Wednesday, December 30, 2020

You Know The Voices: Marvin Miller & Paul Frees (1958)

 From season 5 of The Millionaire:

Paul Frees, the voice behind the title character, John Beresford Tipton, essays a dual role in this episode, stepping away from the microphone to play a friend of "The Thorne Sisters". Paul appears at the 13:25 mark. Marvin Miller, in his role as Tipton's personal secretary, Michael Anthony, paints the picture.....

Howard McNear, radio's Doc Adams on Gunsmoke, would land the defining role of his career 2 years later when he was cast on The Andy Griffith Show.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

From Primetime to Daytime: Fonzie vs. The Mob (Happy Days, 1978)

 I gotta tell ya, I am gettin' the feelin' this might've been what inspired ABC to commission Hanna-Barbera to adapt Happy Days into a Saturday morning action comedy cartoon (Fonz & The Happy Days Gang, 1980-2).

See, during season 6 of Happy Days, someone got the idea to have a small time mobster and his goons show up in Milwaukee and take over Arnold's, now owned by Al Delvecchio (Al Molinaro, ex-The Odd Couple), but Da Fonz (Henry Winkler) has other ideas.

Since complete episodes ain't available online for posting, we'll take you right to the climax, as Fonzie duels, if ya will, with The Claw.......!

It was this sort of non-violent solution that led to Happy Days Gang, although that series was really a reboot of 1972's Josie & The Pussycats in Outer Space. Winkler, in particular, didn't want violence on Happy Days, and kept the fight scenes to a bare minimum (i.e. Fonzie & Carmine's double mule kick to the Red Devils in "Joanie's Weird Boyfriend" a year and a half earlier).

Rating: B.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Screwball? (1972)

 In an attempt to compete with Mattel, Kenner, et al, when it came to games, Hasbro, now the industry leader in toys, introduced Screwball in 1972. Unfortunately, this puzzle game was a flop, as it was off the market about as fast as it arrived.

Mel Allen narrates this ad, featuring Earl Monroe (then with the Knicks), Bob Griese (Miami Dolphins), & Tom Seaver (Mets) competing with an ordinary dude.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Hardrock, Coco, & Joe: The Three Little Dwarves (1951)

 Here's an oddity that some of you might not have seen-----unless you lived in Chicago or suburban Pennsylvania.

"Hardrock, Coco, & Joe: The Three Little Dwarves" is a stop motion short from 1951. Yes, this pre-dates all those Rankin-Bass classics by more than a decade.

No rating. Just a public service.

Merry Christmas, everyone. We'll see you on Saturday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Game Time: Butch Hartman on The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (1984)

 We've seen animation and comics legends such as Stan Lee and Chuck Jones appear on To Tell The Truth. As The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour begins 1984, a future animation legend appears as a contestant.

Butch Hartman was just 19, a college student, when he appeared on the show, which aired on January 3, but taped a couple of weeks prior. Mind you, this was a few years before he began working for Cartoon Network and, later, more famously, Nickelodeon. 

I think this is why Butch would later use game show motifs in his cartoons (i.e. Fairly OddParents).

How no one thought to think of Fat Albert as an answer to that Dumb Donald question, I'll never know.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: A Summer Song (1964)

 Chad & Jeremy were the featured guests on American Bandstand on Thanksgiving weekend in November 1964, performing "A Summer Song". I realize, yes, it's kind of odd that this was being played in that period between autumn & winter, but, you know the music business.......

In memory of Chad Stuart, 79, who passed away on Monday.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933)

 Set in the depression, Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising's "The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives", a 1933 Merrie Melodies entry, sees Santa take an orphan to the North Pole.

The funniest part is that this was released in January 1933. Go figure.

No rating. Just a public service.

Getting Schooled: Captain Kangaroo teaches about vaccination (1979)

 With vaccines for COVID-19 soon to be available to the general public, I thought it might be a little appropriate to bring forth the following from Captain Kangaroo.

In this 1979 spot, the Captain (Bob Keeshan) uses a little reverse psychology on Mr. Moose (Cosmo Allegretti), who has a phobia about shots, or, perhaps more specifically, needles, something that was in fact common with kids then, and probably now, too, especially with the anti-vaccination movement.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)

 In 1964, Adam West (ex-The Detectives) and William Shatner (ex-For The People) filmed a pilot for Alexander The Great, which ABC was producing through their in-house production company, Selmur Productions. However, the final product wasn't satisfactory in the eyes of network suits, and it wasn't until four years later, after Batman had ended its run, and Star Trek was nearing the end of its 2nd season, before Alexander aired.

Nearly 50 years later, West & Shatner were together again, this time in "Batman vs. Two-Face", the sequel to "Batman: Return of The Caped Crusaders", and, unbeknonst to either actor, it would be West's last role, as he passed away prior to the film's release.

Writer-producers James Tucker & Michael Jelenic decided that the traditional origin of Two-Face, his split personality emerging after he'd been scarred with acid, wasn't tragic or dramatic enough for a 21st century audience. Instead, you add Professor Hugo Strange, conducting an experiment at Gotham City Prison, in which he intended to extract the "essential evil" from the villains in prison (i.e. Joker, Penguin). I think you'll get the idea from the following trailer:

Wally Wingert does a good job impersonating the late Frank Gorshin as Riddler, and you get two Catwomen for the price of one. Not only does Julie Newmar return from the last film, but Lee Meriweather, who filled in for Newmar in the 1966 "Batman" movie, appears briefly as a public defender who ends up wearing a familiar outfit in her final scene. Steven Weber (ex-Wings, iZombie) is heard as Alfred once again.

It's the kind of fun you had when you were a kid, or as an adult watching the reruns.

Rating: A-.

Countdown to Christmas: Run, Run, Rudolph (1959-2020)

 The legendary Chuck Berry released "Run, Run, Rudolph" all the way back in 1959. Nearly 30 years later, it was covered by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams on the 1st "A Very Special Christmas" CD.

With classic Christmas tunes being reissued as animated videos these days, it should surprise no one that someone with enough imagination would bring "Rudolph" out, and give Chuck a flying car......

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Toons You Might've Missed: Melvin Danger, Private Eye (1972)

 We all know that Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home started as a back-door pilot on ABC's Love, American Style before beginning a 2 year run in syndication (1972-4).

However, it wasn't the only entry Hanna-Barbera produced for the series.

Prior to "Love & The Old Fashioned Father", the Father pilot, H-B also served up Melvin Danger, Private Eye, about a bumbling private eye who was a master of disguise. The episode was rebroadcast in the winter of 1973, and retitled, "Love & The Private Eye".

Behind the Humphrey Bogart mimic as Danger is Richard Dawson (ex-Hogan's Heroes, Can You Top This?), who would also contribute to H-B's adaptation of Oliver Twist, "Oliver & The Artful Dodger", for the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie. Len Weinrib plays the chauffeur. John Stephenson and Mitzi McCall (Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm) are also heard.

A bumbling detective? Master of disguise? H-B revisited the concept with a funny animal twist five years later with Undercover Elephant (part of CB Bears).

No rating.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Daytime Heroes: Bozo The Clown in Square Shootin' Square (1962)

 Bozo The Clown (Larry Harmon) pulls into a ghost town, and encounters a couple of crooks. Paul Frees voices the sheriff and one of the crooks, if not both of them, in "Square Shootin' Square".

Note that the intro is complete, unlike other clips, which lack the credits.

Co-author/producer/director Paul Fennell, like Harmon, also worked on Popeye shorts, which explains the gap between new episodes between 1959 and 1962.

