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:

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Getting Schooled: The series premiere of Sesame Street (1969)

I am a little late with this one, as Sesame Street's 50th anniversary was 10 days ago.

Anyway, an enterprising soul has posted some of the earliest episodes of the series, including the series opener, which is right here:



Independent producer Ken Snyder, who had a pair of series on ABC that same year (Skyhawks & Hot Wheels) contributed the Alice Braithwaite Goodyshoes short, with Joan Gerber voicing Alice. Wanda the Witch became a recurring feature early on, and there was a short bit with Carol Burnett commenting on it. The husband & wife team of John & Faith Hubley, along with Filmation, contributed some short bits during the first year.

I remember owning a soundtrack LP spun from the series, probably as a Christmas or birthday present, and ended up wearing it out. Musical director Joe Raposo also saw one of his songs, "Sing", climb the charts, thanks to the Carpenters.

Rating: A.

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.