Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On The Air: Numb Chucks (2014)

Viewers have waited for Numb Chucks, a Canadian series, to debut on Cartoon Network since last year's upfront. So what happens? The numbnuts at CN sit on it and pass it over to sister network Boomerang, where it made its American debut in January.

Numb Chucks is about a pair of woodchuck brothers who, despite being inept at their jobs, try to protect their hometown from bad guys. Noble? Yep. Popular? Remains to be seen. The series is in its 2nd season in its native Canada, but it still boggles the mind that CN would delay the American debut of this show nearly a year. Currently, it airs on weekend afternoons at 1 (ET).

Here's the open:

I guess they figured that a cartoon about beavers had been done already (The Angry Beavers, nearly 20 years ago), but not one about woodchucks, and that doesn't include any Donald Duck shorts that might've had Huey, Dewey, & Louie as Junior Woodchucks (Disney's answer to the Boy Scouts). However, a cartoon with two protagonists that aren't exactly brain surgeons has been done to death over the last several years.

Rating: Incomplete.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Saturtainment: 2 Hip 4 TV (1988)

By the mid-80's, local affiliates stopped blacking out the bottom portion of network Saturday morning schedules. Unfortunately, by 1988, NBC stopped airing shows that kids cared about at that hour.

2 Hip 4 TV was the network's attempt at a lunch hour comedy-variety show, attempting to fill the void created by ABC dumping American Bandstand (which had moved to USA Network and moved back to Friday afternoons). The network brought in comedian Colin Quinn (Remote Control) as series host. Amazingly, Quinn never did any cross-promotion on either show, but he did begin a lengthy association with NBC that would resume when he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live a few years later. Quinn was joined by Ahmet Zappa, the last of Frank's kids to reach television, as brother Dweezil had been a summer VJ at MTV for a few years by this point, and of course, Dweezil and Moon had a duet, "Let's Talk About It", that was in heavy airplay for a while.

However, after the Seoul Summer Olympics, there was a change. Zappa was gone, replaced by comedian Barry Sobel, who'd parlay the gig into a recurring role on NBC's primetime series, 227. As it happened, Sobel didn't last too long, either, as the show was gone before the holidays, with NBC bringing back The New Archies & reruns of the animated Punky Brewster to fill the space, before acquiring reruns of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids.

Here's a sample clip:

Rating: D.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Ricochet Rabbit in Jail Break-In (1964)

I've heard of breaking out of jail, but a con wanting to stay in jail?? It could only happen to Ricochet Rabbit in "Jail Break-In":

Weirdest outlaw you ever saw.

Rating: B.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Toon Legends: Space Ghost in The Web (1966)

Space Ghost (Gary Owens) faces off with Black Widow (no, not the one from Marvel, of course) in this 1966 short, "The Web".  I believe this Widow had her name changed were she to be used in the 1981 series.

Rating: B.

On The Air: Arthur (1996)

Marc Brown's Arthur has become a fixture on PBS for nearly 20 years, merrily rolling along as the series, and the books they're based on, teach kids plenty of life lessons.

I haven't watched enough of the show to form an opinion, so there's no rating. On the other hand, since school is out for the year, let's take a look at the intro:

Arthur did produce a spin-off, Postcards From Buster, which ran into a bit of controversy 10 years ago. We'll discuss that another time.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Animated World of DC Comics: The Caped Crusader Caper (New Scooby-Doo Movies, 1972)

"The Caped Crusader Caper" is the 2nd meeting between Scooby-Doo and Batman, airing just before Christmas 1972.

Mystery Inc. and the Dynamic Duo team up again to rescue absent minded Professor Flakey (Don Messick) from The Joker (Larry Storch) and The Penguin, who seem to have escaped since their last appearance.

Edit: 6/15/18: The original video was deleted by Dailymotion. This excerpt will suffice for now.

As we've documented, it would be nearly 40 years before the two teams would meet again, this time on Batman: The Brave & The Bold, with Weird Al Yankovic thrown in for good measure, and just two years ago, they met in the pages of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, with the gang meeting two different versions of Robin (The Teen Titans Go! edition appeared in issue 4, while the one the gang knows was in issues 1-3 & 6).

