Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Captain Fathom (1965)

Cambria Studios, the folks that invented Synchro-Vox, created a 3rd adventure series to use the technology, but Captain Fathom is lesser known than Space Angel and Clutch Cargo, though it has one element common with Space Angel---both boasted the talents of comics icon Alex Toth, who would take his talents to Hanna-Barbera the next year.

Some can argue that Captain Fathom might've been derivative of Jules Verne's 10,000 Leagues Under The Sea, though Fathom is clearly a heroic, altruistic character.

The series had been taken out of circulation by the time I got around to scoping out cartoons as a child, hence no rating. Let's check out "The Loss of the Argonaut" (which was Fathom's sub):


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Toon Legends: Hello, How Am I? (1939)

Popeye thinks he's seeing double. That's because his roommate du jour, J. Wellington Wimpy, ever on the lookout for a free meal, decides to pose as the spinach-eating sailor in order to poach a dinner from Olive.

Here's "Hello, How Am I?":



As I understand it, this plot had been used in Thimble Theatre some time back, but I cannot be sure if Wimpy was involved in that one, too.

Rating: B.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Looney TV: Rabbit Seasoning (1952)

Elmer Fudd is such a tool.

Poor Elmer (Arthur Q. Bryan) is easily fooled by fake rabbit tracks left by Daffy Duck, who has posted signs all over the place, at the same time exposing the fact that he didn't exactly pass the spelling exam. Bugs Bunny finds his two favorite patsies might be more compatible with each other in "Rabbit Seasoning", the middle installment of Chuck Jones' "hunting trilogy".



Rating: A+.

Game Time: The Harlem Globetrotters shill for Vitalis (1971)

In memory of the greatest Harlem Globetrotter of all time, Meadowlark Lemon, who passed away over the weekend at 83, we present this 1971 commercial for Vitalis.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Game Time: Mini One-on-One hockey

In the early 70's, cable television made inroads in upstate New York, introducing viewers to New York City's three then-independent stations (WOR, WPIX, & WNEW), and one from Boston, WSBK, which was a boon to sports fans, since now they had additional options for baseball and hockey.

I don't know exactly when WSBK acquired the rights to carry the Boston Bruins' games, but the hook was in their intermission programming. Instead of just recapping what had just happened in each period, the station aired Mini One on One, a seasonal tournament involving youth hockey teams from throughout New England.

There would be, as memory serves, two matches per Bruins broadcast. Since the games are now cable exclusive, airing on the New England Sports Network (NESN), I'm not sure if they're continuing with Mini One on One.

Let's take a look at a match from 1981 between Milton, Massachusetts and Berlin, New Hampshire:




There were, I think two, maybe three divisions in the tournament. It has been so long, I don't remember.

Rating: A.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tooniversary: DoDo, The Kid From Outer Space (1965)

You've heard, of course, of the British Invasion in popular music in the 60's (i.e. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, etc.). The British also imported some television shows across the pond during that same time frame (i.e. Secret Agent, The Avengers, The Saint). To this list we add Halas & Bachelor's DoDo, The Kid From Outer Space.

Created by Lady Stearn Robinson, DoDo has settled on Earth, but it seems that the rhyming Professor Fingers isn't exactly proper father figure material, as you'll see in this sample cartoon.



The animation team of Halas & Bachelor are better known for having worked on some of the Popeye shorts earlier in the 60's, before Rankin-Bass hired them to animate The Jackson 5ive. How DoDo hung around for five years before being pulled from American syndication is a real mystery. The writing just isn't that strong.

Rating: C.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: Little Drummer Boy-Book 2 (1976)

Eight years after the original adaptation of the classic carol, Rankin-Bass decided to create a sequel to The Little Drummer Boy.

Book II continues the story of Aaron, the young drummer from the original special. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't even know they made a sequel until it began airing on cable some years later. ABC Family (which changes its name to Freeform next month----don't ask) holds the rights, as you can probably tell.




I didn't see enough to merit a rating.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: Jingle Bell Rock (1995)

There's a reason why DIC's 1995 Christmas special, Jingle Bell Rock, hasn't seen the light of day since its initial airing on ABC.

The program purports to tell the story of an elf who supposedly wrote the song, which has been recorded by artists as diverse as Bobby Helms and Hall & Oates, among others, and brings it to the attention of a record executive (Milton Berle).





To think that 31 years earlier, one elf wanted to be a dentist. At least there's some improvement in career dreams, but not much.

Rating: C.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Toon Rock: Mistletoe (1980)

From the TV-movie "Yogi's First Christmas":

Cindy Bear (Janet Waldo) decides to rehearse a Christmas song she intends to serenade Yogi Bear with. Boo Boo is a captive audience of one. Insofar as I know, the song is called "Mistletoe".




Not sure if Dame Janet sang this one herself or someone took over uncredited.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: A Vision of Sugar Plums (Bewitched, 1964)

This next entry was previously reviewed over at The Land of Whatever some time back.

From season 1 of Bewitched:

Darrin & Samantha (Dick York & Elizabeth Montgomery) take in a disillusioned orphan (Billy Mumy) for Christmas, and Samantha must take extreme measures to restore the boy's belief in Santa Claus (Cecil Kellaway). Here's "A Vision of Sugar Plums", colorized for rebroadcast after its initial airing.



Gerry Johnson, who took over as the voice of Betty Rubble on The Flintstones a year earlier, has a brief cameo at the end of the show.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Creature Commandos in Lucky Day (2014)

Even though Cartoon Network discontinued its DC Nation block some time ago, they're still including some minute-plus shorts with episodes of Teen Titans GO!, which CN is playing into the ground as it is.

The Creature Commandos were created by writer J. Marc DeMatteis for DC 35 years ago in the pages of Weird War Tales (1st series). No self-respecting writer, however, should take credit for the following attempt at comedy:



Good thing this only goes 75 seconds. The joke would've expired had it gone longer.

Rating: C-.

Toons You Might've Missed: The Fantastic Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor (1996)

More than 30 years after Sinbad, Jr.'s last voyage, Sinbad the Sailor was brought back to animated life, this time by producer Fred Wolf (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, James Bond, Jr., etc.).

The Fantastic Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor recast the hero as a teenager, much like the 60's series, but substituting a tiger cub for a parrot and adding a younger orphan boy as Sinbad's sidekick. Research tells us that the series aired on Cartoon Network, but after the channel was added to my cable system at the end of 1996, I have no memory of seeing this show at all. Some of you will be looking at this for the first time, as well.

Here's "The Curse of the Gorgon":




I liked the 60's Sinbad, Jr. shorts better, let's put it that way.

Rating: C.

Friday, December 18, 2015

On The Air: Winx Club (2004)

In 2004, two different Italian studios imported similarly themed fantasy-adventure series to the US.

W.I.T.C.H. landed at ABC & ABC Family, but because it didn't meet FCC E/I guidelines, it aired at 12 noon (ET) on ABC, where, had it been able to be renewed the following season, would've been subjected to frequent pre-emptions for sports. As it was, the series lasted just the 1 year here in the US.

The Winx Club bowed on Fox, imported by 4Kids for the network's Saturday block, and was in and out of the lineup for 4 years (2004-8) before being cancelled. However, the series remained in production, and returned to US screens 2 years later, when Nickelodeon acquired the show.

Today, the series has been consigned to Nick, Jr., at last check, if not also Nicktoons, but with Christmas a week away, you'd think they'd at least air this episode, "A Magix Christmas", first shown in 2012.



The cast during the Nick era includes Nick alum Larisa Oleynik (ex-The Secret World of Alex Mack) and actress-singer Ariana Grande, the latter being reason alone to have this episode run on Nick over the next week.

No rating.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Getting Schooled: Donald Duck in Math-Magic Land (1959)

I remember seeing this next item at school in my younger days. Can't say exactly when, but I do remember seeing it.

Donald Duck in Math-Magic Land was made available to schools as recently as the middle 70's, and had its television premiere on The Wonderful World of Disney in 1961, two years after its initial release. It's basically a two-actor show, with Clarence Nash as Donald and the seemingly omnipresent Paul Frees as virtually everyone else.

Edit, 9/18/19: Had the change the video, so here's a complete Wonderful World of Disney. Walt Disney opens with An Adventure in Color, followed by Math-Magic Land. I believe QM announcer Dick Wesson had those chores here, too.




I'm pretty sure Donald actually knew something about math---he was just there to represent the kiddo's watching the cartoon.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Laurel & Hardy in Can't Keep a Secret Agent (1966)

Larry Harmon's initial Laurel & Hardy cartoon for Hanna-Barbera and co-producer David Wolper has Stan & Ollie skewering the then-white-hot spy genre in "Can't Keep a Secret Agent":



To think that Harmon, who helped Filmation co-founders Lou Scheimer & Hal Sutherland get started while they all worked on Popeye for King Features, is still better known for Bozo The Clown.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): Ain't That a Kick in the Head (1990)

Most folks know Sherman Hemsley from The Jeffersons and Amen, but it seems he did some moonlighting in the recording studio from time to time, too.

