Saturday, September 29, 2018

Getting Schooled: The Toothbrush Family (1974)

G'day, mate. Do you remember The Toothbrush Family?

This series of short cartoons was the idea of Marcia Hatfield of Australia, who came up with the idea to convince her son to start brushing his teeth. Billie Richards (Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer) and Len Carlson, known here in the States for his work on the animated Swamp Thing and other cartoons, performed all the voices in these shorts, which made their way to the US in 1979, airing on Captain Kangaroo.

Let's take a look at a sample.



The poster is referring to the period when these shorts ran in the US, as the copyright clearly shows 1974. The series was revived in 1998 in Australia, but those efforts haven't reached our shores.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tooniversary: Popeye in Shark Treatment (1978)

From season 1 of The All-New Popeye Hour, marking its 40th anniversary this year:

Popeye helps his dad, Poopdeck Pappy (both voiced by Jack Mercer) track an old shark nemesis of the old salt. Here's "Shark Treatment":



I think they did a similar storyline some years earlier, and if I can find it, I'll put it up.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Have You Seen Her? (1971-2)

Not long ago, we served up the Chi-Lites' "Oh Girl", from their appearance on Soul Train. This next entry may be from that same appearance during Soul Train's 1st national season (1971-2).

"Have You Seen Her?" was later covered by MC Hammer, with some new lyrics, in 1990.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Thundarr in City of Evil (1981)

The title speaks for itself. Thundarr The Barbarian (Robert Ridgely, also heard as Tarzan & Flash Gordon on other networks) and friends enter a "City of Evil". Scope.

Edit, 9/25/19: Unfortunately, the video has been deleted.

'Tis a pity ABC pulled the plug after 2 seasons. Reruns were picked up by NBC for the 1983 season when they were short on first-run programming.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Toonfomercial: ABC made some changes 40 years ago (1978)

ABC clearly didn't have enough new material when the 1978-9 season began, such that they were running vintage reruns of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (acquired from CBS) at the start of the season. A month in, the network shuffled the deck, and bumped the older Scooby reruns.

As the following ad, narrated by Dick Tufeld, explains, Challenge of the Super Friends was expanded to 90 minutes to include episodes from the previous season's All-New Super Friends Hour. With Scooby's All-Stars (formerly Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics) reduced to 90 minutes from its original 2 hour format, well.....



Maybe I was misremembering things, but I always thought Challenge led off. Anyway, the listed air time (7 am) is for the Central time zone.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Looney TV: Merlin The Magic Mouse in Fistic Mystic (1969)

Time to visit with Merlin The Magic Mouse (Larry Storch, ex-F-Troop) as he & Second Banana wind up a small Old West town in "Fistic Mystic". Storch retained the W. C. Fields-inspired vocals for Merlin, originally developed by Daws Butler two years earlier.



After F-Troop ended, Storch began his voice acting career, splitting time between WB & Filmation over a period of five years (1968-73), and even reprised his characterization of The Joker in a pair of New Scooby-Doo Movies episodes.

Rating: B.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Arabian Knights in The Prisoner (1968)

The Arabian Knights turn 50 this year. Unfortunately, with the political climate being what it is, there are no chances of a reboot today. Meh, it can be done, but under the right circumstances.

Anyway, in "The Prisoner", Nida (Shari Lewis) poses as another princess to foil Bakaar's latest plot.



Not sure if it's either Ginny Tyler or Janet Waldo as Tasmine.

Rating: A-.

Summertainment: Mr. Magoo in A Day at The Beach (1960)

Summer's almost over. Here's Mr. Magoo, taking in "A Day at The Beach".



The familiar open was edited off. When Magoo came to CBS in 1977, Charlie didn't come with him, for obvious reasons.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Overthinking Bert & Ernie

Next year, Sesame Street turns 50. That includes two of the series' most beloved characters, BFF's Bert & Ernie, whose long time friendship has come under some unwarranted scrutiny of late after a former writer for Street was quoted in a magazine article the other day as saying he wrote sketches for the two Muppets based on his own relationship with a same-sex partner.

