Friday, June 30, 2017

Toonfomercial: Froot Loops debuts (1963)

Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal turns 55 next year. So does, it seems, Toucan Sam, who made one of his first appearances in this next entry. While most people think of Toucan as having a British accent (Paul Frees and Maurice LaMarche have done mimics of Ronald Colman to create Sam's distinctive voice), that wasn't always the case.

As you'll hear, Toucan Sam was originally as American as apple pie, thanks to---who else?---Mel Blanc.

Of course, Blanc had a long standing association with another major player of the day, General Foods, since the Looney Tunes crew shilled for Tang and Kool-Aid, and, later, Post launched the Pebbles line of cereals, still endorsed to this day by Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble. Not sure if Mel did any other spots for Kellogg's while doing other Hanna-Barbera characters.

Saturtainment: Super Scary Saturday (1987)

Back in the day, Superstation TBS had everything you'd want. The Atlanta Braves were billed as "America's Team" (with apologies to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys), reruns of old classic series, and tons of movies.

While the Braves and NWA/WCW wrestling drove the station on the weekends, TBS did come up with a novel idea for movies on Saturday afternoons. Problem was, it lasted just 2 years.

Super Scary Saturday was a throwback to the monster movies of yore as they were screened in the Northeast and other parts of the country. Al Lewis reprised his role as Grandpa from The Munsters (which TBS had the rights to at the time) as host. He even brought along Igor the bat as a sidekick. This was, I think, right around the time The Munsters Today would launch in syndication, and, well, Howard Morton was no Al Lewis as Grandpa, let's put it that way.

There would be crossovers with World Championship Wrestling, as selected NWA talents, including the Freebirds' Michael Hayes and Midnight Express manager Jim Cornette, would debate the battle royal between, say for example, King Kong and Godzilla. Those segments would be over in the TBS Arena, while Lewis taped his bits in a separate studio.

Here, Grandpa opens the show, and we eventually get to a promo for the day's feature, "Godzilla".

Escapist fun, that's all it is. Too bad no one has thought about making something like this a weekly thing again. El Rey has their monster movie double features on Fridays, but they're not normally the vintage kind, more contemporary films fill the bill instead.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Hawkman enters the 23rd Dimension (1967)

Hawkman encounters a pair of pranksters from Jupiter. They don't want him spoiling their fun, so the Winged Avenger gets sent to "The Twenty-Third Dimension".

You could see the ending coming, couldn't you?

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Cheetos Mouse? (1971)

Before Chester Cheetah became Cheetos' spokescat in the late 80's-early 90's, Cheetos used a different animated endorser-----a mouse.

The Cheetos Mouse debuted in 1971, voiced by Allen Swift. However, the mouse was gone by the end of the decade. Don't ask.

In this spot, our rodent friend takes up flying a plane.....

The hyphen in Cheetos was removed back in 1998. The logo design and trade dress are similar to Fritos corn chips of the period.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

From Comics to Toons: A full episode of Heathcliff (1984)

Heathcliff (Mel Blanc) has to contend with a movie star for Sonja's affections in "Heathcliff's Middle Name". Then, the Catillac Cats' need for milk leads them to a genie granting them their needs in "Wishful Thinking":

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Heathcliff would discover that his Hollywood rival wasn't all he was cracked up to be. Meanwhile, the Catillac Cats aren't quite as fun without Cleo. Just sayin'.

Rating: B.

Monday, June 26, 2017

On The Air: Ben 10 (2016)

In this age where studio suits are obsessed with reinventing franchises just because they can, Cartoon Network took another detour into stupidity by rebooting one of their more successful franchises of the last decade.

Ben 10 went back to the beginning a year ago, when the current series bowed overseas. It finally arrived on American screens back in April, but trying to compress what worked so well in a full-length half-hour format for nearly 10 years and 4 series overall doesn't work. The feeling I get is that some of the plots to the current series would work better under the original format.

Translated, if it ain't broken, you don't fix it. But the morons at CN did, anyway.

Ben Tennyson (Tara Strong) is back to being 10 years old, as is cousin Gwen. We had watched them grow up and mature, to the point where devoted fans probably were hoping Gwen, who'd begun a relationship with enemy-turned-ally Kevin Levin during the Alien Force series, would continue on that path, and Ben would eventually find his own true love.

So why a reboot? With this, I don't know.

In "Need For Speed", a group of baddies decide to race to Yellowstone National Park, searching for a hidden treasure. Ben has designs on that treasure, too......

I'd rather watch the original series, thanks.

Rating: C.

Remember Milton the Toaster? (1970)

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts have been around since the mid-60's, at least. In 1970, the company decided the pastry treat needed an animated spokesman, just like some of their cereals.

