Thursday, February 28, 2019

You Know The Voice: Don Messick (1980-1)

The year listed in the header represents the live-action clip in the beginning of this compilation, supplied by Saturday Morning Rewind's YouTube channel.

The late Don Messick was a guest, interviewed by Bill Tush on either Tush's own show, or on CNN's Showbiz Today, both around 1980 or so. After that clip, in which Don demonstrates some ventriloquism skills, is a collection of clips ranging from, of course, Scooby-Doo, Smurfs, & The Jetsons, to a variety of guest roles (i.e. The Flintstones, The Houndcats). SMR has more stuff like this with the likes of Paul Frees, Frank Welker, Peter Cullen, and others, and we'll feature them down the road.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Saturday Morning Ringside: Jerry Lawler, car salesman (1993)

Memphis icon Jerry "The King" Lawler swapped his crown & tights for more professional attire in taping a commercial for a local Memphis area auto dealership in 1993. Don't know of anyone else in the Memphis circuit back then (i.e. Jeff Jarrett) that could've been asked to do the same thing.

Turns out Lawler's a natural, doesn't it? His rapid fire delivery may have been his ticket to an on-again, off-again broadcasting career with WWF/E from 1993 forward.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: Legion of Super Heroes (2006)

With Smallville entering its 6th season on the nascent CW, the Kids' WB! block welcomed the Legion of Super Heroes to their Saturday morning lineup.

Due to legal issues involving the estate of co-creator Jerry Siegel, who wrote some of the Legion's earliest comics stories, Clark Kent (Yuri Loewenthal) takes up the mantle of Superman when he travels to the 31st century with Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and, subbing for co-founder Cosmic Boy, Bouncing Boy. Apparently, they wanted him for comedy relief.

Anyway, the series lasted two seasons, but because Chumptoon Network wouldn't flip over any coin to corporate sibling WB for the rights to the series, reruns never aired there or on Boomerang. Today, DC Universe has the rights, making the show available for the first time since it signed off in 2008.

Here's the intro:

Today, DC is in no hurry to bring back the Legion, despite a crossover with their Batman '66 franchise and with Bugs Bunny a couple of years back. Hmmmm.

As you can see, the producers opted to make Brainiac 5 more of an artificial intelligence, as opposed to the more humanoid appearance he has in the books and on Supergirl. I guess they wanted all of the Legionnaires to be active in battle.....

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

On The Air: Young Justice: Outsiders (2019)

A few years ago, fans were enraged when Chumptoon Network decided to cancel Young Justice to make room for Teen Titans Go!, rather than expand the fading DC Nation block.

Head writer Greg Weisman could relate. Some years earlier, Weisman was the head writer for Disney's Gargoyles, which was plucked from syndication and picked up by ABC as a weekly series for its third & final season, using the sub-title, The Goliath Chronicles. The show's quality took a hit, and Gargoyles was done.

A fan campaign led to reports of Young Justice being revived, but this time, it would be online. At first, it was reported that the series was ticketed for Netflix, which was streaming the first two seasons. Then, DC and Warner Bros. launched DC Universe, their streaming service, last summer. Young Justice: Outsiders, which bowed last month, was one of the centerpieces of the new network's lineup.

As before, Young Justice is blessed with lush, excellent animation, a mix of 3D & traditional linework. Much of the cast has returned, including Khary Payton (The Walking Dead, Teen Titans Go!), who voices Black Lightning here, as well as the new Aqualad, who is also the son of Black Manta, and Danny "Brick" Brickwell, a Green Arrow villain. Those of you who follow Arrow might feel cheated about producer Greg Berlanti rebooting Brick as an Australian (Vinnie Jones, "The Condemned"), but hey, it's his world. Greg Cipes will wind up being typecast as Garfield "Beast Boy" Logan, but his characterization here is way more mature than what he does on Teen Titans Go!, as Gar is the girl-crazy TV star we met in New Teen Titans back in 1980, filling the time after the then-demise of the Doom Patrol in the books. Danica McKellar (ex-The Wonder Years) reprises as M'gann M'orzz, or Megann Morse, aka Ms. Martian. Actor-singer Jesse McCartney is Dick Grayson, now using his Nightwing alias.

