Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Toons After Dark: Crime 101 (1996)

From Cartoon Network's What a Cartoon! series comes this Powerpuff Girls entry.

In "Crime 101", the Amoeba Boys (all voiced by Chuck McCann) are looking for some credibility as crooks. So the Powerpuffs decide to show them how it's done. 

I'm still trying to figure out how the girls suddenly had those stocking masks.

This would be Ernie Anderson's last go-round as narrator, although Bossman (McCann) carries the action at first.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Betcha By Golly Wow & You Make Me Feel Brand New (1974)

The Stylistics were touring in support of their 1974 hit single, "You Make Me Feel Brand New" when they appeared on Soul Train. Before we hear that, though, they serve up an earlier hit, 1972's "Betcha By Golly Wow", which is actually a cover.....

"Betcha", co-written by Thom Bell, was originally recorded as "Keep Growing Strong" in 1970 by singer-actress Connie Stevens in one of her last runs at the Top 40. Prince, back when he used an unpronounceable symbol for a name in the 90's, covered "Betcha" in 1996. Bell & writing partner Linda Creed also wrote "Brand New".

Tooniversary: The Jughead Incident (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

Archie's Weird Mysteries turns 20 this year. To mark the occasion, let's take a look at the episode, "The Jughead Incident", in which Jug is mistaken for an alien in this parody of The X-Files:

It wasn't long after this that WB came out with "Scooby-Doo & The Alien Invaders", which was actually a little better.

Rating: B-.

Monday, July 29, 2019

From Comics to Toons: The Archie Comedy Hour (1969)

After finding success with The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Hour, CBS decided they needed another hour-long show on Saturday mornings.

After The Archie Show had seemingly been renewed, the network decided to expand the show to an hour, rechristening it The Archie Comedy Hour, and introducing Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, who figures prominently in the video below.

However, the hour-long format didn't really work for Archie as well as you'd think. The next season brought another format change to Archie's Funhouse, also an hour, while Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies were spun off into their own half hour, in much the same way Motormouse & Autocat were broken away from The Cattanooga Cats over on ABC.

Here's the promo, with narration by Gary Owens.

I have no memory of this series. I was 6 at the time, after all. No rating.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

You Know The Voice: Dave Willock (1961)

Before turning to cartoons and, in particular, Wacky Races, Dave Willock was already an established character actor & comedian.

In 1961, Willock was cast as Harvey Clayton, father to the title character of ABC's Margie. So, for those of you who were big fans of Wacky Races, which came along seven years later, here's a chance to match a face to the voice of the race announcer.

More on Margie over at The Land of Whatever.

Toons After Dark: The World of Strawberry Shortcake (1980)

American Greetings sought to be major competition to Hallmark back in the day, and while Hallmark is still the better known (and more expensive) brand of greeting cards, American Greetings was first to bring one of their characters to television.

Strawberry Shortcake first appeared in a half-hour syndicated special that bowed in March 1980, The World of Strawberry Shortcake. Writer-producer Romeo Muller, formerly of Rankin-Bass, also narrates, essaying the role of Mr. Sun (no, not the mascot for Kellogg's Raisin Bran). Kenner, now part of Hasbro, but owned by General Mills at the time, sponsored the show, which aired before 8 pm (ET) in most cities. The future team of Murakami-Wolf-Swenson handled the animation in conjunction with a Japanese studio, and the music was composed and performed by Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan), aka The Turtles.

Believe it or else, that's Robert Ridgely (Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Lord of The Jungle) as the Purple Pie Man of Porcupine Peak.

After three specials, Canada's Nelvana Studios took over production, and former Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian, already contracted to Nelvana, took over composing the music from his fellow 60's icons.

In memory of Russi Taylor (Strawberry), who passed away this weekend at 75.

No rating.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Summertainment: Fat Albert in Water You Waiting For? (1981)

From season 3 of The New Fat Albert Show:

Albert (Bill Cosby) and the gang head off to Cedar Lake, where lessons in water safety come in pretty handy, as well as a lesson from Brown Hornet. Also, it's a rare case where the boys are out of their usual attire. Even more rare? Albert falling for a girl, in this case the lifeguard.

If humility was a class in school, Rudy would fail. Badly.

Rating: B.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Looney TV: Conrad The Sailor (1942)

Daffy Duck by 1942 was accustomed to being a second banana as much as he was a headliner.

"Conrad The Sailor" was meant to introduce what WB hoped was a new star in the titular cat (voiced by Pinto Colvig, recycling his Goofy voice), at least in this writer's opinion, but Conrad was never seen again in this iteration. Daffy made him look bad, but then......

I believe Conrad did return, but not as a sailor, just an ordinary house cat.