Rating: B.

Tooniversary: The Harlem Globetrotters play a Pearl of a Game (1970)

The Harlem Globetrotters episode, "Pearl of a Game", is a perfect example of how the basketball team was plugged into Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo formula of comedy-mysteries.

The 'Trotters first run afoul of a bumbling private detective named Bunyon (Don Messick), hired to guard one of the biggest pearls in the world, and mistakes Bobby Joe's basketball, recently painted white after an encounter with a traffic painter, for the pearl. More chaos follows.

Edit, 8/5/21: The video has been deleted.

Messick would recycle his voice for Bunyon many times over.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Daytime Heroes: Bucky & Pepito (1959)

Sam Singer was perhaps the most prominent of independent producers in television's early days.

For cartoon fanatics, Singer was responsible for not only Courageous Cat and at least a share of the Sinbad, Jr. series, but also Pow Wow, the Indian Boy, and our next subject, Bucky & Pepito.

There are those who see Bucky & Pepito as one of the worst cartoons of all time. Seeing as how I'm only seeing this for the first time today, I can't rightly judge. Dallas McKennon voices all the characters, though Bucky is in absentia, in "The Coyote Catcher":

Only 36 shorts were made, so Singer was told to pull the plug. Courageous Cat, created by Bob Kane, followed the next year, and, well, you know that story.

Rating: C-.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Toon Rock: Let's Sing With Popeye (1934)

There's a reason why this Popeye short isn't part of the syndicated package we watched when we were kids.

For one thing, "Let's Sing With Popeye", released in 1934, is only 2 minutes long. Secondly, it's part of the Screen Songs series that Paramount was running concurrently with the Popeye series. More than half the time is devoted to that bouncing little ball that would return some years later in a series of Famous Studios shorts that did make it to TV.

Anyway, William Costello, the original voice of Popeye, croons (if you can call that crooning) his theme song, all the while demonstrating feats of animated strength.

Courtesy of Internet Archive:

I think another reason we don't see this anymore is that educators would rather not have children learning to spell using Popeye's fractured English.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Toonfomercial: Remember Ogg the Caveman? (1968)

Here we have a stop motion animated ad for Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies, starring Ogg the Caveman, who was introduced in 1968. The voice is that of the inestimable Paul Frees.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Toons You Might've Missed: Remember Fresh-Up Freddie? (1957)

Ok, here's a little baby boomer memory.

7-Up once contracted with Disney to create an animated character to endorse their product. Fresh-Up Freddie made his debut in 1957, with his ad spots meant to air during episodes of Zorro. The seemingly ever-present Paul Frees voiced Freddie, not sure about the other characters in this sports-related ad.

Unfortunately, Freddie was history by the end of the 50's.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

From Comics to Toons: The Fantastic Four vs. Blastaar (1967)

The Fantastic Four have their hands full with Blastaar, the living bomb-burst in this 1967 episode.

Blastaar (the correct spelling) would return in the 1978 series, but that script was decidedly inferior by comparison.

Rating: B.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rein-Toon-Ation: G-Force: Guardians of Space (1986)

After its initial American run ended, Japan's Science Ninja Team Gatchaman saw American licensing rights transferred from Sandy Frank Productions to Turner Program Services. Ted Turner's Superstation TBS was the last American channel to carry Battle of the Planets before it was phased off the air in 1985. A year later, the show was back, with a new title, new voice-dubbing, music, etc..

G-Force: Guardians of Space redubbed all 85 episodes that Frank had used for Battle, but this time in the order in which they were produced. The characters' names had been changed as well. Unfortunately, it somehow slipped under the radar around these parts, even though TBS was available on the cable system. To this writer, TBS back in the day meant two things: Braves baseball and wrestling.

Turner aligned with King Features Entertainment (now Hearst Entertainment) for distribution purposes. The series would resurface on Cartoon Network in that channel's early years. As we've documented before, Gatchaman would be adapted again in 1996, this time by Haim Saban, as Eagle Riders, which proved to be the least successful adaptation.

Former Filmation executive Norm Prescott is the announcer, filling Bill Woodson's role from Battle, as we serve up a sample intro:

I never saw G-Force, as noted, but, to me, Battle would've been the better show anyway. No rating.

