Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Busy Prepositions (1993)

It's been a long time since we've pulled up something from Schoolhouse Rock, but this one, as you'll discover shortly, is tinged with some sadness.

From 1993, here's "Busy Prepositions".



A year ago, we lost vocalist Bob Dorough. Today, we're finding out that Jack Sheldon, who dueted with Dorough on this one, passed away last Friday at 88. More on Jack over at The Land of Whatever.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Toonfomercial: Introducing Twinkles cereal (1960)

We've previously served up a Twinkles short from King Leonardo & His Short Subjects. Sponsor General Mills introduced the "magic elephant" in cereal form in the same year (1960). George S. Irving voices Twinkles for the balance of this video, but the opening portion sounds like another actor is shilling the cereal.

Uploaded by Ira Gallen's TVdays YouTube channel.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Looney TV: A new kind of Looney drink (1986)

20 years after Bugs Bunny and pals were shilling for Kool-Aid & Tang, the Looney Tunes characters were licensed to Borden for a new line of sweetened drink mixes. Unfortunately, this line imploded rather quickly.

Friday, December 27, 2019

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Zoobilee Zoo (1985)

In 1985, DIC tried their hand with a live-action series aimed at pre-schoolers.

Zoobilee Zoo lasted two seasons, but remained on cable and/or syndication for an additional 13 years, being pulled off the airwaves in 2000. Ben Vereen (ex-Tenspeed & Brown Shoe) headlined as Mayor Ben, who served as the tour guide for viewers.

If the series were to be remade today, Hallmark, which created the characters, would likely seek to use CGI for the animal characters.

You'd think Hallmark would put this show on Hallmark Channel to break up the monotony of their spamming comedies from the 80's & 90's, but......nope.

Here's the intro:



SFM Media also distributed DIC's other syndicated premiere that year, Jayce & The Wheeled Warriors, which ran for one season.

Rating: B.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Toons After Dark: No Biz Like Show Biz (The Flintstones, 1965)

The Flintstones opened its final season on ABC with a left-handed look at the burgeoning bubblegum pop movement.

As we know, Fred (Alan Reed) has a dream in which Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm become unlikely pre-school pop stars. Here's "No Biz Like Show Biz":

Edit, 2/18/21: The episode has been deleted. In its place is a key scene we've used before, as Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm are discovered doing "Open Your Heart (& Let The Sunshine In)":



While Fred & Barney are channel surfing, trying to find the right station for a game that they soon learn is cancelled, you hear "Roses & Rainbows", written & recorded by Danny Hutton, four years before Three Dog Night took off. Hutton recorded for Hanna-Barbera's music division. Some say it wasn't Hutton heard in the brief clip in this episode. Judge for yourselves, kids.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Toonfomercial: Ford ads by Dr. Seuss (1949)

Before becoming a best selling author, Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, worked in the advertising industry. Among his clients was the Ford Motor Company, which, in 1949, commissioned Seuss to produce a series of spots. Geoff Chisholm found these restored prints and posted four minutes worth of Seussian animation that hasn't otherwise been seen in years.



We'll be back on Thursday. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: White Christmas (2018)

Blues-rock legend Eric Clapton released a Christmas album last year. With it came this claymation video for his cover of "White Christmas". The video is an autobiographical piece illustrating Clapton meeting Johnny "Guitar" Watson.



Enough said.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

You Know The Voice: George S. Irving (1976)

Former Underdog narrator George S. Irving kept himself busy in the 70's by doing commercials. We've seen him shill for Gillette, but in this holiday spot, he's suggesting White Owl cigars as Christmas gifts......



How he didn't land a lot of roles as shifty con artist types, I'll never know. He has that kind of look and voice for such parts.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Toonfomercial: Even a wolf knows the value of a good breakfast (1998)

The ad agency behind the commercials for Honey Nut Cheerios came up with a cheeky take on Little Red Riding Hood (played by British multi-media personality Carrie Fletcher), by having the Big Bad Wolf (Kelsey Grammer, Frasier, The Simpsons) diverted by Buzz Bee (Billy West, Futurama) and the cereal....



Well, at least the wolf can stay healthy......

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Digger? (1978)

Playskool's Romper Room line introduced Digger, a bloodhound, in 1978. Dig the commercial and the folksy jingle!



That same year, NBC introduced viewers to The Buford Files, but, unfortunately, Buford, also a bloodhound, didn't merit any toys.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: A Christmas Carol (Famous Classic Tales, 1970)

Charles Dickens' legendary classic, A Christmas Carol, was adapted for television by Australia's Air Programs International for CBS' Famous Classic Tales in 1970. The network would replay this installment every year until 1985, so you'd be hard pressed to find it anywhere now.



As we know, Chuck Jones & Richard Williams would produce their own adaptation the next year, which aired on ABC.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Toons You Might've Missed: Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass' Double Feature (1966)

In 1966, Herb Alpert, president of A & M Records as well as a million selling recording artist, cut a deal with Paramount to produce an animated short set to the beat of three of his Tijuana Brass songs.

"Mexican Shuffle" was also used by the makers of Clark gum for an ad campaign (found at The Land of Whatever).

"Spanish Flea" was co-opted by Chuck Barris for use on the original Dating Game.

"Tijuana Taxi" completes the set, though the "Double Feature" title emphasizes the last two.

The Oscar winning duo of John & Faith Hubley and their staff animated the video.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: Doug's Christmas Story (1993)

Doug may be spending a lonely Christmas without his pet sidekick, Porkchop, when a misunderstanding over an accident at a town pond puts Porkchop in the pound. Here's "Doug's Christmas Story":



One of the better entries in the series.

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Toons After Dark: Here Comes Garfield (1982)

Jim Davis' Garfield made his primetime debut in 1982's "Here Comes Garfield". Sandy Kenyon voices Jon Arbuckle here, a role that would later be essayed by Thom Huge in most of the specials and the subsequent Garfield & Friends series.

Garfield (Lorenzo Music) and dim-witted, gullible Odie wind up in the pound after chasing the neighbor's dog back to its property, where Hubert (Henry Corden), a near sighted old gentleman, decides to turn them in.

Title song performed by Lou Rawls.



Rating: B.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Toons You Might've Missed: Dimwit in How to Relax (1954)

Terrytoons' Dimwit is best remembered as a foil for Heckle & Jeckle, and, before that a sidekick to Farmer Al Falfa. What folks tend to forget is that Dimwit also starred in a series of shorts of his own, produced between 1948-59. These shorts were used as part of CBS' Heckle & Jeckle Cartoon Show beginning in 1956. By then, Dimwit had been rebooted as a knockoff of Disney's Goofy, right down to the Everyman shorts of the period.

Only two shorts are available on YouTube at present: 1953's "How to Keep Cool", which is a TV print, and this item, "How to Relax", which came out a year later.



By this point, as demonstrated yesterday, Terrytoons was copying their competitors, and failing. Small wonder Dimwit's solo series was released sporadically over 11 years while he still appeared with Heckle & Jeckle.

Rating: B--.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Toons You Might've Missed: Phoney News Flashes (1955)

In the mid-50's, Terrytoons tried to show that they could do some of the same things as the competition (i.e. WB, Universal, MGM). Unfortunately, when it came to television, syndicators were only interested in the familiar brands (Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle) and ignored stuff like "Phoney News Flashes".



Yes, this does have the feel of a knockoff.

Rating: B+.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: Jingle Bells (1957-2019)

We told you before that there was an animated video accompanying Frank Sinatra's 1957 rendition of "Jingle Bells". Here it is.

Looney TV: Porky's Railroad (1937)

Frank Tashlin's 1937 opus, "Porky's Railroad", is your basic David vs. Goliath story, with Porky Pig being David in this case, as his dilapidated train is threatened by a shiny, state of the art (for its time) model.



Like, you could see the ending coming a mile away, couldn't you?

Rating: B.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Game Time: Big Bird on What's My Line? (1973)

Two years after Carroll Spinney appeared as a challenger on To Tell The Truth, the Sesame Street legend brought Big Bird to What's My Line?. Coincidentally, host Larry Blyden was on the Truth panel previously, as we've documented.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Toon Legends: Heckle & Jeckle in Miami Maniacs (1955)

Most folks---and birds----like to fly south for the winter. Heckle & Jeckle are no exception, except that these guys can't afford hotel accomodations. Hence, another round with Dimwit, who in this story is a hotel bellhop, and his boss, in "Miami Maniacs":



This was the team's only release in 1955. Go figure.

