Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spooktober: The Headless Horseman (1949)

Our final Spooktober entry is a number from Disney's "The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad", a "package" film split into two parts. The first half adapted Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in The Willows, with Basil Rathbone as narrator. The second half was an adaptation of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, narrated by Bing Crosby, who also gives voice to Ichabod Crane and Brom Bones.

In this scene, Brom regales some revelers, Crane included, with the musical tale of "The Headless Horseman".

A few years later, when Disney decided to do another adaptation of Sleepy Hollow as a book & record, Thurl Ravenscroft recorded his own version, and we'll get that up another time.

You Know The Voice: Robert Ridgely (1971)

I posted this next item over at The Land of Whatever yesterday, and regular contributor Mike Doran pointed out that future cartoon star Robert Ridgely, who, at the time, was known for his work in movies and primetime television, was part of the cast in a 1971 McDonald's ad that got a ton of airplay any day of the week.

Said cast also includes Johnny Haymer (later of M*A*S*H), Anson Williams (later of Happy Days) and John Amos (The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later of Good Times, Roots, & "Coming To America").

Who knew any of these guys could sing?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Flash vs. The Chemo-Creature (1967)

In the first of his three 1967 shorts, The Flash tangles with an otherwise harmless ant who, due to an errant scientific experiment, has turned into "The Chemo-Creature".

Contrary to the screen capture above, Kid Flash doesn't appear in this one.

Rating: B.

Sunday Funnies: Son of Football Follies (1976)

The NFL does have a sense of humor, after all.

Nearly 50 years ago, the league's TV arm began producing blooper reels, which initially aired on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The response was such that the first official Football Follies special aired a year later.

In 1976, NFL Films produced Son of Football Follies. You've probably seen this more recently on NFL Network. To spice things up, the special was narrated by a number of Looney Tunes characters, all voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc. Yes, including Elmer Fudd.

Edit, 12/26/17: The original video posted was deleted. I found a more complete edition, with portions of the opening & closing titles edited out.

I remember Porky Pig's famous bit very well, as this video awakened some old memories. Blanc would return 13 years later, in one of his final jobs, for Super Duper Football Follies, which we'll serve up another time.

Rating: A.

Spooktober: The Ghost Busters vs. the Phantom of Vaudeville (1975)

Around the time Ghost Busters was on the air, there was a syndicated series that celebrated vaudeville. Unfortunately, both lasted just one season.

In "The Dummy's Revenge", Kong (Forrest Tucker) & Spencer (Larry Storch) deal with a ghostly ventriloquist (Tim Herbert) and his dummy, who mistake our heroes for some old rivals. Scope out the team's attempt at doing some song & dance. Plus, Spencer decides to take up ventriloquism himself.

One of the sillier entries in the series.

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Game Time: This Week in Pro Football (1967)

Way back in the day, before the bloated pre-game shows we have now, NFL Films recapped the previous week's action in a tidy, hour-long syndicated package, one of three syndicated programs that came from the NFL in those days.

This Week in Pro Football bowed in 1967, but lasted just 9 seasons (1967-75) before being cancelled. Tom Brookshier & Pat Summerall, then with CBS, were the hosts. John Fascenda and Harry Kalas narrated the highlight reels.

As memory serves, this series aired not on the then-CBS affiliate, but on the then-NBC affiliate in my market, which, coincidentally, is the CBS affiliate today. Got all that? Let's take a trip back to 1970......

Back in those days, there were 14 games on the schedule. They didn't go to the 16 game schedule until 1977.

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Sugar Crisp Bears? (1949)

Before the Sugar Bear we know and love became Sugar Crisp's mascot (the product is now Golden Crisp), Post used three little bears.

Handy, Dandy, & Candy made their debut in 1949, and would appear on Sugar Crisp boxes until 1964, I think, when Linus the Lionhearted, featuring Sugar Bear, premiered on CBS. Handy, Dandy, & Candy would also appear with Roy Rogers and Mighty Mouse, as Post sponsored their shows.