Looney TV: Daffy's Southern Exposure (1942)

The first time I'd seen "Daffy's Southern Exposure" was one of those cheaply colorized prints, reissued under the Warner Bros.-Seven Arts logo, back in the 70's.

Daffy Duck (Mel Blanc) doesn't want to head south for the winter. Despite warnings from other ducks, he decides to stay in the north, hoping to catch a winter carnival, as the advertisement features an attractive young woman. However, Daffy's plan backfires, and in desperation, is taken in by a wolf and a weasel, disguised as little old ladies, who intend to feed the malnourished duck some extra beans, then have him for dinner-----as the main course.

Writer Don Christensen is better known for his years as a writer-producer at Filmation later in his career.

The Looney Tunes card is the original one, and has not been seen on television in I don't know when. A refreshing change, don't you think?

Rating: B.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla (1976)

From Schoolhouse Rock, or, more specifically, Grammar Rock:

Bob Dorough co-wrote, and was credited by the poster on YouTube who put this song up as the vocalist telling the tale of "Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla". It's really all about pronouns. Wikipedia counters by saying that Jack Sheldon (ex-Run, Buddy, Run) was the vocalist. You decide.

Too bad this is locked in the Disney vaults now.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tooniversary: Baby Blues (2000)

While the comic strip, Baby Blues, continues on in newspapers across the country, some folks might've forgotten a short-lived summer replacement series that aired on the WB in 2000.

The network ordered the standard 13 episodes of Baby Blues, but pulled the plug after 2 months due to dismal ratings, as the show aired on Sundays, opposite The Simpsons on Fox. Comedian and former Nickelodeon personality Mike O'Malley (ex-Nickelodeon GUTS) had turned to acting, and was part of the ensemble cast that also included Diedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show), Nicole Sullivan & Phil LaMarr (MadTV), and Julia Sweeney (ex-Saturday Night Live). The theme song, heard in the following video, is the Barenaked Ladies' "It's All Been Done".

After WB dropped Blues, the network kept it in the vaults until sister network Cartoon Network's [adult swim] division acquired the show and burned off the remaining episodes. It's since gone back in the vaults. Why [as] and not CN proper? For some idiotic reason, the WB decided to make the cartoon a little more adult than its print counterpart, and for all intents & purposes, that killed the show.

No rating.

Saturtainment: Care Bears Family (1986)

One year after the Care Bears made their television debut, a change in animation studios, from DIC to Nelvana, resulted in a format change to Care Bears Family, which is still considered to be part of the original series in some media sources.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. For now, enjoy this sample episode.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The first episode of the Super Six (1966)

DePatie Freleng made its first inroad into NBC on September 10, 1966, with the debut of The Super Six. Of course, you know that Gary Lewis & the Playboys recorded the show's theme.

The first episode features Super Bwoing (Charles Smith), whose voice was modeled after Jimmy Stewart. Captain Whammo (later Zammo) makes a brief cameo in the short, "Coldpinky", with Paul Frees narrating. Elevator Man and the Brothers Matzoriley are also heard from.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rein-Toon-Ation: Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection (1972)

From the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie:

Hanna-Barbera reunited with Screen Gems to transition Gidget into a cartoon. Unfortunately, this 1-shot offering, Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection, hasn't been seen in over 40 years.

Newcomer Kathy Gori debuted in the title role, as Gidget and her friends find themselves having to capture some smugglers. The supporting cast includes Bob Hastings, Mike Road, and Don Messick.

Bear in mind that the original Gidget, with Sally Field, lasted just 1 season on ABC (1965-6), but a subsequent revival in the 80's lasted slightly longer. Go figure. The cartoon apparently was another attempt at copying the successful Scooby-Doo formula, but the story begins without a beginning. Not good.

Rating: C.

Toon Legends: Popeye in Nearlyweds (1957)

Shiver me timbers! Popeye pops the question to Olive Oyl, but does he make it to the altar? Find out in "Nearlyweds", courtesy of Internet Archive:

Of course, Bluto had to sabotage everything, but got exactly what he deserved at the end.

