Sunday, January 31, 2016

Toonfomercial: The Hulk shills for Honey Comb (1976)

In honor of The Marvel Super Heroes Show, which at the time was marking its 10th anniversary (and turns 50 this year), Marvel licensed The Incredible Hulk to General Foods, which at the time was the parent company of Post Cereals.

The jade giant appeared in an ad for Honey Comb, narrated by Jackson Beck, with character designs by artist Herb Trimpe, who had drawn Hulk's comics adventures earlier in the 70's, but had given way to Sal Buscema around this time.

Yes, the commercial was produced in much the same style as the 1966 Hulk shorts, but fully animated.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Morning Ringside: Andre the Giant shills for Honey Comb (1989)

Even though at the time this ad was made, back in 1989, Andre the Giant was a villain in the then-World Wrestling Federation, he traded off his appearance in 1987's "The Princess Bride" to take a trip to the Honey Comb Hide-out. Where the kids got that robot, I don't know, but what we do know is that Andre's voice was dubbed over by another actor.

A later, edited version made the rounds and is more familiar to viewers.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Toons You Might've Missed: Hooked Bear (1956)

Disney's output of animated shorts was more than the usual suspects (i.e. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck). There were a few others that got shorter runs.

One of them was Humphrey Bear, who had appeared in 4 Donald Duck shorts after debuting in one of Goofy's shorts. Humphrey starred in just 2, and the first, "Hooked Bear", though it carries a copyright date of 1955, was released in early 1956. Disney staffer Jimmy MacDonald was responsible for what few sounds that issued from Humphrey's throat, as park ranger J. Audubon Woodlore (Bill Thompson), though not named in these films, carried most of the action.

Seems Humphrey's hungry for fish. The twist ending is a little out of focus, though.

Humphrey would find new life in television, appearing on The Wonderful World of Disney, and, in later years, guest starring on Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, among other places.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: White Rabbit & Somebody to Love (1967)

Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", just by the opening lyrics, is derived from Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alice in Wonderland, and was a huge hit for the San Francisco based combo, netting them an appearance on American Bandstand. After an interview conducted by host Dick Clark, the band returns to perform "Somebody to Love":

Dedicated to the memory of one of the band's co-founders, Paul Kantner, who passed away at 74.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Toon Legends: Woody Woodpecker in Ace in the Hole (1942)

Even Woody Woodpecker got in on the act when it came to wartime cartoons in the 40's.

"Ace in the Hole" puts Woody at a military base, where he dreams of becoming a pilot, though his canine commanding officer seems to think this'll never happen. Kent Rogers voices Woody in this one.

Never saw this one when Woody was in syndication in the 70's. No rating.

You Know the Voice: Mike Road (1976)

I've waited a long time for this one.

During the 70's, when Mike Road (Valley of the Dinosaurs, The Herculoids, Jonny Quest) was in between voice jobs, he signed on as the pitchman for Fireman's Fund insurance. The following ad, uploaded by Bionic Disco to YouTube, is from 1976.

Tooniversary: Space Ghost visits a Nightmare Planet (1966)

Space Ghost (Gary Owens) travels to a "Nightmare Planet" to rescue Jan & Jace from Dr. Nightmare.

How un-scary can you get?

I guess this is as good a time as any to clue you guys in on some big news that just came down the pike.

The Phantom of the Spaceways is returning to DC in May, along with several other 60's favorites, including Jonny Quest, The Flintstones, Frankenstein, Jr., and the drivers of the Wacky Races, in a new line of comics. In fact, Space Ghost, Jan, Jace, & Blip will be meeting Jonny for the first time, it seems, and will reacquaint themselves with Mightor and the Herculoids in the anthology series, Future Quest. Also, Scooby-Doo gets a 3rd book, this one DC's answer to Image's hit series, The Walking Dead. Scooby Apocalypse boasts an all-star creative team of Jim Lee, Keith Giffen, and Howard Porter. With Archie Comics' horror line on an extended holiday due to writer/creative director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa being busy in Hollywood, it looks like DC and Scooby will show them how to really work the zombie apocalypse.

More details over at The Land of Whatever.

"Nightmare Planet" gets a B-.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Rare Treats: Captain Marvel talks to kids about MS (1975)

Here's a PSA that I can honestly say I don't remember.

Filmation, one must assume, was commissioned to produce this item featuring Captain Marvel (John Davey) from Shazam!, so this would be from season 2 at the earliest. Promoting the MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Read-a-Thons being conducted in schools and libraries across the country at the time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Arabian Knights foil The Great Gold Robbery (1968)

Time for a trip to Baghdad with The Arabian Knights.

