Tuesday, March 29, 2016

You Know The Voice: Carroll Spinney (1971)

For years, Carroll Spinney was the voice of Oscar the Grouch & Big Bird on Sesame Street. Not sure if he's still active today, but in 1971, Spinney appeared on the syndicated version of To Tell The Truth. See if you can pick Carroll out.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey vs. Dr. Disguiso and the Rotten Rainmaker (1974)

Dailymotion brings us a complete episode of Hong Kong Phooey, this being the pentultimate episode in the series.

The overarching subplot has Penrod Pooch (Scatman Crothers, Chico & the Man) testing out a "treasure finder", with the usual disastrous results for Sgt. Flint (Joe E. Ross). Meanwhile, Hong Kong Phooey must tangle with the chameleonic Dr. Disguiso (Don Messick) in the opener, and, then, the Rotten Rainmaker (Paul Winchell) in the second story.

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

The final episode in the series was a backdoor pilot for Posse Impossible, which would end up going to series 3 years later as a component of C. B. Bears. As you know, C. B. Bears ended up on NBC for its lone season, and the network would acquire reruns of Phooey a couple of years later, creating a rerun block in support of the abysmal Super Globetrotters that also included C. B. Bears repeats, as memory serves.

Rating: B.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: DC Super Hero Girls (2015)

Let's get this right out front. DC Super Hero Girls, as the title implies, is aimed at pre-teen girls, and there's not just the series of webisodes, also available On Demand (check with your cable provider), but there's a series of novelettes, which are being collected into a trade paperback by DC, coming in June. And, yes, there's also a toy line.

Basically, it's this. Many of DC's female crime-stoppers, anti-heroines, and villains, are enrolled at Super Hero High, which, you might say, would be DC's equivalent to a certain Marvel school in Westchester County. Each webisode clocks in at about 2-4 minutes each, so they fly by. Literally.

In the opener, Wonder Woman arrives on campus, and, out of respect to faculty, turns in her shield to principal Amanda Waller.

Yes, Super Hero High is co-ed. Beast Boy looks more like his DCU counterpart, but sounds the same as he has in animated form for the last 13 years. As I've written elsewhere, when I was first introduced to him 36 years ago, he was using the handle, Changeling, before going back to Beast Boy, which was his original monicker when he was in the Doom Patrol in the 60's. Yep, he's been around that long. A refreshing change is that this Beast Boy is the same playboy I remember. DC Comics artists started giving him the pointed ears in the books a few years ago in the wake of the first Cartoon Network Teen Titans series. Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman, and others have been de-aged to fit into the storyline, which is fine when you're trying to introduce these characters to a new generation and let the kids grow up with their newly discovered heroes.

More minisodes to come, and the 2nd season begins online next month.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Getting Schooled: Feist sings another song of 1, 2, 3, 4 (Sesame Street, 2008)

Singer-songwriter Leslie Feist climbed up the charts in 2007 with "1, 2, 3, 4", which made her a perfect candidate to appear on Sesame Street. There, she comes up with a variation that's all about counting......

Awwwwwww, isn't that cute?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Toonfomercial: Charlie Brown for Ford (1964)

By the time Charles Schulz's Peanuts gang had their first television special in 1965, they'd already logged a few years of experience in doing commercials.

Charlie Brown, Linus, and the gang were doing ads for Ford, which, like the specials, were directed by Bill Melendez. Here, Charlie touts Linus on the 1964 Ford Falcon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

You Know the Voice: Paul Winchell vs. Jerry Mahoney? (1967?)

Quaker Oats hired Paul Winchell to film a commercial for Life cereal, aided, of course, by Jerry Mahoney. Figuring this to be from 1967, and attached to an episode of Bewitched. Hanna-Barbera, which produced the open for Bewitched throughout its run, created the variant attached to the ad, which has Darrin eating some Life. Gary Owens (Space Ghost) is the announcer for the sponsor tag.