Mark Saltzman joined the Street writing staff in 1984, 15 years after Bert & Ernie debuted. Frank Oz & the late Jim Henson based their characterizations of the roommates on their own long-standing friendship. Sesame Workshop has stated that there are no questions about Bert & Ernie's sexual orientation, other than the fact that they are heterosexual, and always have been. Saltzman, for his part, has walked back his remarks that were published in the heretofore unknown LGBT publication Queerty, according to today's New York Post, stating his remarks were misinterpreted.

Before I go any further, here's a classic Bert & Ernie skit:



If anything else, the legendary Muppets are used as teaching tools for pre-schoolers, Sesame Street's target audience. They're also regarded among the great comedy teams of all time, including the likes of, at least in this writer's opinion, Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, Bugs Bunny and either Elmer Fudd or Daffy Duck, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo, and Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble. While we live in an increasingly inclusive, progressive society, taking a piece of our childhood, and remolding it to fit these societal changes, is itself open to interpretation. There've been rumors for years about Bert & Ernie. It's time to put those rumors to rest.

You Know The Voice: Mel Blanc (1986)

In 1986, CBS aired a special 50th anniversary retrospective of the Warner Bros. animation library. At the end of the show, Mel Blanc appears to advise viewers of all ages to check out some books on animation at their local library. Naturally, Bugs Bunny is heard from at the end.



The Read More About It series was attached to a number of CBS specials and made-for-TV movies in those days.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Toons After Dark: Mr. Magoo meets Sherlock Holmes (1964)

From The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo:

Magoo (Jim Backus, Gilligan's Island) is Dr. John Watson, faithful associate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. Paul Frees is heard as "Holmes", as if you couldn't tell.



Amusing. Too bad the open & close, with Carl Brandt's swinging score, were edited off.

Rating: A.

Daytime Heroes: He-Man meets Visitors From Earth (1984)

From season 2 of He-Man & The Masters of The Universe (Filmation series):

A pair of Earth astronauts go through a spatial warp and end up on Eternia. We find that Queen Marlena was herself an astronaut back on Earth, and the presences of fellow astronauts creates an interesting scenario for her.

Here's "Visitors From Earth":



Rating: B.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Toon Legends: Popeye in Can You Take It? (1934)

In 1934's "Can You Take It", Popeye (William Costello) decides to join a tough guys' club, run by Bluto. The initiation is worth the price of admission alone.



The title comes from the question posed by Bluto and the club. Well, ask a silly question......

Rating: A.

Saturday (Afternoon) Ringside: A Shakespearian fight scene in 2018

In the hometown, they had something called "The Enchanted City" yesterday. It's an annual event, now in its 5th year, which encourages all sorts of cosplay across the timestream. Not just 19th century steampunk, mind, but also, a dash of Shakespeare.

Sam Wilson, the genius in charge of Mondo 70, The Think 3 Institute, & True Pulp Fiction, was there, and recorded this sequence, adapted from the Bard's Merchant of Venice. I am reminded of Daffy Duck & Porky Pig's scene in "Robin Hood Daffy", but this looks like they're auditioning for some Jules Verne film festival......



Sam has his own YouTube channel, so go check it out. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

On The Air: Ring Warriors (2018)

Former NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) President Howard Brody founded the Ring Warriors promotion a number of years ago, but it seceded from the NWA in 2012, trying to function on its own. Brody closed up shop four years later, but after securing a national television contract with WGN America, Ring Warriors is back.

WGN America has placed the program at 8 am (ET/7 am CT) on Saturday mornings, ahead of a Married..With Children marathon block. Talk about a buzzkiller. Many of the names on the roster will be familiar to fans of TNA-Impact, Ring of Honor, Major League Wrestling, or, in the case of backstage reporter Ken Resnick, either the AWA or the World Wrestling Federation. Resnick worked for both in the 80's, and hasn't been on the national scene since the American Wrestling Federation in the 90's.