Rating: B.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mumbly in The Great Graffiti Gambit (1976)

 Back in the 70's, graffiti wasn't considered a form of art by law enforcement. Instead, it was filed under vandalism, and in some places, still is.

Mumbly (Don Messick) matches wits with Graphooey (Len Weinrib), a French artist who intends to hold the city ransom for $1,000,000, likely because no one recognizes his "genius".

Here's "The Great Grafitti Gambit".

Another week, another frustrated villain. Yawn.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Our Gang in Good Cheer (1926)

 Let's take a trip to the silent film era for this next entry.

Our Gang shorts were distributed through Pathe during the early years, with the series launching in 1922. Joe Cobb and Allen Hoskins are the best known players from this group, appearing in 1926's "Good Cheer", as the kids learn all about Santa while helping capture some thieves at the same time, all during a driving snowstorm.

About the only place you'd find this and the rest of the Our Gang silents that have survived would be on Turner Classic Movies, as the silents weren't in general syndication when ye scribe was growing up in the 60's & 70's.

Rating: A-.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Rare Treats: Remember Captain Vitaman? (1968)

 We all know that Jay Ward's studio developed a variety of cereal mascots (i.e. Cap'n Crunch) for Quaker in the 60's. King Vitaman, introduced in 1970, might never have made it past Ward's drawing board if not for an earlier Vitaman.

Captain Vitaman arrived on the scene in 1968 in a short-lived series of ads in which the hero would magically appear, and his "aides", vitamins A-D and Iron, would be given sentient form (and the predictable voices of Bill Scott, June Foray, Daws Butler, & Paul Frees).

YouTube poster Richard Anderson (no relation to the late actor) postulated that the Captain himself was voiced by Mission: Impossible star Peter Graves. Judge for yourselves, peeps:

Of course, we know what happened next. Quaker ditched Captain Vitaman for King Vitaman, and the rest is history.

Countdown to Christmas: Santa Baby (1953-2020)

 The late singer-actress Eartha Kitt recorded "Santa Baby" all the way back in 1953 for RCA. It's been covered by a number of artists, including Madonna, LeAnn Rimes, Taylor Swift, and, most recently, Ariana Grande.

Continuing a recent trend of animated videos of songs by artists no longer with us (i.e. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra), here's a clever toon with Eartha, circa 1953, around the time she recorded "Santa Baby".

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Shell and Charlie Brown (1991)

 To mark the VHS release of A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1991, Shell Oil Company obtained a license to promote the video, using Charlie Brown & Linus, plus Snoopy, driving a car, for a commercial.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Getting Schooled: Barney & The Backyard Gang (1988)

 Most of us may be familiar with Barney & Friends, which was a PBS staple during the 90's and early '00's. What you might not know is that there was a DTV series that preceded the show by 4 years.

Barney & The Backyard Gang was a series of videos produced periodically between 1988-91. Actress Sandy Duncan (The Hogan Family) starred in the first three as the mother, but departed prior to the 4th DTV, a Christmas themed entry about Santa Claus.

Barney's theme song was a riff on "Yankee Doodle". The producers of Roger Ramjet did the same thing for their theme song more than 20 years earlier.

We'll look at PBS' Barney & Friends another time.

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: Frosty Returns (1992)

 Frosty The Snowman returned in an all-new special for the first time in several years in 1992's Frosty Returns.

The basic plot starts off the same way as the 1969 original, only this time that magic top hat that brings life to Frosty (John Goodman, Roseanne) comes from a young, aspiring female magician (Elizabeth Moss). Executive producer Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live) stocked the supporting cast with SNL alums Brian Doyle-Murray and Jan Hooks, and SCTV veteran Andrea Martin. Jonathan Winters (ex-Smurfs, Mork & Mindy) is the narrator.

If some of the children's character designs look familiar, credit that to veteran Bill Melendez, who co-produced & co-directed the special, a rare non-Peanuts project for Melendez. Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh composed the music.

1976's Frosty's Winter Wonderland, which Rankin-Bass had set up as their sequel to the original Frosty, was essentially ret-conned out of existence with this show.

And to think that the song that started it all turns 70 this year.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: A Goof Troop Christmas (1992)

 "A Goof Troop Christmas" (italics mine) ended up being the series finale. Originally packaged in syndication with some older shorts, including Donald Duck in "Toy Tinkers", which we screened the other day, this should stand by itself.

No rating. Just a public service.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)

 The Muppets of Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, & Fraggle Rock come together in 1987's A Muppet Family Christmas.

Everyone gathers at home of Fozzie's mom for one big Christmas wing-ding, journeying through an ice storm. Jim Henson (Kermit, Ernie, Rowlf) appears briefly at the end of the show.

No rating. Just a public service.

Countdown to Christmas: Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas (1992)

 Nearly a decade after his debut, Inspector Gadget resurfaced on NBC for his first and only Christmas special.

Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas sends the cyborg sleuth (Don Adams), as oblivious as ever, to the North Pole, where Dr. Claw (Frank Welker) has Santa Claus (Welker) abducted so Claw can have defective toys made to discredit Santa.

Adams & Welker are the only original cast members returning. Maurice LaMarche had taken over the role of Chief Quimby in season 2 of the original series, and reprises here.

Typical Gadget silliness.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Steal Away (1980)

 Robbie Dupree was a fresh face---and voice, of course----on the pop music scene in 1980, and landed a pair of hits  with "Hot Rod Hearts" & "Steal Away".

Robbie performs "Steal Away", with Cornelius Bumpus (Doobie Brothers) on saxophone, on The Midnight Special:

Strangely, Robbie disappeared from the charts after "Hearts" ran its course, only to return 7 years later when he recorded "Girls in Cars" for the then-WWF's "Piledriver".

Toons You Might've Missed: Amos 'n' Andy in The Rassling Match (1934)

 Freeman Gosden & Charles Correll spun off their hit radio show, Amos 'n' Andy, first into a feature film, "Check & Double Check", then a pair of animated shorts produced by the Van Beuren studio. Don't be looking for this on cable anywhere, given that in today's society, it'd be considered politically incorrect for the characterizations of African Americans depicted here.

Anyway, Andy gets talked into taking up wrestling......

Amos 'n' Andy would eventually transition to television, with an all-African American cast, but wouldn't be too successful, either. Gosden & Correll would get one season with a funny animal knockoff, Calvin & The Colonel, working once again with Joe Connelly & Bob Mosher (Leave it to Beaver, The Munsters) in 1962, and that, too, ran for one season.

Rating: B--.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Literary Toons: Treasure Island (1973)

 In discussing Filmation & Warner Bros.' adaptation of Oliver Twist the other day, we noted the studios had previously collaborated on another adaptation a year prior.

Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island has the same cast, headlined by Davy Jones (ex-The Monkees) as Jim Hawkins, and also including Larry Storch, Larry D. Mann, and Jane Webb.

Jim was given a pet mouse just so they could eventually sell toys if this were to be repeated years later.

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Countdown to Christmas: All I Want For Christmas is You (2020)

 Country music legend Dolly Parton has a new Christmas album, "Holly Dolly Christmas", which includes a duet cover of Mariah Carey's 1994 hit, "All I Want For Christmas is You". Her singing partner? Tonight Show host and College of St. Rose alum Jimmy Fallon, who's no slouch as a singer, either, given his impersonations of Neil Young, Dennis DeYoung, and Kenny Rogers, the latter in teaming with Dolly's god-daughter, Miley Cyrus, to cover "Islands in The Stream".

