Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Saturday Morning Ringside: AWF Warriors of Wrestling (1995)

In 1994, Chicago promoter Paul Alperstein came up with a novel idea in professional wrestling, creating a promotion that would have matches contested in a format similar to boxing and the then-up-and-coming UFC.

The American Wrestling Federation, however, was a way station for veteran stars of the AWA, NWA/WCW, and WWF/E who were looking to extend their careers. In short, this was really no different than any number of independent promotions in the US that will sign name talent to boost attendance or, in Alperstein's case, television ratings.

AWF Warriors of Wrestling premiered 22 years ago, with former AWA announcer Mick Karch doing play-by-play alongside Terry Taylor. You won't hear it in the premiere, but over the course of the two year run, Taylor would demonstrate some skills as an impressionist, doing mimics of Dusty Rhodes, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and others, while pretending to abandon Karch in the booth.

Following is a sample episode:

Matches were meant to be 3 rounds, 4 minutes apiece, with a short rest break in between rounds. Translated, it was a 15 minute time limit with a twist. Unfortunately, the AWF didn't last long on local screens, if at all, and was a distant memory by the time the bigger promotions began the "Monday Night Wars".

Rating: B-.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Looney TV: The Windblown Hare (1949)

Bugs Bunny meets the Three Little Pigs in a warped reboot of the latter's classic story in 1949's "The Windblown Hare". The Pigs aren't exactly the simple siblings as originally presented, oh no. They have to be the villains here, conning Bugs into buying the straw & stick houses that will be blown out by the Big Bad Wolf. Look for a cross-reference to Little Red Riding Hood, which Bugs skewered a few years earlier.

Edit, 11/13/19: The video was deleted, and the only copies left have sped-up intros. Here, then, is the title card:

The Windblown Hare title card.png

That's how you do satire, Cartoon Network.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Spider-Man vs. Dr. Doom (1981)

I've written before how the 1981 Spider-Man solo series didn't air in the home district, even though it did launch 2 days after Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends premiered on NBC. Some episodes were released individually or in groups on video.

In "Doctor Doom, Master of the World", the Latverian monarch abducts the President and places him under mind control. I've said in the past that I had assumed that Brad Crandall, long the voice of Sunn Classic Pictures, voiced Doom, but a Wikipedia entry claims that it was Ralph James (Mork & Mindy) who essayed the part. Judge for yourselves.

Note, too, that Spidey/Peter Parker is voiced by a different actor than on Amazing Friends. Seems Marvel's then-nascent television arm, formerly DePatie-Freleng, was still finding its way, as it would have made more sense to use the same actor on both shows.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Saturday School: The Tiny Sea (Micro Ventures, 1968)

Only 4 Micro Ventures shorts were produced for the Banana Splits in 1968. Here's "The Tiny Sea".

Bruce Watson (Mike) was also heard, along with Don Messick, in the Three Musketeers segments of the show.

Too bad they can't collect these shorts into a single disc DVD.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: We Are Family (1979)

Disco Larry has served up Sister Sledge's monster hit of 1979, "We Are Family", from an appearance on American Bandstand. The graphics that pop up during the performance suggest this was recorded on VHS.

The Pittsburgh Pirates adopted "We Are Family" as their theme song en route to a World Series title that fall. Sister Sledge would score again with "He's The Greatest Dancer", but then would slowly fade from the pop and R & B scenes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Toons After Dark: Carlton, Your Doorman (1980)

During the course of Rhoda's run (1974-8), folks wondered if they'd ever get a glimpse of Carlton, the doorman in Rhoda Morganstern's apartment building in Manhattan. No, they wouldn't. Nearly 2 years later, the man who gave voice to Carlton, Lorenzo Music, decided it was time to let everyone see Carlton, albeit in an animated cartoon.

Carlton, Your Doorman has only aired once, in 1980. Why that is, I don't know. It would end up being the last time Music would essay the role, but his future in cartoons was set.

Music not only is the star, but also co-wrote and co-produced the program. After six years of playing Carlton, Music moved on, and you know the rest of his body of work, mostly as Garfield. He also spent the first two seasons of Real Ghostbusters as Dr. Peter Venkman, but left the show to work on Garfield & Friends, with Dave Coulier (Full House) taking over as Peter. And let's not forget those crash dummies ads for the Ad Council.

Co-directors Charles Swenson & Fred Wolf would later join forces with Glen Murakami and produce the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, among other things.