Sugar Crisp was promoted as a "three-way treat", used for breakfast, or as a snack you could eat out of the bowl or the box.

Handy, Dandy, & Candy were retired to make room for Sugar Bear, but don't ya think, since their 70th anniversary is 2 years away, that Post would bring them back??

Spooktober: Samantha meets......Witchiepoo? (Actually, no)(Bewitched, 1971)

Billie Hayes (H. R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville) guest stars as the witch from the children's story, Hansel & Gretel, during the final season of Bewitched in 1971. Coincidentally, before the season was over ABC began running repeats of the series on Saturdays to bolster their weak lineup.

In this climatic scene, after Tabitha (Erin Murphy) has managed to put herself in the pages of Hansel & Gretel, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) follows and confronts the witch, giving her a taste of her own medicine......

As you probably know, Hayes did reprise as Witchiepoo in a 1-shot on Lidsville, and then, seven years later, on The Krofft Superstar Hour.

No rating.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Spooktober: The Cattanooga Cats in Witch Whacky (1969)

The Cattanooga Cats enter a magical forest, and Kitty Jo (Julie Bennett) is targeted to replace the aging Forest Witch (guest star Jean VanderPyl, recycling her Winsome Witch voice). Here's "Witch Whacky".

 I think we've seen variations on this plot elsewhere.

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember W. C. Fritos? (1971)

After pressure from certain corners forced Frito-Lay's advertising agency to retire the Frito Bandito (Mel Blanc) in 1971,  the snack giant found a short-term answer in 1971 in W. C. Fritos, modeled after actor-comedian W. C. Fields. I'd not be surprised to learn Paul Frees was hired to do the voice......

Ah, yas, yas indeed. If anyone can confirm that it was Frees or another impressionist that voiced W. C. Fritos, please share.

You Know The Voices: Don Messick & Frank Welker (1984)

After working together on Scooby-Doo, Smurfs, and other projects for 15 years, Don Messick & Frank Welker shared the screen together in an episode of Don's NBC primetime series, The Duck Factory.

In "The Duck Stops Here", Wally Wooster (Messick) is afraid he's lost the voice of Dippy Duck. Worse, the studio brings in another actor (Welker) as a potential successor. Ironically, 18 years later, Welker was finally given the green light to be the voice of Scooby, 5 years after Messick had passed away.

Frank arrives about halfway through.

Keep an ear for Don's dramatic turn as he recites some Shakespeare, to the surprise of his co-workers, Skip & Brooks (Jim Carrey & Jack Gilford).

To be perfectly honest, I think Don wanted Frank to take over as Scooby all along if anything happened to him, but WB didn't get the message, which is why it took 5 years before the torch was passed.

Spooktober: The Littles' Halloween (1984)

From season 2 of The Littles comes this Halloween treat. Now, I have no memory of seeing this episode, so we're presenting this as a public service (no rating).

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tooniversary: The Country Mouse & City Mouse Adventures (1997)

The Country Mouse & City Mouse Adventures appeared for a brief time a few years back on CBS, but before that, the series aired on HBO Family for 3 seasons, spread over the course of a year and a half.

The titular rodents are a pair of cousins who travel the world in search of adventure, helping humans and mice alike. The series has also aired on This TV and has been streaming on Netflix.

In "The Case of the Disappearing Diamond, Emily & Alexander, the two cousins, are in England for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, and have to recover a missing diamond from the queen's crown........

Now, I'm not sure if this was even inspired by Disney's "The Rescuers", but it wouldn't be a surprise if it was.

Rating: A.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Mattel's Rock Flowers? (1971)

I was doing a search on a short-lived pop group, the Rock Flowers, and happened across an ad for a set of Mattel action figures by the same name, which predates the band---I think.

Anyway, actress Geri Reischel, later of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, is featured in this minute-long spot, narrated by Mr. Top 40 himself, Casey Kasem.

