Sunday, May 31, 2020

Tooniversary: Spider-Man in Knight Must Fall (1970)

Scholars know that ABC had, in fact, cancelled Spider-Man after 2 seasons, but then it went back into production and returned in the spring of 1970 for a 3rd & final season, again under the direction of Ralph Bakshi.

In "Knight Must Fall", Spider-Man (Paul Soles) has to deal with a rogue in shining armor passing himself off as Sir Galahad, but behaving more like a modern-day Robin Hood, short on virtue and long on greed.

Rating: B-.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Game Time: Jonny Quest: Time is Running Out (2000?)

As Boomerang marks its 20th anniversary this year, it's time to look back at some of the network interstitals that aired between shows, back when Boomerang was ad-free.

You know how this works, they'll show a movie projector, presumably a Kenner model, with Pixie & Dixie action figures perched in front, then go to something like this next item, paying homage to Jonny Quest.

The James Taylor Quartet gives Hoyt Curtin's legendary theme a workout, while Jonny, Hadji, Race, & Bandit are used on a game board. Sound bytes from classic episodes with the voices of Tim Matheson, Mike Road, Danny Bravo, & Don Messick.

Like, swank, man.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress (1973)

The curious part about the Hollies' 1972 hit, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" was that singer-songwriter-guitarist Allan Clarke, who'd written the song a couple of years earlier, had left the band by the time it was reissued as a single.

Just the same, the band appeared on The Midnight Special to play "Long Cool Woman"......

Monday, May 25, 2020

On The Air: The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo (2020)

Meet the world's youngest talk show host.

Sesame Street spins off one of its most popular Muppet characters, Elmo, into his own HBO Max series, which officially begins streaming tomorrow, along with Looney Tunes Cartoons (previously reviewed).

Elmo (voice of Ryan Dillon) is 3 1/2, although announcer Cookie Monster, speaking in coherent sentences for a change, says Elmo is 3. The new show, a cross between The Muppets and the short-lived talk show/sitcom My Talk Show, since it's set in Elmo's living room, has the potential to be a hit.

The funny thing is, Elmo, while he didn't get his name until much, much later, is actually turning 40 this year, having debuted during season 11 of Sesame Street, when he was known internally as Short Red. The Jonas Brothers guest star in the series opener, which HBO Max supplied to YouTube:

What this show teaches is that children learn how to set goals at an early age. They learn about ambition. Season 1 is 13 weeks.

Prediction: Like Street, Elmo will eventually be repurposed on PBS and/or PBS Kids.

Rating: A-.

On DVD: Justice League Doom (2012)

Divide & conquer.

It's a simple strategy that enabled villains to get the best of the Justice League in many an issue of Justice League of America over the years.

2012's "Justice League Doom" uses six of the original seven League members, subbing in Cyborg (Bumper Robinson, ex-Night Court) for the absent Aquaman, in a tale pitting the League against a newly formed Legion of Doom, led not by Lex Luthor, but, rather, by the immortal Vandal Savage (Phil Morris).

Had they ever considered to make a feature film based on the 1978-9 Challenge of The Super Friends series, which introduced the Legion, this would've been a good idea, except that this is far more violent than media nannies would've ever allowed the TV series to be back then. In fact, only one original Legion member, Cheetah, appears here.

Since Savage hadn't initially accounted for Cyborg, he's the only one without a Legion counterpart. The Martian Manhunter (Carl Lumbly, ex-Alias) is poisoned by his own brother, Malefic (Lumbly again), wearing the form of a human female. Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) clashes with Cheetah, who also uses a form of poison on her nemesis. Batman (Kevin Conroy), in his civilian identity as Bruce Wayne, is ambushed by Bane after the latter relocates the graves of Wayne's parents as a lure. Green Lantern (Nathan Filion, Castle) is similarly trapped by Star Sapphire, the alter-ego of his on-again, off-again, girlfriend/employer, Carol Ferris, using some of the Scarecrow's fear toxin. More poison. Superman (Tim Daly) tries talking down a suicidal Daily Planet employee, only to discover said employee is a disguise for Metallo (Paul Blackthorne, 8 months before Arrow made him a household name). The Flash (Michael Rosenbaum, ex-Smallville) is in a race for his life thanks to Mirror Master.

