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.


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.