Saturday, September 30, 2017

Toonfomercial: Look who's shilling for GEICO! (2017)

It's been more than a decade since He-Man's last series ended. However, GEICO commissioned this ad using the original character designs from Filmation's 1983-6 series, done in flash animation, to use as part of their current ad campaign......

Not sure who's voicing He-Man here, or anybody else.

Looney TV: Daffy the Commando (1943)

I remember seeing this next Daffy Duck cartoon on cable back in the day, but good luck trying to find it today.

"Daffy The Commando", directed by Friz Freleng, was released in 1943. Daffy is sent behind enemy lines, and, of course, chaos ensues.

"Daffy the Commando" and other WWII-themed shorts have long since been banned from appearing on television, although it may have aired on Toon Heads. It's not just Daffy and his friends, but stars from other studios also have had their WWII adventures taken off the air, partly due to racial stereotypes used in these films.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

You Know The Voice: You're in the Cavalry, Charlie Brown! (Not really)(F-Troop, 1966)

Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown in the Peanuts specials, did some "face acting" in the 60's as well. Here, he shows up in a season 2 episode of F-Troop.

In "The Sergeant & The Kid", Robbins is Joey Walker, a 10 year old left to be the man of the house after his father has died. His mother (Pippa Scott) isn't quite as thrilled about her son's dream of being in the Cavalry, so Sgt. O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker) and the gang have to try to convince Joey his place is at home.

Edit, 11/28/22: We've located a screencap:

I think the idea here was to at least tease a romantic interest for O'Rourke, to go along with the ongoing romantic subplot between Capt. Parmenter (Ken Berry) and Wrangler Jane (Melody Patterson). However, this ended up being a 1-shot.

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

You Know The Voice: Seth MacFarlane's 1st live-action series (2017)

After his last animated creation, Bordertown, flopped, Family Guy creator and all around geek Seth MacFarlane has decided to shift gears and go to live-action for his next project.

The Orville now airs on Thursdays on Fox, in back of Gotham, but I don't expect that to last very long, not when you factor in shows like Scandal and Arrow, the latter of which begins its new season in 2 weeks. Fox wisely premiered Orville on a Sunday, 2 weeks before CBS' much-hyped launch of Star Trek: Discovery. It happens that the Trek franchise, 51 years strong and counting, is being lampooned here.

A more detailed review of The Orville is over at my other blog, The Land of Whatever. For now, sample this scene, as Admiral Halsey (Legends of Tomorrow's Victor Garber) informs Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) that his ex, Kelly (Adrianne Palicki) is joining his crew......

See, MacFarlane is proving he doesn't have to be typecast as a buffoon......

Monday, September 25, 2017

Toon Sports: Life in the Pink Lane (Pink Panther & Pals, 2010)

Tom & Jerry and Popeye have nothing on the Pink Panther.

In this short from Pink Panther & Pals, the Panther takes up bowling, much to the consternation of a jealous Big Nose (formerly known as the Little Man). The Panther copies Big Nose's approach at first, but when luck goes his way, our pink friend figures out the right way to play....

And, just like Tom 35 years earlier, Big Nose's sabotage efforts went for naught. Gee, I wonder why......

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tooniversary: Abbott & Costello in Pigskin Pickle (1967)

Here's a sporting Abbott & Costello short.

Bud Abbott is a football coach. Lou Costello (Stan Irwin) is the waterboy, but is pressed into emergency service as their team needs a miracle to get out of a "Pigskin Pickle".

"Clams" Chowder (John Stephenson) was a crook, alright, as if you couldn't tell right from the go. A nearly 6 minute short would probably translate to a full half hour with other characters today.

Rating: B.

Game Time: Capital Region Bowling (2005)

It has been a tradition in the home district through the years, but it went dormant when WRGB terminated TV Tournament Time several years ago. The Capital Region Bowling Proprietors Association (CRBPA) decided to give it a try and mount a new bowling show in 2005, but not on WRGB.

Instead, Fox affiliate WXXA was the new home for local bowlers, although that didn't last long. Thanks to the sponsorship of a prominent local retailer, Huck Finn's Capital Region Bowling restored the Sunday morning tradition, even after switching from WXXA to WNYA a few years back.

Unfortunately, after the 13th season ended in May, it was announced that the series would not return this year, citing financial issues, leaving WNYA with a big hole in their Sunday schedule.

