Saturday, June 25, 2016

Daytime Heroes: Bots Master (1993)

I will acknowledge right here and now that I never watched an episode of the short-lived French import, Bots Master when it first arrived in the US in 1993, the latest attempt by ex-DIC co-founder Jean Chalopin to gain a new foothold in the US.

Set in the not-too-distant future, at least now as I'm writing this, 23 years after the series first aired, the story surrounds boy genius Ziv Zulander, whose first creations are being used for less than altruistic purposes, so he creates a new set of robots to fight the tyranny.

What hurt the show? Seems Chalopin hadn't learned the lesson from his former employers when they made a big time blunder building a show around rapper MC Hammer (Hammerman) 2 years earlier. Then again, neither did Hanna-Barbera a year later, when B-52's frontman Fred Schneider was brought in to create a new rap theme for Captain Planet. At that time, hip hop and heroics didn't mesh well, and wouldn't until Static Shock came along for the WB a few years later. So not digging the rap theme written for this show, and performed by some of the cast. Judge for yourselves as you watch the episode, "Adios....ZZ":

I get this was ultimately meant to sell toys, and there are fans of this show online clamoring for its return. All well and good, but back in 1993, the market was crowded, and that included some anime imports. Bots Master was lost in the shuffle, and with only 40 episodes produced, two months worth of daily shows, or, if syndicated channels chose the other option, nearly a full year without repeats, a trend that would continue for the rest of the decade, but not with a lot of success.

No rating.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis in Now You Don't (1976)

As promised, here's the concluding chapter of , well, we might as well say, "Now You See It.....Now You Don't", from The Secrets of Isis, with special guest star John Davey (Shazam!) as Captain Marvel.

I'm just going to guess, but the voiceover narration by co-executive producer Norm Prescott used here is from season 1, not season 2, since we noted last time that Joanna Pang (Cindy) had left the show, replaced by Renalda Douglas, who played Rennie Carol.

Now, don't you think CBS & Filmation would've been better served with airing one of the two episodes on Shazam!. to get that show's other stars, Michael Gray and Les Tremayne, in the mix?

No rating.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis & Captain Marvel team up! (1976)

From season 2 of The Secrets of Isis:

Isis (Joanna Cameron) gets help from Captain Marvel (John Davey) to clear Rick Mason (Brian Cutler) of robbery in the first half of a 2-part adventure. Here's "Now You See It" (which was also the name of a CBS game show around this same time):

Joanna Pang (Cindy) left the show after 1 season. Writer-director Arthur H. Nadel cut his teeth at Four Star, where he wrote and/or directed a number of episodes of The Rifleman and some of the studio's other Westerns. Filmation, I believe, marked a career revival for Nadel.

We'll have the conclusion tomorrow. Didn't see either half, so there's no rating. As it was, I was involved in other matters that precluded watching Isis back then.

From Comics to Toons: Popeye in Coffee House (1960)

Popeye's in for a culture shock when he finds Olive Oyl has turned into a beatnik. Then again, so has Brutus. The Beat Generation may never be the same again after "Coffee House". Like, dig it, daddy-o!

For whatever reason, Bluto's name was changed to Brutus, though still voiced by the same actor (Jackson Beck), when King Features began producing their own cartoons. Luckily, Hanna-Barbera corrected this mistake when they acquired a license 18 years later.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: We're All Together (1972)

From Season 1 of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids comes "We're All Together", which sums up the episode, "Creativity", an origin of the gang's Junkyard Band.

I think Mushmouth must've seen Bo Diddley in concert. Why else would he have that square "guitar"?

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Ulysses 31 (1981)

Ulysses 31 takes a hero from Greek mythology and updates his story to the far future. Specifically, the 31st century.

It is also one of the first series produced by DIC, but it took six years, or so Wikipedia claims, before it landed here in the US. Supposedly, the series was included in the Kideo TV syndicated package released in 1987, which, as memory serves, allowed for other failed DIC properties, such as Wolf Rock TV and Hulk Hogan's Rock & Wrestling, to gain new life. Unfortunately, no station in my market picked up the block. Somehow, I seem to recall Nickelodeon picking up the show, not just in Australia, but here in the US. However, I've never seen it, so there won't be a rating.