Winchell & Mahoney would then do a spot for rival Kellogg's a few years later, shilling for Frosted Mini-Wheats. We'll post that one another day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Toonfomercial: Remember the Chexmates? (1968)

Ralston Purina's line of cereals have always been running far, far behind Kellogg's, General Mills, Quaker, and Post in terms of popularity. In fact, today, most of the surviving Ralston Purina cereals, including Chex, are made by General Mills.

In 1968, Ralston Purina introduced a trio of youngsters known as the Chexmates.

To be honest with you, gang, this is the first time I've seen this ad. I was in kindergarten when this originally came out, and had no memory of seeing this before.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Toons After Dark: The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town (1977)

The following was originally published over at The Land of Whatever a while back. With Easter this weekend, I thought I'd share it here.
The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town is the last of Rankin-Bass' Easter themed specials, produced in 1977 for ABC. Fred Astaire reprises his role from Santa Claus is Coming to Town in 1970 as S. D. Kluger, the mailman, this time dressed as a train engineer for a Q & A about the history of the Easter Bunny.

In Rankin-Bass' world, the Easter Bunny started as a young bunny named Sunny (Skip Hinnant, The Electric Company), who, like a young Kris Kringle before him, had to deal with a mean spirited town ruler before he could really get untracked.

Treacly, of course, and while it's not a full sequel to Santa Claus is Coming to Town, it sure looks like a carbon copy of the earlier story, albeit in a different setting.

Rating: C.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: Escape From Space City (Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, 1985)

Darkseid has designs on a scientist's space colony. That spells trouble for the Super Powers Team. Here's "Escape From Space City":

Edit, 12/5/22: We've located a title card and an additional screencap:

I will grant you this. Ol' Crater-face was treated better when he returned on Superman: The Animated Series several years later.

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Literary Toons: The Easter Story (The Greatest Adventure: Stories From The Bible, 1989)

The Greatest Adventure: Stories From The Bible DTV series ended with 1989's "The Easter Story", which tells of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Joe Spano, ex-Hill Street Blues), as seen through the eyes of Mogi (Frank Welker), Margo (Darleen Carr), and Derek (Darryl Hickman). Richard Thomas (ex-The Waltons) guests as Mark. Michael Rye is the narrator.

I wasn't too fond of the gimmick of time travel in this series. Veteran writer Dennis Marks adapted the interpretation from the Gospel According to Mark, and would've been better served without the gimmick.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: The Jetsons shill for Tums Quikpaks (2008)

GlaxoSmithKline, the current makers of Tums, obtained a license from Warner Bros. to use The Jetsons to promote Tums Quikpaks, which were introduced in 2008. Unfortunately, the product didn't last very long.....

The Jetsons have also been used to promote other products, such as ElectraSol dishwashing detergent, over the years, but this is the first I've seen this ad.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Toonfomercial: Did Noah invent car-pooling? (1974)

Ah, the 70's. Remember when there was an energy crisis in the US? People were being urged to share the ride, if you will, to cut back on the number of cars on the road, hence the development of car-pooling, to save energy.

The Ad Council had fun with that and came up with a buzzword that didn't have any more buzz than a can of flat soda. Remember "kalaka"?

I love the crooning skunk, don't you?

Looney TV: Sahara Hare (1954-5)

Isadore "Friz" Freleng sends Bugs Bunny and Yosemite (Riff Raff) Sam to the desert in "Sahara Hare", which was produced in 1954, but released in early 1955.

Edit, 12/10/22: The video was deleted. In its place is a title card.

When this short aired on ABC (1985-2000), the network edited some shots of Sam disciplining his camel by striking it on the head with the butt end of his rifle to make it more compatible for younger viewers.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Getting Schooled: Mr. Peabody meets Casanova (1962)

Peabody's Improbable History takes us to 18th century Italy, where Casanova (Paul Frees) opts to go back to prison on the day of his release, which confuses Mr. Peabody (Bill Scott) and Sherman (Walter Tetley).