Rating: B. By this point, some of the gags were repeating themselves.

Countdown to Christmas: A Family Circus Christmas (1979)

It's been 40 years since Bil Keane's Family Circus was first adapted for a primetime television special. A Family Circus Christmas, produced by Edward Cullen & Saul Kasdan, was the first of two specials, at least, that aired on NBC. We've previously screened the Easter episode, so now it's time to visit our animated family as Christmas approaches.....



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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Toons After Dark: The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold (1981)

Rankin-Bass came up with a variation on the usual Christmas formula with 1981's The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold, linking together the traditional folk tales of Irish leprechauns and Christmas.

A sailor finds not only what he thinks is a Christmas tree, but a whole island full of leprechauns, unaware that he has accidentally released an old witch.

Narrated by Academy Award winner Art Carney ("Harry & Tonto", ex-The Honeymooners), and co-starring Bob MacFadden, Gerry Matthews, and Peggy Cass (ex-To Tell The Truth, The Hathaways), this special aired during the 80's, but once the decade was over, ABC put it on the shelf.



Begorra!

Rating: B.

Countdown to Christmas: Silver Bells (2019)

Former Journey frontman Steve Perry's back with a new solo CD, "Traces", and just a week ago dropped a Christmas single, a rendition of the classic ballad, "Silver Bells". Scope the flash animation that makes it appear as though this was modeled after some original artwork.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: Norelco's famous Christmas ad (1976)

Norelco is now part of Phillips, but back in the day, this ad aired every year between Thanksgiving & Christmas. How can you miss Santa riding on a cordless electric shaver, subbing for a sleigh?



One of the earliest CGI cartoons, I think.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978)

Seeing as how primetime shows such as Evening at Pops had Christmas-themed episodes, PBS thought it might be a good idea to give Sesame Street its first primetime special, in December 1978, during season 10.

"Christmas Eve on Sesame Street" would be rerun for several years afterward as a holiday tradition.

The plot: Oscar (voice of Carroll Spinney) tries to plant seeds of doubt in Big Bird (Spinney) about Santa Claus. That prompts Big Bird to run away for a bit.

Also: members of the Holiday on Ice skating show dress up as Ernie, Cookie Monster, the Count, & Bert to try some barrel jumping.

Let's take a look:



Dedicated to Carroll Spinney, who has passed away at 85. Thanks for the memories.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: Harley Quinn (2019)

When DC Universe launched last year, the streaming service's three live action series, Titans, Doom Patrol, & the unfairly cancelled Swamp Thing, pushed the boundaries with the use of coarse language, as if any or all would otherwise have landed at HBO instead.

Add Harley Quinn to the list.

With "Birds of Prey" due in theatres this winter, the fan favorite anti-hero introduced on Batman: The Animated Series 27 years ago gets her own series, and does her fair share of swearing like a sailor.

The idea, of course, is to make these shows as close to realistic as possible. Like there's really any realism in comics.

The plot: Harley (Kaley Cuoco, fresh from The Big Bang Theory) finds out the hard way that Joker (Alan Tudyk, Doom Patrol) doesn't really love her like she thinks he does. She moves in with BFF Poison Ivy (Lake Bell), who has a talking plant (J. B. Smoove, "Spider-Man: Far From Home") for a roommate. However, in his own bizarre way, Joker isn't about to let Harley establish her independence if he can help it.

Cuoco is no stranger to cartoons (Brandy & Mr. Whiskers), and captures Harley's manic spirit. Bell, on the other hand, plays Ivy as if she was a super powered Daria, but Harley is hardly Jane Lane. Not even close.

The supporting cast is eclectic, with Wayne Knight (ex-3rd Rock From The Sun, Seinfeld) as Penguin, Raoul Kohli (fresh from iZombie) as Scarecrow, Diedrich Bader (American Housewife) making another run as the Batman after his winning turn on Batman: The Brave & The Bold, and Christopher Meloni (Happy!) as Commissioner Gordon, who doesn't look normal.

Here's a trailer. The show is rated MA, and, understandably, the trailer is NSFK (Not Safe For Kids) due to language:



There's more splatter on this show than Doom Patrol & Swamp Thing combined. And ya wonder why Fox whiffed on an animated adaptation of Marvel's Deadpool........

Rating: A.

Countdown to Christmas: Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! (1959-2019)

The late Dean Martin first recorded "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" in 1959, then went back to the studio 7 years later to record it for an outright Christmas album, likely tied to his NBC variety show.

60 years after the original recording, some enterprising folks have produced an animated video, synced to Martin's vocals.



It's my understanding they've done the same thing with Frank Sinatra's rendition of "Jingle Bells". What next?

Friday, December 6, 2019

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry in The Cat Concerto (1946)

Tom & Jerry earned an Oscar for the change of pace short, "The Cat Concerto".

William Hanna & Joseph Barbera decided to put them in a concert hall, with Tom as a classically trained pianist. Of course, with Jerry around, chaos is bound to follow.



Personally, I'd like to think Bugs Bunny did it better.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Toons You Might've Missed: Jack Frost (1934)

The legendary Ub Iwerks directed a very different take on "Jack Frost" in 1934. Contrary to Rankin-Bass' interpretation of the character 45 years later, well, as you'll see, Jack is literally a more colorful character.



Rating: B.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Looney TV: Daffy on The Bayou (New Looney Tunes, 2019)

New Looney Tunes (formerly wabbit-A Looney Tunes production) now airs weekdays on Boomerang at 6:30 am (ET). Time to sample some of the latest craziness.

It's been reported that the protracted season 3 will be the last for the series as they're focusing on a new set of shorts, which we sampled a while back. None of the shorts in the current series are available in full, just excerpts.

One such excerpt is "Daffy on The Bayou". Daffy Duck is in Bayou country, but so is Elmer Fudd, who loses the fish he had collected as protein for his gumbo, so guess who's on the menu?



Elmer's even skinnier than ever. In contrast, some pictures I've seen have Porky Pig back to his original plus-size form. The upshot is that Daffy is back to being his original, out of control self, which fans have preferred to the selfish "craven coward" of the 50's & 60's.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: A Christmas Tree (1972)

From Rankin-Bass' Festival of Family Classics:

A Christmas Tree is one of Charles Dickens' lesser known works, at least in comparison to A Christmas Carol or David Copperfield. Rankin-Bass chose this for a holiday treat, but to my knowledge, it hasn't been adapted by anyone else in the 47 years since.

Paul Coker, Jr. & Mushi Studios provided the animation. As per normal, Bernard Cowan is our announcer.



The YouTube poster is incorrect. This was episode 9 in the series.

No rating.

Daytime Heroes: The Lone Ranger meets The Woman in The White Mask (1955)

From season 4 of The Lone Ranger:

The Ranger (Clayton Moore) and nephew Dan Reid (Chuck Courtney) track "The Woman in The White Mask" (Phyllis Coates, ex-The Adventures of Superman), who is seeking revenge for all the wrong reasons. Denver Pyle also guest stars.

Dan Reid subbed for Tonto as the Ranger's partner for a handful of episodes in season 4.



And now you know why they say there's no honor among thieves......

Rating: A-.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: The Candlemaker (1957)

The husband & wife team of John Halas & Joy Batchelor worked on some Popeye shorts in the early 60's, and also assisted Format Films with the production of the first Lone Ranger animated series (1966-9). The angular character designs from that series are also evident in this 1957 entry, "The Candlemaker", produced for Cathedral Films. Aside from Christian channels or even the Catholic-centric Eternal Word channel, I don't think this has seen the light of day in the US other than on YouTube.



Now you know why pets don't go to church.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Take Me To Heart (1984)

From American Bandstand:

Quarterflash performs "Take Me To Heart", from the album, "Take Another Picture". A YouTube commentator noted that this was the same episode where Madonna made her debut ("Holiday").



This was Quarterflash's 2nd or 3rd appearance on Bandstand, so the cat was out of the bag by this time, to the disappointment of a lot of young boys, that singer-saxophonist Rindy Ross was already spoken for (married to guitarist and chief songwriter Marv).