It should be pointed out here that Rosenbaum is voicing Barry Allen here, instead of Wally West, as he did on Justice League/Justice League Unlimited (2001-4), and thus sounds a little more serious here than he did as the clowny, flirty Wally. Had to get that in there.

Here's the trailer:

A classic Silver Age plot with modern technology and storytelling. One of the better entries in the DCAU DTV series.

Rating: A+.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

On The Air: Looney Tunes Cartoons (2020)

Four days away from its official launch, HBO Max serves up a watch party for Looney Tunes Cartoons. Bugs Bunny (Eric Bauza) is our announcer.

On tap:

Tweety & Sylvester in "Boo! Appetweet".

Bugs & Elmer Fudd in "Plunger", a silent spot.

Daffy Duck in "Bubble Dum".

Edit, 2/1/21: The video has been privatized. In its place, we'll use the show logo, like so:

"Boo! Appetweet" draws most of its inspiration from Tex Avery, specifically the oft-copied Droopy gags. "Plunger" is what it is, a fun filler. "Bubble Dum" presents two iterations of Daffy in one. Yes, he's the screwball duck we remember, but he's also a bit of a dimbulb, as presented on The Looney Tunes Show, because who else would think "street gum" is good to eat?

Plus, the Behind the Scenes bit with Bugs showing how he's drawn is a good way, as he points out, of acknowledging his 80th birthday.

Rating: A.

Getting Schooled: Rookie of The Year (ABC Afterschool Special, 1973)

From season 2 of the ABC Afterschool Special:

When a Little League team on the verge of a championship loses a key player, an 11 year old girl, working as an assistant to the team manager, is asked to step in. Future Oscar winner Jodie Foster, in her 2nd appearance on Afterschool Special, stars in "Rookie of The Year":

This episode has never been released on DVD, despite Foster's body of cinematic work since. You'd think someone would've wanted to get this out there.

Anyway, Jodie would return in season 3's "The Secret Life of TK Dearing" for her final appearance in the anthology series.

Personal note: While Little League became co-ed in 1972 nationally, it took about 3-4 years before Troy's Central Little League followed suit, likely the last of the city's leagues to do so.

No rating.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Literary Toons: The Black Arrow (1973)

From Famous Classic Tales:

Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow, which is actually part of a much larger tome, was adapted by Australia's Air Programs International in 1973.

The plot centers on a young man who is the ward of a knighted nobleman. The Fellowship of The Black Arrow is targeting said nobleman, and, as it turns out, the Fellowship has something in common with another notable literary archer.....

No rating. Didn't see this the first time.

You Know The Voice: Allan Melvin (1970)

Bionic Disco serves up this next item.

Allan Melvin (The Brady Bunch) has but one line as a football referee in this 1970 offering for Kellogg's Corn Flakes. The fact that a player is being hassled by his mom while he's on the field might've inspired Campbell's to link up athletes with their moms to shill for Chunky Soup for so many years.

Voice-over at the end by Paul Frees.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Toonfomercial: Remember Dr. Brainstein? (19??)

The National Dairy Council used to commission animated PSA's on a regular basis during the 60's, 70's, & 80's.

One of the goofiest was this next item. Howard Morris voices Dr. Brainstein, and if you don't know what this is a spoof of, where've you been, pilgrim?

Forgive the video quality once again. How do I know it's Morris? Same vocal mannerisms as, say for example, Mayor McCheese.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: My Town & Hard Time (1983)

Cleveland's Michael Stanley Band peaked at #39, just barely cracking the top 40, in the fall of 1983 with "My Town", but it was enough to get them on not only American Bandstand, but also Solid Gold. The following video compilation covers appearances on both shows. To wit:

Bandstand: Dick Clark introduces the band, interviews them in between songs. "Hard Time" is the 2nd track, which didn't chart.

