Saturday, January 31, 2015

You Know The Voice: Jackie Joseph (1966)

Insofar as I know, Jackie Joseph had a brief cartoon career, all with Hanna-Barbera. As most of you know, she voiced dim-witted Melody on Josie & The Pussycats and its subsequent sequel between 1970-3, and returned to work on the Dinky Dog backup feature on The All-New Popeye Hour.

Before that, Jackie had racked up an impressive resume as a "face actress", working in front of the camera. While I'm not sure if she ever worked with her husband, F-Troop's Ken Berry, Jackie did turn up in a season 1 episode of Hogan's Heroes.

In "I Look Better in Basic Black", Jackie plays one of three female prisoners who are at Stalag 13 on a temporary basis before the Gestapo sends them to Berlin, unless Hogan and his team can do something about it. Unsurprisingly, LeBeau (Robert Clary) & Newkirk (Richard Dawson) fall for the ladies, and ultimately must go undercover........!

Edit, 3/31/20: The video's been deleted. In its place is a 3, nearly 4 minute excerpt. Luckily, Jackie's included:

Quick note. One role Jackie might've missed out on went to soundalike Didi Conn in 1980, that of Cupcake on Fonz & the Happy Days Gang. If you can watch an episode of Josie and one of Fonz back to back, you'll know what I mean.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Animorphs (1998)

Scholastic Books, the folks behind R. L. Stine's family of youth horror books, saw the success Fox had adapting Goosebumps for television, and sought to find another series that was ready for television.

The company and its television arm partnered with YTV in Canada and Nickelodeon in the US to produce Animorphs, based on the book series of the same name. The TV version began in 1998, but lasted just 2 seasons (26 episodes).

The plot deals with a random group of teens recruited to fight off an alien invasion, granted the ability to morph into various animals and insects. Series star Shawn Ashmore later landed a primo gig in the "X-Men" movie series, and is the only cast member who'd actually become a success coming out of Animorphs.

So far, Scholastic has resisted the urge to license the now-defunct series into comics. Had they done so, and, say, DC picked up the license, I get the feeling the Animorphs would get a visit from a couple of DC heroes already accomplished in animal morphing......!

Anyway, the mistake Nick made was putting Animorphs in primetime, rather than on Saturday mornings, where it would've garnered a bigger audience. Problem was, Nick suits were obsessed with running blocks of certain "hot" cartoons of the period and left themselves no room to fit this series into their Saturday morning block. Their loss.

Scope out the series opener:

No rating.

From Comics to Toons: Casper in The Witching Hour (1963) & Deep Boo Sea (1952)

Here's a pair of Casper shorts, just to prove that the Friendly Ghost is a spirit for all seasons.

First up is "Deep Boo Sea", from 1952. Casper doesn't want to scare, and so he gets a much bigger dunce cap, strengthening his resolve to make mortal friends. After that, in "The Witching Hour", Casper helps his BFF, Wendy, when an evil witch casts a spell on her house.

"Witching Hour" comes from the 1963 New Casper Cartoon Show, and, as such, has more of the familiar Harvey Comics look comics readers were familiar with.

No rating.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Saturtainment: Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension (1998)

First, Fox picked up Eerie, Indiana off the scrap heap, and put it on Saturday mornings. Enough people must've liked it enough that Fox ordered a sequel.......which bombed.

Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension was a mid-season replacement series that launched in February 1998, but only 13 episodes were produced. Omri Katz, who starred in the original Eerie, returned only for the opener, to pass the torch to the new stars.

Here's the intro:

No rating.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Rare Treats: (They Long To Be) Close To You (1970)

"(They Long To Be) Close To You" is more closely associated with the Carpenters, who scored a mammoth hit with it. However, believe it or else, it turned up as an album track on the lone album of Josie & the Pussycats, produced by Danny Janssen's La-La Productions for Capitol in 1970. I'm not entirely sure if it's Patrice Holloway (singing voice for Valerie) or Cherie Moor (Cheryl Ladd, Melody's singing voice) doing the honors here, but give a listen.