Toon Legends: Mighty Mouse in The First Snow (1947)

Here in the 518, we're experiencing our first major snowstorm, and it won't be winter for another three weeks. That being said, let's take you back to 1947, and Mighty Mouse, coming to the aid of some kidnapped baby rabbits, in "The First Snow":



Par for the course for this period.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Rein-Toon-Ation: Superbook (2011)

30 years after the original Superbook had been produced in Japan, the Christian Broadcasting Network revived the series, largely for their kids' website. Five seasons, spread out over 8 years, have been produced.

The new series follows the same, familiar format of the original, as Chris usually learns Biblical lessons the hard way.

"The First Christmas" was released in 2012.



There are DVD's, so keep a watch for them at Walmart and Christian markets.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Retro Toy Chest: Team America (1981)

Ideal Toys decided to copy Kenner's SST line of toys, as you'll see, with Team America, a line of toys that was introduced in 1981, and led to a short lived comic book after Marvel obtained a license from Ideal.

Here's one of the central characters, the Marauder, being showcased.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

You Know The Voice: Louise Williams (1983)

After Baby Makes Five landed on ABC in the spring of 1983, co-star Louise Williams hit the talk show circuit, including a stop on Bill Tush's show on WTBS.



Yes, she'd gotten married by this point, but was still using her maiden name professionally.

Thanksgiving Toons: The Landing of The Pilgrims (1940)

Terrytoons is known for iconic characters such as Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle. However, there were the occasions where the studio tried to emulate rivals like WB and the Fleischers.

One such instance is 1940's "The Landing of The Pilgrims", a satirical twist on the traditional account of the Pilgrims' arrival in America in 1620.



This hasn't seen the light of day on TV in Lord knows when, especially in today's hyper-sensitive culture, which would claim the Native Americans depicted here were stereotypes.

I'd say they were the forerunners to the Hekawis from F-Troop, which came along 25 years later.

Rating: C.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Saturtainment: Jerry Lewis has Double Trouble (1970)

From Will The Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down?:

Jerry (David L. Lander) gets cloned by his father's duplicating machine, and, of course, chaos follows. Howard Morris, who essays all the other male roles, is also the show's announcer.

Note: This is just an excerpt. The complete episode is available, but the embedding code was disabled for privacy purposes.



It is said that Lewis was an influence on Lander's portrayal of Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley a few years later.

Rating: B.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Poetry Man (1975)

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Snow peaked in the top 5 on the Hot 100, and topped the Adult Contemporary chart in the spring of 1975 with "Poetry Man", which netted her an appearance on The Midnight Special:

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

You Know The Voice: Blossom Dearie (1967)

Blossom Dearie (Blossom is actually her middle name) is known to a couple of generations of kids for her contributions to Schoolhouse Rock. However, like fellow singers Bob Dorough & Jack Sheldon, Blossom was also a jazz musician, and she & Dorough had worked together back in the 50's.

Now, we have a face to match the voice behind songs like "Mother Necessity". This clip is from 1967. Not sure where this aired, but Blossom is at the piano to do a pair of songs from the Broadway hit, "The Fantasticks". Here's "My Gentleman Friend" & "Soon, It's Going to Rain":

Monday, November 18, 2019

Toon Legends: Pink Panther in Congratulations, It's Pink (1967)

The Pink Panther tries taking a page from Yogi Bear's playbook, and steal a picnic basket. However, what he gets is something else entirely. Here's "Congratulations, It's Pink":



Vocal effects by June Foray. I don't think Yogi ever made the same mistake.

Rating: B.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Family Toons: A complete episode of Popeye & Son (1987)

A pair of Popeye & Son entries:

"Don't Forget The Picnic": Popeye (Maurice LaMarche) and his son duel with Bluto (Allan Melvin), and his son, Tank (David Markus). Wimpy (Melvin again) enters himself and his nephew, Francis.

"The Lost Treasure of Pirate's Cove": Junior and the gang go foraging for a lost treasure while Popeye & Olive are away.



Unfortunately, the kids were retconned out after the series was cancelled.

Rating: B-. One of the better entries.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

You Know The Voices: Stan Freberg & Marcia Wallace (1983)

It was news when satirist Stan Freberg was on the panel for the Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour in December 1983. Toon fans know Stan was the uncredited voice of Pete Puma in a couple of Bugs Bunny shorts, and did some other toon work.

Marcia Wallace (ex-The Bob Newhart Show) was six years away from being cast as teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, a role which introduced her to a new generation of fans.

Also on the panel: Alfie Wise (ex-Uncle Croc's Block). It was just bad timing that prevented Alfie from being reunited with Charles Nelson Reilly.......

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman: Mystery of The Batwoman (2003)

With Batwoman becoming the latest DC Comics series adapted for television, I thought it'd be a good idea to take a look at an earlier iteration.

"Batman: Mystery of The Batwoman" was released on DVD and debuted on Cartoon Network in 2003, back when CN actually knew what they were doing.

The concept: Batwoman arrives in Gotham City with revenge on her mind. On one hand is Rupert Thorne (John Vernon), who has allied himself with Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin (David Ogden Stiers, ex-M*A*S*H), in an effort to smuggle guns out of the country. However, as even Batman himself (Kevin Conroy) discovers, Batwoman (Kyra Sedgwick) is not just one woman, but three:

Kathy Duquesne (Kimberly Brooks), daughter of gangster Carlton Duquesne (Kevin Michael Richardson), who holds her father responsible for her mother's death. The name is a call-back to comics' original Batwoman, Kathy Kane.

Roxanne "Rocky" Ballantine (Kelly Ripa), a computer genius who's out to get Penguin & Thorne after they framed her fiancee.

Sonia Alcana, a Gotham City police detective who is the new partner of Harvey Bullock (Robert Costanzo). Batman rescued Sonia from a fire nine years earlier, and she & Roxanne were college roommates.

If the design of Batwoman's costume looks familiar, it should, as it was modeled after the Batman suit used on Batman Beyond, except the costume is grey with a red Bat-emblem, instead of black.

This marked the only time, up until The Batman premiered a couple of months later, that singer-songwriter-actor Paul Williams didn't voice Penguin, though Stiers does a good job of covering for him here. Bane (Hector Elizondo) figures into the plot as well.

Here's a trailer:



I find it disappointing that there wasn't a sequel. This was a sweet 75 minute thrill ride. If you don't already have the DVD, don't despair. It's currently streaming online on the CW Seed website.

Rating: A+.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Literary Toons: Creatures of The Swamp (Journey to The Center of The Earth, 1967)

It's been a while since we took a look at Filmation's adaptation of Jules Verne's Journey to The Center of The Earth.

We should note that the series has more in common with the feature film that starred Pat Boone, released 8 years earlier, than the book itself, and the movie is where we get the duck, Gertrude.

Anyway, our party encounters the "Creatures of The Swamp" in this installment.



Note that the design for Alec McEwen (Pat Harrington, Jr.) was copied from another role Harrington had that same year, Professor Ray Palmer, aka The Atom. Go figure.

Rating: B.

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

Borrowing an idea from the legend of Robin Hood, the writers of Arabian Knights opted against the obvious, and used "The Challenge" to showcase Raseem, the powerhouse of the team.



It wouldn't be the last time Hanna-Barbera would mine literature for story ideas. A majority of the episodes of World's Greatest Super Friends 11 years later were riffing on some literary classics by the likes of Jules Verne, among others.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Danny's Song (1973)

Anne Murray's cover of the Kenny Loggins-penned "Danny's Song" landed the Canadian singer on The Midnight Special in 1973. Known mostly as a country singer, Murray crossed over onto the pop and adult contemporary/easy listening charts pretty regularly in the 70's.

Game Time: All Star Junior Pyramid (1979)

ABC used a 1-shot special night edition of The $20,000 Pyramid as a vehicle to introduce some of the young stars of two of the network's freshman comedies of 1979, only one of whom is still active today.

That would be Rob Lowe, who plays game 2 of All Star Junior Pyramid with Susan Richardson (Eight is Enough). Richardson won both games, the first one with David Hollander, Lowe's castmate on A New Kind of Family. Tony Danza (then on Taxi) is matched with Out of The Blue's Tammy Lauren (ex-Who's Watching The Kids?) and Olivia Barash. Announcer Bob Clayton (ex-Concentration) takes us in and out of the commercial breaks.

Forgive the video quality.