Rating: None.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tooniversary: George of the Jungle in Monkey Business (1967)

Look who's turning 50 this year.

George of the Jungle, Jay Ward's dimwitted send-up of Tarzan, hits the milestone. If there was ever a cartoon hero who needed to be tested for concussions, George would be it, considering how many times he's crashed into trees.

Digression over. In "Monkey Business", George (Bill Scott, who also is one of the executive producers) has to rescue Ape (Paul Frees) from a pair of poachers. Frees, of course, also narrates.

The shorter intro at the start of this video is the one used to queue each of George's adventures.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 20, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: Fred Flintstone as Superstone (1965)

Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed) will do anything to 1) make a few extra bucks and 2) impress his daughter, Pebbles. In this 5th season episode of The Flintstones, Fred steps in when the star of the TV show, Superstone, quits, right before a scheduled personal appearance in Bedrock. This leaves Barney (Mel Blanc) to mind Pebbles, as well as his own adopted son, Bamm-Bamm.

Edit, 5/21/2020: Dailymotion has deleted all available copies of this episode. In its place, we found a sampler clip from YouTube:

Superstone, of course, was a parody of Superman, who would be licensed to Hanna-Barbera 8 years after this episode aired, with the launch of Super Friends.

Rating: B.

You Know the Voice: Clarence Nash (1963)

Waaaaaakkkk!!!! Clarence "Ducky" Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck, appeared as an imposter on To Tell The Truth in October 1963. Gene Rayburn (Match Game, ex-Choose Up Sides) was filling in for Bud Collyer. Panelists Orson Bean & Tom Poston would have that chore the following two weeks.

Nash appears in game 2, but didn't get a single vote from Bean, Poston, Sheila MacRae, & Kitty Carlisle.

Bean & Rayburn would switch places the following week, and the panel would correctly identify two more challengers.

There is at least one episode of Choose Up Sides now available on YouTube. We'd previously posted a standard intro, so maybe we'll get a full show up soon.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Duckwood (1964)

Dandy Deal brings another "lost" Terrytoons character, Duckwood, who, according to the Big Cartoon Database, appeared in 3 shorts in 1964. Duckwood, however, appears to be the second banana, as his partner, a WC Fields soundalike, carries most of the action. Dayton Allen did the voices.

Here's the last of those three shorts, "Oil Thru The Day":

Edit, 1/25/21: The video was deleted as Dandy Deal lost his account. Instead, we have this still shot:

The music at the end was later recycled for syndicated reruns of Mighty Mouse in the 70's.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering Ivan Koloff (1942-2017)

It has been a tradition in wrestling that some characters aren't really foreigners or Native Americans. For example, the late Chief Jay Strongbow was, for many years, played by a man of Italian background. The late Yokozuna (Rodney Anoai), billed as being from Japan early in his run with the then-World Wrestling Federation in the 90's, was actually Samoan, and came over from the AWA, where he had been billed as Kokina Maximus, and, yes, as a Samoan. Mr. Fuji, who passed away late last year, wasn't from Japan, either, but really from Hawaii, and perhaps as a nod to his true heritage, adopted the look of the state's most famous fictional detective, Charlie Chan, in the mid-80's.

That brings us to Ivan Koloff, who passed away yesterday at 74. Koloff was no more legitimately a Russian than his storyline nephew, Nikita, was. Nikita was actually as American as apple pie. Ivan, born Oreal Parris, was orignally from the Quebec province in Canada, but after an early stint as an Irish heel named Red McNulty, adopted the persona that would define his career. Koloff, managed by Captain Lou Albano, defeated Bruno Sammartino in 1971 at Madison Square Garden to win his only World title as a singles wrestler. It was, unfortunately, a short reign, as Koloff dropped the strap less than a month later to Pedro Morales.

Strangely, Koloff is not in the WWE Hall of Fame. That might be because he spent a larger chunk of his career in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where many fans rediscovered him in the 80's when the Atlanta based superstation, (W)TBS, began beaming in the Northeast. Koloff won several tag team titles in the NWA with various partners, including Nikita and, before that, Don Kernodle.

Edit, 6/19/19: Had to delete the NWA footage. In its place is a 1983 WWF squash.