Vangore (Paul Frees) and his guards steal a ton of gold, and intend to frame the Knights. Unfortunately, Fariek (John Stephenson) has overheard Vangore's intentions, and that spells trouble for Vangore and Bakaar (Stephenson).

Here's "The Great Gold Robbery":

Notice how Bez (Henry Corden) reacts to two head-on collisions. Today, he'd be checked for a concussion.

Y'know, Warner Bros. would be wise to revive the Knights under one condition. A team-up movie with the Justice League that would also involve another, albeit younger, sexier shape changer. You know who I mean.

Rating for this episode: A.

You Know The Voice: Arnold Stang (1955)

Toon fans know Arnold Stang was the voice of not only Top Cat, but also Herman the mouse (Herman & Katnip), and Shorty, Popeye's sometime sidekick in the Golden Age.

In the 50's, Stang was hired as a pitchman for Chunky candy bars, now made by Nestle. In this ad, Arnold is joined by a child actor, reportedly Charles Herbert, to plug Chunky. This is followed by a short animated spot for Bit O'Honey featuring the Sixtopuss (Daws Butler):

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Getting Schooled: The Funny Company (1963)

Two years before introducing the world to Roger Ramjet, independent producers Ken Snyder & Charles Koren produced the syndicated The Funny Company, which, like Ramjet, was designed to be sold to stations on a daily basis. In fact, Hal Smith (The Andy Griffith Show, Davey & Goliath) and Dick Beals were among the voice talents here, as well as later on in Ramjet. Unfortunately, the same fate befell Company as would all of Snyder's later projects. It lasted just 1 season.

Let's take a look at a sample clip, as the kids learn about the life of a "Tarantula":

By the time Snyder had sold Skyhawks & Hot Wheels to ABC six years later, he clearly had changed animation houses, since those series used more realistic character designs. One thing that Funny Company has in common with those later series is that all three were underwritten by Mattel, the makers of the Hot Wheels toys.

No rating.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tooniversary: The Mighty Heroes vs. the Monsterizer (1966)

Hey, look who's turning 50 this year!

Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Heroes are among those hitting the milestone. To mark the occasion, let's take a look at the episode, "The Monsterizer":

The biggest difference between the Heroes and NBC's Super Six is that DePatie-Freleng never had the Six solve a case as a team. Unfortunately, neither series was renewed.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: Hawkman vs. a Peril From Pluto (1967)

With Hawkman soaring into primetime as part of Legends of Tomorrow, debuting tonight, let's take a trip back to 1967 when the Winged Avenger (Gilbert Mack) faced a "Peril From Pluto":

There were some differences between the comics and the three shorts Filmation produced. Chief among these was the absence of Hawkman's wife/partner, Hawkgirl, who wouldn't make her cartoon debut until 10 years later. Plus, on Earth as Carter Hall, Hawkman was a museum curator and archeologist, not a scientist. He did have an avian friend, but it was named Big Red, not Skreel. Writer George Kashdan knew all this, but bowed to what Filmation felt was more suitable for the kiddo's, especially leaving Hawkgirl out of the mix, since it would be too similar to Mera joining Aquaman on his adventures on the same show.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: A collection of Cheerios Kid ads (1950's & 1960's)

Following is a collection of commercials as General Mills began transitioning Bullwinkle out as an endorser for Cheerios cereal. The Cheerios Kid appears with Bullwinkle (Bill Scott) in the first 2 spots, and it sounds like Dick Beals is the voice of the Kid. We will also see Frosty, the Frostyo's bear, in another spot before the Kid's faithful companion, Sue, joins him for the rest of the block.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tooniversary: Cornelius the rooster swings into action! (1966)

One of the last commercial series Hanna-Barbera produced for Kellogg's enabled Corn Flakes mascot Cornelius the rooster to come to life. Actor Andy Devine (ex-Wild Bill Hickok) is the voice of Cornelius. While the child is real, his voice was dubbed over by Dick Beals (Frankenstein, Jr.). In the second spot, Cornelius meets Christopher Columbus (Paul Frees).

Too bad Cornelius was ultimately forced to retire from television.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in Secret of the Warlock (1966)

The Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) rides solo in this next adventure, as he uncovers "The Secret of the Warlock", a master of disguise whose vanity hides the titular secret. Hans Conreid voices the Warlock.

I think we all saw the ending coming a mile away, don't you think? One clue explained the villain's origins rather nicely.

Rating: A-.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Saturday Morning's (Not Yet) Forgotten Heroes: Rescue Heroes (1999)

Canada's Rescue Heroes was an adaptation of a toy line produced by Fisher-Price, and ran for three seasons on Teletoon in Canada, and for about the same length of time on CBS. The purpose of the series, in addition to having educational content, was to show some "real" people saving lives. Sound familiar? Of course.

