Sunday, July 31, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: The Justice League returns to Cartoon Network

The rumors you've probably heard are true. The Justice League is returning to Cartoon Network this fall after a lengthy absence with an all-new series that promises plenty of action, coupled with some lighter moments.

From what we know about Justice League Action, some familiar voices will be heard, including Kevin Conroy (Batman), Mark Hamill (The Joker), Gilbert Gottfried (reprising as Mr. Mxyzptlk from Superman: The Animated Series), and Josh Keaton (Green Lantern Hal Jordan). Also, there will be some characters relatively new to the DCAU 2.0, including the Space Cabby (Patton Oswalt, ex-The King of Queens). No firm launch date has been announced as yet, although the following trailer premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con last weekend:

The plan is for 2 11 minute episodes to fill a half-hour. Knowing CN as we do, they'll play this into the ground as quickly as possible, but they'd be well served to keep this on the air leading into the live-action "Justice League" movie coming next year. Then again, knowing CN........!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger in A Time To Die (1966)

A greedy land baron schemes to take over his state by force. Particularly, by using time bombs to kill local politicos opposing him for governor. The Lone Ranger takes up the investigation in "A Time To Die":

Had it been made today, it would've taken three times as much time to properly tell the story.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Personal Favorites: Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (1953)

"Duck! Rabbit, Duck!" is the conclusion of Chuck Jones' trilogy of hunting shorts with Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, & Daffy Duck, released in 1953. It's set in the winter, unlike the first two parts of the trilogy, "Rabbit Fire" & "Rabbit Seasoning". Regardless of the season, Daffy is still gullible enough to fall for Bugs' tricks. Then again, so is Elmer.

Edit, 9/29/2020: The video has been deleted, hence the title card screencap.

This might explain why Daffy was later portrayed as being dumber than a bag of hammers around Bugs.

Rating: A++.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summertainment: Tom & Jerry duel with a Beach Bully (1975)

The one drawback fans have about Tom & Jerry's 1st run at Hanna-Barbera (1975-78) is that the chases had ended, and the cat & the mouse were BFF's. Anti-violence statutes put into effect while the classic shorts aired on CBS in the 60's put Tom & Jerry in a difficult spot.

In "Beach Bully", Tom & Jerry spend a relaxing day on the beach, but have to deal with a disrespectful feline, finding some assistance from a bulldog and some waves crashing onto the beach.

One of the better entries in the series.

Rating: A.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Dancing Machine (1974)

Time to get back on board the Soul Train with what would be one of the last Jackson 5ive hits before the group shortened the name to simply, The Jacksons. From the winter of 1974, here's "Dancing Machine":

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Toonfomercial: A 21st century cat & mouse game (2012)

Viewers in my home state of New York are used to seeing the CGI-driven ads for Catseye Pest Control. However, what they're accustomed to seeing is an abridged version of the ad we're going to show you shortly.

Caddie, Catseye's mascot, is the 3rd most famous orange cat, after comic strip felines Garfield and Heathcliff, of course, but probably isn't as well known outside of New York. What I had intended to do was locate a 2-part bit where Caddie comes out of the bullpen, signaling Catseye's sponsorship of the "Call to the Bullpen" during Mets & Yankees games shown in upstate New York. This bit has also been used by the Tri-City Valleycats at their home games, but not so far this season.

Finding the longer version of a now-4-year-old ad, though, was a pleasant, surprising, second choice.

For what it's worth, the other two costumed cats with Caddie are known as Brainy & Brawny, and don't appear as often. Now, if Catseye were to go national.......!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Action Man (1995)

DIC & Bohbot collaborated on a licensed adaptation of Hasbro's Action Man in 1995. The syndicated series ran for 2 seasons, airing on cable on Nickelodeon, or so Wikipedia claims. Don't recall seeing it on Nick, to tell you the truth.

I didn't pay much attention to the show, so there's not to be a rating. Let's look at the open:

Curiously, Action Man returned in 2000, but this time, Alex Mann (Action Man) is an extreme sports enthusiast in a CGI series that aired on Fox, and was produced by Canada's Mainframe Entertainment. We'll look at that another time.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Maltese Monkey (Ghost Busters, 1975)

Halloween's 3 months away, but let's get a head start with the series premiere of Ghost Busters from 1975.