The poster intentionally mislabeled the video in order to get a few extra clicks.

Standard game play, even with a flub in the Winner's Circle after game 1.

Rating: B- (due to the video quality).

Toon Legends: Prefabricated Pink (1967)

The Pink Panther, without an application, takes a job at a construction site. Chaos, of course, follows, in "Prefabricated Pink":



The gag with the door got old in a hurry.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

You Know The Voice: Marvin Kaplan (1965)

From season 3 of McHale's Navy:

Marvin Kaplan (ex-Top Cat) plays an electronics whiz reassigned to the base in Taratupa. Captain Binghamton (Joe Flynn), once he learns the new ensign can control a PT boat by remote control, figures he can finally be rid of McHale (Ernest Borgnine) and company. Oh, does he wish.



Marvin did a lot of guest work before landing a recurring gig on Alice more than a decade later, but don't ya think he could've had a steady gig before that?

Teenage Toons: A complete episode of Sabrina (1969-71)

Halloween might've been two weeks ago, come tomorrow, but let's let Sabrina have some fun, eh?

These next two shorts were originally produced for 1969's Archie Comedy Hour, then repackaged when Sabrina went solo two years later.

In "Cinderella Story", Sabrina becomes the legendary fairy tale princess for a costume party, but it's also Demon's Eve, and that spells trouble. Then, in "What The Hex Going On?", Hilda puts a spell on Jughead after a disparaging remark about witches in general, which was a riff on a running gag on Bewitched.



Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Looney TV: Ready, Woolen & Able (1960)

Chuck Jones recycled some classic Road Runner gags in his Ralph Wolf & Sam Sheepdog series. You'll see what I mean in 1960's "Ready, Woolen, & Able".

Notice the car Sam drives. It gives Mel Blanc an excuse to use the vocal effects he created for Jack Benny's Maxwell on the radio, and, still later, for Speed Buggy.



Technically, Ralph would be Wile E. Coyote's cousin. It's too bad there was never a crossover.

Rating: A.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Looney TV: Two Crows From Tacos (1956)

Here's a rare Merrie Melodies entry that doesn't feature Mel Blanc.

Jose & Manuel are a pair of guitar playing, hungry crows, whose hunger leads to some misfortune in trying to capture a grasshopper. Here's "Two Crows From Tacos":



Don Diamond (later of F-Troop) and Tom Holland (no relation to the "Spider-Man: Far From Home" star) are heard here.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 8, 2019

From Comics to Toons; A complete episode of Heathcliff (1984)

From 1984's Heathcliff:

George Gately's cantankerous feline (Mel Blanc) has trouble capturing mice (DUH!), but not for lack of trying, in "Say Cheese". Then, Cats & Company deal with a motorcyle gang that abducts Cleo in "Cat's Angels". This video comes complete with long missing bumpers.





One of today's more prolific producers, Chuck Lorre, was one of the writers on the show, as was 70's comedienne Ann Elder (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In). Like, whodathunk?

Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Getting Schooled: Caillou (1997)

Caillou, based on a series of children's books, is a Canadian-South African joint production that is still running today, even though production on the original series ended in 2010. An online series began six years later.

Caillou is a four year old boy with a bright imagination, and, otherwise, is a typical young boy for his age. The series currently is in reruns on PBS Kids (check listings).

Since Thanksgiving is a shade more than three weeks away, we'll look at the Thanksgiving episode of the series.



Most four year olds have hair. Maybe Caillou can't grow hair.

No rating.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Fly Like an Eagle (1976)

How about some classic rock to heat up a chilly Monday night? From The Midnight Special comes the Steve Miller Band and "Fly Like an Eagle":

Sunday, November 3, 2019

On The Air: College GameDay (1987)

ESPN's College GameDay has anchored the network's Saturday slate since 1987. Now in its 33rd season, the series is a traveling road show, a means of promoting, in most cases, the Saturday Night Football game of the week.

This wasn't always the case. From 1987-93, the series was just another ESPN studio show. Beginning with the 1993 season, the road show began to take shape, a signature of the show being analyst Lee Corso--the only co-host remaining from 1987, mind you--donning a replica head of a team mascot of one of the teams in that day's featured contest.

The country duo Big & Rich recorded a variant on their song, "Comin' to Your City", as GameDay's theme song.

On this week's show (November 2), the tour came to Memphis, where local icon Jerry "The King" Lawler joins the panel. Corso's dressed as the other King--Elvis Presley. But, as you'll see in this clip, Corso takes his cues from Lawler's more familiar milieu, the wrestling ring.



To think they didn't pull this stunt when the Undertaker appeared on the show last month.......

Rating: A-.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

On The Air: Kids Say The Darndest Things (2019)

It's back.

ABC acquired the rights to Kids Say The Darndest Things, which now is set up in the middle of the network's Sunday night block, coupled with America's Funniest Home Videos for a 2 hour family block in the first half of the schedule.

Actress-comedienne Tiffany Haddish (ex-The Carmichael Show), who also does Groupon commercials on radio, is the new host (scandal scarred Bill Cosby hosted the last CBS version), and it feels like she's in her element.

Not much has changed, save maybe for video vignettes. Tiffany will go out "in the field", if you will, gathering material. One such case involves singer Taylor Swift......



Ratings competition is the problem here, as Kids airs opposite the likes of God Friended Me (CBS), The Simpsons (Fox), Sunday Night Football (NBC), & Batwoman (CW). Most of the key demographic groups, then, are covered. ABC has to hope ratings from DVR & On Demand screenings can help.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Toons After Dark: A case of wonder-embarrassment (Family Guy, 2005)

I had said I'd never deal with this, but then again, you should never say never in this business.

Anyway, pop culture geek Seth MacFarlane was the latest to jump on the diss the Wonder Twins bandwagon in a 2005 episode of Family Guy. It was one of those throwaway gags where Peter Griffin (MacFarlane) claimed to have suited up as one of the Twins. Sounds like Mila Kunis (Meg) doubled up as Jayna for this one, but I can't be sure.



Could've been Mila, could've been Alex Borstein (Lois), I don't know. MacFarlane and his staff, though, were the first ones to draw Jayna without her signature reverse ponytail. Stephen Byrne, 14 years later, followed suit in the current Wonder Twins limited series from DC's Wonder Comics imprint. The costumes, in this case, as you can see, are blue with purple for the gloves & boots.

Then again, there are those of us who still prefer Jayna's classic look, circa 1977-84 (image courtesy of Twinsanity):

Jayna_Super_Friends_001

She is, and always will be, an absolute doll. I'd gather she'd sooner be on a date with Robin than be seen with the physically challenged Peter.

Saturtainment: An episode of the Groovie Goolies (1970-1)

Spooktober may be over, but, since we're discontinuing our Famous First Episode feature (due to a few of them getting deleted), we'll serve a side order of the Groovie Goolies to start November.

This episode is headlined by the Bare Bones Band performing "Super Ghoul", which is the alter ego of Frankie (Howard Morris). The idea is, of course, a parody of Superman, but the color scheme is similar to that of Disney's Super Goof (Goofy, of course), who had his own comic book in the 70's, something the Goolies never got, even from Archie Comics.



NBC-Universal-Comcast, via their purchase of Dreamworks Classic, now owns the rights to the series. Maybe they'll put this on Universal Kids someday, y'think? (Let's hope)

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Spooktober: The Smurfs' Halloween Special, aka All Hallows Eve (1983)

Our final Spooktober entry for 2019 features The Smurfs.

June Foray guest stars as Mother Nature (and, presumably, Hogatha, too) in this tale, in which Lazy ends up turning red from head to toe, and we learn that Halloween is a birthday for two central players, including Gargamel (Paul Winchell).

"All Hallows Eve" was originally entitled, "The Smurfs' Halloween Special", when it first aired during season 3 (1983-4), but gained a new title for rebroadcasts. Curiously, it suggests that this was meant for primetime, but ended up part of the main Saturday package.



Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Spooktober: The Ghostbusters meet Dracula (1986)

I'll lay it on you straight, peeps.

Filmation blew it, big time, by not attempting to revive the Groovie Goolies and cross them over with the Ghostbusters.

Then again, considering the writers of the 1975 Ghost Busters decided that Dracula merited being dematerialized by something besides sunlight, consider this 1986 offering, "Shades of Dracula", an improvement, though not by much.