Impact's current champion, Austin Aries, is a storyline minority owner of Ring Warriors, and sat in on commentary for the opener. I missed the first 20 minutes of today's show due to other commitments, and missed Aries' promo, which is excerpted in the following trailer....



The show is being filmed, not taped, in Las Vegas at Sam's Town, which has hosted ROH tapings in the past. The other drawback is the early time slot. WGN America is like a number of other cablers, spamming reruns of older acquisitions into the ground when they could find a better spot for their newest series. I recommend an early evening berth that the NWA would be familiar with from back in the day.....

Rating: C.

Friday, September 14, 2018

You Know The Voice: Len Weinrib (1961)

As we've documented, the late Len Weinrib not only was a prominent voice actor for much of the 60's, 70's, & 80's, but also a indie filmmaker, and made some live-action acting appearances as well (i.e. Burke's Law). Keep an eye out for him in this first season installment of The Dick Van Dyke Show, "Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?":



Len never looked so dapper.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Oh, Girl (1972)

The Chi-Lites' "Oh, Girl" was released as a single in March 1972, and it eventually landed them on Soul Train. We'll see a performance, with an intro by the band and Don Cornelius.



"Oh, Girl" was covered by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles later in '72, and hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for British singer Paul Young in 1990. In between, country singer Con Hunley covered it, backed by the Oak Ridge Boys, in 1982. And that's just a few of the cover versions, because this has been done many times by many artists.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Toons You Might've Missed: Wacky Blackout (1942)

Here's a Looney Tunes wartime short, directed by Bob Clampett, that probably hasn't seen the light of day since Clampett's Cartoon Network show signed off. Mel Blanc narrates "Wacky Blackout".



Kent Rogers did the Red Skelton mimic as the woodpecker, in case ya wonder.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Zorro in The Frame (1981)

Zorro (Henry Darrow) is framed for a series of thefts. Anyone that followed The New Adventures of Zorro should have no trouble figuring out the guilty party.

For what it's worth, this was the only time Filmation outsourced the animation on any of their network series, as there is a clear indication that the work was done in Japan. Here's "The Frame":



Standard stuff, and it should've gotten an earlier time slot.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

You Know The Voice: Alan Reed (1954)

From season 2 of The Danny Thomas Show, aka Make Room For Daddy:

A Hollywood bigwig (Alan Reed) tries convincing Danny to have plastic surgery done on his nose. Yes, that is the future voice of Fred Flintstone with blondish hair.




Monday, September 10, 2018

Coming Attractions: She-Ra returns

More than 30 years after her debut, She-Ra returns in November on Netflix, but there's already some concerns, perhaps unfounded. More after the trailer:



Aimee Carrero (Elena of Avador, ex-Level Up) has been cast as Princess Adora/She-Ra, rebooted as a young orphan, which tells us that there may not be any chance of Adora seeing her twin brother, Prince Adam of Eternia (aka He-Man) in this series, unless Dreamworks & Netflix are in the midst of negotiations to add the rest of the Masters of The Universe line, of which She-Ra is part, to the mix in due course. There are people complaining already about the more PC-friendly costumes to given to Adora in both of her identities, but, hey, it's 2018. We can't have things be the same for certain shows or movies this time around, and the older fanboys who followed the original series haven't grasped this yet.

The designs will strike a chord, or at least that's the intention, with anime fans, but there are going to be those older get-a-lifes who just don't get it, and have little else to do but whine.

She-Ra & The Princesses of Power drops on Netflix on November 16, one week before Thanksgiving. Parents, expect your daughters to be asking for the inevitable action figures.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Saturtainment: Fraidy Cat in Magic Numbers (1975)

The title is self-explanatory. Fraidy Cat's luck could be changing in "Magic Numbers":



It's too bad Filmation couldn't shop this series on its own after Uncle Croc's Block was cancelled. Improvements would've helped.

Rating: C.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Toonfomercial: Do you remember the Raisin Counters? (1966)

After Post Cereals dismissed Maisie & Jake, their original mascots for Raisin Bran, they tried out something different.