Jake Kong (Forrest Tucker) and Eddie Spenser (Larry Storch) have to stop a pair of gangsters from summoning the ghost of their former boss and at the same time capture "The Maltese Monkey". Billy Barty, fresh from Sigmund & the Sea Monsters, and Johnny Brown (Good Times) guest star.

As we've talked about before, series creator Marc Richards misfired in a few spots. While this clearly was a parody of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon----and Brown does try to pass as an African American Sydney Greenstreet---the sitcom format defeats the idea that this could've been better done as a 2-parter, complete with cliffhanger. Fortunately, Richards and Filmation would correct that oversight with the animated sequel 11 years later.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Animated World of DC Comics: A complete episode of Super Friends (1983)

One recurring trope in Wonder Twins shorts, both in 1977 and from 1980-3, was the use of teenagers bullying other, weaker teens into some dangerous stunts that are more dangerous than they realized.

Case in point is "Roller Coaster". The one quibble here is that the abandoned amusement park is right across the road from the movie theatre the Twins are exiting, presumably after seeing a certain movie franchise. The cliched first changes could've been left out for clarity's sake. Voice director Wally Burr voices Atom.

Edit, 1/16/19: Dailymotion has deleted the video due to a copyright claim from an international rights holder that isn't Warner Bros.. If/when it returns, we'll bring it back.

This is one of those cases where, instead of the twins being together for what otherwise could've been a movie date, Jayna (Louise Williams) could've been out with Robin. A missed opportunity if there ever was one.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Literary Toons: Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1976)

From season 1 of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle comes a slightly altered adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan & the Golden Lion, which explains the origin of the great golden lion, Jadbalja, who was raised & trained by Tarzan himself (Robert Ridgely). Burroughs' original story also included Tarzan's wife, Jane, who would not appear in the cartoon until the final season, and son Korak, who Filmation never used at all.

Rating: A-.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Rare Treats: Bananaman (1983)

Time to go across the pond and scope out a long forgotten British hero. Well, forgotten insofar as the US is concerned, that is.

Bananaman began life as a comic book character in England in 1980. Three years later, the BBC commissioned an animated series, with cast members of the comedy series, The Goodies, providing the voices.

Here in the US, Bananaman aired on Nickelodeon, usually as filler for fellow Brit Danger Mouse. As you'll see in the following video, the character designs were taken directly from the comic books themselves.

Here's "Bananaman Meets Dr. Gloom", with a plot that I'm sure looks familiar to some of you.

Reportedly, they've been working on a movie and/or a stage production based on the comics over in England. Something I doubt we'll see here.

Rating: C.

Daytime Heroes: Popeye as Robin Hood (Robin Hood-Winked, 1948)

Popeye steps into a loose adaptation of a well known tale in 1948's "Robin Hood-Winked".

Robin/Popeye is accompanied by Little John, who looks suspiciously like a distant relative of a minor Fleischer star, Gabby. Olive is the owner of a local pub. Bluto is the bullying tax collector (Is there any other kind in these cartoons?). You can guess the rest.

10 years later, Tom & Jerry would do a similar story, with the same title, except that there was no hyphen in "Hoodwinked".

Rating: B-.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturtainment: Precious Pupp in Precious' Bone (1965)

It's way past time we checked in with Precious Pupp, don't you think?

Every dog has a bone they'd love to hang on to. Precious (Don Messick) is no exception, as we'll see in "Precious' Bone".

No rating. Have no memory of seeing this one.

You Know The Voice: John Stephenson (1959)

The following video also appears at The Land of Whatever:

As Hanna-Barbera was getting off the ground, John Stephenson, who would go on to become one of their most reliable actors, was getting steady work in front of the camera. Case in point is a 1959 episode of Mackenzie's Raiders.