8 years later, while on Charlie's Angels, Cheryl Ladd went back into the studio and cut her first solo record. Considering her country music roots, I'd say she might've gone for the crossover audience, but we'll never know, as other than the obligatory special, not much came out of it. Holloway was the only other one who went solo, both before and after being a part of the band.

Game Time: Double Dragon (1993)

In the 80's & 90's, DIC was more than willing to produce shows based on just about any video game they could find that wasn't already licensed to another studio.

Double Dragon lasted 2 seasons (1993-5), airing mostly on Sundays, and, as with the game, told the tale of the Lee twins, Billy & Jimmy, the latter of whom had been raised by his evil uncle, the Shadowmaster, until discovering the fiend had lied to him all along.

Here's the intro:

Comics artist Chuck Patton directed most, if not all, of the episodes. However, the series today sits in the vaults, a forgotten relic of its time.

No rating.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

You Know the Voice: Tress MacNeille (1983)

Tress MacNeille is one of the modern generation's best known voice actors, but did you know she actually appeared in a music video? Not only that, she also "sang" on the accompanying record.

The song in question is "Weird" Al Yankovic's "Ricky", which mashes together Toni Basil's 1981 hit, "Mickey", with the classic sitcom, I Love Lucy. In the video, Al plays a dual role, appearing clean shaven as Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) opposite Tress as Lucy. Tress actually did go into the studio to record the track with Yankovic, and that, friends, might be what got her started on a successful voice acting career. Al also appears as himself with his band in scenes that were taped separately.

Before anyone asks, I think another actress was hired to play Lucy, or an analogue thereof, six years later for Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire".

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Hercules tries to break Medusa's Sceptre (1963)

Mighty Hercules has his hands full with the wizard Daedalus and "Medusa's Sceptre" in this 1963 short. Producer-Director Joe Oriolo is better known for his work on Felix The Cat, and writers Jack Miller & George Kashdan are more associated with DC Comics. Kashdan did some writing for Filmation a few years later on their DC adaptations.

Daedalus never learns, as he kept coming back again and again.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Teenage Toons: Sabrina hosts a rummage sale, and we learn witches can play golf, too (1970)

Dailymotion serves up an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

In the opener, Hilda & Zelda take part in a golf tournament, and Sabrina recruits Archie and his friends to act as caddies, with predictable results. Then, a rummage sale includes some very unlikely items, including coffins........!

No rating. I don't have any memory of seeing this one, so let's just scope it out.

Toons After Dark: Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist (1995)

Meet Dr. Jonathan Katz, the animated alter-ego of the comedian by the same name, and star of Comedy Central's popular mid-90's series, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.

Katz, you might as well say, is a shrink to the stars, mostly comedians. Six "seasons" were produced over 4 years, though the final season didn't come to an end until 2002, rather covertly, as CC had all but given up on the show, especially considering that co-producer Tom Snyder, the man behind the "Squigglevision" animation process, had branched out with 2 more series, both of which have already been reviewed here, Science Court (later rechristened Squigglevision) for ABC and Home Movies for UPN (later for [adult swim]).

Right now, lets go back twenty years for an episode featuring frequent guest Ray Romano, and cuddly comedienne Wendy Liebman.......

The Squigglevision, while radical and different, has since disappeared since Snyder left the animation industry (Home Movies switched to traditional line animation after leaving UPN). Pity. It could probably still work today.

Rating: B-.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Saturtainment: Gigglesnort Hotel (1975)

Bill Jackson's legendary Gigglesnort Hotel, based out of Chicago, went into syndication 40 years ago, though no station in my home market picked it up. Thus, I can't rate it, but I will give you a taste with the open:

Is there really hope for new cartoons on Saturdays?

It's being reported that a 2-hour syndication package, presumably under the aegis of Dreamworks Classic, is being prepared to launch as early as next fall. That's the good news for fans of Saturday morning cartoons. The bad news, though, is that the syndicators are targeting the unholy hour of 5 am (ET) as a launch point.

