Monday, March 31, 2014

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Oh, How I Love You (1972)

From The Flintstone Comedy Hour in 1972, here's the Bedrock Rockers performing "Oh, How I Love You". I honestly don't know who the studio singers were that recorded this number, but I've a feeling it sounds similar to the music Mike Curb produced for the Cattanooga Cats 3 years earlier. Then again, Don Kirshner was still on the H-B payroll, since he was the music supervisor for Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan the same season.

Daytime Heroes: Q. T. Hush (1960)

Q. T. Hush is one of those long forgotten syndicated entries from the 60's that was produced specifically to be used in locally produced kids' shows. Independently produced, Hush tells the story of a private eye and his dog solving oddball crimes.

All the voices were done by one man---Dallas McKennon, who also was doing Gumby at the same time, as well as one other one-man show---Courageous Cat, Bob Kane's feline send-up of Batman. Toontracker takes us into the midst of a serial already underway, in which the Statue of Liberty has been abducted. Why they couldn't just say it was stolen, I'll never know. It makes more sense that way!

No rating. This was before my time.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Looney TV: A Sheep in the Deep (1962)

No, Wile E. Coyote didn't enter the Witness Protection Program, not that it would do him any good.

Ralph Wolf only looks like Wile, but then again, wolves & coyotes are cousins. Chuck Jones decided to try out Ralph and Sam Sheepdog in a series of shorts that had minimal dialogue (spoken by Mel Blanc), but plenty of gags and pratfalls for Ralph.

Imagine if wolves & sheepdogs had to punch in and out of work like us humans? Oh, this is just wiggedy wack! Here's "A Sheep in the Deep".

It's just too bad that while this was included in a Bugs Bunny compilation movie ("1001 Rabbit Tales"), Ralph & Sam haven't exactly been treated with respect by later generations at WB. As in, not getting any attention at all.

Rating: A.

From Primetime to Daytime: Circus Boy (1956)

Before he joined the Monkees, Micky Dolenz was already a show business veteran.

In fact, his first series for Screen Gems came 10 years before The Monkees. Under the name, Mickey Braddock, Dolenz starred in Circus Boy, which spent two seasons on ABC (1956-8) as a primetime entry. NBC scooped up rerun rights and aired the series on Saturday mornings for 2 more years (1958-60).

Corky (Dolenz) is an orphan serving as a water boy for Bimbo, a circus elephant. In the series opener, "Meet Circus Boy", Tim Champion (Robert Lowery) has bought the circus, and assumes a debt from the previous owner. However, he's not too keen on Corky remaining with the circus, but I think we know how that problem is solved.............

Coincidentally, after The Monkees ended its NBC primetime run in 1968, CBS added it to its Saturday morning lineup that fall to fill time. It's funny how things work, isn't it?

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Shadows (1970)

It's been a while since we featured the Groovie Goolies, so let's go back to 1970 for "Shadows", courtesy of the GrownUpKidsChannel:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Teenage Toons: Good Vibes (2011)

When MTV decided to revive Beavis & Butt-Head in 2011, they needed another cartoon to share the 10:00 (ET) hour. Unfortunately, it seems the programming idiots got advice from sister network Nickelodeon, since Good Vibes lasted just one season.

The series bowed in late October 2011, but was set in the middle of the summer. Yeah, dumb idea, right? Of course it was. It also ends up being the last MTV cartoon, since Vibes was cancelled and MTV decided to put Beavis & Butt-Head, their former golden boys, in turnaround. Their creator, Mike Judge, reportedly has talked about shopping the series to other networks. Fox might be interested, since they've been good to Judge in the past (King of the Hill, for starters).

About the only thing that stands out about Vibes is the casting of actor Danny McBride ("Land of the Lost") as a female sex education teacher. He's not even trying to effect a feminine voice, and if that's part of the joke, well, now you know why Vibes was beached after 2 months.

Don't believe me, effendis? Check the promo.

I tried to watch this. To me, it was out of season. You know, like a fish out of water. 'Nuff said.

Rating: D.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Flintstone Kids (1986)

The popularity of CBS' Jim Henson's Muppet Babies prompted ABC & Hanna-Barbera to try to duplicate the formula, using familiar characters rebooted as children. Unfortunately, H-B went to the well a couple of times too many in the course of a 5 year period (1986-91).

The first of these was The Flintstone Kids, which spent 2 seasons on ABC (1986-8) before being shunted off into the syndicated Funtastic World package. Fred, Wilma, Betty, & Barney were all reimagined as kids, growing up together in Bedrock. Henry Corden, who had taken over as the voice of the adult Fred a few years earlier, voiced Fred's father and mother (!). However, young Freddy had two actors essay the part. Len Weinrib returned to H-B for the first season, but left again, and Scott Menville took over in season 2.

There were a trio of backup features that rotated, including solo stories starring Dino, and the return of Captain Caveman (Mel Blanc), who now had a son, Cavey, Jr. (Frank Welker), which all but killed Cavey's appeal as he neared his 10th anniversary. The other backup had the kids engaging in some Walter Mitty-like fantasies,  not quite unlike the Magnificent Muttley backups from Dastardly & Muttley.

Here's the show open & close:

Right now, the series sits in Cartoon Network's vaults. Maybe just as well.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Toon Rock: Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi (2004)

Warner Bros. Animation executive Sam Register is a big fan of the Japanese pop duo, Puffy. So much so, he commissioned them to record the theme to the 2003-8 Teen Titans series. However, while Puffy was later given their own show, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, the fact that it lasted only 2 years, as opposed to 5 for the Titans, spoke volumes of how little American audiences really knew about the act.

