Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tooniversary: Spider-Woman vs. the Fly (1979)

In the mid-70's, with the original "The Fly" airing frequently in syndication, Marvel Comics decided on their own take on the tragic story.

A common thug named Rick Deacon became a villain known as The Fly, not to be confused, of course, with Archie Comics' heroic character of the same name, nor the stuntman known as The Human Fly, who'd land his own Marvel series a year after this Fly debuted.

However, the staff at DePatie-Freleng never consulted Marvel about their Fly when they were searching for villains to battle Spider-Woman. Instead, the writers opted for a generic mad scientist to turn into a hybrid half-man, half-fly, a la the movie, except that he has a working brain and can talk. He manages to rob our heroine (Joan Van Ark) of her powers long enough for viewers to see the TV version of her origin as she works to regain her powers.

Now, here's "Spider-Woman & The Fly":

Personally, I'd have preferred Deacon-Fly, who could've become a recurring foe if the series had been renewed. Instead, it marks its 35th anniversary this year as a footnote in cartoon history, that being the last series DFE sold to ABC.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teenage Toons: The Archies go skiing (1968)

From The Archie Show:

Veronica Lodge (Jane Webb, employing a Southern accent) talks her father into letting the rest of the gang work at a ski resort for a weekend. Of course, you know this won't end well.........

For the life of me, I could never figure out why Veronica was given a Southern accent, when she's as much a Yankee as the rest of the gang. Jane Webb voiced all the female characters and, for example, created a Marilyn Monroe-like voice for Sabrina. To my knowledge, the Lodges weren't from the South.

Rating: B.

Edit, 2/22/18: Had to change the video. "Hot Dog Drag" airs first, followed by the Dance of the Week and "You Make Me Wanna Dance".

Monday, January 27, 2014

Toonfomercial: Chevron reveals their secrets (1979)

This is one of Chevron's animated commercials from 1979. I have another one over at The Land of Whatever that I'll bring over here another time. In this ad, we see how Chevron gets its fuel. The inestimable Casey Kasem narrates.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rare Treats: Back to Hoagy's Alley: The Making of Top Cat

Top Cat was Hanna-Barbera's contemporary follow-up to The Flintstones, debuting in 1961. The following video uploaded by Cartoon Lagoon, comes from the series' DVD release, and is narrated/hosted by Leo DeLyon (Spook/Brain). No mention is made of the fact that the show was derived from and inspired by You'll Never Get Rich, aka Sgt. Bilko, aka The Phil Silvers Show. Maurice Gosfield (Benny) also was one of Bilko's sidekicks. I think the story on the Bilko/Top Cat connection was another part of the DVD's special features section. If you haven't already invested in the DVD, whaddya waitin' for?

Rating: A.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Robonic Stooges (1977)

After The Three Stooges made a couple of guest appearances on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, Hanna-Barbera welcomed back writers Norman Maurer (son-in-law of Moe Howard) & Jeffrey Scott (Moe's grandson) to the fold. Scott would remain on staff at H-B at least into the 80's. Not so sure about Maurer, who had produced the New Three Stooges shorts in the 60's for his own studio.

In 1977, Moe, Larry, & Curly were reincarnated, if ya will, as cyborg bumblers in The Robonic Stooges, one of two animated segments on The Skatebirds. H-B & CBS figured, if a cyborg dog (Dynomutt) was a hit for ABC, how about taking some comedy legends and giving them bionic parts, too? Predictably, only one season's worth of shorts were produced, and they never once thought about a robotic version of Shemp.

One must assume that Frank Welker had voiced Curly in the Scooby-Doo episodes, since he recycled the voice for the Curly-esque Jabberjaw. So, naturally, Welker was, ah, reunited with the child-like Stooge. Joe Baker (ex-The Rich Little Show) voiced Larry, while the inestimable Paul Winchell voiced Moe. Ross Martin (ex-Sealab 2020, Wild Wild West) was their boss, Agent 000. John Stephenson is the narrator.

Unfortunately, episodes previously posted have been deleted by YouTube and are unavailable at the moment. All that's left is this 11 second intro, narrated by Stephenson:

The episodes tried to mix classic Stooge slapstick with superhero action, but the translation wasn't always there. Of course, it didn't help that studio stablemates were on the other channels and that led to Skatebirds' early demise.