Let's take a look at a sample clip:

I promised a friend that I would invest in the season 1 & 2 DVD's, and get caught up down the line. If this season eventually makes it to DVD, I'm getting that, too.

Rating: A.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

You Know The Voice: John Erwin (1971)

Best known for voicing Morris the Cat, He-Man, Reggie Mantle, and Dick Tracy, among others, John Erwin put some time in doing some face acting in commercials, as we've previously seen.

Here, in this 1971 spot for Sunoco, John is a father who has to deal with a stalled engine when his daughter is due at a school play.....

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Sugar Bear becomes Super Bear (1982)

When Post decided to, ah, upgrade Sugar Crisp to Super Sugar Crisp, we should've known they'd also get Sugar Bear bulked up to become Super Bear. This sample will illustrate the point. Sounds like Daws Butler takes over the role here. Promo included, and the ad starts at the five second mark:

Too bad they never thought about spinning him off into his own series again.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Unpack Your Adjectives (1974)

From Schoolhouse Rock comes this quaint little piece about a little girl who heads off to camp with her pet turtle and teaches fellow campers to "Unpack Your Adjectives":

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Teenage Toons: A full episode of Sabrina (1970)

What's this? Reggie Mantle (John Erwin) actually asking Sabrina to go bowling with him? Aunt Hilda reluctantly allows it, then goes undercover, which really fouls things up. Then, you think the weather around here's been crazy this winter? Try telling that to Jughead (Howard Morris) and Mr. Weatherbee in "Weather or Not".

This was taken from Sabrina & The Groovie Goolies and repackaged.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: Electric Earthquake (1942)

A Native American scientist believes Manhattan Island should be returned to his people. Since he's getting nothing but resistance, his way of forcing the issue is to create an "Electric Earthquake". Definitely a job for Superman:

Rating: A.

Looney TV: Daffy Duck, Environmental Activist? (1991)

A Canadian agency licensed out Daffy Duck for this 1991 commercial. The late Joe Alaskey, upstate New York's gift to the cartoon industry, voices Daffy here.

Sounds like Daffy's playing a couple of bars of an old Jimmy Buffett tune at the start. Who knew?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Retro Toy Chest: Girder & Panel Airport (1957)

From the 50's to 1979, Kenner (now part of Hasbro) produced the Girder & Panel building sets. Toward the end of the run, the commercials included some funky jingles, like this one in 1977 for the International Airport set.

Canada's Irwin Toys acquired the rights a few years later, and another company has the rights now.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Game Time: Kangaroo (1984)

Ruby-Spears' adaptation of the video game, Kangaroo, was one of the new segments added to Saturday Supercade for its 2nd & final season in 1984.

David Mendenhall, who'd later appear in the movie, "Over The Top", with Sylvester Stallone, voices Joey, a young kangaroo who, with his mother, Katy, helps zookeeper Friendly maintain order in the zoo. Nothing like the game, of course, but hey.

In this episode, Joey befriends a young elephant who's just arrived at the zoo, and is very shy. "Trunkful of Trouble" was co-written by future icon Paul Dini and Gordon Kent, better known as a voice director at R-S & Hanna-Barbera. Dini was also writing for He-Man & The Masters of The Universe around this time.

Few people probably remember the video game now, 35 years later, or this series. Pity.

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Game Time: Treasure Mall (1988)

After I'm Telling! flopped on NBC, Haim Saban tried another game show, but this time it was a syndicated knockoff of Nickelodeon's popular Double Dare.

Treasure Mall ran during the summer of 1988. Host Hal Sparks was still in high school when he landed the gig. Talk about summer jobs! Sparks has been a virtual fixture since, with a resume that includes Disney's Lab Rats and, more recently, Fuller House.