More than 40 years later, however, acclaimed writer Peter David wrote a 1-shot comic book that had Popeye & Olive getting hitched once and for all.

Rating: B+.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rare Treats: Spider-Man On The Move (1981)

Marvel Comics founding father Stan Lee hosts and narrates Spider-Man On The Move, a half-hour special that previewed Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends.

Lee takes us behind the scenes on the making of the show, with interviews with cast & crew, including actors Dan Gilvezan (Spider-Man/Peter Parker), Frank Welker (Iceman/Bobby Drake), and Kathy Garver (Firestar/Angelica Jones). Producer Dennis Marks, a veteran from Filmation, voiced the Green Goblin on the show. Hmmm. Y'think maybe he also contributed some voice work at Filmation back in the day?

Lee would formally join Amazing Friends as series narrator in season 2.

Where Stan screws up is Spidey's animated history, forgetting the 1967-70 ABC series that really started the ball rolling. Then again, Stan's memory was never that good to start with.

Rating: B.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It Should've Been on a Saturday: TigerSharks (1987)

A while back, we took an overall look at Rankin-Bass' 1987 anthology series, The Comic Strip. Now, let's take a look back at one of the 4 rotating features, TigerSharks.

TigerSharks followed the formula of Thundercats and Silverhawks, the latter of which Comic Strip replaced on the schedule. In fact, the same cast (Larry Kenney, Earl Hammond, etc.) worked on all of these series. Unfortunately, no individual episodes are available.

As it turns out, the characters were brought back in a way in 2011's Thundercats remake from WB. The TigerSharks were slaves of Mumm-Ra in this series, but the show was cancelled before there was any thought of giving the team another shot.

Here's the intro to the 1987 series.

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Bunker Hill Bunny (1950)

The Revolutionary War gets turned on its ear when Bugs Bunny is engaged in a mano-a-rabbito confrontation with Yosemite Sam in 1950's riotous "Bunker Hill Bunny", uploaded by the Internet Archive. Enjoy.

The last shot of Sam & Bugs together was often used at the end of the Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show during its 2nd run on CBS (1975-86).

Rating: A.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

From Primetime to Daytime: Phil of the Future (2004)

A 22nd century family winds up stuck in the 21st century, and must adjust. Of course, considering this is a Disney sitcom, expect shenanigans.

Phil of the Future lasted just 2 seasons, airing on both Disney Channel and ABC, the latter on Saturday mornings. Craig Anton (ex-MadTV, The Army Show) and Aly Michalka (now on iZombie) are among the stars.

Here's the intro:

Future tried to be too many things at the same time. Brenda Song left the series after the 1st season, moving over to Suite Life of Zack & Cody, playing a similar character to the one she played here.

Rating: C.

Literary Toons: David & Goliath (Mel-O-Toons, 1960)

Having seen Mel-O-Toons on WSBK back in the 70's, I didn't see this next offering.

Up now is an adaptation of the classic Bible story of David & Goliath, compressed into just under six minutes. While the narrator is not credited, it does sound a bit like Edward Everett Horton, the narrator of Jay Ward's Fractured Fairy Tales on Rocky & His Friends.

Today, an adaptation of this same story would be extended to a more appropriate length, perhaps as a DTV.

Rating: B+. Blame it on the artwork.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Animated World of DC Comics: Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles, part 3 (2015)

The final part of the miniseries is here. Wonder Woman, rebooted as the daughter of Orion of the New Gods, teams with her true love, Steve Trevor, to stop Kobra from unleashing a monster-sized robot, which is the rebooted Giganta.

Ok, let it sink in. Batman (Kirk Langstrom) is a vampire. Wonder Woman is a New God. Superman is the son of General Zod, instead of Zod's mortal enemy, and raised in Mexico. Can you imagine what the full length movie, out next month, is going to be like?

And if that doesn't whet your appetite, DC is willing to help, with a trio of 1-shots, plus a weekly miniseries, in July & August. I like what I've seen. Do you?