Enter, then, Milton the Toaster. Character actor William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show, Dobie Gillis) landed the plum gig. At the time, Schallert was also one of the studio announcers for ABC. 

Edit, 9/28/2020: The 1970 video has been deleted, and replaced by this 1975 offering, co-starring actress Elaine Giftos (ex-The Interns):

More than 25 years later, Kellogg's tried out the talking toaster gimmick again. This time, though, it was a nameless appliance, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin, ex-Saturday Night Live). We'll get something from that era up another time.

Parents, get your DVR's ready: Kids Click is coming!

Kids Click is the name of a new children's programming block from Sinclair Broadcasting which will launch July 1 on This TV (no longer available on Spectrum Cable; check your cable listings) and a number of syndicated channels and/or Sinclair owned stations.

That's the good news. The bad? For Sinclair affiliates, some of the shows are being scheduled for pre-dawn hours due to scheduling conflicts. Here at home, WCWN, the CW affiliate, will align Kids Click as follows:

Weekdays (effective July 3, all times ET):

4:30: Sonic X (has previously aired on Fox & CW)
5 am: Max Steel.
5:30: Angry Birds
6 am: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir
8 am: Rocket Monkeys
8:30: Super 4

Saturdays (effective July 1):

5 am: Sonic X
5:30: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures (previously on DisneyXD; broadcast debut).
6 am: Scary Larry
6:30: Pink Panther & Pals  (previously on Cartoon Network; broadcast debut).
Noon: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures

Sundays (effective July 2):

7 am: Robocop-Alpha Commando
7:30: Sonic X
8 am & 9:30: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures
8:30: Scary Larry
9 am: Pink Panther & Pals

Your local station and/or This may vary. Some of these shows have previously been reviewed here, and those that haven't will eventually turn up down the road.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy in The Beast That Went Berserk (1966)

A noble scientist (Ted Knight, who also narrated) develops a serum that enables an elephant to grow in size, but a little too large for its own good. Superboy (Bob Hastings) has to stop "The Beast That Went Berserk". "Berserk" is misspelled on the title card.

Edit, 8/29/19: The video was deleted due to copyright concerns at Dailymotion.

The predictable trope about the rogue assistant was kept off camera to save time, it seems, but would come into play in later variations on the same theme.

Rating: B+.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny's Kool-Aid A-Go-Go (1966)

At the time this ad first aired, The Bugs Bunny Show had long since moved to daytime on ABC. General Foods, at the time the makers of Kool-Aid, sponsored the show. I think General Foods and WB had ended their partnership by the end of the decade.

Anyway, in 1966, Bugs (Mel Blanc) is shilling from a place called the Kool-Aid A-Go-Go, and sings "Doin' The Kool" as the kids dance.

Too bad this wasn't released as a novelty single----or was it?

Friday, June 23, 2017

On The Air: Cyberchase (2002)

Cyberchase is one of PBS' longest-running animated series, with the first 10 seasons spread out over a 13 year period (2002-15). Season 11 is set to air later this year.

The plot: Three Earth kids are transported into another dimension to help Motherboard thwart the machinations of Hacker (Christopher Lloyd, ex-Taxi, "Back To The Future"). Gilbert Gottfried (ex-Aladdin, Saturday Night Live) co-stars as Digit and his kid brother, Widget, a pair of cyborg birds that are Motherboard's aides.

To tell you the truth, I had this up before, but it got taken down when YouTube dumped it due to copyright issues. Hopefully, this won't be the case this time. I thought the series had actually ended a while ago, but nowadays, the production time on some cartoons takes longer than it did back in the day.

Let's look at a more recent sample:

The series was originally produced by Canada's Nelvana Studios, which has since turned over the show to an American studio. Don't ask why.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Toonformercial: The Pink Panther shills for Owens-Corning (1984)

It's been nearly 40 years since The Pink Panther was licensed to Owens-Corning Fiberglas to promote their insulation products.

In this spot from 1984, Inspector Clouseau joins the Panther. John Bartholomew Tucker is the voice-over announcer.

I have no clue who voiced Clouseau in these spots.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting Schooled: The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head (1974)

Timer, now voiced by Len Weinrib, returns to the ABC Afterschool Special in "The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head", first shown in May 1974.

This time, the episode is all animated (another DePatie-Freleng production, don'tcha know), as Timer leads two kids through the title character's cranium.

Unfortunately, the complete episode is not available on YouTube. We'll settle for this sample clip.