Yes, some stations begin a new broadcast day around that time these days, including starting a morning news block, the better to catch the overnight shift coming home from work, one would suppose. But new cartoons? At 5 am?


One would have to hope there is diversity in time availability, depending on who picks up the block in what part of the country. The block consists of the following (all properties currently owned by Dreamworks Classic):

He-Man & the Masters of the Universe: The original 1983-6 series, of course, gradually being phased out by Me-TV.

Casper's Scare School: The most recent series featuring everyone's favorite ghost, which was dumped by Cartoon Network a ways back.

George of the Jungle: The flash-animated remake, instead of Jay Ward's righteously silly 1967 original. CN also gave up on this one.

The New Adventures of Lassie: The first animated Lassie series in more than 40 years.

Somehow I have a feeling Dreamworks and/or their partners will wind up taking this to a prominent cable network not named Cartoon Network, once they find that no one will program this block before dawn. Of course, I could be wrong.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Arabian Knights in The Ransom (1968)

It's been a while since we checked in with the Arabian Knights, so let's scope out the episode, "The Ransom":

Edit, 11/15/19: The video had to be changed. This copy has out of sync audio, but only by a fraction.

Too bad the present political climate precludes any hope of a revival.

Rating: B.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Getting Schooled: Special Treat (1975)

Special Treat was NBC's entry into the after-school sweepstakes, launched 40 years ago to counter ABC's popular Afterschool Special series. However, Treat lasted just 10 years, due largely to declining ratings. Unlike Afterschool Special, Treat served up some news documentaries on serious issues, such as drugs, in this 1979 entry.........

No rating. By the time I was in high school, I tuned out the after-school shows.

On DVD: Kung Fu Panda (2008)

On the surface, "Kung Fu Panda" is a satire of the popularity of martial arts movies that took off in the US in the 70's. However, there is also the story of a hero's quest.

That hero is Po, a giant panda (Jack Black), who is a fan of the Furious Five, an elite group of warriors who defend the Valley of Peace. He dreams of them, then deceives his adoptive father into thinking that he had the "noodle dream", meaning he would be ready to inherit the family business. While it was not outright stated in the movie that Po was adopted, that would be addressed in the sequel, 3 years later.

So Po sets out to attend an exhibition of the Furious Five, designed to determined which of them is meant to be the Dragon Warrior. However, Po clumsily stumbles into the arena, and the ancient sensei determines that Po is meant to be the Dragon Warrior over Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Monkey (Jackie Chan). Some time before, a snow leopard thought he was meant to be the Dragon Warrior, but was deemed unworthy, and excommunicated, if you will, from the temple. He's broken prison, and now seeks the Dragon Scroll, which Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) reluctantly gives to Po.

The CGI animation is lush & beautiful. The script drags a little bit, though. Scope out the trailer.

As noted, a sequel followed in 2011, and led to the current Legends of Awesomeness series airing on the Nickelodeon family of networks. A 3rd movie will open next year.

Rating: B--.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On The Air: Robot Chicken (2005)

There are very few shows on [adult swim]'s roster that can actually say they've been around for 10 years. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Robot Chicken.

The series began life online under another title for Sony (which co-produces the series) 4 years earlier, but then [adult swim] got their hands on it, and, quite frankly, it's perhaps one of the best things they have going for it right now.

Take the use of action figures and other inanimate objects used on Nickelodeon's Action League Now! in the 90's, mix in coarse language and the snarky attitude of [as], and that pretty much describes Robot Chicken in a nutshell. Created by Matthew Seinrich and actor Seth Green (Family Guy), Robot Chicken will skewer just about anything. Amazingly, it has avoided the backlash from certain media corners that has dogged South Park, which has been around longer.