Rating: B+.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Bad TV: The series premiere of Josie & The Pussycats in Outer Space (1972)

We've talked about this enough in the past. When Hanna-Barbera decided to begin what amounted to a new season of Josie & The Pussycats, two years after the original series, they sent the gang into space in a parody of Lost in Space, Star Trek, etc., but with disastrous results.

In the opener, a despot plots to overthrow his planet's ruling council, and kidnaps Josie (Janet Waldo) as a means of achieving his ends.....

The animation was worse than the 1970 series, and even with bringing in experienced writers like Fred Freiberger (ex-Star Trek, Wild, Wild West, etc.) and Heywood (Woody) Kling, they still fumbled.

Rating: C--.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Game Time: The Three Stooges in Three Little Pigskins (1934)

The Three Stooges are mistaken for college football players, and chaos erupts when the boys take the field in "Three Little Pigskins". Keep an eye out for Lucille Ball (blonde, not redheaded) in what may be her only appearance with the Stooges:

Rating: B+.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

You Know The Voice: Danny Wells (1978)

Danny Wells might be best known for playing Luigi on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show at the end of the 80's, and had worked for the show's producers, DIC, on Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats (aka Cats & Company) a few years earlier. While Heathcliff was in production, Danny had a recurring role as a bartender on The Jeffersons. Betcha didn't know that.

Here, Danny sings the praises of K-Mart in this spot for a regional grand opening. Look quick for Johnny Haymer (M*A*S*H) in a quick cameo.

Unless I'm wrong, Danny might've been the voice of Riff Raff in the Cats & Company shorts.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Saturtainment: Deputy Dawg meets Mischa Mouse (1960)

The gang at Terrytoons took a good natured poke at the Cold War in this Deputy Dawg offering.

A Soviet cosmomouse lands in the Deputy's jurisdiction, and one of his superiors has to come to the US to bring him home. Here's the debut of Mischa Mouse.

Rating: B.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Memphis (1964)

Johnny Rivers dropped by American Bandstand in July 1964 with his cover of Chuck Berry's classic, "Memphis". Yes, Bandstand had new episodes virtually every week for years, can't say for sure if this was a full-time thing up to the end, but.....

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Looney TV: Design For Leaving (1954-61)

Daffy Duck makes another go of it as a fast-talking salesman who dupes Elmer Fudd into buying a major upgrade on his home. Here's "Design For Living". The video is a 1961 Blue Ribbon reissue.

We've always known Elmer was gullible, but this took the grand prize.

Rating: B.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Game Time: Howdy Doody plays What's My Line? (1954)

Ya might say Howdy Doody stayed up way past his bedtime one Sunday night.

Howdy and creator "Buffalo" Bob Smith crossed networks and appeared on CBS' What's My Line?, on a night more memorable for being the debut of comedian Fred Allen as a member of the show's panel. Howdy joins us around the 16 minute mark.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

From Primetime to Daytime: The Paul Winchell & Jerry Mahoney Show (1950)

Originally known as The Spiegel Show for its sponsor, ventriloquist Paul Winchell gained top billing for the show in its 2nd season, when it was still airing on Sundays on NBC. In 1954, the now-rechristened Paul Winchell & Jerry Mahoney Show moved to Saturday mornings for a couple of years on NBC before moving to ABC.

By this point sponsored by Tootsie Roll, Winchell was aided by erstwhile bandleader Milton DeLugg, better known as musical director for The Tonight Show and The Gong Show during his illustrious career. Here, DeLugg is given plenty to do as a repertory performer.

For what it's worth, and I've referenced this a few times before, Knucklehead Smiff's voice was later recycled by Winchell for Fleegle (The Banana Splits) and the Scrubbing Bubbles, before ol' Knucklehead resurfaced with Paul on Runaround (1972).

The format? A series of short, quick, audience participation games, information, and in this episode, an interview with a Girl Scout from Long Island. I didn't know Flushing was also in Long Island......

Rating: A.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Working My Way Back to You (1980)

The Spinners returned to Soul Train with their cover of the Four Seasons' "Working My Way Back to You", which was originally released in 1966. The Spinners' version peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, blocked by Pink Floyd's mammoth #1 hit, "Another Brick in The Wall".

On the charts, "Working" was part of a medley with a cover of Michael Zager's "Forgive Me, Girl". Today, "Working" is getting some airplay on its own on oldies channels.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rare Treats: The Mad Magazine TV Special (1974)

Long before Mad Magazine found itself as source material for a movie ("Up The Academy"), a late night sketch comedy show (MadTV), and a Cartoon Network series bearing its name, the long running humor mag was being primed to be brought to television 45 years ago.

Unfortunately, no advertiser worth his stock portfolio was willing to take a chance on The Mad Magazine TV Special, which was produced in 1974.

