Monday, August 31, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman in The Mixed-Up Mystery of Deadman's Reef (1977)

"The Mixed-Up Mystery of Deadman's Reef", a Captain Caveman & The Teen Angels short, plays as if it was originally meant for Scooby-Doo. Why do I believe that? Because the short starts with our heroes having a moonlight beach party.

Anyway, what appears to be a simple case of a disappearing boat isn't what it seems....

Yes, the audio is a little off. It's an internet thing.

Rating: B.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Toonfomercial: Sears animated air conditioner commercial (1978)

Yeah, I know. Summer's almost over. So why not revisit the dog days and serve up a reminder of a time when Sears was a big deal, and they used animation to sell their air conditioners.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman & Son in I Was a Teenage Grown-Up (1986)

From season 1 of The Flintstone Kids:

Captain Caveman & Son (Mel Blanc & Charlie Adler) run afoul of a miserable adult known as Mr. Bad (Michael Bell), who turns the kids in Bedrock into adults because he hates fun. The show-within-a-show appeared every other week during season 1. For the record, Blanc wasn't the voice of young Barney Rubble. Instead, Hamilton Camp (Smurfs) filled the role, with Len Weinrib & Julie McWhirter-Dees as Fred & Wilma.

Here's "I Was a Teenage Grown-Up":

The Captain Caveman & Son shorts were even campier than the original Captain Caveman series nearly a decade earlier, and needed the help of a narrator (Kenneth Mars) to move the story along.

Rating: C.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Rein-Toon-Ation: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)

After 4Kids Entertainment was entrusted with programming Fox's Saturday morning block in 2002, it was a matter of time before they'd find a tentpole to build the block around.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was brought back with a shiny new coat, if ya will, as a mid-season replacement, debuting in February 2003. It was a completely new continuity, with a new voice cast, but with the same ol' attitude. As shown in the following intro, Casey Jones was already established by the time this series premiered, and the producers decided on making Casey and April O'Neil into a couple.

The series went through a few format changes over the course of its Fox run, and has been brought back again since, with the last two iterations airing on Nickelodeon.

Here's that intro. Mind the cheesy theme song, which is worse than the original series.

Rating: B.

A complete episode of American Bandstand (1967)

Here's a rarity after a sort.

This Veteran's Day episode of American Bandstand comes complete with commercials. The reason for the half-hour format on this day was because of---what else?---college football airing after the show. Van Morrison is the featured musical guest, and while we previously have featured "Brown Eyed Girl" and a subsequent interview by host Dick Clark, we have a complete package this time.

Portions of the show were taken from VH1 repeats so YouTube user YouCanDanceToIt compiled this as best as able.

I don't think anyone's ever taken Dick's advice in that ad for Dr. Pepper and tried to warm it up like it was hot cocoa.....

As I was 4 at the time, I couldn't tell you if this actually aired locally.

Rating: A-.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Family Toons: The Barkleys in For The Love of Money (1972)

It's way past time we visited with The Barkleys.

When Arnie (Henry Corden) learns an old classmate is in town, he originally resents the idea of reconnecting, but when he finds out the classmate is now independently wealthy, he schemes to get a piece of the action "For The Love of Money":

No rating, out of respect to the memory of co-producer Joe Ruby.

Toonfomercial: The Pink Panther buys auto insurance (1979)

As someone whose day job is in the insurance industry, this one puts a smile on my face.

The Pink Panther stars in this 1979 spot for Safeco Insurance, which today is affiliated with Liberty Mutual. The Inspector makes a couple of quick cameos.

Bionic Disco has located a number of lost or obscure ads for his YouTube channel. Check it out!

Now, if he could just find one from the same period that has a mother kangaroo promoting the March of Dimes.......

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Remembering Joe Ruby (1933-2020)

One half of one of the most prolific teams of the late 20th century has passed away.

Joe Ruby, who, with Ken Spears, co-created Scooby-Doo, Jabberjaw, Dynomutt, Fangface, Electra Woman & DynaGirl, Bigfoot & Wildboy, and so much more, passed away Wednesday of natural causes at 87.