The whole idea is for Peabody & Sherman to steer historical figures onto the right life path. This angle has been copied both in other cartoons (i.e. Time Squad, Time Warp Trio) and in live action (Voyagers!, Time Tunnel). Luckily for us, the innovators are back in a new online series on Netflix, created in the wake of the recent feature film.

"Casanova", however, was not one of the better ones.

Rating: B-.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Toon Sports: Tom & Jerry take up tennis (1975)

Tom & Jerry hit the tennis court in this 1975 short, "The Tennis Menace". The writers were bent on having Tom be a feline Dick Dastardly, since they couldn't do the same things that made their classic MGM shorts so great. Unfortunately, like Dastardly, Tom's underhanded success is kept short-lived.

Doesn't Big Bertha look like Spike's twin sister?

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: For The Man Who Has Everything (Justice League Unlimited, 2004)

If you're a fan of Supergirl, then I'm sure you've seen a recent episode where Kara (Melissa Benoist) was trapped by a Kryptonian dream creature. The episode was a reworking of the following Justice League Unlimited episode, produced more than a decade earlier.

"For The Man Who Has Everything" is, in turn, adapted by J. Marc DeMatteis from the original comic book story by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, which appeared in a Superman (1st series) annual a few years prior.

Edit, 9/20/19: The video has been deleted. If/when it returns, we'll bring it back.

One of the better entries in the series, though this could've been better served as a 2-parter.

Rating: A.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Tooniversary: Top Cat shills for Kellogg's (1961)

Poor Officer Dibble (Allen Jenkins). He's about to be scammed out of a box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes by Top Cat (Arnold Stang) in this in-show ad.

The closing theme plays, but the credits have been edited out for some odd reason. Who can figure some of these people? Sheesh!

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Hot Child in the City (1978-9)

Nick Gilder had struck the top of the Canadian charts as a member of Sweeney Todd before going solo. However, the only song most people remember is this one, "Hot Child in the City", which hit #1 on the Hot 100 in October 1978, and landed Gilder appearances on the usual places, including The Midnight Special, from whence we get this clip. The YouTube poster said this clip was from 1979, after "Hot Child" had peaked.

I remember that Gilder also was on American Bandstand, and that would've been in the summer-fall of 1978.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Toonfomercial: Remember the island of Ola McGola? (1968)

Ah, Shasta. A forgotten brand of soft drinks, often running far behind Pepsi & Coca-Cola. However, they did come up with some imaginative commercials.

Take this one, for example. A sailor (Dayton Allen) is shipwrecked on the island of Ola McGola, where everyone drinks Shasta. Allen and June Foray provide all the voices.

Looney TV: Porky the Wrestler (1937)

Porky Pig finds himself in an unenviable position. After getting a ride with a wrestler due for a title fight, Porky winds up replacing said grappler when he falls through an opening in the sidewalk used for freight hauling. Only Tex Avery could've masterminded "Porky the Wrestler":

Of course, you know that Porky would eventually go on a diet to gain the shape we all know and love......

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Toonfomercial: The Flintstones shill for Welch's Grape Juice (1963)

For season 4 of The Flintstones, the series was sponsored by Welch's grape juice and jelly. In this in-show ad, Fred (Alan Reed) treats baby Pebbles to a glass of the frozen grape juice. Jean VanderPyl voices both Wilma & Pebbles.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: The Pinky Lee Show (1954)

Pinky Lee made the transition from the burlesque stage to television, but his self-titled children's show, which was on the air from 1954-6, was actually the 2nd show to bear his name, the other being a primetime variety show that ran in 1950. It is said that Lee's high energy performances were an influence on later stars such as Soupy Sales, Pee-Wee Herman, and even future Oscar winner Robin Williams.

Like Abe Vigoda, Lee had to live down persistent rumors of his demise until he finally passed on in 1993. This was due to collapsing on air during the show's first year. The staff didn't know what to do. This incident was referenced to an extent in an episode of The Simpsons several years later when their kids show host, Krusty the Clown, similarly collapsed, though in the case of that series, one must assume it was in fact a heart attack, which some thought felled Lee.