Let's see how many couples call for this version this year.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Rare Treats: Jack & The Beanstalk (1967)

 If you've ever wondered what was the motivation behind Hanna-Barbera's live-action/animated hybrid adaptation of Huckleberry Finn in 1968, you simply go back about a year and a half or so to 1967's musical adaptation of Jack & The Beanstalk. The classic tale had been adapted for the big & small screens before, with a previous TV adaptation headlined by Joel Grey 11 years earlier. Abbott & Costello did one in 1952 for Warner Bros., instead of Universal, when the latter studio couldn't fund the project.

Producer-director-star Gene Kelly had worked with Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera nearly 20 years earlier, when they animated a dance sequence with Jerry Mouse for "Anchors Aweigh". Yes, this is a rarity in that Hanna & Barbera didn't direct this entry.

Young Bobby Riha plays Jack, but his singing voice is dubbed over by Dick Beals (Frankenstein, Jr., Space Kiddettes, etc), whose previous singing experience is mostly Alka-Seltzer commercials. Kelly is Jeremy, a salesman whom Jack befriends in a deal involving a certain set of beans. Other voices include Ted Cassidy (Frankenstein, Jr., ex-The Addams Family), Leo DeLyon (ex-Top Cat), Janet Waldo (with Marni Nixon doing the singing), and Cliff Norton.

I had faint memories of seeing this as a youth, and seeing the Abbott & Costello version got me thinking about this offering.

Coincidentally, this premiered on a Sunday night, either pre-empting or airing in back of Wonderful World of Disney. Bobby Riha would later act & sing in a Disney movie ("The One & Only Original Family Band"). Gene Kelly would later shill for Sylvania when not on the dais with Dean Martin.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Olan Soule (1954)

 Here's an in-show ad from Captain MIdnight as Dr. Aristotle "Tut" Jones (Olan Soule) explains the origins of the show's sponsor, Ovaltine:

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Remembering Pat Patterson (1941-2020)

 Today's generation only knew him as a comedy relief character during the WWE's "Attitude Era". Older fans knew about a French-Canadian emigre who made his first inroads in the US with the late Ray Stevens as 1/2 of the original Blond Bombers, winning the NWA & AWA tag titles before he came to the then World Wrestling Federation in 1979.

At that point, Pat Patterson, managed by the Grand Wizard (Ernie Roth), earned his first singles title in beating a fellow future Hall of Famer in Ted DiBiase. Vince McMahon & Bruno Sammartino describe the action.....

The promotion then created the Intercontinental title, and invented a fictional tournament in Brazil, where Patterson won the title. He'd soon lose the North American title, and would drop the IC title to Ken Patera in 1980.

After his initial retirement in 1984, Patterson moved into the broadcast booth, working with McMahon for a few months. However, he was caught up in the controversial scandal involving a lesser known announcer, Murray Hodgson, among others, and was let go in 1992. At that point, Patterson, who had also created the Royal Rumble, launched in 1988, was now working backstage as one of McMahon's chief lieutenants, and was brought back as a comedy character in 1997.

His fighting days long over, Patterson came out on the series finale of the WWE Network series, Legends House, in 2014, even though most in the business knew about his being gay all along.

Earlier this morning, it got out that Patterson had passed away at 79 after a bout with cancer. WWE will do a tribute to him tonight at the earliest at the start of NXT, and AEW likely will do the same on Dynamite.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

You Know The Voice: Joe Alaskey (& friends)(1990)

 While I don't know how many contestants on Match Game, through its nearly 60 years of existence, came from the 518, we actually had a panelist from the district.

That would be Joe Alaskey (ex-Out of This World, Couch Potatoes), who got to appear during the 1st week of the 1990 revamp, airing on ABC. The Watervliet native was a few months away from the debut of Tiny Toon Adventures, which cemented his status as a primo voice actor.

Also on the panel: Sally Struthers (ex-All in The Family), who voiced Pebbles in 1971's Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm before commitments to Family, among other things, took her off the show, and Charles Nelson Reilly, charter member of the Match Game Hall of Fame, if ya will. Reilly was a long ways removed from taking over the role of Frank Frankenstone (The Flintstone Comedy Show, 2nd series).

We've reviewed this iteration of Match Game over at The Land of Whatever. Thankfully, the more recent iteration, with Alec Baldwin, is a throwback to the glory years of the 70's.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Looney TV: The Bob Clampett Show (2000)

 As the 21st century began, Cartoon Network was experimenting with anthology shows showcasing the works of legendary creators. 

Bob Clampett was one of those legends, along with Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. It's too bad the experiment ended before they got around to Friz Freleng. Joking aside, The Bob Clampett Show ran for about a year on CN before being shifted over to the nascent [adult swim] side of the channel. While season 1 was exclusively Warner Bros. material, some of Clampett's early Beany & Cecil work was added for season 2, which marked the only time that series aired on CN.

During its CN run, the series aired on Sunday nights. Shifting to [as] allowed a little more schedule flexibility. Too bad CN can't be bothered to bring the show back along with the rest of the line (i.e. Toon Heads) to fill space on Boomerang.

From a sample episode, here's a Blue Ribbon reissue of "Farm Frolics":

This series deserved a better fate.

Rating: A.

"Farm Frolics" also gets an A.

You Know The Voice: Jackie Joseph (1969)

 Here's a treat that was just recently posted to YouTube.

Vin Scully's NBC game show, It Takes Two, didn't last very long, but it did bring some fun.

This episode was taped in late March 1969, broadcast a couple of weeks later, with James Darren (ex-The Time Tunnel), Norm Crosby, and Ken Berry (Mayberry RFD, ex-F-Troop)(w/then-wife Jackie Joseph).

Announcer John Harlan got the most screen time of his career working on this show.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: I Need Your Lovin' (1981)

 The late singer-songwriter Teena Marie is best remembered for her 1985 top 5 hit, "Lovergirl". However, she already had a few years under her belt, including a 3 year stint with Motown ("Lovergirl" was released on Epic), which produced her 1981 hit, "I Need Your Lovin'". The song barely peaked in the Top 40 at #39, but hit the top 10 on the R & B chart.

Teena showed up on American Bandstand in April 1981.

Countdown to Christmas: Toy Tinkers (1949)

 Donald Duck chops down a tree for Christmas, but Chip 'n' Dale see this as an opportunity to steal some walnuts. Here's "Toy Tinkers":

Seems there was a recurring theme any time these three got together.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Literary Toons: Oliver Twist (1974)

 Two years after Hanna-Barbera had adapted Charles Dickens' tale for the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, Warner Bros. & Filmation took their turn with a feature length adaptation of Oliver Twist.

This version hews somewhere between the original story and the musical adaptation, "Oliver!", with all the music. Josh Albee (ex-Sealab 2020) provides Oliver's speaking voice, with Scottish actor Billy Simpson taking over for musical numbers. The cast also includes Davy Jones, Larry Storch, Jane Webb, Les Tremayne (the movie was released two months prior to Shazam! debuting on CBS), Dallas McKennon (ex-Daniel Boone; McKennon would return to playing Archie Andrews in U. S. of Archie a few weeks later), and Larry D. Mann.

As normal, Filmation recycled some music cues from their TV shows, in this case the dramatic cues from Star Trek & Lassie's Rescue Rangers from the previous season.

Many thanks to contributor Jennifer Schillig for tipping us to this film:

A year earlier, the two studios had collaborated on another adaptation, this being Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, with some of the same cast, and, as is the case here, a pet added to the story to attract the small ones. It should be noted that Richard Dawson (ex-Hogan's Heroes), who worked on Oliver & The Artful Dodger two years earlier, had been heard in Treasure Island, but did not return for this version of Oliver Twist.

