Tuesday, June 30, 2020

You Know The Voice: Bud Collyer (1961)

Bud Collyer's work load didn't change in 1961, even though Beat The Clock had been cancelled after having transitioned from CBS to ABC some time prior.

Collyer was given a new series from Goodson-Todman for ABC, Number Please, which, as we noted over at The Land of Whatever, ran for nearly 2 full years. Check it.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Getting Schooled: The Magic School Bus Spins a Web (1996)

Ms. Frizzle and the gang aboard the Magic School Bus take a lesson in insects and arachnids in this episode, which has them being transported into a movie.....

With a new version of the series coming to Netflix, now comes word of a live-action movie, with Elizabeth Banks (Press Your Luck), who bombed out as a director earlier this year with a radical take on Charlie's Angels, signed to play Ms. Frizzle.

No rating. Just a public service.

Tooniversary: Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005)

Inspired by Japanese anime such as Samurai Champloo, but produced in America for Nickelodeon, Avatar: The Last Airbender became an immediate hit when it debuted on Nick in the winter of 2005, giving viewers a break from the relentless spamming of Fairly OddParents and SpongeBob Squarepants.

Part of the story borrows from the Scottish-produced Sherlock Holmes in The 22nd Century, which aired on Fox a few years earlier, in that Aang, the title hero, was awakened from a long slumber in suspended animation, in this case, lasting one full century. Aang is tasked to defeat the Fire Tribe, which is bent on taking full control of the world.

A YouTube fan channel named for Aang offers up the intro:

Avatar ran for three seasons, stretched over 3 1/2 years, giving way to a follow-up series, The Legend of Korra, which continues the story, and also is beloved by fans.

Rating: A.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

You Know The Voice: Larry Storch (1968)

While working on Cool Cat & Merlin The Magic Mouse for WB, Larry Storch (ex-F-Troop) began reinventing himself in front of the camera as well, demonstrating he could do drama just as well as comedy.

In season 1 of Mannix, Larry plays a down-on-his-luck fellow who's got a target on his back while trying to get his ship to come in, if ya will. Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek) and Walter Brooke (ex-The Green Hornet) also guest star.

Edit, 3/30/21: The video has been deleted. In its place for now is a screen cap of Larry from the episode:

Larry's IMDB page confirms what we've suspected all along, that it was he, and not Ted Knight, who was the voice of the Joker on the Filmation Batman cartoon and The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and, as we know, went uncredited. Now, we have to wonder if Larry was nominated for an Emmy for his work in the above episode.....

Toonfomercial: Little Lulu shills for Kleenex (1955)

Marjorie "Marge" Buell's Little Lulu was used as a spokeswoman for Kimberly-Clark's Kleenex facial tissues in the 40's & 50's.

This 1955 ad, narrated by veteran actor Billy Bletcher, has Lulu extolling the traditional white tissues, and new variants in pink & yellow, which I think are off the market now, 65 years later.

Friday, June 26, 2020

It started with Apu: How white actors are giving up minority roles in cartoons

Actor Hank Azaria (The Simpsons, Brockmire) made headlines a year or so ago when he announced he was stepping away from the role of Middle Eastern shop owner Apu on The Simpsons after concerns were raised over offensive stereotyping of characters.

In the midst of the current racial tensions in this country, the producers of Simpsons, along with Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, are following Azaria's lead, and will recast minority parts originally assigned to white actors.

For example, Mike Henry, who parlayed the role of Cleveland Brown on Guy into a spin-off series, is stepping away to turn the gig over to another actor. Similarly, Enterprise Rent-a-Car endorser Kristen Bell (ex-Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars, The Good Place) is leaving Apple TV+'s freshman series, Central Park, from the creators of Fox's Bob's Burgers. Saturday Night Live alumnus Jenny Slate is departing Netflix's Big Mouth. Slate & Bell both realize that while they were cast because of name recognition more than perceived "white privilege", the current environment makes it unwise to continue.

There's bound to be more. There are a few African-American voice actors currently active, including Kevin Michael Richardson, Khary Payton (Young Justice, Teen Titans Go!), Phil LaMarr, and Cree Summer, the latter of whom has been active in the cartoon business well before being cast on A Different World in the late 80's. There's bound to be more with jobs opening up rather quickly. The belief now is that the casting should be reflective of the diversity of our society, not the tradition of having white actors playing characters of all nationalities. The days of Paul Frees and Mel Blanc, remember, ended a while ago.

