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.