Access Syndication packaged Mall with another Nickelodeon ripoff, Slime Time, which we'll review another day. After Mall & Couch Potatoes were cancelled, Saban got out of the game show business.

Here's a sample episode. Mind the video quality.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday School: Fat Albert in Four Eyes (1972)

Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids learn an important lesson right along with a classmate whose nearsighted vision forces him to need glasses.

I can relate to Heyward, to a point. I've worn glasses for years, even though I'm far-sighted. My brother is nearsighted, like Heyward. Initially, I didn't think I'd need glasses, as I can see without them, but I suppose everything evens out.

Rating: B.

Toon Rock: Big Time (1986-7)

If you thought Peter Gabriel's video for "Sledgehammer", which took home a ton of awards between the MTV Video Awards, the Grammys and the American Music Awards, was wack, Gabriel and director Stephen R. Johnson (Pee-Wee's Playhouse) sought to top it with "Big Time", a pastiche of claymation and other abstract artistic styles. Scope!!

Gabriel's having fun, as if he found his inner child. Now, don't ya think Geffen Records, Gabriel's label, blew an opportunity for cross-promotion by not having "Big Time" premiere on Playhouse instead of MTV?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Everything old may be new again at Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon is not afraid to address the fact that their current lineup ain't exactly getting kids to change the channel from Chumptoon Network, if not also Disney Channel.

To move the network forward, they think, they need to bring back some classic hits from the past.

Actor-turned-producer Brian Robbins (ex-Head of The Class) was recently named as Nick's new President. Robbins' body of work behind the camera for Nick and the WB (i.e. Smallville) speaks for itself. Word is coming down the pike in drips & drabs that Robbins is green-lighting more revivals at the network. As previously documented, there are plans to bring back Clarissa Explains it All, which introduced America to Melissa Joan Hart, and there's a new version of Double Dare already on the air. That's only the beginning.

For starters, the network announced plans to bring back their sketch comedy series, All That, and have signed alumnus Kenan Thompson (who graduated to Saturday Night Live) to serve as executive producer for the revival. Robbins was the showrunner for the original. I'm reading that Rugrats is being brought back, but if Chumptoon Network's mishandling of recent reboots of their own (i.e. Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10) is any indication, Robbins and his staff would be wise to make sure the new series has the feel, if not the look, of the original.

October brings the return of Are You Afraid of The Dark?, nearly 20 years after the original series ended. A new generation Midnight Society is being formed.

Here's the trailer for the new Dark:

The topper is Nick acquiring the former Fox series, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, which had 2 runs on Fox with Jeff Foxworthy at the helm (2007-9, 2015), plus a 2 year syndicated run (2009-11). However, Foxworthy is not being brought in. Instead, wrestler-actor John Cena has been signed to host and act as executive producer. Cena, who has hosted a couple of Kids Choice Awards and made a couple of movies for Nick, in addition to working on Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was most recently in the movie, "Bumblebee", but being a game show host is new to him.

The whole idea is to pull in new viewers, and bring back older ones who will remember the old series. That's always a risk in this era. Best of luck, 'cause Nick's gonna need it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Pedro Morales (1942-2019)

He was the first Latino World champion in the history of what is now WWE, more than 30 years before Eddie Guerrero ascended to the top of his profession. Puerto Rico native Pedro Morales won his only WWWF title in 1971, defeating Ivan Koloff, and held it for nearly 2 years before dropping the title to Stan Stasiak.

Morales passed away Tuesday at 76 due to Parkinson's Disease, the same malady that claimed Muhammad Ali not too long ago. In his memory, we present a WWWF title defense vs. Mr. Fuji, from 1972.

Toon Sports: Laff-a-Lympics in Acapulco & England (1977)

Time to revisit Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics.

From the first season: The teams are in Acapulco and London, England for the competitions, which include a race to the top of Big Ben (!).

One quibble I have is that the Really Rottens missed the boat by not having their Amazonian hillbilly babe, Daisy Mayhem, take part in the cliff diving competition. H-B also missed the boat by not doing enough to bring Daisy back after the series ended.