Not only that, but Ami & Yumi didn't speak for their animated counterparts, appearing only in live-action bumpers at the start & end of each episode. Well, Jackie Chan did the same thing on his show, but outside of CN's core audience, few here in the US knew who or what Puffy was. No talk shows. No media appearances here. That the series now languishes in CN's vaults after 8 years should tell you something.

Actresses Janice Kawaye (ex-Captain Planet & the Planeteers) and Grey DeLisle voiced Ami & Yumi, respectively. Of course, it helped that DeLisle is also a singer in her own right, so that should've made up for the absence of the real Puffy in the cartoons, but in the long run, it didn't happen.

Here's the open:

Like the current Teen Titans GO!, the animation on this show looks like it might've been inspired by Japanese chibi animation. From what I saw, I didn't find much to want me coming back for more.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Space Ghost, Teen Force, & the Herculoids vs. the Olympians (1981)

From Space Stars comes what amounts to a once-in-a-lifetime event. Well, not really.

"The Olympians" reportedly are the descendants of Zeus, Mercury, Hercules, & Medusa, recruited by galactic villain Ugglor to eliminate the Herculoids. Space Ghost, and the Teen Force, Ugglor's primary enemies, also factor into this episode, which was billed as the Space Stars Finale, meaning the last segment of the episode. 

Keene Curtis (ex-The Magician, later of Cheers) narrates.

Well, you knew the Olympians would soon discover that Ugglor lied to them, didn't you?

Rating: A.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Saturday Morning's (Not Yet) Forgotten Heroes: T.U.F.F. Puppy (2010)

T.U.F.F. Puppy was the latest, and likely last, creation for Nickelodeon from animator Butch Hartman. I say "likely the last" because Hartman is finding out that Nick is showing his current series 0 respect.

When Puppy launched in 2010, it was meant to be a funny animal, modern day version of Get Smart, except that Dudley, the Puppy in the title (Jerry Trainor, iCarly) is even dumber than Maxwell Smart and Inspector Gadget combined! Good thing Kitty Catswell (Grey DeLisle) is along to keep Dudley in line.

I lost track of the series a while back, and found out through research that Kitty has softened her feelings for Dudley in later stories. Not to the point of falling in love, but more like a brother-sister kind of thing. Too bad Nick has given up on the show.

Here's the open:

From what I saw, this had promise and potential, but Nick wasted it. Stupidity has ruled their programming for too long.

Rating for the series: B.

Celebrity Toons: Mary-Kate & Ashley In Action (2001)

It's been proven many times over that if a Saturday morning cartoon doesn't start the season on time, for whatever reason, it's doomed to fail.

Such was the case with the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate & Ashley (ex-Full House), who had made an earlier sitcom comeback (Two of a Kind), only to see that fall flat after 1 season. The same held true for their final ABC series, Mary-Kate & Ashley In Action, which lasted 1 season as well (2001-2).

The series was delayed by more than a month while ABC was trying to wrap up another DIC entry, Sabrina: The Animated Series, and, rather than have the two shows airing side-by-side for an hour's worth of "girl power" cartoons, ABC chose to cancel the animated Sabrina, a prequel to the live-action series, but ended up bidding the Olsens farewell 8 months later. Earlier, the Family Channel (now ABC Family) had picked up broadcast rights for the sisters' video series, The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley, but that didn't last long, either.

On In Action, the twins are secret agents Misty (Mary-Kate) & Amber (Ashley), who travel the globe to catch the bad guys. The live-action preamble, with the girls at a Hollywood premiere for the show, was likely so that viewers knew they were voicing their animated alter-egos.

After In Action, the twins tried one last series, So Little Time, for ABC Family, but, that too was short-lived. We'll be looking at that another time. Right now, here's the open:

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Toon Rock: Kidd Video (1984)

Kidd Video marks its 30th anniversary this year, and to this day, there are fans still clamoring for the series to be released on DVD. Problem is, as with DIC stablemate Wolf Rock TV, there are rights issues precluding the release of the series on DVD due to the music videos used on the show. The series had two seasons worth of episodes, airing first on NBC. After an all-rerun 3rd season, Kidd Video was cancelled, but picked up by CBS, which needed to fill a hole on their schedule.

Robbie Rist (ex-The Brady Bunch), whose last Saturday entry, Big John, Little John, was a colossal flop a decade earlier (and also on NBC), was one of the stars, and played guitar & keyboards. I think he parlayed that into another band gig or two after the series ended, I'm not sure.

Anyway, the band is thrust into a dimension ruled by a despot named Master Blaster. If the concept sounds familiar, well, DIC would copy it just 4 years later with Captain N: The Game Master, also for NBC.

Here's one of the opens. This one's for the first season.

Kidd Video was the first collaboration between DIC & Saban, and their other notable one was the game show, I'm Telling!, which would replace Kidd on NBC's schedule.

Rating: C.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Celebrity Toons: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (1990)

The success of the feature film, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", led not only to the sequel, "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey", but an animated series that aired in between films.