We'll leave you with the episode, "The Lost Planet". The Saban logo at the end comes from the 90's.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Saturday School: Timer reminds that You Are What You Eat (1970s)

It's been a while since we last checked in with Timer (Len Weinrib). Here, Timer takes us on a tour of the digestive system.

And to think that in later years, Weinrib claimed he didn't like doing these bits?

Rating: A.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell (1969)

From season 3 of The Flying Nun comes what is really a double treat.

Paul Winchell, sans puppets, guest stars as Claudio the Clown, whose attempt at upstaging Sister Bertrille (Sally Field) only results in Sister Bertrille getting the attention of television executives. Uh-oh! The other treat? You'll see it in the first couple of minutes of the episode. Sister Bertrille sings and strums a guitar. I've read that Sally Field actually recorded an album in the wake of The Flying Nun. Judge for yourselves if this was actually Grammy worthy or Golden Throat.

Here's "My Sister The Star":

I wonder how many kids realized "Dick Dastardly" (Winchell) was appearing in this episode?

Saturday School: The Hero High kids in He Sinks Starships (1981)

Most schools are out for the summer. Some high schools are wrapping up exams before protracted commencement rehearsals. For example, my alma mater, Troy High, will have their graduation day next Sunday, and will have rehearsals starting on, I believe, Thursday.

So let's take a trip back in time to 1981 and Hero High. The students are called upon to stop an alien menace in "He Sinks Starships".

Edit, 5/5/20: The video had to be replaced, and this copy restarts the climax of the episode at the 35 minute mark.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think Misty Magic's design was later reused for another project. Misty (Jerelyn Fields, ex-Curiosity Shop) might've been a more human prototype for He-Man's pal, Orko, who came along on television 2 years later. They both mean well, but their spells don't always work.

No rating. Didn't see this one the first time around.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Getting Schooled: The Great Space Coaster (1981)

The Great Space Coaster was the debut entry from Sunbow Entertainment, bowing in syndication in 1981, and enjoying a healthy 5 year run (1981-6).

The concept seemed to be lost amidst the format of the show, but the three human characters aren't exactly on board the Coaster on a voluntary basis. Baxter, the clown in charge of the Coaster, is himself on the run from his former boss, M. T. Promises (Empty Promises. Get it?).

As memory serves, the series resurfaced on cable (USA Network) after the end of its run. Unfortunately, the actors on the show were never heard from again. Coaster was co-created by Muppet veteran Kermit Love, and future Muppet puppeteer Kevin Clash is among the talents on the show. We know about the unfortunate end of Clash's run on Sesame Street, but you might not remember that this is where he had his first real break.

In this episode, there's a telethon to raise money for band instruments. Hmmmmm. Fat Albert managed to make do by improvising instruments. Why couldn't the Space Coasters?

Perhaps the most popular part of the show was Gary Gnu's newscasts. Wonder whatever happened to him?

Rating: B.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Toons After Dark: Boo Boo Runs Wild (1999)

Yogi Bear is up against it this time.

His BFF and cave-mate, Boo-Boo, has reached the edges of his tolerance for rules, and decides to return to the wilds of the forest. The second of two satirical Yogi Bear specials (carded as a Ranger Smith cartoon) from maverick animator John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy) bowed in 1999 on Cartoon Network, and has aired periodically on [adult swim] since that time.

Kricfalusi himself voices Boo Boo, while Stephen Worth nails a perfect mimic of Daws Butler's characterization of Yogi. Unfortunately, aside from a promising script, this has all the usual Spumco hallmarks.

The biggest problem is that Boo-Boo was miscolored. He's usually a brown bear, just like Yogi, not grey.

Two years later, Kricfalusi brought his failed Fox series, The Ripping Friends, to [adult swim], but, as documented previously, it flopped after dark, too. Undaunted, Kricfalusi brought Ren & Stimpy back two years after that, only for that to fail also.

Rating: C.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Saturday School: How should a parent reward a child? (1980's?)

From the creators of Schoolhouse Rock comes this cute little PSA that illustrates that a parent doesn't have to spoil a child with treats, but with love.

