Friday, August 31, 2018

Tooniversary: Go West, Young Ghost, Go West (Goober & The Ghost Chasers, 1973)

With The Partridge Family coming to an end, it was decided that four of the kids (Danny Bonaduce, Susan Dey, Suzanne Crough, Brian Forster) would no longer appear on Goober & The Ghost Chasers after the episode, "Go West, Young Ghost, Go West". Laurie calls in the Ghost Chasers when an amusement park's haunted house becomes a little too haunted.

The ghost of Ichabod Ipswich sounds like a parody of Ichabod Crane, doesn't it?

This reads like a rejected Scooby-Doo script, rewritten and reformatted.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Looney TV: Bugs & Daffy shill for Sugar Crisp (1960)

Here's an in-show ad from The Bugs Bunny Show:

Bugs & Daffy Duck (both voiced by Mel Blanc, of course) extol the virtues of Sugar Crisp. Sugar Bear came along about 2-3 years later.

As stated, General Foods' contract with Warner Bros. expired sometime around the end of the 60's, and General Foods began their contract with Hanna-Barbera, which WB later assumed, in 1971.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember when the sun was a mascot? (1970)

Kellogg's thought it'd be funny if the sun was used to shill for Raisin Bran cereal. Daws Butler recycled his Augie Doggie/Elroy Jetson/Lambsy voice for these spots, like this 1970 entry. Jo Mapes is the singer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Game Time: GE College Bowl (1959)

I wrote about this next entry a while ago over at The Land of Whatever, but it also fits here, too.

GE College Bowl began as a radio program, as so many shows did in the early years of television. General Electric managed to not only obtain sponsorship of the series as it transitioned to television, but landed it on CBS for its first five seasons (January 1959-June 1963). Allen Ludden served as host for the first four seasons before moving on to Password. Robert Earle was brought in to succeed Ludden, and left with the show when GE moved it to NBC in the fall of 1963 for the next seven years.

There have been regional tournaments since the series ended, and only on a few occasions have the finals aired on television.

Let's return to 1960, though, for a match between Rutgers and Colgate:

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018

Family Toons: If It's Texas, It Must Be Doomsday (Partridge Family 2200 AD, 1974)

The Partridge Family literally gets roped into a gig in 23rd century Texas when the promoter who invited them decides he doesn't want them to leave.

Here's "If It's Texas, It Must Be Doomsday", Susan Dey's final episode as Laurie.

Joan Gerber (ex-Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, among others) did a near perfect mimic of Shirley Jones as Shirley, so you'd be forgiven if you thought Jones had reprised. And, yes, that is Frank Welker as the voice of Orbit, the Partridges' dog.

Rating: C-.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Interjections! (1974)

Not long ago, we had to replace some of our Super Friends videos because Dailymotion had deleted a bunch. One of the replacement videos included this next item, which this time stands by itself.

From season 1 of Schoolhouse Rock comes this Grammar Rock classic, "Interjections", sung by Essra Mohawk. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Toons After Dark: Beavis vs. Butt-Head?!? (Celebrity Deathmatch, 2001)

Beavis & Butt-Head had been off the air for a little more than three years while series creator Mike Judge had scored another hit with Fox's King of The Hill. In an effort to boost Celebrity Deathmatch's ratings, MTV asked Judge to bring his teenage twits back for a 1-shot guest appearance.

No one would've thought, not even Judge at the time, that the boys would return 10 years later, although the revival of Beavis & Butt-Head died a quick death due to changing viewer tastes and network disinterest.

Rating: A.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Getting Schooled: Love of Chair (The Electric Company, 1971)

The Electric Company had plenty of teaching tools over the course of its six seasons (1971-7). One of the odder ones was Love of Chair, which ran mostly during the first season. It was a parody of CBS' long running daytime soap, Love of Life, and employed the latter's announcer, Ken Roberts, in the same capacity in these skits.

As Roberts' narration appears on the screen, the idea is for the young viewers to read along, as if they were reading a book. Most of the content on the show was driven toward that goal, unlike Sesame Street, which taught numbers and the alphabet.