As you can tell, Ruby, who served in the Army, had been with Hanna-Barbera in the 60's, then, after stints with DePatie-Freleng, 20th Century Fox (he & Spears were writers and story editors for the live-action Planet of The Apes), and Sid & Marty Krofft, launched his own studio with Spears as a subsidiary of Filmways, thanks to the encouragement of ABC, which bought the nascent studio's first series--Fangface (1978-80), Plastic Man (1979-81), Thundarr The Barbarian (1980-2), Heathcliff (1980-2), and Goldie Gold & Action Jack (1981), as well as a handful of ABC Weekend Specials, before Ruby-Spears sold anything to other networks. The first non-ABC entries for Ruby-Spears were Mr. T (1983-6) and Alvin & The Chipmunks (1983-9) for NBC. Ruby-Spears entered the syndication market in the mid-80's with licensed titles, including Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos, Rambo, and Centurions.

But if you're thinking Chumptoon Network/Boomerang will honor Ruby for his accomplishments, keep dreaming. CN won't break its string of daily spamming marathons of Teen Titans Go! to do the right thing.

Rest in peace, Joe.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember LJN SportsTalk? (1989)

Topps partnered with LJN to produce an experimental product, SportsTalk, in 1989.

Over 150 Topps cards from the 1989 set were expanded in size to have a disc placed on the back of the card. LJN produced a special player on which to play the cards (it won't work on a normal CD player, friends).

Unfortunately, the experiment was an epic fail. There were complaints about the player breaking, probably because of being cheaply made, and it was in cutout bins before the end of the year.

To be honest, I didn't know about this until receiving three of the cards in a trade last week. Here's a commercial:

Topps & LJN had planned on expanding and doing the same for basketball & football, but with poor response to the baseball set, the project was scrapped.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Yes, I'm Ready (1979)

You might say this was a case of doing a favor for a friend.

Harry Casey, aka KC of KC & The Sunshine Band, took a break from the band to do a duet with a high school friend, Teri DeSario, on her 1979 album. The song, a cover of Barbara Mason's 1965 hit, "Yes, I'm Ready", peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, blocked from the top by Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love".

Now, I'm not sure how close they were, but you'd be forgiven if you thought they were a couple. From American Bandstand, here's "Yes, I'm Ready":

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Retro Toy Chest: Remember the Hot Wheels Rig Wrecker? (1982)

Mattel expanded the Hot Wheels line in 1982 with the Rig Wrecker, which didn't need a track. The vehicle was a glorified tow truck, really, but, as narrator Ernie Anderson points out, it isn't compatible with all Hot Wheels products:

Hot Wheels marked 50 years 2 years ago, but do you see commercials for it anymore? Nope.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Angel of The Morning (1981)

Pop-country singer Juice Newton reached the top 5 on the Hot 100 in 1981 with her cover of Merilee Rush's 1967-8 hit, "Angel of The Morning", which landed Juice on American Bandstand.

Coming Attractions (?): A live-action Powerpuff Girls?

Many thanks to contributor Steven Dolce for the tip.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Most fans of the Powerpuff Girls are of the opinion that Chumptoon Network's 2016 relaunch, which allowed the trio to age ever so slightly, moving them from kindergarten to about 1st or 2nd grade, didn't meet expectations.

Apparently, Oscar-winning actress-producer Diablo Cody ("Juno") is a fan, and had a vision of rebooting Craig McCracken's super team again, this time as, according to Variety, "disillusioned twenty-somethings who lost their childhood due to crime fighting".

Image courtesy of WB/Variety.

Cody teamed with---who else?---Greg Berlanti to make a successful pitch to the CW for a live-action Powerpuff Girls series, assuming it gets past the pilot stage.

But here's the problem. How do you sell the viewers on a grown-up version of the popular 90's team of lab-created siblings when neither McCracken nor the creative personnel behind the 2016 series ever considered a fantasy plot where the girls actually grew up?

That's the challenge facing Cody, Berlanti, and company. A hour-long series just isn't going to work, largely because, admittedly, the Girls were not meant to be taken seriously in the first place, created as a parody of the superhero genre 25 years ago.

I honestly cannot see this happening, but in an era where Hollywood is creatively bankrupt, and studios have conditioned themselves to believe that pre-sold product, comic books aside, would be an easier sell to today's viewers, this is likely going to be another Katy Keene, a good idea that went nowhere.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Remember Detective Yum Finder? (1983)

Bubble Yum bubble gum, at the time made by Nabisco, decided to try a series of spots with an undercover detective who didn't exactly get his man.

Meet Detective Yum Finder (Avery Schreiber, ex-The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine, Sha Na Na), as he catches two crooks in the act.

