Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell (1966)

From the final season of The Dick Van Dyke Show:

Paul Winchell guest stars as a ventriloquist named Claude Wilbur, whose puppet, Jellybean, is one of the hottest acts on television. Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and his staff inquire about a job opening after they panic over the prospect of being dismissed from the Alan Brady Show per a network memo that Rob finds in the trash.

Paul appears around the 11-12 minute mark in "Talk To The Snail":

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Toons You Might've Missed: Dingbat in Sour Grapes (1950)

After debuting as a supporting character in the Gandy Goose shorts, Dingbat, meant to be Terrytoons' answer to Tweety, was given a series of his own. His antagonist was Sylvester the Fox (Dayton Allen), who spoke almost exactly like his feline namesake, though Allen made a point of not trying to mimic Mel Blanc.

However, most of us grew up not seeing Dingbat or Gandy, as syndication in the 70's meant a steady diet of Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, & Deputy Dawg, with a side order of Hector Heathcote. As a result, we're probably seeing this next item, "Sour Grapes", released in December 1950, for the first time.

Rating: B-.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Saturday School: Fat Albert in Spare The Rod (1979)

After producing four seasons of first run episodes over the first seven years (1972-9), Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids went back into production as The New Fat Albert Show, adding the show-within-a-show, The Brown Hornet, which gave the gang an object lesson to use during the rest of the show.

In "Spare The Rod", Fat Albert (Bill Cosby) becomes concerned when a classmate has bruises on her arms, which leads to the suspicion that her mother or father has been abusing her.

Only three seasons were produced during this period (1979-82) before going back to reruns for the rest of the CBS run, 24 episodes total. New episodes didn't resume until the series entered syndication in 1984.

Rating: A.

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

From Soul Train:

The Commodores released their debut album in 1974. Ye scribe didn't become familiar with them until a few years later, when they released hits like "Sail On" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)". Here, though, was their debut, the title instrumental from "Machine Gun":

Sunday, February 25, 2018

On The Air: Inspector Gadget (2015)

More than 30 years after his debut, Inspector Gadget is back on the job.

Canada's DHX Media has revived the series, which marks the return of the cyborg detective for the first time since the passing of his original portrayer, Don Adams. Ivan Sherry does his best mimic of Adams, but, as you'll see, it's the same old Gadget, although his nemesis Dr. Claw isn't quite as evil as he once was, and Claw now has a nephew, Talon, who secretly is interested in Gadget's niece, Penny, who now officially is her uncle's partner.

The series finally has an American home, as it's currently airing on Universal Kids (formerly Sprout). The 4th (current) season began this winter.

Curiously, while virtually all of the roles were recast, the most glaring change is that Frank Welker, the original Dr. Claw, wasn't invited back. Neither was Cree Summer, as Tara Strong takes over as Penny. Also, Derek McGrath (ex-My Secret Identity) is on board as the new voice of Chief Quimby.

In this episode, Dr. Claw & Talon steal all of Metro City's water, but have different ideas about using it.

Contrary to the original 1983-6 series, this version follows the current trend with two 15 minute installments for each half hour. Some episodes, like the one above, could stand to go the full half hour to make the plot a little more palatable.

Rating: C.

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Mouse in The Racket Buster (1949)

Now, here's a rarity. A Mighty Mouse cartoon that features Pearl Pureheart, but not their mutual nemesis, Oil Can Harry. Instead, you have some gangster cats (their leader is a stereotype Edward G. Robinson mimic) who try to rub out Mighty Mouse, gangster style. Of course, you know how this will go.

Here's "The Racket Buster":

By this point in the series, they were alternating between standard fare such as this and the operatic bits where you'd find Pearl & Harry. We'll have one of the opera shorts down the line.

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: A Circle of Blue (1968)

Thanks to catching up with The Archie Show via syndicated reruns on cable in the late 70's, I was able to pick my favorite Archies songs, and here's one of them. The two-part harmony of Archie & Reggie (singing voices by Ron Dante & Andy Kim) fuels "A Circle of Blue".

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto in Hunter & Hunted (1966)

From season 1 of the first animated Lone Ranger series:

Tonto (Shepard Menken) takes action when a trio of hunters begin killing buffalo along the prairie. The video quality of "Hunter & Hunted" isn't the best, but it's all we can find.