Oh, yeah, after demonstrating no interest in bringing back Larry Storch, one of the stars of Ghost Busters AND Groovie Goolies for even a cameo, should it be a surprise that this vampire is also a poseur?



I'm only looking at this for the first time, and there's no rating.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Spooktober: House of Mystery (1945)

Most people associate House of Mystery with a long running DC Comics series that began in the 50's, and continued until 1983.

However, there was a radio show by the same name that predated the comic by about a decade or so, and until today, ye scribe didn't know about it.

House of Mystery began as a weekday serial airing after school, as it featured some children being told a story by the "Mystery Man", aka Roger Elliott (John Griggs). After a while, the series shifted to weekends. Post Toasties cereal, at the time part of General Foods, was the primary sponsor for the series.

From 1945, here's a show featuring the story, "The Ghost Who Forgot Halloween":



Unfortunately for you archivists out there, only 4-5 episodes still exist, as the rest appear to have been wiped or just plain lost.

Rating: B+.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Toonfomercial: John Hancock went animated first (1970)

Well before Esurance's ad agency created their Kim Possible knockoff, Erin Esurance, John Hancock Life Insurance decided to appeal to all ages with this 1970 offering, narrated by Peter Thomas. John Erwin is heard at the end as the would-be client.

Spooktober: The Skeleton Frolic (1937)

In 1929, Walt Disney released "The Skeleton Dance" as part of the Silly Symphony series. Eight years later, Ub Iwerks, now with Columbia, had his answer in this Color Rhapsody entry, "The Skeleton Frolic". Scope!



Rating: A.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Spooktober: The Devil & Peter Tork (The Monkees, 1968)

From season 2 of The Monkees:

This episode is a loose adaptation of Steven Vincent Benet's The Devil & Daniel Webster, which has been source material for a number of loose adaptations over the years, usually around this time of year, except that this was first presented a week before Valentine's Day in 1968. Go figure.

In "The Devil & Peter Tork", Peter unwittingly signs away his soul in exchange for a harp. The Devil (Monty Landis) uses the name Mr. Zero as the owner of a consignment shop. If you've read the original source material or seen other adaptations, you probably know how this finishes.



Rating: B.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Rein-Toon-Ation: The New Adventures of He-Man (1990)

By the end of the 80's, Jean Chalopin had left DIC and started a new company. Unfortunately, acquiring the rights to He-Man didn't end well.

The New Adventures of He-Man sends Mattel's galactic hero to the planet Primus. Unfortunately, arch foe Skeletor, now with green skin to coat his bony appearance, follows. Bear in mind, this was three years before Nelvana's Tales From The Cryptkeeper, so this is where they got the idea to give their titular MC his animated appearance. Seems certain media nannies thought Skeletor was too scary for the wee ones.

The first chapter of "A New Beginning" explains how He-Man, who'd finally revealed his secret identity to his parents, ends up on a new world.



Mattel put out a new set of action figures, but this show was a bomb. It would take 12 years before they'd try again. I felt this was unnecessary, and not worth the time.

Rating; C-.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Spooktober: The Ghost in Suite 613 (The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, 2005)

From season 1 of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody:

The boys take a dare on spending a night in a room that's supposedly haunted. Seems Zack has been playing one too many pranks on brother Cody and the rest of the gang......



I thought it'd be a nice idea to remind everyone of Cole Sprouse (currently on Riverdale) and his younger years.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Looney TV: A Coy Decoy (1941)

Porky Pig & Daffy Duck step out of the covers of some books in Bob Clampett's "A Coy Decoy", from 1941. Daffy would go through this again in another Clampett entry, "Book Revue", a few years later.



Now, who didn't see that last gag coming?

Rating: A-.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Spooktober: Swing, You Sinners! (1930)

Here's a Fleischer cartoon you might've missed.

Bimbo might be better known as one of Betty Boop's pals, but he starred in his own series of shorts as part of the Talkartoons series. In "Swing, You Sinners", Bimbo's attempt to steal a chicken leads to a very dark night in a cemetery........



That is biz-to-the-a-r-r-e, man.

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Looney TV: The Bee-Deviled Bruin (1949)

Warner Bros. thought they had something after adapting Goldilocks & The Three Bears into a Bugs Bunny short, with Bugs subbing for Goldilocks, in 1944.

However, it took a couple of years before they began a Three Bears series. In the pentultimate short, "The Bee-Deviled Bruin", Mel Blanc is only heard providing the vocal effects for the bees. Billy Bletcher voices Henry, Bea Benaderet is Mama, and Stan Freberg is dimwitted Junior, seven years old, and about as sharp as a broken jar of honey.



The above video is a Blue Ribbon reissue.

Rating: A-.

Saturday School: Dodgeball City (Recess, 1999)

Time to check in on the kids at 3rd Street Elementary on Recess.

Because of his father being in the military, Gus has been moved from city to city, school to school, before settling in at 3rd St. Elementary. At one of his past stops, he was quite the dodgeball player, and those skills come back into play for a showdown with some 5th graders.

Here's "Dodgeball City":



When I was in school, we played dodgeball indoors in the gym. Attending a public school in my old neighborhood, the closest playground was about a block to the west of the school, and they weren't willing to have gym class there, much less recess.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Oh Pretty Woman (1964-6)

Roy Orbison's "Oh Pretty Woman", which boasted the likes of Boots Randolph and Floyd Cramer appearing on the record as part of the band, charted in 1964. Two years later, Orbison appeared on American Bandstand to perform the song as his second number of the day.



Mercy!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Spooktober: Doug's Halloween Adventure (1993)

Today, it's not much of a surprise to find a haunted house in some theme parks, and maybe it wasn't such a novelty idea by 1993, either, as this episode of Doug proves.

Doug (Billy West) is persuaded by his BFF, Skeeter (musical director Fred Newman) to go to opening night at a new Halloween themed park. Of course, Roger Klotz (West) can't resist spoiling things.....



This episode was actually from the Nickelodeon era, not the later Disney run, contrary to the screen cap shown above. Some of the music was written by Dan Sawyer (ex-Name That Tune).

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Spooktober: Abbott & Costello in The Haunted House (1953)

From season 1 of The Abbott & Costello Show:

Bud & Lou are witnesses to the reading of the last will & testament of Hillary Brooke's uncle, and the trio spend a night in the uncle's reputedly haunted castle.

Before the fun really starts, Lou tries playing football with man-child Stinky (Joe Besser). This does not end well.



This episode premiered in the winter of 1953. Go figure.

Rating: B. Stinky drags the rating down.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Toonfomercial: A predictable fail in hunting the Energizer Bunny (1994)

Not too long ago, we served up an Energizer commercial in which Boris Badenov & Natasha Fatale tried & failed to capture the Energizer Bunny. They weren't the first to try, as a year earlier, a certain Coyote gave it a shot......



Predictable.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Kids Say The Darndest Things (1998)

As we've talked about, Kids Say The Darndest Things was originally a segment of Art Linkletter's House Party. Nearly 30 years after House Party ended, CBS spun off Kids Say into a primetime series that ran between 1998-2000, with Bill Cosby as host, and Linkletter as an executive producer and on screen contributor. Reruns would later air on Nickelodeon in an early evening berth before Nick ceded the night to Nick at Nite.

We can also assume the late country singer Tammy Wynette co-opted the phrase as the title of one of her songs back in the 60's or 70's.

Edit, 7/25/21: Had to change the video. This snippet comes from a CBS print of a November 1998 episode from Boston:


Today, as we all know, Cosby's career has been destroyed by a conviction for sexual misconduct, a carefully cultivated image created with scads of Jell-O commercials, plus The Cosby Show, Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids, and a stint on the original Electric Company had been irrevocably shattered. You begin to wonder what happened to the young people whose lives Cosby had touched over the course of four decades......

Rating: A.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Game Time: Meet the creator of Dennis The Menace (To Tell The Truth, 1962)

Hank Ketchum, the creator of Dennis The Menace, was invited to appear on To Tell The Truth in May 1962, becoming the latest cartoonist, after Dr. Seuss and Chester Gould, to appear on the show. Host Bud Collyer and panelists Tom Poston, Sally Ann Howes, Johnny Carson, and Betty Furness have to sort it all out in the first game.....