Solid Gold: Marilyn McCoo introduces an edited version of "My Town":

Monday, May 18, 2020

On The Air: Scooby-Doo & Guess Who? (2019)

Scooby-Doo & Guess Who? is a call-back to the 1972-4 New Scooby-Doo Movies with its mix of celebrity guest stars, along with some other familiar characters. It's also a good way of marking Scooby's 50th anniversary, which was last year.

First season guests have included Wanda Sykes (more recently heard on Harley Quinn), Ricky Gervais (ex-Child Support), Jaleel White, reprising his iconic Family Matters role as Steve Urkel, more than 20 years after that series ended, and, in the series opener, NBA star and State Farm salesman Chris Paul, who's found another sport. Golf.

The gang meets Batman "for the first time" in this continuity (Kevin Conroy guest starred in the mid-season finale), and also met up with Wonder Woman and the Funky Phantom and his team, with Tom Kenny doing his best Daws Butler impersonation as Mudsy. The plots, of course, are still interchangeable after 50 years, but the real fun is seeing the gang interact with a new generation of celebrity guests. I found it amusing that Paul is buds with Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, Good Girls). Well, at least Alfonso Ribiero didn't crash this party. If you've seen recent State Farm ads, you'll know what I mean.

I'll happily pick up the DVD....!

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Frank Welker

In 2015, Saturday Morning Rewind composed a compilation of a multitude of Frank Welker's voice roles in movies and cartoons. Three years later, they added an extra six minutes of footage.

The compilation starts with Frank and Maurice LaMarche in the recording studio for an episode of Real Ghostbusters, then Frank demonstrates some of his Muppet Babies characters.

The update is well-timed, considering that last year, Frank marked 50 years of voice work. Frank can be heard essaying the title role in "S.C.O.O.B.", now available for streaming instead of in theatres due to coronavirus.

Sunday Funnies: A town built around insurance? Welcome to Peytonville (2019)

We took a deeper dive into this over at The Land of Whatever, but after a few years of silly spots where he tried to pass himself off as an aspiring songwriter, Peyton Manning now thinks Nationwide's vision is that of a town built around insurance.

Welcome to Peytonville debuted last year, continuing Manning's insufferable appearances during NFL telecasts and elsewhere, and all but killing country singer Brad Paisley's career as his sidekick. However, we have discovered that this could finally springboard Manning into doing other projects in Hollywood.

In this spot, which premiered a few weeks back, Manning has found what he thinks is the most important player in his little action figure village. Did he pillage the Fisher-Price vaults for the citizens?

With apologies to XTC, Manning is the real "Mayor of Simpleton", and we're stuck with him.

Rating: B--.

Friday, May 15, 2020

You Know The Voices: Hal Smith & Pamelyn Ferdin (1965-6)

This next item is covered in more detail over at The Land of Whatever.

Hal Smith (Otis from The Andy Griffith Show) plays a sign painter in the early moments of the unsold pilot, And Baby Makes Three, starring James Stacy and Joan Blondell, produced & directed by Richard Crenna (ex-The Real McCoys, Our Miss Brooks, Slattery's People). Then, wait a few minutes for 6 year old Pam Ferdin as a patient with a sprained foot. Her scenes with Stacy are just adorable.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Toonfomercial: Remember when Raid introduced an indoor fogger? (1984)

SC Johnson's Raid line of bug sprays have been around for years, with the advertising dating back nearly 70 years.

In 1984, the company added an indoor fogger to the line, accompanied, of course, by an animated commercial. Frank Welker & Len Weinrib voice the bugs. Danny Dark (Super Friends) is the narrator.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Looney TV: Fresh Hare (1942)

Our calendar reads the middle of May, and, yes, there was some snow in the hills the other day. This Bugs Bunny entry, "Fresh Hare", may be set in Canada, in the winter, but it was released in August 1942.

Elmer Fudd (Arthur Q. Bryan) is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the hunt for Bugs (Mel Blanc). Watch for the sudden twist ending.