If anyone can tell me exactly when this was first presented, I'd appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Toon Legends: Mighty Mouse in Wolf! Wolf! (1944)

"Wolf! Wolf!" is the only Mighty Mouse short known to be in the public domain. As you could probably surmise, Mighty Mouse has to rescue lambs instead of other mice, with wolves subbing for cats as the villains du jour.

Luckily, Mighty Mouse would, ah, bulk up in due course.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sunday Funnies: Bucky O'Hare & The Toad Wars/Menace (1991)

Bucky O'Hare & The Toad Wars (or, Toad Menace as it was known outside the US) was a spin-off from a comic book created by Larry Hama (G. I. Joe) and Michael Golden, and published by artist Neal Adams' Continuity Comics. Airing on Sundays in much of the country in its lone season (1991-2), Bucky didn't get the attention some folks might think he deserved. I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating.

Anyway, the opening episode explains how a young human named Willy joined the crew captained by Bucky, a green-furred rabbit.

The comic book itself was a spin-off, as Bucky debuted in 1984 in an anthology book, but the relative infrequency of publishing might also have had something to do with the television show's failure.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Janet Waldo (1920-2016)

Today, we are paying tribute to one of the grand dames of voice acting.

Word came over the wires overnight that Janet Waldo had passed away at 96. Janet had kept busy in recent years, returning to radio and contributing to Focus On The Family's Adventures in Odyssey until being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Janet's career spanned an amazing seven decades, working in radio, movies, cartoons, and television.

Of course, you know some of her better known roles, such as Josie from Josie & the Pussycats....

Judy Jetson (The Jetsons)......

and Penelope Pitstop (Wacky Races, Perils of Penelope Pitstop):

Janet landed one significant live-action series gig, acting opposite Tony Franciosa in the 1964 sitcom, Valentine's Day, and might be best known to radio listeners for Meet Corliss Archer. Curiously, she turned down the lead in the TV version of that series.

Rest in peace, Janet.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Literary Toons: The Grinch Grinches The Cat in The Hat (1982)

Dr. Seuss decided to bring together two of his most famous creations in a half-hour special for ABC that served as the official coda to DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. The Grinch Grinches The Cat in The Hat, first broadcast in May 1982, was finished by DFE successor Marvel Productions, just as they had completed the Dennis The Menace special, Mayday For Mother, a year earlier, as we discussed the other day.

Mason Adams (Lou Grant), who had been doing voiceovers for Smuckers jellies and jams around this time, narrates and voices the Cat. Bob Holt, a long time DFE standby, is the Grinch.

Holt became the 3rd actor to essay the voice of the Grinch after Boris Karloff (whom Holt is impersonating) and Hans Conreid. Adams was the 2nd to voice the Cat, following Allan Sherman.

The plot seems to be something akin to the usual Saturday morning fare of the day, and one wonders if Seuss had ever been approached about doing a Saturday morning show of some kind.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Game Time: It's Academic (1961)

It is one of the longest running quiz shows in television history. It's Academic launched in Washington, DC, in 1961, and has expanded---and contracted---over the course of 55 years. When the series aired in New York, Art James served as host.

Here is an episode from 1963. Note that unlike an upstate contemporary, WRGB's Answers Please, or even the GE College Bowl, three teams compete instead of two, with three players on each team.

No rating.

From Comics To Toons: Spider-Man in Kilowatt Kaper (1967)

Spider-Man battles Electro for the 2nd time in his first season (1967-8) in "Kilowatt Kaper". An interesting sub-plot deals with J. Jonah Jameson hiring and firing Peter Parker over and over within 2 minutes---and Peter's not even in the Daily Bugle office during any of this.

Not too fond of the voice characterizaion of Electro. Too generic for the period.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tooniversary: Blackstar and the Crown of the Sorceress (1981)

A ways back, we discussed the fact that Filmation had used Edgar Rice Burroughs' star-crossed hero, John Carter, as an inspiration for their 1981 CBS series, Blackstar. A correspondent suggested that the elf-like beings that found astronaut John Blackstar (George DiCenzo) were based on the Seven Dwarfs of Snow White fame. Gossamer's design, I suspect, might've been tweaked 4 years later for She-Ra's friend, Cowl.