Five months later, of course, Carson would take over Tonight on NBC, beginning a 30 year run. I wonder, though, if Poston had ever tried doing drama. He correctly identified Ketchum, as did Carson, and all those years as a panelist could've set him up to at least try a detective movie, either comedy or drama.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A complete episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (1970)

It's way past time we caught up with Sabrina.

First up, budget issues have forced Riverdale to give up its athletic program. Not if the gang can do something about it with a charity magic show in "Tragic Magic".

Then, Reggie takes over as editor of the school paper, and, as Archie predicts, turns it into a junior grade tabloid, in "A Nose For News":



The school budget issues hit close to home, as readers of my other blogs can attest. Lansingburgh High had to give up the school band, cheerleaders, and junior varsity football last year due to budget shortfalls, and the varsity football team has suffered as a result.

By the way, this is a rerun compilation, taken from Sabrina & The Groovie Goolies.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voices: Howard Morris & Jackie Joseph (1962)

Oh, you didn't know Howard Morris could do drama?

Better known for his comic stylings (Your Show of Shows, The Andy Griffith Show) and his later cartoon work (the Beetle Bailey shorts for King Features were a few months away), Morris landed a star turn on Thriller in 1962, working with director Ida Lupino.

"The Lethal Ladies" is two vignettes with the same theme, as host Boris Karloff will explain. Jackie Joseph, a couple of years removed from "Little Shop of Horrors", appears at the 37 minute mark to interact with Morris in the 2nd of the two vignettes.



I'll have to look up Morris' IMDB page to see if he did any more drama during the course of his acting career.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Toons After Dark: The Legend of Paul Bunyan (Festival of Family Classics, 1973)

The tales of Paul Bunyan have been adapted into animated form on a few occasions, including a theatrical short released by Disney.

In 1973, Rankin-Bass took their swing with an episode of Festival of Family Classics. Flashbacks explain how Paul shut down bullying lumber boss Panhandle Pete.......



The audio's a bit out of sync, which isn't surprising.

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Saturtainment: Sugar & Spite (Here Comes The Grump, 1969)

The Grump (Rip Taylor) hooks up with a pair of trolls to create a hate potion. Well, of course you know how this will turn out. Here's "Sugar & Spite". Marvin Miller (ex-Aquaman) is heard as the narrator at the beginning.



In memory of Rip Taylor, who passed away today at 84. No rating out of respect.

Spooktober: The Ghost Busters meet Dr. Frankenstein (1975)

There were two constants with the 1975 Ghost Busters series:

1. Virtually every episode in the same castle, an excuse for Filmation to reuse the same illustration of said castle in every episode.

2. Eddie Spencer (Larry Storch) was always targeted by the ghosts because he was the dumbest member of the team.

Case in point, "Dr. Whatshisname", which refers to Dr. Frankenstein (Bernie Kopell, ex-Get Smart, That Girl, Lancelot Link, The Doris Day Show), whose Monster still needs a brain.......



Series creator/head writer Marc Richards wasn't subtle. And that is a big reason why the show was cancelled after 1 season.

Rating: B-.

Getting Schooled: The Shari Show (1975)

Shari Lewis' 1st series for PBS was 1975's The Shari Show, which ran for 2 seasons. Concurrently, Shari was also doing a series in the UK that ran until 1976, while also finding time to make the rounds of talk & game shows.

Behind the scenes, it was a sort of family affair. Shari's husband, Jeremy Tarcher, was a writer-producer, and daughter Mallory, who has inherited her mother's family of puppet characters, got her first taste of puppeteering.

The show is set at a television station, and this predates Second City Television's debut in the US by a year.

Let's scope a sample episode, "There's Gonna be a Show Tonight":



Second City had a US base in Chicago, and Shari was based there. Hmmmmmm.

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Toons You Might've Missed: Honey Halfwitch (1965)

Introduced in a Paramount Modern Madcap, Honey Halfwitch was spun into her own series of shorts in 1965.

There were nine shorts in all, spread out across three years (1965-8), with ventriloquist Shari Lewis as the voice of Honey. Producer-writer Howard Post is better known for his print work, having written & illustrated The Dropouts newspaper strip, which was adapted for Archie's TV Funnies in 1971, and DC Comics' Anthro.

Post left Paramount after 5 shorts, replaced by James "Shamus" Culhane. Here, though, is the opener, "Shoeflies". Now, you tell me if Shari didn't recycle Lamb Chop's voice for Honey........



Rating: B.

Spooktober: Mickey Mouse in The Mad Doctor (1933)

Mickey Mouse's 1st short of 1933 was "The Mad Doctor", released in January of that year, despite the theme of the film lending itself more to a Halloween theme.

Mickey (Walt Disney) is on the hunt after Pluto is abducted by the titular villain, Dr. XXX (Billy Bletcher, also credited as a producer with Disney)......



Some of the scenes were models for future video games.

Rating: B.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Getting Schooled: Call it Macaroni (1974)

Westinghouse Broadcasting's Group W Productions was known mostly for talk shows in the 70's, as they distributed Mike Douglas & David Frost's yack-fests to local stations, for example.

In 1974, Group W branched out with its first series for children, Call it Macaroni, a series of monthly specials that ran during the 1974-5 season. According to what few sources are available, only 12 episodes were produced., if but because Westinghouse didn't have enough resources to try a weekly version of the series, though, to tell you the truth, I thought they did, or not enough faith in the product.

Let's check out a sample episode, "Gym Dandys":



I recall it airing on WPIX in New York. In Albany, it aired on WTEN.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Saturday School: The Dough Nuts present Stanley Slush (1980)

I know summer's over, but there is Indian Summer on the way. Thus, it is time to say hello, again, to ABC's short-lived Dough Nuts.

This time, it's the sad tale of Stanley Slush, who is in a hurry to go camping, with the predictable consequences......



Rating: A.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Saturtainment: Kissyfur (1986)

After a series of primetime specials during the 1985-6 season, Phil Mendez's Kissyfur was spun off into a weekly series for NBC. Co-produced by the network and DIC, the series tells the story of father & son bears who've left the circus for a new life in the swamps.

In all, four primetime specials were produced, but only 26 weekly episodes were made, spread out across four years. Veteran actor Ed Gilbert (ex-The Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew Mysteries) voiced Gus, the father, while R. J. Williams had the title role as Kissyfur, Gus' son. However, when production resumed in 1988, Williams left the show, presumably to work on Disney's Tale Spin, replaced by another actor.

Seems the gap in between seasons might be because NBC wasn't entirely sure about their investment in the series, and the primetime specials could easily be fitted into the rotation, for a final total of 30 episodes.

Here's the open & close from the first season:



No rating. Never saw the show.

Spooktober: When The Cat's Away (Tales From The Cryptkeeper, 1993)

Well, it's Spooktober again, and out Famous First episode this month is from Tales From The Cryptkeeper.

The sons of a travel agent resort to stealing in order to buy an expensive bike. However, the Cryptkeeper (John Kassir) has installed some security measures to keep thieves away.

We've previously shown a portion of "When The Cat's Away" when we reviewed the series 9 years ago, but now we've found the complete story. The intro has mostly been edited off.



Much of the artwork on this show is a homage to the classic EC comics on which Tales and its live-action parent, Tales From The Crypt on HBO, were based. It's some of Nelvana's best work.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Waldo Kitty as Robin Cat (1975)

It's too bad Filmation never got to do a Robin Hood cartoon. The closest they came to it was this offering from The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty, in which Waldo (Howard Morris) imagines himself as Robin Cat.



Why am I not surprised that Prince John (or, King John, as depicted here) was presented as a pig?

Rating: B-.

You Know The Voices: Shari Lewis & Ted Knight (1975)

You know about Shari Lewis' best known puppets, Lamb Chop & Charlie Horse, and we'll see plenty of them down the road.

This clip, though, comes from an awards show of some kind in either the 70's or 80's, not sure which, as Shari introduces Baby to her audience, after Shari, in turn, was introduced by Ted Knight. Again, I'm not sure of the exact date of this clip, as this was probably during Ted's Emmy award winning run on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.



Shari passed away 21 years ago. Talent like this, however, is eternal.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: CMDF vs. The Atomic Invaders (Fantastic Voyage, 1968)

It's been a couple of years since we last looked at Fantastic Voyage, so we'll take a trip with the Computer Miniaturized Defense Force (CMDF).