The "other" Rock Flowers that I was researching was the last band actress-singer Debra Clinger had been with before being cast for Kaptain Kool & the Kongs and the Krofft Supershow a few years after this commercial. Mattel's Rock Flowers didn't last long, only three years, and then, gone. Hmmmm.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Spooktober: Which Witch is Which? (1984)

Bill Hutton & Tony Love's Chucklewood Critters, or, more specifically, Buttons & Rusty, returned in their 2nd special in 1984. "Which Witch is Which" has the boys dealing with a local witch, then getting framed for robbery.

The voice talent among the adults includes William Boyett (ex-Adam-12) and Alvy Moore (The Littles, ex-Green Acres).

After a grand total of 8 specials, the Chucklewood Critters were finally given a weekly, syndicated series, which lasted 2 seasons. We'll look at that down the road.

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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Saturtainment: The Krofft Superstar Hour (1978)

After 2 seasons, ABC cancelled the Krofft Supershow. Undaunted, Sid & Marty Krofft, who'd also lost Donny & Marie to the Osmond family's own production company, and flopped with a Brady Bunch variety show, moved back to NBC with The Krofft Superstar Hour in 1978.

The Supershow's pre-fab house band, Kaptain Kool & the Kongs, had split up, with Michael Lembeck (Kaptain Kool) and Debra Clinger (Superchick) landing primetime gigs on CBS. Lembeck joined the cast of One Day at a Time, while Clinger flopped in the drama, The American Girls. That left the other half of the Kongs, Turkey (Mickey McMeel) and Nashville (Louise DuArt), still in their season 2 outfits, to be part of the Krofft Superstar Hour repertory company, supporting the new house band, the Bay City Rollers, who were trading off their hit, "Saturday Night". However, the quality of the support segments took a dive, as we've shown in recent days.

Lost Island was a mishmash featuring H. R. Pufnstuf, Weenie the Genie (Billie Hayes) from Lidsville, and characters from Land of the Lost, plus Sigmund (Billy Barty). Barty essayed a dual role as Otto, the assistant to evil Dr. Deathray (Jay Robinson), who was a retooled Dr. Shrinker, but, as we noted yesterday, Robinson ate way more scenery the second time around, which may have hastened NBC's decision to trim the fat and cut the series to a half-hour 2 months into the season.

Horror Hotel had Hayes reprising her other role as Witchiepoo (from H. R. Pufnstuf), now the proprietor of the hotel, whose only regular tenant was HooDoo (from Lidsville). Paul Gale took over for Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game), who apparently was scared off returning to his first Saturday gig after Uncle Croc's Block flopped three years earlier.

The Kongs passed the torch to the Rollers by guesting on the opener, but a video I had acquired turned out to be devoid of sound, so that's been deleted, and we're starting anew with this show.

The following clip offers a medley of 50's hits. To wit:

"Rock & Roll is Here to Stay" (Rollers). Sha Na Na did a better cover on their show and in the movie, "Grease", earlier that year.

"My Special Angel". CHiPs star Erik Estrada made his singing debut covering the Bobby Helms classic.

"Born to Hand Jive". Scott Baio, at the time appearing on another NBC series, Who's Watching The Kids?, was out of place and tune on this track, which Sha Na Na covered in "Grease" as well.

"Be Bop-a-Lula". Billy Barty teams with ex-Mouseketeer Sharon Baird, for once able to appear as herself, after playing various characters on other Krofft shows, to cover Gene Vincent's classic. Baird had not done any musical numbers since her Mickey Mouse Club days, but she & Barty made quite a cute couple.

The medley finishes with a chorus of "Rock & Roll is Here to Stay".

Barty had done some numbers on Donny & Marie, and, as I've found out, had done some cabaret shows, too. Who knew?

Rating (based on what I've seen): C-.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Spooktober: The Skeleton Dance (1929)

Now, this will make your skin crawl.