So what was the problem? For bowlers, you have a $20 membership fee for the season, plus charging more than $50 per tournament, which will drain the resources for some bowlers. The member houses aren't exactly swimming in profits, either. As I wrote over in The Land of Whatever a few days ago, the best solution would be to lower the fees to something a little more fiscally feasible. Huck Finn's Warehouse is still underwriting some tournaments, and the high prices are still intact. Not good.

Rich Becker, now calling high school football for Spectrum News, was the first host, followed by veteran newsman John Craig. Craig, a columnist for The Record, was in absentia for the tapings for this episode, airing in April. Executive producer Art Hunsinger fills in, joined by local pro Kenny Hall, owner of a pro shop at Spare Time-Latham.

The hope here is that the series will eventually return, preferably with a more economically friendly budget for everyone concerned.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Literary Toons: Ferdinand the Bull (1938)

In 1938, Walt Disney acquired the rights to adapt Munro Leaf's children's story, Ferdinand the Bull. This tale of a pacifist bull has aired on The Wonderful World of Disney when NBC reran the annual Christmas episode, "From All of Us to All of You". Radio icon Don Wilson, better known for The Jack Benny Program, narrates.

Nearly 80 years later, Ferdinand returns later this year in a full-length feature film, with WWE & reality star John Cena attached. I wonder how they can stretch out this nearly 8 minute short into a hour-plus feature?

Rating: A.

From Comics to Toons; Josie & the Pussycats in The Jumping Jupiter Affair (1970)

We all know Hanna-Barbera acquired a license for Josie & the Pussycats so they could create another series of young amateur detectives stumbling onto mysteries.

"The Jumping Jupiter Affair" could've easily been a Scooby-Doo plot, with a gang of common Earth crooks posing as costumed aliens from Jupiter in order to loot a poor village in Peru.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: That's The Way I Like It (1975)

Over the course of its run, Soul Train opened its stage to white artists such as David Bowie, Dan Hartman, and our next subject, KC & The Sunshine Band. The Florida-based combo appeared on Train in 1975 in support of their #1 smash, "That's The Way I Like It". Yes, it's lip-synched. So what? That was common on both Train and American Bandstand.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Lancelot Link in Surfin' Spy and The Missing Link (1970)

As summer winds down, let's spend some beach time with Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

In "The Surfin' Spy", Lance (Dayton Allen) and Mata Hairi (Joan Gerber) pose as surfers to uncover a CHUMP smuggling operation. Gerber provided all the female voices on the show. In "The Missing Link", Lance's uncle Mortimer, a British scientist, has been captured by CHUMP.

Aside from narrator Malachi Throne (ex-It Takes a Thief) and vocalist Steve Hoffman, all the male voices were performed by Allen and Bernie Kopell (ex-Get Smart, That Girl, The Doris Day Show).

Edit, 8/18/18: Unfortunately, the video has been deleted by YouTube.

Oh, I am begging either Me-TV or Antenna TV to pick this show up!

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Hangman (1976)

I'm sure you've played the game of Hangman with just a pen and paper. Well, Milton Bradley thought it'd be a cool idea to make a board game out of it.

Hangman was first marketed in 1976, the first ad campaign from MB to feature horror icon Vincent Price as a celebrity spokesman.

In this classic spot, Vincent plays a bank teller playing the game with a fellow teller and ignoring the customers...

Price was already familiar to the kiddo's from his appearances on Hilarious House of Frightenstein, and would join the cast of 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo 9 years later.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Summertainment: Woody Woodpecker in The Beach Nut (1944)

Summer's almost over. That said, why not one more trip to the beach? This time, Woody Woodpecker makes a day at the beach difficult for one Wally Walrus in "The Beach Nut". Co-author Ben "Bugs" Hardaway is also the voice of Woody in this one.

Directed by James "Shamus" Culhane.

Woody's been locked in the Universal vault ever since his series for Fox ended. Let's bring him back to television, ok?

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

You Know The Voice: Bud Collyer on What's My Line? (1969)

For the 2nd straight day, we have a You Know The Voice entry taken from What's My Line?, but this time, we have a full episode from the Wally Bruner era. The significance of this one is that this was one of the last appearances of Clayton "Bud" Collyer before his passing later in 1969, and this was 2 years after he'd crossed over from To Tell The Truth, joining with Allen Ludden (Password), Gene Rayburn (Match Game) and Ed McMahon (Snap Judgment), to appear on Line with original moderator John Daly.