No rating. Just a public service.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mumbly vs. Hemlock & Alfie (1976)

 In "Sherlock's Badder Brudder", Mumbly plays his usual tricks on a pair of British crooks who've come across the pond to capture him. Good luck with that!

It's clear that Hanna-Barbera had tried and failed to re-acquire Droopy, as every Mumbly episode followed Droopy's playbook. It took fourteen years before Droopy finally arrived at H-B, with a stopover at Filmation before that (1980's Tom & Jerry Comedy Show).

Rating: B.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Saturday School: The series premiere of Mission: Magic! (1973)

 Of the four freshman series produced by Filmation in 1973, Mission: Magic! was the weakest of the lot.

Australian singer-actor Rick Springfield had made his debut on the US charts a year earlier, and his handlers were hoping to promote him as a teen idol, figuring that even though the bubblegum pop craze of the late 60's-early 70's was dying out, only to return just three years later, the teenagers would watch the show with their younger sibs.

Nope. Mission was cancelled after 1 season, replaced by The New Adventures of Gilligan.

It wasn't Springfield's fault. The writing was, at best, mediocre. The background score by Ray Ellis (credited as Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael for the balance of the decade) recycled cues from the Archie cartoons, among other places. No originality in the music, save for Springfield's own compositions, which were released on LP in his native Australia before the end of the season, and later imported to the US.

In the series opener, Ms. Tickle (Lola Fisher) and the Adventurers Club (Ericka & Lane Scheimer, also heard on My Favorite Martians, The Brady Kids, & Lassie's Rescue Rangers, and Howard Morris) enter a backward dimension. Literally.

Rating: B.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Getting Schooled: The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon (1976)

 From the ABC Afterschool Special:

"The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon" centers on a 6th grader (Ike Eisenmann, "Escape to Witch Mountain") who discovers a book that gives him the means to overcome his short stature. Co-starring Jim Backus, Jerry Van Dyke, Sparky (spelled Sparkey) Marcus (in one of his first roles), and Lance Kerwin.

By this point, the series had switched exclusively to live-action dramas, the idea being that with the emergence of cable television, the kiddo's would turn to cable for classic shorts, and thus, the 1st run animated entries stopped.

No rating.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Toonfomercial: A primer on preventing cancer (1969)

 Here's an American Cancer Society PSA, which seems to have backgrounds designed by Peter Max (though that isn't the case). Narrated by Gene Wilder.

Tooniversary: A complete episode of The Oddball Couple (1975)

The Oddball Couple was one of two freshman series from DePatie-Freleng in 1975 (NBC's Return to The Planet of The Apes being the other), this one arriving after The Odd Couple had ended a 5 year primetime run.

In this episode, Fleabag (Paul Winchell) is conned into winning a "free" oil well, and so he & Spiffy (Frank Nelson) travel head-long into the "Klondike Oil Kaper". Then, Fleabag finds a "Family Album" that purports that an ancestor of his was with Benjamin Franklin (Don Messick) in colonial times.

I think you can see why this series was a flop.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

There's hope for Peanuts fans after all

 You might say Apple's been shamed into this.

The tech giant will repurpose A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which will begin streaming on Apple TV+ next week, on PBS & PBS Kids on Sunday. Three weeks later, A Charlie Brown Christmas, marking its 55th anniversary, will air on both channels.

Now, you have to believe that if this works out as well as we all think it should, Apple & PBS will team next year to bring It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown back to broadcast television, or maybe have more specials & movies show up on PBS Kids.

Finally, Charlie Brown and friends get a break they deserve.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Spectre (2010)

 Ever since, let's say, the 1970's, DC Comics' The Spectre has been repackaged as a iteration of the vengeance or wrath of God. Writer Michael Fleischer created fresh interest in the character with a series of grisly stories in Adventure Comics, which provide the basis for this DC Showcase entry.

Film producer Joseph Bremmer (Jeff Bennett) is killed in an explosion, which gets the attention of the Spectre and his mortal alter-ego, Jim Corrigan (both voiced by Gary Cole), who had been dating the producer's daughter (Alyssa Milano, ex-Charmed, Who's The Boss?). Jon Polito is also heard.

Unfortunately, the complete film is unavailable at the moment, so we'll give you the intro:

If there was a DC hero that belonged on [adult swim], it'd be the Spectre. Fleischer would've been proud of this production.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Toon Rock: Baby on Board (1993)

 The Simpsons kicked off season 5 with "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", which purports to explain how Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Apu (Hank Azaria), Principal Skinner (Harry Shearer), and Barney (Castellaneta) were in a group known as the Be-Sharps, a parody of the Beatles. Bart & Lisa find a Be-Sharps LP at a swap meet, and that leads to Homer explaining the group's history.

The following performance of "Baby on Board", on the roof of Moe's Tavern, is a send-up of the Beatles' famous rooftop farewell concert. George Harrison appears briefly.

The Dapper Dans, a Disneyland barbershop quartet, actually did the singing, mixed in with the actors' voices. As we all know, of the three actors, only Shearer (Spinal Tap and related acts) had any previous musical experience.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman-Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010)

 Ever since the late 80's, DC has repackaged Captain Marvel, now known as Shazam, having taken the name from the wizard who gave him his powers, as Billy Batson's mind in an adult body. Inspired, one must guess, by the Tom Hanks movie, "Big", which came out the same year.

10 years ago, DC released "Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam" as the centerpiece of a DVD compilation of Showcase short subjects, two of which were already reviewed.

Taking place prior to the infamous New 52 reboot a year later, Billy (Zach Callison, later of Steven Universe) is all alone, having been tossed out of a foster home. You know most of the origin story, I'm sure, even as it's been rebooted for the 21st century.

Meanwhile, Black Adam (Arnold Vosloo, "The Mummy") returns to Earth after many years away, seeking to avenge himself upon the wizard Shazam (James Garner, in his final role), or his champion. Billy meets with Clark Kent (George Newbern, reprising as both Clark & Superman from Justice League Unlimited) for a Daily Planet story. Adam attacks, and, well, we're off and running.

Jerry O'Connell voices Captain Marvel, reprising also from Justice League Unlimited.

Following is a trailer:

It's only 25 minutes, flying by faster than the proverbial speeding bullet, but way too quick for this kind of feature. Then again, writer Michael Jelenic hasn't exactly proven to be a genius since then (i.e. Teen Titans Go!, Thundercats Roar!).

Rating: A.

Monday, November 16, 2020

From Comics to Toons: A complete episode of Richie Rich (1981)

 From season 2 of Hanna-Barbera's adaptation of Richie Rich:

"Chilly Dog": Dollar (Frank Welker) goes on a cruise, and gets framed for a robbery, forcing him to clear his name, with Richie (Sparky Marcus, ex-The Bad News Bears) helping him via video relay at home.

"Rich Mice": Richie loses his father's favorite coin in a mousehole, so he & Dollar set out to retrieve it.

"King Bee": Richie and his girlfriend, Gloria (Nancy Cartwright), battle the titular villain, another costumed foe with designs on controlling the insect kingdom.

Plus, a pair of "Gems" skits with Reggie (Dick Beals) and Gloria, respectively.

If fans have one complaint, it's the fact that Richie, Gloria, & Reggie, as well as the rest of the kids, were aged up ever so slightly, leaving Richie without his signature attire (bow tie, shorts, etc.). The new look was strictly for television, so that he would look mature as well as resourceful. Joan Gerber (ex-Lancelot Link) is the voice of Irona, Richie's robot bodyguard, who was given shapechanging abilities in this series.