Unfortunately, Yum Finder didn't pass, and lost his badge in less than six months.

Looney TV: Rocket Squad (1956)

Dragnet and Racket Squad are skewered by Daffy Duck and Porky Pig in Chuck Jones' 1956 farce, "Rocket Squad".

The twist ending ensured there wouldn't be a sequel....

Rating: B.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Animated World of DC Comics: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)

It is meant to be the coda to the current DC Animated Movie Universe as DC & WB plan on rebooting, so to speak. You really don't want to go out on a downer, though.

"Justice League Dark: Apokolips War" is the DCAMU at its darkest and dreariest.

Darkseid (Tony Todd) has captured Batman, putting him in Metron's Mobius Chair, and has transformed Mera, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, Starfire, & the Martian Manhunter into, well, Cyber-Furies, using the tech taken from Cyborg himself (Shemar Moore, S. W. A. T.).

Back on Earth, Lois Lane (Rebecca Romjin) is able to recruit Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) and the Suicide Squad to help defeat Darkseid. Good to see a classic Squad member in Captain Boomerang on this team. John Constantine (Matt Ryan), mourning the loss of his girlfriend, Zatanna (Camilla Luddington), is doubting himself. Damian Wayne, angry with Superman after Batman had been conscripted, if you will, by Darkseid, is also recruited, along with Lady Shiva. Etrigan, the Demon, is along as comedy relief.

Here's a trailer:

Lots of unexpected surprises, including alliances and romantic pairings you wouldn't expect.

"Apokolips War" is currently streaming on DC Universe.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

You Know The Voice: Pat Harrington (1964)

Before landing the lead in DePatie-Freleng's The Inspector shorts, Pat Harrington, Jr. (he'd soon lose the Jr.) made the rounds of guest appearances, and made 2 appearances on The Munsters, playing a different role each time.

In "Pike's Pique", Pat is sent by his boss (Richard Deacon, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave it to Beaver) to arrange a deal with the Munsters after a city crew tunnels into Grandpa's lab.

This excerpt is from the first segment of the episode:

Friday, August 21, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Chance to Get Away (1977)

From the short-lived Wacko:

The Dwight Twilley Band performs "Chance to Get Away". If that long haired bassist looks familiar, he should. It's Tom Petty, before he formed his own band, the Heartbreakers!

ABC Saturday Morning Sneak Peek & Fun Fit Test (1985)

ABC served up a Saturday Sneak Peek that was meant, really, for the whole family in 1985.

The ABC Saturday Sneak Peek & Fun Fit Test, hosted by Tony Danza (Who's The Boss?), also features Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton, who'd take charge of the Fun Fit interstitals that were also part of the class of '85, and, from "Star Wars", C3PO (Anthony Daniels) & R2D2 (Kenny Baker).

The rest of the Class of '85:

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo
Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians
Bugs Bunny-Looney Tunes Comedy Hour (which becomes The Bugs Bunny-Tweety Show the next year)
Star Wars: Droids & Ewoks
Scooby's Mystery Funhouse (reruns from earlier seasons because ABC didn't get enough new material for the season).

Forgive the video quality. No rating, as I didn't see this the first time (baseball, you know):

As you know by now, the two Scooby-Doo series didn't survive the season. When 13 Ghosts was bounced in March, Mystery Funhouse went with it, ending Scooby's 1st run at ABC just shy of a full decade.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

On The Air: The Loud House (2016)

Suppose you were the only boy among 11 children, and all 10 of your sisters can potentially be varying degrees of annoying.

That seems to be part of the premise behind Nickelodeon's The Loud House, which is soon going into its 5th season. While series creator Chris Savino was dismissed from Nickelodeon 2 years ago over allegations of sexual harrassment and/or abuse, the series marches on.

Savino based the series on his own childhood, growing up in a large family. There are the predictable tie-ins, including toys and comic books, the latter of which we discuss today over at The Land of Whatever. There's also a spin-off, The Casagrandes, which bowed last year.

Here's an intro:

I wonder, though, if Savino is old enough to remember An American Family, a PBS docuseries from the 70's, whose subject was the Loud family.

No rating. Just a public service.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

ABC Saturday Morning Preview (1974)

This is one preview special I've been hunting for.

Y'see, my late father was channel surfing with our original cable box on the eve of the 1974 cartoon season. I can't remember if the Mets game that night was on the cable, and he was disgusted with it, or not. Anyway, ABC continued what would be a series of annual Saturday morning previews, which would continue until the end of the decade, just about.