Rating (for the miniseries): A.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Toonfomercial: The Little Rascals talk about opinions (1980)

In 1979, King World, which held the rights to The Little Rascals (aka Our Gang), licensed the images to animator Romeo Muller, who'd broken away from Rankin-Bass to start his own studio. Muller & King World produced a Christmas special featuring the gang in December 1979, memorable largely for the last performance of Darla Hood, who played a parent. Another former Rascal, Matt "Stymie" Beard, also was cast, as a butcher. We'll put it up come December.

After the special, King World & Muller produced a series of PSAs that aired in syndication, and perhaps on network television. I can't say for sure, since I don't recall seeing these ads before.

Here, Alfalfa, Darla, and Porky discuss "Opinions".

I don't know about you, but that cowlick certainly made Alfalfa look more like a dunce, didn't it?

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remember when Dusty Rhodes shilled for Mello Yello? (1988)

In memory of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, who passed away today at 69, we present an ad for Mello Yello, Coke's answer to Mountain Dew, from 1988. Dusty was asked to be a paid endorser for the soft drink.

You doubtlessly had seen this ad during NWA/WCW programming around that time Saturday mornings and evenings and Sunday afternoons on TBS or in syndication, eef yew weel. Rest in peace, Dusty. Heaven's opened the ultimate pay winda for you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Animated World of DC Comics: Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles, part 2 (2015)

Imagine a world where Amanda Waller is President, and one of her top advisors is Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana. In that same world, Superman (Benjamin Bratt, ex-Law & Order) wasn't raised on a farm, but rather outside the US.

In part 2 of Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles, Superman confronts a very different Brainiac.

Machinima and WB/DC have already renewed the series for next year. The conclusion of this miniseries goes live on Friday, but next year's edition will have 10 episodes. Final rating comes with part 3.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Animated World of DC Comics: Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles (2015)

This is most definitely not the Justice League you know and love. Not even close.

Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, and friends have put a decidedly twisted spin on the iconic team in an online miniseries, Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles, a set of three shorts that will go live this week on Machinima, which in turn has a YouTube channel.

This much we know: In this version, Superman is the son of one of his deadliest enemies, General Zod. Batman (Michael C. Hall, fresh from Dexter) is not Bruce Wayne, but rather Kirk Langstrom, so there is no Man-Bat in this alternate world.

In "Twisted", Batman meets Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), who's even more demented than before, as if her personality was melded with that of the Joker.

Oh, that ending is going to freak people out, I tell you.

Part 2 goes live tomorrow, and the conclusion on Friday. A feature length DTV and some comic book tie-ins hit stores next month.

Rating: A.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rare Treats: Just how did the Real Ghostbusters get on the air? (1986)

In 1986, DIC (now part of Cookie Jar) was granted a license to produce an animated version of the 1984 hit, "Ghostbusters". Since Filmation was mounting an animated followup to their 1975 series, some amendments had to be made, particularly in the title, hence The Real Ghostbusters, which ultimately outlasted Filmation's entry, as it managed 5 seasons between ABC & syndication (1986-91).

Following is a promo video produced by DIC, portions of which you'll recognize from the show open. Studio singer John Smith recorded a cover of Ray Parker, Jr.'s iconic theme song.

Now we have to figure out how Slimer was freed and became the team mascot.......

From Comics to Toons: Spider-Woman in Return of the Spider-Queen (1979)

Spider-Woman travels to Scotland, tangles with the Loch Ness Monster (no, really), and then is duped into helping a race of spider-beings in "Return of the Spider-Queen":

Nothing screams plot contrivance like these spiders just convienently having the same color scheme as our heroine's costume.

Rating: C.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Space Ghost vs. the Sandman (1966)

It's been a while since we featured Space Ghost, so here's a short that hasn't been seen too much lately.

"The Sandman"'s voice apparently is the same as that of Zorak. At first, it might've been a human cover for the malevolent mantis, but nope. Just an old geezer with delusions of grandeur......

Rating: B.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Game Time: Roller Derby (1948)

Vince McMahon may have coined the term, "sports entertainment", to describe his then-World Wrestling Federation (now WWE), but his is not the only form of pre-fabricated athletic competition.

