Thursday, December 30, 2021

Sunday Funnies: John Madden on Saturday Night Live (1982)

 I remember this well.

Days after the San Francisco 49ers won their first Super Bowl, thrashing the Cincinnati Bengals, John Madden, then with CBS (which aired the game), appeared on Saturday Night Live. As memory serves, I believe Madden was the host that night, and in this sketch, he interviews members of the Bengals. Series regular Tim Kazurinsky plays coach Forrest Gregg. The cast also includes Eddie Murphy and Tony Rosato.

In memory of Madden, 85, who passed away earlier this week.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

You Know The Voice: Howard Morris (1955)

 Long before Jet Screamer or Ernest T. Bass became 60's cultural icons, Howard Morris was part of Sid Caesar's ensemble on Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. In 1955, Caesar, Morris, & Carl Reiner formed the parody combo, The 3 Haircuts, mocking the growing rock & roll scene.

Here, the Haircuts perform "You Are so Rare" and "Flippin' Over You":

So Morris was already well versed in novelties by the time he was cast as Jet Screamer on The Jetsons seven years later. There's another clip floating where Morris wears a beanie that looks suspiciously familiar to anyone familiar with another of his cartoon roles.....!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: Bob & Doug (2009)

 Good day, eh? Our topic for today is, like, Bob & Doug, eh? Based on the legendary Great White North skits from SCTV, Bob & Doug McKenzie are back, this time in a flash-animated series that has made its way onto YouTube here in the US, but has not otherwise found an American network to broadcast it, eh?

The McKenzies' creators, Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas, serve as executive producers, with Thomas reprising as Doug. Moranis, however, opted not reprise as Bob, so the part was given to Dave Coulier (ex-Full House, America's Funniest People, Out of Control, The Real Ghostbusters), which explains why Bob for some reason sounds like Coulier is impersonating the late Lorenzo Music, his predecessor on The Real Ghostbusters, instead of Moranis.

In the series, the boys are sanitation workers, but in "I Want my CBN", they end up bringing Great White North to the Canadian Broadcasting Network (actually Canadian Broadcasting Company in real life, but, hey, creative license, eh?).

At the time, Moranis had retired from show business, though I'd read somewhere he was toying with the idea of rebooting himself as a country singer.

Rating: B-.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Saturday School: Real News For Kids (1992)

 We've all assumed Saturday Night Live mainstay Kenan Thompson got his start on Nickelodeon's All That. Then, along comes a long forgotten TBS series, resurfacing on YouTube.

Real News For Kids was a Saturday morning newsmagazine that ran for about a year or two on TBS in the 90's, but, good luck finding a lot of background material on the half hour program, which led into Bonanza reruns as of this October 1993 episode. Thompson appears in the final "article" on the show, promoting Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas".

What this program needed was some help from sister network CNN, aside from the production staff. Host Jenn Harris is just fine. Thompson, nearly 30 years later, is one busy dude, between his self-titled NBC sitcom, SNL, and his new endorsement deal with

Rating: B-.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Toon Rock: Snowman (2020)

 Singer-songwriter Sia crafted this modern day number a year ago. "Snowman" uses stop-motion animation, a la those Rankin-Bass classics from the 60's & 70's.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Monkees' Christmas Medley (1986)

 Let's take a trip back in time to when MTV was actually, well, relevant.

The network had picked up reruns of The Monkees, and heavily promoted the band's 20th anniversary tour. I actually had the privilege of seeing that tour pass through the hometown at the RPI Field House.

Anyway, this is significant for one big reason. The return of Michael Nesmith at the end of the clip. Oh, and, yeah, there's that bit with Davy Jones & Martha Quinn as a brother-sister team to the tune of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".

35 years later, Micky Dolenz is the only Monkee left, as we lost Mike earlier this month, as we noted when we posted the season 2 Christmas episode.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas on Dance Fever (1980)

 From season 3 of Dance Fever:

For Christmas, the usual dance competition swelled into a one hour holiday special, as judges Robert Blake, Chad Everett, & Connie Stevens were joined by their daughters. The Gap Band are the musical guests.

Quick fact: 1/2 of Motion, the dance team sidekicks of host Denny Terrio, was future actress Janet Jones (now Mrs. Wayne Gretzky). Like, who knew?

As you can see, part of the open and part of the closing credits, including the Merv Griffin Productions logo, were edited off. In a technical sense, the series was spun off from an episode of The Merv Griffin Show. Again, who knew?

No rating. Just a public service.

On DVD: Yogi Bear's All Star Comedy Christmas Caper (1982)

 In 1982, Yogi Bear officially completed the network trifecta of the time, with his first primetime special airing on CBS, after his earlier series had aired on ABC & NBC.

Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper is another gathering of Yogi and his buddies, including Magilla Gorilla (Allan Melvin), Yakky Doodle (Jimmy Weldon), Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Snooper & Blabber, and Hokey Wolf, most of whom had been palling with Yogi since Yogi's Gang, starting with that series' pilot, "Yogi's Ark Lark", in 1982.

The plot: Huck, Snag, and the gang come to Jellystone Park, intent on spending Christmas Eve with Yogi & Boo Boo, but the bears are going in the opposite direction, hitching a ride to the big city. He runs into a 7 year old girl whose father is an ultra-busy, wealthy business mogul who has neglected her. A familiar plot, sure, but writer Mark Evanier felt it was the best possible story.

To show how the Hanna-Barbera universe of that time operated, Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble (Henry Corden & Mel Blanc) cameo as a pair of sidewalk Santas.

Right now, we'll tease you with this sample clip:

Unfortunately, CBS never saw fit to repeat this special, which means the ratings must've tanked. It has aired on Cartoon Network & Boomerang, though, and likely is running on HBO Max this month.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with Weird Al Yankovic & friends (The Weird Al Show, 1997)

 The penultimate episode of The Weird Al Show is titled, "Obligatory Holiday Episode". Weird Al Yankovic is joined by guest stars including Judy Tenuta, Stan & Donovan Freberg, and co-executive producer Dick Clark, who uses the occasion to parody his New Year's Eve specials.

It's just unfortunate the Frebergs couldn't be on the set together, as Stan appears on a TV monitor.