Edit, 9/2/2020: The sample previously used has been privatized. In its place is an intro:

Showing once again they're not afraid to bite the hands that feed them, Robot Chicken has satirized DC and Marvel comics characters, as well as Scooby-Doo and other pop culture favorites. Realizing that they had the resources to appeal to a wider audience, Cartoon Network adapted the long-running humor mag, Mad, into a series a few years back, but that bit the dust about a year or so ago, due largely to [as] continuing to poach quality air space from the core network. Green has had his Family Guy castmates contribute to Robot Chicken as well.

The earlier seasons, I believe, are available on DVD, but wait until after dark to play them. It's meant to be that way.

Rating: B.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

On DVD: Wonder Woman (2009)

Ever wonder why it's so hard to mount any sort of a project involving Wonder Woman?

In 2011, noted producer David E. Kelley was tasked to produce a revival of the 70's series, with Adrienne Palicki taking up the mantle previously worn by Lynda Carter. Unfortunately, NBC, after commissioning the pilot, backed off, and it went unsold, though I believe there is a video on YouTube that we'll get to down the road over at The Land of Whatever.

Two years earlier, DC & Warner Bros. released an animated DTV that explained the Amazing Amazon's origin, as was documented at the time, as well as how the Amazons came to settle on Themyscira (formerly Paradise Island). Seems that the Amazons were engaged in battle vs. Ares (Alfred Molina), who draws psychic energy from the battle to give him strength. Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) wanted to kill him, but Zeus (David McCallum, NCIS) would have none of it. Instead, Ares was stripped of his powers thanks to some bracers which could only be removed by another god.

On Themyscira, Hippolyta used the sands of the beach, rather than clay as told in the comics, to create her daughter, Diana (Keri Russell, ex-Felicity). The island is shielded from "Man's World", and doesn't shift between dimensions, as had been documented in recent comics prior to 2011. One day, Army pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion, Castle) crash-lands on the island. The Amazons' reaction? They see Trevor as they see all men, as the enemy. However, he falls for Diana almost immediately.

Ares, meanwhile, has seduced Persephone to the point where she has betrayed her sisters and releases Ares. Diana & Steve travel to the mainland, after Diana has gone through the trial by combat that gives her the iconic costume, to combat Ares and his followers. A climatic battle in Washington sees Ares raise some Amazons from the dead to fight their sisters. Coincidentally, there'd been a miniseries from DC about dead characters being brought back to life around the same time. Trevor, on the other hand, intercepts a missile headed for Themyscira, as the President (Rick Overton) has been duped into thinking the Amazons are responsible.

Inevitably, Diana, and, for that matter, the Amazons as a whole, finally realize that shutting themselves off from male companionship was not a good idea after all. Diana, ultimately, returns to the mainland to begin her relationship with Steve, and we get a closing tease that was supposed to represent a potential sequel, but no second film was made.

Here's a sample clip:

Where the film fails is in the characterization of Steve Trevor. I don't believe he was portrayed as a womanizer in the live-action series (by Lyle Waggoner), so this is a little off-putting. Rightfully, having an acclaimed comics writer in Gail Simone writing the script should've been enough. Michael Jelenic, now head writer and producer of Teen Titans Go!, wrote the final treatment, and missed the mark, especially with Diana & Steve's "first date".

Rating: C.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Animated World of DC Comics: The Mask of Matches Malone (Batman: The Brave & the Bold, 2011)

From Batman: The Brave & The Bold:

Batman (Diedrich Bader), working undercover as Matches Malone, suffers amnesia and believes he really is a mobster. This prompts the Birds of Prey (Catwoman, Huntress, & Black Canary in this case) to try to solve the case themselves.

The hook to "The Mask of Matches Malone", however, is the cabaret number, with Catwoman (Nika Futterman) on lead vocals. Tara Strong & Grey DeLisle voice Huntress & Black Canary, respectively.

I have never seen this episode in its entirety. No rating.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Saturtainment: The Lighter Side of Sports (1986)

The Lighter Side of Sports isn't just another blooper reel show.