In April 1990, Hemsley appeared on Soul Train to perform "Ain't That a Kick in the Head", and would be subsequently interviewed by host Don Cornelius.



Now, no one would ever consider this new jack swing, which was all the rage back then.

10 months later, on Amen, Hemsley would sing again. We'll have that over at The Land of Whatever another time.

Countdown to Christmas: Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)

Mickey Mouse is cast in the part of Bob Crachit in Disney's adaptation of a seminal Charles Dickens classic.

Mickey's Christmas Carol posits Donald Duck (Clarence Nash, in his final performance) as Fred, the nephew of Ebenezer Scrooge, who in turn is, appropriately, embodied by Donald's Uncle Scrooge (Alan Young, ex-Mr. Ed). Many of your Disney favorites are crammed into this edition.


Edit, 11/29/21: The video has been deleted. Dailymotion has two backward copies to avoid the copyright patrol. As you can see above, we've subbed in the cover to a video package.

Subsequent cable replays have edited key scenes in order to fit in extra commercials, which is a terrible shame. Hal Smith (Davey & Goliath, ex-The Andy Griffith Show) is heard as Goofy for the first, and probably only, time, pinch-hitting for Pinto Colvig, who'd passed on.

No rating.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Literary Toons: Horton Hears a Who! (1970)

Nearly 4 full years after adapting Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Chuck Jones worked his magic on a Seuss property he was remotely familiar with.

Horton Hears a Who was the 2nd and last Seuss adaptation to be produced by MGM for CBS. The following year, DePatie-Freleng took over the license with The Cat in the Hat. Hans Conried (ex-Hoppity Hooper), who top-lined a live-action Seuss adaptation, "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.", a few years earlier, narrates and voices Horton in much the same manner that Boris Karloff handled the Grinch. Jones, June Foray, and Thurl Ravenscroft (uncredited) are among the other voices heard.



Horton had previously been on the big screen, adapted by Warner Bros. for an animated short some years prior. In 2008, the story was retold as a feature length movie, with Steve Carell & Jim Carrey lending their voices. Unfortunately, the need to stretch out the original tale neutered the plot and watered down the story.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Inch High vs. Cat Burglars (1973)

Inch High, Private Eye (Len Weinrib) is on the case, trying to catch "Cat Burglars" at the risk of, as usual, losing his job.

An additional gimmick here is that Braveheart, Inch's faithful St. Bernard, has a phobia about cats. Who thought that was possible?




Rating: B.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: A Flintstone Christmas (1977)

In 1977, The Flintstones, which had been in reruns on NBC earlier in the decade, made their first primetime appearance on the network with A Flintstone Christmas, the first holiday episode of the franchise in 12 years.

Fred (Henry Corden) & Barney (Mel Blanc) are out shopping, and Fred becomes perturbed when Barney drops a coin for every street corner Santa he meets. This runs counter to the 1965 (season 5) episode where Fred actually believed in Santa. "Who is the Real Santa Claus?" was previously used in a more contemporary special a few years earlier



Take note that Pebbles (Jean VanderPyl in a dual role) and Bamm-Bamm (Russi Taylor) are at least kindergarten age, or where they were for the short-lived Cave Kids series.

The whole idea of subbing for Santa would be done again with Johnny Bravo 20 years later, among others.

Rating: B-.

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Little Rascals (1982)

Hanna-Barbera obtained a license to produce a series of animated cartoons featuring The Little Rascals, better known, of course, as Our Gang to older fans, in 1982. That was the good news. The bad news? It was put together in a 90 minute block with fellow frosh Pac-Man and with Richie Rich (3rd season), largely because ABC felt none of the three could stand on their own, although that could've been proven otherwise with the Rascals, given that the original Hal Roach shorts were in syndication at the time, and airing as pre-school fodder in some cities, like New York (WPIX).

Scott Menville, son of writer Chuck Menville, was cast as Spanky. Impressionist Julie McWhirter (ex-Casper & The Angels) voiced Alfalfa and Woim, the sidekick of neighborhood bully Butch (B. J. Ward), with Patty Mahoney (ex-Far Out Space Nuts) as Darla.

The Rascals lasted just 2 seasons of new episodes, which is a shame, but that is the network's fault for not recognizing the appeal of the characters. The other problem was that H-B stablemate Smurfs aired opposite the block over on NBC. Ballgame over.

Edit, 9/4/2020: The video was deleted. In its place is the intro (or at least most of it):



Something got lost in the translation of the shorts to Saturday morning TV, notwithstanding that two other studios (or maybe just one?) had the license before H-B, as we've documented.

Rating: C.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)

Christmas without Santa Claus? Impossible, you say.

Well, there was a book that was adapted into the 1974 Rankin-Bass special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Told from the point of view of Mrs. Claus (Shirley Booth, ex-Hazel, in her final performance), it seems that after a routine physical examination, Santa (Mickey Rooney) is convinced by his doctor to "change his routine". So, Santa goes on vacation, leaving two of his elves to try to pick up the slack with just one reindeer, Vixen.

Of course, that spells trouble, and the introduction of fan favorites, the Miser Brothers (Dick Shawn & George S. Irving). This is also a rarity in that the incomparable Paul Frees, usually present for a R-B special, isn't in the cast of this one.



 Note that I said this was based on a book, which, to be honest, I'd never heard of. Good luck finding it in a library.

Rating: C.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger vs. the Puppet Master (1966)

The Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) encounters Chandar, the evil "Puppet Master", in this short.



Predictable, don't you think?

Rating: B-.

You Know The Voice: Tim Matheson (1970)

This next clip also appears on my other blog, The Land of Whatever:

After 4 series in as many seasons at Hanna-Barbera (Jonny Quest, Sinbad, Jr., Space Ghost, Young Samson), and a failed Terrytoons pilot (Sally Sargent), Tim Matheson turned his attention to face acting, and landed a role on NBC's Bracken's World as aspiring singer Teek Howell in the episode, "The Country Boy". With a singing voice similar to that of pop-country star B. J. Thomas, Matheson performs covers of The Youngbloods' "Get Together" and James Taylor's "Fire & Rain" in this compilation of scenes from the episode.




It would be more than 2 decades before Matheson would step back into cartoon work with a guest gig on Batman: The Animated Series, and was last heard from on Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated during its ill-fated 2nd season.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

On DVD: Superman-Doomsday (2007)

I previously covered this over at The Land of Whatever a ways back.

With rumors that Doomsday, the monster that had killed Superman pro tempore 22 years ago, would possibly appear in the forthcoming "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice", I thought I'd revisit one of the worst DVD's WB ever produced for DC.

Basically, it boils down to this. Doomsday was killed off too quickly in the movie, and the film degenerates into a plot involving Lex Luthor cloning Superman for his own selfish purposes. Odder still is how Lex's sidekick, Mercy Graves, is presented. Instead of the familiar bodyguard role as established in Superman: The Animated Series, Mercy is recast as a mousy secretary who ends up getting killed by her boss in a fit of anger. If you think that's bad, it gets worse. In the wake of Superman's "death", Jimmy Olsen goes to work for a sleazy tabloid after leaving the Daily Planet. Seems like the writers were throwing ideas together on a Velcro dartboard.

Here's a sample clip:



To say that Doomsday wasn't treated well after all would be an understatement, considering how the character has been used in comics in recent times.

Rating: D.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1970)

With high ratings for Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer on NBC and Frosty the Snowman on CBS, Rankin-Bass delivered another ratings winner, this one to ABC.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, based on the song of the same name, explains the origins of Santa (Mickey Rooney) and assorted traditions, as told by postman S. D. Kluger (Fred Astaire, It Takes a Thief). The show starts with a mock newsreel, narrated by Paul Frees, who also voices the villain of the piece, Burgomeister Meisterburger.



Rooney would reprise as Santa in The Year Without a Santa Claus a few years later, while Astaire would bring Kluger back in 1977's The Easter Bunny Is Coming To Town. Today, ABC Family holds the cable rights, as this hasn't been seen on ABC or any broadcast network in several years.

Rating: B+.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Literary Toons: The Cat in the Hat (1971)

In 1971, DePatie-Freleng took over the license to adapt the works of Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) for television. Their first project was also the studio's first sale to CBS, The Cat in the Hat, which also marked the end of Chuck Jones' association with the franchise.

Jones, who would have a hand in ABC's Curiosity Shop that year, served as co-executive producer with Geisel, David DePatie, and Friz Freleng. Comedian Allan Sherman was cast in the title role of the Cat, and doubled as narrator. Additional voices include Daws Butler and Pamelyn Ferdin (who would also appear on Curiosity Shop). Universal owns the rights now, likely by virtue of having done a live-action version 12 years ago with Mike Myers (ex-Saturday Night Live) as the Cat.