Each of the sketches is pulled directly from the pages of Mad, such as the opening bit, "The Auto Manufacturer of The Year". Len Maxwell, who'd experience a career comeback 25 years later with Celebrity Deathmatch, is our announcer. Allen Swift is also heard.

With Mad, now published & distributed through DC, ceasing publication of original material later this summer, we'll use this to pay tribute.

No rating.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Getting Schooled: Disney Family Album (1984)

When the Disney Channel was a premium (pay cable) network, they had a ton of original programming that now sits in the vaults, unused, unavailable on DVD.

One such example is the Disney Family Album, a series of half-hour documentaries that ran from June 1984 to January 1986, 20 episodes in all.

Buddy Ebsen (ex-Davy Crockett, The Beverly Hillbillies, Barnaby Jones) returned to the Disney camp to serve as narrator, and also was seen on camera in the series finale, which focused on Davy Crockett. I think Buddy was working on Matt Houston somewhere around the time of this series.

This episode, from 1985, spotlights a variety of voice actors, most of them you know, like John Byner, Paul Winchell, Eva Gabor, and Alan Young. You might know that Alan was cast as Scrooge McDuck in the original DuckTales after first essaying McDuck (as Ebenezer Scrooge) in Mickey's Christmas Carol.

Good stuff. Now, get it out on DVD!

Rating: A.

Monday, July 8, 2019

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell (1973)

While Paul Winchell was hosting Runaround for NBC, he found the time to bring Jerry Mahoney along for a guest appearance on I've Got a Secret with Steve Allen and friends.....

Paul, of course, does the open, then returns at the 14 minute mark for the final game.

I'm not sure if he & Richard Dawson had worked together on any projects at Hanna-Barbera, although both did guest shots on Hong Kong Phooey. Pat Carroll (ex-The Danny Thomas Show) would later give voice work a go ("The Little Mermaid", in particular).

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Daytime Heroes: She-Ra meets The Inspector (1986)

In season 2 of She-Ra, Princess of Power, new episodes premiered on a weekly basis, bringing the series' final episode count to 93.

In "The Inspector", Prince Adam, aka He-Man (John Erwin), takes the place of a Horde inspector to help Adora retrieve her missing sword and free some of her rebel companions.

A flimsy disguise, but then, I don't think Hordak had Adam's appearance committed to memory.

Rating: B.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Saturday School: Fat Albert in Shuttered Window (1976)

From season 4 of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids:

Following a Brown Hornet chapter, the gang helps their friend, Undeen (Ericka Scheimer) and her uncle, an entertainer, plan a benefit show to keep sports in the school budget, but there's an unexpected crimp in those plans. Here's "Shuttered Window":

One YouTube commentator thought Johnny Brown (Good Times) was an uncredited guest star as Uncle Monty. I don't think so. Lou Scheimer probably voiced Monty.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Saturtainment (at least in Canada): The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (1971)

My first memory of The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was that while no local channel picked up the show when it became available in the US, it did air in New York on WNEW (now WNYW) weekday afternoons for a time in the mid-70's.

The show was produced in Canada, where it aired on Saturday mornings. Actor-comedian Billy Van played a grand total of 8 characters, including Count Frightenstein, who'd been exiled from Transylvania, as Vincent Price's opening poem explains, because he couldn't bring his monster back to life.

The crux of the show centered on the count's efforts to restore his creation, but there were plenty of distractions, allowing Van to play other characters, both male & female. American audiences know Van better from his time as a supporting player with Sonny & Cher and the Hudson Brothers, among others.

Professor Julius Summer Miller, a frequent guest on the original Mickey Mouse Club, turned up here regularly to drop some real science.

While Frightenstein was a half-hour show in American syndication, it was really a hour-long show when it first aired in Canada. Back in those days, American syndicators cut hour-long shows into half-hours, simply because they didn't believe back then that there was money to be made from a first-run, hour-long syndicated show, aside from talk shows (i.e. Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin). Hence, 130 hour long episodes turned into 260 half hours for American consumption. You'd have to believe Price was a huge selling point.

Here's the intro:

American audiences had already seen Filmation's Groovie Goolies try to copy Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, but while there wasn't a joke wall here, and Price was familiar with Laugh-In, after all, Frightenstein's producers trod the same ground.

Rating: B.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Famous First Episode: The series premiere of Inspector Gadget (1983)

Our Famous First for July is the launch of Inspector Gadget, which brought Don Adams (ex-Get Smart, Tennessee Tuxedo) back to cartoons after appearing on The New Scooby-Doo Movies a decade earlier.

To sum it up, Gadget, niece Penny (Cree Summer), and Brain are in Scotland, and not just to see the Loch Ness Monster if at all possible.....

Rating: B.