Roller derby has evolved into scripted sport as well, though it wasn't always the case. Leo Selzer's brainchild made its television debut in 1948. By the 70's, perhaps even earlier, roller derby was syndicated as weekend afternoon fare, often coupled with pro wrestling in some cities, as was the case in my home district. In 1973, Jerry Selzer, Leo's son, acted as a color analyst for the syndicated program, then became a figurehead commissioner for later leagues.

Today, roller derby is experiencing a revival, helped along by the 2009 film, "Whip It", starring Ellen Page, just as much as the 70's broadcasts were boosted by the Raquel Welch movie, "Kansas City Bomber". Women's leagues or teams exist across the globe, including two teams in the home area. The stage names of the players suggest a subtle burlesque theme that McMahon can't use now in the PG era of WWE. Coincidentally, the track announcer for the Albany All-Stars, which concluded their home season tonight, has also emceed some burlesque revival shows in the area.

Let's take a trip back in time to 1973 for a meeting between the Chiefs and the Bay Area Bombers from San Francisco:

Modern-day revivals, such as Roller Games (1989) and Rollerjam (1999-2000) adopted a more blatant, wrestling style scripted format, but were short-term successes. The Women's Flat Track Derby Association had a TV deal with Mark Cuban's Mav-TV, but I'm not sure if that still holds.

Rating: B.

Toon Legends: Popeye vs. Bluto at the Rodeo (Rodeo Romeo, 1946)

Before we get started, allow me to make a correction from an earlier post.

Jack Mercer, long regarded as the definitive voice of Popeye, was actually the 2nd man to essay the part. Billy Costello was the original, and Mercer took his place. In the mid-40's, Mercer took a leave of absence, and, after castmates Mae Questel (yes, it's true), and Jackson Beck filled in, a fellow named Harry Foster Welch took over. In one instance, Mercer & Welch shared the part, with Welch finishing what Mercer had started.

Welch's characterization of Popeye is closer to that of Costello, as demonstrated in 1946's "Rodeo Romeo", in which Bluto (Beck) is a star attraction. Of course, there's sparks between he & Olive (Questel), which makes Popeye jealous to the point where he decides, anything he can do, I can do better. You know how this will end.

Looking at it with a more mature, experienced eye today, I can say that this is a little contrived. Par for the course.

Rating: B-.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: I'm Just a Bill (1976)

Everyone knows this one:

Actor-singer Jack Sheldon (ex-Run, Buddy, Run) not only performed the song, but took part in two parodies in later years, on Fox's The Simpsons and Family Guy. All that proves is that the writers of those shows were fans. I don't think we'll even dignify Saturday Night Live's parody skit with Kenan Thompson as Bill and Jay Pharoah as President Obama.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Getting Schooled: Howdy Doody, aka NBC Puppet Playhouse (1947)

He was one of television's first superstars, but he wasn't really human.

Howdy Doody made his debut on NBC's Puppet Playhouse in 1947, and got so popular that eventually, his name became the show's title, though that won't be the case in the video we have for you below.

Howdy was the creation of "Buffalo" Bob Smith, who not only gave voice to Howdy, but interacted with him as well while others operated the marionette. Kids were entertained five days a week for 13 years (1947-60) by Smith, Howdy, and their ensemble of human & puppet characters, including Clarabell the Clown (more on him shortly), and Princess Summerfallwinterspring (Judy Tyler). Producer E. Roger Muir would, along with partner Nick Nicholson, move into the game show business a few years later, and, in 1976, acquired the rights to Howdy Doody from NBC in order to revive the series for syndication. Unfortunately, The New Howdy Doody Show, which launched in August of '76, lasted just a shade more than 5 months before being cancelled in January 1977.

Three men essayed the role of Clarabell, most famously Bob Keeshan, who left in 1952 due to a salary dispute. Nicholson took over the role for a while until jazz musician Lew Anderson took over, and, in the series finale in 1960, it was Anderson who uttered Clarabell's only line. Smith, Nicholson, and Anderson reunited for the short-lived revival, which was spurred after Smith and Howdy appeared on Happy Days in a season 2 episode. Producer Bob Brunner donned the Clarabell makeup for the episode.

Unfortunately, the 1976 series, which I saw, isn't available on YouTube. Internet Archive serves up a 1948 episode that posits Howdy as the world's youngest candidate for President. As if he'd have a chance against Harry Truman.........