To this day, the Cat and Things 1 & 2 have been used for merchandising. Like, every so often, you'll see someone wearing a Thing 1 or 2 shirt, for example.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Literary Toons: Daisy-Head Mayzie (1995)

Dr. Seuss' Daisy-Head Mayzie was published posthumously after Seuss (Ted Geisel) had passed away. Not only that, but an animated special actually aired before the book was published!

Hanna-Barbera obtained a license to produce the special, which would be the last Seuss book to be adapted for television, and H-B's only Seuss special. Tim Curry (The Wild Thornberrys) is among the voices heard in the special. 

The Cat in the Hat (Henry Gibson, ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), essentially Seuss' mascot, serves as narrator, and this would be his last animated appearance until PBS' The Cat In The Hat Knows a Lot About That. Mayzie is your average, ordinary schoolgirl until a daisy sprouts up on her head. No one seems to know why or how, but there's something to this that makes this as much a teaching tool as a form of entertainment.

Update, 3/3/21: The episode is now available:



Rating: B.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Toons You Might've Missed: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1944-9)

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer made his debut in, of all places, a department store catalogue.

It's true. Montgomery Ward introduced the world to Rudolph in 1939. He was originally meant to be a mouse, but the decision was made to make him a reindeer because reindeer were perceived to be more friendly for children.

Well, suffice to say, it worked. Five years later, Max Fleischer, now working for Jam Handy studios, directed the first cartoon based on Rudolph, which explained why his red nose, larger and brighter than the usual brown noses that reindeer have, resulted in his being ostracized by the other reindeer. After Johnny Marks wrote the classic song, recorded by Gene Autry, Jam Handy reissued their cartoon with the song included. That's the version we have for you.




Internet Archive's information is slightly off by a year. Thus, 15 years after the reissue came the Rankin-Bass TV special that we all know, which added some new elements, including giving Rudolph a girlfriend, among other things, and establishing that Donner was his dad. This version was remade in 1998, and merited a DTV sequel.

Don't worry, we'll have the 1964 model Rudolph soon enough.

Rating: None.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in The Battle of Barnaby Bend (1966)

On CBS' Wild, Wild West, federal agents Jim West (Robert Conrad) & Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) often had to deal with pint-sized but corrupt genius Miguelito Loveless (Michael Dunn). Seeing how popular Loveless was with audiences, someone at CBS decided that the Lone Ranger would have a similarly sized opponent, one Tiny Tom.

In "The Battle of Barnaby Bend", the Ranger (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) pursue Tom (Dick Beals, also the voice of Alka-Seltzer pitchman Speedy and Frankenstein, Jr.'s creator-sidekick, Buzz Conroy) into the small town, where Tom and his bouncing bandits find more than they bargained for......



Rye would recycle his Ranger voice, ironically enough, for the Super Friends' Native American hero, Apache Chief, more than a decade later.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Looney TV: The Case of the Stuttering Pig (1937)

Porky Pig is up to his neck in trouble, trying to protect Petunia and their brothers (yes, they're all family in this one) from a double-dealing legal weasel in "The Case of the Stuttering Pig". Note how "Uncle Solomon Swine" bears some resemblance to Oliver Hardy. Cheap shot, perhaps?




Good thing Petunia got a makeover in the intervening years. That's all I can say.

Rating: B-.

Countdown to Christmas: The Nutcracker Scoob (1984)

I've waited a long time for this one, another piece that was previously here but deleted from YouTube due to copyright issues. Dailymotion seems to be a safe haven for videos that YouTube can't hang on to.

Case in point, "The Nutcracker Scoob" episode of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries.

Edit, 12/21/2020: We've located a screencap from the episode:


Fred (Frank Welker) returns for this episode, one of several appearances he'd make during the season. Y'don't suppose that might be to ensure there is no chance at Shaggy & Daphne getting close, do you? And, man, don't ya think they could've used him for the later 13 Ghosts series?

Rating: B.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: Santa & the Three Bears (1970)

If it looks like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, that doesn't mean it is.

Some H-B staffers, including Tony Benedict and Walt Peregoy, spun off on their own to produce Santa & the Three Bears, which was released to theatres in 1970. Two of the voice actors also were on the H-B payroll, particularly Hal Smith (ex-The Andy Griffith Show) and Jean VanderPyl (ex-The Flintstones, The Jetsons).

A park ranger (Smith) is recruited by a kindly mother bear (VanderPyl) to play Santa to entertain her cubs and teach them about Christmas.




To think that 10 years later, we'd see H-B try out Yogi Bear wearing Santa's garb........

Rating: B.

On DVD: Challenge of the Super Friends (1978)

We have discussed Challenge of the Super Friends before, but now we're taking a look at the complete season DVD.

All 16 episodes with the Legion of Doom are included, but that's only half the show. The other half is a continuation from the previous season's format, to give the Wonder Twins something to do. When the series was broken down into half-hour increments for syndication, those episodes were kept to the side, since the LOD episodes were much more popular with comics fans.

However, there are some flaws in the writing of some of these stories, as well as some artistic gaffes. Take for example the episode, "Secret Origins of the Super Friends". Lex Luthor (Stan Jones) schemes to erase Superman, Wonder Woman, & Green Lantern from existence, and for a time, he succeeds. Problem is, and the writers completely whiffed on this point, with Superman gone pro tempore, his imperfect clone, Bizarro, should've been erased as well, because without the Man of Steel, there is no Bizarro.

As we noted in reviewing "History of Doom", Giganta (Ruth Forman) was originally a foe of Wonder Woman, but with the Cheetah (Marianne Aragon) already in the fold, the producers, ignoring the fact that Superman & Batman both had multiple foes on the Legion's roster, decided to assign Giganta to made-for-TV hero Apache Chief, as denoted in the show's opening sequence. The problem with that is, Giganta was attired in the same jungle gear she had in the books.

Funny thing: when Hanna-Barbera was commissioned by NBC to produce 2 live-action specials, they eventually posited Giganta as a girlfriend of the Atom. In the books, that would eventually happen, but not with the Atom we knew (Ray Palmer), but his successor, Ryan Choi. Like, who knew?

The documentary feature, Saturdays, Sleeping Bags, & Super Friends, has comments from comics creators such as Paul Dini, Alex Ross, and DC editor Dan DiDio (who can't write his way out of a paper bag). Whee.

Edit, 2/11/19: Unfortunately, the documentary has been deleted by Dailymotion due to a copyright claim from an international rights holder that is not WB. Instead, we're subbing in the series intro:



In essence, Dini and Bruce Timm and company reinvented the LOD as the DCAU's version of the Secret Society on Justice League Unlimited nearly 30 years later, but with a larger roster to match the Justice League's, and missing some original LOD members. Not to be confused with the pro wrestling Legion of Doom, which was condensed down to its most iconic members, the Road Warriors, in the 80's.

Looking back now, with the series 3 years away from its 40th anniversary, it's easier to see some of the mistakes the writers made, leaving fans to consider how it could've been done better.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rare Treats: King Arthur (1974)

Several months back, we served up a rarely seen Filmation pilot, Dick Digit, and perhaps the only reason he never made it to air might've been because the titular hero, being small in size, was too close to DC's Atom, who'd been licensed to Filmation as part of a rotating series of backup features behind Aquaman.

Roughly around the same time, Filmation tried an adaptation of the legend of King Arthur, which would've been the first series to adapt the Knights of the Round Table in an adventure series. Ken Sobol, principal writer for Journey to the Center of the Earth, which premiered in 1967, and Fantastic Voyage (1968), wrote this pilot, in which Arthur (Marvin Miller, the voice of Aquaman) must rescue Princess Guenivere (Jane Webb) from the Black Knight. Webb would also voice Morgaine Le Fey, and subsequently recycle the Le Fey voice for Catwoman (The Batman-Superman Hour).

Most scholars claim this was made in 1967. However, there are a few clues that suggest that this was later, even though the copyright date looks like it was made around 1964 or '65. I'm guessing that the cartoon was actually made well before the studio signed the contract to adapt the DC heroes (Superman, Batman, etc.), but it remained in the vaults until Filmation established itself on the air. Additionally, this would be the first instance where director Hal Sutherland's signature appeared on screen, as well as the circular credit of producers Norm Prescott & Lou Scheimer. These particular items didn't begin to appear on Filmation programs until 1969 (i.e. Hardy Boys). Finally, Webb didn't make her official debut with Filmation until 1967 (Journey to the Center of the Earth), and remained with the studio until 1977.

Edit, 12/1/15: I've since been apprised that the copyright date is 1974, which meant this project took 7 years to complete. Many thanks to Doz Hewson for providing some assistance.

Now, let's scope out King Arthur:



Edit, 11/16/19: I've located a still of an animation cel:

Image result for King Arthur Filmation pilot"

While the artists weren't credited, the linework seems to be an attempt to emulate the work of Hal Foster of Prince Valiant fame. One wonders if Foster wasn't somehow involved in the production of this piece.