The Funshine Saturday Sneak Peek features the Ace Trucking Company, featuring Bill Saluga and the late Fred Willard, plus Will B. Able brings the network's new Saturday mascot, Funshine Saturday, to life. Lee Majors pulls double duty, hosting and appearing in character as Colonel Steve Austin, aka The Six Million Dollar Man. Co-star Richard Anderson appears briefly.

The ABC freshman class of 1974:

Hong Kong Phooey
New Adventures of Gilligan
These Are The Days

Don Adams (ex-Get Smart, Tennessee Tuxedo, The Partners) is our announcer. That's the part I actually remember. Comes with commercials.

Cheesy, of course, but then, it's the 70's! What did ya expect?

Rating: B--.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Getting Schooled: The Inside Story With Slim Goodbody (1980)

After periodic appearances on Captain Kangaroo between 1976-80, Slim Goodbody moved to PBS with his own show, The Inside Story, which preceded the Captain's move to PBS by a few years.

Slim (John Burstein) was a walking, talking science project, attired in a bodysuit that illustrated all of our nerves and organs. Now, I never saw The Inside Story, so I will review this based on his appearances on Captain Kangaroo, and some of those excerpts were used on Inside Story. In fact, the Captain (Bob Keeshan) made guest appearances to return the favor to Burstein.

Here's a sample episode on respiration:

If you can find this on DVD, I recommend getting it for your kids. You'll be glad you did.

Rating: A.

Saturtainment: Mystery Weekend (Saved by The Bell, 1991)

Apparently, they're counting the reruns of Good Morning, Miss Bliss as season 1 of Saved by The Bell. That being said, 1991's "Mystery Weekend" is the season 4 finale, and one of the better entries in the series.

Lisa (Lark Voorhies) wins a radio contest, and brings the gang along for a murder mystery weekend. Truth be told, they should've left ham-brained Screech (Dustin Diamond) behind, as he does an injustice to Sherlock Holmes and other great detectives by wearing the deerstalker cap for comic effect.

I think I had this up before, but because most episodes of the series are no longer available on YouTube or Dailymotion, unless you're willing to spend $2 per episode on YouTube, which would go into NBC-Universal's bank account, all we can do is this screen grab.

Up until his current series, mixed-ish, Mark-Paul Gosselar has played cops and lawyers for most of his post-Bell career, including a lengthy stint on NYPD Blue. Mario Lopez spent some time as a bicycle cop on Pacific Blue near the end of the 90's, which lent itself to USA Network having him appear on Monday Night Raw for promotional purps.

Episodes are now available for streaming on Peacock, but there are no embed codes, obviously.

Rating: A-.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Toonfomercial: Bubble gum doesn't let you fly into space....(1980)

Bubblicious gum is part of Mondelez International today as part of the conglomerate's acquisition of some of the candy & gum products that were manufactured by Warner-Lambert (i.e. Certs, Clorets, Dentyne).

The product was introduced in 1977 as a competitor to, say, for example, Double Bubble (then made by Fleer). This 1980 spot suggests you can blow a bubble, and it'll lift you into space.

Mondelez also owns the rights for Sour Patch Kids, and they have a similar gimmick in their current advertising.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

NBC Saturday Morning Preview: Who Shrunk Saturday Morning? (1989)

Saved by The Bell had already started its season by the time NBC presented their preview of the 1989 season. "Who Shrunk Saturday Morning?" is, of course, a parody of Disney's "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" and its subsequent sequels. The gang are joined by guest stars John Moschitta, Jr. (as a magician), John Candy (Camp Candy), ALF, Marsha Warfield (Night Court), and Sherman Hemsley (Amen), plus clips from Camp Candy, Smurfs, The Karate Kid, Captain N: The Game Master, and ALF & ALF Tales.

Typical Bell silliness.

Rating: B.

Marge Simpson speaks out.......on politics (2020)

Donald Trump's re-election campaign is going to wish they never dissed Senator Kamala Harris the way Jenna Ellis did the other day.

What Ellis did was compare Harris' voice to that of Marge Simpson from The Simpsons. Fox, in response, had Marge (Julie Kavner, ex-Rhoda) serve up a rebuttal. Available on Fox's Animation Domination YouTube channel:

No sooner had Harris been announced as Joe Biden's running mate on Tuesday than the mudslinging began in earnest from Team Trump. This will backfire.