Walt Disney's "The Skeleton Dance" was the initial entry in the Silly Symphonies series, and the biggest surprise, perhaps, is that acclaimed composer Carl Stalling, better known for his work at WB, not only composed most of the music for this short, but came up with the basic idea! Scope!

Elements of "Skeleton Dance" would later be reused in the Mickey Mouse short, "Haunted House", which apparently was also released in 1929. Hmmm.

Rating: A.

Krofftverse: The Lost Island (1978)

The other day, we presented one of the two regular features from the short-lived Krofft Superstar Hour, that being Horror Hotel. Now, here's the other feature, which was equally short-lived, The Lost Island.

H. R. Pufnstuf (voiced by Len Weinrib), Weenie the Genie (Billie Hayes, reprising from Lidsville), and Sigmund, far, far away from his sea monster family (Billy Barty, voice by Walker Edmiston) are stuck on the island, which also serves as a gateway to the Land of the Lost, as the stop motion footage looks like it may have been recycled from that series, which had only ended a year earlier, only to return in the 90's.

And, then, there is Dr. Deathray, formerly known as Dr. Shrinker (Jay Robinson). Similarly, Shrinker's assistant, Hugo (Barty) has been rechristened Otto. You'll notice that in this episode, Otto & Sigmund are never in the same scene together, else another actor would be wearing the Sigmund costume.

Anyway, Robinson chews up even more scenery than he did on Krofft Supershow two years earlier. Not good.

The plot to this episode: Pufnstuf is ill, and Weenie, along with Barbie (Louise DuArt), must find a cure. To do it, the ladies have to travel to the "City of the Doomed" (Land of the Lost),. where they meet the Sleestak king, Enik (voiced by Walker Edmiston). Unfortunately, Deathray is headed in the same direction, but on a completely different quest.......

Edit, 4/19/22: The Kroffts have made copyright claims on several videos, so the video we had was deleted by YouTube. In its place is a title card:

Robinson must've had Rudy Vallee as a voice coach, they sound so similar. Seems as though the Kroffts picked the characters at random to use here, but viewers saw right through the disjointed format, which is why the series was trimmed to a half-hour after about a month or two, leaving the Bay City Rollers and the Horror Hotel skits.

Rating: D.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Li'l Abner in Kickapoo Juice (1944)

Al Capp's backwoods hero, Li'l Abner, appeared in only 5 animated shorts, all produced by Columbia during Screen Gems' 1st go-round as a theatrical brand, and all in 1944. The first, "Kickapoo Juice", offers the origins of the oddball moonshine, which apparently was created by Hairless Joe and the Native American Lonesome Polecat.

Unfortunately, the black & white print is all that's available right now. Too bad no one's willing to take a chance today.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spooktober: The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper (1996)

In the wake of the live action/CGI adaptation of Casper that starred Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci a year earlier, the Friendly Ghost returned to television after 16 years away in a mid-season replacement series that aired on Fox (and later, Fox Family).

As established in the movie, Casper's full name is Casper McFadden (voiced by Malachi Pearson), who died of pneumonia as a youth, and it seems he's smitten with young Kathleen "Kat" Harvey (Kath Soucie), whose father is a scientist. As we'll see in the first short, "Paranormal Press", Casper's school schedule isn't quite the same as Kat's, enabling him to join Kat at Friendship Junior High against her wishes, though she finds that he can be quite helpful.

I cannot recall if Spooky's girlfriend, Pearl, or, Poil, as Spooky always calls her, had appeared in the 1963 series. Here, though, she's presented as being a bit of an absent-minded airhead, contrary to her comic book portrayal as a domineering type. Spooky is established as being Casper's cousin, which I'm not sure might be the case in the books.

Kat has her share of struggles dealing with the mean girls in school, as we'll also see. The supporting cast also includes Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons, Aladdin) taking over for Bill Pullman as Dr. Harvey, and Ben Stein, one year before getting his Comedy Central game show, is heard as a teacher. Since this was a Universal-Harvey-Amblin co-production, some of the Amblin crew (i.e. Sherri Stoner) came over from Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky & The Brain, & Animaniacs.