Orion Pictures contracted Hanna-Barbera to produce the first season of episodes, which aired on CBS, with stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Bernie Casey, & George Carlin reprising their roles from the movie. However, after "Bogus Journey", the series changed animation houses (to DIC) & networks (Fox, which was developing a live-action version of the series). Winter & Reeves were gone, replaced by Christopher Kennedy & Evan Richards, who would star in the live-action version, which would air on Sundays on Fox. Neither of these lasted very long, about 2 months apiece, and then, poof, gone-zo.

Winter went on to develop another short-lived series, The Idiot Box, for MTV, and has seemingly left show biz altogether. Reeves was last seen in the movie, "47 Ronin", a box office dud.

There is no rating for the show, since I never saw it. As a public service, we present, compliments of Dailymotion, "The Birth of Rock & Roll":

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Saturday School: Kids' Court (1988)

In the 80's, Nickelodeon was more willing to take chances with original programming. While today's Nick plays a select handful of series into the ground (i.e. SpongeBob SquarePants) with relentless blocks of episodes on a daily basis, original series from the golden years of the 80's remain locked in the vaults, where they don't belong.

One of those shows is Kids' Court, which was a juvenile version of The People's Court, but on a relatively low-budget set. Actor Paul Provenza was the series host for the entirety of its 2 year run (1988-90), which meant that the show was another one that ended too soon for its own good. Let's take a look at a sample clip:

Nick aired Kids' Court around 8 am (ET), which might've been too early for some kids. It also aired on Sundays, and reruns would air on weekdays when Nick felt it was necessary. Bad idea which contributed to the series' demise.

Rating: A.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Laurel & Hardy (1966)

The legendary comedy team of Laurel & Hardy had long since passed on by the time Hanna-Barbera obtained a license to produce animated adventures of the duo. Larry Harmon (Bozo the Clown), who earlier had been licensed to produce Popeye for King Features' television arm (and introduced the world to Filmation founders Lou Scheimer & Hal Sutherland), and Jim MacGeorge essayed the roles in more than 100 shorts, which could be packaged individually or in a 30 minute block for syndication. The two would then reprise for a Laurel & Hardy guest appearance on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, which would mark the end of the license.

I never saw these films when they first aired, and it can be assumed that either the estates of Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, or Harmon or co-producer David L. Wolper (Biography), holds the rights today. Here's "Mutt Rut":

No rating.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Getting Schooled: The Kids in Room 402 (1999)

The Fox Family Channel (now ABC Family)'s lineup of children's programs was a mixed bag. There were some clunkers in the group, but this wasn't one of them.

The Kids in Room 402, a collaboration between CineGroup and Saban, was meant to be the network's answer to Disney's popular Recess, which was airing on Disney Channel & ABC at the time. However, it aired during the week, not on Saturdays, and lasted only one season. In doing research, I am discovering that this was the series that launched actress Mindy Cohn's new career as a voice artist, three years before being cast in What's New Scooby-Doo. The former Facts of Life co-star has certainly made the most out of her new career since then.

Anyway, here's the intro:

It's just too bad this show now has been buried in the vaults somewhere when, assuming Disney bought the series in the course of acquiring the network, it could've been coupled with Recess on Disney Channel in later years.

Rating: B.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tooniversary: Cattanooga Cats meet the Wee Greenie Goofie (1969)

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, while the Cattanooga Cats may not be Irish, there is a little green to go around when they encounter "The Wee Greenie Goofie".

I have no recollection of this episode, so no rating.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Game Time: Championship Bowling (1960)

There was a time when an enterprising soul decided to try a weekly syndicated bowling show that, during the first 1/3 of the year, would compete with the well-established Pro Bowlers Tour on ABC. Nice idea, but a bad one.

Championship Bowling lasted at least six seasons (1960-6), but as it is, my memory of the show is a bit on the hazy side. I do remember the parade of bowlers in the PBA blazers walking across the screen and taking their bows as the credits rolled. In fact, that's all I remember.

Independent producer Walter Schwimmer is better known as having acquired the rights to The Cisco Kid to redistribute that series in syndication, taking over from ZIV. Championship Bowling was one of the few original series that Schwimmer produced. Not sure if announcer Fred Wolf is related to the producer who put the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the Saturday morning map 2 decades later.

And, so, let's go back to 1966, and a match between Harry Smith and Nelson Burton, Jr.. Burton would later become a color analyst for the Pro Bowlers Tour:

Rating: A.

From Comics to Toons: Hagar the Horrible (1989)

Last year, King Features Syndicate's Hagar the Horrible quietly marked his 40th anniversary. Not much fanfare, but then again, Hagar doesn't appear in quite as many newspapers as he used to. Not only that, but did you know he once starred in a prime time special?

25 years ago, Hanna-Barbera obtained a license to adapt the strip for television, adapting one of the earliest storylines in the series, with Hagar (Peter Cullen) coming home from a raid three months late, much to the consternation of wife Helga (Lainie Kazan). Daughter Honi (Lydia Cornell, ex-Too Close For Comfort) is engaged at 16 to Lute (Don Most, ex-Happy Days), a minstrel, and son Hamlet has taken up poetry. Not quite what Hagar envisioned on his way home.

If H-B was looking at this as a back-door pilot for a series, it wasn't happening. The special has never been rerun, which suggests it didn't score all that well in the ratings. After all, despite 41 years in publication, and several paperbacks collecting earlier strips, Hagar still doesn't have the name recognition as King stablemates Blondie or Beetle Bailey.