Rating: B-.

Daytime Heroes: Colonel Bleep (1956)

Colonel Bleep hasn't been seen in years, and he's approaching his 60th birthday in 2016.

Maybe it's understandable. Bleep is an alien from the planet Futura who teams with a mute puppet and a caveman to battle evil. Sources say that Joe Barbera had a hand in creating Bleep before launching Hanna-Barbera. I am not so sure.

Noah Tyler narrates and does virtually all of the voice work in this first installment, "Colonel Bleep's Arrival on Earth", uploaded by Dandy Deal.

Colonel Bleep came from a small independent studio in Miami, but there are very few episodes available, and those that are currently are in the public domain, so there is a chance someone could make a run at reviving the series to mark the 60th anniversary. Otherwise, this will end up being a footnote in television history.

Rating: C.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Toonfomercial: There's a reason dogs don't use telephones..... (2013)

The other day, we presented a State Farm commercial starring Scooby-Doo & Mystery, Inc.. Altogether, there are three State Farm ads featuring the gang.

This next one, to which I was tipped by Magicdog, one of our regular correspondents, has Scooby (Frank Welker) dealing with automated phone services. Ruh-roh!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rare Treats: Magilla Gorilla: Here Comes a Star (1964)

We're starting a new feature here in the Archives tonight. I call it, "Rare Treats", because they're exactly that. Featurettes you're more likely to find on DVD releases of old shows.

Such is the case with our first "Rare Treat". 50 years ago, Hanna-Barbera produced a promotional film for one of its 3 "freshmen" series that year, Magilla Gorilla. Radio & television personality George Fenneman (ex-You Bet Your Life, Dragnet) serves as our tour guide. I'm not going to bother with a rating, as this is more a public service to you than anything else.

And, so, here's Magilla Gorilla: Here Comes a Star:

Edit, 3/27/2020: We've located a still shot from the special:

"Magilla Gorilla - Here Comes A Star" - This 1964 TV special co-produced by Hanna-Barbera and Ideal Toy Company and hosted by George Fenneman previewed the Magilla Gorilla cartoon show. Rare behind the scenes footage of Hanna-Barbera productions in its early days. This video includes first Magilla Gorilla cartoon "The Big Game"produced. Cartoon Gifs, Cartoon Shows, Flintstone Family, Champions Of The World, Ideal Toys, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Vintage Cartoon, Hanna Barbera, Here Comes

It's easy to forget that Magilla came along the same year as Jonny Quest, who was easily the better known of the Class of '64..........

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Saturtainment: Go Go Gophers vs. "The Ironclad" (1964)

Wikipedia claims that the Go Go Gophers were introduced in 1966, added to The Underdog Show, which marks its 50th anniversary this year. Wikipedia doesn't have the accurate information on original content of the latter series, relying instead on syndicated prints that have been around since the 70's.

Until I hear differently from an independent and reliable source, we're going to say that Ruffled Feathers & Running Board are also marking 50 years this year. To that end, here's a hilarious classic that sees Col. Kit Coyote (Kenny Delmar) & Sgt. Okey Homa (Sandy Becker) using a Navy battleship to try to drive the Gopher Indians out of town..........

Five minutes, including the open, just isn't enough time to today's audience, and even then, if you blinked, the story was done. Becker doubled as Running Board while George Irving was the babbling Ruffled Feathers. All three actors, I think, sang the theme song.

Rating: A.

Monday, January 20, 2014

You Know The Voice(s): Meet the cast of Scooby-Doo (the 70's version)

This next item was culled from a DVD release for Scooby-Doo to explain just how the cast came together. Well, most of them, anyway. This focuses on material from the ABC years (1976-86), hence Gary Owens (Blue Falcon) is here as well.

Heather North (Daphne) was, ah, moonlighting at the time, as she also appeared on Days of Our Lives during the 70's. She was actually the 2nd Daphne. Today, Nicole Jaffe (Velma), at least at the time this interview was recorded, had become an agent and made a 1-shot return in a DVD a few years back. Mindy Cohn, the current Velma, has come the closest to matching Nicole's original characterization. To think that, today, Casey Kasem (Shaggy) has been in ill health, but the real revelation is how he & Frank Welker had wanted to read for other parts. And, as we all know, Welker eventually would inherit the role of Scooby himself from Don Messick, but not before they'd tried out other actors after Messick had passed away. Some of Welker's facials during this video suggest the influence, in this writer's opinion, of comedy icon Red Skelton. Shoot, I'd bet he could recreate some of Red's classic routines.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Looney TV: The Looney Tunes Show (2011)

Imagine if you will Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig, & Speedy Gonzales---living in the same neighborhood!!!!