Skip Hinnant appears as The Boy. The skits ended in season 2 when The Boy decides he's had enough, leading to a musical number that was never used again. In the first installment, as Roberts leads us out, a quick jump cut to Bill Cosby punctuates the end of the skit.

Older kids watching the show might dismiss this as a bathroom break. The target audience got the message. However, it did get boring after a while.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Real World & Want You (1983)

The Bangles made one of their first appearances on American Bandstand in March 1983. You'll notice that this is not the familiar lineup we all know. Annette Zilliskas was the original bassist, but left the group when they signed with Columbia a year later, and ex-Runaway Michael Steele took her place. It's going to be a bit weird seeing Susanna Hoffs with short hair, but judge for yourselves, as the band performs "Want You" and the title track from their lone EP with Faulty Products, later reissued by its sister label, IRS Records, "Real World".

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Toons After Dark: Beavis & Butt-Head do the Oscars (1997)

Perhaps this was inevitable.

I think that by the time the Academy Awards came around in 1997, "Beavis & Butt-Head do America" was out on video, or soon would be. So, series creator Mike Judge was asked to have his dimwitted creations appear at the Oscars, introduced by host Billy Crystal.

As usual, Butt-Head is the more rational of the two.

Unfortunately, they haven't tried using cartoon characters at the Oscars since.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

From Comics to Toons: An episode+ of Heathcliff & Marmaduke (1981)

In 1981, Ruby-Spears, as we indicated yesterday, had been sold by Filmways to Taft Entertainment, making it a sister company to Hanna-Barbera. In reformatting Heathcliff by making Brad Anderson's great dane, Marmaduke, 'Cliff's new co-star (Dingbat & The Creeps was cancelled after 1 season), R-S reached back to the 60's by putting the headline star, Heathcliff, in this case, in the middle feature.

The Dailymotion poster who provided this video added an extra short, to replace the commercials.

1. "Kitty Sitter": Marmaduke rescues four kittens from a condemned building in the midst of demolition. The kitties appear to be orphaned, and thus follow Marmaduke home.

2. "New Kit on The Block": Heathcliff (Mel Blanc)  recalls his first days in the neighborhood.

3.  "Babysitting Shenanigans". The title speaks for itself. I should note the first two Marmaduke shorts are in reverse order.

4. "Barking For Dollars" is a quasi-remake of an old Jetsons cartoon. Seems someone thinks Marmaduke is their dog. I'm sure you'll figure out which Jetsons episode I am thinking of.

Paul Winchell provides Marmaduke's vocal effects, in addition to voicing Phil Winslow.

Unfortunately, the series was cancelled, with Marmaduke another one year wonder. R-S' other freshman entry for ABC, Goldie Gold & Action Jack, which we featured yesterday, met the same fate. Heathcliff, of course, would return two years later at DIC, and you'd think that despite the live-action movie bombing out a few years ago, Marmaduke would be worth bringing back, along with 'Cliff.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Goldie Gold vs. Skyhawk (1981

Goldie Gold & Action Jack take to the sky to cut down an air pirate known as Skyhawk (John Stephenson) in "Pirate of The Airways".

Unfortunately, viewers turned away from this show, just as they did with Spider-Woman two years earlier, unwilling to support a cartoon with a female lead. Had this been at Hanna-Barbera, instead of at sister studio Ruby-Spears (which had been bought out by Taft Broadcasting the year this aired), maybe Goldie meets and teams with Richie Rich?

Rating: B.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Yogi's Gang meets the Gossipy Witch of The West (1973)

From Yogi's Gang:

Yogi Bear (Daws Butler) gets homesick, and decides to return to Jellystone Park, unaware that the Gossipy Witch of The West (guest voice Virginia Gregg) has been working for Ranger Smith (Don Messick), then starts speading false rumors, including one that would suggest Yogi proposing to Cindy (Julie Bennett), and leaving the ark. Like, we know how this ends, don't we, kids?