Our Valentine Toon Crush series continues with Daisy, along with the Teen Angels and Mystery, Inc.'s Daphne Blake. Plenty of eye candy to be had, boys.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Teenage Toons: Sabrina in Flying Sorcery & Too Many Cooks (1970-1)

Here's a complete episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, from 1971. As you could probably guess, Sabrina, along with Betty & Veronica (all voiced by Jane Webb) are today's Valentine Toon Crushes in day 3.

"Flying Sorcery": Reggie (John Erwin) causes a stir when he sees Sabrina exit a flying saucer. The twist ending, of course, should surprise no one other than Reggie.

"Too Many Cooks": The gang gets mixed up in a witches' gourmet convention at the Spellman house (Note: Sabrina, Hilda, & Zelda didn't get the surname until the 1996 live action series). As usual, Reggie gets himself in trouble again.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Celebrity Toons: Jungle Bungle (The Brady Kids, 1972)

The Brady Kids and the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie premiered the same day, September 9, 1972, and on that day, viewers were treated to a double dose of the former. The series premiere, "Jungle Bungle", aired in the Superstar Movie slot, and would later be rebroadcast as a two-part episode.

We previously had the Kids' first musical number from the series, "Time to Change", but that stand-alone video was deleted by YouTube. Here, we have the complete two-parter, including "Change".

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Animated World of DC Comics: He Who Laughs Last (The New Adventures of Batman, 1977)

While "He Who Laughs Last" was a return vehicle for the Joker (Lennie Weinrib), this installment of The New Adventures of Batman might have actually been intended for the Riddler, since Joker uncharacteristically leaves clues to his pending crimes, a Riddler gimmick.

This is because Filmation had lost the rights to the Prince of Puzzlers, even though Challenge of The Super Friends was still a year and a half away at the time this episode aired in the spring of 1977.

This also kicks off five days of Valentine Toon Crushes, and this time around, that means Batgirl (Melendy Britt). Seems Bat-Mite crushing on the Dominoed Dare-Doll was representative of millions of teenage boys, although I don't think Bat-Mite would be an appropriate representative.......

Edit, 1/18/20: With the video deleted, why don't we give you a screencap of Batgirl instead:

Of course, at that time, in the comics, it was Robin who had a schoolboy crush on Batgirl, who back then didn't return the affection, but that would change years later.

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)(1973)

From Soul Train:

By 1973, the Four Tops had left Motown (though they'd eventually return), and signed with ABC-Dunhill, home to artists like Jim Croce, Steppenwolf, and Three Dog Night. This pairing resulted in "Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)":

From Comics to Toons: Josie & The Pussycats vs. The Scorpion (1970)

Josie & The Pussycats are in Mexico, and stumble into the machinations of The Scorpion. Scope out "Chili Today & Hot Tamale".

As with Scooby-Doo, the chase scenes were repetitive to the point of boredom.

Rating: B-.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Toon Sports: The Harlem Globetrotters board a Bad News Cruise (1970)

In a plot that could easily have made more sense for Josie & The Pussycats, the Harlem Globetrotters have to find a way to make some good out of a "Bad News Cruise":

Thought I'd post this, with the current 'Trotters in town this weekend.

Rating: B.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

You Know The Voice: Don Adams (1964-5)

I am not entirely sure of when this Texaco commercial was made, be it 1964 or '65, but this one's a pip and a half.

A frantic Texaco attendant (Bill Hinnant), tells his supervisor (Don Adams) that there's a chimp in the driver's seat. As it turns out, that chimp is just a seat warmer.......

Edit, 2/9/19: Frequent contributor Mike Doran tells us that, contrary to what YouTube commentators believed, that is not Wally Cox (Underdog) as the car owner. Also, as now denoted above, Bill Hinnant, brother of future Electric Company cast member Skip Hinnant, is the attendant, not Gary Burghoff.