The series began on ESPN in 1986, hosted by former baseball player Jay Johnstone, who was succeeded by basketball coach Jim Valvano, and, finally, former football player Mike Golic (now 1/2 of ESPN's radio morning team). Sometime in the last decade, the series ended when producer Steve Rotfeld decided to concentrate on other cable matters. If that last name is familiar, yes, he's part of the family behind Greatest Sports Legends.

The final incarnation is a merger between Lighter Side and Bob Uecker's short lived series, which we'll cover another time. Only 46 episodes with Golic were produced, and more than half of them are available on Hulu, at last check.

Here's the intro:

ESPN currently has the series tucked away in the vault, as they're not even willing to run it on ESPN Classic. Go figure.

Rating: B.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On The Air: Jake & the Never Land Pirates (2011)

Here's another popular Disney Junior treat.

Jake & the Never Land Pirates brings back the nefarious Captain James Hook and his sidekick, Smee, but they've got new enemies in a trio of juvenile pirates----Jake, Cubby, & Izzy. Like most other Disney Junior shows, Jake is interactive, as the characters challenge the viewers to play along.

And in case anyone wonders, yes, there are ties to Peter Pan, as the boy who never grew up made a guest appearance (voiced by Adam Wylie) in the episode, "Battle For The Book". Tinker Bell has shown up, too.

Meanwhile, here's the intro:

Jake airs 7 days a week, and is available On Demand, so there's no real reason to miss it, is there? I didn't think so.

Rating: A.

Rare Treats: The Dark Knight's First Night (2004)

The following is taken from the Batman: The Animated Series Volume 1 DVD set.

Bruce Timm talks about how the show came to be, and if you look close at some of the episodes on the 4 disc set, there are references to Tiny Toon Adventures, which Timm, Tom Ruegger, and others were working on prior to Batman. They will tell you upfront that the audio track for the pilot was lost, and the familiar theme, composed by Danny Elfman, was inserted instead for the DVD release.

Basically, the dialogue tells us a lot of things we already knew.

At least now you know how they came up with the iconic open for the show, or at least part of it.

Rating: A.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Toon Legends: Chilly Willy in Fish Hooked (1960)

Walter Lantz had a full stable of characters besides Woody Woodpecker, and it's way past time we took a look.

We'll start with Chilly Willy, a penguin who always seems to be 1) hungry, and 2) looking for a warm place to stay. Now, that's odd. You'd think a penguin would be accustomed to the cold.

Director Paul J. Smith created Chilly in 1953 for Lantz & Universal, but Fred "Tex" Avery & Alex Lovy would also helm the series until it ended in 1972. Daws Butler was one of three actors to voice Chilly during this period, and in "Fish Hooked", it's a 1-man show, with Butler doing all the voices. Smedley, for example, will vocally resemble Huckleberry Hound as well as the nameless wolf who often hassled Droopy. Poor Smedley. Today, he's forgotten, almost like he's inherited Rodney Dangerfield's rep for not getting any respect.

Oh, this was fun.

Rating: A.

On DVD: Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

Most comics fans know that Green Lantern and Sinestro have been mortal enemies ever since the Silver Age version of the Emerald Gladiator was introduced 55 years ago. In recent times, DC Comics has seen fit to revamp and reboot the classic story time and again, even going so far as to try to paint Sinestro in a positive light with the launch of their New 52 universe in 2011 before letting him become the master villain he's always been.

In 2009, DC & Warner Bros. decided to test out Green Lantern in his first solo DTV, subtitled, "First Flight". While television audiences had become accustomed to a secondary Lantern, John Stewart, on Justice League & Justice League Unlimited a few years earlier, "First Flight" focuses on the first of the Silver Age Lanterns, Hal Jordan, whose origin had previously been documented in the movie, "Justice League: New Frontier".