Right now, let's take a trip into the Middle Ages with Hagar:

Rating: None. Never saw this one when it first came out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey vs. The Claw (1974)

Hong Kong Phooey turns 40 this year. Before we get to the next episode, let's consider the prospects for a revival.

The original series posited Phooey, aka Penrod Pooch (Scatman Crothers, ex-Harlem Globetrotters, "The Aristocats"), as a sort of fish out of water. Way out of water. Consider the intro that suggests that either Sgt. Flint (Joe E. Ross, ex-Car 54, Where Are You) or Rosemary (Kathy Gori) would be the canine hero. Please. Talk about suspension of disbelief. There wasn't anything to that!

Phooey was meant to be a satire on the superhero genre, specifically the transparency of his dual identity, as well as the then-white hot popularity of martial arts in movies & television. So what would happen if we took him out of the human world, and moved him into a new setting, where it's all funny animals? Flint would be a bulldog, and Rosemary, who's already a fan, and perhaps smitten, would be a collie.

Where ABC missed the boat was keeping Phooey dry-docked after bringing in another canine hero, Dynomutt, 2 years later. Scooby-Doo came over from CBS, and promptly gave Dyno the rub with a few team-ups. Phooey had been forgotten, and thus never met Scooby. While Mitch Watson rebooted Dyno and Blue Falcon for the 21st century on Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, he too left Hong Kong Phooey in the kennel, blowing an opportunity to have the karate chopping crimebuster teaming with Scooby and pals in a first-ever meeting. That would be the only way to justify keeping HKP's original setting.

Otherwise, you reboot and reset, with Rosemary becoming Penry's girlfriend. She ultimately learns his dual ID, he trains her, she becomes his partner, then his wife---assuming of course it gets that far. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Hong Kong Phooey hasn't been tainted by the jackasses at [adult swim]. A few years ago, Cartoon Network produced a Web Premiere Toon that we reviewed a while back that presented Phooey as a more serious hero. It's too bad CN never bothered to broadcast it on television to gauge reaction, because, trust me, it would've blown through the roof. Their loss, as usual.

Ok, enough analysis, let's get to the action:

Rating: B.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bad TV: Yo, Yogi! (1991)

I don't know about you, but I count myself fortunate I never watched an episode of Yo, Yogi!.

One year after the grown-up Yogi Bear we all know took part in the Fender Bender 500, some genius decided to use Yogi, Boo-Boo, Cindy, and friends, plus Dick Dastardly & Muttley, for the last Hanna-Barbera de-aging experiment. Since NBC was giving up on toons anyway, this was the lamest of lame ducks.

Universally reviled because of the very idea of making the gang into juveniles (Boo-Boo on a skateboard I can take, but other than that....WHAT?), Yo, Yogi! may be the single biggest reason why a generation of creative types at Cartoon Network have shown other classic characters a great deal of disrespect.

Suffer through the open, and I'll see you later.

Rating (just for the concept alone): C.

Tooniversary: Aaaah! Real Monsters (1994)

Monsters go to school, too. Sometimes, viewers don't respond to it so well.

Four years after NBC & Hanna-Barbera bombed by having comic Rick Moranis as a teacher at Gravedale High, Nickelodeon commissioned a spooky school series from Klasky-Csupo (Rugrats, Duckman, etc.). Well, maybe not so spooky.

Aaah! Real Monsters focuses on a trio of young monsters attending school, but otherwise illustrates the myths parents have about monsters hiding under children's beds. The voice cast includes Tim Curry (Wild Thornberrys), Jim Belushi, and others.

Shout! Factory owns the rights to the DVD release, and following is the trailer:

No rating. Never saw the show.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rein-Toon-Ation: Men in Black (1997)

Produced between the first two movies in the series, Men in Black transitioned to an animated series, airing on Kids' WB! from 1997-2001, with reruns airing briefly on Nickelodeon. Since Sony owns the rights, they likely have the series locked in the vaults at present, as it wasn't re-released to coincide with "Men in Black 3" several months back.

The roots of MiB start with an independent comics series created by Lowell Cunningham for Aircel Comics, which along with sister company Malibu was bought out by Marvel, and that explains why the movies claim that the series actually began at Marvel, which it certainly didn't.

While it was highly unlikely that stars Will Smith & Tommy Lee Jones would reprise as Agents J & K, respectively, in the cartoon, the producers did their best to compensate, though they would end up with 2 actors playing K. Ed O'Ross was hired initially, but was replaced by Gregg Berger (Duckman) in season 2. Jennifer Lien (Star Trek: Voyager) stepped in for Linda Fiorentino as Agent L for the first 3 seasons, but left the show, due likely to conflicts with her Voyager commitments. Only two cast members from the movie crossed into the cartoon. Vincent D'Onofrio not only reprised as Edgar from the film, but also his twin brother Edwin, who came seeking revenge for Edgar's death. Tony Shalhoub (Monk, ex-Wings) played the Deeks brothers at first, but due to Monk, left the show and was replaced by Billy West (Futurama).

Here's the open, taken from a Nick broadcast:

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: Crank Yankers (2002)

We've all gotten crank phone calls. However, most of them are of the stupid kind, where the caller doesn't say anything and hangs up, leaving you hanging.

Then, there are the out-and-out pranks that were made popular with Bart Simpson's regular stunts on The Simpsons, and taken to an extreme by the Jerky Boys, whose feature film venture turned out to be a ginormous flop. Small wonder, then, that the Jerky Boys haven't been heard from since.