In 1995, Ivan Koloff renounced the partying lifestyle of the 70's & 80's, and became a born again Christian, just like Nikita. Oreal Parris became an ordained minister, a path that fellow heels Tully Blanchard & Ted DiBiase, Sr. would also walk at the end of their careers. However, Parris was also dealing with liver cancer, the result of all that partying and substance abuse. On Friday, God called him home. Maybe now WWE will consider adding Koloff to the Hall of Fame. Virtually all of the company's World champions from its early years, from Buddy Rogers to Edge, with the exception of current stars John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple H, to name a few, are already in the Hall, and Triple H had done yeoman's work behind the scenes to get Sammartino enshrined a few years ago. The "Cerebral Assassin" is also a historian, so figure he'll get the ball rolling soon enough.

Rest in peace, Ivan.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Toon Rock: What's Your Sign? (1972)

It's been a while since we queued up something from the Bedrock Rockers via the Flintstone Comedy Hour from 1972, marking its 40th anniversary this year. Here's "What's Your Sign?".

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering George "The Animal" Steele (1937-2017)

The Grim Reaper's been very busy in the wrestling world over the last couple of weeks. First, there was Chavo Guerrero, Sr. (known as Chavo Classic for marketing purposes during his brief stint with WWE in 2004), who passed away last week. Then, in quick succession, over the last 48 hours, we've lost Hall of Famer George "The Animal" Steele, whom we'll talk about shortly, Nicole Bass, who, according to conflicting reports, either is still on life support, or may have passed on at 52, and, finally, former WWWF World champ Ivan Koloff, who lost a bout with liver cancer.

The interesting paradox with Steele (William James Myers) is that the Animal was, essentially, an alter-ego. Outside the ring, the college educated Myers was a football coach and teacher in his native Michigan who took his name from a rival football coach. This would explain why a lot of Steele's appearances were mostly in the summer. Once he gave up his academic career, Steele became a full-time wrestler, settling into the guise of a modern neanderthal with an appetite for turnbuckles. He was never a World champion, but was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

We'll look at Ivan Koloff tomorrow, but now, here's a video montage of Steele from June 1983, with Vince McMahon & Pat Patterson at the mic's. Both matches are against the same jobber, Steve King, with a promo in between promoting what would be a World title match vs. Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden.

Beneath the persona of the Animal laid a brother in Christ who was called home. Rest in peace.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Toon Rock: Cold Wisconsin Nights (Sittin' By The Fireside)(1969)

While Ted Nichols was the credited musical director for the Cattanooga Cats series, the musical numbers were produced by Mike Curb, who was also scoring Ken Snyder's two freshman series for ABC that same year, Hot Wheels & Skyhawks. Curb took the sneaky route with this next track.

Credited as "Sittin' By The Fireside", this song was originally known as "Cold Wisconsin Nights", and recorded by the American Revolution about a year or two before this series hit the air. The common link? Curb produced both records, along with Michael Lloyd. Sounds to me like he used the original American Revolution track in this spot, and changed the title, thinking no one would be the wiser.

Well, it is the middle of winter, after all......

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Spiderversary: Spider-Man vs. the Scorpion (1967)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man's TV debut. From that first season, we present the first TV appearance of the Scorpion, a common crook who was given powers by a mad scientist hired by J. Jonah Jameson as part of the publisher's obsessive quest to discredit the wall-crawler. Here's "Never Step on a Scorpion":

Rating: B.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentoons: Popeye's Valentine's Day Special: Sweethearts at Sea (1979)

Our final Valentoon for this year features Popeye.

Unsurprisingly, during season 1 of The All-New Popeye Hour, CBS managed to gain a primetime special, the first for the spinach-eating sailor (Jack Mercer). "Sweethearts at Sea" is an elongated version of a typical Popeye plot from the 60's involving the Sea Hag (Marilyn Schreffler, who also voices Olive Oyl), who all of a sudden is smitten with Popeye. Bluto (Allan Melvin) is, of course, more than willing to see to it that he gets Olive all to himself, but you know how this will end, don't you?

Yes, it's the same theme song used on Saturday mornings. I guess the intention was that if possible, they could replay this in the rerun cycle of the regular series, but I'm not sure if they ever did.

No rating.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Toonfomercial: Donald Duck shills for the March of Dimes (1954)

Disney cleverly edited a Donald Duck short to create this ad for the March of Dimes from 1954. Huey, Dewey, & Louie made $3 from shoveling snow, but they want to spend the money on sodas. Donald's got other ideas.

Valentoons: Romie-o & Julie-8 (1979)

Canada's Nelvana Studios served up a very, very loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, set in the far flung future.