A primer on Junior Achievement (1986)

I'm not even sure if Junior Achievement is still around these days.

Forty years ago, though, as a junior in high school, I took part in the JA program, which meant trudging off to the former Central Market location on 2nd Avenue, which today houses Family Dollar, on Monday nights after school for 2 hours.

This 30+ second spot features NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, then-President Ronald Reagan, singer-talk show host Dinah Shore, and Hewlitt-Packard CEO John Young.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Laughing Song (1970)

From Archie's Funhouse:

Ya might as well figure "The Laughing Song" is meant to be Reggie Mantle's personal theme.....

Toonfomercial: Meet Listerine Man (2002)

This 2002 Listerine ad was one I'm seeing for the first time. Check the twist ending.

Commenters on YouTube have made comparisons to the movie, "Osmosis Jones", which, of course, begat the series, Ozzy & Drix.

Friday, August 14, 2020

A complete episode of Happening (1969)

Here's a complete (w/commercials) episode of Happening, with Paul Revere & The Raiders as your house band, with vocalist Mark Lindsay doubling as host.

On the card for this show from March 1969 are Chris Montez of "Let's Dance" fame, Jon Provost (ex-Lassie) who was fresh off filming what would become "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" for Disney (it went by a different title in production, as Jon explains), Regis Philbin (The Joey Bishop Show), and Casey Kasem. Executive producer Dick Clark serves as the announcer.

No rating.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Stoned Love (1970-2)

After Lionel Richie left the Commodores to pursue a solo career in the 80's, the group tried to soldier on, but landed only one final top 40 hit, 1985's "Night Shift", a tribute to Jackie Wilson & Marvin Gaye, the latter of whom passed away two years before "Shift".

15 years earlier, the Supremes underwent a similar change, as Diana Ross left to pursue a solo career, as well as a modestly successful acting career. Jean Terrell succeeded Miss Ross as the lead voice of the trio, but their final #1 on the R & B charts was 1970's "Stoned Love", which brought the revamped Supremes to Soul Train 2 years later.

You'd be forgiven if you thought Diana Ross was on vocals if you'd only heard the song on the radio. Jean Terrell's vocals are similar, but not exactly like Miss Ross.

There was some trepidation about the song, though, due to the connotations of the word, "stoned", in connection with drug and/or alcohol use, such that a performance was edited off the trio's appearance on The Merv Griffin Show when Merv had a late night berth on CBS.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Saturday School: Guard yourself against the Munchies (Bod Squad, 1974)

From the ABC Bod Squad comes a cautionary shortie about "The Munchies". Narrated by Lynn Ahrens (Schoolhouse Rock)

DePatie-Freleng, of course, provided the animation, so technically, Bod Squad was their first series sale to ABC, predating The Oddball Couple by a year.

Coming Attractions: Meet the next animated talk show host: Patrick Star!

Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast, the forerunner to [adult swim], was also the first talk show hosted by a cartoon character.

Nickelodeon wants to have the next one.

On Monday, the network announced that such a yack-fest would be a sort-of spin-off from SpongeBob Sqaurepants in that SpongeBob's best friend, Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke, ex-Coach, Gargoyles), would be getting his own talk show.

Sounds to me like Nick suits have taken notice of a certain Muppet talk show on HBO Max, and want some of that action.

A smiling pink starfish wearing green trunks

Can you picture Patrick in a suit?

Nick has an order for 13 episodes of The Patrick Star Show, which, we must assume, would debut in 2021, if not sooner. But, then, the question becomes one of, would Nick's target audience, weaned on SpongeBob for the last 20+ years, be interested?

Of course, the network is hoping the answer is yes. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Barbie's sister, Skipper? (1964)

Mattel continued to expand on their Barbie line by giving her a little sister.

Skipper was introduced just in time for the Christmas shopping season in 1964 in this ad. Janet Waldo (Valentine's Day) is the narrator.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Saturday Morning Ringside: Remembering James "Kamala" Harris (1950-2020)

I was on the road most of the day, and when I was checking a message board somewhere, I'd read of the passing of James Harris, better known as Kamala, the Ugandan Giant, at 70.

Harris competed virtually all over the world, including stints in American promotions such as WCW, World Class Championship Wrestling, and WWE, as well as in Japan, Canada, and Mexico.