Richie gets showcased here, since former President Obama referenced his successor, Donald Trump, as a grown-up Richie Rich, but without all the positive qualities, in an interview on 60 Minutes.

Rating: B.

How to concede an election in one easy lesson (These Are The Days, 1974)

 While President Trump fumes & fusses over losing his re-election bid 2 weeks ago, denying that it happened while addressing his hardcore supporters, we all know the reality.

America had grown tired of Trump's darker, baser natures coming to the surface, overriding his responsibilities as President. Because he had been pampered for so long growing up, he never understood what it means to accept defeat with dignity.

To that end, we offer this object lesson, courtesy of These Are The Days. Ben Day (Andrew Parks) decides to run for class president, but when the school bully decides to challenge him, it's a test of Ben's own dignity. Featuring the voices of Frank Cady (ex-Green Acres), June Lockhart (ex-Lost in Space, Lassie, Petticoat Junction), Pamelyn Ferdin, Janet Waldo, and Jackie Earle Haley (also heard on Valley of The Dinosaurs this same season).

Where ABC failed with this show was burying it in the lunch hour death zone (12 noon ET). A couple of hours earlier, and maybe it's a hit.

Rating: A.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Animated World of DC Comics: Jonah Hex (2010)

 While his live-action debut was a bomb, Jonah Hex feels more at home in animated form.

Jonah (Thomas Jane, "The Punisher") is on the trail of Red Doc (Michael Rooker), unaware that a murderous hooker (Linda Hamilton, "Terminator 2: Judgement Day", ex-Beauty & The Beast) has already beaten him to the bounty, even if she didn't realize it.

Novelist Joe R. Lansdale, who authored a pair of critically acclaimed miniseries about Jonah for DC's now-defunct Vertigo line, scripted this tale.

A full length DTV would be nice.

Rating: A.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Inspector in Reaux, Reaux, Reaux Your Boat (1966)

 The Inspector (Pat Harrington, Jr.) runs into all sort of problems staying afloat while trying to capture the smuggler, Captain Clamity, in "Reaux, Reaux, Reaux Your Boat".

13 years later, Plastic Man would fight The Clam, another villain with a similar design, but no connection, obviously.

Rating: B-.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Rein-toon-ation: Revenge of The Spy (Fantastic Voyage, 1968)

 Busby Birdwell (Marvin Miller) is on a solo mission when he's trapped by enemy agents. The only way the rest of the CMDF can catch up is via Busby sending the Voyager back to headquarters via autopilot. So begins "Revenge of The Spy", a sequel to an earlier episode of Fantastic Voyage:

Rating: B.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Where The Action Is (1965)

 A ways back, we took a look at Dick Clark's Where The Action Is over at The Land of Whatever, but we're not going to regurgitate that exact entry. Not when we've uncovered more information.

You see, Action was originally pitched not to ABC, which eventually picked up the show, but CBS, which denied itself the opportunity to pick up a piece of the youth demographic that ABC had mined with American Bandstand, which had moved from weekdays to Saturdays, and the primetime series Shindig!, while NBC countered with Hullabaloo. At the time, the "Tiffany of The Networks" was skewing more toward older viewers.

A pilot episode was produced for CBS in January 1965. Writers Norm Liebmann & Ed Haas and producer-director Norman Abbott had been working on CBS' The Munsters at that time, and Abbott would later direct episodes of Ghost Busters a decade later. Another familiar name in the credits is choreographer Toni Basil. Nearly 20 years later, she was atop the pop charts with "Mickey". Small world, isn't it?

Anyway, Youcandancetoit, a Bandstand fan channel on YouTube, uploaded the pilot, with guests Frankie Avalon, Dick & Dee Dee, Paul Revere & The Raiders (the show's house band for the first year when it went to series 5 months later), Bobby Rydell, and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

Action, trimmed to a half hour, launched on ABC in June '65, and lasted 21 months before being cancelled in March 1967. CBS & Clark would break bread a few years later, when Bob Stewart hired Clark to host The $10,000 Pyramid.

No rating.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

You Know The Voice: Keith Andes (1959)

 Before being cast as the voice of Birdman, Keith Andes was a respected character actor. Unless I'm wrong, 1959's This Man Dawson might've been his one and only lead role on TV in front of the cameras.

Dawson lasted just 1 season, but the sample episode offers the idea that maybe it could've lasted longer.

Watch close, too, for Barney Phillips (ex-Dragnet) in a supporting role. Rocky & His Friends narrator William Conrad has those chores here, and also is a producer.

More on this over at The Land of Whatever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Literary Toons: Winnie The Pooh & a Day For Eeeyore (1983)

 Ok, this one's going to be a little confusing.

Winnie The Pooh's final theatrical featurette for Disney was 1983's "Winnie The Pooh & a Day For Eeeyore". It'd been 9 years since the last theatrical release, during which time the previous ones had been airing on television, usually as stand-alone primetime specials for NBC.

The credits shown on the screen as this begins are radically different from the actual product. For example, per other sources, Hal Smith (Owl) doubled as Winnie, though Jim Cummings is credited, not so much as Winnie, but the story is that Cummings, Tress MacNeille, and others were brought in for re-dubs for a later DVD/Blu-Ray release that apparently was aborted. Tress was supposed to be voicing Kanga, but the role actually was performed by Julie McWhirter-Dees (ex-Casper & The Angels, Jeannie, etc.). The obvious constant at the time is Paul Winchell as Tigger.

Laurie Main was given the envious task of succeeding the late Sebastian Cabot as narrator. We know from the later New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh that Cummings would not only assume the role of Winnie, but would also do a near-perfect mimic of Sterling Holloway's characterization, as Smith comes up short there.

Here we go:

Rating: B.

Game Time: Meet Bob Clampett (To Tell The Truth, 1975)

 45 years ago this month, on To Tell The Truth, animation legend Bob Clampett was a contestant, following behind William Hanna and actor-writer Jack Mercer (Popeye). Host Garry Moore and the panel (Bill Cullen, Peggy Cass, Nipsey Russell, & Kitty Carlisle) were probably fans as youths.

Clampett plays the first game, but they couldn't get Mel Blanc to do any voiceovers for a man in a Bugs Bunny costume. "Bugs" enters with Moore at the start, and returns to identify Clampett around the 11 minute mark.

A YouTube commentator noted that Clampett's hairstyle resembled that of singer Roy Orbison. Ehhhh, could be!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Coming Attractions: Freakazoid returns......on Teen Titans Go!

 Well, you knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It's just happening sooner than we thought.

Freakazoid, the last of Steven Spielberg's original collaborations with WB in the 90's, is making at least a 1-shot return Saturday.......on Teen Titans Go! on Chumptoon Network.

The plot, such as it is, has Freakazoid (Paul Rugg) teaming up with the Titans to battle his arch-nemesis, the Lobe, who is joining forces with the Brain (the leader of the Brotherhood of Evil). If you were expecting WB's Brain and his dimwitted sidekick, Pinky, fuhgeddaboutit! With the revived Animaniacs, featuring Pinky & The Brain as a back-up feature, just like the old days, debuting on Hulu a week later, CN wanted to get a bit of a jump, but there's no way they'd give Hulu any free publicity. The evil mouse has already appeared on TTG!, along with one of the Warner brothers from Animaniacs, so that ship already sailed. 

Then again, TTG!'s producers aren't exactly brain surgeons, and think we aren't, either.