Retro Toy Chest: Mattel's toon-related toys (1959)

Here's an in-show ad from Matty's Funday Funnies:

Mattel was promoting a set of music boxes for the kiddo's, including Popeye and the Disney gang, plus a new model Mousegetar, spun off from The Mickey Mouse Club, and in turn, adding a similar toy guitar for Popeye (Popguitar?). Marvin Miller is the announcer.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Animated World of DC Comics: Aquaman battles evil in the ocean and in space (1967)

The downside to these Aquaman videos is that the rotating backup features are left out, since those features had their own DVD release.

Both episodes in this video were written by Dennis Marks, who would also write a good chunk of Batman cartoons the next season before resurfacing at Marvel in the 80's.

In "Programmed For Destruction", Aquaman (Marvin Miller) has to stop the Brain (Ted Knight), who has discovered the secret of positive buoyancy. Then, it's off to outer space for Aquaman and Aqualad to end "The War Between The Quatix & The Bimphins".

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Tooniversary: The Beatles in Long Tall Sally (1965)

Everyone knows the late Little Richard made "Long Tall Sally" famous. Al Brodax, head man at King Features Television, thought it might be a good story if they invented a different kind of "Sally", as in a lance, as The Beatles visit another spooky castle in a fog, seeking lodgings.

However, John & Ringo (Paul Frees & Lance Percival) end up inhabiting a pair of cursed suits of armor, ignoring the caretaker (Frees).....

A sing-along of "I'll Follow The Sun" follows:

Way too much use of recycled footage in one episode, particularly Paul & George's reaction shots.

Rating: C.

Toonfomercial: Q*Bert plugs his own video game (1983)

Well before Gottlieb licensed out Q*Bert to Ruby-Spears for CBS' Saturday Supercade, they joined forces with Mattel to produce a home video version of the arcade game.

Q*Bert made his debut in 1982, and if memory serves correctly, the arcade game made an appearance on TBS' Starcade.

Voiceover at the end of the ad by John Bartholomew Tucker.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Pitfall Harry (Saturday Supercade, 1983)

Not every segment of Ruby-Spears' anthology series, Saturday Supercade, survived the first season.

Now, I don't know if this was a case of whether or not a segment like Pitfall! lost viewers or it was a studio or network (CBS) decision to cut the segment (Kangaroo replaced Pitfall! the next season), but what is known is that there were just a small handful of Pitfall! shorts.

Robert Ridgely (ex-Flash Gordon, Thundarr The Barbarian, Tarzan, Lord of The Jungle, etc.) voices Pitfall Harry, a treasure hunter, aided by his niece, Rhonda (Noelle North), and Quickclaw (Kenneth Mars, Smurfs), a one-eyed mountain lion. Hmmmm, maybe Quickclaw was the problem. 10 years after Filmation saddled Lassie with a toothless mountain lion as a part of the Rescue Rangers, you'd think the makers of the Pitfall! video game would figure out a mountain lion wouldn't get over on TV if it wasn't Snagglepuss.

While Harry was inspired by Indiana Jones, viewers just weren't buying. Following is a sample episode, the cleverly named "Raiders of The Lost Shark":

Rating: B.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

When Soul Train went primetime (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 1994)

Will Smith's NBC sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was running on fumes by its fifth season.

For example, Janet Hubert-Whiten left the show, and the role of Aunt Vivian was recast with Daphne Maxwell Reid (ex-Frank's Place) taking over. Also, the family expanded with the addition of Nicky, a pre-schooler by this point (Ross Bagley), a quick acceleration from infant in season 4.

During the November sweeps, there was a crossover with Soul Train, in which Vivian tries to revisit the night Uncle Phil (James Avery, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) had proposed to her. Phil's not willing, so Vivian recruits Will to take his place.

The scene below, however, is a showcase for a showstopper, that being Carlton (Alfonso Ribiero).....

As was normal on the show, Will's effort was an epic fail, getting a "no" gesture from Don Cornelius. Alfonso Ribiero, currently embarrassing himself in a series of ads for State Farm, started on Broadway in "The Tap Dance Kid", which caught the attention of the producers of Silver Spoons. Carlton's Michael Jackson homage is Ribiero paying tribute to the self-styled "King of Pop", whom he worked with years earlier on a Pepsi commercial.

And now you know why Ribiero was a champ on Dancing With The Stars 20 years later.......

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Toonfomercial: Tony The Tiger and a one tiger band? (1958)

Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, originally known as Sugar Frosted Flakes, debuted long running mascot Tony The Tiger (voiced here by Thurl Ravenscroft) in the late 50's. Tony's son, Tony, Jr., figures prominently in this 1958 offering, as a one tiger band under his father's direction. Art Gilmore narrates.