Edit, 11/15/22: We've found a screencap of the villain:

I remember seeing this in serial format four years later on Fred Flintstone & Friends.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart (1955-2018)

Expect another tribute graphic to lead off tonight's Monday Night Raw, this time to honor the memory of 2-time WWF tag team champion Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, who passed away this morning at 63.

Neidhart originally wanted to play in the NFL after graduating college, but could go no further than playing pre-season games and/or making the practice squads of the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. With his football career over, Neidhart traveled to Calgary to train with future WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart, and married Hart's daughter, Ellie.

As the Hart Foundation, Neidhart and brother-in-law Bret "Hitman" Hart won 2 WWF tag titles (1986-7, 1990) before embarking on solo careers. Prior to signing with WWF in 1985, Neidhart had first made the acquaintance of manager and former pop singer Jimmy Hart in Memphis as part of Hart's First Family before Hart jumped to the WWF himself.

While Bret was relaxed and calm most of the time, Neidhart was a manic ball of energy, as this 1989 promo would suggest:

Neidhart's last WWF run came during the early days of the Attitude Era in 1997, when he & Bret reformed the Hart Foundation, this time expanding the roster to include another brother-in-law, former nemesis Davey Boy Smith, family friend Brian Pillman, and Bret's younger brother, Owen. After Bret left the WWF in controversial fashion in November of that year, Smith and Neidhart soon followed, disbanding the Hart Foundation once and for all. Pillman had himself passed away that summer. Neidhart was briefly in WCW, and made a brief appearance in TNA in its early years.

More recently, Neidhart had returned to the WWE fold, appearing with daughter Natalya on Total Divas.

Rest in peace, Jim.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Literary Toons: The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbeck (1985)

From CBS Storybreak:

Steve Senn's sci-fi tale for youngsters is brought to life, and to tell you the truth, I hadn't heard of this one until now, in The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbeck. Featuring the voices of June Foray and Hamilton Camp.

Introduced by Bob Keeshan. Unfortunately, the closing credits have been deleted.

Like I said, never heard of the story. No rating.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Tooniversary: Beavis & Butt-Head in Customers Suck (1993)

There's a reason for this next item, which I'll explain shortly.

Anyway, from "season 2" of Beavis & Butt-Head, the boys are still working (!) after school, as if that was even possible, given their general illiteracy and incompetence. Here's "Customers Suck":

As you all know, Beavis was the first spin-off from Liquid Television, but the first "season", in March 1993, had just three half-hours. Why? Series creator Mike Judge wasn't happy with the animators at JJ Sedelmaier's studio, which would later work on Saturday Night Live and develop series for [adult swim]. That's why those three episodes were playing over and over again. Apparently, Judge raised enough of a stink that production was suspended immediately. The 2nd "season" began 2 months later, but should've counted as part of the 1st season.

Anyway, there now exists a real-life Burger World in my hometown, a new tenant in the food court incubator in downtown just opened. Whether or not it's inspired by the show, I don't know. If it is, maybe Judge should be looking into royalties......

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Call, part 2 (Batman Beyond, 2000)

Now comes the conclusion of the Batman Beyond 2-parter, "The Call".

Quick recap: Superman (Christopher McDonald) has recruited the current Batman, Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle, Boy Meets World), to join the Justice League. At the same time, however, it turns out there is a traitor in their midst. Wayne Brady (Whose Line is it Anyway?) and Jodi Benson ("The Little Mermaid") are among the other guest stars.

Edit, 8/13/19: Dailymotion deleted the episode. All that's available now is this excerpt from YouTube:

As the Star brothers explained in the comments box after part 1, Wonder Woman was meant to be used, but the estate of her creator, William Moulton Marston, demanded she be a featured player, not a supporting player. That was resolved when Cartoon Network launched Justice League a year later. This 2-parter foreshadows the story arc on Justice League between Hawkgirl & Green Lantern John Stewart, as Warhawk is their future son.

Series regular Lauren Tom is heard as the Green Lantern of this future era.