No rating. Just a public service.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Gifts in The Air (1937)

 From Columbia's Color Rhapsody series comes this holiday offering from 1937, "Gifts in The Air". Me-TV was able to obtain the rights to the film, and aired it a week ago as part of a primetime Christmas cartoon special, spun off from their morning Toon in to Me anthology series.

Otherwise, this may be the first time most of us have seen it.

Rating: B.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Raccoons (1980)

 The Raccoons was one of those forgotten gems from Canada back in the 80's. To think it all started with a simple Christmas special, which aired in syndication here in the US in 1980.

"The Christmas Raccoons" was the first of four specials produced between 1980 and '84 before going to series in 1985. By then, however, local stations had no room for a Raccoons series, and it, along with the specials, eventually landed at Disney Channel here in the US.

Series creator Kevin Gillis went the independent route, but copied Nelvana's formula of using music to help tell his stories. For this reason, he cast singers Rita Coolidge and Rupert Holmes in "Christmas Raccoons". Coolidge didn't return for the series, replaced by country singer Dottie West.

The plot? We're introduced to the Raccoons' enemy Cyril Sneer (Len Carlson), whose destruction of the forest is for personal gain, though his nephew, Cecil, seems to have other ideas.

Narrated by Rich Little.

We'll look at The Raccoons series another time.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: A Christmas Place (Here Come The Brides, 1968)

 We had this next item up before, then it was taken down. The YouTube poster who blessed us with "A Christmas Place", from season 1 of Here Come The Brides, retrenched, and started a new channel, cognizant of the fact that, to avoid getting deleted again, the opening and closing had to be edited off.

Michael Bell guest stars in "A Christmas Place", one of the more prominent roles of his early career. Screen Gems (Sony) missed the boat in finding him a show of his own before he turned to cartoons.

Michael first appears around the 5:00 mark.

The closing number, "St. Day Carol", sung by Bobby Sherman & David Soul as Jeremy & Joshua Bolt, is over at The Land of Whatever.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Sunday Funnies: What's The Matador? (1942)

 The Three Stooges travel to Mexico, but a luggage mix-up, and a jealous husband, lead Curly into the ring with a real bull!

"What's The Matador?", shot in the summer of 1941, reminds us that Curly had a gimmick of having a battering ram for a head.

Rating: A-.

Toonfomercial: Talking Christmas lights? (1972)

 It used to be back in the day that when it came to Christmas, you not only being sold trees in commercials, but also various accessories, such as Christmas lights.

General Electric came up with this cute bit in 1972.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Eve with the Hollywood Squares (1986)

 Game show legend Wink Martindale has acquired a master tape of a Christmas Eve episode of Hollywood Squares from the 1st season of the John Davidson era. Davidson is joined by son John, Jr. as co-host, and our panel includes children's television legends Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert and Shari Lewis, the latter with her newest puppet, Green Belle, plus David Naughton (My Sister Sam), Brenda Vaccaro (who'd later work on Johnny Bravo), NFL legend Dick Butkus, Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life), Roseanne Barr, Jackie Mason, and a reunion of Happy Days co-stars Tom Bosley and Marion Ross, who were appearing in a production of "Arsenic & Old Lace" while Bosley was appearing at the time on Murder, She Wrote.

Herbert was back in business with Mr. Wizard's World on Nickelodeon at that time.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: The Cookie Carnival (1935)

 From Disney's Silly Symphony series comes a whimsical tale that borrows from Cinderella, which Disney would adapt some years later.

In "The Cookie Carnival", a gingerbread man (Pinto Colvig, who also co-wrote the story) meets a sugar cookie girl who is destitute. She wants to go to the carnival, but has nothing worthy to wear. The gingerbread man fixes that with some quick improvisation.....

Awww, wasn't that cute?

Rating: A.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Look who's shopping at AT&T! (2015)

 We had this up before, but it got taken down. Now, it's back.

What it is, of course, is a cute little AT&T ad that pays homage to Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by being produced not with stop-motion animation, but it looks more like they used claymation for Lily (Milana Vayntrub).

Too bad they didn't do a sequel.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: White Christmas (1942-2020)

 Originally recorded for the movie, "Holiday Inn", not for its namesake, "White Christmas" has become a holiday standard, the most definitive version having been recorded by Bing Crosby, who starred in both movies.

The video captures the feelings of a family when a father goes to war, and is killed in action.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Night Before Christmas (1933)

 Disney took a swing at Clement Moore's 'Twas The Night Before Christmas in a 1933 Silly Symphony with this loose adaptation that might not see too much airtime these days due to a very, very brief stretch during the final couple of minutes when the youngest child is briefly in blackface due to soot falling on his mug when he looks up the chimney after Santa has departed.

Check it for yourselves, pilgrims.

That brief blackface bit is really harmless. After all, he is just a little kid.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with The Monkees (1967)

 From season 2:

The Monkees bring some Christmas cheer, as only they can.

In memory of Mike Nesmith, who has passed away at 78, leaving Micky Dolenz as the last surviving member of the band. No rating.

You Know The Voice: Shari Lewis (1961)

 It was Christmas Eve, 1961. Ventriloquist Shari Lewis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Lamb Chop & Charlie Horse. Judging from some of the comments on YouTube, it seems Shari had a huge fan following back in the day, especially among smitten little boys.

To think that 8 years later, Shari would team with fellow ventriloquist Paul Winchell on Love, American Style in what had to be a dream pairing. By then, of course, Shari had Honey Halfwitch and The Arabian Knights on her resume, but she & Paul never worked on a project together at Hanna-Barbera that we know of.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Dominick The Christmas Donkey (1960-2019)

 "Dominick The Christmas Donkey" is a holiday novelty recorded by Lou Monte in 1960. Nearly 60 years later, a partially animated lyric video, centered around a snow white donkey, was issued by Rhino Records. "Dominick" has been getting airplay every year around this time, and should put a smile on your face.

In the context of the song, Monte claims the reindeer can't climb the hills of Italy. It remains to be seen whether or not that's really true.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Waltz (1954-2020)

 Here's another Frank Sinatra Christmas entry made into a flash animated music video. Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne's "The Christmas Waltz".