Arlene Francis was the only panelist to have appeared in each case. This time, she's joined by Ruta Lee, Soupy Sales, and a pre-M*A*S*H Alan Alda.

Well, that didn't take long. After Soupy brings up Bud's radio work as Superman, Bud puts in a plug for the Saturday series that was running at the time. Arlene can be heard mentioning she didn't know about the Superman radio show.

Some of you will recall that Soupy used to do a series of skits spoofing detectives, but it seems the work he put in as Philo Kvetch actually served him well as a panelist on Line.

Monday, September 11, 2017

You Know The Voice: Jim Henson (1974)

It wasn't so long ago that we featured Carroll Spinney, the original voice of Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, when he appeared on What's My Line?. Well, he wasn't the only Street cast member to appear on the classic game show.

Muppet maestro Jim Henson was a mystery guest in 1974, and, as with Spinney, the late Larry Blyden is the host here. Kermit, of course, is along for the ride.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Smurf Berry Crunch? (1983)

Somewhere between seasons 2 & 3 of The Smurfs, Post Cereals, then a unit of General Foods, landed a licensing deal to create a cereal based on the series.

Smurf Berry Crunch was one of what seemingly was a number of licensed properties used for cereal by Post and rivals Kellogg's & General Mills back in the day. All this did was add to the workload at Hanna-Barbera, which produced the commercials. Four years later, a 2nd Smurf cereal was added, but it didn't last as long, and the Smurf cereals were off the shelves after the series ended.

Here, Handy explains to first Smurfette (Lucille Bliss), then Papa Smurf (Don Messick), that he's increased production of the cereal. Chaos follows, of course.

General Foods wasn't the only one to cash in on the Smurfs. Chef Boy-ar-Dee, now part of ConAgra, produced a line of Smurfs pasta products around the same time, and, yup, H-B did the commercials for that, too.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Rein-Toon-Ation: Jungle Cubs (1996)

Nearly 30 years after adapting Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, Disney revisited the classic characters, but this time as Jungle Cubs.

This prequel lasted 2 seasons (1996-8) on ABC before moving to Disney Channel. Today, it sits in Disney's vaults, as they couldn't be bothered to dust off the series for airing after releasing a live-action remake of "Jungle Book" a year ago.

Episodes aren't available online at present. The voice talent includes a few of the usual suspects (i.e. Jim Cummings, E. G. Daily, Pamela Adlon, Cree Summer) over the course of the 2 seasons. All we have is the intro with a revamped version of the iconic "Bare Necessities", performed here by R & B legend Lou Rawls.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Saturday School: The Adventurers' Club vs. Dr. Astro (Mission: Magic, 1973)

Time for another Mission: Magic adventure.

Rick Springfield and the Adventurers' Club have their hands full with evil astrologer Dr. Astro (Howard Morris), who intends to bring the Zodiac to life!

Morris and co-producer Lou Scheimer's children, Lane & Erika, voiced the students. While Lola Fisher is credited as Ms. Tickle, that may actually be a pseudonym for Filmation's primary voice actress, Jane Webb, since the vocal pattern resembles that of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but with more of an adult lilt.

Rating: B.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Retro Toy Chest: Dark Tower (1981)

No, this has nothing to do with Stephen King, whose Dark Tower, I think, came after this Milton Bradley electronic game came & went in the early 80's.

Anyway, I hadn't heard of MB's Dark Tower until happening across the following video a few weeks back. MB, you'll recall, was getting into the electronic game business, and Dark Tower came along at a time when role-playing games, or RPG's, were emerging.

Hollywood legend Orson Welles was signed to serve as a pitchman for the product. Milton Bradley must've figured, if Vincent Price can sell games to kids, so can Welles.

At the time, Welles was also shilling for Paul Masson wines. As noted, Dark Tower didn't survive, as it was caught in the middle of litigation between MB and a pair of independents who claimed they had pitched a similar idea to MB, were turned down, and, well, I think you know how these things go.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Toon Rock: Don't Answer Me (1984)

Remember when Marvel opted to literally adapt their comics, using actual panels to animate their characters?

In 1984, the Alan Parsons Project took that concept a step further. Using the then-latest in technology, the band crafted a fictional comic book as the backdrop for their video for "Don't Answer Me", off the album, "Ammonia Avenue". You could say that "Answer" could be the forerunner to the later motion comics that Marvel and others have released.