Away from the ring, Harris took on a number of jobs before taking up wrestling, including as a truck driver, an occupation he returned to in recent years. He was also a songwriter, and released a CD a few years back, along with an autobiography. In recent times, Kamala had suffered from diabetes, and had both legs amputated due to complications.

From 1987, when Kamala was managed by The Wizard (Curtis Iaukea), he takes on a future Hall of Famer, even though ring announcer Mel Phillips got the opponent's name wrong.....

Rest in peace.

Daytime Heroes: Robotech (1982)

Robotech was not only the 3rd serialized anime to be imported from Japan, after Star Blazers & Voltron: Defender of The Universe, but there were three separate story arcs over the course of a 17 week season in 1985. 85 episodes total, and all three arcs were adapted into comics here in the US by Comico, the same publisher that also adapted Star Blazers.

Comico, to their credit, expanded upon the original stories that first aired in Japan from 1982-4 in their adaptations. Producer Carl Macek also assisted with the comics adaptations. If you weren't there on the ground floor, it was hard to follow the story in midstream, but it was escapist fare of tweens and teens.

Here's the intro:

The series returned to American shores twice in the 90's, first on the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy), then on Cartoon Network, and is currently available on Netflix.

No rating. Didn't see enough.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Rein-Toon-Ation: Super Globetrotters vs. Bwana Bob (1979)

The Super Globetrotters wind up on a jungle island after their cruise ship crashes, and in order to bring everyone home, the team has to play a game of basketball with the monstrous hench-beings of "Bwana Bob" (Len Weinrib). Michael Rye is the narrator.

Of the cast from the 1970 Harlem Globetrotters series, only Stu Gilliam (Curly/Super Sphere) and Scatman Crothers (now voicing Nate) returned, in addition to supporting players Don Messick and John Stephenson.

All they really did was use the same gimmick from the earlier series, amplified by giving three 'Trotters the powers of the Impossibles, plus Gizmo & Super Sphere. Airing opposite H-B stablemate World's Greatest Super Friends, it's easy to see why this show bombed.

Rating: B-.

Looney TV: Pepe LePew shills for McDonald's (1984)

Everyone remembers the McDonald's McDLT, which was a fancified packaging of a cheeseburger with the fixin's in a styrofoam container, back in the middle-80's.

McDonald's contracted with Warner Bros. to use Pepe LePew to promote the product, recycling some old footage while having Mel Blanc dub in some new lines. The YouTube poster thought this was from 1986, but ye scribe is guessing it's sooner than that, like the year McDLT premiered, in 1984.....

I actually had a couple of McDLT's in my lifetime. Nice idea, but it was discontinued because it became environmentally unsafe. Besides, you can make your own McDLT at home......

Friday, August 7, 2020

Game Time: Meet the creator of Brenda Starr (To Tell The Truth, 1960)

Brenda Starr, Reporter had reached its 20th anniversary by the time series creator Dale (nee Dalia) Messick appeared on To Tell The Truth. Apparently, even host Bud Collyer, the original voice of Superman, might've been fooled......! Dale appears around the 10-11 minute mark for game 2.

Celebrity Toons: May The Farce be With You (Fonz & The Happy Days Gang, 1980)

Fonz & The Happy Days Gang turns 40 this year. So let's take a time trip to the first season for a "Star Wars" parody that will also recall 1972's Josie & The Pussycats in Outer Space. "May The Farce be With You" had been up before, but was taken down due to the previous video having been deleted.

Ah, the transparency of cartoon disguises. While Cupcake (Didi Conn) is the only one (aside from Ralph) who can safely be masked with a robot helmet, her hair sticks out like a sore thumb. Some of the writers also worked on Super Friends, and there was a similar scenario with Wonder Woman 3 years earlier.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: T & T (1988)

Less than a year after The A-Team ended its run, Mr. T returned with an all-new series, produced in Canada.

T & T casts Mr. T as T. S. Turner, an ex-con who was sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit (sounds familiar), and now works for an attorney (Alex Amini) as a private eye. The series was a rare live-action entry from Nelvana, which had established itself in the US as a rival animation studio to the likes of Disney and Hanna-Barbera. Co-creator and co-executive producer Patrick Loubert also wrote some of the scripts, including the opener, "Extortion in Chinatown":

T  & T aired on Saturday mornings locally on the Fox affiliate before Fox began their Saturday morning block. It was a mid-season entry, debuting in January 1988. After two seasons, the show gained new life on the then-Family Channel (now Freeform), but with one cosmetic change. Amini left the show, and another actress, playing the sister of the lawyer, became T's partner.