The episode premieres at 9:15 am (ET) on Saturday, and will be available On Demand soon after. You've been warned.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Remembering Ken Spears (1938-2020)

 Three months after his long time friend and writing/business partner, Joe Ruby, had passed on, Ken Spears, who began his cartoon career as a sound editor at Hanna-Barbera in 1959, has passed away from Lewy's Body Dementia, the same disease that claimed radio & cartoon legend Casey Kasem six years ago.

Image courtesy of Variety.

Spears, with Ruby, had created Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? for Hanna-Barbera & CBS in 1969, kicking off a string of series for not only H-B, but also DePatie-Freleng (1972-5). Ruby & Spears' 1st foray into live-action came in 1974 when 20th Century Fox hired the duo to work as consultants on Planet of The Apes, a short-lived primetime adaptation of the movie series. A subsequent Saturday morning series co-produced by DFE & Fox for NBC the following year, strangely, didn't have Ruby or Spears credited, ending their run at the studio.

The team returned to Hanna-Barbera in 1976, and created Jabberjaw, Dynomutt, & Captain Caveman over a 2 year period, during which time they also developed the live-action components (most of them, anyway) of Krofft Supershow, most notably Electra Woman & DynaGirl. They launched their own production company in 1978 with Fangface, and contributed mightily to ABC's Weekend Special series. One such entry, "The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy", led to a weekly series, The Puppy's Great Adventures, a few years later. Their first sales to NBC, Mr. T & Alvin & The Chipmunks, followed in 1983.

The studio was, in fact, still active until recently. Now, we'll see how WarnerMedia, which owns most of the Ruby-Spears catalogue from the early years, honors the team.

Rest in peace.

You Know The Voice: Louise Williams (1979)

 A few months back, we had an episode of 13 Queens Boulevard up, but had to take it down when said episode was deleted by YouTube.

Louise Williams was, well, moonlighting, if ya will, landing her 2nd primetime series gig (she joined the cast of Busting Loose in its 2nd season in 1977), but this series, also co-starring Eileen Brennan & Jerry Van Dyke, was a bomb, as ABC burned it off during the spring of 1979.

In this excerpt, Louise appears around the 40 second mark.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dynomutt in The Great Brain.....Train Robbery (1976)

 Dynomutt (Frank Welker) and Blue Falcon (Gary Owens) battle the Gimmick, whose remote control crimes look like a homage to comic strip legend Rube Goldberg. We didn't see "The Great Brain...Train Robbery" the first time, so there's no rating.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Seventeen Ain't Young (1968)

 From The Archie Show comes "Seventeen Ain't Young". Well, for pre-schoolers, it might've been like that, but you're still young when you're a teenager eventually.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hector Heathcote in The First Fast Mail (1961)

 The fact that President Trump decided to purposely sabotage the Postal Service in a misguided effort to win re-election, an effort that ultimately failed, by the way, leads us to go back in time with Hector Heathcote (John Myhers) as he is placed at the origins of the Pony Express, the forerunner to today's Postal Service. Here's "The First Fast Mail".

Resource information tells us Hector was supposed to be 18. The ambiguity of cartoons allows him to be at different points in history without aging, but, well....!

Rating: B.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Toonfomercial: A very different Cocoa Pebbles commercial (1974)

 Most of the animated ads for Post's Pebbles line of cereals featured only Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Fred's wife, Wilma (Jean VanderPyl), rarely appeared in the early ads in the 70's.

In this 1974 spot, Wilma joins Fred (Alan Reed), and, later, Barney (Mel Blanc) for breakfast.....

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Daytime Heroes: Highlander: The Animated Series (1994)

 The success of the Highlander film & television franchise was bound to include an animated incarnation.

In 1994, a collaboration between Bohbot Entertainment and Gaumont, a French-Canadian studio, brought that animated Highlander to the US, airing initially on USA Network weekly as part of Cartoon Express before moving into syndication.

Set 7 centuries in the future, Highlander tells the tale of one Quentin MacLeod, the last of his clan, but, unlike the live-action series & movies, the immortals do not kill to gain their opponent's life force. Instead, there is a sharing and exchange of knowledge, necessary to fulfill FCC guidelines for educating young audiences.

In all, 40 episodes were produced over two seasons, but the series has not seen the light of day in nearly 25 years in this country.

Following is the series premiere, "The Last of The MacLeods":

Rating: B-.

You Know The Voice: Larry Storch (1971)

 As we know, after F-Troop ended its run, Larry Storch supplemented his voice work (i.e. Cool Cat) with various guest appearances in primetime. We've previously seen him on Mannix. Soon, we'll pull up something from Love, American Style.

However, we've got a 1971 episode of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Larry appears in three sketches with Glen, including one in drag around the 12 minute mark, and in a pirate skit with Glen and Liberace. Additional guests include Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Reed, and Neil Diamond. Murray Langston, later known as the Unknown Comic, was part of the repertory company.

Too bad they didn't have room to let Larry sing, too.......

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Sunday Funnies: Don Coyote in Pity The Poor Pirate (1989-90)

 Don Coyote (Frank Welker) shares the same mental illness as his human counterpart, Don Quixote. However, something got lost in the translation to a funny animal cartoon. You have to feel sorry for Sancho Panda (Don Messick), who has to keep Coyote's mind on point.

Here's the opener, "Pity The Poor Pirate":

No rating.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Thanksgiving Toons: Grams Bear's Thanksgiving Surprise (Care Bears Family, 1986)

 When the Care Bears changed animation studios from DIC to Nelvana in season 2, there came with it two bigger changes. One was a title change to Care Bears Family. The other was shifting from 1st run syndication to ABC, where it spent 1 1/2 seasons before being cancelled in the winter of 1988.

From that 1st ABC season comes this Thanksgiving episode, "Grams Bear's Thanksgiving Surprise", in which a human enemy, Sour Sam, schemes to ruin the holiday.

ABC's association with Nelvana began a year earlier when the Canadian studio was given a license for a pair of Star Wars animated series, Ewoks & Droids, and continued into the early 90's.

No rating.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Saturday School: Pipe Dreams (Saved by The Bell, 1991)

 When a local oil firm begins drilling for oil at Bayside High, everything seems normal at first. However, it also proves to be an environmental hazard with consequences that the oil company never considered.

From season 3 of the original Saved by The Bell, "Pipe Dreams" was one of the better episodes of the season. The complete episode can only be found on Peacock, as only excerpts are presently available on YouTube. We'll forego the risk of having to replace videos and serve up a screen shot instead:

To think this story began with Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) caring for Becky, the duck, over the weekend.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Animated World of DC Comics: Supeman: Man of Tomorrow (2020)

 Based in part on the miniseries of the same name, as well as another miniseries, American Alien, and some other recent material, "Superman: Man of Tomorrow" offers a different take on the Man of Steel's early years.

Clark Kent (Darren Criss, ex-Glee) is merely an intern at the Daily Planet, and Lois Lane a graduate student, but things change when a failed rocket launch supervised and underwritten by Lex Luthor (Zachary Quinto) reveals an elaborate scam perpetuated by Luthor, who ends up going to jail. Lois gets her job as an investigative reporter, and, like everyone else, is assigned to find out about a "flying man" who diverted the rocket to avoid disaster.

Unlike past iterations, the Parasite, aka Rudy Jones, is presented as a family man before an unfortunate accident changes his life. A key scene late involving him pays tribute to "Godzilla". You'll see what I mean when you see the movie.

Let's check the trailer:

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice: E. G. Daily (1984-6)

In 2012, Elizabeth "E. G." Daily sought to resurrect her music career by competing on The Voice at age 51, after more than 20 years of voice acting (i.e. Rugrats, Powerpuff Girls). 