Rating: A-.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman meets the Justice League Beyond (Batman Beyond, 2000)

From season 3 of Batman Beyond:

The Dark Knight of the future (Will Friedle, Boy Meets World) is invited to join the Justice League by Superman (Christopher McDonald), but there is a hidden agenda......

Edit, 3/2/23: Dailymotion deleted the video a long time ago. In this excerpt, Batman meets with Aquagirl (Jodi Benson):

We'll have part 2 tomorrow. No rating until then.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Rein-Toon-Ation: Speed Racer X (1997)

Speed Racer has been in reruns off and on here in the US over the years, most recently on Cartoon Network, but it's been a while since they had the rights.

In 1997, the Japanese producers decided to update the series, which was known as Speed Racer '98 there, but it took 5 1/2 years for the show to reach American shores. Nickelodeon acquired the series, with the English translations produced by DIC.

However, the new show, rechristened Speed Racer X here, didn't last very long. Speed Racer Enterprises, the American rights holders for the franchise, filed suit against DIC, forcing Nick to pull the plug on Speed Racer X after 13 episodes aired out of the 34 that had been produced. Funimation, a prominent American distributor of anime, obtained the show and released it on DVD last year.

Nick aired Speed Racer X as part of their short-lived Sunday afternoon block, along with DIC stablemate Super Duper Sumos.

Here's the opener:

Did you notice the one prominent cosmetic change? Spritle is now Trixie's brother, not Speed's, and Trixie is a reporter in this edition.

Speed Racer X was the 3rd series to represent the franchise in this country. We'll look at the middle entry, The New Adventures of Speed Racer, another time.

No rating.

From Comics to Toons: The Amazing Screw-On Head (2006)

A disembodied robot head that answers to President Abraham Lincoln? Weird, isn't it?

Weird, then, defines writer-artist Mike Mignola, who's made his base at Dark Horse Comics over the last 20-odd years with a self-created universe of bizarre characters, including Hellboy.

The Amazing Screw-On Head began as a 1-shot special from Dark Horse that was adapted for television by producer Bryan Fuller in 2006 for Sci-Fi (now SyFy). It's not so much steampunk as it is horror with an even more extreme twist. Fuller intended for this to go on to a series, but Sci-Fi passed on it. The character designs are lifted directly from the comic book version itself, and with the improvements in technology by this point, this made Marvel Comics' syndicated Marvel Super Heroes anthology package 40 years earlier look even more amateurish by comparison.

Despite a talented cast that included Paul Giamatti essaying the title role, supported by Patton Oswalt (The King of Queens), local product David Hyde Pierce (ex-Frasier), and Molly Shannon (ex-Saturday Night Live), and a faithful adaptation of Mignola's work, directed by long time MTV director Chris Prynoski, NBC-Universal suits may have felt this was too disturbing, too bizarre to go further. Considering that today, SyFy has three series based on comics on their roster, with Grant Morrison's Happy (w/Oswalt and Christopher Meloni) and the DC Comics series, Krypton, both renewed for season 2, and Image Comics' Deadly Class due to arrive next year, maybe Fuller & Mignola were ahead of the curve.

Fuller, by the way, is currently working on the current Star Trek: Discovery for CBS All Access, in case anyone wonders what he's been up to lately.

Right now, check out The Amazing Screw-On Head. I imagine it was rated TV-14 for violence and brief nudity.

Rating: B--.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Toons You Might've Missed: In My Merry Oldsmobile (1931)

In addition to Betty Boop, Popeye, and Out of The Inkwell, the Fleischer brothers, Max & Dave, also were producing shorts for various sponsors at movie theatres.

"In My Merry Oldsmobile", from 1931, is one such film, animated by Jimmy (Shamus) Culhane, extolling the virtues of the Oldsmobile line from General Motors.

Since it has the bouncing ball musical segments, I think this could be part of the Screen Songs series. This hasn't seen the light of day on TV that I know of.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Lady Lovely Locks & The Pixietails (1987)

American Greetings developed several characters for their greeting cards in the 80's. Some you know, like Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears. Then, there is Lady Lovely Locks & The Pixietails.