It wouldn't be fair to rate the series based on what I saw of the 1976 edition, so there will be no rating.

Toons After Dark: Iron Man (2010)

5 years ago, Marvel contracted with Madhouse to create 4 anime series, which eventually aired here on G4 (now Esquire Channel) a few months after debuting in Japan.

Iron Man, along with Blade, Wolverine, & X-Men, was set in Japan, but the four series are not interlinked together. Iron Man adheres to the continuity established in the first live-action feature film, which updated Tony Stark's origin and development of his armor to have him held prisoner by terrorists. Adrian Pasdar voices Stark.

Here's the intro to the Japanese version:

I had seen pieces, but not complete episodes. No rating.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tooniversary: Pelswick (2000)

You have to give Pelswick creator John Callahan credit for thinking outside the box. His was a rare cartoon whose title protagonist is disabled.

Pelswick, you see, is already in a wheelchair at 13 due to an auto accident. However, he doesn't want anyone feeling sorry for him, and he feels he can function just fine, thank you. The series was developed at Nelvana Studios in Canada in collaboration with a Chinese studio. Now, that's another first.

Pelswick found its way to the States, landing at Nickelodeon in 2000, and eventually was tried out at CBS in 2002. Unfortunately, Pelswick was given a quick hook at CBS, cancelled after 2 months, which suggested that Nick viewers weren't fond of him, either. The voice cast is made up largely of unknowns, with the only real star being David Arquette, who voices Mr. Jimmy, Pelswick's guardian angel.

Let's scope the series opener:

Not sure if Callahan had worked on other series, but the designs have a familiar look to them, used elsewhere. Hmmm.

No rating.

Summertainment: Mike, Lu, & Og (1999)

A 11 year old girl from NYC lands on an island whose inhabitants are trying to pass themselves off as Polynesian, yet have British cultures. An odd mix, wot?

Of course it is, and it's the premise of Mike, Lu, & Og, which bowed with a pilot on Cartoon Network's What a Cartoon Show in 1998, then was spun into its own series 1 year later. Despite intermittent runs on CN and Boomerang, there isn't much demand for it this time of year.

The animation resembles the works of Klasky-Csupo, but it isn't from their studio. With a voice cast that includes Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons), Charlie Adler, Kath Soucie, and Greg Proops (Whose Line is it Anyway?), among others, you'd think this would be a big hit with the kiddos. Nope. Didn't last very long.

Here's the intro:

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bad TV: Action League Now! (1996)

Nickelodeon must've thought they had something special with the stop-motion series, Action League Now!, which was originally used on All That for 2 weeks before moving over to KaBlam! and finally being spun off into its own series. Unfortunately, as with Cartoon Network's I Am Weasel, which was spun from Cow & Chicken, Action League didn't have any new episodes when it was off on its own.

As a parody of superhero shows, Action League was about as funny as watching paint dry. Put together by a group of Pittsburgh radio station employees, the series looked and was performed as if it was budgeted by a box of shoestrings. CN's [adult swim] division would perfect the stop-motion format with the current Robot Chicken a few years later.

Scope out "Hey! Who Stole My Face?".

There was enough word of mouth spread that enabled some celebrities, including actor-singer Harry Connick, Jr., to be brought on board as guest stars. What were they thinking?

Rating: D.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Toons After Dark: Stressed Eric (1998)

Of all the shows we've received from England, this goes as one of the strangest.

Stressed Eric bowed in the United Kingdom, particularly in England and New Zealand, in early 1998. Only six episodes were produced that year, with the animation done by Klasky-Csupo (Rugrats, Aaaah! Real Monsters, etc.). Later that year, the series was picked up by NBC, which resulted in some overdubbing, with Eric Feeble now an American living in London. While Mark Heap was the original voice of Eric, as heard in the following video, US audiences heard Hank Azaria (The Simpsons, Mad About You) instead.

12 years before signing with WB for Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, Mitch Watson worked as a producer on Stressed Eric. Like, who knew?

Edit: 1/2/16: The American version has been deleted. Here, instead, is the British intro:

No rating.