In 2002, comedians Adam Carolla & Jimmy Kimmel (ex-The Man Show) and producer Daniel Kellison decided to try their luck. Kimmel had also been a celebrity football handicapper on Fox NFL Sunday before landing his current ABC talk show, and Crank Yankers turned out to be his swan song at Comedy Central.

In all, Crank Yankers lasted five years, with reruns and some new episodes gravitating to sister network MTV2 in 2007. Carolla & Kimmel got some of their friends, such as Dave Chappelle and Sarah Silverman, both of whom would land their own series at Comedy Central as a result, and Denis Leary, to contribute, with the skits acted out by puppets. Perhaps the most popular puppet character was Special Ed, who appeared to be disabled, but had so much fun playing phone pranks. The exclamation, "Yay!", became his signature catchphrase.

Here, Ed bugs a record store owner about a particular song.

Comic Jim Florentine was the one speaking for Ed. Today, he's one of the co-hosts of VH1 Classic's That Metal Show. In addition to its night berth, Crank Yankers was repeated on Saturday mornings, hence its inclusion here, and likely to attract college or high school students who didn't have time to even tape the show at night.

I look at it this way. Some radio DJ's played phone pranks as part of the show (i.e. Todd Pettengill), but the mateial was just lame. Visualize it on TV, and it was a whole new ballgame. Too bad no one's got the stones to convince Viacom to put the show back on the air in reruns.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Toon Rock: Deep, Deep Trouble (1990)

From "The Simpsons Sing The Blues" comes Bart's 2nd solo track, "Deep, Deep Trouble". In addition to this song and "Do The Bartman", Bart (Nancy Cartwright) would also duet with Homer (Dan Castellaneta) on another cut, if memory serves.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Game Time: Pokemon (1997)

Japan's Pokemon has been a mainstay on American television for over 15 years, debuting here a year after it launched in its native land.

4 Kids Entertainment made its initial inroads when they imported the series to the US in 1998. Five months after its American debut, Pokemon was picked up by Kids' WB! for its Saturday morning lineup, and the train's been rolling ever since. Currently, the series' latest incarnation airs on Cartoon Network, which acquired the rights a while back.

As with another popular import from Japan, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Pokemon continues even with subtitles added every few years, to coincide with the releases of new collectible card games. However, tournaments aren't quite as prevalent in my neck of the woods, as the most popular card game remains Magic: The Gathering, which has been around a wee bit longer.

I will tell you that I don't follow Pokemon, so there won't be a rating.

Here is the intro for the first season:

Reruns of the original series and other incarnations air on Boomerang on a regular basis if you need a primer.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Toons You Might've Missed: Garbage Pail Kids (1987)

For years, Topps obtained licenses to produce trading cards based on selected television shows and movies. They don't do that much anymore, as they're only producing baseball, football, & WWE cards for the most part these days.

In 1987, one of their original properties was, in turn, licensed to CBS, which commissioned an independent animation house to adapt the Garbage Pail Kids for television in a lively animated series that never made it to air after all. The reason? Watchdog groups, such as Action For Children's Television, complained about the characters making fun of the disabled, among other things. Eventually, the series did make it to US television (it was produced in part in Canada). I will admit I never saw the show the first time around, and wasn't collecting the cards (aimed at a younger audience), so I spent some time looking at one of the two shorts in this episode, a parody of one of my favorite shows, The Untouchables. "The Unmentionables" shares its title with a classic Bugs Bunny short from several years prior, and is followed by "Heartless Hal":

Rating: B.

You Know the Voice: Janet Waldo visits Mayberry (1963)

Before I posted the last "You Know the Voice" installment the other day, I had done some research on Janet Waldo's "face acting" career. As I noted, her appearances on I Love Lucy & The Lucy Show aren't available on YouTube or any other site at the present time. She had a voice cameo during season 1 of Get Smart, so that was out. So, we had to move back in time a little.

During season 3 of The Andy Griffith Show, Janet guest-starred in the episode, "A Wife For Andy", which, in turn, began the ongoing subplot of Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith) courting school teacher Helen Crump (Aneta Corsault), who was Opie's teacher. The basic idea in this episode, with Barney (Don Knotts) scheming to play matchmaker for Andy, was lifted nearly 30 years later in the movie, "Problem Child 2", with John Ritter. Janet plays Amanda, who is led to believe that Barney's girlfriend, Thelma Lou, was to meet her at the Taylors' house.

I think it was this episode that led to Janet being cast the next year on ABC's Valentine's Day........

Edit: 11/24/14: I had to replace the video, and this copy doesn't have the opening credits to avoid copyright issues.

Cartoon Network's Class of 2014: Old friends, new ideas.......