Realistically, Elmer would never have been accepted at that point. The slightly thinner Elmer? Yup.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Toons You Might've Missed: Maggie & Sam in Fowled up Party (1957)

Maggie & Sam was one of Walter Lantz's lesser known series of animated shorts. In fact, only four were produced before Sam (Daws Butler) was spun off on his own, including a guest appearance in a Woody Woodpecker cartoon in the 60's.

Created by Fred "Tex" Avery, the husband & wife team didn't resonate with moviegoers, hence the early hook. Four shorts in two years doesn't sound like much, given how bigger stars like Woody would appear 4-6 times a year on average.

In their final short, 1957's "Fowled up Party", directed by Alex Lovy, Sam's choice of costume for a masquerade party gets him in a peck of trouble. Grace Stafford (Mrs. Walter Lantz) voices Maggie.

I stumbled across this series whilst viewing a montage of Butler's characters, which we'll put up another time.

No rating, just a public service.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Tonight is The Night (1974-5)

From Soul Train:

Betty Wright peaked at #28 in 1975 with "Tonight is The Night". This old school slow jam brought her to Soul Train, but I am not sure of the exact date of her appearance.

This is in memory of Wright, who has passed away at 66.

Friday, May 8, 2020

You Know The Voice: Walt Disney (1956)

There was no way I'd pass this up.

With an anthology series airing on ABC, Walt Disney made an appearance on What's My Line? on Veteran's Day, November 11, 1956. The creator and original voice of Mickey Mouse and host of said anthology series, Disney earned a strong ovation upon appearing on stage.

Also: guest panelist Jerry Lewis makes a pitch for MDA.

Walt was taken away from us too soon, that's all I can say.

Saturday Morning Ringside: George "The Animal" Steele shills for Minolta computers (1985)

I've been waiting for this next item to turn up on YouTube or anywhere else for forever.

In 1985, George "The Animal" Steele (William James Myers) was paired with actor Tony Randall (ex-The Odd Couple, Love, Sidney) in a commercial for Minolta computers. The company, at the time, was better known for making cameras.

What we got here was a mashup of Myers and his alter-ego. Before turning to wrestling full-time, Myers owned degrees from Michigan State & Central Michigan universities, and found the time between tours to coach high school football & track in his native Michigan.

A year earlier, Hulk Hogan, in the unsold pilot for Goldie & The Bears, played an ex-football player who was learning how to use a computer. His character made "The Animal" look more like a genius.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Game Time: Little Red Schoolhouse (1962)

Before Answers Please became a local staple, there was the Little Red Schoolhouse, WRGB's original high school quiz game, one of several series around the country inspired by the popular GE College Bowl, which aired nationally on CBS and NBC until the early 70's.

Schoolhouse began on radio on WGY-AM before shifting to WRGB in 1963. Answers Please, as previously documented, aired as a summer replacement series for adults until taking over the Schoolhouse time slot in 1970.

Video footage is not available, as local stations, much like their network parents, used the practice of "wiping", or eliminating existing footage to save money on fresh tapes, a practice discontinued years later.

Local historian and blogger Chuck Miller obtained the following photo and a few others from the Schenectady Museum to use on his blog:

Personally, I'd rather see someone find whatever footage exists and release it on DVD for future generations. No rating.

You Know The Voice: Alan Oppenheimer

Alan Oppenheimer had originally done some live-action work (i.e. The Six Million Dollar Man, The Partridge Family), but has done mostly voice work in cartoons and movies for the last forty-odd years.

Alan's cartoon credits are numerous, including Flash Gordon, Smurfs, Transformers, He-Man & The Masters of The Universe (1983), She-Ra: Princess of Power, and so many others.

Saturday Morning Rewind caught up with Alan at a convention in 2018, and the following compilation starts with that interview:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Looney TV: Pest Coaster (2020)

In advance of Looney Tunes Cartoons debuting on HBO Max in three weeks, the streaming service is offering a little sneak-peek.

In "Pest Coaster", Bugs Bunny (Eric Bauza) winds up at an amusement park instead of the Congo, but manages renew old hostilities with Yosemite Sam (Fred Tatasciore).......