Miniature aliens are the problem here, targeting nuclear reactors, in "The Atomic Invaders":



Rating: B.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

You Know The Voice: Bill Woodson (1966)

We had Bill Woodson's appearances on F-Troop, but WB put in a copyright claim with Dailymotion, so they were deleted.

What we're finding out, though, is that Bill did some other face acting. Here, from season 5 of The Lucy Show, Bill enters the picture around the 8 minute mark to introduce Lucy (Lucille Ball, of course) and Carol Burnett's cabaret act at a Palm Springs golf tournament, which is meant to be an analogue for some of the Pro-Am tournaments the PGA had back in the day.



Lucy & Carol did some specials together for CBS while Carol's variety show was still on the air, if memory serves me correctly. We'll check Bill's IMDB chart for other face acting jobs in the meantime.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Toonfomercial: Green Giant's LeSueur vegetables (1975)

We've mentioned that Green Giant (now made by B & G Foods) had a sister brand, LeSueur, named for the vegetable company's hometown in Wisconsin.

Here, Little Sprout's ready to go fishing in this 1975 spot, but a new product arrives before he can even leave the valley. John Erwin is the narrator. Other voices include Paul Frees (naturally) and Ike Eisenmann ("Escape to Witch Mountain").

It Should've Been on a Saturday: The Soupy Sales Show (NYC version, 1965)

New York was blessed with some very gifted kids show hosts back in the day, well before cable television came to the home district. Chuck McCann. Sandy Becker. "Officer" Joe Bolton.

And, then, there is Soupy Sales.

Soupy brought his act from Ohio to New York in the mid-60's, and landed at WNEW (now WNYW). Yes, the puppet characters, such as Pookie the Lion, who will be prominently featured in the following sampler, came with him, but at WNEW, Soupy was working with a new puppeteer, Frank Nastasi, rather than Clyde Adler, who would reunite with Sales 13 years later for a revival, based in Los Angeles, and later syndicated.

In between, Soupy finally landed a Saturday morning gig as a game show host, emceeing ABC's Junior Almost Anything Goes, but it was at a time when local affiliates blacked out network programming at noon (ET) in favor of more profitable syndicated programming.

One unfortunate hallmark of Soupy's run at WNEW was the infamous New Year's Day stunt where he asked his young audience to send him money from their parents' wallets. Yes, he did get in hot water over that.

As we've already seen, Soupy spent the 70's well versed in game shows, usually on What's My Line? and the various incarnations of The ------ Pyramid with Dick Clark.

Let's go back to 1965.



In recent years, reruns have aired on Jewish Life TV (check listings) of both of Soupy's shows from the 60's & 70's.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Game Time: A different kind of Pyramid (The New Soupy Sales Show, 1978-9)

Soupy Sales was one of the all-time great game players, appearing frequently on What's My Line?, Hollywood Squares, and The $10 (20/25),000 Pyramid.

When Sales was given his own daily TV show again, this time in syndication, he worked out a deal to do a skit based on the then-$20,000 Pyramid, with Pookie the Lion (voice of Clyde Adler) as a contestant. Host Dick Clark is the guest.



We'll have a review of The New Soupy Sales Show in detail another day.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Toonfomercial: I've heard of making your jeans talk, but this is ridiculous (1977)

Somehow, I never saw this when it first came out in 1977, but Levi's came up with this cute little spot. Voices include Paul Frees (who else?).

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

From Comics to Toons: Baby Huey in Huey's 1st Haircut (1995)

When The Baby Huey Show returned for a 2nd season in 1995, some changes were made. Carbunkle Animation, which also worked on Ren & Stimpy, was swapped out in favor of Film Roman, which was producing its own shows in addition to doing animation for Matt Groening's Fox hit, The Simpsons. Also, Sid Raymond, Huey's original portrayer, was let go, in favor of Joe Alaskey. The Watervliet native is heard in "Huey's 1st Haircut":



The fox was meant to be Huey's nemesis, but was just another bumbling loser.

Rating: B.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Saturday School: Smoke Gets in Your Hair (Fat Albert, 1976)

Fat Albert might come across as a self-appointed moral monitor for his friends, but who else is going to keep the rest of the Cosby Kids in line, anyway?

As Rudy discovers, taking up smoking so early isn't really the smartest of moves, a lesson that Wambly learns the hard way, seeing that his father is also risking his health. Here's "Smoke Gets in Your Hair":



Here, at least, Ericka Scheimer is credited as Ericka Carroll. Michael Lee Gray, not to be confused with Shazam! star Michael Gray, is the singing voice of Fat Albert.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Baby Hold On (1977)

From The Midnight Special:

Eddie Money performs "Baby Hold On", with an introduction by Columbia stablemate Steve Perry of Journey.

In memory of Money, who passed away Friday.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Game Time: "Colonel Klink" (& friends) meets the Lone Ranger! (What's My Line?, 1970)

Hogan's Heroes was entering its final season when Werner Klemperer (Col. Wilhelm Klink) was invited to spend a week on What's My Line? as a panelist. Co-star Bob Crane had already been on the show after Line went into syndication a couple of years earlier. In fact, Klemperer is seated in the same spot that Crane had.

In the first of two mystery guest games, Clayton Moore, the definitive Lone Ranger, challenges Klemperer and the rest of the panel (Anita Gillette and regulars Arlene Francis & Soupy Sales):

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: For Once in my Life (1969)

On the same day that CBS debuted its new Saturday morning slate, delayed a week due to the US Open tennis tournament, a tradition that would continue into the 90's at least, American Bandstand dedicated an episode to Stevie Wonder, who opens the show with "For Once in my Life", which charted in the winter of 1968-9.

The clip, in black & white, comes from VH1's Best of American Bandstand:

Friday, September 13, 2019

Getting Schooled: Baby Huey in Pest Pupil (1957)

Baby Huey does the impossible in "Pest Pupil", a 1957 short. You'll see what I mean.......



Like, really?

Rating: C.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Toon Rock: The Touch (1986)

Singer-songwriter Stan Bush intended for "The Touch" to be used in Sylvester Stallone's 1986 film, "Cobra", but it wasn't used. However, it did make its way into another film that same year, the feature film debut of The Transformers, which was released two weeks before Christmas.

"The Touch" was resurrected last year for the "Bumblebee" soundtrack.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Toonfomercial: Singing mini-wheats? (2009)

Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats celebrates 50 years this year, but Kellogg's is kinda downplaying it.

Ten years ago, the company was producing Strawberry Mini-Wheats. Seems this spot was produced in, like, Canada, eh?



Like, it never played here in the US, eh, so this is new to you, eh?

You Know The Voice: Grace Stafford Lantz (1963)

I just couldn't pass this one up.

Grace Stafford Lantz, wife of Walter Lantz, and the voice of Woody Woodpecker for a number of years, appeared on What's My Line? in 1963. Fittingly, then, Kellogg's, for which Woody did a few commercials in the 60's, is this episode's sponsor.

Grace appears around the 11 1/2 minute mark, signing under her maiden name.




Sunday, September 8, 2019

Toonfomercial: A different kind of Quick Draw McGraw ad (1959)

60 years ago, Quick Draw McGraw made his debut, with his show sponsored by Kellogg's. In this in-show spot, a young child and his father, off-camera, discuss Quick Draw, Baba Looey, and Sugar Smacks cereal. Barney Phillips (ex-Dragnet), who'd later work for H-B (1967-9), voices the father. Not sure about the kid.

Toons After Dark: No Man's Valley (1981)

In the 70's, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax presented viewers with a viewpoint on the environment.

In 1981, Lee Mendelson & Bill Melendez, known for the Peanuts & Garfield specials, took on the task of addressing the issue of endangered species with No Man's Valley, which, unfortunately, hasn't been seen on network television since its lone airing on CBS in 1981. Mendelson & Melendez, along with co-director Phil Roman, assembled an all-star cast, including Richard Deacon (ex-The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave it to Beaver), Arnold Stang (Top Cat), Joe E. Ross (ex-Hong Kong Phooey), Barney Phillips (ex-Shazzan, Dragnet), Henry Corden & John Stephenson (The Flintstone Comedy Show), Hal Smith (ex-The Andy Griffith Show, uncredited), Art Metrano (ex-The Chicago Teddy Bears), Desiree Goyette, who was working on the Garfield specials, and Frank Buxton (ex-Batfink, Discovery) as Eliott, a California condor sent to No Man's Valley to recruit help in saving his species.