Standard, predictable fare.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): With My Baby Tonight (1995)

By 1995, Milli Vanilli had become a music industry punchline. Of course, that didn't stop the perpetually behind the curve Vince McMahon from coming up with a similar gimmick in the then World Wrestling Federation.

Second generation wrestler Jeff Jarrett had been with the company less than two years when he tried to pass himself off as a country singer. Being that he lived close to Nashville in real life certainly helped. Anyway, let's take you back in time 23 years to when Jarrett tried to sell the idea that he had actually recorded "With My Baby Tonight":

It turned out that Jarrett's sidekick, The Roadie (Brian James) was the one who actually recorded the song, but it would be a year before the scam was finally exposed. In between, James & Jarrett left the WWF, but would eventually return separately. "With My Baby Tonight" became James' theme song, but insofar as I know, it never charted.

Today, Jarrett is getting set to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. James is the head writer for Smackdown, and better known as 1/2 of the New Age Outlaws, 6-time tag team champions. But, think back to 1995. McMahon convinced the country band Sawyer Brown to let Jarrett play with them at a PPV event. By then, though, Jarrett's one-man Milli Vanilli wanna-be act was dying.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tooniversary: Mighty Mouse & The Magician (1948)

Now, here's a Mighty Mouse short I have no memory of seeing on cable back in the 70's.

In "Mighty Mouse & The Magician", our hero leaves his base on the moon to rescue the village mice once again after an aspiring magician's act goes awry thanks to some hungry cats.

Y'know, for a while, I thought the magician was actually Mighty Mouse in disguise. Then again, it wouldn't have made the finish so predictable, would it?

Rating: B.

Celebrity Toons: The Brady Kids in Who Was That Dog? (1972)

Since Filmation employed the same writers for most of their comedy programs, it stands to figure that plots would be recycled from one show to another.

Evidence of this would be in this episode of The Brady Kids. The siblings enter Marlon, Mop Top, and Ping & Pong, the twin pandas, in a pet show. Mop Top (a sub for Tiger, the sibs' pet on Brady Bunch) falls for a poodle, and she looks like she was related to a similar dog from The Archie Show.  You'll recall that Sabrina had entered her familiar, Salem, in a pet show a couple of years earlier, and Jughead had done the same with Hot Dog prior to that.

Closing the show is a cover of "Me & You & a Dog Named Boo", but for some reason, the producers shortened the title, thinking no one would recognize Lobo's biggest hit record.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Saturtainment: The Tale of The Lunar Locusts (Are You Afraid of The Dark?, 2000)

It's way past time we checked back with the Midnight Society from Are You Afraid of The Dark?, and once again, the entry is from the series' final season.

Olympic figure skater Tara Lipinski, now an analyst for NBC, made her acting debut in the episode, "The Tale of The Lunar Locusts", co-starring Aaron Ashmore (later of Smallville).

Not sure if Tara did any more acting before turning to broadcasting, but the potential was there.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Daytime Heroes: He-Man in The Taking of Grayskull (1983)

Take a trip with us to Eternia, and join He-Man on another adventure.

Castle Grayskull has been taking from its moorings and sent to another dimension by Skeletor, who hopes to finally uncover the Castle's secrets for his own gains. As if that'll ever happen. Plus, Orko worries that everyone's forgotten his birthday. Well, you know how that trope plays out. Here's "The Taking of Grayskull":

Rating: B.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Looney TV: Mel Blanc, The Man of 1,000 Voices (2007)

Included on a volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series is a hour-plus long biography on the life & career of the man most closely associated with the Looney Tunes franchise, the incomparable Mel Blanc. Maurice LaMarche narrates.

Mel Blanc, The Man of 1,000 Voices is a delightful insight into an American icon. Yes, it focuses mostly on his Looney Tunes work (after all, it's a WB release), but it is also a celebration and appreciation of a fabulous talent who made us laugh for nearly 50 years. Not sure if it's been released by itself, but if it isn't, it should be.

Rating: A+.

Saturtainment: Remember Willie Survive? (1982)

Greengrass Productions produced a number of new PSA features for ABC in the early 80's, none of which lasted very long.