That was the premise behind The Looney Tunes Show, now out of production after a 2 year run on Cartoon Network, which has the repeats airing at odd times during the day these days. Check your listings. The idea was to band the familiar gang together in a small cul-de-sac of a town where Bugs (Jeff Bergman) is sharing space with Speedy (Fred Armisen, Saturday Night Live) and Daffy Duck (Bergman). And if you think that's wack enough, they would eventually add the Tazmanian Devil----as a house pet.


Producers Spike Brandt & Tony Cervone also worked on Daffy's last series, Duck Dodgers, and on Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, and wanted to treat the beloved characters more like humans on a human level. Witch Hazel was rebooted as Witch Lezah (Roz Ryan, ex-Amen). Hazel's original portrayer, the ageless June Foray, is heard as Granny, of course. Lola, introduced in the 1996 movie, "Space Jam", turns up as a overly chatty babe with a fixation on Bugs, who eventually becomes her boyfriend. I haven't seen any season 2 episodes, so I don't know how far that went. Kristen Wiig (ex-Saturday Night Live) voiced Lola, and played her as more of a bubblehead in season 1, but apparently the character matured very quickly, having to defend Bugs---as seen in a promo during season 2---from her father, who wants to break up the couple. I definitely have to catch up.

Accentuating the fun are some CGI Road Runner shorts that often were funnier than the main stories! Then, there were short music videos under the Merrie Melodies heading. Ah, what fun. I passed on one DVD release that only had a handful of episodes from season 1, but when they come out with complete seasons, then we'll chase 'em down. The Merrie Melodies, though, are likely to turn up sooner than that.......

For your entertainment pleasure, let's scope out the series opener, "Besties". Seems Daffy's not that bright when it comes to game shows......

Edit: 8/4/15: The video was deleted due to copyright issues, so there is just a sample clip:

Rating: A++.

Saturtainment: The Skatebirds (1977)

In 1977, Hanna-Barbera owned the 8 am (ET) hour on Saturdays. CB Bears on NBC. The All-New Super Friends Hour on ABC (easily the best of the lot). And, over on CBS, you had The Skatebirds.

Skatebirds was a riff on the disco fad of the period, with the title characters rolling around on roller skates. The only similarity between this show and 1968's Banana Splits, which lasted two seasons, was that both were anthology shows that had 3 animated features and a live-action serial. That was it. The quality took a nosedive from that point.

Let's consider the component parts for a moment.

*Woofer & Wimper: Dog Detectives was a reworked version of reruns of the previous year's Clue Club, focusing on the comedy relief pooches (Paul Winchell & Jim McGeorge). Big mistake.

*Wonder Wheels was a rip-off of Sid & Marty Krofft's Wonderbug (from Krofft Supershow), only with a dilapidated scooter instead of a dune buggy. Said bike's owner (Micky Dolenz, ex-The Monkees, Devlin, Funky Phantom) merely had to call for Wonder Wheels to effect the change over in transportation from the scooter to a souped-up motorcycle.

*The Three Robonic Stooges took the Three Stooges and turned them into cyborg superheroes in a parody times three of The Six Million Dollar Man. Voices included Winchell, Ross Martin (ex-Wild, Wild West, Sealab 2020), Joe Baker (ex-The Rich Little Show), & Frank Welker, whose Curly voice was also used for Jabberjaw, who had moved over to Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, then shifted to Yogi's Space Race the next year. Go figure. Norman Maurer, Moe Howard's son-in-law, was presumably the head writer, and was also just as presumably in charge of the Wonder Twins shorts over on Super Friends.

*Mystery Island meant to be a cross between Danger Island and any number of cheesy sci-fi movies. Welker provided the sound effects for the robot. The production values were at Krofft-level bad.