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas (2016)

 Nearly 40 years after its first primetime holiday special, Sesame Street serves up a fresh Christmas treat for today's generation. Jim Gaffigan guest stars as Santa Claus in Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas:

Recommended for the whole family. Rating: A.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: This Christmas (1970-2020)

 R & B legend Donny Hathaway co-wrote "This Christmas" all the way back in 1970. 50 years later, it was re-issued with an accompanying animated music video.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Curious George's Merry Little Christmas (2020?)

 The current animated iteration of Curious George currently airs on Peacock, PBS Kids, & Hulu here in the US, according to sources. Trying to confirm exactly when this next offering premiered has been a bit of a chore. Seems to have debuted on Peacock last year.

Like most kids, George (vocal effects by Frank Welker) can't wait for Christmas, prompting the Man in The Yellow Hat (Jeff Bennett) to school him on Christmas traditions. Rino Romano (ex-The Batman, Spider-Man Unlimited) narrates.

Rating: A.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Beebo Saves Christmas (2021)

 When Peanuts creator Charles Schulz mounted A Charlie Brown Christmas back in 1965, his message was one of reminding his audience of what Christmas was really all about, not the commercialism that had already taken over the holiday.

56 years later, that message has been updated with a new set of characters, although the concept might be cringe-worthy.

Beebo Saves Christmas is a spin-off special from Legends of Tomorrow, from whence the plush toy made its debut a few years ago. While the character designs would suggest some influence from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, co-executive producer Kevin Shinick's resume includes Robot Chicken. Greg Berlanti also brought in Mark Marek (Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs) to help.

The plot is simple enough. Beebo (Ben Diskin, ex-Codename: Kids Next Door) is stunned to learn that he & his friends all received form letters from the North Pole, which suggests that it's not so much commercialism, but now corporate control is the issue here. So Beebo gathers three friends for a trip to the Pole, which also highlights some of today's preferences, including live-streaming.

Victor Garber (ex-Legends of Tomorrow, The Orville, Alias) narrates in the rhyming manner of Dr. Seuss at the start, but then isn't heard from again the rest of the way. Our supporting cast includes Yvette Nicole Brown (ex-Community), Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters", ex-Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians), and Chris Kattan (ex-Bunnicula, Saturday Night Live).

Check the trailer:

Expect this to also air on HBO Max and/or Cartoon Network before the end of the month.

Rating: B---.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (2021)

 Singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson collaborated with actress-singer Zooey Deschanel (ex-New Girl) and co-writer Dave Barnes to serve up some fresh holiday cheer. The stop motion puppets used in "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year" were designed by Andrea Love.

Rankin-Bass would be proud. Now, if they can just get this on the radio........

Monday, November 29, 2021

Tooniversary: A Very Pink Christmas (2011)

 33 years after his first ABC special, the Pink Panther returns to the holidays.

I'm guessing A Very Pink Christmas was a DTV entry, as I don't recall seeing this on TV.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Song (1961-2020)

 "The Christmas Song", written by Bob Wells & Mel Torme, was recorded on four different occasions by Nat King Cole. The final version, recorded in 1961 with orchestrations by Ralph Carmichael, is considered the definitive version, and plays every year on radio stations around the country. Cole first recorded the track 15 years earlier in 1946, and recruited the legendary Nelson Riddle to conduct the orchestra for a 1953 re-record.

The following video is set to the 1961 version.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) (1961)

 From The Alvin Show:

It seems Alvin has obsessive-compulsive disorder. He wants a hula hoop, and, unaware that David Seville has gone shopping before a recording session, leaves several reminders all over the house. In the context of the series, Seville is wealthy enough to have a studio in the house, instead of having to rent space for a recording session.

"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" shows how Alvin is consumed by his obsession over the hula hoop.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: B. C.: A Special Christmas (1981)

 Eight years after Johnny Hart's B. C. characters made their first television special, Hart decided to take a look at Christmas through the eyes of the cast. Different animation house, and the lead voices were comedy legends Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding, no strangers to voice work themselves with their radio series, and a series of animated spots for Utica Club back in the day.

Here's B. C.: A Special Christmas:

We had B. C.: The First Thanksgiviing a while back, but lost that when it was deleted. We'll try to get that back for next Thanksgiving.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Toon Rock: The Motown Song (1991)

 Rod Stewart went animated for 1991's "The Motown Song", the 2nd single off the CD, "Vagabond Heart". The video starts with live Rod, but then after we see an animated version of Motown legends The Temptations, cartoon Rod enters......

"The Motown Song" was written by Larry McNally, who originally recorded it five years earlier for the movie, "Quicksilver", but it wasn't released as a single at the time, and McNally remains a footnote in music history as a result.

Thanksgiving Toons: Intergalactic Thanksgiving (1979)

 Nelvana's Intergalactic Thanksgiving mixes science fiction with absurd comedy, and features the voices of Catherine O'Hara (SCTV), Derek McGrath, Al Waxman, & Sid Caesar, a year removed from "Grease". Music, as usual, was composed by former Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian, with the John Hall Band, featuring the former (at the time) vocalist for Orleans, performing Sebastian's compositions.

I think there's a reason why no American channel has picked this up in recent years.

No rating.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Family Toons: Hero Sandwiched (The Roman Holidays, 1972)

 Gus Holiday (Dave Willock, ex-Margie, Wacky Races) is a reluctant hero when he accidentally---so it appears----foils a pair of bank robbers.

Here's The Roman Holidays in "Hero Sandwiched":

A variation on an old theme.

Rating: B.

Rare Treats: A Thanksgiving Tale (1983)

 Three years before ALF made him a household name, Paul Fusco made one of his first projects for television. Problem is, A Thanksgiving Tale isn't sure of what it's meant to be.

Produced for Showtime as part of a series of holiday themed puppet specials, this tale of cats & dogs and the turkey that comes between them is lost somewhere between a parody of the oft-adapted tale of the First Thanksgiving and a send-up of, say for example, "West Side Story", because of the feuding between the cats & dogs.

It's basically this. The cats are hungry, and all the local mice have been chased away by the dogs guarding a restaurant nearby. Tom Turkey (Fusco) shows up, and, well, chaos.

A Thanksgiving Tale, at last check, is available on Amazon Prime for streaming.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Thanksgiving Toons: NIckelodeon's Thanksgiving Fest (1989)

 Two years before the debut of their Nicktoons line, Nickelodeon put together a Thanksgiving special that, sadly, hasn't seen the light of day in years.