The lineup:

"Paranormal Press": Casper helps Kat start her journalism career at Friendship Jr. High, with predictable results.

"Another Spooky & Poil Moment": Spooky tries to impress his teacher, but Poil seems to be uncharacteristically fouling things up. Weak point of the show.

"Deadstock": Casper takes up the bagpipes, annoying Kat, but it leads to a concert....

I like the idea of Casper actually wearing clothes in this series as he tries to fit in. Fox farmed the show out to Fox Family (now Freeform as a Disney cabler) after ratings began to decline.

Rating: B (down from my original review).

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mighty Man vs. Big Mouse & Magnetman (1979)

Mighty Man (Peter Cullen) was Ruby-Spears' answer to DC Comics' Atom, who was appearing occasionally over on Super Friends. Unfortunately, this mighty mite was not a scientist, but rather another Bruce Wayne knockoff, Brandon Brewster, whose best friend, his dog, Yukk (Frank Welker, using a variant on his Dynomutt voice) was the world's ugliest dog, such that he had a toy dog house cloaking his face.

Let's take a look at the duo's first two adventures from 1979. "Big Mouse, the Bad Mouse", and "Magnetman".

Pedestrian. Seems R-S were parodying themselves, since they created Dynomutt and Blue Falcon 3 years earlier.

Rating: C.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Spooktober: Horror Hotel (Krofft Superstar Hour, 1978)

Let's take a trip to one of the regular skits from the Krofft Superstar Hour, Horror Hotel.

Billie Hayes reprised as Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo from H. R. Pufnstuf, but instead of continuing her feud with Pufnstuf, she now ran the hotel, aided by her hench-monsters from Pufnstuf, plus Pufnstuf's pal, Dr. Blinky. Len Weinrib & Walker Edmiston voiced the characters. The hotel had one regular tenant, Horatio HooDoo (from Lidsville), with Paul Gale doing his best to mimic Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game), who was the original HooDoo. Seems Witchiepoo is trying to make a go of it running a legit business. Pufnstuf would surface in the series' other regular feature, Lost Island, which we'll look at another time (Hayes reprised her Lidsville role as Weenie the Genie, in Lost Island).

In this skit, HooDoo brings in organist  Egor Strange (Jay Robinson) to provide entertainment at the hotel. When that doesn't work, the Bay City Rollers take over....

Edit, 4/19/22: The video has been deleted as the Kroffts have filed copyright claims. In its place is a title card:

You'll notice that as HooDoo, Gale has the same kind of eye makeup that Witchiepoo has, largely because it compensates for the fact that he doesn't wear glasses, as Reilly did.

Robinson was also part of Lost Island, but his Krofft Supershow character of Dr. Shrinker was renamed Dr. Deathray, and Hugo (Billy Barty) was renamed Otto. Did they really think that by changing networks, they'd fool viewers?

Rating: B-.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Looney TV: Daffy Duck For President (2004)

20 years ago, noted animator Chuck Jones wrote and illustrated Daffy Duck For President, a cautionary tale, if you will, of Daffy's short-sighted aspirations to eliminate best frenemy Bugs Bunny, mostly to put an end to duck hunting season.

Seven years later, and two after Jones' passing, WB adapted the book into the following short subject, with the late Joe Alaskey (ex-Out of This World) as both Bugs & Daffy.

Apparently, Daffy didn't completely understand the Constitution, just like a certain sitting President........!

Rating: A.

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Hercules in Return of the Mask (1963)

Not long ago, we introduced you to Murtis, aka The Mask, sworn enemy of The Mighty Hercules. Well, he's back, this time after an ancient goblet that Newton & Helena have uncovered. As long as Murtis has the Mask of Vulcan, he's invincible, so how does Herc beat him this time? Watch and see.