Earlier today, Turner Networks issued a press release announcing plans for the rest of the year involving Cartoon Network. Following is a list of new shows coming to the network, excerpted from the press release (the italics & boldface are mine):

New Original and Acquired Programming:

Over The Garden Wall: Headlined by an all-star voice-cast that includes Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Collin Dean (The War at Home) and Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men), Over the Garden Wall is Cartoon Network’s first event mini-series, an animated comedy/fantasy story about two brothers, Wirt and Greg, who are trapped in a mysterious world. In this ten-part mini-series, Wirt and Greg must travel across this strange land until they find their way home, aided by a wise old Woodsman who gives them directions and a bluebird named Beatrice. Music plays an important role in the series with a soundtrack full of Americana-influenced original songs. Over The Garden Wall is created by Pat McHale and produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

 Clarence: From creator Skyler Page and premiering Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m., Clarence is a new, original animated series about an optimistic boy who wants to do everything. Because everything is amazing! Clarence was conceived as part of the prolific shorts development program at Cartoon Network Studios, which has resulted in six original series for the network: Regular Show, Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe, Clarence, Over the Garden Wall & We Bare Bears . ·

 We Bare Bears: We Bare Bears is a comedy about three bear siblings, named Grizzly, Panda and Ice Bear. Each episode follows their awkward attempts at assimilating into human society, whether they're looking for food, trying to make human friends, or scheming to become internet famous. Whatever the situation, it’s obvious that being a bear in the civilized, modern world is tough—but at least they have each other. Created by Annie Award-winner Daniel Chong (Toy Story of Terror!), We Bare Bears is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

 The Tom and Jerry Show: The iconic cat and mouse rivals are back in The Tom and Jerry Show, a new, fresh take on the classic series. Preserving the look, characters and sensibility of the original, the all-new series shines a brightly colored, high-definition lens on the madcap slapstick and never-ending battle that has made Tom and Jerry two of the most beloved characters of all time. The Tom and Jerry Show is produced by Warner Bros. Animation and will premiere Wednesday, April 9 at 5:30 p.m. ·

 Be Cool Scooby-Doo!: Be Cool Scooby-Doo! is an all-new 22-minute animated comedy series from Warner Bros. Animation. The Scooby gang is back with a modern comedic twist on the beloved classic. With high school over and one last summer to live it up, the gang hits the road in the Mystery Machine, chasing fun and adventure. But monsters and mayhem keep getting in the way. ·

 Wabbit—A Looney Tunes Production: The hilarious, heroic and mischievous Bugs Bunny you love is back! From Warner Bros. Animation, Bugs stars in an all-new series consisting of comedic shorts that find the iconic carrot-loving rabbit matching wits against (and getting the best of) classic characters like Yosemite Sam and Wile E. Coyote. Along the way, Bugs will encounter brand-new foes…and he’ll have some help from new friends like Bigfoot and Squeaks the squirrel.

 Sonic Boom™: Sonic the Hedgehog has been one of the world’s biggest gaming icons for over 20 years and this year a new branch of the Sonic universe debuts, entitled Sonic Boom™. With a new look for Sonic and friends, the franchise’s first-ever CG animated television series, an action-packed comedy adventure, will premiere on Cartoon Network with support from an extensive video game release of the same name. The Sonic Boom television series, co-produced by SEGA® of America, Inc. and OuiDO! Productions, will debut on Cartoon Network in the 2014/2015 season.

 · Total Drama: Pahkitew Island: All-new island! All-new cast! Same old disregard for human safety! The Total Drama series returns as Chris and Chef put the newest generation of contestants through the craziest challenges yet—all for a chance to win one million dollars! Total Drama Island is produced by Fresh TV Inc.

 Numb Chucks: Woodchuck brothers Dilweed and Fungus didn’t always see themselves as mystical Kung Fu saviors until they stumbled upon an infomercial featuring mega legend Woodchuck Morris’ mullet-fueled motivational kung-fu video “The Way of the Chuck!” With an endless supply of confidence but a limited supply of brain cells, and countless hours of watching the video, this dimwitted duo transmorph-ified into THE NUMB CHUCKS! ·

 Beyraiderz: Sho, Jin and Leon find themselves trapped on a strange world once defended by the Six Mythic Beasts who upheld justice and brought prosperity for all through the battling BeyRaiderz tournaments. When the Beasts mysteriously disappeared, the world fell into ruin, and now it’s up to Sho and his friends to uncover the hidden BeyRaiderz stadiums, to battle to bring the Beasts back and restore prosperity to the world!
Beyraiderz continues the Beyblade franchise that CN acquired a ways back. The Total Drama family of flash animated series parodies reality shows such as Survivor, and as long as that series sticks around, so will Total Drama. Numb Chucks looks like a funny animal take on MTV's Beavis & Butt-Head, whose own comeback was short-circuited by the network 2 years ago. Note that only Clarence & The Tom & Jerry Show have firm start dates. Expect Be Cool Scooby-Doo! to be, because of the theme, a summer debut. I realize that the previous series for both Scooby and Bugs Bunny have not yet become distant memories, but CN also realizes that they screwed both the franchises and their respective fan bases with the way they handled the last series, especially Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, which was burned off in weekday chunks without benefit of replays. We Bare Bears? I'm not sure about this one yet.

For what it's worth, it shouldn't surprise anyone that The Tom & Jerry Show has already bowed overseas before its US premiere. They did the same thing with SDMI &, I think, The Looney Tunes Show. Don't ya think the American viewers come first to CN? Apparently not. At least now we've got something to look forward to for the spring & summer.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Daytime Heroes: Hercules: The Animated Series (1998)

Disney thought they were being cute by creating their own version of Hercules to counter the popular live-action series that was airing in syndication. After a 1997 feature film scored big at the box office, the studio moved on to an animated series that aired in syndication on weekdays and ABC on Saturdays as part of the One Saturday Morning package.