There are two short subjects, "Thanksgiving Nightmare", in which a cat gets caught in between a mouse (of course) and a roach in trying to avoid ruining his owner's holiday dinner. Written & directed by Kevin Altieri, who'd later move to WB.

"Thanksgiving Dreams" plays like it was pulled from a storybook. The wraparound segments, "Thanksgiving Stops", are drawn in the familiar at the time house style.

Rating: B.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Three Stooges in Three Little Pirates (1946)

 By 1946, Jerome "Curly" Howard of the Three Stooges was in declining health due to a series of strokes. The team's best effort of the year came with "Three Little Pirates", in which the boys are shipwrecked on an island whose ruler (Vernon Dent, a frequent Stooge adversary) decides they need to be executed due to Curly's flirting with the ruler's girlfriend (Christine McIntyre).

This is the 2nd film to use the famous "Maharajah" routine, the first coming five years earlier.

The team would not use "Maharajah" until one of their movies with Joe DeRita in the 60's, out of respect to Curly.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Toonfomercial: Would this entice you to vacation in Alaska? (1981-91)

 If memory serves me, Northern Exposure was a hit series on CBS around the time this cute tourism ad aired for the state of Alaska.

The music is set to the beat of a song from "A Chorus Line", which becomes obvious by the time the ad ends.

Update, 1:16 pm (ET): Turns out the animated portion was originally produced 10 years earlier. Many thanks to the Star twins for the heads-up.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Toons After Dark: The Get Along Gang (1984)

 When we reviewed the series version of The Get Along Gang, a one season entry for CBS, we noted that American Greetings, the parent company of Those Characters From Cleveland, had switched animation houses for the series. Canada's Nelvana Studios produced what amounted to an unofficial pilot some months earlier, but when CBS picked up the show, DIC was tasked to take over production.

In truth Nelvana co-produced the "pilot" with Scholastic Television. 

The special, which aired in early evening "fringe" blocks ahead of the primetime lineups, features the voices of Charles Haid (Hill Street Blues) & Dave Thomas (SCTV), who got headline status. The title song is sung by former Lovin' Spoonful singer John Sebastian, who'd been recording music for Nelvana for a while at this point.

DIC recast the entire lineup for the CBS series with more age-appropriate actors.

No rating. Just a public service.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Tooniversary: Spider-Man meets a Triangle of Evil (1981)

 Spider-Man faces off against a "Triangle of Evil" in an episode from his short-lived daily syndicated series.

No rating.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Coming Attractions: Sesame Street's newest Muppet

 We were taught in school back in the day about how the US was a melting pot of various cultures. It still is, if you don't listen to right wing media.

On Thanksgiving night, Sesame Street will formally introduce its newest Muppet character, Ji-Young, a 7 year old Korean-American who plays guitar and rides a skateboard.

Ji-Young with Ernie. Photo courtesy Sesame Workshop via Yahoo!.

Awww, they look soooooooo cute together, don't they?

As Sesame Street, now in its 53rd season, continues to open doors for children of all cultures, it's also open for parents to gain a better understanding of our brothers & sisters from Asia, Europe, Latin America, et al, and not have to fall prey to propaganda from conservative hot air dealers like Fox News' Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, et al. Apparently, none of them want to admit they've ever read The Huddled Masses at the Statue of Liberty.

The picture above also will give cause to debunk the long-standing rumors of Ernie and his BFF, Bert, if Ernie becomes more than just a guide for Ji-Young along the Street, if you catch my drift.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Sunday Funnies: Fiddlers Three (1948)

 The Three Stooges are "Fiddlers Three" in service to Old King Cole (Vernon Dent), and must rescue the princess from a covetous rival.

"Fiddlers Three" was remade six years later as "Musty Musketeers".

Rating: B.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Saturday School: CNN & Sesame Street's town hall on COVID vaccines for kids (2021)

 This is what started all the controversy triggered earlier this week by Texas Senator Ted Cruz against Sesame Street icon Big Bird.

On November 6, CNN, partnering with Sesame Workshop once more, presented a town hall special to educate children on the COVID vaccines which are now available for children between the ages of 5-11. CNN's Erica Hll and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are the moderators, joined by Big Bird, Rosita, Granny Bird, and Elmo.

Need we add that CNN's sister network, HBO, is home to first-run episodes of Sesame Street these days? Wouldn't be surprised if this turns up on HBO or HBO Max, as well as PBS.

As we discussed earlier in the week, Senator Cruz decided to be a bully and slammed the special as "propaganda". No, it's not. Cruz and his state's governor, Greg Abbott, would rather that their citizens remain ignorant about protecting themselves, as the politicos see their state's bottom line as more important than the people they are supposed to serve. As noted previously, Big Bird acted as an avatar for earlier generation of Sesame Street viewers nearly 50 years ago in getting vaccinated for measles. Big Bird does have some celebrity backup in the form of actor-singer-producer Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, The Orville, American Dad), who came to the eternal 6 year old's defense vs. Twitter nemesis Cruz.

I think WarnerMedia and Disney can go to their bullpens for some extra help. You know, from the likes of Batman, Spider-Man, The Avengers, Superman, et al, because kids of all ages will respond to advice from their heroes. MacFarlane did his part on Family Guy. I think H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's Burgers, Archer) could probably jump in if asked.

Notice, too, that Cruz went after Big Bird by name, but not Rosita, a Latina Muppet. Hmmmmmmm.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here! (1974)

 Bob Dorough pulls an Alvin & The Chipmunks trick in voicing three generations of a family of shopkeepers who sell adverbs. Meet the Lollys. You'll figure out the trick, I'm sure.

They could probably get those adverbs for you wholesale if they weren't already free.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Wonder Wheels & The Skyscraper (1977)

 It's been a long time since we checked in on Wonder Wheels.

In this shortie, the superbike and its pilot, Willie (Micky Dolenz), are after a pair of escaped convicts in "Wonder Wheels & The Skyscraper":

Yeah, I know. The screencap above shows Dooley, Willie's boss. I had an idea for a revival that would have her taking over Wonder Wheels in place of bumbling Willie, but, so far, it seems WB isn't interested in bringing back this short-lived series from Skatebirds.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Literary Toons: Doctor Doolittle in The Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly (1970)

 Doctor Doolittle (Robert Towers) nurses a gooney bird back to health, just in time to thwart the latest scheme of Sam Scurvy (Len Weinrib, who co-wrote the script with writing-producing partner Paul Harrison).