Stephenson plays Jack Taylor in "The Hawk", in which Mackenzie (Richard Carlson) must deal with a renegade he once court-martialed (a pre-Star Trek DeForest Kelley). A twist is that the Hawk is also looking to reunite with his son, now with his mother and stepfather (Stephenson).

Friday, July 15, 2016

Daytime Heroes: Popeye in Hits & Missiles (1960)

Popeye takes a trip to the moon, along with Olive & Wimpy, in 1960's "Hits & Missiles". Portions of this short were excerpted when Jack Mercer (Popeye, Wimpy) appeared several years later on To Tell The Truth.

I believe this was intended to be released through Paramount, but they had closed their cartoon studio, and a handful of unfinished shorts were completed and released as part of King Features' TV package.

Rating: A.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Game Time: Wing Commander Academy (1996)

Wing Commander Academy, a short lived USA Network cartoon series produced by Universal, was spun off from the Wing Commander video game series, but only got one season as part of USA's Action Extreme Team cartoon block, the follow-up to Cartoon Express.

Despite a star-laden cast that included Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, and Malcolm McDowell, Academy was met with viewer indifference, and quickly cancelled after 1 season. I think that was the end of 1st-run animation on the network. The live-action "Wing Commander" movie with Freddie Prinze, Jr. followed a couple of years later.

Didn't see the show, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with the series opener.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tooniversary: The Incredible Hulk vs. Boomerang and the Secret Empire (1966)

By now, you're probably aware, especially if you checked my other blog, The Land of Whatever, that Marvel Comics decided to kill off The Incredible Hulk pro tempore. I've said my piece on that subject, so let's take a trip back to 1966, and the Green Goliath's battles with the mysterious Secret Empire and "The Man Called Boomerang".

Rating: B.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

From Primetime to Daytime: A bee-centric episode of Phineas and Ferb (2013)

From the final season of Phineas & Ferb:

It's all about bees. In the opener, "Bee Day", Isabella and her friends are part of a group loosely based on the Campfire Girls more than the Girl Scouts, and have a learning experience about bees. The second half of the show reveals that one of the girls has a dog, Pinky, who is, like Phineas' pet platypus, Perry, a secret agent. In "Bee Story", Phineas turns the girls into bees, even shrinking them down to insect size, when their bee hive is stolen by an adult obsessed with the royal jelly of bees.

Edit: 6/18/18: The video was deleted, and others have had the sound sped up. We'll go with this excerpt that has Isabella using the machine herself for one more mission.....

Didn't see "Bee Day". "Bee Story" gets an A.

Monday, July 11, 2016

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Space Strikers (1995)

In 1996, UPN went full-bore with a Sunday children's block (Saturdays in some markets), but before that, they had experimented with a CGI animated series that was the first produced for the network exclusively.

Space Strikers came from Haim Saban's production company. Wikipedia claims the show first aired in South Korea, where much of the animation was produced, in 1993, but, to tell you the truth, I hadn't heard of the show until today.

What it was, friends, was a loose adaptation of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, this time set in outer space. The classic tale had been done in animated form before, but never like this. David Coburn, fresh from Captain Planet, voiced the futuristic Capt. Nemo, who now had to deal with an old friend turned enemy, who called himself Captain Phantom.

I think you can tell this was developed with a toy line in mind that never came to fruition. We'll leave you with the open, as there's no rating.

Toon Legends: Spider-Man discovers The Sky is Falling (1967)

If any one Spider-Man villain deserved a better treatment, it was the Vulture.

Originally conceived as an older man given new life, shall we say, as a winged villain, Vulture appears in "The Sky is Falling" as a seemingly younger man, much younger than he'd been portrayed in the books. In later years, Marvel would come up with a younger Vulture, meant to replace the original, but it didn't seem to work....

You'd think Peter Parker (Paul Soles) would've tried to cover the black eye (colored blue for some reason here) from Spidey's fight with the Vulture in the first few seconds of the episode, but in those days, such plot holes were never filled properly.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

On DVD: Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, season 1 (1976)

5 1/2 years ago, I first reviewed Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, which marks its 40th anniversary this year. The DVD release of the 1st season is timed to coincide with the release last week of the current live action film, "The Legend of Tarzan", beating the movie by a few days.