As with the movie, Hercules has an all-star cast, but with one change. Robert Costanzo (Harvey Bullock from Batman: The Animated Series) takes over for Danny DeVito as Phil, a satyr who designs spears for a living. Tate Donovan top-lines as Hercules, just as he did in the movie. Film vet James Woods won a Daytime Emmy for his work as Hades, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The cast also included Lisa Kudrow (Friends), Wayne Knight & French Stewart (3rd Rock From the Sun), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Matt Frewer, Bob Keeshan (formerly Captain Kangaroo), Mike Connors (ex-Mannix), game show icon Wink Martindale, Sandra Bernhard, Tom Arnold, and so many others.

I never watched either the daytime or Saturday series and didn't see the movie. I just wasn't feeling the whole idea of a teenaged Herc. For what it's worth, Scott Weinger (ex-Full House) reprises his role as Aladdin, guest-starring in the episode, "Hercules & the Arabian Night":

No rating.

Toons After Dark: Time Squad (2001)

Two years after Sheep in the Big City flopped, and flopped badly, Cartoon Network went back to the Jay Ward library for more inspiration. While Sheep was meant to be a homage to Rocky & His Friends, Dave Wasson chose one of the backup features on that iconic series for his project.

Time Squad has elements of both Peabody's Improbable History and the live-action 1982 series, Voyagers!, the latter because 10 year old Otto (Pamela Adlon, King of the Hill) is plucked from his bedroom to become a time traveler, joining Buggtussel (Rob Paulsen) and Larry 3000 (Mark Hamill). Larry, a robot, is also the pilot, and a regular jack-of-all-trades, while Buggtussel is just the exact opposite, a musclehead whose brains must've been lost somewhere in the ozone layer.

Unfortunately, like Sheep, Time Squad, despite its promising premise, didn't last very long. Viewers rejected the series after 26 episodes, spread out over 2 years (2001-3), much as they didn't accept Voyagers! 20-odd years earlier. Depending on how well "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" fares at the box office, I'd say people would prefer the dog & boy combination over a boy, a robot, and a space cadet.

Here's the open:

Ya gotta understand. I watched Voyagers! fairly regularly back in the day, just as much as I'd seen the Peabody reruns earlier in my youth. Time Squad is just a poor third.

Rating: C+.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tooniversary: Mr. Magoo as Noah (Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, 1964)

Not too long from now, people will be heading to the multiplexes to see Darren Arenofsky's radical take on the Biblical story of "Noah", with Russell Crowe in the title role. It won't be the first time Hollywood's taken liberties with the Good Book, and certainly won't be the last.

In 1964, the tale of Noah's Ark, from the Book of Genesis, was adapted into an episode of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. Marvin Miller (ex-The Millionaire) is the voice of God. If you can get past Magoo (Jim Backus, Gilligan's Island)'s usual antics in the prelude, you'd be all set.

Oh, it's been years since I'd seen this in syndication. Still a treat, though. Rating: B+.

Ding dong! Cartoon Network's head moron will soon be gone!

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Cartoon Network President Stuart Snyder is resigning at the end of the month. While current series such as Regular Show, Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa, Adventure Time, and The Amazing World of Gumball, as well as the beleaguered DC Nation block were all developed on his watch, Snyder is also being blamed, along with partner-in-crime Rob Sorcher, for needlessly putting live-action programs on CN that didn't belong there. The ill-fated CN Real block was doomed from the start, and should've been parsed among other networks in the Time Warner chain (i.e. Tru TV). The last live-action series on CN, Incredible Crew, was a 1 season bust created by entertainer Nick Cannon, one of the busiest guys in show business today, and more closely associated with rival Nickelodeon.

No successor has been named as yet, but the last imprint of the Snyder era was the bone-brained decision last month to cede the 8 pm (ET) hour to [adult swim], starting March 31. Mike Lazzo, who has been with CN since before the development of [as], would be a good bet to take over if they want to keep it in house.

Meanwhile, folks on message boards are calling for a female president who would restore the gender balance in terms of programming, and erasing the stigma of CN targeting boys 6-14 with poor imitations of comedy (i.e. Teen Titans GO!).

As Rick Nelson put it in "Garden Party", more than 40 years ago, you can't please everyone.

But, then, I speak for those of us who are happy to see Snyder headed out the door........

Now if they can solve the problem of getting Beware the Batman and other action shows back on the air, we'd be all set.......! In the meantime, this may call for a party, with this theme song.......

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Reinventing Valley of the Dinosaurs: Can it be done?

Continuing our series on the Hanna-Barbera freshman class of 1974.

Valley of the Dinosaurs was sold to CBS and was the studio's animated response, if you will, to Sid & Marty Krofft's Land of the Lost, which bowed the same year on NBC. The concepts were the same as far as how each of the two families (The Butlers on Valley and the Marshalls on Land) ended up in prehistoric times, but that's where the similarities end.

Science teacher John Butler (Mike Road, ex-Jonny Quest, Herculoids) and his family were sent through a whirlpool into the prehistoric land and befriended a family of cave dwellers. However, H-B missed the boat by not linking this series to an earlier series with a similarly lost protagonist, Dino Boy, the backup feature to Space Ghost, eight years earlier. Road worked on that series as well, which would've helped the creative process immensely, since none of the writers ever considered bringing Dino Boy back to continue his story, as he could've been found and adopted by the Butlers or Gorok and his family.

And, yes, over at ToonZone a ways back, I came up with the idea of merging the two series together in a TV-movie, one that won't ever see the light of day at Cartoon Network any time soon, since it won't fit their lame schematic.