It's too bad no one asked Arista, the band's label, about adapting Nick & Sugar into a real comic book or animated series. Would've been fun.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny shills for Weetabix (1992)

Here's a little something from across the pond. You know, from England.

The folks behind Weetabix cereal worked out a deal with WB to use Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd in this spot. Seems to the British, Weetabix was the equivalent to Popeye's spinach.....

Not entirely certain on the voices here. It's either Jeff Bergman or Greg Burson as Bugs. Not sure about Elmer.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): Son of a Gypsy (1978)

If Vincent J. McMahon, who ran Capital/Titan Sports (the parent of the World Wide Wrestling Federation) knew about "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant's other talents, he'd never have let Valiant leave the 3WF in the late 70's.

Valiant, who'd later use a version of "Boy From New York City" as his entrance theme while with the NWA and CWA, recorded "Son of a Gypsy" in 1978, with a video that premiered on the weekly wrestling program on channel 5 in Memphis (or, Mempho, as Jimmy calls it). As you'll see, Valiant grew a long beard after leaving the 3WF, which became his trademark. He also gained a new nickname, the "Boogie Woogie Man", later on.

I wonder if Valiant wrote this himself, or if Jimmy Hart wrote it for him......

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Saturtainment: Yippee, Yappee, & Yahooey in Unicorn on The Cob (1964)

Yippee, Yappee, & Yahooey were designed as a parody of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers, and used as a backup segment on The Peter Potamus Show during its 2 seasons (1964-6). The goofy guards bring the stupid in "Unicorn on the Cob", when the King (Hal Smith, also the voice of Yappee) decides to hunt the mythical creature to complete his royal trophy case.

I think this might be exhibit A as to why the guards have never been brought back, more than 50 years later.

Rating: B-.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Uncle Dudley's Wedding Day (?)(1981)

From Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!:

Aunt Minerva's hatred of the Marvel Family has a softer side. Seems she has a crush on Uncle Dudley (Alan Oppenheimer), and uses a spaceship to abduct the non-powered member of the family. Here's "Uncle Dudley's Wedding Day":

When was this episode set? Sadie Hawkins' Day?

Rating: B-.

Toonfomercial: Remember Marshal Mallow? (1980)

I know. It's early September, but the mornings have been a mite cooler of late, sooner than it usually gets around these parts. Normally, it'd be the end of the month or early October when we start pulling the hot cocoa out of the cabinet to serve with breakfast.

Anyway, while Swiss Miss is the most popular brand of hot cocoa going, Carnation (now a brand of Nestle) tried to cut in on the action in 1980 with Marshal Mallow, even creating an animated namesake to promote the product, voiced by the legendary Don Messick.......

Edit, 4/18/20: The video has been deleted. However, all we have available now is a still clip:

1980 Marshal Mallow Cocoa Mix TV commercial A 1980 animated TV commercial for the short lived Carnation made Marshal Mallow Hot Cocoa Mix TV commercial. Features the voice of Don Messick voicing Marshal Mallow. Hot Cocoa Mixes, Tv Commercials, Carnations, Animation, Cartoon, Comics, Fictional Characters, Cartoons, Comic Book

I do remember the ad, and, seeing it again for the first time since then, I think the animation might be from the folks that brought us Schoolhouse Rock!, for all we know. Anyway, Marshal Mallow didn't last long, and rode off into the sunset after a few months or so. Nestle acquired Carnation in 1985, eliminating a competitor, as Nestle was putting out their own hot cocoa (and still do).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Tooniversary: Stevie & Zoya (1987)

After dipping into the waters of cartoons by acquiring the 1965 Beatles series, MTV began commissioning original animated programming, starting in 1987.

Joe Horne's Stevie & Zoya was a series of interstital shorts, usually about a minute or less, which ran for 2 years (1987-9), airing several times a day to lead into or out of commercial blocks. Russell Johnson (ex-Gilligan's Island) is the narrator.

Yes, the bloopers are included, reportedly to create a more improvisational feel. The series has been brought back online twice, in 2010 and 2014, but, I believe, with different narrators.

Horne would return and contribute the slightly longer series, The Specialists, to the Liquid Television anthology series in 1992. His last known work for television was for Andre Benjamin's Cartoon Network series, Class of 3000.