Willie Survive bowed in September 1982, but his quick interstitals were gone by the next season. Not much information can be had on this series. In this sample short, Willie gets scared by a neighborhood cat, and misses the bus home. Fortunately, he's got the smarts to go to plan B......

By this point, ABC was looking for something to complement Schoolhouse Rock, but nothing seemed to stick.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Literary Toons: Last of the Mohicans (1975)

Local author James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans was adapted for television for the first time in nearly 20 years, and the first in animated form, for CBS' Famous Classic Tales, airing on Thanksgiving Day (November 27), 1975.

Hanna-Barbera's Australian division, later to adopt the name Southern Star, produced this one, and the music & cast have a familiar H-B bent. The cast includes Mike Road (Valley of the Dinosaurs) as Natty Bumppo, aka Hawkeye. Kristina Holland (ex-Funky Phantom), Frank Welker, John Stephenson, Casey Kasem, and John Doucette round out the cast. The fact that they threw in a dog tells us this was a looser adaptation of the novel.

The episode was broken down into 6 parts for the English language version. The only complete video is in Spanish. For now, we'll give you the first portion.

Given the anti-violence rules cast upon children's programming during this era, it's a wonder they did as much as they could with the guns and other weapons.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Philadelphia Freedom (1975)

Elton John is retiring from touring, after nearly 50 years of recording. One of his biggest hits was 1975's "Philadelphia Freedom", one of his last hits for MCA before launching the Rocket Records label a year later.

As Elton explains to Don Cornelius on Soul Train, "Freedom" is a homage to not only the city's legendary R & B scene, but also World Team Tennis pioneer Billie Jean King and the Philadelphia Freedoms, for whom the song is named.

As if you couldn't tell, Elton sang live, backed by the pre-recorded backing vocal & instrumental tracks.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Somebody Likes You (1970)

What would Valentine's week be without the Archies? From 1970's Archie's Funhouse, here's "Somebody Likes You".

Have to get this in. In another example of his ignorance of source material, Riverdale producer-head writer/Archie Comics Creative Director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa decided to use "Jingle Jangle", the Archies' follow-up to "Sugar, Sugar", as the name of a recreational drug on his show. I get the guy's point of view is warped, but this is blasphemy of the worst kind.

Friday, February 9, 2018

On The Air: Dreamworks' Dragons (2012)

The success of 2010's "How To Train Your Dragon" led Dreamworks Animation to develop a weekly animated series that served as a bridge between "Dragon" and its sequel, which was released in 2014.

Dreamworks' Dragons has gone by a number of subtitles in the course of its run (2012-present), starting with Riders of Berk. The lush computer animation makes it stand out in the overcrowded cable cartoon landscape.

Originally, Dragons aired on Cartoon Network, which relinquished the rights to the series when Dreamworks forged a deal with Netflix. The streaming service took over the series in 2015. Reruns currently air on Universal Kids (check your listings).

Here's a sample clip:

I personally think CN gave up on the show due to its obsessive-compulsive need to spam Teen Titans Go! into the ground. What do you guys think?

Rating: A.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

On The Air: Beat The Clock (2018)

An old favorite is back, this time geared for families.

Beat The Clock is the latest Goodson-Todman classic resurrected by Fremantle Media, which is preparing one of their own properties, American Idol, to relaunch on ABC next month. Paul Costabile is the new host of Clock, which launched on Universal Kids (formerly Sprout) on Tuesday. Currently, it airs weeknights at 7:30 pm (ET), but don't rely on the program guide on your cable system, as it seems UK snuck Clock onto the schedule at the last minute.

It's the same game your parents, and likely also your grandparents, will remember dating back nearly 70 years, and it's the first reincarnation of the franchise in 15 years (last aired on Pax, now Ion, in 2002-3). What drew NBC-Universal-Comcast's attention? Well, they tried a variant on the franchise a few years back with Minute To Win It, which lasted a couple of years before being shipped off to GSN. The diff between this Clock and its forebears is that now children get to play the game. That tells us UK is positing itself to challenge Disney Channel and Nickelodeon for ratings supremacy. (Cartoon Network? Fuhgeddaboutit!).

Here's a teaser.

Eat your heart out, Nickelodeon!

Rating: A.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Looney TV: All This And Rabbit Stew (1941)

Every so often, Bugs Bunny would be matched with a hunter not named Elmer Fudd. 1941's "All This And Rabbit Stew" is one of those cases.