Jordan (Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) is a test pilot based in California, working for gal pal Carol Ferris (Olivia D'Abo, ex-The Wonder Years) when he is summoned by a dying Abin Sur (Kurtwood Smith, ex-That 70's Show), whose appearance has completely changed for the movie. Jordan is then transported to Oa, the home of the Guardians of the Universe, by Sinestro (Victor Garber, ex-Alias), Boodiyka (Tricia Helfer, ex-Battlestar Galactica), and Kilowog (Michael Madsen) for training. However, nothing is what it seems with Sinestro, who, as tradition has it, has his own agenda, having to do with the alien Kanjar Ro, long remembered for his battles with the Justice League. Sinestro covets the "yellow element", and kills Ro, framing Jordan for the crime.

In the comics, Abin Sur & Sinestro came from the same planet, Korugar, which was never referenced in the movie. Fans will recognize some of the other Lanterns, including Tomar Re, Arisia, and Ch'p, making appearances in the film. A mid-film plot twist made me think script writer Alan Burnett didn't do his homework, that's all I can say. Comics purists will have a problem with how this plays out, as some characters were killed off when they haven't in the books.

However, compared to the live-action film that Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti, and friends developed two years later, this was actually a masterpiece. Ryan Reynolds blew it as Jordan. Christopher Meloni nailed it, and should've been brought back for a follow-up. Instead, Nathan Filion (Castle) was called in for the next GL DTV, "Emerald Knights".

Here's the trailer for "First Flight":

Meloni was brought back into the DCU, if you will, with a supporting role in the live-action "Man of Steel" 4 years later, and I'd cast him in a new Justice League DTV in a heartbeat.

Rating: B-.

Friday, January 9, 2015

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Itsy Bitsy Spider (1994)

The nursery rhyme, "Itsy Bitsy Spider", was adapted into an ongoing animated series in 1994 by Paramount, Hyperion, & USA Network, airing on Friday evenings & Sunday mornings, as memory serves.

Itsy Bitsy Spider revolves around the titular arachnid (Frank Welker) and his human friend, who tries to protect Itsy from the Exterminator (Matt Frewer, ex-Max Headroom), and a snooty governess (Charlotte Rae, ex-The Facts of Life).

Unfortunately, no episodes are available on YouTube. All we have is the intro.

USA got 2 seasons of 13 episodes each, but after it was cancelled in 1996, Itsy Bitsy Spider has been left to languish in Paramount's vaults. There was a feature film by the same name, but with no connection to the show.

Rating: C.

Daytime Heroes: Dragon Ball Z (1989)

Yes, the date at the top is correct. Japan's Dragon Ball Z, the follow-up to the original Dragon Ball anime, made its debut in 1989, but it was several years before it was imported to the US, where it has maintained a steady presence in recent years. Cartoon Network recently reacquired the series for its [adult swim] lineup, according to reports.

During its first run on Cartoon Network, Dragon Ball Z aired as part of the daytime Toonami block. It's since aired on CW & Nicktoons before returning to CN. I didn't follow the show all that much, so there won't be a rating.

Here's the intro that aired on CN:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Toon Sports: Grape Ape, football hero? (1975)

The Grape Ape (Bob Holt) takes up football, with hilarious results, in "All American Ape":

Unfortunately, this is the last of the Grape Ape episodes available on YouTube at the moment. Didn't see this one the first time, so there's no rating.

Now you can actually say there's television for all ages

BabyFirst TV has been on the air for a few years, but mostly through satellite providers. This week, Time Warner Cable in my home district added the channel to its roster, which comes as a pleasant surprise to parents, especially considering that until now, there weren't any networks on cable devoted to programming for kids 2 and under.

BabyFirst provides a great teaching tool for parents in so many different ways. Back in the day, our mothers watched us learn to draw, color, write, etc., but now, there are programs on the air that do those jobs for them. There's even karaoke for babies.

Like, scope out "Itsy Bitsy Spider":

Somehow, that spider reminds me of Schaper's old Cootie mascot, but maybe that's just me.