To my knowledge, this has not been shown anywhere in 38 years.



Rating: B.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Waldo Kitty as Catzan (1975)

Waldo Kitty (Howard Morris) imagines himself as Catzan in a parody of Tarzan. Morris & Allan Melvin also indulge in doing some impersonations, with Morris doing a Peter Lorre mimic for one villain. Not sure which of them was impersonating Sydney Greenstreet, though......



Catzan? More like a feline George of The Jungle.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Getting Schooled: Carrascolendas (1970)

Carrascolendas was produced by a PBS station in Texas, and was distributed not only to PBS stations, but also in syndication, resulting in the series airing in New York first on WNBC, then on WPIX, which is where I found the show back in the day.

As memory serves, during its 'PIX run, Carrascolendas alternated with another bi-lingual children's series, Villa Allegre. Unfortunately, complete episodes of this series are not available on YouTube. As a result, we have this intro from its WNBC run:



This is the sort of programming that should be on the air now, in today's more diverse society.

No rating. Didn't see enough of the show.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Toonfomercial: Pillsbury's brownie mix (1950's)

This next item looks like an in-show ad from the original Mickey Mouse Club, judging from the first few seconds. Apparently, Pillsbury was one of the show's sponsors, and used the opportunity to plug their brownie mix, though they used a different animation house than Disney.



Poppin Fresh would come along a few years later.

Saturtainment: Puttin' on The Hits (1984)

The knock on musicians appearing on variety shows for years was that they often had to lip-sync their performances, probably because they were on tour, and needed to save their voices for the live shows. However, in recent times, it's gotten to the point where some artists actually lip-sync in concert, too, because management has so much invested in them, and....!

For all the complaining and drama from today's fans, there was a time where Joe Average could get up on stage and do it himself. Lip-sync, that is.

Jimmy Fallon's hit series, Lip Sync Battle, airing on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV), wouldn't be where it is if it wasn't for an 80's series that has spawned other like series, including Battle.

Puttin' on The Hits ran for four seasons (1984-8), co-produced by Dick Clark (American Bandstand) and Chris Bearde (The Gong Show, Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Andy Williams Show, etc.), distributed through MCA, meaning that NBC-Universal and/or Clark's estate owns the show today.

Locally, Hits was slotted after the early evening news on Saturday nights, and was heavily promoted because the show's host, Allen Fawcett, hailed from the 518 (specifically, Burnt Hills). Unfortunately, I'm not sure if there were enough contestants from the home district that got on the show.

Complete episodes are not available, just excerpts, like this one, from the series finale in 1988.



No rating. I didn't see enough of the show due to other commitments on Saturdays, including summer reruns.

Monday, September 2, 2019

From Comics to Toons: Hard Hat Huey (1994)

Baby Huey, depending on how his age translates to human years, may just be the youngest employee in history. Here's "Hard Hat Huey":



I'd imagine Huey would have to wait a few years before getting another job.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

On The Air: She-Ra & The Princesses of Power (2018)

In 1985, Filmation & Mattel introduced She-Ra, Princess of Power as a companion series to He-Man & The Masters of The Universe, which had actually ended production, though He-Man himself would be a recurring player in the new series.

When He-Man was revived on two occasions, She-Ra didn't return with him, though there were plans to bring her back had the 2002 Cartoon Network series been renewed for a 3rd season.

What it finally took to take viewers back to the world of Etheria was Lumberjanes creator Noelle Stevenson, who serves as executive producer, writer, and cast member on Netflix's She-Ra & The Princesses of Power. Stevenson has said that she already had 4 13 episode arcs written before the first season dropped last year. Seasons 2 & 3, already available, should actually make up just season 2, but just the same Stevenson is halfway to her goal.

As with the 2002 He-Man. Adora (Aimee Carrero, Elena of Avalor) and the rebels of Bright Moon have been de-aged to teenagers, as has Catra (AJ Michalka, Schooled, The Goldbergs), who was Adora's best friend in the Horde Academy. As was the case in the original series, Adora discovers the truth about Hordak and the Horde, and joins the rebellion.

This trailer for the first season will get you up to speed....



What I don't get is that as She-Ra, Adora grows to 8 feet tall.

SAY WHAT??? It's not quite the same as Billy Batson becoming Shazam and changing from juvenile to adult in the blink of an eye. The height change makes little sense. Stevenson and co-executive producer Chuck Austen, another comics veteran, are looking at making She-Ra larger than life. Literally. In this age of internet shipping, it seems fans are reading more into the friendship of Adora & Catra than there really is. Kind of like Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy, if you get my drift.

The anime-style artwork is influenced by the works of Moebius and Miyazaki. Expect the same when He-Man returns with similar artistic style next year, also on Netflix.

Rating: B.

Tooniversary: Dinosaur Train (2009)

Our featured Famous First for September is for a series marking its 10th anniversary this year.

PBS' Dinosaur Train launched in 2009 after a pilot episode had been presented 18 months earlier. The reason the series has had just 5 seasons over 10 years has to do with the CGI animation needed for the show.

Series creator Craig Bartlett is well versed using animation as a teaching tool. Did the same thing several years earlier with Nickelodeon's Hey, Arnold!. Train is co-produced by the Jim Henson Company, and the late puppeteer was, of course, associated with the long running Sesame Street (turning 50 in November) for many years until his passing.

So, let's not wait any longer. Here's the intro:

Edit, 1/2/21: Have to change the video, hence the intro:



While PBS is waiting for new episodes to arrive, the series can be seen on the PBS Kids channel as well as on the core PBS network.

Rating: A.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Toonfomercial: The only meeting of Bullwinkle & Dudley Do-Right (1963)

Bullwinkle & Dudley Do-Right never shared a full adventure together during the course of their series' runs. Undaunted, General Mills, which sponsored virtually all of Jay Ward's programs, commissioned this ad, which incorporates a Bullwinkle's Corner, introduced by Rocket J. Squirrel (June Foray). Of course, Bill Scott voices both Bullwinkle & Dudley:



At one point, Dudley shilled for Lucky Charms. We'll have to find that ad sometime.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: Harlequinade (Batman: The Animated Series, 1994)

When the Joker (Mark Hamill) decides to steal a bomb from a mob auction, Batman turns to the Clown Prince of Crime's on-again, off-again honey, Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin, Days of Our Lives), to try to stop the plot.

"Harlequinade" is the episode in which Harley sings "Say We're Sweethearts Again", which we've shown on its own previously.

Edit, 5/22/2020: The video has been deleted. We'll sub in this title card:

Harlequinade Title Card

Paul Dini's script includes a nod to The Honeymooners. See if you can find it.

Rating: A.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Game Time: Video Power (1990)

Video Power ran for 2 seasons (1990-2), but was really a tale of two different shows.

The first season, as you'll see, has host Johnny Arcade (actor Stivi Paskoski) sharing info on the hottest video games on the market. The centerpiece was the DIC-produced action series, The Power Team, a collection of video game heroes whose games were marketed by Acclaim. DIC, of course, was the go-to for most video game marketers for adaptations, as they also were responsible for Nintendo's Super Mario Bros & Captain N The Game Master over on NBC.

However, in season 2, Johnny Arcade became a game show host, and the cartoons were discarded. Cancellation soon followed. This wasn't the 2nd coming of Starcade, but don't fault them for trying.

Here's the series opener. We'll see if we can find a season 2 episode.



No rating.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Toonfomercial: Look who's stalking the Energizer Bunny! (1995)

Yesterday, we served up a Hershey's Kisses commercial with Rocky & Bullwinkle. This time, arch-foes Boris Badenov (Keith Scott) and Natasha Fatale (June Foray, of course) are pursuing the Energizer Bunny. Frank Welker voices Bullwinkle, while Corey Burton fills in for William Conrad as the narrator:



There's a reason Boris & Natasha didn't land another endorsement deal......

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in The Day The West Stood Still (1967)

We had this next item up before, but it was taken down by YouTube, so Cartoon Jam had a copy we could use.

Some crooks have a gas that seemingly turns people to stone. Here's "The Day The West Stood Still":



Rating: B.