Romie-o & Julie-8 was premiered in syndication in April 1979, but hasn't seen the light of day much since. As with The Devil & Daniel Mouse, ex-Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian wrote much of the music, aided this time by The Band's Richard Manuel and a then-unknown blues singer-songwriter who'd later become a household name, especially in the home district, Rory Block.

The plot: The titular androids meet at a convention, where Romie-o saves Julie-8 from an overly amorous human. We all know that robots aren't supposed to have human emotions, but it's become increasingly common in science fiction to give androids human feelings, to make it easier for them to fit in. Luckily, unlike Shakespeare's original story, this has a happy ending. Of course it would.

How the networks passed on this, I'll never know, though it probably did air on a Canadian network........!

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Honey (1970)

From Archie's Funhouse comes this romantic tune, just in time for Valentine's Day. Here's "Honey":

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Teen Week on Body Language (1985)

Body Language, a mid-80's CBS game show that was a revival of Goodson-Todman's 1975 series, Showoffs, had been on the air less than a year when the network acceded to viewer requests to let kids play the game.

And so, right before Easter, on the week of April 8-12, 1985, the first Teen Week commenced on Body Language. Actors Jason Bateman, at the time on It's Your Move, and Kim Fields (The Facts of Life) were featured stars.

This was so successful, the kids were brought back during the summer. Unfortunately, Body Language was cancelled in January 1986.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto vs. the Black Arrow (1966)

The writers of the 1966 Lone Ranger series didn't exactly have Robert Louis Stevenson in mind when they came up with the masked "Black Arrow" (Michael Rye) as an opponent for Tonto (Shep Menken), but make of this however you will.

This just wasn't given enough time. Period.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: John Doormat (1956)

In the late 50's, Gene Deitch was brought to Terrytoons to help develop new stars. Deitch decided that it was past time that Terrytoons began creating human characters to complement, though in this case they would replace, classic characters like Heckle & Jeckle and Mighty Mouse.

Unfortunately, John Doormat was not the answer.

Doormat appeared in 4 shorts total between 1956-9, but the animation was much more limited than usual, lacking the fluidity of earlier works. It didn't help that Doormat wasn't really a likeable character. As demonstrated in "Another Day, Another Doormat", Doormat is, to use modern parlance, whipped.

I think I can see why these shorts have rarely aired on television.

Rating: C-.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

You Know The Voice: Bill Thompson (1959)

To cartoon buffs, Bill Thompson is best known as the original voice of Droopy, and also essayed the role of park ranger J. Audubon Woodlore in a few Disney cartoons. Like many voice actors of the Golden Age, Bill came from radio (particularly Fibber McGee & Molly), but he was in another line of work when he was brought to New York to appear on To Tell The Truth in 1959. Another radio alum and voice actor, of course, is host Bud Collyer (Superman).

Bill is in game 2, which begins around the 9 minute mark or so.

Figuring out which of the three men was Bill was rather easy, wasn't it?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Family Toons: The Jetsons in Miss Solar System (1963)

Jane Jetson (Penny Singleton) enters a beauty contest in which husband George (George O'Hanlon) is one of the judges. We've shown you the musical number used in "Miss Solar System", but now you get this complete episode of The Jetsons.

Edit, 8/29/2020: The video has been deleted. In its place is a title card created for the 1985 revival.

Later this year, the Jetsons will meet some of the superstars of the WWE in a brand new DTV. What next?

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Hare Remover (1945-6)

Elmer Fudd (Arthur Q. Bryan) gives it a go as a scientist, attempting to develop a potion a la Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Unfortunately, Elmer can't seem to make it work, until Bugs Bunny (Mel Blanc) happens along. Chaos ensues in "Hare Remover", directed by an uncredited Frank Tashlin.

The copyright date is 1945, but it was not released to theatres until March 1946.

Edit, 11/13/19: The video was deleted, and the only copies left have sped up intros. Here's a still from the picture:


Bugs would actually meet someone more akin to Dr. Jekyll a few years later in "Hyde & Hare".

Rating: A-.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dino Riders (1988)

Some toys just weren't meant for television.

Tyco introduced the Dino Riders in 1988, and licensed the product to Marvel for not only a comic book miniseries, but a short-lived animated series that was a component of Marvel Action Universe, a weekly syndicated anthology series that Marvel had released. The comics came out after the series had ended.