Here's "The Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly":

Towers & Weinrib give Leslie Bricusse's "Talk To The Animals", the show's theme song, a workout. Unfortunately, the show's cancellation may have short-circuited any plans Weinrib might've had to develop his own concepts.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Galaxy Goof-Ups (1978)

 Galaxy Goof-Ups began as a component of Yogi's Space Race, and was a spoof of the sci-fi genre that was getting hot again, thanks to "Star Wars" becoming a global phenomenon a year earlier.

Yogi Bear (Daws Butler) commands a new field team, including Huckleberry Hound (Butler), and newcomers Quack-Up (Mel Blanc, of course), and Scare Bear (Joe Besser, also heard on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics), who, because he's afraid of everything, might've been the forerunner to John Dilworth's Courage The Cowardly Dog more than 20 years later.

Captain Snerdley (John Stephenson, impersonating Joe Flynn) is the team's commanding officer, often exasperated by their bumbling. Stephenson doing his Flynn mimic, recycled from Inch High, Private Eye and Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch!, was an inspired idea, considering that the Goof-Ups, or Galaxy Guardians, to use their official name, somehow managed to overcome their own bungling, just as much as McHale's Navy perpetually frustrated their boss, Captain Binghamton (Flynn), who wanted them court-martialed.

Unfortunately, no episodes are presently available, so here's the intro:

Mel Blanc had returned to the H-B fold a year earlier (Captain Caveman), and you'd be forgiven if you thought Quack-Up was a distant relative of a certain duck at WB. The various Flintstones series kept Blanc busy, along with the occasional Looney Tunes project at WB, until his passing in 1989.

Rating: B--.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Getting schooled: Big Bird gets vaccinated, and you should, too!

 We talked about this over at The Land of Whatever earlier today, but since it involves a Sesame Street icon, such as Big Bird, it also merits discussion here, too.

Y'see, Big Bird appeared on a Town Hall special on CNN over the weekend, and was vaccinated for COVID-19. Not the first time the eternal 6 year old has been vaccinated. He got in line in 1972 for a measles vaccine.

File photo courtesy National Public Radio.

Big Bird is a character kids can relate to. They can't relate to conservative fear-mongers like Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who blasted Big Bird for no reason, accusing him, and, by extension, CNN & Sesame Workshop, of spreading propaganda.

Deflect much, Teddy?

Fortunately, uber-geek and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane came to Big Bird's defense, as he & Cruz have had a running feud on Twitter. Having already used his show to educate viewers about the vaccines, MacFarlane took the opportunity to shred Cruz.

Republicans such as Cruz, and right wing media garbage peddlers like Tucker Carlson trade on fear and misinformation, and, as a result, are prolonging the pandemic because they refuse to educate their vulnerable, low information, low education base.

By going public with vaccinating, Big Bird is telling viewers, don't be afraid. It's the simplest message possible.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Love I Lost (1973)

 Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, with Teddy Pendergrass on vocals, reached the top of the R & B chart, and the top 10 on the Hot 100, with 1973's "The Love I Lost", which landed them a return trip to Soul Train.

Mighty, indeed.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Remembering Angelo "King Kong" Mosca (1937-2021)

 A good number of wrestlers made the transition to the mat from the gridiron, most famously former Kansas City Chiefs star Ernie Ladd. A close second would be Massachusetts-born Angelo Mosca.

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Notre Dame in 1959, Mosca opted for the Canadian Football League, where he won 5 Grey Cups out of 9 appearances, four of them the the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a defensive lineman.

While with the CFL, Mosca began wrestling during the offseason (The CFL starts its season before the NFL), and eventually came back to the US to compete in the then-World Wrestling Federation and the National Wrestling Alliance before retiring from competition for good in 1986. His WWF run ended with a brief stint as a color analyst for the company's syndicated programming, partnered with Jack Reynolds, a partnership that didn't last, based mostly in Canada.

It was reported earlier today that Mosca had passed away at 84 after a lengthy bout with Alzheimer's disease. Following is a WWF TV match from 1981, as Mosca, managed by Mount Vernon native Lou Albano, takes on Jose Estrada:

Rest in peace.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Bad TV: Magic Mongo (1977)

 When ABC renewed The Krofft Supershow for a 2nd season, the series was overhauled.

For starters, the house band, Kaptain Kool & The Kongs, were now a quartet, with Albany native Bert Sommer (Flatbush) having been cut during the off-season. Two season 1 segments, Dr. Shrinker, starring Jay Robinson & Billy Barty, and the Batman knockoff, Electra Woman & DynaGirl, were cancelled. This allowed Electra Woman herself, Diedre Hall, to devote more time to her other gig on Days of Our Lives.

While the action ramped up with Bigfoot & Wildboy replacing Electra Woman, Dr. Shrinker, a knockoff itself, in this case of the 40's movie, "Dr. Cyclops", was replaced by an even worse entry.

Enter Magic Mongo.

Actor-filmmaker Len Weinrib, who hadn't been in front of the camera all that much since a Pringles commercial, was cast in the title role after years of playing small supporting roles (i.e. Burke's Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show). Helaine Lembeck (ex-Welcome Back, Kotter), sister of Kaptain Kool himself, Michael Lembeck, co-starred. Father Harvey was a producer. With that kind of experience, this should've been something besides a parody of I Dream of Jeannie. It wasn't. Not even close.

Mongo (Weinrib) was a bumbling genie on the order of the animated Jeannie's sidekick, Babu, who was now over on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, which preceded Supershow. They even tried a stunt by having Nashville (Louise DuArt) visit, but to no avail.

Here's the intro, as the episodes have been removed from YouTube.

Larry Larsen (ex-The Lost Saucer) was finally allowed to appear on camera without a Krofft Kostume in a supporting role. 

Rating: D.

You Know The Voice: George S. Irving (1975)

 Here's another Gillette Trac II ad with George S. Irving (ex-Underdog, Go-Go Gophers, etc.), this time in a dual role as the shopkeeper and his pop.