Come to think of it, they may have recycled some material from Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, which was still in edited reruns on CBS at that time, and, in fact, it was the final season for Tarzan that year. Judge for yourselves as Blackstar hunts down "The Crown of the Sorceress".

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Starcom: The US Space Force (1987)

In the late 80's, there was a movement afoot to get kids interested in becoming astronauts. As memory serves, there would be two series attached to this movement.

StarCom: The US Space Force, based on a short-lived toy line from Coleco, was one of those shows. DIC gained the license, but managed just 1 season (1987-8). As memory serves again, it aired on Sunday mornings, not on Saturdays, and it boggles the mind that no network executive worth his salt was willing to take a chance on this.

Coca Cola Telecommunications, which was a unit of Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television) handled distribution, making this one of four series Coca Cola teamed with DIC on (Dinosaucers, Real Ghostbusters, & The Karate Kid were the others), at least as far as I know. I recall the series airing in New York on channel 5, and I believe it was channel 23 in Albany.

However, I never saw the show, so there'll be no rating. We'll leave you with the intro.

Getting Schooled: Miss Peach of the Kelly School (1980-82)

I started out hunting for some animated clips based on Mell Lazarus' seminal comic strip, Miss Peach. The strip had first been adapted for television on Chuck Jones' 1971 ABC series, Curiosity Shop, but there aren't many clips from that series available.

I thought there might be an animated special or three that had aired on one of the networks, but that wasn't the case. Somewhere between 1980 & 1982, five half hour specials were produced, likely as Direct-to-Video (DTV) entries, using mostly puppets in support of actress Deborah Grover as Miss Peach. Voice talent includes Robin Duke (Saturday Night Live) & Martin Short (SCTV). Puppeteer Danny Seagren had previously worked on the original Electric Company as Spider-Man.

Here's one of the videos:

Posted in memory of Mell Lazarus, who passed away earlier this week.

No rating.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger vs. The Fly (1966)

The Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) takes on a gang of human flies who are after top secret government documents.

Seems as though The Fly (Hans Conreid) was a 1-shot villain, but was, in this writer's opinion, more suited for the live-action Wild, Wild West.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Mel Blanc (1944)

To my knowledge, I don't think Mel Blanc had ever appeared on any of Lucille Ball's television shows. I could be wrong, but....!

Anyway, here's Mel and Lucy, with Kay Kyser, in a newsreel presentation of G. I. Journal from 1944. Mel utilizes his Porky Pig voice for "The Sad Sack", and, yes, that was meant to be an adaptation of George Baker's comic book military clown.

Whenever Mel had Porky sing, the stuttering was included. Country singer Mel Tillis, another famous stutterer, figured out a way to sing in a normal voice, and I'd imagine that, if asked, Jimmy Stewart did, too. Hmmmm.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Muhammad Ali invades the World Wide Wrestling Federation (1976)

Forty years ago, as Muhammad Ali was preparing for a boxer vs. wrestler match vs. Japanese icon Antonio Inoki, Vincent J. (Jess) McMahon invited Ali to appear on the World Wide Wrestling Federation's Championship Wrestling program, which was routinely taped in Allentown, Pennsylvania. McMahon's son, Vincent K. McMahon, is the sole announcer, as Ali disrupts a match between future Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon and Baron Mikel Scicluna.

I remember reading an account of this in a newspaper and being stunned. Ali would eventually fight Inoki to a draw, but he would return to what was now the World Wrestling Federation (the "Wide" had been dropped) in 1985 as a referee for the first main event at Wrestlemania.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell (1966)

Paul Winchell, along with Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, made a guest appearance on The Lucy Show in October 1966. The plot? Winchell, visiting the bank where Lucy Carmichael (Lucille Ball) works, is cajoled into doing a charity show. As it ends up, he uses Lucy as a giant ventriloquist puppet!!

Ball & Winchell would meet twice more, both on Here's Lucy, which, although Lucy played a different character, was the follow-up to this series.

Literary Toons: Ocean of Destruction (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1967)

From Journey to The Center of The Earth:

Professor Lindenbrook (Ted Knight) and his party enter an "Ocean of Destruction".

Edit, 11/15/19: Had to change the text and the video. The closing credits have been edited off, and the video starts again at different points to explain the extra running time.