Lady Lovely Locks was introduced in 1987, and, like the others, was licensed for other products. Mattel developed a toy line, and the characters were also brought to life in a short-lived animated series produced by DIC for syndication.

In the series, Lady Lovely Locks had to fend off the schemes of a jealous, envious ruler of a neighboring land. It is said that Lady Lovely Locks' powers were in her flowing hair, much like the Biblical hero Samson. In a way, then, she is a mash-up of Samson and, oh, I don't know, maybe Snow White?

Let's take a look at the opener. The live-action sequence at the close provides a protracted moral.

Only 10 half hours were produced, as apparently, kids weren't buying the toys or the cards, and the plots lacked imagination, and, save for VHS releases, these cartoons haven't been seen in 30 years.

Rating: C.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Agent Zero M? (1964?)

You can say Mattel was on the pop culture tip in the 60's when it came to boy-centric toys.

In approximately 1964, the company introduced a line of toys under the umbrella of Agent Zero M, hoping to cash in on the popularity of the James Bond movies and the then-first year spy series, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. Kurt Russell (ex-The Travels of Jamie McPheeters) starred in these commercials.

This is the introductory ad, with Theo Marcuse and a pre-Batman Alan Napier:

Unfortunately, these were off the market by the time I made my first visit to a toy store. I'm only learning of their existence for the first time today. Hope this spurs some memories for you.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering Brian Christopher

Jerry Lawler has long billed himself as the King of pro wrestling, especially in his hometown of Memphis.

That would make Brian Christopher (Lawler) the Prince.

For most of his career, Brian dropped the family name when he competed, as the Lawlers believed, perhaps rightly, that Brian should stand on his own two feet, although the people of Memphis were well aware of the familial link. Brian's brother, Kevin, worked as a referee in the area (full name, Kevin Christian Lawler).

Brian spent 4 years with the then-World Wrestling Federation, where he adopted the name, Grandmaster Sexay, and won one tag team title in 2000, with his father on commentary. Before that, Brian started his career at home in Memphis, competing in the USWA, and, much like his dad, flipped back & forth between babyface and heel, depending on which way the wind blowed, if you will.

We lost Brian last weekend when he committed suicide while in his cell while awaiting a hearing on DUI charges. At the same time, we said goodbye to Brickhouse Brown and Nikolai Volkoff, making it truly a sad day for wrestling, especially in Memphis.

From 1993, it's father vs. son, as Jerry defends the USWA Unified title vs. Brian:

Try as he could, Brian couldn't duplicate his father's famous laugh, as he sounds more like a hyena. To be honest, the only time Brian used the Lawler name in the ring was in the early days of NWA-TNA in 2002, after he'd been cut by WWE.

Rest in peace, Brian. Your suffering is over.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Toon Rock: Clint Eastwood (2001)

Gorillaz made a big splash in 2001 with "Clint Eastwood". Nowhere in the lyrics is the iconic actor-filmmaker mentioned, though.

The rapping is performed by Del! The Funky Homosapien, who didn't exactly light up the charts on his own back in the day.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering Brickhouse Brown

I promised we'd take a look at Brickhouse Brown, who never made it to the WWE, but he did get some national attention when the USWA landed a national deal with ESPN. Brown, who passed away last week, worked mostly in Memphis and, as memory serves, with World Class Championship Wrestling in the 80's & 90's.

Here, we have a USWA squash from aound 1996-7, when the Nation of Domination faction was making waves in the WWE (then World Wrestling Federation), with a splinter group in the Memphis area.

Tomorrow, we'll see Brian Christopher in action. RIP, Brick.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tooniversary: The first episode of Inch High, Private Eye (1973)

Inch High, Private Eye celebrates its 45th anniversary next month. This month, it's our Famous First episode entry.

In the opener, Inch (Len Weinrib) takes the case of a wealthy socialite to protect her valuable diamond necklace.

The writing staff on the show included primetime TV veterans such as Fred Fox & Seaman Jacobs, who'd written a bazillion scripts for, for example, F-Troop. Otherwise, this was a generic plot.

Rating: B.