Skatebirds was running dead last in its time slot, and so CBS split the show into 2 half hour component parts bookending the lineup. Robonic Stooges had Woofer & Wimper as the backup, while Wonder Wheels & Mystery Island remained on Skatebirds. The next year, Clue Club was restored to its original format, from which it should never have been tampered with.

Muttley16 uploaded the open to the full 1 hour formatted show.

Rating: C.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman & The Teen Angels (1977)

Captain Caveman & the Teen Angels made their debut as part of Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics in 1977 in a clear case of a fish-out-of-water concept.

The Captain (Mel Blanc) had been frozen in ice until he was discovered by the Angels, bringing the "World's 1st superhero" into the 20th century. "Cavey" and the Angels also took part in the Laff-a-Lympics competitions as part of the Scooby Doobies, but the Captain seemed to be even more out of place here.

A few years later, the Captain was rebooted in his own time, the Stone Age, where he'd meet up with The Flintstones over on NBC, and would return to ABC in a backup feature on Flintstone Kids. Unfortunately, the Angels were never seen again.

Edit: 7/16/14: The episode, "Big Scare at the Big Top", has been deleted by YouTube due to a copyright issue. In its place, we offer the open, with narration by Gary Owens (Blue Falcon):

Rating: B.

Tooniversary: Scooby & Scrappy-Doo (1979)

ABC overhauled its Saturday morning lineup in 1979. Super Friends was cut back to a half-hour with the World's Greatest series, which was mostly loose adaptations of literary classics (i.e. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). The main attraction was the 90 minute Plastic Man series, which included season 2 of Fangface. Marvel Comics' Spider-Woman made her debut in what would be the last DePatie-Freleng series sold to ABC. And, then, they gave Scooby-Doo a nephew. Nice anniversary present.

Yes, Scooby was marking his 10th anniversary, and it was year 4 at ABC. With ratings falling due to the Laff-a-Lympics format and the oversized anthology series the previous 2 seasons, ABC was ready to send Scooby off to the kennel. Enter Scrappy-Doo, Scooby's pint-sized, pugnacious nephew, who was the diametric opposite of Scooby. Brave instead of scared, and more willing to aggressively pursue clues.

While ratings spiked initially, ABC suits mistook that spike for the public falling in love with the puppy. The apathy shown to Scrappy in subsequent years, including his being cast as the villain in the 2002 live-action movie, a fan-service bow to the haters on the internet, spoke contradictory volumes. Due to that misread, Fred (Frank Welker), Daphne (Heather North), & Velma (Marla Frumkin, who took over for Pat Stevens 2/3 of the way into the previous season) were written out, though Daphne would return a few years later, and Shaggy (Casey Kasem) would take Scooby & Scrappy here, there, & everywhere, finding real monsters along the way. However, this was more of a comical, not quite campy, reboot that hardcore fans of the franchise just weren't digging. Personally, I think some of the haters were pissed off that sexy Daphne was given what ended up being a 3 year vacation, and that the absence of the rest of the team during those three years was never explained.

Also, after the first season, Don Messick (Scooby) took over as Scrappy, as Len Weinrib left Hanna-Barbera for the 2nd time after a salary dispute. Weinrib, though, would still be heard from, as his DFE-produced Time For Timer shorts were still airing at the time. It's said that they had Messick dub over Weinrib's lines from the first season for reruns, but I can't be sure about that.

In 1982, the series was reformatted, coupled with Ruby-Spears' The Puppy's Great Adventures, a spin-off from Weekend Special, and one of the three shorts in the first half introduced another of Scrappy's uncles, Yabba-Doo (Messick again), whose name had more in common with The Flintstones, since it was part of Fred's catchphrase. Yabba & Scrappy's adventures were out West in a little place called Yucca Flats, which is where Scrappy was dropped off in the 2002 movie's flashback segment. Hopefully, Scrappy saved up his frequent flyer miles.

Due likely to fan demand, Daphne was brought back in season 5, retitled, The New Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Show, only to be renamed again as The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries the next season, a sign that the Doos' luck was running out after all. Yabba, though, was gone after 1 season.

Hewey1972 gives us a season 1 open:

Subsequent Scooby-Doo projects haven't shown Scrappy much love at all, again playing to the internet. Can Scrappy be rehabbed as a heroic character? Sure. It just requires a writer who can address the misplaced hate in a positive way, and the best way to do that is have Scrappy redeem himself. A mature, older Scrappy, seeking to make amends for his past mistakes, would be a good place to start. What do you guys think?