As we know, Timer would get his own series of interstitals that aired on Saturdays for the next couple of decades, but his two Afterschool Specials haven't seen the light of day since their last broadcasts. You might say, that Time For Timer was the first Saturday morning series DFE would sell to ABC, but they'd only be able to sell three more after that (The Oddball Couple, The New Pink Panther Show, & Spider-Woman, all between 1975-9).

No rating.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Popeye's Junior Headache (1960)

Since Popeye is a sort of father figure to Swee'pea, as well as Olive's niece, Deezil, we'll close our Father's Day salute with "Popeye's Junior Headache", which apparently introduced Deezil. Seems Popeye's been burning the midnight oil, and......!

And you thought Popeye had trouble with his own nephews......

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: Schoolboy Father (ABC Afterschool Special, 1980)

It's Father's Day. To mark the occasion, we're bringing out an ABC Afterschool Special from 1980 that addresses the issue of teenage pregnancy and subsequent parenting.

In "Schoolboy Father", Rob Lowe stars as a teen father who decides to raise his newborn over the objections of his girlfriend (Dana Plato, Diff'rent Strokes), who wants to give up the child for adoption. Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life) co-stars.

Producer Martin Tahse made a ton of these teen dramas for the Afterschool Special as well as the Saturday Weekend Special, but hasn't been heard from since ABC discontinued both anthologies.

No rating.

Toonformercial: Tinker Bell for Peter Pan peanut butter (1956)

Don't know exactly when this next ad bowed, likely during some Disney programming on ABC, but back in those days, Tinker Bell didn't talk all that much. That leaves it for the future voice of Winnie the Pooh, Sterling Holloway, to narrate this spot for Peter Pan peanut butter.

Awww, Tink is soooooooooo cute. One wonders why she was silent in the first place (not so now). Maybe they were afraid of the inevitable coupling of Tinker & Peter (which Steven Spielberg envisioned in 1991's "Hook").

Update, 5/29/21: We've since learned that this was produced in 1956.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Looney TV: I Am Slamacus (Loonatics Unleashed, 2006)

From season 2 of Loonatics Unleashed:

Slam Tasmanian is recruited by a humanoid analogue for Pepe LePew, who happens to be running an underground fight club. Danger Duck decides to be Slam's manager, with predictable results. It all starts when the Loonatics try to retrieve some prehistoric creatures from a retro zoo, who've escaped. Pierre Le Pew (Maurice LaMarche) has eyes for Lexi Bunny, who doesn't return the affection (what a shock).

Here's "I Am Slamacus":

While funk legend Bootsy Collins sang the theme song for season 2. He didn't write it. Musical director Thomas Chase Jones did, so blame him if you think it was lousy. It's actually the 2nd worst theme song revision in toon history. The all-time champ came more than a decade earlier, with Fred Schneider's horrid rap theme to The New Adventures of Captain Planet.

Rating: A.

Retro Toy Chest: Electronic Detective (1979)

After spending most of the 70's as a pitchman for Aurora's Skittle line of games, 60's icon Don Adams (Get Smart, Tennessee Tuxedo) landed an endorsement deal with Ideal to shill for Electronic Detective, which sought to siphon off some of the market for Milton Bradley's Simon or other electronic games of the period. The deal was such that Adams' picture was on the game box.

As you can see in this ad, Adams was actually still trading off Smart, as he only thinks he's solved the case. Joey Forman, who'd appeared on Smart as a Charlie Chan parody, Harry Hoo, and did a lot of TV in the 60's & 70's, co-stars.

Had I known about this game when it came out in 1979, I would've badgered the parents to put it under the Christmas tree. After flopping a few years earlier in The Partners, Adams would return to cartoons and gumshoes as Inspector Gadget four years after this was released.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sgt. Thursday of Sesame Street (1973)

One of the coolest things about Sesame Street that will attract viewers of all ages is their clever parody sketches.

Take for example this 1973 offering. Can't say for sure if this is from season 4 or 5. Anyway, Dragnet gets the parody treatement, as we're introduced to Sgt. Thursday (Jerry Nelson), who's searching for the letter W, but, as we'll see, it's not as easy as you'd think......

We get the joke.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman gets a soap bottle (1963)

Well, it's not really just the Man of Steel,  but also Tennessee Tuxedo (Don Adams) in this spot for the Soaky soap bottles, made by Colgate-Palmolive. Dick Beals is the voice of the Soaky Kid. By the way, that's not Bud Collyer (To Tell The Truth) as Superman. I think this might've been Everett Sloane instead.

Bad TV: 3 Dog Band (2009-10)

In 2009, Cartoon Network sought to recapture lightning in a bottle, if you will, by opening the Cartoonstitute as a new forum for creators to introduce new works. Two current CN series, Regular Show & Uncle Grandpa, came out of the Cartoonstitute, and there are various reasons why the others never made it.