Next thing ya know, programming will be sponsored by either Proctor & Gamble (Pampers) or Kimberly Clark (Huggies).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Toons You Might've Missed: The Adventures of Pow Wow (1949)

Time to go back in time, when Native American characters were not always politically incorrect.

The Adventures of Pow Wow turns 65 this month, but most folks associate the series with its airings on CBS' Captain Kangaroo, beginning in 1956. However, after Screen Gems (then a TV arm of Columbia) pulled the cartoons from syndication, it was never seen again.

It was off the air as I was growing up, so I cannot rate it. Therefore, for your perusal, here's "The Magic Spigot":

Producer Sam Singer is better known for hits from the 60's, like Courageous Cat and the initial run of Sinbad, Jr..

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Bozo, The World's Most Famous Clown (1958)

Larry Harmon didn't create Bozo the Clown, but he has become most associated with the character after acquiring the rights several years ago.

Harmon, taking his cue from Romper Room's creator, Bert Claster, franchised Bozo to stations around the country who could hire their own actors to play the "World's Most Famous Clown", whose longest stint in any one city is Chicago. Did my home district get a Bozo? Nope. However, the show was briefly revived in syndication and aired on WPIX in the 80's, complete with the original aniimated shorts from the 1958-62 series. For the cartoons, Harmon did the voice himself, and also produced the cartoons.

Harmon was one of several animators to also work on Popeye during the 60's, and his staff included future Filmation founders Lou Scheimer & Hal Sutherland.

For now, here's a sample intro. Narration by the inestimable Paul Frees:

For some reason, Bozo didn't really translate well in animated form. Considering that he started in a series of Book & Record sets from Capitol Records, and voiced by Pinto Colvig (Goofy), it is a little strange.

Rating: B.

You Know the Voice: Mae Questel (1978)

To toon fans of all generations, she was the voice behind Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, and even subbed as Popeye for a time. If you grew up in the 70's, Mae Questel stepped in front of the cameras to do a series of ads for Scott Towels as Aunt Bluebelle, and we finally had a face to match the voice.

In 1978, Mae appeared on the Mike Douglas Show. In addition to an interview, Mae performs "Button Up Your Overcoat". Scope it!

Unfortunately, when Hanna-Barbera acquired the rights to Popeye that year, they chose another actress to play Olive and Sea Hag, leaving Mae unable to work with Jack Mercer. While Popeye remained a CBS staple for a few years, it just wasn't the same.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tooniversary: Tom & Jerry: Stunt Doubles (Two Stars Are Born, 1975)

Tom & Jerry literally see double. Double trouble, that is, when an agent (Daws Butler) hires them as stunt doubles for a set of lookalike actors (John Stephenson & Don Messick) for an action movie in 'Two Stars Are Born".

Stephenson doubles as the studio executive, among others. Never saw this one, so there's no rating.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Toonfomercial: Mr. Magoo for Stag Beer (Really) (1958)

We all know that Mr. Magoo for a number of years was used in commercials for General Electric, and later, after the passing of his original portrayer, Jim Backus, for Blue Shield. But, did you know that Backus was asked to record a series of commercials starring Magoo

'Tis true. While The Flintstones were sponsored for a time by RJ Reynolds Tobacco (Winston cigarettes), a little known brewer out of St. Louis that was a rival to the Busch family (Budweiser) commissioned UPA to do this series to promote Stag Beer.

There is just no way this would air in the daytime, would it now? Oh, Magoo, you've done it again!

Getting Schooled: Little Einsteins (2005)

Disney's Little Einsteins has been out of production since 2009, but continues airing 7 days a week on either Disney Junior or Disney Channel. Two seasons were produced over a span of 4 years (2005-9). Don't ask me why, 'cause I don't know.

Curious Pictures, the folks that brought you Codename: Kids Next Door for Cartoon Network, moved down the scholastic ladder with this show, aimed at preschoolers, but still imbued with plenty of adventure as well as learning.

Here's a sample episode:

There are DVD compilations to be had, if you want to keep your preschoolers entertained any time of the day.

Rating: A.