 Rating: B+.

Toonfomercial: Even cartoon characters need insurance (2013)

You've probably seen this one making the rounds the last couple of months.

State Farm's latest celebrity endorser is none other than Scooby-Doo and friends, and just in time, too, since their next DTV DVD, co-starring the superstars & divas of the WWE, is due in another few weeks.

This shortie pays homage to the original series, which marks its 45th anniversary this year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Mouse takes on juvenile delinquency (Spare the Rod, 1953)

In the 50's, Mighty Mouse did his share in dealing with social issues of the period. Take for example this offering from 1953, "Spare the Rod", which illustrates the growing problem of juvenile delinquency. The following video is a syndicated print. The original opening has been lost. We think.

Oil Can Harry must've been in prison for a long stretch........

Rating: A.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Daytime Heroes: Popeye vs. Sindbad (1936)

Popeye, in one of his first full-color adventures, takes on "Sindbad the Sailor", or so it would seem. Once again, it's actually Bluto as the villain of the piece in this extra-length tale from 1936.

Ah, what fun. The Fleischers would follow up by having Popeye meet Ali Baba a few years later, and that was even better!

Rating: A.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain N: The Game Master (1989)

For a period between the mid-80's and mid-90's, DIC experimented with live-action programming, just as rivals Hanna-Barbera & Filmation had done before them. The track record was spotty at best. In most cases, they mixed live-action with animation, as was the case with the most successful of the hybrids, Kidd Video, and, our next subject, Captain N: The Game Master.

Captain N is an ordinary dude named Kevin Keene, who is transported from the real world to Videoland via a warp that emerges through his television set, while his mother, unaware of what's happening, is demanding that the lad clean his room. Ah, the celebration of slackerdom among kids. Bleechh.

In Videoland, Kevin is tasked to liberate the realm from the insidious Mother Brain, whose masculine voice belongs to the late Four Tops frontman, Levi Stubbs, whose voice acting debut, for all we know, came a couple of years prior in the remake of "Little Shop of Horrors". Stubbs ain't the only musician in the cast, though. British bluesman Long John Baldry began an association with DIC with this series, and was also heard in Sonic The Hedgehog a few years later.

Captain N lasted two seasons, the last merged as part of Super Mario World, and some of the characters, the ones owned by Nintendo, that is, would appear in a Nintendo comic book published by Valiant Comics, which didn't last very long. The series enjoyed a brief resurrection when reruns aired on the Family Channel in the mid-90's.

Here's the open:

I didn't follow this series, so I can't fairly rate it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Super Chicken vs. Wild Ralph Hiccup (1967)

From the original George of the Jungle series comes this Super Chicken short.

In one of the most absurd plots to come out of the Jay Ward studio, Super Chicken battles a cowboy hijacker named Wild Ralph Hiccup (Daws Butler doing a semi-mimic of John Wayne, but coming off as a cross between "The Duke" & Huckleberry Hound). Considering that Super Chicken's alter-ego, Henry Cabot Henhouse, was a loose parody of Henry Cabot Lodge (get the joke?), well, who d'ya suppose Hiccup was a parody of? Hint: He wasn't an outlaw.

Standard silliness. Rating: C.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Just how did Filmation bring back the Ghostbusters? Here's how (1985)

As we all know, Filmation brought back a failed series from the 70's, Ghost Busters, as an animated series, 11 years after the original. The title was revamped as one word---Ghostbusters, but the result was the same. The series would only last one year of original episodes.

13 months prior to the relaunch, Filmation made the following video presentation for executives at Group W, which was handling distribution of their programs at the time. Group W, a unit of Westinghouse, would later distribute the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, as memory serves.

As you'll see, the designs for Jake Kong, Jr.'s two sweethearts, reporter Jessica Raye, and Futura, a sorceress from the future, as well as big bad Prime Evil, were radically altered in the space between the presentation and the first episode. Jessica's hair, for example, went from blonde to auburn. Also, Jake and Eddie Spencer, Jr. were not referred to as the sons of the original Ghost Busters, but that would change as well. Jake and Tracy's designs remained relatively the same. It is implied that Jake & Jessica have a relationship, but as we would see in the series, it seemed as though he had room for two girlfriends, judging by the chemistry between him & Futura.