I'm wondering who else George shilled for, besides Gillette & White Owl, which we've showcased before.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Thanksgiving Toons: ESPN explains the origins of Thanksgiving day football (2017)

 Cartoons on ESPN? Yep.

Over the last few years, there've been short, animated vignettes on SportsCenter. Don't know whose idea it was, but this short piece offers the origins of the NFL's Thanksgiving Day football traditions in Detroit & Dallas.

Sure, the animation is crude, only because they couldn't be bothered to ask Disney to do the animation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Toonfomercial: Tennessee Tuxedo shills for Frosty O's (1963?)

 General Mills was a sponsor of Tennessee Tuxedo & His Tales, and, as such, Tennessee and the gang would do in-show ads for the cereal maker's products.

However, series star Don Adams wasn't available for the following ad. Cast member Mort Marshall fills in as Tennessee. I would venture a guess that Don was, if this is from the first season, working on The Bill Dana Show at the time they recorded this ad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Toons After Dark: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You Now? (2021)

 This is the sort of thing the CW should've considered doing 2 years ago, but didn't.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You Now? is both a celebration and a meta-special honoring the long running franchise, now 52 and still going strong. It's kind of like a goofy take on This is Your Life, with a predictable mystery mixed right in, and comments from producers Tony Cervone and Mitch Watson, historian Jerry Beck, and others. Frank Welker (Fred/Scooby, the latter role since 2002) confirmed what we've all known, that the original Scooby-Doo was his first cartoon job, all the way back in 1969.

Guests include Olivia Liang (Kung Fu), passed off as a martial arts instructor for Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, fresh from Good Girls), Weird Al Yankovic, and Cheri Oteri (ex-Saturday Night Live), who plays the villain of the piece. Lillard, Grey Griffin, and Kate Micucci all appear as themselves toward the end of the show. Archived footage with Speed Buggy, Great Grape Ape, and the original Jr. Super Friends, Wendy & Marvin, had new voices dubbed over. Archived footage with Scooby and Mystery, Inc. was scattershot, mixing in various series iterations and DTV's.

Perhaps the only archived footage not dubbed over involved Batman (Diedrich Bader), using material from Batman: The Brave & The Bold, from the look of things. It comes off as a sneaky plug, without saying so, for DC's current Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries limited series.

Here's a short featurette:

I don't know what the ratings were when this aired last week, but it might not have been too good.

Rating: C for Cheesy.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Teenage Toons: Pepper Ann (1997)

 Part of ABC's One Saturday Morning block, Pepper Ann chronicled the misadventures of the titular 7th grader (Kathleen Wilhoite), at home and at school. 

The series also spent some time as part of UPN's Disney's One Too weekday block in 2000, but once the series hit 65 episodes total, Disney ended the series. The supporting cast included Jeff Bennett (Johnny Bravo), voicing multiple characters, and, as the school principal, Don Adams (ex-Inspector Gadget, Tennessee Tuxedo, Get Smart).

In "Thanksgiving Dad", from season 1, Pepper Ann frets about whether or not her dad will come home for the holiday.

If the designs look familiar, they were created by artist Tom Warburton, who'd later create Codename: Kids Next Door for Cartoon Network.

Rating: B.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sunday Funnies: What if you could take the Devil to court? (Saturday Night Live, 1986)

 Our final "Spooktober" entry for the year comes from Saturday Night Live, and it is a doozy.

In a spoof on the original People's Court, the Devil (Jon Lovitz, later of The Critic) finds himself in a very unusual position, being sued. How they never thought of this sooner, I'll never known.

Phil Hartman (who'd later add The Simpsons to his resume) plays Judge Joseph Wapner, with Kevin Nealon as Doug Llewellyn. 

Just a public service. Happy Halloween.

Spooktober: Hellraiser (1991-2021)

 Ozzy Osbourne's "Hellraiser" was a FM album track off his 1991 CD, "No More Tears", and a duet with Motorhead bassist-vocalist Lemmy Kilmister, one of two cuts co-written by the two. "Hellraiser" was co-written with Zakk Wylde.

To mark the 30th anniversary of "No More Tears" comes an animated video for "Hellraiser", which has Lemmy & Ozzy playing a namesake video game before literally, all hell breaks loose. I think that flaming sword Ozzy wields might've been inspired by the Voltron cartoons.

Like, devilishly crazy, man.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Rare Treats: Hi, Mom (1957)

 New York was a hotbed for children's show hosts in the 50's, 60's, & 70's. Most discussions center around guys like Chuck McCann (WPIX), Soupy Sales, Sandy Becker, & Sonny Fox (WNEW), but have a tendency to forget there was also a woman in the mix.

That would be Shari Lewis.

By 1957, Shari was a fixture at WRCA (now WNBC), where she was brought in a few years earlier to take over the Kartoon Klub, which later was renamed The Shari Lewis Show, then Shariland until it ended in 1956. Seems show business was in Shari's blood, as her father was a magician who was deemed the "official magician" of New York by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia more than 20 years earlier, during the Great Depression.

After a guest appearance on CBS' Captain Kangaroo introduced America to Lamb Chop, Shari returned to WRCA to co-host Hi, Mom, which ran for a couple of years (1957-9). 

The following, nearly seven minute video is the extent of footage available to YouTube:

Yeah, I know. The audio is down too low for some of you. The Paley Center in New York may have at least one full episode, but I don't know for sure.

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, October 29, 2021

You Know The Voice: Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. (aka David Seville) (1958)

 There was a time when Ross Bagdasarian, the creator of Alvin & The Chipmunks, actually appeared on camera as his alter-ego, David Seville. He had a small part in Alfred Hitchcock's classic suspense thriller, "Rear Window", and landed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1958 in support of his pre-Chipmunk hit, "Witch Doctor". Sullivan does the intro:

Of course, Alvin arrived on the scene a while later, and appeared in puppet form on the show before getting his own series.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Toon Legends: Popeye in Skyscraper Capers (1960)

 I'm told that today is Navy Day. What better way to mark this occasion than with the most famous comic strip sailor of them all...Popeye.

In "Skyscraper Capers", Popeye (Jack Mercer) takes a job on a high rise, with Brutus (Jackson Beck) as the foreman. The usual chaos follows.