Internet Archive offers a sample episode:

No rating.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tooniversary: I Love to Singa (1936)

In 1936, Al Jolson starred in "The Singing Kid". Warner Bros. prevailed upon Leon Schlesinger and the Termite Terrace crew to create a Merrie Melodies short to help promote it.

"I Love to Singa" tells the story of a young owl who is the "runt", if you will, of the nest. His father's a music teacher who despises jazz. Tommy Bond, better known as Butch, the neighborhood bully in the Our Gang comedies, crossed over from MGM to voice the rebellious owlet, who adopts the stage name Owl Jolson to compete in a talent contest.

What follows is a 1944 Blue Ribbon reissue, distributed through Associated Artists Productions when it was put into syndication.

I must've seen this about 10 times when it was on cable in the 70's. You wouldn't know, because of the Blue Ribbon reissue, that this was directed by the legendary Tex Avery.

Rating: A-.

Daytime Heroes: Deputy Dawg gets lazy for a day (National Lazy Day, 1962)

Deputy Dawg and friends compete for a cash prize-----just by being lazy.


Yep, it's "National Lazy Day", as celebrated by the Deputy and crew.

Well, you couldn't have them spending nearly six minutes doing absolutely nothing, could you?

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Rare Treats: Of Moose & Men: The Rocky & Bullwinkle Story (1991)

Ya know, I'd never heard of this until I ran across it on YouTube last night.

It turns out that Of Moose & Men: The Rocky & Bullwinkle Story had aired on PBS, of all places, in the winter of 1991. I thought this might've been included with a DVD release of Rocky & His Friends, aka The Bullwinkle Show, and maybe it was, I don't know. Anyway, the only cast members from the cartoon contributing to the special were Bill Scott, June Foray, and narrator William Conrad, who handles those chores here, and it's clear that Conrad's career was winding down. Toward the end of the series' initial run, before it went into eternal repeats, Conrad's narrative had more of the dramatic tone he used in narrating The Fugitive.

Conrad & Scott, of course, have long since left us, but June Foray is still active, amazingly.

No rating.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Toonfomercial: Chevron presents The Secret is Change (1976)

The inestimable Paul Frees is heard, essentially doing a Orson Welles mimic, in this Chevron spot. I guess it's about a father & son talk, except that father & son are cars.

When was the last time you saw a beard on a car?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger vs. General X (1966)

Cartoon Jam brings us another Lone Ranger adventure.

The Masked Man (Michael Rye) is on the hunt for "The Secret Army of General X", a renegade military man with the usual delusions of grandeur.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: Remember Yabba Dabba Dew? (1974)

Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips restaurants, which made a comeback not too long ago, were fairly big in the 70's. The chain, named for the British announcer of The Merv Griffin Show, had their fair share of promotions, including a series of Flintstones cups, promoting a short-lived drink, Yabba Dabba Dew, which was meant to rival Hi-C, which was put out by Coca-Cola, and Kool-Aid.

Hanna-Barbera, of course, produced an ad to promote the product. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are presented as their Cave Kids selves, even though the product came out after their teenage adventures had come to an end for the first time.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Toon Sports: It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown! (1992-6)

Who can figure out network executives these days?

It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown!, the 35th Peanuts special, never aired on CBS or the series' later home, ABC. Why? Don't know. Paramount released It's Spring Training in 1996 on DVD, alongside 1966's Charlie Brown's All-Stars, but while it has aired on cable, it's never seen the light of day on broadcast television. With Major League Baseball having started preseason games this week, this would be appropriate.

Edit, 5/16/21: Unfortunately, the video has been deleted. In its place, we sub in the title card:

Speaking of cable, maybe MLB Network would be interested in its first animated special??

No rating.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tooniversary: Captain Cleanup turns 45! (1971)

It's been a while, but we now have a complete Captain Cleanup PSA from 1971.

I'd call these gangsters the Rat Pack, but that would be an insult to rats.