Now, let's see how this all began.

Sunday Funnies: The Simpsons (1989)

Cartoonist Matt Groening first entered the public consciousness in the mid-80's with the syndicated comic strip, Life Is Hell, which established Groening's unique, signature artistic style. The strip spawned a series of trade paperbacks and other merchandise, much like other strips, but it also got Groening the attention of executives at the then-fledgling Fox network.

Groening then was commissioned to produce a series of animated sketches for The Tracey Ullman Show, little knowing that his creations would soon become much more popular than the British entertainer herself.

The Simpsons evolved, literally, from the early skits, leading to being spun off into their own series, which marks its 25th anniversary this year. Like so many TV families past and present, we've gotten to know the Simpson family of Springfield, USA, pretty well:

Homer is employed at a nuclear power plant owned by C. Montgomery Burns, perhaps the most miserly boss to come along since, well, who knows? Like George Jetson & Fred Flintstone before him, Homer's been fired and rehired several times over the years, which is amazing when you consider that Homer's IQ is somewhere in the vicinity of a rusty nail. Voiced by Dan Castelaneta.

Wife Marge has held a few short-term jobs, usually in correlation with Homer's temporary unemployment. Like, hey, someone has to be the breadwinner in the family. Owner of the world's biggest beehive hairdo, Marge spends most of her days tending to her youngest child, Maggie. After all these years, you'd think she'd have asked Homer to actually take a refresher course of some kind. Like common sense. Marge is voiced by Julie Kavner (ex-Rhoda).

Daughter Lisa has a future as a jazz musician if she applies herself. As her mother tries to pull her father in line, Lisa often has to do the same with her brother, Bart, but sometimes gets involved in Bart's misadventures. The writers tried to think outside the box in one episode and had her interested, however, briefly, in school bully Nelson. Must've been a done-in-one. Sooner or later, she'll find the one. Voiced by Yeardley Smith (ex-Herman's Head).

And, then, there's Bart, the most famous juvenile delinquent this side of Dennis the Menace. Bart's prank calls to Moe's tavern have probably stopped by now, unless, by some chance, Moe is just as dense as Homer. Then again, Bart also started the trend where kids refer to their fathers by name, not "Dad". Bart's also been at the center of ad campaigns for Butterfinger candy for years. Actress Nancy Cartwright had worked on a few Saturday morning cartoons, including Flintstone Kids, before landing the role of Bart, which has defined her career. In character as Bart, she recorded a pair of novelty singles for the 1990 album, "The Simpsons Sing The Blues".

Maggie has only had one line in the entire run, spoken by movie legend Elizabeth Taylor. Otherwise, the sound effects department handles the sound of her pacifier.

Then, there are the rest of the denizens of Springfield, some of whom you'll see in this season 5 clip, courtesy of Hulu's YouTube channel:

The reruns are headed to cable for the first time this year, airing on FXX, one of Fox's cable networks, after years of airing in syndication. Well, the only drawback would be if FXX copied what FX did a few years back with King of the Hill, and played The Simpsons into the ground.

Rating: B+.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Celebrity Toons: Fonzie becomes "King for a Day" (1980)

Here's an episode of Fonz & The Happy Days Gang from November 1980.

In "King For a Day", Fonzie (Henry Winkler), Richie (Ron Howard), Ralph (Don Most), and their futuristic pilot, Cupcake (Didi Conn, "Grease"), end up in the Stone Age due to another malfunction in Cupcake's time machine.

As you'll see, Mr. Cool (Frank Welker), the pooch given to Da Fonz for this series, was meant to be comedy relief, as if they didn't already have that with Ralph. Instead, Cool cramped Fonzie's style, and, given how relationships were all but prohibited in cartoons in those days, a restriction that would fade a few years later, the writers never took the opportunity to try to pair up Cupcake with any of the three guys, especially Fonzie, who would routinely rescue damsels in distress during the course of the series. I'm still baffled by how a vine could suddenly appear in the open air without Fonzie somehow summoning one with a snap of his fingers.

Here's "King For a Day":

Like, did Hanna-Barbera really need to add another annoying sidekick character to their stable? Ehhhhh, no. I guess Cool was their way of compensating for the absence of Potsie (Anson Williams), who missed all the drama.