"Rabbit Stew" hasn't seen the light of day on television much since it was booted off Cartoon Network by its parent, Time-Warner, in 2001 due to the use of the African-American hunter (Danny Webb) as a stereotype modeled after Stepin Fechit. However, it is available online as it is in the public domain.

I remember seeing this back in the 70's, but back then, no one was that concerned about political correctness.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Valentoons: My Funny Valentines (Recess, 1999)

Let's pay a visit to the Recess kids.

T. J. (Andrew Lawrence, ex-Brotherly Love) doesn't like Valentine's Day. However, he's encouraged by a local shopkeeper to create his own Valentines. Unfortunately, his idea of humor doesn't go over so well.......

T. J. may be the only kid, real or fictional, who didn't like Valentine's Day, in the history of the world.

Rating: B-.

Toon Rock: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (1973)

From The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour:

The conclusion of one of the sketches leads to this animated video, set to the beat of Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". That's the good news. The bad? Sonny & Cher's interpretation left a lot to be desired. Especially Cher's half of the vocals.

Another poster on YouTube subbed in Croce's original recording with this same cartoon, but once I found the actual source, I opted to try this out.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Toons After Dark: Hey, Hey, Hey! It's Fat Albert! (1969)

Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids could've easily been an NBC cartoon.

Three years before the series began, Bill Cosby had returned to NBC with his first self-titled sitcom. The Bill Cosby Show ran for 2 seasons, and boasted theme music by no less than Quincy Jones. Part of the deal allowed for Cosby, who'd won Emmy awards for I Spy, to do a series of specials for NBC as well.

One of those specials was the animated Hey, Hey, Hey! It's Fat Albert!, which premiered in November 1969. Animator Ken Mundie had also been responsible for the artwork used on CBS' Wild, Wild West, and, as you'll see in this short sample, his style didn't mesh with Cosby's vision:

Unfortunately, the rest of the show is lost as of now. We know the rest of the story, of course. NBC could've taken this to series, but didn't, believing that the educational themes that Cosby stressed wouldn't work. Oh, how wrong they were! CBS & Filmation took a chance in 1972, and hit the jackpot. Of course, that year, there was also a package deal, as Cosby was given a variety show, which was his first failure.

No rating.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Papa Was a Rollin' Stone (1972)

Mere months after it had been originally recorded by the Undisputed Truth, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" was re-recorded by Motown stablemates The Temptations, which led to an appearance on Soul Train. Notice how the familiar Soul Train logo was taken down, and the Temps' name appeared in the same font in its place. Must've been a practice of the day.

In memory of singer Dennis Edwards, who has passed away.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Saturtainment: Heckle & Jeckle meet Quacula (1979)

While Heckle & Jeckle never met Terrytoons stablemate Mighty Mouse, they did meet Filmation's vampire duck, Quacula, in a one-shot crossover.

"Where There's a Will" has Heckle & Jeckle (Frank Welker voices both) learning they've inherited their uncle's mansion, which happens to be home to Quacula (Welker). Let the fun begin!

Part of the reason this is labeled as "very rare" by the poster is because animator Scott Shaw filed suit against Filmation alleging copyright infringement, as he'd created a similar vampire duck for Star*Reach around the same time that Quacula was in production. As a result, "Where There's a Will" and all 16 Quacula shorts are largely out of circulation.

Rating: B+.

Daytime Heroes: He-Man meets the Wizard of Stone Mountain (1983)

He-Man has to come to the aid of Teela when an old flame of hers decides he has to have her for himself to make up for an earlier rejection. Here's "The Wizard of Stone Mountain", co-written by Paul Dini.

Clever twist at the end, as fans know Teela had been pining for He-Man all along, but they were strung along when she left with the slow-witted Ram-Man.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Saturtainment: The first episode of the Jackson 5ive (1971)

Our Famous First this month, being that it's Black History Month, features The Jackson 5ive.

"It All Started With....." offers a fictional account of how the Jackson brothers (Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Jermaine, Tito) landed their first record deal. Paul Frees is not only the announcer, but voices several supporting characters.

As previously noted, the Jacksons didn't voice their animated counterparts, Rankin-Bass would correct that mistake the next year with The Osmonds.

Rating: B.