Sadly, Valley, along with stablemate Korg: 70,000 B. C. over at ABC, was cancelled after one season, leaving the Butlers' tale unfinished. It was also one of the first series where Frank Welker (Scooby-Doo, Super Friends) was doing the animal voices instead of Don Messick, who instead was the narrator.

Could it be done in 2014? Maybe, as long as WB pitches it to be a DTV movie or puts together a completely new series that would be ticketed for either CW's Vortexx block, which could stand some oriignal, made-for-the-network material, or another network (i.e. The Hub). Valley boasted a terrific ensemble cast, which, in addition to Welker & Road, also included Alan Oppenheimer in one of his first toon roles (Gorok), Shannon Farnon (Super Friends), Kathy Gori (Hong Kong Phooey), and future film star Jackie Earle Haley.

To refresh memories, here's the intro:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rein-Toon-Ation: The New Adventures of He-Man (1990)

Four years after his first series left the air, He-Man returned in an all-new series, this time with former DIC co-founder Jean Chalopin fronting a French-Canadian production company that sold the New Adventures of He-Man to stations.

However, Chalopin and the folks at Mattel made one major miscalculation. They sent He-Man and his arch nemesis, Skeletor, off Eternia and to a distant planet, Primus, which was engaged in a war with a neighboring world. As it ended up, Skeletor was the only familiar player aside from He-Man himself, retained from the 1983-6 series. Big mistake. As a result, this series bombed, lasting just 1 season of weekly adventures.

Here's the open:

Mattel intended to introduce a completely new toy line, but with familiar friends and foes like Teela, Orko, Beastman, etc., missing from this series, the kids weren't exactly marching to Toys 'R' Us to buy the new figures. Plus, the redesign of He-Man & Skeletor didn't exactly help. Fortunately, Mike Young and his crew corrected that error in the 2002 remake.

Is it any wonder that no one's bothered to pull this series out of the Mattel vaults?

Rating: C-.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry in Blue Cat Blues (1957)

Fellow blogger Sam Wilson tipped me to this Tom & Jerry entry. I had noted that the inestimable Paul Frees had worked on "Jerry's Cousin", which we presented the other day, but that wasn't his only contribution to the long running series.

"Blue Cat Blues" was meant to be Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera's coda to the series, but as we all know, MGM wasn't about to let their biggest cartoon cash cow go quietly into the night, and thus would contract Gene Deitch to take over the series, as Hanna & Barbera started their own studio and took their artists and writers with them. Deitch didn't last long, and of course, Chuck Jones took over to wrap T & J's MGM run.

Back to "Blue Cat Blues". Frees narrates from Jerry's perspective. The fact that Tom & Jerry are pals here serves as an unwitting precursor to their 1975-77 TV series for H-B & ABC. Tom is down and out, his eyes bloodshot, after a wealthy rival sweeps a white furred female cat away from Tom. The balance of the story, then, is told in flashback, but, as we soon see, Jerry isn't immune from heartbreak, either.

By my own admission, this was the first time I'd ever seen this short. I wasn't fond of Deitch's take on the franchise, and preferred Jones', which put some more life into the series. Jones, of course, would also produce the bumpers for the team's 1st CBS series, which launched in 1965.

The animation here is more of a precursor to H-B's television output, as the gags lose a lot of their energy.

Rating: B-.

Family Toons: Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy (1959)

One of the back-up features supporting Quick Draw McGraw was a canine father & son team who were practically role models.

Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy came about when creators Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera were unable to bring Spike & Tyke over from MGM, though that would change years later. Instead of bulldogs, however, Augie (Daws Butler) and his father (radio star Doug Young, doing a Jimmy Durante mimic) were dachshunds. Then again, since Tyke never talked in the MGM shorts, giving Augie a voice allowed him to connect with the kids. Butler would later recycle the same voice for Elroy Jetson and Lambsy (It's The Wolf), plus any number of generic Jay Ward kid characters.

Cartoonsintros offers a standard open:

Augie and his dad would later return as part of Yogi's Gang (1973), but their own chances for a revival are slim, considering how the H-B stars of the past are being ignored.

Rating: B.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Rein-Toon-Ation: Gerald McBoing Boing (2005)

Gerald McBoing Boing first appeared in a few shorts produced by UPA back in the day, a secondary series, if ya will, behind the studio's #1 star, Mr. Magoo. The gimmick with Gerald was that he didn't speak. Only sounds came from this young fellow's throat, a peculiar oddity that no one can explain. Then again, this shouldn't have been a surprise if you knew that Gerald came from the pen of Dr. Ted Geisel, alias Dr. Seuss.

In 2005, Cookie Jar obtained a license to produce a new set of Gerald McBoing Boing cartoons, which aired in Canada on Teletoon, and here in the US on Cartoon Network as part of its ill-fated Tickle U block for preschoolers, an attempt by the network to compete with Nickelodeon's Nick, Jr. morning block, which has since been spun off into its own channel, and Playhouse Disney on Disney Channel, which eventually morphed into Disney Junior.

Unfortunately, only a small handful of episodes were produced before the plug was pulled. Here's the intro:

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Our Lips Are Sealed & We Got The Beat (1982)

The Go-Go's released their debut record, "Beauty & The Beat", near the end of 1981, but didn't make their 1st appearance on American Bandstand until January 1982, and performed both of their first singles, "Our Lips Are Sealed" & "We Got The Beat". You guys probably all have your favorites among these five lovely ladies.........

Uploaded by---wait for it---GoGosUnsealed: