Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Saturtainment: Go Go Gophers in The Great White Stallion (1966?)

The mischievous Go Go Gophers knew they had an easy mark in Colonel Kit Coyote (Kenny Delmar), perhaps never more obvious than in "The Great White Stallion".......

Note that the copyright reads 1962, which puts the lie to Wikipedia's account of the series.

Rating: B.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: George of the Jungle vs. Little Scissor (1967)

It's been a while since we checked in with George of the Jungle. This time around, George (Bill Scott) tangles with "Little Scissor", a jungle parody of Edward G. Robinson's seminal film role as "Little Caesar".

Paul Frees narrates and voices the jungle commissioner, utilizing his Inspector Fenwick (Dudley Do-Right) voice, which he also used to the Chief on Secret Squirrel, among others.

Should we be surprised that one of the pygmies was voiced by Daws Butler, using his Elroy Jetson voice?

Rating: B.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Godzilla vs. the Magnetic Terror (1978)

Godzilla (vocal effects by Ted Cassidy) and the crew of the Calico are headed for the South Pole in an attempt to stop "The Magnetic Terror", which just happens to be a giant turtle, but not to be confused with Gamera, another of Toho Ltd.'s movie monsters.

Rating: B.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Toons You Might've Missed: Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950)

Well before real-life comedian-actor Michael Winslow made his fame,
Dr. Seuss introduced us to a talented little boy,
A 2 year old tot named Gerald McCloy,
Words he couldn't speak, but sounds he could make,
And so Gerald McBoing-Boing became his name.

Yes, Gerald was the original "human sound effect machine", long before "Police Academy" co-star Winslow, perhaps with Gerald as inspiration, made that his act. UPA, the folks who would eventually make Mr. Magoo a household name, adapted Seuss' tale, which won an Academy Award. However, this hasn't been seen on television all that much, despite the acclaim. Actor Marvin Miller, 5 years before The Millionaire, narrates and voices all of the adult male characters.

In case you might've missed it, Bill Scott, who co-wrote the adaptation, is the same one who later gained his fame as the voice of Bullwinkle. Several more shorts were produced with Gerald, but not all of them using the Seussian brand of dialogue, written in rhyme.

Rating: A.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Captain O. G. Readmore Meets Chicken Little (1992)

From the ABC Weekend Special:

Former host Captain O. G. Readmore made his final appearance in this animated tale, produced and directed by independent animator Rick Reinert, where the Captain (Neil Ross) is pulled into the pages of Chicken Little. Note that Ross gives Readmore a slight British accent, which, admittedly, was an improvement on Frank Welker's characterization of Readmore. No slight on Welker or Ross, who had worked together on other projects......

No rating.

Friday, May 27, 2016

From Comics to Toons: Popeye With Little Swee'pea (1936)

Popeye wants to take Olive to the zoo, but she's too busy, presumably with housework, so she has him take baby Swee'pea instead. The infant's misadventures ultimately put Popeye in some unexpected peril.....

This would most assuredly not be politically correct today. It also illustrates the difficulty that existed in finding something for Popeye to require using his spinach when Bluto isn't around to antagonize him.

Rating: B--.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman teaches about smoking (1977)

From The All New Super Friends Hour, though the graphics you'll see come from when it was reissued in the 80's:

Superman (Danny Dark) is on patrol when he sees a high school baseball player dragging on a cigarette during the game. I don't think that was actually allowed back then, and it certainly isn't today, but, as this short illustrates, smoking is like a PDD (Performance Diminishing Drug), if you get my drift.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Wizard of Oz (1990)

DIC obtained a license to adapt L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz into a weekly animated series for ABC in 1990. That was the good news. The bad? It lasted just 1 season.

The plot: The Wicked Witch of the West has been revived by her loyal winged monkeys, and has cast a spell on the Wizard so that he cannot return to the Emerald City, which she has taken over. Back in Kansas, Dorothy Gale finds the ruby slippers on her doorstep, and, next thing you know, she & Toto are headed back to Oz.

Coming as it did 23 years after ABC's last Oz incarnation, the primetime anthology series, Off to See The Wizard, which also lasted 1 season, this Wizard deserved a better fate. Unfortunately, ABC and DIC replaced him with something even worse the next year----Hammerman.

Here's part 1 of the series opener.

No rating.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

From Comics to Toons: Josie & the Pussycats meet Dr. Greenthumb (1970)

Sometimes, Alexandra Cabot (Sherry Alberoni) is too clever for her own good.

After Josie & the Pussycats are booked for a gig in Nashville, Alexandra tries diverting Josie (Janet Waldo) away by putting her on a cargo plane bound for the Amazon Jungle. Unfortunately, the rest of the gang boards the plane, too, and fly headlong into adventure, and an encounter with eco-terrorist Dr. Greenthumb.

Stripped of her witchcraft, which she had in the comics, Alexandra was reduced to a jealous, scheming beyotch whose plots always backfired. As we've noted before, the reason she lost her powers was that Archie Comics' other witch, Sabrina, was starring in her own series, which, at the time, was shared with the Groovie Goolies, that season.

We'll see the Pussycats in the CW's forthcoming live-action drama, Riverdale, due in the winter of 2017.

Rating: B.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Getting Schooled: The Flintstone Kids' Just Say No Special (1988)

The Flintstone Kids wrapped their ABC run (1986-8) with a primetime special about the dangers of drugs.

The Flintstone Kids' Just Say No Special aired 12 days after the final Saturday morning broadcast of the series. As we documented previously, the show moved to the syndicated Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (and to Sundays in my neck of the woods) later in September 1988, but there were no more new episodes.

On to the plot. Wilma (Elizabeth Fraser) is torn between her friends and some allegedly cool kids, led by Stoney (Dana Hill), but when Stoney raises the ante, if you will, by offering some pot, well, I think you get the idea. Singer LaToya Jackson guest stars, and while brother Michael also adopts an animated form for the first time since the 1971 Jackson 5ive series, another actor provides the speaking voice for the so-called King of Pop.

Unfortunately, the complete episode is not available on YouTube, and Dailymotion's been having some embedding issues lately that have knocked quite a few videos out of availability here for the duration. What is available, however, is the closing segment, leading to the credits. This time, Michael Jackson is heard from, with some new lyrics for his 1982 hit, "Beat It".

No rating.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Looney TV: Daffy Duck's Fire Safety Quiz (1982)

Daffy Duck (Mel Blanc) shows a different side in this PSA, first shown in 1982. Daffy gives two kids a quick pop quiz on fire safety.

The date shown on the video above is incorrect. When you click on the video, you will see a 1982 copyright date, as that was the original date of this video.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Literary Toons: Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? (1980)

DePatie-Freleng's adaptation of Dr. Seuss' Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?, which premiered on ABC in 1980, was one of the last entries for the studio before it was acquired by Marvel and rechristened Marvel Productions a year later.

In addition to composing the music, noted tunesmith Joe Raposo also does some acting, as he plays the owner of a pickle factory where Pontoffel Pock (Wayne Morton, Fred & Barney Meet The Thing) had been employed very briefly at the start of the show.

I never saw it, so there's no rating. As you'll doubtlessly notice, Universal owns the rights.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Daytime Heroes: DuckTales (1987)

Disney kickstarted a new era in television animation for themselves with the launch of DuckTales, which lasted three seasons total (1987-90), and a grand total of 100 episodes.

Huey, Dewey, & Louie, normally accompanying their uncle, Donald Duck, were left in the care of their other uncle, Scrooge McDuck (Alan Young, ex-Mister Ed) while Donald served in the Navy. Well, it would justify Donald still wearing a sailor's uniform after all these years. This led to all kinds of adventures with Scrooge's personal chauffeur/pilot, Launchpad McQuack, as well as Scrooge himself. The series spun off a feature film, "Treasure of the Lost Lamp", during the course of its run.

Six years after the series ended, the three brothers would return, this time with Donald, having grown up a wee bit, like Jonny Quest that same year, in Quack Pack, but, just as viewers wouldn't accept Jonny or his BFF Hadji as teens, they wouldn't accept Huey, Dewey, & Louie as adolescents, either, and so Quack was cancelled after its one and only season.

Posting a sample compilation in memory of Alan Young, who passed away today at 96. Here, Scrooge has it out with his nemesis, Flintheart Gloimgold:

Rating: A.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Toonfomercial: Yogi Bear learns about sunscreen (1992)

Here's a PSA you might've missed.

Yogi Bear thinks a suit of armor will protect him from the sun, but it doesn't account for a passing bee that stings him. Meanwhile, Boo Boo (Don Messick) offers some sunscreen.....

I was going to save this until we got closer to summer, but then......!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Looney TV: Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 241/2th Century (1980)

Duck Dodgers (Daffy Duck) returns to action in the sequel to his original adventure.

"Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 241/2th Century" was originally presented as part of the primetime Daffy Duck's Thanks For Giving special, then re-edited, with more than 3 minutes cut, into a short subject ready for syndicated & cable television.

We know Dodgers is an idiot whose ego is bigger than his IQ. After all this time, you'd think he would remember Marvin the Martian, who again plots to destroy Earth as Dodgers attempts to locate the rank-and-pinion molecule, needed for yo-yo's for some reason.

As silly as it sounds.

Edit, 11/13/19: The video has been deleted. Here is the title card:

DD and return 24th century.png

23 years later, Dodgers would be granted a weekly series on Cartoon Network, but when this entry aired, NBC had the rights to two space heroes that Dodgers had been spoofing---Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the animated Flash Gordon. The funny thing was, while Daffy also was on NBC on Saturdays, the primetime special aired on CBS. Go figure.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On The Air: Peanuts (2014)

In the wake of a feature film last year, the Peanuts kids are back, but this time, it seems, Cartoon Network & Boomerang haven't been exactly forthcoming about the new series, which launched last week.

Peanuts is being produced by a French studio, which obtained a license from Peanuts Worldwide, the official rights holder to the long running franchise, and began producing the flash-animated episodes a year in advance of last year's "Peanuts Movie". CN simply picked up the series in order to cash in on the movie's DVD release.

It certainly looks as though these cartoons were lifted directly from the original Charles Schulz strips. Take for example this installment, where Charlie Brown & Peppermint Patty discuss "The Mysteries of Love":

 Episodes range in length from 2-8 minutes, depending on the content of each piece. If you're like me and you grew up with the classic strip, and you're also a parent, this would be a great time to bond with the kids over a cherished icon.

Rating: A.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rein-Toon-Ation: Gadget & the Gadgetinis (2001)

Inspector Gadget gets a promotion and a new base of operations in the fourth series in the franchise to date, Gadget & the Gadgetinis, the first incarnation of the series not to feature the original voice of Gadget, Don Adams.

Maurice LaMarche succeeded Adams halfway through the previous series, Gadget Boy & Heather, and one must assume this might've been because Adams was in declining health. The 60's icon would pass away in 2005. Anyway, Gadget is now a Lieutenant, and while his perpetual pre-teen niece, Penny, is still around, her dog, Brain, isn't, having retired from field duty due to some trauma from repeatedly being mistaken for enemy agents, a running gag in the original series. Chief Quimby and Gadget now work for a French intelligence agency, but Dr. Claw is still the main villain. The Gadgetinis, Digit & Fidgit, were created by Penny to serve as her uncle's assistants. Kind of like doubling down on the old gags, no?

Let's take a look at the series opener.

Even aliens can be mistaken. Reportedly, there's a reboot of the franchise, which is airing on Netflix here in the US.

Rating: C.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Saturtainment: Histeria! (1998)

One of Kids' WB!'s more ambitious projects was Histeria!, which ran for 2 seasons (1998-2000), and was given the heave-ho, the story goes, due to budget issues.

Histeria! was formatted much like a sketch comedy series, and, as such, it made sense to bring in two Saturday Night Live alumni in Laraine Newman Nora Dunn to join WB regulars Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, Frank Welker, Paul Rugg, and Tress MacNeille in the cast. Series creator Tom Ruegger made it a family affair, as sons Cody & Nathan were also cast. The series actually aired six days a week at one point, as some other WB shows did during this period.

I can't say I watched the show, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with a sample episode that spoofs the Civil War, including a parody of Family Feud hosted by Lydia Karaoke (Dunn).

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Getting Schooled: Ten Little Greeblies (1969)

Here's a 1st season short from Sesame Street.

Ten Little Greeblies is based on a little known book, but as interpreted in this short skit, narrated by Gary Owens (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop), it seems like it is derivative of Agatha Christie's murder mystery classic, Ten Little Indians, which was adapted into the feature film, "And Then There Were None". Judge for yourselves.

Amusing, no?

Rating: A.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny warns of kitchen dangers (1982)

I think you might remember this commercial:

This got a ton of airplay, airing as it did during syndicated blocks of children's programming, including, of course, repeats of classic Bugs Bunny shorts. Too bad this can't be dusted off and used today.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The original Wacky Race: Betty Boop's Ker Choo (1932)

Betty Boop and KoKo the Clown are just two of the contestants in a road race in 1932's "Betty Boop's Ker Choo".

This gained more attention in 1998 when Cartoon Network took a chunk of the short and linked it to Soul Coughing's "Rolling":

Today, Betty wouldn't have been medically cleared to race because of the common cold. On the other hand, y'think maybe this might've been a partial inspiration, aside from the later live-action movie, "The Great Race", for Hanna-Barbera's 1968 series, Wacky Races, and its subsequent clones?

Rating: B.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman shills for American Express (1998)

This is also on my other blog, The Land of Whatever:

Superman (Patrick Warburton) finds himself unable to help Lois Lane. Then again, Jerry Seinfeld just happens to be carrying an American Express card.....

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Toons After Dark: Game Over (2004)

Ever wonder what would've happened if video game characters actually had lives of their own?

Game Over was one of the last series produced by Marcy Carsey & Tom Werner's production company, and lasted barely a month on UPN in 2004. The network didn't do the show any favors by bouncing it around the schedule, clearly with no confidence in the series.

Patrick Warburton, now starring in the NBC sitcom, Crowded, when not shilling for National Car Rental, and Lucy Liu (currently on Elementary) are husband and wife on this show, with Artie Lange (ex-MadTV) putting the sounds in the family dog.

Worth noting is that Liu almost didn't get her part. Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (currently in "Captain America: Civil War") had recorded the role for the pilot, but due to scheduling conflicts, couldn't continue with the series. Anyway, let's scope out the opener.

Couldn't get into this at all, as the characters actually lacked personality. 

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: A Broken Heart Knows Better (1964)

My Three Sons was, I think, still on ABC when co-star Don Grady appeared on American Bandstand in this 1964 clip, performing "A Broken Heart Knows Better".

Let's not forget that Don, who passed away a few years ago, had gotten his feet wet, musically, on The Mickey Mouse Club, and was one of the few alums to graduate to primetime.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Teenage Toons: The Brady Kids meet the Lone Ranger (1972)

For anyone that is a Saturday morning cartoon fan from the 70's, there are three episodes of The Brady Kids that stand out above the rest, all in the 1st season.

Eventually, we'll see Superman make his final Filmation appearance, and several years back, Wonder Woman made her animated debut. Both episodes, coupled with Batman's 2 appearances on CBS' New Scooby-Doo Movies, ultimately led to Super Friends the next year, with Hanna-Barbera getting the license, as Filmation's license with DC was expiring.

But that wasn't all.

The Lone Ranger made his Filmation debut a week prior to "Cindy's Super Friend". Seems Bobby Brady (Mike Lookinland) was a big fan of the Lone Ranger reruns, and there supposedly was still existing a Lone Ranger Fan Club. Next thing you know, thanks to a magical contrivance from Marlon (Larry Storch), the Ranger (John Erwin) shows up, with Tonto alongside. Silver winds up in the Brady treehouse, while a pair of thieves decide to pose as the Ranger & Tonto.

It certainly sounds like Jay Silverheels had reprised as Tonto. Silverheels also guest starred on The Brady Bunch, which might've been around the same time. Erwin used the same heroic voice for Dick Tracy a year earlier (Archie's TV Funnies), and, of course, would return to that timbre 11 years later as He-Man. One wonders what the studio was thinking when they signed William Conrad to voice the Ranger in the 1980 series.......

Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

On The Air: Camp WWE (2016)

It's clear that there are splinters in the windmills of Vince McMahon's mind.

The 70 year old Chairman/CEO of WWE, perhaps inspired by his wrestlers interacting with Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones on DTV DVD's the last two years, decided to dive back into producing his own animated cartoon.

Unfortunately, where Camp WWE ultimately fails is in how its characters are presented.

A collaboration between McMahon and one of the busiest guys in television, Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Family Guy, etc.), Camp WWE attempts to posit some classic WWE superstars as kids. The only "adults" are McMahon himself, 20 years younger than he really is, and fellow senior citizens Ric Flair and Sgt. Slaughter, the latter of whom working on his first animated series since his G. I. Joe days in the late 80's. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are posited as teenagers, while John Cena, Undertaker, Mark Henry, & Big Show are presented as 8 year olds. Gimmicks are included, unfortunately. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but this is ridiculous. For what it's worth, McMahon, Flair, & Slaughter are the only ones doing their own voices. David Brown of the improv comedy group (and former Comedy Central series) Upright Citizens Brigade is tasked with voicing the younger Undertaker & HHH, but the rest of the cast is kept tippity top secret at this point. Could be that it's some of the same folks Green has worked with on Robot Chicken.

After seeing this sample clip, you'll think 2014's Slam City online miniseries is much better.

Yeah, an 8 year old, prematurely bald Big Show. To think Mick Foley had tried positing some of his compadres as kids in one of his books a few years ago, and that may be where McMahon got the other idea for this series. Should've asked Foley to be a writer for the show.....!

Rating: D.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Adventurers Club vs. Modran (Mission: Magic, 1973)

Of late, Dailymotion has added some long missing cartoon series.

Tonight, it's Mission: Magic, which launched as a back-door pilot during season 1 of The Brady Kids. Although Miss Tickle, the teacher-sorceress at the helm of the Adventurers Club, sounds like Jane Webb, her voice is credited to Lola Fisher. Hmmmmm. Sounds like the beginning of the end of Webb's tenure at Filmation, as she didn't work on the studio's other frosh in 1973 (i.e. Star Trek), either. As we discussed in reviewing the series a ways back, Mission: Magic was an outlet for singer Rick Springfield, who was just making inroads with American audiences, but wouldn't really hit the jackpot until, after a few guest star appearances in primetime, he landed on General Hospital, and mastered an American accent along the way.

Here, we have the 2nd episode of the series, in which the gang take on the evil magician Modran and his triplet assistants, Bell, Book, & Candle.

The only other familiar name in the cast, aside from Springfield and co-producer Lou Scheimer's kids, Lane & Erica (who also joined the cast of Brady Kids and worked on My Favorite Martians & Lassie's Rescue Rangers that same season) is venerable Howard Morris, in one of his last jobs for Filmation.

Modran would return later in the season, seeking revenge, of course, but, sad to say, the show was cancelled after 1 season, replaced by The New Adventures of Gilligan the following season.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: The Lone Ranger in The Masked Rider (1930's)

Silent movies were gradually fading away in the 30's. One of the last ones was a very short animated cartoon starring The Lone Ranger. While we don't know the exact year it was made, what we do know is that Roy Meredith directed, and presumably also produced, "The Masked Rider", a compact tale detailing the Ranger and Tonto's pursuit of cattle rustlers, clocking in at just under 3 minutes.

The Ranger would be parodied in animation by Warner Bros when Porky Pig met "The Lone Stranger", then Hugh Harman created "The Lonesome Stranger". Even Mickey Mouse got in on the act at Disney.

As we all know, the first animated series for television bowed on CBS 50 years ago, and we know the rest of that story.

Rating: B.