Why 20th Century Fox refuses to release this series, as well as the following year's Fantastic Voyage, on DVD here in the US, I don't know.

Rating: B.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

From Comics to Toons: The origin of Rocksteady & Bebop (1987)

To mark the release of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" this weekend, let's take a look at how producer Fred Wolf and friends adapted the origin of Shredder's henchmen, Rocksteady & Bebop, played in the movie by Stephen Fennelly, aka WWE superstar Sheamus (Rocksteady) and Gary Anthony Williams (Bebop).

Here's "Enter The Shredder":

No rating. Didn't see this the first time.

Friday, June 3, 2016

You Know The Voice(s): Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, & Marvin Miller (1961)

This also appears on my other blog, The Land of Whatever.

Here's a rare occasion where The Flintstones' Alan Reed & Mel Blanc are on the same live-action show, but, sorry to say, don't share the screen, appearing separately instead.

Strictly For Laffs was an unsold pilot shot in 1961. Comic Dave Barry hosts "an informal gathering" that includes Sid Melton (ex-Captain Midnight), Rose Marie (The Dick Van Dyke Show), and Marvin Miller, who had narrated the Gerald McBoing-Boing cartoons for UPA, and later would work for the Kroffts, Filmation, and DePatie-Freleng.

Getting Schooled: Why We Have Elections, or, The Kings of Snark (1972)

I realize the school year's almost over, but we are in an election year, after all. If you're of a certain age, like ye scribe, chances are you've seen this next offering.

Learning Corporation of America, at the time a unit of Columbia Pictures, commissioned former UPA producer Stephen Bosustow to create Why We Have Elections, otherwise known as The Kings of Snark, based on a children's book by Marie Winn. The voices heard in this short aren't credited, but they belong to Paul Winchell, who serves as narrator and voices several principal characters, and Larry Storch (The Brady Kids).

Does anyone here think Donald Trump would be a modern equivalent of King Boris with his bigoted approach to the Presidency?

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Game Time: You Bet Your Planet (The New Adventures of Captain Planet, 1993)

Had this up once before, but it was taken down due to copyright infringement issues by YouTube. This clip has been available for a while, so proper measures were taken.

Anyway, this episode of The New Adventures of Captain Planet finds the Planeteers on a distant planet where they have to face their eco-enemies in a bizarre parody of Family Feud entitled, "You Bet Your Planet". It doesn't help that the smarmy host (special guest star Casey Kasem) tries flirting with the women on both teams, just like original Feud host Richard Dawson would. I would guess that Dawson might've been approached about this gig, didn't like the script, and passed on what would've been his first gig for Hanna-Barbera in 20 years. Feud announcer Gene Wood returns to cartoons (he composed and sang the theme to The Adventures of Lariat Sam some 30-odd years earlier) to put words in the disembodied mouth that serves as an announcer. Said mouth would later be used to lip-sync B-52's frontman Fred Schneider's lame rap in the final season.

As a certain alien hottie might put it, real spacey.

Rating: B-.

From Comics to Toons: She-Hulk vs. Dr. Doom (1996)

From the 1996-8 Incredible Hulk series:

Dr. Doom (Simon Templeman) has taken control of the Hulk (Lou Ferrigno), sending the green goliath to Washington to destroy the Capitol. However, the Hulk's cousin, the She-Hulk, alias lawyer Jennifer Walters (Lisa Zane) is Doom's prisoner, but not for long.

The following video is an edited, She-Hulk-centric montage.

The story goes that UPN suits prevailed upon Marvel to have She-Hulk co-headline the 2nd and final season of the series, but with that promotion came a casting change, as Cree Summer replaced Zane as She-Hulk.

Unfortunately, it appears that we've seen the last of the Jade Giantess. Marvel has chosen to kill her off in the pages of Civil War II, out now, another bonehead play from the House of Lost Ideas.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Toon Legends: G. I. Pink (1968)

If Bugs Bunny could get into the Army, even if it was a fluke, then so can the Pink Panther.

In 1968's "G. I. Pink", the Panther enlists in the Army, so the Little Man tries to force him out, with the usual results.

Can't figure how they initially gave the Panther an oversize uniform, then got him the right size off camera. Perhaps an oversight?

Rating: A.