Rating: A.

Countdown to Christmas: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Year by year, the iconic Christmas specials of our youth are approaching milestone anniversaries. Last year, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Rankin-Bass version, that is, turned 50. A Charlie Brown Christmas hits the big 5-0 this year, and next year, that anniversary is for Chuck Jones' adaptation of Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Grinch was one of Jones' last projects for MGM, and was sold to CBS in 1966. What some of you might not know is that Seuss himself (Ted Geisel) co-wrote some of the music with Albert Hague, who is better known to viewers of a later generation for his acting on the original series version of Fame in the 80's. Horror legend Boris Karloff, who had transitioned to television in the latter half of his career, and was a couple of years removed from the end of his NBC series, Thriller, narrates and gives voice to the Grinch.

Edit, 9/25/19: The video has been deleted. In its place, we present a small little trailer....




Grinch was also the 1st Seuss story to be adapted for television, as Horton Hears a Who, the 2nd & last MGM Seuss special, had previously been adapted as a theatrical cartoon some years earlier. However, it's been 20 years since any of Seuss' stories had been brought to the small screen, with the Grinch, the Lorax, and the Cat in the Hat having all been redone in feature film form, with only Lorax avoiding the stigma of a live-action adaptation. Of course, the Cat has been a part of a pair of children's series, more recently for PBS.

Rating: A-.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey battles car & jewel thieves (1974)

Featured on Saturday Morning Cartoons: The 70's, Volume 1, here is the series premiere of Hong Kong Phooey.

The kung-fu kanine (Scatman Crothers) goes after "Car Thieves" in the first short, with Allan Melvin (All In The Family) using his Drooper voice from Banana Splits as a used car dealer victimized by the crooks. In the second episode, "Zoo Story", Phooey gets help from a kidnapped kangaroo to foil jewel thieves.

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

While Phooey is billed as a superhero, he behaves more like a costumed version of bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart. Don Adams would one-up the ante by being cast as Inspector Gadget, a clueless, bumbling cyborg sleuth with some of Smart's qualities, nearly a decade later.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Wonder Wheels and the Animals (1977)

This one's a rare bird. Wonder Wheels hits the zoo to try to calm down a rampaging gorilla, and ends up dealing with more than it bargained for in "Wonder Wheels & the Animals":



The reason I say it's a rare bird is that there are no real villains to speak of. However, there was no real explanation for why the gorilla was angered in the first place. Meh.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Two-Ton Tessie (1968)

The Banana Splits are shown in this re-edited and mostly remastered season 1 video for their cover of Gene Pitney's "Two-Ton Tessie" doing what they do best, which is to say, riding around in their Banana Buggies and just having fun.

The poster patched this together, pointing out that the video was re-edited when the original hour-long episodes were chopped into half-hours for syndication. He's not sure if he has everything back where it's supposed to be. Just sayin'.



Monday, November 23, 2015

Saturtainment: Saturday Morning Live (1982)

After Match Game ended its CBS and syndicated runs, Gene Rayburn returned home to New York, where he'd begun his career, and returned, if you will, to his Saturday morning roots.

We previously chronicled the lone Goodson-Todman Saturday morning entry that Rayburn hosted, Choose Up Sides, which began his association with NBC. In 1982, Gene was hired by WNEW (now WNYW) to host a magazine show, Saturday Morning Live, which lasted about a shade more than a year before being cancelled, which freed Rayburn to return to Hollywood for not only the ill-fated Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour, but also an unsold pilot for Australian producer Reg Grundy, Party Line.

This was just something different. Rayburn interviewing guests, and not a single temptation to pull out his "Old Man Periwinkle" persona from Match Game, that I know of. I barely remember this show, much less any memory of seeing it, so, once again, there is no rating. What we can do, however, is offer a sample from a December 1982 show.




Toon Sports: Oban Star-Racers (2006)

Here's another short-lived series that aired on Jetix/Toon Disney. Amazingly, Oban Star-Racers, set some 70-odd years into the future, lasted just 1 season. Seems to be a trend, doesn't it?

A collaborative effort between Japanese & French studios, Star-Racers is built around a 15 year old girl who escapes from a private boarding school to locate her father. He doesn't remember her, so she takes a job as a mechanic with his racing team, then ends up modifying a craft when a key pilot on the team is downed by injury.

Never saw the show, so there's no rating. We'll leave you with the intro:


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes (maybe): Get Ed (2005)

Get Ed was an American-Canadian CGI series that aired on ABC Family's Jetix block for 1 season (2005-6). Set in the future, Ed, the title character, was a genetically engineered teenage cyber-sleuth employed by a courier service.

This was one of the first series that put an emphasis on the growing trend of identity theft. Too bad the lessons haven't sunk in, as people are still being victimized.

Here's the open:




There's not a lot to recommend, and the series hasn't been seen since Toon Disney's initial conversion to the current DisneyXD.

Rating: C.

Daytime Heroes: The Catillac Cats in space (1984)

Riff Raff is a dreamer. Anyone that watched him and the Catillac Cats on Heathcliff in the mid-80's knows that. So it figures that Riff decides to build a homemade satellite and launch it into space.

Here's "Space Cats":




Well, you had to expect a few bugs in the system.......!

Rating: A-.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes (?): Super Pink (1966)

It wasn't enough that DePatie-Freleng got into the superhero business with the comedy-adventure series, The Super Six, in 1966. That same year, the Pink Panther became the latest cartoon icon to parody Superman in "Super Pink".

We find that the Panther's a comics fan, and is so inspired to find himself a costume to sally forth and fight crime, with chaotic results.




In this case, the Panther should've paid more attention to the books and learned how to read the situations before him.

Rating: B.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto vs. the Ghost Tribe of Comanche Flats (1966)

Cartoon Jam brings forth a Tonto short from the 1966 Lone Ranger series.

Tonto (Shep Menken) tries to help a Kiowa chief (Michael Rye) overcome "The Ghost Tribe of Comanche Flats". The plot has a familiar scent to it, considering Scooby-Doo used a zillion variants, beginning in 1969.



Rating: A-.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tooniversary: Wacky & Packy in One of Our Missing Links is Missing (1975)

Time for a visit with our time tossed friends from the stone age, Wacky & Packy.

This time, the caveman and his pet mammoth (both voiced by Allan Melvin) meet up with a scientist and his dimwitted assistant. The usual chaos follows.




Melvin's voice for Packy sounds like he was impersonating Pete Puma, a relatively 3rd string Looney Tunes character, doesn't it?

Rating: B-.

Monday, November 16, 2015

You Know The Voice: Daws Butler (1960)

Well, howdy there! Didja know that one of Huckleberry Hound's biggest fans was comedy legend Groucho Marx?

Aw, shucks! Ya didn't? Gawrsh! We found all this out when Daws Butler, the voice of Huck, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, and others, was a contestant on You Bet Your Life in 1960. If you've ever wanted to know or see what Butler looked like, well, here y'are, podnuh.......




Former Milwaukee Braves manager Fred Haney, who was starting a broadcasting career that year, was also on the show, but who'd ever believe the incomparable Groucho was a fan of good ol' Huck Hound? I may have to do some research to see if Butler made any other appearances in front of the camera.

Toonfomercial: A look inside a typical refrigerator (1977)

TV Land exhumed this 1977 Arm & Hammer baking soda ad in its early days. Today, they can't be bothered.



Today, Arm & Hammer, the primary brand of Church & Dwight, is more than just baking soda. There's also laundry detergent, and Church & Dwight acquired the Spinbrush brand from Proctor & Gamble (it was originally a Crest Spinbrush) to go with---wait for it---Arm & Hammer toothpaste. The mind boggles.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Game Time: Quiz Kids (1949)

Quiz Kids began on radio in the early 40's, and transitioned to television in 1949, first airing on NBC before moving to CBS. The first TV run ended in 1953, only to be revived for a few months in 1956. It aired in primetime, as a lot of quiz shows did back in those days, presumably early in the evening so kids could watch their peers before retiring for the night.

The series has been revived here a few times and in Australia over the years, but not in the last 20-odd years. The last version, under the title Quiz Kids Challenge, was hosted by actor Jonathan Prince (ex-Throb) in 1991, and lasted one season. Before that, veteran game show host Jim McKrell (ex-Celebrity Sweepstakes) fronted the first revival in 1978. Three years later, sitcom legend Norman Lear stepped from behind the camera to host a short-flight version for CBS.

The original series, of course, was well before my time, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with a 1951 episode, presumably airing on CBS, with guest host Fran Allison (Kukla, Fran, & Ollie):

Literary Toons: Where's Waldo? (1991)

1991 was not a good year for DIC.

The studio sold several series to the networks, including Pro-Stars & Wishkid to NBC and the abysmal, MC Hammer-endorsed Hammerman to ABC. They had taken over the rights to Alvin & the Chipmunks from Ruby-Spears and that series, now rechristened Chipmunks Go To The Movies, was finishing its run on Fox. All of those shows were gone at the end of the season, and so was Where's Waldo?, their adaptation of Martin Handford's children's books.