Think back about 25 or so years prior. NBC & Universal had contracted independent producer Fred Calvert to create an animated spin-off of Jack Webb's Emergency! for the daytime crowd. Emergency Plus 4 ran for 2 seasons, and covered the same ground. Granted, Nelvana is a much better animation studio than Calvert's company, but that's neither here nor there.

Never saw enough of the show to merit a rating, so there won't be one. For now, we'll leave you with the episode, "El Nino":

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Toonfomercial: A knee brace can make a difference (2015)

The National Health Alert Hotline is a proud sponsor of Ring of Honor Wrestling's weekly syndicated program. In recent months, they've shown two different versions of the following ad. This one, with an African American grandmother, has been run the last month, but the alternate version, with a white grandmother, had aired first.

The voices are the same in both ads, as the characters were redesigned and redrawn. Don't ask.

And here's the "white" version:

Next thing you know, they'll be asked to redraw the characters again for other minority markets.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Looney TV: Beanstalk Bunny (1954)

Chuck Jones sends up Jack & the Beanstalk in 1954's "Beanstalk Bunny".

Jack (Daffy Duck) sells off his cow for three beans. But because this is Daffy we're seeing here, he throws the beans away, which convienently land in Bugs Bunny's rabbit hole. Seconds later, the beanstalk sprouts up, and Bugs and "Jack" encounter a giant with a serious speech defect (Elmer Fudd, of course).

Similar to the "rabbit/duck season" trilogy, but then it moves on to the trope Daffy would use in later appearances as a greedy, craven coward. Bugs, Daffy, & Elmer have great chemistry together, as usual.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Literary Toons: The Happy Prince (1974)

Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince had been adapted on radio and on record a number of times. To be perfectly honest, I'd never heard of this story until now.

In 1974, Michael Mills adapted the tale into an animated special, narrated by Christopher Plummer.

No rating.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Toonfomercial: The Hill family shills for Autolite (2003)

The success of King of the Hill gave Mike Judge something he'd never get with Beavis & Butt-Head. That is to say, a commercial endorsement deal.

In 2003, Judge and 20th Century Fox contracted with Honeywell, the parent company of Autolite spark plugs, for a series of ads featuring Hank (Judge) and Bobby (Pamela Adlon). In this ad, they're joined by Hank's dad, Cotton, and NASCAR star Darrell Waltrip, who would later retire from the track to become a racing analyst for Fox.

Daytime Heroes: Felix the Cat in King Neptune's SOS (1959)

We all know cats hate water. Yet Felix the Cat, without the aid of breathing apparatus, goes underwater to put a stop to the Professor's latest greedy scheme in "King Neptune's SOS":

At this point, Felix had fancied himself as a detective, and had just wrapped a previous case involving the Professor and his aide, Rock Bottom. Maybe Felix was too hasty to stamp it case closed, but now, that's kinda moot.

Rating: B.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Fame (1975)

In memory of rock legend David Bowie, who passed away Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday, I thought we'd look back at "The Thin White Duke"'s appearance on Soul Train, one of the first white artists to appear on the show, mind you, from April 1975.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: Flash in Take a Giant Step (1967)

Mad scientist Kragg builds a robot, only to encounter The Flash in "Take a Giant Step":

Today's audience might find this dull and boring. For its time, it's a paint-by-numbers, let's-just-jump-to-the-action thrill fest.

Rating: B.

Sunday Funnies: Do referees really do this? (2015)

After two seasons of sharing State Farm commercials with old Saturday Night Live characters (i.e. Hans & Franz in 2014), Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was given a different mission in 2015. Counseling others about State Farm's discount double check.

Seems even NFL referees could use that help......

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Frogger (Saturday Supercade, 1983)

Here's another component of CBS & Ruby-Spears' video game anthology, Saturday Supercade.

Frogger is rebooted as an investigative reporter. Bob Sarlatte (ex-The David Letterman Show) voices Frogger, who is aided by Fanny Frog (B. J. Ward) and Shellshock, a turtle (Marvin Kaplan, Alice, ex-Top Cat) as he tackles difficult and dangerous stories.

For example, Fanny & Shellshock are among the victims of a crime wave in "Here Today, Pawned Tomorrow":

No rating.

You Know The Voice: Bud Collyer for Bulova (1958)

In addition to being a game show host and the original voice of Superman, Clayton "Bud" Collyer found time to be a commercial pitchman. There's no mistaking that ever-present bow tie as Bud shills for Bulova watches in this 1958 ad.