As with Sectaurs, which we looked at yesterday, we never saw the show when it first came out, so there isn't a rating. Take note of the animation in the first couple of minutes of the opener, as this was inspired by A-Ha's 1985 video, "Take on Me".

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion (1986)

Here's a toyetic cartoon that didn't quite make the grade.

Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion (to use the full title) launched as a toy line from Coleco in 1984. Marvel Comics acquired a license to produce a comic book in 1985, which lasted 8 bi-monthly issues. In the spring of 1986, Ruby-Spears, instead of Marvel, produced a 5-part miniseries that was supposed to lead to an ongoing series the following fall, but there was not a continuation to be had.

Never saw it, so there's no rating. We'll leave you with the open:

Friday, February 3, 2017

Saturtainment: Quacula (1979)

Quacula was a backup feature in Filmation's New Adventures of Mighty Mouse & Heckle & Jeckle, which ran for 1 season on CBS in 1979. Actually, by the time the season ended, the series had been reduced to a half-hour. Why? Well, there's an explanation for that.

Animator and comics artist Scott Shaw! had created a vampire duck called Duckula three years earlier for a independent publisher, Star*Reach. When he saw that Quacula had a few too many similarities to his creation, Shaw! filed suit against Filmation. The matter was settled out of court, resulting in Quacula getting cancelled after all 16 episodes had aired. Those shorts had to be edited off subsequent rebroadcasts.

Frank Welker performs all the voices, except for Theodore Bear (co-executive producer Norm Prescott), forever scheming to evict Quacula and his egg-shaped coffin from the aging mansion they call home.

Up until now, English language versions of the shorts were hard to come by. One enterprising soul on YouTube put all 16 together (I believe), so binge to your heart's content, as the shorts add up to nearly 2 hours of comedy.

There are, of course, some flaws. For example, vampires don't cast reflections in mirrors or windows, and yet Quacula has a hand-held mirror he can use.

The British, of course, introduced us to Count Duckula a few years later, which was far more popular. I wonder if Shaw! had any issues with him.....

Rating: C.

Tooniversary: The Fantastic Four vs. Diablo (1967)

The petty squabbling between Fox and Marvel/Disney in recent times has resulted in Marvel breaking up The Fantastic Four in the books, at least until such time where Marvel/Disney can regain movie rights to the FF, considering that Fox has made three FF movies in the last 12 years, and all three have failed to live up to fan expectations. In fact, the movies have been progressively worse, culminating in the stink bomb that Fox coughed up in 2015.

Take heart, though, peeps. There's always the cartoons of the 60's, 70's, 90's, and even the abysmal World's Greatest Heroes series that Marvel outsourced to Mike Young and Moonscoop about a decade or so ago.

Hanna-Barbera's adaptation marks 50 years this year. To celebrate, let's take you back to the FF's first meeting with the alchemist known as "Diablo":

Rating: B.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Personal Favorites: House of Tomorrow (1949)

From the warped imagination of Tex Avery comes the House of Tomorrow, which was released in 1949. Narrated by Frank Graham.

I wish Boomerang would play this and the rest of the ".....of Tomorrow" series.

Rating: A.

Kids were getting schooled on healthy eating in the 50's, too (1959)

Personal note. I went back to my alma mater the other night for a basketball game. After the junior varsity game ended, I meandered down to the cafeteria, which doubles as a concession stand during basketball season. I couldn't help but notice that they don't have soft drinks in the vending machines anymore. It's part of a growing movement to reduce childhood obesity and promote healthier eating. Instead of soda and sugary fruit juices (no diet sodas were present), the vending machines had water and Gatorade.

My point? The movement is a throwback to a simpler, happier time, when it was cool to promote complete, healthy, nutritious breakfasts.

Let's take a trip back in time to 1959. Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson, later a color analyst for ABC after his coaching career ended, is plugging Quaker oatmeal. Mother's Oats is another Quaker brand.

Animated World of DC Comics: Aquaman vs. Black Manta and the Reptile-Men (1967)

This month's famous first episode is the series premiere of Aquaman, originally part of, of course, The Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure, which marks its 50th anniversary in September.

One of the Sea King (Marvin Miller)'s oldest foes, Black Manta, makes his TV debut in the opener. Then, Aquaman & Aqualad deal with "The Rampaging Reptile-Men":

I must've seen these at least a dozen times in syndication in the late 70's & early 80's, thanks to WSBK & WNEW.

Rating: B.