Waldo was a global phenomenon, known as Wally in the UK, for example, but the concept remained the same. The hero would be on different adventures, and the young readers were challenged to find him in a crowded area or some other contrivance. Townsend Coleman, who also worked on Pro-Stars, voiced Waldo.

Unfortunately, the only episodes available are of the British variety, hence he'll be known as Wally in this sample episode.




So, why did it fail here? CBS made the mistake of scheduling Where's Waldo? opposite NBC's top-rated Saved by the Bell. Ballgame over.

No rating.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Rein-Toon-Ation: Gulliver in The Dark Sleep (1968)

Time to check in on 1968's Adventures of Gulliver, which, along with the Arabian Knights & Three Musketeers segments on Banana Splits, marked the end of Hanna-Barbera's first era of adventure.

In "The Dark Sleep", Captain Leech (John Stephenson) enlists the aid of an old witch, who creates a sleeping potion, intent on eliminating Gary Gulliver (Jerry Dexter) so Leech can steal the treasure map. However, Flirtacia (Ginny Tyler) ends up getting the potion instead, and so Gary and friends have to find the antidote.......



Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: In Blackest Night (Justice League, 2001)

From the first season of Justice League:

A galactic tribunal convenes to place Green Lantern John Stewart (Phil LaMarr, MadTV) on trial for the destruction of a neighboring planet. Despite his teammates' willingness to defend him, Stewart convinces himself he's guilty. Uh-oh.......




At the heart of the problem is a classic JLA foe, Kanjar Ro (Rene Auberjonois, ex-Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Benson), who is a witness for the prosecution, but that ain't all. Flash (Michael Rosenbaum, Smallville) decides to be GL's defense attorney, but he comes off more as comedy relief, as his stall tactics epically fail.

Luckily, the truth comes out at the end.....!

Rating: A.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman battles the Mechanical Monsters (1941)

It's been some time since we plumbed the Golden Age of Superman, and by that, of course, we mean Max & Dave Fleischer's adaptation of the Man of Steel.

This time, Superman (Bud Collyer) battles a mad scientist's "Mechanical Monsters". Self-explanatory, don't ya think?

Courtesy of Internet Archive:


Edit, 9/19/21: Now, we have a remastered version in 4D on YouTube:



Co-authors Isadore Sparber & Seymour Kneitel did their homework, to be sure, but Sparber is better known for humor, and Kneitel was mostly a producer than a writer, from what I remember.

Rating: A.

From Primetime to Daytime: The Tale of Many Faces (Are You Afraid of the Dark?, 2000)

Identity theft has become a very serious crime in recent times. In the final season of Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark?, the next-to-last episode of the series served as a teaching tool of a sort.

In "The Tale of Many Faces", a struggling young woman finds herself entangled in a web of deceit and deception, trapped by an evil witch, Madame Visage, who has created a theater group from unsuspecting girls whose faces have been stolen and forced to work for Visage.

Also available at The Land of Whatever:



A good way to start Friday the 13th, don't you think?

Rating: B.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

On The Air: wabbit-A Looney Tunes Production (2015)

A year and a half after it'd been originally announced by Cartoon Network, the Looney Tunes gang returns in an all-new series. That's the good news.

The bad news is that wabbit-A Looney Tunes production suffers from the same problem as fellow frosh Be Cool, Scooby-Doo in that the character designs on some of the beloved icons don't look right. Considering I've only seen a small sample, it may not be entirely fair to judge on that sample alone, but seeing Yosemite Sam (Maurice LaMarche) missing some teeth, and being portrayed as even more of a bumbling oaf than before, troubles me.

For example, in the short, "World Wide Wabbit", Sam escapes jail to rob a bank, only to find that, in this modern era, the bank he's picked has one singular ATM machine, a satirical commentary on the gradual erosion of the human element in this kind of business. Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman), as usual, plays Sam like a fiddle, but at the end of the day, the attempts to domesticate Sam as a well-meaning-but-bumbling neighbor on The Looney Tunes Show came off better. Yes, they needed to update Sam for the 21st century, but not like this.

While I haven't seen Gossamer, the big red monster from the last series, his potential replacement is a child-like, brown-furred Bigfoot. Bugs tries to be a mentor to the kid, but it frustrates him that Bigfoot isn't learning as quickly or as well as he should. Gossamer, at least, was fun to have around.

Each "episode" is the now-standard-for-CN 15 minutes, meaning they can cram 4 shorts into a half-hour, which is good, but the pacing isn't up to the standard of the classic shorts. And does Bugs have to be in every short? I don't know.

All we can provide for now is a promo ad from CN:



Luckily, the jabronies behind Be Cool and Teen Titans Go! (i.e. Michael Jelenic) aren't involved in this show. Former comics artist Gary Hartle, who had worked on Johnny Bravo as a producer, is in that capacity here. Boomerang has the show airing in primetime, which isn't good, considering the options on the broadcast networks on a given night. CN had it in a early evening berth, but it's currently on hiatus there.

Rating: B-.

You Know The Voice: Joan Alexander (1954)

If you ever wondered what actress Joan Alexander, the radio and cartoon voice of Lois Lane, looked like, well, look no further than The Name's The Same, a Goodson-Todman game show that aired on ABC for 4 years (1951-5), and went through a few moderators (hosts) during that period, including Robert Q. Lewis, Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding (Bob & Ray), and Dennis James, in one of his first TV gigs.

As we previously noted, the voice of Superman himself, Bud Collyer, was also on the Goodson-Todman payroll, as host and co-producer of Beat The Clock and, later, as moderator of To Tell The Truth.

Right now, let's take a look at a clip from the Lewis era, with special guest Steve Allen.



A more detailed review of Name will be at The Land of Whatever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On DVD: Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964)

For their first feature film, Hanna-Barbera went with Yogi Bear, whose first series was out of production. Back in those days, the hook to an animated movie, in order to keep the kids interested, and to get the family involved, was to load up on musical numbers. Disney did that with "Cinderella" and "Peter Pan", among others.

In "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear", there are quite a few musical numbers, some of them written by Doug Goodwin, who's better known for being a musical director for DePatie-Freleng. Jazz musician Marty Paich was in charge of the music for this one, giving Hoyt Curtin, H-B's long time musical patriarch, a break.

Spring has sprung at Jellystone Park, which, as we find out, is situated somewhere near the Rocky Mountains. Boo Boo (Don Messick) awakens first, prompted by morning dew in his ear. Boo Boo races across the road to Yogi's cave. It takes some time, but Yogi (Daws Butler) is finally awake, and up to his usual tricks, which raises the ire of Ranger John Smith (Messick). Well, Yogi's whole personality was modeled after Phil Silvers' Sgt. Bilko, as was Top Cat. Frustrated because Smith is on to his usual reams, Yogi decides to try to bluff the ranger into shipping him out. Incredibly, Smith calls the bluff, and decides to send Yogi to San Diego's zoo. However, Yogi doesn't leave just yet. Another bear, Corn Pone (Hal Smith, The Andy Griffith Show) convinces Yogi to let him take his place and head west.

And, then, there is Cindy Bear (Julie Bennett), who is smitten with Yogi. Under the impression that Yogi is gone, Cindy schemes to join him in San Diego, but the plot backfires when, as Smith later explains to Boo Boo, the San Diego Zoo doesn't need a second bear, so Cindy's off to St. Louis.

However, the train carrying Cindy hits a bump in the road, and Cindy, cage & all, falls out of the train, and into the laps of the down-on-their-luck Chizzle Brothers, whose circus needs a new star. Unfortunately, Grifter (Mel Blanc) is desperate to keep business going, so he abuses Cindy, with the aid of his dog, Mugger (Messick provides an all-too-familiar wheezing laugh, recycled for Muttley, Precious Pupp, & Mumbly, while Blanc does the grumbling). Smith finds out Yogi is still at Jellystone, long enough for him to let slip that he shipped Cindy out, but now she's lost. Yogi finally takes action, and takes Boo Boo with him.

For the DVD release, WB edited out the Columbia Pictures logo (Columbia distributed the movie), jumping right to the start of the film.

Here's a trailer, back when it was distributed through Turner Pictures:



A second performer, Bill Lee, was the singing voice for Yogi on other songs in the film.

Part of the reason it took so long, until the 2011 "Yogi Bear" CGI/live action movie, to do another film with Yogi might've been because using some tired gags from the shorts, plus borrowing from other sources (i.e. Tex Avery), masked how thin the plot really was.

Rating: B--.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Toons After Dark: It's Magic, Charlie Brown (1981)

One of the cool things about Peanuts was that Snoopy was accepted as one of the gang, instead of being Charlie Brown's dog. This allowed for creator Charles Schulz to put Snoopy in some very unusual situations.