Tony would add a few extra teeth as time passed.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Getting Schooled: Ed Grimley visits Sesame Street (1985)

Mixed in with some repeat segments in a 1985 episode of Sesame Street is a short skit in which Ed Grimley (Martin Short) and his friend, Henry (Billy Crystal, doing a homage to Stan Laurel), attempt to create a clothesline for Ed's shirt, which Henry has washed.

Three years later, Short reached a deal with Hanna-Barbera and NBC to do an animated series built around the Grimley character. Unfortunately, it lasted one season.

A message to graduates from the Simpsons (2020)

Normally, high schools would be having commencement exercises this weekend & next. Due to coronavirus having forced virtual learning the last three months, some schools in the 518 have done virtual graduations, and even turned commencements into parades, with graduates receiving their diplomas while in their cars (or their parents' cars).

The Simpsons salute not only high school graduates, but, college graduates, too, which explains the fraternity sweater Lisa (Yeardley Smith) is sporting. Commissioned by YouTube:

Apparently, Nancy Cartwright (Bart) missed the taping, which is why Bart only drops his shorts to moon the audience.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Kangaroo in The White Squirrel of Dover (1984)

The arcade game Kangaroo was adapted for television for season 2 of Saturday Supercade. However, most of the action centered on the title character's son, Joey (David Mendenhall, later of "Over The Top"), and his BFF, Sidney the Squirrel (Marvin Kaplan, Alice, ex-Top Cat, also heard in the Frogger segments), where Mama Kangaroo would usually save the day at the end, usually thwarting the Monkey Business Gang (voices of Frank Welker & Pat Fraley).

In "The White Squirrel of Dover", Joey & Sidney aid Sidney's cousin, a magician's assistant.

Yes, Mama used those boxing gloves in the game to deflect the weapons Zukini used. Good way to get around the anti-violence edicts, which didn't apply to weekday cartoons. Unfortunately, Kangaroo was cancelled, along with the rest of Supercade, at the end of the season.

Rating: B.

Toon Legends: Popeye in Never Sock a Baby (1939)

Popeye (Jack Mercer) disciplines Swee'Pea (vocal effects by Margie Hines) for something that happened off-camera, and sends to little tyke off to bed without supper. Now, you'll see how gentle Popeye is with the spanking. Anyway, it leads to a battle with both sides of Popeye's conscience....!

Here's "Never Sock a Baby":

This was remade 21 years later as a TV short, "Baby Phase", but with a completely different plot.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Toonfomercial: Remember Mr. Waffles? (1966)

Here's a breakfast cereal that came & went before ye scribe could actually go to the market.

Ralston Purina's Mr. Waffles was introduced in 1966, and came in two flavors, regular & vanilla. Unfortunately, it just didn't have the drawing power of Ralston's primary cereal product, Chex (now made by General Mills), and was gone before the end of the decade.

Here's a sample ad, narrated by Howard Morris, with Larry Storch (F-Troop, recycling his Phineas J. Whoopee voice from Tennessee Tuxedo) as Mr. Waffles:

Game Time: Donkey Kong in How Much is That Gorilla in The Window? (1983)

From season 1 of Saturday Supercade:

A millionaire's son (Dick Beals) mistakes Donkey Kong (Soupy Sales) for a common pet store ape that Kong has just released, and buys him, unaware that two of his own servants are plotting to loot the mansion while the kid's parents are on vacation. Mario (Peter Cullen) & Pauline (Judy Strangis, ex-Goldie Gold & Action Jack) have to help Kong in "How Much is That Gorilla in The Window?".


Rating: B-.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell (1956)

Ventriloquist-TV personality Paul Winchell made a few appearances as a panelist on What's My Line?, most famously in one instance when fellow ventriloquist Edgar Bergen was a mystery guest.

A gimmick that came with Winchell's appearances was that his signature puppet, Jerry Mahoney, flirted with regulars Arlene Francis and, in this episode, Dorothy Kilgallon.

Bob Hope had previously appeared on an episode with Clarence "Ducky" Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Toonfomercial: Dial deodorant goes animated (1969)

When people think of the Dial brand, they usually think, of course, of the soap, but it's more than that.

Originally packaged by the folks behind Armour Star meats, Dial has been around for over 70 years, currently packaged by the Henkel Corporation. In 1969, the final year of its merger with Armour, Dial commissioned an animated ad for its deodorant spray.