Not as good as the first time, and I don't think Murtis was seen again.

Rating: C.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

You Know The Voice: Olan Soule (1967)

When Jack Webb brought Dragnet to NBC as a mid-season replacement in 1967, he brought along character actor Olan Soule (ex-Captain Midnight), who had a recurring gig on the original Dragnet in the 50's. The role was the same, but the name was changed. Soule still played a forensic scientist, Ray Murray, who was originally known as Ray Pinker in the 50's version.

In a rare case of Murray being on-site for an investigation, "The Big Explosion" has Murray joining Joe Friday (Webb) and Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) in locating some stolen gelatin dynamite. As you'll see, the trail leads to.....well, that would be tellling!

The experience of working on both Dragnet series and Captain Midnight would ultimately lead Olan to be cast as Batman in Filmation's 1st animated incarnation more than 18 months later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spooktober: The Ghost Busters meet viking ghosts (1975)

The Ghost Busters encounter the ghosts of Erik The Red (special guest star Jim Backus) and Brunhilde (Lisa Todd, Hee Haw), who are looking for a flag that can prove the Vikings discovered America, or so they claim, before someone named Lothar the Hun, or even Columbus, for that matter.

As before the audio is a bit ahead of the video due to poor sync.

Seems Spencer (Larry Storch) was desperate to make money, hence turning the office into first a music, then, at the end of the show, dance studio. Just a silly subplot that only had a minor link to the main story.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Toon Sports: The Wrong Lumber Race (Wacky Races, 1968)

Like, the Wacky Races crosses the border through lumber country in Canada en route to Oregon, eh? Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) and his latest schemes are doomed to fail, eh? Like, of course, eh, so let's take off for the "Wrong Lumber Race".

As we've documented, the series was co-produced by Heatter-Quigley with an eye toward a game show format mixed with the races. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

In memory of Merrill Heatter, who passed away on Sunday at 90.

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Spooktober: Popeye in I Don't Scare (1956)

Even though Popeye's 1956 vehicle, "I Don't Scare", is set on Friday the 13th (which comes up this week), it would also fit for Halloween. Jack Mercer (Popeye) also wrote the script.

Of course, in the context of the story, it's not really Friday the 13th. Bluto (Jackson Beck) messed with the calendar to mess with Olive & Popeye.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Hercules vs. the Defiant Mask of Vulcan (1963)

The Mighty Hercules descends to Earth from Mount Olympus to battle a new foe, one later identified as Murtis, and possessor of the "Defiant Mask of Vulcan", which, when worn, makes Murtis invincible.

Murtis would return at least once more, but with the same result.

Rating: B-.

Spooktober: The Ghost Busters meet Merlin (1975)

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Filmation was hoping to sign Carl Ballantine (ex-McHale's Navy) with the intention of getting him a series of his own. Instead, Ballantine guested on not only Uncle Croc's Block, but also in this episode of The Ghost Busters, as "Merlin, the Magician". Ex-Bowery Boy Huntz Hall and Ina Balin are the other guest stars.

Forgive the fact that the audio is not in total sync with the video.

Rating: B.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Looney TV: Falling Hare (1943)

Bugs Bunny gets a rude awakening when, after telling the audience that he seemingly doesn't believe gremlins exist, he meets one bent on destroying a military bomb. Bob Clampett's "Falling Hare" is a WWII comedy with a wacky ending.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spooktober: The Ghostbusters in Paris (Wacky Wax Museum, 1986)

The Ghostbusters are headed to Paris for the unveiling of a set of wax replicas in their honor in "Wacky Wax Museum". However, Prime Evil and the Tooth Scaries may have something to say about that.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Pie Face (1968)

One of the goofiest game ideas from Hasbro first emerged on the scene nearly 50 years ago, and is still around today.

Pie Face was introduced in 1968. The only thing that Hasbro couldn't supply was the whipped topping. That was something you had to buy at the store in order to really get the maximum enjoyment out of the game.