3 Dog Band was one of those runts of the litter, so to speak. Created by Paul Rudish, who'd directed episodes of Dexter's Laboratory and the original Powerpuff Girls, this band literally is comprised of three dogs, all of different breeds and musical interests, as well as nationalities.

I know all about the struggles some bands go through to make it big. I've been friends with a small number of local musicians, and I've seen some professional highs & lows. What these pooches go through exaggerates those struggles a wee bit too much. Not only that, but when you have a character named Slime who loses his shape at inopportune moments, that's another joke that goes a little off the page.

Let me just sum up my feelings on this one. Meh.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Toon Legends: Mr. Magoo in Thin Skinned Divers (1960)

Mr. Magoo (Jim Backus) thinks he's going to a college reunion when he gets in truth an advertisement for a sale. Chaos ensues, of course, in "Thin Skinned Divers":

Seems Magoo is making a comeback, with news of a new set of shorts being released this year. However, the classic look is gone, and Magoo will be given an unwitting arch nemesis he doesn't realize he's offended. Can you say, epic fail?

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: A different kind of Write Bros. (1973)

Also on The Land of Whatever:

I've never had a camera crew in a classroom, but this would've been a riot, if not also looking like it was filmed on the set of, say, Room 222. Johnny Brown, then on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and later on Good Times, shills for Paper Mate's Write Bros. pens, which bowed in 1973.

Sad to say, but Room 222 had ended production by '73, if memory serves.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Toon Sports: Boulevardier From The Bronx (1936)

Isadore "Friz" Freleng skewered one of the most popular pitchers of the 30's, Dizzy Dean, turning him into a literally cocky barnstormer in 1936's "Boulevardier From The Bronx".

Edit, 1/25/21: The video was deleted by Dailymotion. In its place is a title card:

I remember seeing this back in the day, but only now do I get a better appreciation of the visual gags. 

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1993)

Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Pete & Pete actually began as a series of short interstitals in 1989. After a handful of specials, it was allowed to graduate to a full fledged series in 1993, and ran for 3 seasons (1993-6).

The titular characters happen to be brothers with the same name. Their mom has a metal plate in her head that can pick up & broadcast radio programs, among other things. In all, it is a surreal world that the Petes and their family live in.

Co-star Michelle Trachtenberg would later resurface on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and, if memory serves, it was Nickelodeon's movie division that gave Michelle her first feature film, "Harriet The Spy".

The rock group Polaris, a spin-off of Miracle Legion, perform the theme song.

Not really my cup of tea, so I didn't watch much, hence no rating.

Here's the intro:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Toons After Dark: Mission Hill (1999)

One of the things WB tried to do was develop some animated series of their own to counterprogram Fox's The Simpsons & King of the Hill. However, despite bringing in two former producers from the former, the network ended up laying an egg.

Mission Hill lasted just 1 season (1999-2000), and not even a rerun cycle on [adult swim] could revive viewer interest, in contrast to [as] reviving interest in Fox's Futurama & Family Guy, the latter of which is still on the air today.

Perhaps the biggest reason why Mission failed was because it was airing on the same night as the Fox toons. Scheduling it on another night might've at least extended its lifespan, but we'll never know for sure.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. Instead, this sample is a public service.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Beware the Gray Ghost (1992)

In the early 70's, Batman met pulp legend The Shadow, which served as a back-door pilot for the latter's 1st DC series. 20 years later, the producers of Batman: The Animated Series created a character that was a cross between the two legends.

TV's original Dark Knight, Adam West, guest stars as actor Simon Trent, who, in this continuity brought young Bruce Wayne's childhood hero to life in "Beware The Gray Ghost". Kevin Conroy (Batman) doubles as Thomas Wayne in the flashback segments.

Dedicated to the memory of Adam West, who has passed away at 88. We'll have something over at The Land of Whatever.

Rating: A.

Friday, June 9, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Casper vs. the Greedy Giants (1963)

"The Greedy Giants" was the first episode of The New Casper Cartoon Show in 1963. Legendary Shamus Culhane handled the animation for this one, directed by Seymour Knietel. In it, Casper (Norma MacMillan) helps a weeping willow grow by locating a special potion. To gain the potion, Casper has to solve a riddle. If the ogre's voice sounds familiar, it belongs to Bradley Bolke, who used a similar voice for Chumley on Tennessee Tuxedo.