1981's "It's Magic, Charlie Brown" is just one of those situations. Rebuked by Charlie for doing little more than eating & sleeping, Snoopy is sent to the library, as Charlie loans him his library card. Snoopy gets a book on magic, and, of course, chaos follows.

Unsurprisingly, a familiar trope to fans of the strip appears, as Snoopy quiets a heckler not once, but twice, early in his act as "The Great Houdini".

Edit, 12/9/21: The video was deleted by Wildbrain, which has a share of the rights. However, Dailymotion has a copy:



Actress Sydney Penny, who voiced Lucy this time around, would go on to a modest film & television career, and if I'm not mistaken, is the only one in this cast who did so.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto in Day at Death's Head Pass (1966)

Cartoon Jam has unearthed another installment from Jack Wrather & Format Films' 1966 Lone Ranger animated series.

Tonto (Shep Menken) fights alone against a renegade soldier (Hans Conried) and his volunteer army in "Day at Death's Head Pass".



Taka, Tonto's eagle friend, was a creation of the TV show, insofar as I know.

Rating: A.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thanksgiving Toons: Jerky Turkey (1945)

Leave it to Tex Avery to find a radical way of parodying the first Thanksgiving.

"Jerky Turkey" was released by MGM in April, 1945, a full 7 months before Thanksgiving. The film is actually a commentary on the waning days of World War II.

Uploaded by the Internet Archive:




No rating.

Friday, November 6, 2015

On The Air: Sesame Street (1969)

There is but one children's program that is PBS' signature, and it's been on the air well before PBS took on its current identity.

Sesame Street launched all the way back in 1969, the same season that gave us another enduring icon in Scooby-Doo. To my knowledge, I am not sure if Scooby or anyone else from Hanna-Barbera appeared as guests (in short animated quickies) on the show, although the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) did business with H-B's biggest rival at the time, Filmation, and you've seen the fruits of those labors here in the Archives in the past with short pieces featuring Superman, Batman & Robin, and Jughead Jones.

Sesame Street is where Kermit the Frog went national, after debuting on a regional program, Sam & Friends, some years earlier. You could say that the syndicated Muppet Show is technically a spin-off, since Kermit was front and center there, but then, his creator, the late Jim Henson, had bigger plans for Kermit in the first place. We were also introduced to BFFs Bert & Ernie, the latter of whom became famous for his ode to his "Rubber Duckie". We met Oscar the Grouch, the other green Muppet, who lived inside a trash can, and The Count, a vampire who loves counting just about anything. There's Big Bird, who represents the curious child in all of us. And let's not forget the most recent icon to emerge on the Street, Elmo.

But, there is a human cast, too. Bob McGrath has been with Sesame Street seemingly forever, although I'm not sure if he's still a regular after all these years. The human portion of the cast has changed as time passes, as inevitably it must. Who hasn't learned their alphabet or how to count from watching Sesame Street.

One of my favorites from my youth was the hyperactive game show host, Guy Smiley, who should've found a home with Kermit's troupe, but nope. Haven't looked in on the Street in soooooo long.....!

Let's take a step back in time, when Kermit was posited as a reporter, checking on a long forgotten nursery rhyme.......



It used to be you could set your watch by Sesame Street. Locally, it had aired twice daily for years at 9 am & 4 pm (ET), but WMHT has changed the times over the years, and Street now airs just in the morning, I think, as PBS has more kids shows coming down the track on an annual basis.

By the way, when the show started, PBS was known by another name. National Educational Television (NET), which was changed to PBS sometime in the early 70's.

Rating: A.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thanksgiving Toons: Tom Turk & Daffy (1944)

It may look like this story's set closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving, but 1944's "Tom Turk & Daffy" might actually fit here. After all, we've had white Thanksgivings over the years.

Tom Turk is on the run from Porky Pig, dressed as a pilgrim. Daffy Duck, scantily clad (for him) in a set of earmuffs, is building a snowman, but has to curtail that activity in a vain attempt to hide Tom from Porky. Good luck with that, Daffy.

Directed by the inimitable Chuck Jones.



You knew what the outcome was going to be, didn't you, kids?

Rating: B.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Popeye in County Fair (1961)

Popeye (Jack Mercer, who also co-wrote the story) and Brutus (Jackson Beck) are competing farmers at the "County Fair". At least we now know who taught future villains how to screw up with dirty tricks........



The story goes that King Features thought Paramount owned the rights to the name, Bluto, hence the name change of the antagonist to Brutus. However, when Popeye and company returned to television through a license granted to Hanna-Barbera in 1978, Bluto was restored. Of course, the release of "Animal House" that year might have something to do with it. John Belushi's character was nicknamed "Bluto".

Rating: B.

Game Time: Couch Potatoes (1989)

Before Haim Saban's production company took off into the stratosphere, thanks to a certain Japanese franchise, Saban was importing cartoons from Japan for Nickelodeon, and trying his hand at producing game shows. You know about the short-lived NBC series, I'm Telling, but there was also a little something called Couch Potatoes, which also lasted one season (1989-90).

Nickelodeon icon Marc Summers (Double Dare) served as MC, and you can tell that Saban was ripping off MTV's Remote Control in a way, but instead of the game being played in someone's basement, the variant here is that the announcer, impressionist/voice actor Joe Alaskey, is billed as a "next door neighbor". Scheduling conflicts, I think, resulted in Alaskey departing before the series ended, replaced by former game show host and part-time actor Jim McKrell (ex-Celebrity Sweepstakes). Alaskey's only other live-action series gig was Out of This World, insofar as a I know, other than the obligatory late night yakfest bookings for his standup act. Joe's from my neck of the woods, one of a select number from the upstate corridor to hit it big in Hollywood, so we'll keep an eye open for any more of him in front of the camera.

Aside from Alaskey, Summers, and Saban, the reason this is in the Archives is, well, it could've worked better as a weekend entry. Airing 6 days a week instead of 5 might've helped Potatoes last longer. Other than that, it's a standard quiz game.



No rating.

On The Air: Vixen (2015)

It ain't enough that producer Greg Berlanti currently has 5, count 'em, 5 series on the air, with a 6th to follow this winter. Well, actually, you might say that Legends of Tomorrow would be #7, since #6 is online.

Berlanti and co-producer Marc Guggenheim are dipping into the waters of animation with Vixen, which fits in rather nicely with Arrow, The Flash, and the pending Legends. That's the good news. The bad? It's only available online via CW Seed, which is available on the network website and accessible on your mobile devices, so you have to pray that WB and corporate sibling Cartoon Network can play nice and compile these shorts to air on CN at some point. Like, you do know that eventually, reruns of Arrow & Flash will turn up on TNT unless they're outbid......!

Vixen, introduced in the comics in the late 70's during the short-lived DC Explosion, is fashion model/designer Mari McCabe, whose powers are based on a Tantu Totem, which she wears as a necklace. How she got the totem and the powers is explained in an early episode, but we won't get into that just yet. The opener is typical Berlanti-verse in that the plot includes the obligatory flashbacks that have been a Berlanti trademark, starting with Arrow (now in its 4th season), but a trope that goes way further than that. Anyway, Mari's being chased by Flash & (Green) Arrow, and, yes, Grant Gustin & Stephen Amell will be heard in these shorts. Jump cut to 3 days prior, when Mari was bailed out of jail by her foster father.

In this short clip, Guggenheim offers some insight, plus an itsy bitsy teaser......




The first episode is not on YouTube, and when you hit the share button over on the CW site, you're asked to choose between Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, et al. No embedding code to be used here. Meh. We'll keep track of this now 2 month-plus series.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Literary Toons: The Smurfs in Jokey's Medecine (1981)

Let's take a little trip to the Smurfs' hidden village in the forest. Jokey's up to his usual tricks, but, then again, he's only a one-trick smurf......

Here's "Jokey's Medecine", which includes a rarely seen bumper.




You'd think the writers, including David Villaire, who scripted this story, would've figured out a way to create more diverse pranks for Jokey other than the exploding box that became his trademark. That might be part of the reason why they started adding characters four years later.......

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Adam Had 'Em (1968)

Time to check in with the Banana Splits and another track from their 1968-70 series.

This video compilation for "Adam Had 'Em" mixes in a brief clip of Precious Pupp, who would be included in the syndicated compilation package for the series.



Apparently, Bingo flunked his defensive driving course..,.....

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tooniversary: The New Adventures of Gigantor (1980-1993)

Gigantor was brought back to life in Japan in 1980, but it took 13 years for it to be imported to the US. Independent producer Fred Ladd teamed with TMS Entertainment to bring The New Adventures of Gigantor to the then-Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) in 1993. Either way you slice it, the series lasted just 1 season, but Sci-Fi kept it around in repeats for 3 additional years. The difference this time, of course, was that the show was in color.

I never saw this version, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with the series opener:


Literary Toons: The Butter Battle Book (1989)

There hasn't been an adaptation of any of Dr. Seuss' books in some 20-odd years. The last two also marked the end of an era for the Seuss books in that they were broadcast on cable.

