hollywood in general back to the innocent times of long ago, kicking & screaming if at all possible, raising a ruckus and making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill. They have a problem with how society has changed, often for the worse, admittedly, over the last several decades. They then get chastised for being clueless and being behind the times.

But I digress. Mighty Mouse was now under Bakshi's care for the first time in 20 years (Bakshi helmed the Mouse of Tomorrow's final Terrytoons season for CBS in 1966-7), and if the animation has a familiar look to it, well, one of the artists working on the show was John Kricfalusi, who'd later develop Ren & Stimpy and would have his own Saturday failure with The Ripping Friends 14 years later. Mighty Mouse sounded nothing like he did in previous incarnations, and fell closer to Dudley Do-Right in vocal tone. Not good.

TheUnCoolBean uploaded the series opener, which offers evidence of what I was talking about in terms of Mighty's voice....

I wasn't feeling the theme song, either. Rating: C.