Most of the open was edited off for copyright reasons.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Spooktober: Sesame Street presents A Magical Halloween Adventure (2004)

 In 2004, Sesame Workshop collaborated with Sony Wonder to produce a Halloween themed Sesame Street video that the kiddo's could play any time.

Mumford the Magician gets lost on the Street, then brings Elmo and friends to a party hosted by Gilda the Good Witch (special guest star Caroline Rhea, a year removed from Sabrina, The Teenage Witch). We're just rolling this out for today's kids. No rating.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis in Scuba Duba (1975)

 From season 1 of The Secrets of Isis:

A careless student gets himself in trouble more than once, the second time using unchecked scuba diving gear. Of course, Isis (Joanna Cameron) comes to his aid. Meanwhile, Isis, as science teacher Andrea Thomas, also has to give fellow teacher Rick Mason a few pointers in humility. Here's "Scuba Duba":

This one is in memory of Joanna Cameron, 70, who passed away on October 15. In addition to Secrets of Isis, Joanna appeared in movies, commercials, and made guest appearances on Daniel Boone, Switch, Marcus Welby, MD, and The Bold Ones: The New Doctors. After retiring from acting, Joanna took up nursing, emboldened, perhaps, by having played a nurse on Welby, then went into a new career in marketing.

Another piece of our childhood is gone. Rest in peace & power, Joanna.

Toon Rock: Mr. Blue Sky (1977-2019)

 42 years after its initial release, Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr. Blue Sky" got a 2nd video issued, this one an animated clip. Not much is known about the animation on this one, but before you scope out the newly released cover by the Muppets' Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem (and that's something to check out), get down and boogie with the original boppin' beat from Jeff Lynne & company.

Retro Toy Chest: Dr. Drill 'n' Fill (1979)

 After Kenner absorbed Rainbow Crafts, the makers of Play-Doh, in 1971, the toy giant began experimenting with expanding the Play-Doh line.

In 1979, they must've thought there were enough kids that wanted to get into dentistry. So, they came out with Dr. Drill 'n' Fill, per this commercial:

A couple of years later, Kenner was the one being absorbed, first by Tonka, then, in 1991, Hasbro, which still markets Play-Doh today, but Dr. Drill 'n' Fill is long gone.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Tooniversary: The Hunter in Statue of Liberty Play (1961)

 The Hunter (Kenny Delmar) does his patriotic duty to hunt down The Fox and retrieve a stolen monument in "Statue of Liberty Play", first shown in March 1961.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

When clowns were cool: Bozo's Big Top, aka The Bozo Show (1959)

 A year after launching a series of animated shorts, Larry Harmon brought Bozo The Clown to live-action. As with Bert Claster's Romper Room, Bozo was licensed to several stations across the country. To my knowledge, the 518 was not one of the markets.

In 1965, Harmon decided to take the show national. It went by the title, The Bozo Show, just for that season, but was changed to Bozo's Big Top the next year. The shorts, with Paul Frees' intro edited off for time, were included, one per episode. A future icon in Carroll Spinney, then billed as Ed Spinney, was part of Harmon's repertory company on Big Top, which was taped in Boston, home to Frank Avruch. Keep in mind this was three years before Spinney left for New York and Sesame Street.

Following is a sample episode.

Good, clean fun. Now, maybe this would be a good time for Bozo to be revived, to erase the stigma created since he left of clowns being bad (largely because of Batman's enemy, the Joker).

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, October 22, 2021

NBC's 1978-9 Saturday morning schedule (partial), courtesy of Marvel

 We're bringing the Saturday morning time machine forward to 1978, and a NBC ad appearing in Marvel Comics.


The Krofft Superstar Hour and The Fabulous Funnies. NBC decided to stress the action and adventure of the three shows advertised (Fantastic Four, Yogi's Space Race, Godzilla Power Hour). Baggy Pants & The Nitwits was moved to 12:30 pm (ET) to make room for Fabulous Funnies, but was gone a month later, as NBC shuffled the lineup.

As we've previously discussed, Krofft Superstar Hour was sliced in half, and re-titled The Bay City Rollers Show, which only prolonged the inevitable. NBC then acquired reruns of Jonny Quest, Doug Wildey's most famous creation, resulting in the Power Hour being rebooted as Godzilla Super 90, while Hanna-Barbera split up Yogi's Space Race into three separate components, with Galaxy Goof-Ups and Buford & The Galloping Ghost being splintered off.

We've also noted that here in the 518, Fantastic Four could only be seen on an alternate affiliate for NBC, WKTV, out of Utica, as WRGB, then the NBC affiliate (they'd flip with WNYT a couple of years later), refused to carry the show, opting for syndicated fare or local production. However, WKTV was removed from local cable systems a few years later due to repetition.

Instant lessons: One Minute Bible Stories (1985)

 Ventriloquist-actress Shari Lewis turned author, and published a pair of books for Doubleday which condensed classic tales from the Bible into two volumes under the title, One Minute Bible Stories. Volume 1, the Old Testament, takes readers on a speed course from Adam & Eve and Noah's Ark to Queen Esther. We'll cover volume 2, the New Testament, another time, but for right now, here's Volume 1:

One quibble. The Bible tells us that Eve met the serpent alone, and later gave an apple to Adam. That Adam & Eve are shown together is part of the condensation of the story.

To my knowledge, the videos were never shown on television.

Rating: A.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Saturtainment: A Halloween episode of the Lawrence Welk Show, revisited (1978-2005)

 Are you ready for some Halloween-themed musical treats, a la Lawrence Welk?

After The Lawrence Welk Show was cancelled by ABC in 1971, the series continued for another 11 years in syndication before Welk retired in 1982 at age 79. Five years later, episodes from the final 15 seasons (1967-82) were acquired by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority to air on PBS.

This particular episode aired on PBS in 2005.

My late mother was a huge Welk fan, and spent many a Saturday afternoon during the PBS era watching the repackaged reruns.

No rating. Just a public service.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Spooktober: A Morkville Horror (Mork & Mindy, 1979)

 From season 2 of Mork & Mindy:

It's easy to forget that Robin Williams had studied acting at Julliard alongside his good friend, Christopher Reeve. In "A Morkville Horror", Mork becomes a psychic conduit when he & Mindy (Pam Dawber) investigate whether or not Mindy's childhood home has become haunted. Both leads should've been nominated for Emmys just on the strength of this episode alone.