You see, in the mid-80's, Daily's focus was on acting and singing. Most folks will recall she played Pee-Wee Herman's girlfriend in "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" (we have a clip of that here in the Archives), in 1985. A year earlier, she recorded "Love in The Shadows" for the movie, "Thief of Hearts". The song was later reissued by her label, A & M, for her debut album, "Wild Child", around the time of "Big Adventure". A remix was released in 1986, which is where we get this video.

I remember reading how fans were upset over the recasting of Powerpuff Girls a few years ago, but think about this. E. G. was in her 50's when she was on The Voice. Chumptoon Network suits may have seen that as an excuse to "go younger", but we don't know that for sure.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Spooktober: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

 It's amazing how NBC passed on this one.

Paul Lynde's only steady gig by 1976 was as the center square on Hollywood Squares, while periodically appearing on Donny & Marie. Still, ABC gave him his first and only primetime special, airing on Halloween weekend. The Osmond sibs make an appearance, unadvertised, plus Florence Henderson, KISS, Margaret Hamilton, Billy Barty, and Roz Kelly. Ernie Anderson is the announcer.

Yes, I previously screened this over at The Land of Whatever a ways back. This show aired on a Friday, and I wasn't home to see it, if memory serves. No rating.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Tooniversary: Drak Pack in Dred Goes Hollywood (1980)

 Hanna-Barbera's Drak Pack turns 40 this year, but if you're wondering if Chumptoon Network or Boomerang would actually deign to do a marathon of this short-lived series, fuhgeddaboutit! This just ain't happening.

In "Dred Goes Hollywood", Dr. Dred (Hans Conreid) uses some trick photography to put the Pack in a movie designed to discredit the heroes. Today, we call it photoshopping.

Bill Calloway is credited as both Frankie & Howler, but in the latter case, it certainly seems as though Bill is trying to impersonate Don Messick, unless resource material got it wrong, and Messick actually did Howler. Hmmmmm.

No rating.

Darkwing Duck flaps again! (DuckTales, 2020)

 After being reintroduced earlier in the series, Darkwing Duck appears in the season 3 DuckTales episode, "Let's Get Dangerous". Yes, that's Darkwing's catchphrase from the original 1991 series, and this, more than anything, is a back-door pilot for a new series that would be a spin-off from the current DuckTales.

Drake Mallard (Chris Diamantopoulos) was introduced as an up and coming actor hired for a movie about Darkwing, a radical change from the original concept. He adopts Gosalyn (Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) as his ward after her efforts to locate her missing grandfather, well, you'll have to see it to find out. Uploaded by DisneyXD's YouTube channel.

DuckTales' 21st century relaunch also created a shared universe for Disney's family of series from the late 80's and early 90's. Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera (Lin-Manuel Miranda), aka Gizmoduck, was rebooted as a Latino because the show's producers felt there hasn't been enough Latino representation in the superhero community, which is actually true. 

I really have to catch up.

Rating: A.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis in Dreams of Flight (1975)

 Jealousy will cloud minds more than any other negative emotion. And it was a recurring theme in Filmation's Secrets of Isis and Shazam! in the mid-70's.

Gender equity plays a role here, too, as a young woman wants to join an aeronautics competition at Larkspur High, but a jealous boy wants to put a stop to that. Here's "Dreams of Flight":

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Coming Attractions: Guess who's coming back now!

 This year marks the 30th anniversary of Tiny Toon Adventures' debut on Fox. What better way to mark the occasion, then, by announcing that the beloved denizens of Acme Acres are finally returning.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. & Variety.

Yes, Buster, Babs, and the gang will return in Tiny Toons Looniversity, which is ticketed, of course, for HBO Max, which, I think, has the rights to the original series. Steven Spielberg has already signed on as executive producer. With another Spielberg series, Animaniacs, set to return next month on Hulu, all that's needed now is to bring back Freakazoid!, and 90's toon fanatics would be in hog heaven. Personally, I'd be happy if they spun off Toby Danger, the back-up feature from Freakazoid! that parodied Jonny Quest long before The Venture Brothers, and let it stand on its own, but that's me.

To paraphrase Stephen King, sometimes, they all come back. Eventually.

Spooktober: All The Gory Details (Tales From The Cryptkeeper, 1994)

 Season 2 of Tales From The Cryptkeeper saw EC's other horror hosts, the Vault Keeper & the Old Witch, envious of the Cryptkeeper becoming a TV star, try to replace him.

The Vault Keeper (David Hemblen) traps the Cryptkeeper (John Kassir) in a newspaper so he can introduce "All The Gory Details"

ABC cancelled the series after 2 seasons, but then Nelvana brought it back as New Tales From The Cryptkeeper for CBS in 1999.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Toonfomercial: A space mission to sell cereal? (1979)

 General Foods' advertising agency thought it'd be a clever idea to send some kids into space as ambassadors for Honey Comb cereal. Apparently, though, this was a 1-shot, as the ambassadors sell the cereal to some octopus-like aliens. Jackson Beck is the narrator.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Spooktober: The Time of Their Lives (1946)

 Every now and again, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello would not be partners, but instead be playing individual roles, as is the case in 1946's "The Time of Their Lives".

Lou is a Colonial era tinker, competing with a duplicitous nobleman (Abbott) for a young maid's hand. Circumstances result in Horatio (Costello) and the wife of another nobleman being mistakenly branded as traitors and killed, leaving their ghosts to haunt the grounds until their innocence can be proven. Gale Sondergaard and Marjorie Reynolds co-star.

Abbott essays a dual role, as he also portrays a modern descendant of the nobleman, seeking to atone for his ancestor's misdeeds. Costello may be the same bumbling soul he usually played, but here he's brave instead of cowardly, motivated by the pursuit of innocence.

No rating.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Spooktober: Popeye in Spooky Swabs (1957)

 It was the end of an era.

After more than 20 years, Paramount Studios rolled out the last Popeye theatrical short in the summer of 1957, "Spooky Swabs". Paramount, of course, had distributed every one of the sailor's adventures, dating back to his days with the Fleischers.

Popeye (Jack Mercer) & Olive (Mae Questel) are stranded at sea until they happen across a 17th century ghost ship....

You might wonder how Popeye, in the 20th century, could eat a can of spinach that's roughly 300 years old. It's a cartoon. No need to wonder.

Rating: B.

Spooktober: The Ghostbusters meet the Headless Horseman (1986)

 Washington Irving's legendary Headless Horseman had the distinction of encountering both sets of animated Ghostbusters. Filmation's team actually befriended the Horseman after Jake Kong, Jr. learned to forgive him for the past, and the Horseman comes in handy on a time trip.

Was it necessary to give this Horseman an actual head? Maybe, for comic effect.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Spooktober: Pac-Man meets Pac-Mummy and has a Nighty Nightmare (1982)

 Pac-Man (Marty Ingels) has to travel to rescue wife Pepper (Barbara Minkus, ex-Love, American Style) and Pac-Baby when Mezmaron conscripts a "Pac-Mummy" to do his bidding. Plus, "Nighty Nightmare".

Edit, 7/28/21: The video has been deleted by YouTube. If/when it returns, we'll bring it back.

This was actually listed in Wikipedia in reverse order.

Rating: C.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Spooktober: Witch-Cat (CBS Storybreak, 1985)

 Following is a 1993 rebroadcast of a season 2 episode of CBS Storybreak, which adapts Witch-Cat.

The plot is fairly simple. The title feline is sent to the 20th century to train a young witch, who up to this point has no idea she has powers. Voice talent includes Joan Gerber (ex-Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp) and Marilyn Schreffler (ex-The All New Popeye Hour).