I get the simplicity of the animation and storytelling here, tailored for the reputed sound byte mentality of the day, but one wonders if there might be a television comeback for Stevie & Zoya......

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

From Comics to Toons: The Wizard of Id (1970)

The late cartoonist Johnny Hart is known for 2 creations, B. C. and The Wizard of Id, both of which are still running today, long after Hart has passed on.

There was, once upon a time, some interest in developing Wizard into a television show. Jim Henson tried it first in 1969 with Muppet characters, a few months before Sesame Street took off and became the icon it is today. A year later, animation legend Chuck Jones took a stab at it, commissioned by ABC.

Unfortunately, the network subsequently passed on green-lighting a series. This short pilot, directed by frequent Jones collaborator Abe Levitow, and co-written by Hart with Bob Ogle, features the voices of Paul Winchell, Don Messick, and Bob Holt. Co-creator Brant Parker was credited, but did not contribute to this project.

Here at home, the Wizard no longer appears in local papers, but, as noted, the strip is still being published today, written and illustrated by Hart's grandson, Mason Mastroianni.

Rating: A-.

Tooniversary: Don Osmondo in Spain (The Osmonds, 1972)

Rankin-Bass, in the wake of The Jackson 5ive going into all-rerun mode, added two more series to ABC's lineup in 1972. The network was diving back into the bubblegum pop arena with not only the Brady Kids, spun off from The Brady Bunch and launched in the premiere of the Saturday Superstar Movie, but with The Osmonds as well.

Unlike the Jacksons, the six Osmond brothers voiced their own animated counterparts, with the omnipresent Paul Frees giving voice to the made-for-TV family dog in addition to the usual supporting characters du jour. Also, the Osmonds were able to go on a world tour in the series.

The show also marked the return of record producer Mike Curb to cartoons. You'll recall that Curb worked with Hanna-Barbera (Cattanooga Cats) and Ken Snyder (Skyhawks, Hot Wheels) three years earlier, only to see all three series flop. Curb, representing MGM Records, was co-executive producer with Arthur Rankin, Jr. & Jules Bass. In case you wonder, R-B used a different animation house for Kid Power as opposed to England's Halas & Bachelor studio, which cranked out The Osmonds.

Otherwise, it was the same kind of animated sitcom silliness as Jackson 5ive a year earlier, and in this case, veteran comedy writer Earle Doud was one of the writers on the show. Doud would return with his friend, Chuck McCann, as a writer for McCann's 1975 CBS series, Far Out Space Nuts.

Right now, let's take a trip to Spain, where "Don Osmondo" (Donny, of course) has to win the heart of a mayor's daughter.

Cliched? Of course. Problem was the laugh track foisted on the show. The gags weren't that funny.

Rating: C.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Toon Rock: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me (1995)

Footage from "Batman Forever" is interspersed with an animated version of U2 in the video for "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", the 2nd single off the "Batman Forever" soundtrack.

I wonder if it was Bono's idea to have his animated self dressed almost like the Joker.......

Tooniversary: The first episode of Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids (1972)

There are those that believe that out of all the allegations levied against entertainer Bill Cosby for sexually assaulting women, a fair number of them could conceivably be bandwagon jumpers looking for an easy payday, because a lot of the allegations date back years and years, perhaps beyond the statute of limitations.

That said, we here at the Archives are dedicated to celebrating what Cosby meant to millions of kids growing up in the 70's & 80's, because those memories are not going to be tainted by what has been brought out decades later. Oh, sure, you're not going to find Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids on any cable channel any time soon, except maybe Aspire, which I think still carries Cosby's two live-action series from the 60's, I Spy (1965-8) and The Bill Cosby Show (1969-71).

Anyway, since it's the first of the month, what better way to mark Fat Albert's 45th anniversary with the series premiere, "Lying", in which we're introduced to the gang's "mentor", if ya will, Mudfoot.

Edit, 3/5/18: Unfortunately, the original video was deleted. We'll go with the above excerpt, plus this choice clip of the Junkyard Band's "Don't Go Tellin' A  Lie":

It seems that Fat Albert was really part of a package deal that brought Cosby to CBS, as he also was given his first variety show that same year (1972). The variety show bombed, but Cosby would soldier on with Fat Albert for a grand total of 13 seasons (12 on CBS, 1 in syndication), his most successful series to date. Bear in mind that Cosby had left The Electric Company after its 1st season to focus on his two CBS projects.

Rating: A.