The Butter Battle Book premiered on TNT just in time for Thanksgiving in 1989. The Seuss family apparently had had their fill of Marvel's animation division handling their works (Marvel inherited the contract from DePatie-Freleng), and so, they turned to legendary animator Ralph Bakshi to adapt The Butter Battle Book. Charles Durning (Evening Shade) stars as the grandfather, who doubles as the narrator. The story is said to be Seuss' commentary on the Cold War, which, coincidentally, had come to an end.......



The last Seuss adaptation was Daisy-Head Mayzie, adapted by Hanna-Barbera and broadcast on TBS a few years later.

No rating.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tooniversary: Milton the Monster meets Zelda the Zombie (1965)

Milton the Monster, Hal Seeger's horror spoof, turns 50 this year. To celebrate, albeit appropriately on Halloween, we present the first Milton short.

Milton and his fellow monsters, Heebie & Jeebie, are introduced to "Zelda the Zombie" as potential suitors for marriage to end a feud.




Like, did you really think Zelda'd go for a monster with an open skull? Dobie Gillis, he ain't. Bob McFadden did all the voices, including the Peter Lorre mimic for Heebie.

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Hyde & Hare (1955)

Happy Halloween, everyone.

We'll start the final day of Spooktober with a Bugs Bunny classic, "Hyde & Hare", in which the "wascally wabbit" (Mel Blanc) meets a modern day Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, as only Friz Freleng could imagine it.

Unfortunately, the complete short is not available on YouTube, just some excerpts, like this one, in which Bugs takes to the piano, and, with a little Liberace mimic, tries out Chopin's "Minute Waltz".




Note that Bugs is also cribbing from Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), referring to Hyde as a mental case. Well, it only proves he's up on pop culture.

Rating: A.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Spooktober: Creature Features (1969)

The following also appears over at The Land of Whatever:
========================
With Halloween tomorrow, we're wrapping up our look at New York City's troika of horror movie showcases.

Creature Features, which aired on WNEW (now WNYW), launched in 1969, and lasted 4 years before its initial run ended due to ratings woes and competition from WPIX's Chiller Theatre. Cable television, with the introduction of WNEW, WPIX, & WOR to upstate homes, came right at the end of the run. However, WNEW would bring the series back occasionally, but there was just no faith in keeping the product on the air.

I've often associated the classic Universal Monster movies with airings on WOR, but they debuted on WNEW before the rights shifted to their rival in the mid-70's. Of course, the exception to the rule with the Universal Monsters was the crossovers with Abbott & Costello, with WPIX holding the rights to those films.

Lou Steele, who was heard nightly intoning, "It's 10:00. Do you know where your children are?", before The 10 O'Clock News, was also the host of Creature Features as The Creep. Never got to see him, though.

Tapthatt2012 offers up this intro:



No rating.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On DVD: The Adventures of Batman w/Robin, the Boy Wonder (1968)

With the notable exception of Superboy (due to legal issues that have been resolved), all of Filmation's DC Comics cartoons of the 60's are now on DVD.

Batman was the last series from that period, and, as has been well documented, due to the live-action series, the Caped Crusader couldn't be used by Filmation as long as the Fox-produced ABC series was on the air. Once it ended in the spring of 1968, all bets were off, if you will.

The series continues the campy spirit of the previous series, with Ted Knight doing his best to approximate the voice of live-action producer William Dozier as narrator. Knight also voiced most, but not all, of the villains, a daunting challenge for any actor. The notable exception, of course, being the Joker. Astute scholars have chalked that up to Larry Storch (ex-F-Troop), who began a lengthy association with the studio. Sadly, Filmation chose not to bring Storch back for the New Adventures series (1977-81), opting instead to have Len Weinrib do the yeoman's work that Knight did here.

There are healthy doses of Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman, plus a generous helping of Mr. Freeze. The Scarecrow, long since rebooted as more of a malevolent menace than presented here, made only one appearance, as did the Mad Hatter. Knight's rendering of the Hatter suggested a cross between WC Fields and Jim Backus' Mr. Magoo. As a plus, the episodes are uncut, unlike the heavily edited versions that have aired on cable in recent years. Take for example, "The Jigsaw Jeopardy". You're not going to find the uncut version on YouTube. A key scene where Barbara Gordon (Jane Webb) prepares to change to Batgirl shows her pulling a second costume out of her secret closet, as she would go undercover as a Robin doppleganger in an attempt to fool the Riddler. Subsequent repeats on cable in the 90's edited that part out for time purposes.

Olan Soule (Dragnet) was cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne, beginning a very long association with the Caped Crusader that continued when he and Casey Kasem (Robin/Dick Grayson/various characters) reunited at Hanna-Barbera a few years later. For some reason, the producers decided to give Catwoman (Webb) a green bodysuit with white boots & mask, as opposed to the all-black ensemble worn by Julie Newmar, Lee Meriweather, and Eartha Kitt. Just as curiously, Commissioner James Gordon (Knight) was drawn as clean shaven with brown hair, not the look he had in the comics back then. Neil Hamilton, who played Gordon in the live-action series, had the right hair color, but was also clean shaven.

The theme music composed by John Marion really swings. Scope out the open/close video:



One must assume plenty of throat drops were at the ready for all the work Knight & Kasem did on the show.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Monster Swim (1964)

Well, we promised you a follow-up to Bobby "Boris" Pickett's immortal "Monster Mash", and here it is. From the same episode of American Bandstand from exactly 51 years ago, come Saturday, here's "Monster Swim".



And for those of you who've ever wondered what the late announcer Charlie O'Donnell looked like, well, he shows up at the start of this clip, as he was on his first tour of duty as Bandstand's announcer, more or less Dick Clark's sidekick. O'Donnell would later do some of his best work in game shows, including a brief reunion with Clark on one of the Pyramid incarnations.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On The Air: Be Cool, Scooby-Doo (2015)

18 months after it'd been first announced by Cartoon Network, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo hit the airwaves 3 weeks ago. That's the good news. Unfortunately, I also have to give you the bad news.

It's being done by the same team of idiots, led by Michael Jelenic, responsible for that other atrocity, Teen Titans Go!. That would explain some of the poor character designs. Also, because CN would still air replays during the week if it was a weekly series like every other Scooby series, Be Cool is airing 5 nights a week minimum. I'm not even sure if they have enough material ready for that sort of thing, and remember, CN screwed the pooch on the last series, Mystery Incorporated, by burning off the 2nd season episodes in daily format a couple of years ago. Did the same thing with The Tom & Jerry Show last year. Do they really know what their audience wants? Or is Rob Sorcher from the Vince McMahon School of Audience Manipulation?

Also, it seems they decided to throw away the classic designs, other than wardrobe. Well, then again, Daphne (Grey Griffin) apparently dresses like she's in junior high, swapping her pink hose for pink socks. Those nylon-encased legs were a big selling point to a lot of young boys back in the day. Now, she's slightly off-center, as if she's being dumbed down after the way Fred had the same thing done to him the last 13 years.

Following is a sample excerpt:



Scooby on bass? We know Shaggy can rock out. We saw that on Mystery Incorporated. What grade are they supposed to be in now?

I tried to watch an episode On Demand. 5 minutes in, I turned it off, and I thought, I can write better than these clowns. Unfortunately, I may be too qualified to work for them.

Rating: D.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: My Girlfriend's A Witch (1969)

Here's a real corker, courtesy of The Cattanooga Cats.

"My Girlfriend is a Witch" is a cover of a 1-off from a year earlier by The October Country. The track was written & produced originally by Michael Lloyd, who would be the singing voice for Country of the Cattanooga Cats.

"Witch", as a result, sounds much different than the rest of the Cats' tracks.

Fast fact: Lloyd was also the vocalist on the theme to the Kroffts' Lost Saucer six years later. He co-wrote the track with Tommy Oliver (later of Name That Tune & Face The Music).


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Daytime Heroes: The Disney Afternoon (1990)

It was one of the last vestiges of 1st-run syndicated animation, before Fox took over weekdays in the early 90's. Disney had already broken ground with DuckTales and Chip 'N' Dale's Rescue Rangers, and in 1990, the studio seized the opportunity to expand that block even further.

The Disney Afternoon, in all, lasted 7 seasons (1990-7), with a diverse lineup of programs, most of which have been reviewed here before. Adventures of the Gummi Bears was given new life, although no new episodes were ordered, after it ended its network run, and was one anchor of the block the first season. You know most of the shows by heart. TaleSpin. Bonkers. Darkwing Duck. Gargoyles. Goof Troop. Quack Pack. Aladdin. The funny thing about all this is, while Mickey Mouse appeared in the block open, he wasn't given his own show. That wouldn't happen until after the block ended, when Mickey landed at ABC (after Disney bought the network).

The following video collects the intros of all the shows that were in the block during those 7 years.