Enter the Raisin Counter.

Ah, a cartoon character for the anal-retentives in all of us. The Counter was introduced in 1960, but by 1966, there were now a group of Counters. In this 1966 spot, the Counters are being presented as a pop group, a satire of the British Invasion....



The animation here looks like it was either done by Ed Graham's studio, or the folks at Total Television (i.e. King Leonardo, Underdog, etc.). If anyone can verify this information, please drop a note in the comments box. Thanks.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Literary Toons: Mama Don't Allow (1985)

From CBS Storybreak:

Thatcher Hurd's short story is adapted in the episode, Mama Don't Allow. I'd like to think that Hurd may have gotten inspiration from the WB cartoon, "I Love to Sing-a" several years earlier, substituting possums for owls, and giving Miles Possum a saxophone. Voices include June Foray and Jeff Altman.

Adaptation is by TV & comics vet Mark Evanier, who also wrote some of the music.



With the kiddo's back in school today, maybe some of them are taking up music for the first time. You never know.

No rating.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember Maisie & Jake? (1950)

Long before Kellogg's decided to use a sentient sun as its mascot for their Raisin Bran, Post introduced an animated couple to push their version of the cereal.

Unfortunately, there's little or no information available online about Maisie the Raisin and/or Jake the Flake, aside from this charming little ad, introduced in 1950.



You can say Maisie & Jake were Post's first mascots, long before they developed the likes of Linus the Lionhearted, So-Hi, Lovable Truly, and the rest, or entered into a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. to use the Looney Tunes crew.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Dang Me (1964)

By the time Roger Miller turned up on American Bandstand (and back then, they'd bring anyone on the show), the series had become a Saturday afternoon staple. "Dang Me" was sampled, humorously, by Robin Williams 23 years later in "Good Morning, Vietnam". Here's the real thing.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Literary Toons: Tarzan & The Lost City of Gold (1976)

CBS had a winner on its hands when Filmation landed a license for Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle in 1976 to complement the studio's live-action block, which saw Ark II replace the cancelled Ghost Busters. Today, we're going back to the series premiere, a loose adaptation of "Tarzan & The Lost City of Gold". Ted Cassidy guest-stars.



Co-producer Lou Scheimer takes us into and out of commercial breaks.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember the Smackin' Brothers? (1966)

Long before Kellogg's introduced Dig 'Em the frog as the mascot for Sugar Smacks (now Honey Smacks) cereal, they tried out The Smackin' Brothers, two young boys (both voiced, I think, by June Foray, though I could be wrong). Paul Frees (who else?) is the announcer.



By the time I got around to paying attention to television, these kids were, like, gone.

Tooniversary: Fangface in A Heap of Trouble (1978)

Our Famous First for September is the series premiere of Fangface, the debut entry from Joe Ruby & Ken Spears' studio, as they spun off on their own after two seasons back at Hanna-Barbera, time also spent creating series for the Kroffts.

The biggest flaw to the show, really was the title hero himself (Frank Welker). Sherman Fangsworth, aka Fangface, wears a backward baseball cap in both identities. The infant Fangs, shown in the open, would be recycled the next year as Sherm's nephew, Fangpuss. How unoriginal can you get?

Actress Susan Blu (Kim) later became a voice director herself, but was the relative unknown in the core cast, alongside H-B vets Welker and Jerry Dexter (Biff). Bart Braverman (Puggs) would become recognizable to audiences from his work on another ABC series, Vega$. As explained in the opener, "A Heap of Trouble", Fangface has this obsession with eating Puggs whenever someone mentions food, usually by accident.

The Heap, the villain of this episode, is not to be confused with the comic book character of the same name, whose history goes back to the Golden Age, and may have been the forerunner to Marvel's Man-Thing and DC's Swamp Thing. The villain's secret identity and motivations are revealed in the first three minutes, which makes solving the case easy for viewers accustomed to Scooby-Doo and his various "clones", of which Fangface was the latest.

Norman Maurer (The Robonic Stooges) is one of the writers.



Rating: B--.