Rating: A.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Toons After Dark: Clone High (2002)

Traditionally, high schools have generations of students walking their halls, as graduates will send their kids to the same school where they graduated.

But......what if there was a school populated by clones of historical figures? Forget about history class, history would be remade, if you will, in those same halls.

That was the premise, so it seemed, behind Clone High, which lasted just one season at MTV (2002-3), despite a cast of familiar talents, including Will Forte (Saturday Night Live), Zach Braff & Donald Faison (Scrubs), Christa Miller (The Drew Carey Show), and Michael McDonald, Debra Wilson, & Nicole Sullivan (MadTV). Sullivan was also working on Disney's Kim Possible around the same time.

Touchstone Television and Nelvana originally had the series at Fox, but the network wasn't willing to commit to series after buying the pilot from creators Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, & Bill Lawrence (the latter being Christa Miller's husband), so MTV scooped it up. The character designs more closely resemble another Canadian-produced cartoon franchise, Total Drama, which landed in the US at Cartoon Network, and, because of various format changes, has lasted longer. Lord, Miller, & Lawrence were also in the voice cast, by the way.

Here's the series opener, with special guest stars Michael J. Fox (Spin City) and Andy Dick (ex-Newsradio).

I suspect the creators got the idea for bringing all the historical figures together from seeing some time traveling on Celebrity Deathmatch. The fact that the school and its home base were part of a secret government operation didn't help matters.

Apparently, Bill Lawrence was the casting director, recruiting talent from Scrubs and Spin City, two of his other creations. He, along with partners Lord & Miller, are bringing Clone High, despite it bombing on MTV, back to the air, nearly 20 years after its debut. If I were to venture a guess, I don't think Empty-V has room for it now, so it'll likely join the revivals of Ren & Stimpy and Beavis & Butt-Head at Comedy Central. If it didn't work the first time, why would they think it'll work now?

Rating: C.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Saturday School: ABC Fun Facts (1988)

Russian-born comic Yakov Smirnoff, having failed with his first American series (What a Country!, 1986-7), was hired by ABC for a series of Saturday morning interstitals where he used his pet catchphrase ("What a country!") to maximum effect.

ABC Fun Facts replaced the short-lived Fun Fit exercise bits with Olympic champion Mary Lou Retton, but didn't launch until 1988, and lasted two seasons (1988-90). These usually lasted 30 seconds or less, lending credence to the urban legend that 80's kids had a sound byte mentality, an urban legend certain television producers think still exists more than 30 years later!

Here's a sample from 1989:

Rating: A.

Coming Attractions: Ren & Stimpy return, this time to Comedy Central

John Kricfalusi's most famous creation, Ren & Stimpy, is making another comeback.

Undaunted by the fact that the duo's venture into primetime for Spike TV (now the Paramount Network) in 2003 flopped, sister network Comedy Central is picking up an option for a "reimagined" version of the series. Like, wasn't the 2003 series enough of a reimagining?

"The Ren and Stimpy Show"

Image courtesy of ViacomCBS and the New York Post.

Just the same, Ren & Stimpy joins Beavis & Butt-Head, whose own revival fell victim to viewer disinterest in 2011 at MTV, on Comedy Central's roster, along with Jodie, a spin-off from Daria. Another 90's series, Clone High, is also being revived, but it's unclear where that will land, though I suspect that, too, will be at CC.

Ren & Stimpy's best years were at Nickelodeon in the 90's, despite the creative upheaval that resulted in Kricfalusi's departure. He returned for the 2003 series, but has since fallen victim to allegations of sexual abuse and/or harrassment, and is not likely to be attached to the new series.

We will review the original series another time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

From Comics to Toons: The Fabulous Funnies (1978)

We had reviewed this series before, but the previous poster on YouTube had lost his account, and the video went bye-bye. So, let's try again.

Filmation decided to reboot 1971's Archie's TV Funnies, but this time without Archie and his friends, with 1978's The Fabulous Funnies. Only four segments were retained from the earlier series: Broom-Hilda, Nancy, Emmy Lou, and The Captain & The Kids. The voice cast was different this time around, too, with co-producer Lou Scheimer being more involved, working with Bob Holt (The New Pink Panther Show), June Foray, and Alan Oppenheimer.