Today, there's only Dial bar & liquid soap on the market that I can see.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Rare Treats: Look, up in The Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman (2006)

A more detailed review appears over in The Land of Whatever, but we're crossing over for obvious reasons with "Look, up in The Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman", released as part of the run-up to 2006's "Superman Returns", and narrated by one of that film's stars, Kevin Spacey:

Rating: A-.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Toon Rock: The Spirit of Radio (1980-2020)

Canada's Rush released "Permanent Waves" 40 years ago. To honor the memory of ace drummer Neal Peart, who passed away recently, the remaining members, bassist-singer Geddy Lee & guitarist Alex Lifeson, authorized an animated video for "The Spirit of Radio", which not only traces part of the medium's history, but also the band's as well.

Getting Schooled: Chowder (2007)

Carl Harvey (CH) Greenblatt had been a writer for The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy when he submitted a pitch to Cartoon Network for his own series.

Chowder, however, lasted three seasons (2007-10), with the 3rd season cut short at just 9 episodes for a variety of reasons known only to the network. Greenblatt then moved his tack to Nickelodeon to develop Harvey Beaks, and has returned to WarnerMedia, this time, as we discussed yesterday, to develop Jellystone, which would be the Hanna-Barbera equivalent of The Looney Tunes Show, with the cast of Yogi's Gang now living in the same community.

Chowder was designed with a mix of traditional and flash animation, coupled with some puppets and stop motion animation. El bizarro, man.

Chowder is but a child as the series begins, age unknown. However, Greenblatt wrapped up his story in the final season with a trip to the future. Few cartoons can boast having a finite ending.

Full episodes are not available on YouTube, so we'll settle for this sample clip:

Like, totally weird. Not my cup of tea.

Rating: C.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Coming Attractions: Yogi Bear finally gets a new show

It's been nearly 30 years since Yogi Bear last headlined a series, that being the legendary flop, Yo, Yogi!, during the lame duck 1991-2 season at NBC.

So Warner Bros. has commissioned C. H. Greenblatt (Chowder, Harvey Beaks) to develop a little something for HBO Max that has Yogi, Magilla Gorilla, Huckleberry Hound, and friends in a small town called---wait for it----Jellystone. Yeah, it ain't just a park anymore, peeps, but a whole town.

Jellystone poster.jpg

WB caught some flak for the designs for Be Cool, Scooby-Doo because the creators on that series took their cues from Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, or so it seemed. As a result, Be Cool was cancelled after 2 seasons at Chumptoon Network.

The character illustrations shown above look even worse than Be Cool. Why they couldn't stick with the classic designs, as they're doing with Looney Tunes Cartoons, I don't know. What I do know is that WB is giving lip service to fans of Yogi, Magilla, Captain Caveman, etc., who've been waiting for those characters to be given a 21st century revival. I guess they had to wait until the now-defunct [adult swim] series, Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, had been off the air long enough to create room for fresh ideas or something.

And people complained about the CGI-driven "Yogi Bear" with Dan Aykroyd & Justin Timberlake voicing Yogi & Boo Boo nearly a decade ago. Trust me, they're going to be baying at the moon over this. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Saturday School: Coming Together: Standing up to Racism (2020)

There were people that complained when first-run episodes of Sesame Street, reduced to a half hour in the process, moved from PBS to HBO a couple of years back. Well, here's a positive aspect of the series' shift under the WarnerMedia umbrella.

For the 2nd time in as many months, Sesame Workshop partnered with HBO's sister network, CNN, to produce an educational town hall special. In May, they did one to try to explain the coronavirus to young viewers. This time, the subject is racism.

In the midst of nationwide protests over the senseless killing of a counterfeiting suspect, George Floyd, in Minneapolis two weeks ago, Coming Together: Standing up to Racism educates viewers young and old about why racism exists, and what to do about it. Following is a sample clip with Elmo & his father:

As of now, this is not available On Demand. However, it can be accessed on CNN's website.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Elmer Fudd & Yosemite Sam don't have guns anymore. Why is this so hard to accept?

By now, I'm sure you've read or heard about the pseudo-controversy surrounding Looney Tunes Cartoons on HBO Max.

If you haven't, I'll break it down for you. The show's producers, including Sam "Cash" Register and Peter Browngardt (Uncle Grandpa), decided that Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam would no longer be allowed to carry firearms. Elmer, in fact, has been depicted as carrying, of all things, a scythe, while chasing Bugs Bunny.


A scythe? Are they serious?

Before I continue, lemme give ya some classic Elmer, from "Rabbit Fire" and YouTube:

Edit, 10/24/21: Had to change the video to a montage from the "Rabbit" trilogy.

Seems there are some Looney Tunes snobs who think it's not cool. Like, this is the 21st century, people! Elmer & Sam haven't had guns in their possession in several years. All the snobs want to do is throw shade on the new show.