This set the tone for the series, as Casper was more heroic than in his theatrical shorts, which were mixed in with 26 made-for-TV shorts. That alone would explain how the series lasted as long as it did. The "Giants" in the title were the older trees, and they were really little more than doubting Thomases who didn't believe Casper would solve the ogre's riddle. This also was a rare case of Casper remolding his body to disguise himself.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Spider-Man & Sub-Mariner team up (1981)

Spider-Man gets a visit from Sub-Mariner in this episode from his 1981 solo series.

Namor (Vic Perrin) is concerned when his cousin, Namorita (B. J. Ward) falls ill after encountering some pollution dumped by the Kingpin. Naturally, Namor turns his wrath toward the surface, but not before leaving Namorita in the care of Dr. Donald Blake (Jack Angel), the alter-ego at the time of Thor.

Meanwhile, Kingpin is hosting a summit meeting involving old rivals Hammerhead (William Boyett, ex-Adam-12, but virtually unrecognizable in applying a Brooklyn accent) and Silvermane (Paul Winchell, who also voices one of Kingpin's henchmen). Bill Woodson is heard not only as J. Jonah Jameson, but also Dr. Everett, Kingpin's personal scientist du jour.

Here's "Wrath of the Sub-Mariner":

Marvel missed a golden opportunity to give Namor his own series after this, as this could've been a back-door pilot, especially considering 'Nita was flirting with Dr. Blake. Since this series lasted just 1 season (as opposed to Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, which bowed the same year, getting 3), maybe Marvel decided against it. Their loss.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Mr. T cereal? (1984)

In the mid-80's, life was good for Mr. T. The former Chicago bouncer had not one, but two hit series on the air, as The A-Team was joined by a Saturday morning cartoon that had T as a gymnastics coach and amateur detective. The animated Mr. T was in its 2nd season when the star and Ruby-Spears agreed to a licensing deal with Quaker for breakfast cereal.

I think the artwork on the cereal box also came from Ruby-Spears, but don't hold me to it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sunday Funnies: Donald Trump gets pwned by the Manning brothers (2009)

Seven years before being elected President, Donald Trump was pimping himself out for just about anything, including a ridiculous cookie commercial.

Nabisco's Oreo cookie brand was running a series of spots that had Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Peyton & Eli Manning in something called the Oreo Double Stuf Racing League. They'd beaten Venus & Serena Williams (who'd likely spank the brothers on the tennis court), and now turned their attention to Trump, who spared his sons the embarrassment by calling on comedian Darrell Hammond (Saturday Night Live) to play his, ah, clone.

Watch the future President get pwned, as the kids say.....

Monday, June 5, 2017

Looney TV: Cheese Chasers (1950-1)

Hubie & Bertie aren't as well known as the rest of Chuck Jones' creations for Warner Bros., but over the course of 8 years (1943-51), they had their fair share of amusing adventures.

The finale, "Cheese Chasers", sees Hubie (Mel Blanc) and Bertie (Stan Freberg) looking to end it all after overindulging on cheese one night, touching off a chain reaction.......

Of course, Hubie & Bertie would eventually return, but it'd be a long time before they did.

Rating: B.

Alphabetic Toons: This lesson isn't that E-asy (1969)

From the first season of Sesame Street:

A man (Casey Kasem) can't hang on to the letter 'e', and with good reason....

Between these shorts, plus working for Hanna-Barbera and Ken Snyder's Pantomime Pictures (Skyhawks & Hot Wheels), I think you can see how Casey gained the financial leverage to launch American Top 40 a year later.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Willy the Hillbilly? (1966)

Mountain Dew has been part of the Pepsi family since 1964. In 1966, Pepsi decided it was time for the product's mascot, Willy the Hillbilly, to appear in television ads for the soft drink. Country-bluegrass singer Grandpa Jones, three years before Hee Haw made him an icon, is the voice of Willy.

The ad campaign lasted just three years, but Willy returned a few years back-----in a video game.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Alphabetic Toons: Joe & the Junebug (Sesame Street, 1969)

Two boys see the letter 'j' and think it's a fish hook. Heh, there's a story with that, but no fries.

Gary Owens (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop) is the "voice of God" that sets up the story of "Joe & the Junebug".

Simple and effective.

Rating: A.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Donutz cereal? (1980)

General Mills began the 80's by introducing a brand new cereal that trumpeted its arrival with a retro-doo-wop beat.

Donutz cereal didn't last long, a couple of years tops, but in a way, the company rebooted the product when they expanded the Cheerios line further a few years later. In my mind, Chocolate Cheerios is really Chocolate Donutz repackaged, as the "donuts" looked more like cocoa coated Cheerios in the first place.

Now, scope out this sample ad:

And the chocolate variation:

Yes, I tried it. How do you think I know they were "cousins", if ya will, of Cheerios back then?