That should juice up subscriptions.......!

Rating: A.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Saturday School: The Bod Squad (1974)

ABC felt they needed an additional learning tool on Saturday mornings.

So they commissioned DePatie-Freleng to produce a series of interstitals under the umbrella of The Bod Squad. These short pieces would appear regularly, even though they stopped production around the time DFE was sold to Marvel in 1981.

Here's a piece on peanuts, told and sung by Scatman Crothers (Hong Kong Phooey, ex-Harlem Globetrotters):

Rating: A.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Saturday School: Water is good for you (1970's)

I don't have the exact date on this next nugget. All we know is that this was commissioned by ABC, and the producers of Schoolhouse Rock delivered this simple message about drinking water to protect your teeth.

Ain't that the truth!

Saturtainment: The Mind Group (Ark II, 1976)

The crew of Ark II are tasked to rescue a trio of telepathic children from the evil Warlord Brack (Malachi Throne, ex-It Takes a Thief, Lancelot Link). Dawn Lyn (ex-My Three Sons) also guest stars in "The Mind Group":

Brack was the only returning villain in the series' run, and, had Ark II been renewed for a 2nd season, might've been back at least once more.

Rating: B.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Midnight (1970)

From The Groovie Goolies:

The Rolling Headstones perform "Midnight". All of the pre-fab bands on the show were actually the same two artists, Richard Delvy & Ed Fournier, who also did the theme for Will The Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

You Know The Voice: Dallas McKennon (1977)

Most folks of a certain age might know Dallas McKennon as fur trader Cincinnatus on Daniel Boone (1964-70), in addition to his voluminous body of voice work (i.e. Gumby, Archie, Courageous Cat).

After nearly a full decade as the voice of Archie Andrews, Filmation decided to salute McKennon by having him appear in front of the camera for a change, in the series finale of Space Academy.

McKennon plays "Johnny Sunseed", the brother of Commander Isaac Gampu (Jonathan Harris). Unfortunately, the technophobic Sunseed's arrival couldn't come at a worse time, as one by one, the cadets----and, ultimately, Sunseed----fall prey to some hallucinogens that Paul (Ty Henderson) was growing on a space farm.

McKennon also voices the parrot, as if you couldn't guess, and it's a double dose of You Know The Voice, as we can't forget Pamelyn Ferdin (Laura).

This, moreso than the final Archie series over at NBC, marked the end of McKennon's work at Filmation.

Oh, of course, we must also note Jonathan Harris' time in voice work as well, mostly at Hanna-Barbera, including a Saturday Superstar Movie pilot for an animated Lost in Space, so it's actually a trifecta.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Rare Treats: A pilot episode of Sesame Street (1969)

It took five pilots, in all, before NET (now PBS) was able to launch Sesame Street.

Among the items of note:

We get the familiar theme song, sung by Bob McGrath (ex-Sing Along With Mitch), heard but not seen at this juncture. The video picks up the story of two boys who are making their way to the Street.

There, we're introduced to Gordon (Garrett Saunders, who was later replaced), acting as our host for the day.

Letter of the day is D, as illustrated in various sketches and animated cartoons. Independent producer Ken Snyder was responsible for some of the short bits. The producers took liberties with some clips from The New Adventures of Superman and Batman. In the former, we see a clip from "The Chimp Who Made it Big", the chimp in question being Titano, the Super-ape. And Batman (Olan Soule) talks to Ernie & Bert (Jim Henson & Frank Oz), which leads to a failed pilot in its own right....

The Man From Alphabet is a spy spoof of spy spoofs, starring Gary Owens (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop), who was also heard in one of the animated skits.

Scope the show, if you please:

No rating, just a public service.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny meets Pearl Bailey (1973)

Previously, we've seen Bugs Bunny (Mel Blanc) interact with Johnny Brown and Rose Marie. Here's another Yellow Pages ad in the same talk show setting. This time, Bugs chats with singer-actress Pearl Bailey....