Robert Ridgely (ex-Uncle Croc's Block) voices Tarzan, and Filmation adapted a fair number of Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels for television. As a result, the series is faithful to the books. By that, I mean Tarzan speaks perfect English, not the fractured speech of some of the early movies. Johnny Weismuller's famous battle cry is dubbed in, used throughout the series. For those that inquire about Jane, Tarzan's wife, she only appears in a season 4 episode with her father. Much like Disney's later Legend of Tarzan, Tarzan & Jane are not married. Seasons 2-4 are not yet available on DVD, but if sales warrant, WB may just bring them out in due course.

The series opens with "Tarzan & The Lost City of Gold", which would lead to a pair of sequels. Ted Cassidy, in his only job for Filmation, guest starred, but due to commitments to other projects, was replaced with Alan Oppenheimer (ex-The Six Million Dollar Man) in subsequent sequels. Oppenheimer began a long association with Filmation by voicing a number of guest roles in this series.

For now, we'll give you the open, narrated in character by Ridgely.

Where WB failed with the DVD release is the quality of the prints of each episode. Various degrees of age are clearly visible, and WB could've spent more money remastering the prints for better quality.

Rating for the DVD: B+.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Freedom Force vs. The Plant Soldiers (1978)

The Freedom Force are victimized by a mysterious thief which broke into the Hall of Treasures while Isis (Diane Pershing) and Toshi are---get this---playing Hide & Seek.

Isis creating duplicates of herself was something new, not used in her live-action series, which suggests that writer Tom Swale---who'd later work for Hanna-Barbera---thought expanding the scope of Isis' powers might make her more interesting. Meh.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Daytime Heroes: Stamp Day For Superman (1954)

After season 2 of Adventures of Superman had wrapped, the producers were contacted by the Treasury Department to produce a shorter-than-normal episode of the series.

"Stamp Day For Superman" serves as a teaching tool for kids to not only learn about stamps, but also savings bonds.

Dedicated in memory of Noel Neill (Lois Lane), who passed away over the weekend at 95.

Rating: A.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Summertainment: Patriotic Popeye (1957)

Kids will be kids. Popeye is trying to teach his nephews about enjoying a safe July 4th holiday, but the boys want to play with fireworks, regardless of the consequences. "Patriotic Popeye" has some hard lessons to teach.

Riding on the buses yesterday, I couldn't help but notice the increasing number of "safe" fireworks being sold, but "safe" isn't always a guarantee. New York Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul found that out a year ago, and lost part of a finger as a result of an accident.

"Patriotic Popeye" gets an A-.

Daytime Heroes: Wild Bill Hickok (1951)

I first ran across reruns of Wild Bill Hickok when they aired on CBN (now Freeform) in the 80's. Back then, of course, Hickok was airing as much as six days a week, but when the series ended its original run in 1958, it was airing concurrently on 2 networks, ABC & CBS, the former on Friday afternoons.

Guy Madison had the title role as Hickok, aided by comedy relief sidekick Jingles (Andy Devine). Basically, this was a typical Western aimed at younger viewers during the period. Sony owns the rights to the series, as it was originally distributed through Screen Gems.

Even though school's out for the summer, save for summer school, here's "The Lady School Teacher":

You'd think this would be playing somewhere now, like, for example, INSP or Encore Westerns, but as far as I know, it isn't.

Rating: B.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Saturtainment: Remember Kool-Aid Man? (1974)

A few weeks back, Progressive Insurance's ad agency resurrected the Kool-Aid Man, the sentient pitcher of the long-running fruit flavored drink, now made by Kraft.

However, in the 70's, you couldn't escape him. Commercials featuring the character were as much a part of Saturday morning television as the cartoons themselves. The 80's brought a video game from Atari, and a short-lived comic book series, usually a promotional tie-in, since I never saw it in stores, published first by Marvel, then Archie.

From 1978, Kool-Aid Man is put in a position to be a hero.....

Prior to the Progressive ad, Kool-Aid Man's last appearance was in an episode of Family Guy. Knowing Seth McFarlane, it probably wasn't in good taste.