Here's a commercial from 1968:

Today, it's known as Pie Face Showdown, still made by Hasbro. I'm not sure if they ever stopped making the game, but there hasn't been any advertising for it in decades.

How do I know this?

Yesterday, the staff at my day job took time out for a late-season company picnic in Colonie, and one of the staff brought along Pie Face Showdown and a can of whipped cream. A couple of them took pictures of the game with their camera phones to have a few yocks this morning. As the kids say these days, this wasn't my jam, man.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Saturday Morning Ringside: Just a typical day in Memphis? (1984)

Ah, the territory era in professional wrestling. Every town, just about, would have wrestling on Saturday mornings, afternoons, or evenings, even into the wee small ones, as was the case part of the time in New York on channel 9.

In Memphis, Saturday morning for wrestling fans meant a live broadcast from WMC, Channel 5, usually around 10 am (ET). I don't know when this tradition began, and the reason for the date in the subject header will be made clear shortly. Anyway, station weatherman Dave Brown usually was at the desk, paired with Lance Russell. Sometimes, Brown would step away from the desk to act as ring announcer, as you'll see in the following episode.

This was where musician-turned-manager Jimmy Hart got his start in wrestling. The Memphis native, formerly with the 60's pop group, the Gentrys, was one of the top heel (rulebreaker) managers in the territory until he signed a contract with the World Wrestling Federation in 1985. Hart was the cornerman for actor-comedian Andy Kaufman (Taxi) in the latter's famous feud with local icon Jerry Lawler. It can be said that Kaufman was the one who made Lawler into a national star with their feud, landing them an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman. This was the territory where another manager, Jim Cornette, also began his career, starting as a photographer.

What we have today is a full episode, complete with commercials, from December 1984. Hart's "First Family" stable dominated the entire card, and, as with the then-WWWF of the 70's, Hart couldn't help himself, getting additional heat by getting involved even in jobber matches. Speaking of jobbers, who'd ever believe that Iron Mike Sharpe, the Canadian powerhouse, actually was a champ in Memphis under Hart's tutelage, but was never considered to be in Hart's WWF stables?

Gordon Solie would team with Lance Russell on TBS' NWA programming near the end of the decade.

This is posted in memory of Russell, who passed away today at 91 after complications due to a spill where he broke his hip on September 29.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Spooktober: L'il Chock'lit Shop of Horrors (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

How many times have we seen it in the movies? A computer designed to serve humankind rebels and decides on its own to take control.

In this episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries, Pop Tate runs the risk of going out of business because of a more up-to-date eatery opening nearby and proving to be more efficient. Unaware that the computer system he just installed is defective, Pop, with help from Dilton Doiley, tries to compete, with devastating consequences......!

"L'il Chock'lit Shop of Horrors", is, of course, a play on Roger Corman's "Little Shop of Horrors".

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Game Time: A complete episode of Saturday Supercade (1983)

Here's a rerun of an episode of Saturday Supercade, complete with commercials, as it aired on WCBS in New York, right before season 2. Among the commercials is a Hot Wheels spot narrated by ABC studio announcer Ernie Anderson.

Frogger: The intrepid amphibian reporter (Bob Sarlatte) and his friends face a Scooby-Doo-esque mystery involving fake aliens in "Spaced Out Frogs", penned by Paul Dini, who also wrote for He-Man back then.

Donkey Kong in "Gorilla My Dreams": The usual nonsense, with Soupy Sales as Kong.

Q-Bert heads for camp, but his serpentine nemesis, Coily, intends to crash the party in "Crazy Camp Creature". Yes, that means there's a monster loose, too.

Donkey Kong, Jr. in "Teddy Bear Scare": Junior (Frank Welker) and his pal, Bones (Bart Braverman, Vega$) are hired for a babysitting job at a carnival that gets a little complicated when they also have to catch a couple of crooks.

Rating: B.