This copy has edited off the original Bob Keeshan bumpers. A 1993 replay would have an intro by Malcolm Jamal-Warner (The Cosby Show), who'd taken over as host when Storybreak was revived after a few years' absence. Unfortunately, there are no bumpers at all.

No rating.

On The Air: Muppet Babies (2018)

 Disney knows what to do with Jim Henson's Muppet franchise.

After a primetime sitcom featuring the classic characters ended up cancelled after 1 season on ABC (2015-6), Disney brought back Muppet Babies for Disney Junior two years ago. It's flown under the radar to this point, but that is all about to change.

The new series introduces a new character, Summer Penguin, who may or may not show up with the adult versions of the gang in future projects, we just don't know. Nanny, now known as Ms. Nanny, appears to be younger than in the original 1984-91 series, voiced by Jenny Slate (ex-Saturday Night Live). The CGI animation makes the gang so much more lifelike, and they've added those curmudgeons from The Muppet Show, Statler & Waldorf, much younger, of course, and commentating from the upper levels of their building (of course).

Aside from Jenny Slate, the voice talent also includes toon vets Cree Summer and Eric Bauza, and from what we've seen, the show is on point, already renewed for a 3rd season, which, given how "seasons" are defined differently on cable, means 3 "seasons" in just 2 years.

I chose the image above, rather than run the risk of pulling a video that's likely to be taken down by YouTube, because there's something in the wind that may create some unpleasant tension for the series' future.

You see, veteran writer Jeffrey Scott, who helped develop the original series, among his many toon credits (i.e. Super Friends), is alleging that Disney is using his story bible from the original series for the new show, without his consent, and is filing suit. Expect this to be settled out of court in due course.

Just like the original, the new Muppet Babies gets an A.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Toon Rock: Three Little Bops (1957)

 We had this up a while ago, but it was bounced due to copyright issues. Let's try this again.

"Three Little Bops" reposits the Three Little Pigs as a swinging jazz trio, with the Big Bad Wolf trying to crash the act. Stan Freberg narrates, and voices the pigs & wolf. Music by Shorty Rogers and friends.

Yeah, we can only present the title card. Bummer, man.

It's too bad Friz Freleng couldn't follow this up, but some of the musicians that backed Rogers on this short followed Freleng as he founded DePatie-Freleng nearly a decade later, and did some of the music for the Ant & The Aardvark.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Spooktober: Monster Tails (1990)

 Monster Tails was the other animated component of the short-lived Wake, Rattle, & Roll 30 years ago. These monsters are meant to be the pets of the familiar ghouls (i.e. Dracula). When you're only given 5-6 minutes per short, 5 days a week, you need to make a good first impression. Since the series was cancelled, with rerun rights granted to a then-premium Disney Channel, you can imagine that they didn't, even with talent like Charlie Adler (Tiny Toon Adventures) and Jonathan Winters (ex-Smurfs, Mork & Mindy).

In "New Corpses on The Slab", Igor, Jr. (Adler), shut out of getting tickets to see The Graveyard Gang in concert, creates his own band (a parody of New Kids on The Block, who had their own show on ABC that same year).

I think viewers took one look at Igor, Jr., a nerdy hunchback, and said, thanks, but no thanks.

Rating: B-.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Suzy Cute? (1965)

 Topper Toys usually lagged miles behind its competitors (i.e. Mattel, Kenner, Hasbro) back in the day, no matter how hard they tried.

To that end, the company hired jazz icon Louis Armstrong to help sell Suzy Cute around 1965 or so. To tell you the truth, I think poor Suzy was off the market by the end of the decade.....!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

If you want to watch the classic Peanuts holiday specials, you need to stream

 The current rights holders to the Peanuts specials have decided to take the classics, such as It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, off broadcast TV, and move them to the Apple+ TV streaming service.

You know how it is. It's all about the dolla-dolla bill, y'all. There's more money to be made in streaming these cartoons online, and while Apple will stream it for free for a few days, don't count on them doing that every year. If you don't feel streaming is an option, you might want to see if it's still available on DVD.

Apple's doing the same thing next month with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, but not with December's A Charlie Brown Christmas. I guess they're hoping you buy the stream as a holiday gift, or something.

Here's the intro:

Monday, October 19, 2020

Literary Toons: Chocolate Fever (1985)

 Here's another CBS Storybreak entry:

Robert Kimmel Smith's Chocolate Fever comes to television, adapted by the author himself.

Henry (David Mendenhall) is like a lot of ordinary kids, except that he just doesn't have a sweet tooth when it comes to chocolate. It's an addiction of sorts, and it leads to the titular affliction, which brings with it an important lesson.....!

This one has the bumpers with Bob Keeshan.

Too bad Henry hasn't learned his lesson.......!

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

When Icons Meet: Lassie Meets The Lone Ranger (1959)

 At the end of the 5th season, Lassie, by this point now produced by Jack Wrather, had a crossover of a sort with another property owned by Wrather at the time-----The Lone Ranger!

The "Peace Patrol" referenced in the title was a promotion associated with Lone Ranger, and Timmy (Jon Provost), along with Lassie, joins up. Clayton Moore guest stars.

Note: Part of the opening credits, and the closing credits, have been edited off.

There is another copy that has the complete opening credits, but a shorter running time, and part of the opening scene was edited off that copy.

No rating.

Animated World of DC Comics: Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (2019)

 Ten years after her first DCAU DTV, Wonder Woman returns in an all-new adventure, "Wonder Woman: Bloodlines".

An updated, abridged version of the origin is told, as Diana (Rosario Dawson, ex-Luke Cage, The Defenders, etc.) leave Themyscira, disowned by her mother after freeing Steve Trevor (Jeffrey Donovan, ex-Burn Notice), in order to thwart an alien invasion.

Five years later, a new threat arises, involving some familiar enemies of the Amazing Amazon. Familiar, at least, to long time comics fans. IGN offers a trailer:

Much of the film is built around reimagined versions of some of the characters, including Etta Candy (Adrienne C. Moore, Orange is The New Black), who was flipped to African-American under writer Greg Rucka. Having seen Ms. Moore's picture, I'm guessing the design for Etta in the movie might partially be based on the actress herself.

One of the funnier bits involves the use of a minotaur (Michael Dorn), who eventually joins Diana's team. That's all I'm going to say for right now. Meanwhile, some genius decided to give Trevor a beard, designed such that you'd be forgiven if Steve was mistaken for Oliver Queen....!

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Spooktober: The Monster's Ring (1987)

 From CBS Storybreak:

Bruce Coville's The Monster's Ring was adapted by Hanna-Barbera Australia for Storybreak, and follows a familiar path. A troubled youth, a victim of bullying, acquires a strange ring that turns him into, well.....!

Host Bob Keeshan's bumpers were edited off. Don't ask.

No rating.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Spooktober: Night of The Living Doo (2001)

 After a colossal stink bomb that was The Scooby-Doo Project in 1999, Cartoon Network tried to do right by its viewers and fans of the franchise with another Halloween-themed special 2 years later.

Night of The Living Doo is a left-handed nod to the 1972-4 New Scooby-Doo Movies, as well as a parody of George Romero's classic, "Night of The Living Dead". As advertised, Gary Coleman, David Cross, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are the guests, plus Mark Hamill, the only one of the lot with any previous interaction with Scooby & the gang (Mark, remember, voiced Corey on Jeannie, and there was a crossover during season 2 of the Movies).

CN copied their strategy from 2 years earlier, releasing short interstital chapters before the final product aired to end the Halloween marathon. However, the pacing was a wee bit off. Not good.

Rating: B-.