Literary Toons: The Lost City of The Littles (1983)

From season 1 of The Littles:

Henry Bigg (Jimmy Keegan) takes possession of a Little statue his parents found to keep it out of the hands of Dr. Erick Hunter (Ken Sansom), whose quest to capture the Littles actually is more scary than Gargamel chasing the Smurfs over on NBC.

Here's "The Lost City of The Littles":

Is it just me, or was Lucy crushing on Henry?

The arts & crafts segments and head writer Jeffrey Scott came over from Super Friends, which had used similar segments in the past. Scott wrote every episode in season 1, but then DIC brought in additional writers to ease the burden in season 2.

Jimmy Keegan would later shift his focus to music, and has been a drummer with bands like Santana. Like, who knew?

Rating: A-.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Saturtainment: The Amanda Show (1999)

Spun off from All That, The Amanda Show was a similarly formatted sketch comedy series, but lacking musical guests, that served as a vehicle for Amanda Bynes. Three "seasons" spread over two years (1999-2001), leading to series regulars Drake Bell & Josh Peck being spun off to their own series (Drake & Josh) while Amanda left for the WB (What I Like About You), and all the tabloid drama that would derail her career after Like ended.

As Nickelodeon was wont to do, Amanda reruns aired during the afternoon, even if there really weren't enough episodes to warrant a five day schedule. Only 48 episodes, in fact, were produced, averaging 16 per season.

Here's a sample skit parodying Judge Judy (which is still on the air), as Amanda is Judge Trudy. Gregg Berger is the announcer.

Like All That, The Amanda Show was only a half-hour, which, when you think about it, made sense, as since it was pre-taped, they could do about 2-3 skits per show, hence the lack of musical guests.

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Teenage Toons: Good Ol' Dudes (Fat Albert, 1980)

From season 2 of The New Fat Albert Show:

"King" Richard (an uncredited Lane Scheimer) has a habit of borrowing his uncle's car for joyrides. When he borrows, or, actually, steals a neighbor's car for the same reason, he and the Junkyard Gang wind up in a perilous situation.

Plus: The Brown Hornet segment provides an object lesson.....

Originally produced in 1980, this was reissued as part of the syndicated Adventures of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids package.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Valentoons: Pink at First Sight (1981)

The Pink Panther had long lost his Saturday berth on ABC after two seasons (1978-80), but in one of their first productions after buying out DePatie-Freleng, Marvel Productions brought the Panther back in 1981 for his final primetime special.

Lonely, but broke, the Panther tries to avoid enduring another date-less Valentine's Day in "Pink at First Sight".

Marilyn Schreffler (The All-New Popeye Hour) voices the female panther.

Rating: B-.

Famous First: The series premiere of Lidsville (1971)

It's the first of the month, and that means we start with a Famous First episode.

Today, it's "World in a Hat", the series premiere of Lidsville, Sid & Marty Krofft's first sale to a network other than NBC. The series marked the return of Butch Patrick (ex-The Munsters) to television after five years away. Butch plays Mark, a curious teenager who pays a visit to the circus one day to catch Merlo The Great's act. Post-show, Mark lingers around and sneaks backstage, and that gets him in a world of trouble.

The voiceovers of the hat people, both good & bad, are divided among three actors--Walker Edmiston, Len Weinrib, & Joan Gerber, the latter also heard as Mata Hairi on Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, which was in a rerun cycle for its second year. Behind those costumes, you'll find ex-Mouseketeer Sharon Baird, Felix Silla (ex-The Addams Family), and Jerry Maren ("The Wizard of Oz"), among others. Wikipedia's entry claims that Weenie (Billie Hayes) is an androgynous genie. Could've fooled me. Charles Nelson Reilly (ex-The Ghost & Mrs. Muir) chews up so much scenery as Hoo-Doo (and appears in the open as Merlo, too), you'd swear he was on a steady diet of ham.

Here's "World in a Hat":

I think you can see why this show was actually out of production after one season.

Rating: B--.