Rating: B.

Daytime Heroes: Popeye vs. Superman? NOT! (She-Sick Sailors, 1945)

Paramount's Famous Studios division had stopped making Superman shorts, but still held the rights to the license. To that end, they decided to pit the Man of Steel, or an unreasonable facsimile, vs. Popeye. Obviously, you know how this is going to end.

Olive (Mae Questel) is poring through an issue of Superman when Popeye (Jack Mercer) shows up without bothering to knock, bearing flowers. However, he finds that Olive's tossed him aside pro tempore for her four color crush. That allows Bluto (Jackson Beck) an opportunity to put one over on both of them. He shaves off his mustache & beard and dons a padded costume to impersonate Superman, just to impress Olive. Ironically, Beck was also the narrator of the Adventures of Superman radio show, and would reprise that gig when Filmation landed the franchise more than 20 years later. In fact, he was the only cast member still at Paramount when "She-Sick Sailors" was made in 1945.

Another quick fact: co-author Otto Messmer is better known for his association with another cartoon icon----Felix the Cat!

Here's "She-Sick Sailors", which might be a big reason why Norm Crosby relied so much on malaprops as part of his act, considering how Popeye and Olive fracture the English language this time around........

In order for a "rematch" to happen, DC would have to talk to IDW, which had the last comics license for Popeye, but given how they gave Superman more of an anti-social attitude when they started the New 52........!

Rating: B.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Life & Times of Juniper Lee (2005)

What hath Harry Potter wrought?

J. K. Rowling's best-selling series of fantasy novels, which in turn led to a similarly successful movie series, also led to the development of some fantasy-oriented cartoons in the mid-00's.

Cartoon Network's The Life & Times of Juniper Lee clearly was a by-product of Pottermania, at least in this writer's opinion. Juniper (Lara Jill Miller, ex-Gimme a Break) is on the surface a normal 11 year old girl. However, she's also a mystic guardian, defending Earth from all sorts of menaces.

Juniper Lee was CN's attempt at mining the girl-centric action hero market that Disney had cornered with Kim Possible, but at the same time, Disney had come out with American Dragon Jake Long, another fantasy cartoon with a theme similar to Juniper Lee, save for the romance issues that plagued Long. Given CN's present attitude toward action cartoons, it is no wonder that Juniper Lee now languishes in the vaults rather than air on Boomerang as some contemporary series from the same period do.

Let's take a look at the open.

Lara Jill Miller had followed the lead of fellow 80's star Mindy Cohn (ex-The Facts of Life), who'd also made a comeback in cartoons. However, Ms. Miller hasn't been heard from again since Juniper Lee disappeared. Hmmmm.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New York's last kids show host: Ranger Danger (1990's)

Fox affiliate WXXA, in the early days of Fox's weekday afternoon schedule, launched the Fox 23 Kids Club, an umbrella title for local presentation of not only the Fox lineup that ran from 3-5 pm (ET), but also the morning block (6-9 am). What the station decided to do was revive the idea of a kids show host in the region, something that hadn't happened since the 60's at WTEN.

Ranger Danger, a bumbling but well meaning sort, presided over the blocks, appearing in short comedy skits, a trio of which will be shown in the following video. Sometimes he attempted to do interviews or interact with local athletes, but more often than not, he was alone performing slapstick comedy.

Unfortunately, after the station was sold to Clear Channel (which has since sold WXXA to another interest), the Ranger was given the ol' pink slip, and never seen again. It's been nearly 20 years since we've seen these silly bits, uploaded by Vito106:

I'll let you in on a little secret. Vito106 is the YouTube handle of WPYX DJ Uncle Vito, the radio alter-ego of Ranger Danger himself. Maybe someday, he'll bring the Ranger back.......!

Rating: B.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey in The Great Movie Mystery (1974)

Now, we all know that Hong Kong Phooey (Scatman Crothers) lets his brain get clouded by his ego. Unfortunately, that also extends to his alter-ego, police custodian Penrod Pooch, who unwittingly helps Erich von Erich pull a bank heist in "The Great Movie Mystery".

Edit, 4/22/20: The video has been deleted.

Maybe next time Penry can keep his head out of the clouds for once.

Rating: B+.