Yes, there was a watch for women, too, the Bulova Miss America watch, and, yep, Bud did that spot, too.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: The Atom vs. The Plant Master (1967)

In comics, "The Plant Master", the enemy of The Atom in our next entry, was rogue scientist Jason Woodrue before he mutated into a plant-man and was rechristened the Floronic Man. However, Woodrue doesn't appear in this story. Instead, author George Kashdan opted for some generic rogue militarist, voiced of course by Ted Knight.

Posted in memory of Pat Harrington, Jr. (Atom/Ray Palmer), who passed away after a battle with Alzheimer's disease at 86.

Personally, I'd have preferred to see Woodrue brought to life instead of these other jabroni losers.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Toon Rock: Rock 'n' Rodent (1967)

Tom & Jerry's 1967 entry, "Rock 'N' Rodent", is actually a semi-remake of "Saturday Evening Puss", released 17 years earlier, when Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera were still at MGM.

As you can tell from the title, this time, it's Jerry who's the jazzman, playing drums for a hot combo in a basement club in his building. While Carl Brandt (ex-The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo) was credited with the music, noted jazzman David Benoit also pitched in, but went uncredited. Now, let's scope out the swinging sounds.....

Edit, 8/16/22: Have to change the video. This omits the opening credits:

Like, really hot, man.

Rating: A.

Family Toons: The Barkleys in Match Breaker (1972)

If you've ever wondered how Henry Corden eventually landed the role of Fred Flintstone, aside from being one of the singing voice doubles for Alan Reed, well, look no further than 1972's The Barkleys.

Arnie Barkley (Corden) sounds exactly the same as Fred, right down to the laugh. And while The Barkleys was created in answer to CBS' hit sitcom, All in the Family, there conceivably could be some Flintstones in the show's pedigree, one of three family-based toon-coms to premiere that year (Hanna-Barbera's Roman Holidays, itself a derivative of Flintstones, and the syndicated Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home, H-B's answer to Family AND Barkleys, were the others). There's also a little bit of The Honeymooners, too, considering Arnie, like Ralph Kramden, is a bus driver.

In "Match Breaker", Arnie has some objections when daughter Terry (Julie McWhirter) brings her boyfriend (guest star Michael Bell, The Houndcats) home.

We could do without the cheesy theme song. Doug Goodwin has done better.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Saturtainment: Raw Toonage (1992)

Disney's Raw Toonage lasted 1 season on CBS, and would spin off Marsupilani, based on a European book series, and Bonkers, which went into daily syndication. In fact, the Bonkers shorts on Raw Toonage were a prequel to the subsequent series, as this was before Bonkers joined the Toontown PD.

Don Karnage (ex-TaleSpin) was one of a number of "guest hosts" who introduced segments on the show, and this would be the last we'd see of him. The following episode is a December 1992 rebroadcast, as the episode had premiered in late September.

No rating.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger vs. Mister Midas (1968)

Hi-yo, Silver! The Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) goes undercover to rescue some Apache braves taken prisoner for slave duty by "Mister Midas".

Short, but effective, though Midas' fate was, for that period, predictable.

Rating: B.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday Funnies: Problem Child (1993)

After 2 feature films with newcomer Michael Oliver in the title role, Problem Child morphed into an animated series, which ran for 2 seasons on USA Network.

In the series, Junior (now voiced by Ben Diskin, later of Codename: Kids Next Door), along with adoptive father Ben, Jr., and adoptive grandfather Big Ben (Jonathan Harris, ex-Space Academy, Lost in Space) have moved to the small town of Toe Valley, where "Little Ben" has become a police officer and his dad is the mayor.

Unfortunately, what killed the show was the poor animation used in the first season. "Animated colorforms" would be a kind way of describing it. For the 2nd season, Lacewood Productions, contracted for Universal's other animated entry for USA, Savage Dragon, took over Problem Child. While the series looked better, as shown in the following trailer, the first season actually killed whatever hope there might've been that would've made this stick around longer.

Here's the trailer:

The animation used is from the 2nd season, so maybe even Universal wanted to disown the 1st season. Meh.

Rating: C.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Looney TV: Rabbit Fire (1950)

I guess you know we're running the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd hunting trilogy out of order. The other day, we presented "Rabbit Seasoning". This time, we've got the first part of the trilogy, 1950's "Rabbit Fire". Sadly, this is a Blue Ribbon reissue, though the opening credits are intact.

Edit, 10/24/21: The video had to be replaced with a montage.

Chuck Jones liked that opening gag, with Daffy planting rabbit tracks for Elmer to follow, so much, such that he used it again in "Rabbit Seasoning". All this proved, however, is that Bugs happens to be smarter than both Daffy & Elmer put together. Elmer admitting he's more of a sportsman should've gotten him some kind of endorsement from vegan groups.

Rating: A+.