Everyone has their favorites, of course. Too bad Disney can't be bothered to have these classic shows air on Disney Channel or DisneyXD in a prime spot instead of flooding the schedules with lame live-action cookie cutter sitcoms.

Rating: A.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Toon Sports: Bailey's Comets in Loch Ness Mess (1973)

Dandy Deal has unearthed a rarely seen episode of Bailey's Comets.

This mish-mash of roller derby and Wacky Races heads for Scotland, where the Comets unwittingly befriend the Loch Ness Monster, much to the chagrin of the locals. The "evil" teams seek to take advantage in "Loch Ness Mess":

Edit, 1/7/2020: The video has been deleted.

Now I see why the hometown CBS affiliate whiffed on this show.

Rating: C.

Teenage Toons: The Archies go to a Costume Party (1968)

From The Archie Show:

Archie (Dallas McKennon), Jughead (Howard Morris), Betty, & Veronica (both voiced by Jane Webb) decide to attend a Riverdale High "Costume Party" as "Martians", but with the simplest of costumes. Reggie (John Erwin), as usual, tries to sabotage his friends' efforts, if only because he wants 1st prize for himself. Kinda reminds you of Daffy Duck in those days, doesn't it?

DreamWorks Classic, which holds the rights to the Filmation era Archie cartoons (1968-78), uploaded this episode to YouTube:



Too bad Reggie didn't want to be a team player, else he'd be spared the humiliation that comes his way.....

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Spooktober: I'll be a Son of a Ghostbuster (1986)

Filmation's Ghost Busters marks 40 years this year, but the animated sequel, Ghostbusters, turns 30 next year. So let's split the difference, shall we?

The series opener introduces viewers to Jake Kong, Jr. (Pat Fraley) and Eddie Spenser, Jr. (Peter Cullen), the sons of the original Ghost Busters (the elders are also voiced by Fraley & Cullen, who also essay several other characters), and their nemesis, the robotic futuristic ghoul, Prime Evil (Alan Oppenheimer), against whom the Ghostbusters' dematerializer has no effect. "I'll be a Son of a Ghostbuster" is part 1 of a 5 part serial that ran through the series' 1st week.

For those who wonder, I think the reason Filmation didn't recall the original series' stars, Forrest Tucker & Larry Storch, was money, as in, Filmation chose to save it.



Rating: B.

Animated alphabetics: B is for Basket (Sesame Street, 1969)

From time to time, we're going to plumb the archives of Sesame Street via YouTube for more of our "Alphabetic Toons". This time, the focus is on the letter B in a short piece narrated by Casey Kasem.




Thursday, October 22, 2015

On DVD: Super Friends "Season Six" (1981)

You've seen this Super Friends intro from the early 80's already, in the last DVD review we did of the franchise.




The 1981-2 season consisted of just six new half hours, all collected on the "Season Six" disc.

Season Six? Say what?

Bear in mind that the original series (1973) was brought back in reruns in each of the next three seasons (1974-7), usually as a replacement series. 1977's All New Super Friends Hour is considered season 2. The Challenge series is season 3, and so on. Beginning with this season, some episodes, but not all, had screen credit given to the writers, usually David Villaire or Michael Reaves, who got most of the work. Some of the shorts had previously appeared here, only to be deleted when YouTube terminated a poster's account due to copyright issues. Regrettably, those shorts haven't been replaced on YouTube yet.

Those shorts ranged from the ridiculous ("Colossus") to the sublime ("Creature From the Dump", "Evil From Krypton") to the surreal ("Three Wishes"). El Dorado debuted during this season, but only appears in two shorts ("Alien Mummy" & "Palette's Perils"), and was used sparingly afterward.

Watching these shorts again for the first time in a long time, I can now see that the writers were starting to reach for new ideas, but were dropping down to the levels of the mid-60's "super adventure" era at Hanna-Barbera. That is to say, the writing was falling in quality. Funny thing is, future animation icon John Kricfalusi worked as a layout artist on the show!

Rating: B-.

Toon Rock: Glitter & Gold (1987)

I'm sure you know by now that there's a live-action feature film based on the 1985 series, Jem. "Jem & The Holograms" opens tomorrow, but there are fears that this will be as big, if not a bigger, bomb than 2001's live-action adaptation of Josie & the Pussycats. To tie you over and get you ready, here's a track from the original series.

"Glitter & Gold" was heard in an episode that aired in March 1987, which, amazingly, was the final original episode of the first season. Talk about a long marathon!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

From Comics to Toons: Archie's Halloween Horror (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 2000)

With Halloween 10 days away, let's take a step back to the winter of 2000 and an episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries. A Halloween party at the Lodge mansion doesn't go as planned. Need any more info?




No rating.

Spooktober: The Halloween That Almost Wasn't, aka The Night That Dracula Saved the World (1979)

In 1979, ABC served up a bizarre, live-action Halloween special aimed at the whole family. While it won an Emmy, The Halloween That Almost Wasn't wasn't a ratings bonanza for the network, and hasn't aired on broadcast television in years. It's been nearly 20 or so since it last aired on the Disney Channel.

Dracula (Judd Hirsch, Taxi) learns from a TV news report that he's been accused of threatening to put an end to Halloween. So he decides to clear his name by rounding up some of his closest friends, including the Monster of Frankenstein (John Schuck, ex-McMillian & Wife, nearly a whole decade before The Munsters Today) and the Wolf Man (Jack Riley, ex-The Bob Newhart Show), through his servant, Igor (Henry Gibson, ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In).

But, as we're about to find out, there's no honor among ghouls, at least in this case.....



Starts out promising, but then it gets lame.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Toonfomercial: Dexter's crushing on someone else's girlfriend? (2002)

Back in the day, before Cartoon Network degenerated into the channel it is now, it was common for them to make commercials like this next item.

Dexter (Christine Cavanagh) is finished "after a hard day at work", and asks on-screen nemesis Mandark (Eddie Deezen) if he wants to do something, but Mandark has a date. Enter Velma, voiced in this case, I think, by BJ Ward before Mindy Cohn took over the role in What's New Scooby-Doo that fall........



This actually continues a gimmick CN had where Johnny Bravo (Jeff Bennett) was crushing on Velma himself, to the point where apparently they were dating, and this was 5 years after the Mystery Inc. team guest-starred on Johnny Bravo. Unfortunately, they still haven't made a sequel to that episode nearly 20 years later......

Monday, October 19, 2015

Teenage Toons: A complete episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1969)

YouTube brings us another pair of Sabrina shorts.

First up, Sabrina's cousin Hexter shows up unexpectedly and joins Sabrina, Archie, and friends on a tour of a marine aquarium, where Hexter decides to save the "Blue Whale". Then, get ready for some football!



With less than 2 weeks before Halloween, we've got more magic with Sabrina coming up soon.

No rating.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Toon Sports: The Trans-Transylvania 500 (1990)

Time to check back with the Fender Bender 500 from Wake, Rattle, & Roll.

Yogi Bear, Dick Dastardly, Winsome Witch, Top Cat, and the rest of the field get acquainted with some ghouls in "The Trans-Transylvania 500". Shadoe Stevens (American Top 40, ex-Hollywood Squares) is the race announcer.




Hanna-Barbera had previously tried a horrific road race a couple of years prior in "Scooby-Doo & the Reluctant Werewolf", a TV-movie whose plot fell apart about halfway. Unlike this cartoon.

Rating: B.

Toon Legends: Woody Woodpecker in The Mad Hatter (1947-8)

I wrote a while back that Woody Woodpecker had long been associated with Universal. Well, pilgrims, it turns out that wasn't always the case!

"The Mad Hatter", carrying a 1947 copyright date, and released in February 1948, was distributed by United Artists. Creator Walter Lantz wasn't too thrilled with the business agreement with UA, and a few years later, made the move to Universal.




Co-author Ben Hardaway was, I believe, the voice of Woody in this one. The script plays out as if Hardaway had tried to copy some of the gags from WB favorites Daffy Duck & Porky Pig, because you can imagine those two having the same kind of problems with the hat, although Porky would have an encounter with some magic shoes.......

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

From Comics to Toons: US Acres (1988)

Jim Davis' "other" strip, US Acres, was part of the package when CBS decided to promote Garfield to their Saturday morning lineup in 1988. Incredibly, the TV version outlasted the strip, which began in 1986, 2 years prior to the TV show, and continued after Davis ended the newspaper version in 1989 after a 3 year run.

In other parts of the world, it's known as Orson's Farm, after the lead character, a pig (Gregg Berger). I guess this is due to sensitivity toward offending other countries that have issues with ours.

As with the Garfield half of the show, the regular cast would voice multiple roles. Factor in also veterans Howard Morris and Frank Welker, and this is one underrated series.

In "Read Alert", Orson's imagination runs away, causing issues with his friends. A "quickie" precedes the short.



The "Quickie" skits were equally distributed between the two feature segments of the show.

No rating. I have no memory of seeing "Read Alert".