The Looney Tunes Show tried to give us a domesticated Sam, as a next door neighbor to Bugs and his on-again, off-again housemate, Daffy Duck. Taking Sam back to the old west ain't going to happen, apparently.

As for Elmer, well, since he's a hunter, what's wrong with substituting a bow & arrow for a rifle? Hunters use bows & arrows, too, ya know. A scythe is asking for trouble. Elmer rarely, if ever, catches his prey, anyway, and he'd wear himself out faster swinging a scythe.

What the snobs fail to understand is that the producers are responding to what's happening in the real world in the 21st century. Kids get shot with stray bullets. There was a recent case of that here in the home district over the weekend. A bullet got through a wall, and hit a little toddler in his home. We don't want kids being innocent victims of gun violence on our streets, especially if they have no clue as to why they've been shot.

On one hand, we salute Browngardt & Register for taking the guns out, but the scythe has to go, too.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

You Know The Voice: Jackie Joseph (1958, 1965)

There are a pair of distinctly different clips this time around featuring Jackie Joseph, early in her career.

Currently a columnist for a California newspaper, Jackie began her acting career in the 50's ("Little Shop of Horrors" came out in 1960), and one of her first roles came in season 1 of Peter Gunn.

But before that, we'll see Jackie flirting with Ross Martin during season 1 of The Wild, Wild West.

Jackie & Ross would work together again on the Dinky Dog segment of The All-New Popeye Hour 13 years later, with Ross in a supporting role.

Daytime Heroes: He-Man in Castle of Heroes (1983)

He-Man (John Erwin) is targeted by Skeletor's friend, Monteeg (both voiced by Alan Oppenheimer), in "Castle of Heroes".

A pretty good ghost story, wouldn't ya say?

Rating: A-.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Retro Toy Chest: Get in Shape, Girl (1985)

Aerobic exercise was big in the 80's.

Oscar winner Jane Fonda puts out an exercise book & album, and starts a new trend. Hyper-active Richard Simmons spins out of recurring appearances on General Hospital and into his own syndicated series. Olympic skating champion Linda Fratianne swapped her skates for leotards and tights, and followed Fonda up the album charts and into the hearts of not just young women, but teenage boys.

The Peanuts kids tried it in a commercial for Cheerios. ABC signed Olympic gymnastics champion Mary Lou Retton to do a series of interstitals (ABC Fun Fit). It was inevitable that someone would market an exercise kit for young girls.

Enter Hasbro.

The folks behind Lite Brite, GI Joe, & My Little Pony, in addition to being the American home of the Transformers, introduced Get in Shape Girl sometime around 1985.

However, it didn't last. Hasbro gave up after a couple of years, and the license ended up with Arbor Toys about 20 years later.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Three Stooges in Slaphappy Sleuths (1950)

The Three Stooges are low-level private eyes posing as gas station attendants in an attempt to foil a series of robberies. From 1950, here's "Slaphappy Sleuths":

Silly fun.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Toonfomercial: The Muppet Babies shill for McDonald's (1987)

Suffice to say, this was inevitable, given how hot Jim Henson's Muppet Babies was as one of the linchpins of CBS' Saturday morning block in the mid-to-late 80's.

Here, Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, & Ms. Piggy are plugging McDonald's Happy Meal.....

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

You Know The Voices: Arleen Sorkin & Charles Nelson Reilly (1986)

Before she was cast as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn, for Batman: The Animated Series, Arleen Sorkin was a regular on Days of Our Lives, and made a few appearances on Hollywood Squares during the John Davidson era (1986-9).

Here, at the 15 minute mark, Arleen joins Christopher Hewitt (Mr. Belvedere) for a dramatic reading of Rod Stewart's "Do ya Think I'm Sexy?", then has to answer the last question of the game a couple of minutes later.

Charles Nelson Reilly, the 2nd voice of Frank Frankenstone (1980-2), is the center square.

Toon Rock: Valerie (1987)

Steve Winwood originally co-wrote & recorded "Valerie" for 1982's "Talking Back to The Night", but the song failed to make the top 40.

Five years later, a remixed version, produced for a greatest hits compilation, "Chronicles", soared to #9 on the Hot 100. What fueled the revival, at least in this writer's opinion, was the following video, which has some animated effects, while also revealing that Winwood, best known as a keyboard player with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, et al, in the 60's & 70's, in addition to a talented vocalist, played all the instruments on the track.

This clip aired earlier this morning on MTV Classic.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny Rides Again (1948)

Bugs Bunny takes it upon himself to try to shut down Yosemite Sam in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again". The impromptu dance-off is worth the price of admission alone!

Yes, they used a piece of the "William Tell Overture" (theme from The Lone Ranger) in the open.

Rating: A.