Foozy, Alley Oop's sidekick, served as series host, essentially taking Archie's place, as the Archies had bombed out at NBC during the 1977-8 season. What hurt Fabulous Funnies was that it was slotted in the lunch hour death slot, when it could've benefited more from having either Godzilla Power Hour or Fantastic Four as a lead-in.

Broom-Hilda (Foray) has the spotlight all to herself in a cautionary tale about "Drinking". The home video release retitled the episode, "Flying High":

Considering that Filmation's socially aware Fat Albert aired at the same hour on CBS, that would also explain why this show was one and done. Tom K. Ryan's Tumbleweeds appeared in the series opener, but Ryan didn't previously grant permission when the producers thought he did, and thus Tumbleweeds was quickly bounced, a dire sign of things to come.

Rating: B.

Monday, August 3, 2020

On DVD: The Origin of The Lone Ranger (1949)

I am not entirely sure if the three-part series premiere of The Lone Ranger in 1949 found its way to theatres, but it has been released on VHS & DVD both as a feature film compilation and as individual episodes of the series, as they were originally filmed.

We all know the story. John Reid (Clayton Moore), the lone survivor of a Texas Ranger massacre, is nursed back to health by Tonto (Jay Silverheels), and begins to plan his revenge on outlaw leader Butch Cavendish (Glenn Strange).

I remember seeing the three episodes on WPIX back in the 70's, when it aired as part of an afternoon block, and have seen it several times since. It never gets old, pilgrims.

The YouTube poster might've thought he was being cute by including a screen shot of the 2013 feature film bomb with Johnny Depp as Tonto.

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Saturtainment: Riders in The Sky (1991)

The country comedy-music group Riders in The Sky might be known to some for their work on one of the "Toy Story" movies, but in 1991, the band was given a half-hour Saturday morning series on CBS, the first band to land a Saturday morning gig on the network since the Hudson Brothers 17 years earlier.

And, just like the Hudsons, the Riders lasted just 1 season. A big reason why was because network programmers didn't know where to put the show. When the season started, it aired at 8 am (ET), but low ratings bumped it down to the lunch time death zone.

The use of puppets and claymation, the latter particularly in the show open, suggested it was influenced in part by Pee-Wee's Playhouse, which had ended a 5 year run. The Riders already had a few albums under their collective belts, and this series helped promote the "Harmony Ranch" CD, which came out a few weeks before the series.

I never saw the show, so there's no rating. We'll take a look at a sample:

I think we can see how it bombed with some of the sets. Stan Kirsch, later of Highlander, was one of the kids on the show.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

It Should've Been on a Saturday: The Yummy Awards (1983)

Traditionally, fall preview specials for Saturday morning freshmen were a half-hour in length. NBC started the tradition, though never on an annual basis, in 1968 to introduce The Banana Splits. 15 years later, they virtually jumped the shark.

The Yummy Awards, an hour-long special that was meant to celebrate children's television's past along with its present (and perhaps, future), was actually a send-up of awards shows, but while it was billed as the "First annual", there was never a follow-up, likely due to poor ratings. In all fairness, because of the size of the show, maybe it should've aired on a Saturday morning, the week before the season started.

Ricky Schroder (Silver Spoons) presided over the event, with Dwight Schultz (The A-Team) acting as a field reporter, billed for some strange reason as an MC. Celebrating the past meant bringing guests who'd appeared on other networks, like, for example, Lassie, while welcoming old friends like Paul Winchell (Smurfs), who brought along Jerry Mahoney, Pinky Lee, and Kukla, Fran, & Ollie, who started on NBC before eventually fronting the CBS Children's Film Festival. Current NBC stars Lee Curreri (Fame), Kim Fields (The Facts of Life), Justine Bateman & Tina Yothers (Family Ties), and, of course, Schultz's A-Team castmate, Mr. T, filled out the bill.

No, they didn't have Eddie Murphy (Saturday Night Live) wear his Gumby costume.

NBC, for whatever reason, didn't have enough 1st run series, hence bookending the lineup with repeats of The Flintstone Funnies (formerly The Flintstone Comedy Show) and the former ABC series, Thundarr The Barbarian (which came as part of a package deal Ruby-Spears brokered to sell NBC Mr. T  & Alvin & The Chipmunks.

There is a video, but the YouTube poster attached some Saturday Supercade content, making it unusable here.

No rating.