Nearly 20 years later, after a handful of nominations, Williams finally copped an Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor, for "Good Will Hunting".

Rating: A+.

CBS' Saturday schedule for 1968-9, as presented by DC Comics

 Last week, we presented a CBS Saturday morning ad from 1969. This time, we're moving back up a bit to 1968. This comes from The Atom & Hawkman #39.

Those stock Looney Tunes poses have been used in advertising for years. As we know, Go-Go Gophers was cancelled after the season, and so was Wacky Races, replaced by its two spinoffs, Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines & The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Toonfomercial: A Honey Comb spaceship? (1978)

 With science fiction making a big comeback on the screen in the late 70's (i.e "Star Wars", Mork & Mindy), Post Cereals, then a brand of General Foods, decided to promote Honey Comb cereal with a commercial that has a spaceship shaped like a, well, honey comb. Jackson Beck narrates.

Looks like the same animation studio that did the Crest Team spots for Procter & Gamble, also narrated by Beck.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Spooktober: Underdog vs. Batty Man (1967)

 Underdog (Wally Cox) faces off against "Batty Man" in the pentultimate episode of the series. This vampire is more interested in stealing gold from Fort Knox than drinking blood.

I should point out that Mad Magazine had used a "Batty Man" as a parody of Batman roughly around the same time.

This video, taken by a camera phone from a Boomerang broadcast, comes from NBC's 2nd run with the series, no later than 1972-3.

Who'd ever heard of a vampire on a cruise liner in broad daylight, before "Hotel Transylvania"?

One of the weaker entries in the series.

Rating: C.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Toonfomercial: You have to buy the cereal for the resolution of this cliffhanger (1964)

 In reviewing Underdog a while back, I mistakenly assumed the series began on CBS. It didn't. The series aired on CBS in between NBC runs, ending in 1973.

Anyway, during the 1964-5 season, sponsor General Mills tried a unique promotion tying the series to Cheerios cereal.

Here, Simon Bar Sinister (Allen Swift) invents another goofy gun that takes the holes out of Cheerios. Underdog (Wally Cox) is convienently eating the cereal as he watches Sweet Polly's newscast. Polly (Norma McMillan) is heard advising viewers to buy Cheerios for the conclusion of this tale.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

CBS' weekend schedule for 1969-70, as seen in DC Comics

 Ah, the days of our youth, when networks would happily promote their Saturday (and Sunday) fare by taking out ad space in comic books.

CBS, for example, would take out 2 page ads appearing in DC & Archie comics, just in time for the start of the new season. This practice, however, would come to an end sometime in the 80's.

For now, here's a 2 page spread for CBS' 1969-70 Saturday block, pulled from From Beyond The Unknown #1:

Yes, we were in year 2 of CBS having rerun rights to The Monkees, and The Jetsons, originally on ABC, and eventually landing at NBC, led off the block, with Tom & Jerry & Batman making up a hour-long Sunday block. CBS discontinued the Sunday reruns first, sometime in the late 70's. From time to time, we'll be pulling those old ads, just for fun.

Spooktober: Fraidy Cat in Not so Nice Mice (1975)

 Fraidy Cat (Alan Oppenheimer, in one of his first jobs for Filmation) runs into a section of town run by some "Not so Nice Mice". Len Weinrib voices all the ghosts of Fraidy's past 8 lives.

Gangster mice? Yep. To think that this was the series opener, too.

Rating: B--.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: Hoot Kloot (1973)

 In a way, DePatie-Freleng's short-lived Hoot Kloot series was an attempt to replicate the success of The Inspector nearly a decade earlier, only with the setting changed from France to the American West.

Hoot himself (Bob Holt) was a send-up of Dodge's on-screen sheriff (Joe Higgins, ex-The Rifleman), who was starring in a series of ads that would later land him a gig on Hee Haw. His talking horse, Fester, was a knock-off of Gunsmoke deputies Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver, McCloud) and Festus Haggin (Ken Curtis), the latter of whom was still on duty by this point.

John W. Dunn wrote all 17 shorts, released between 1973-4, and sources say these shorts eventually turned up as part of NBC's Pink Panther package, though I can't recall ever seeing them until years later.

"As The Tumbleweed Turns", released in April 1974, has Hoot being asked by a railroad to evict a familiar looking widow. Hazel Shermet is credited as the widow, doing a mimic of June Foray's Granny from the Sylvester & Tweety shorts. Holt does all the other voices.


Rating: C.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Tooniversary: Remember when Baggies had an alligator for a mascot? (1976)

 Today, the Baggies line of sandwich bags are under the same corporate roof with Reynolds Wrap, since a Reynolds subsidiary acquired Baggies, along with Hefty garbage bags, a few years back.

Back in 1976, Baggies, if memory serves me correctly, might've been part of Colgate-Palmolive, or, at least, that's what I remember. Anyway, the ad agency they used decided to create an animated mascot, in this case, an alligator:

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Dueling over lollipops? (1970)

 This next commercial aired for several years, after Charms, now part of the Tootsie Roll company, introduced their Big Pop in 1970.

The absurdity of an adult dueling a child over the Big Pops never got old.

Unfortunately, the Big Pops are not around anymore, and were probably gone before Tootsie Roll Industries purchased Charms.

From Primetime to Daytime: A Mark Twain classic gets the Monkee treatment (1967)

 From season 1 of The Monkees:

The Twain classic I was referring to this time is The Prince & The Pauper, in this case with Davy Jones being the "pauper", and essaying a dual role as the prince. Joe Higgins (ex-The Rifleman) and Heather North guest star.

Heather & Davy would work together again 5 years later when Davy guest starred on The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Once Upon a Classic (1976)

 45 years ago, PBS affiliate WQED in Pittsburgh, home of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, launched a series of periodic specials for PBS, though some episodes were imported from England.

Once Upon a Classic, by all rights, should've had a primo spot on Saturday mornings, had PBS bothered to create a Saturday block back then. These hour-long dramas would've been a fair complement to CBS' Children's Film Festival, which itself was being de-emphasized as time passed.

Classic ran for four seasons (1976-80), but information about the series remains minimal at best, and PBS hasn't bothered to exhume the series for its PBS Kids channel, so that today's generation can see some of these shows for the first time.

From 1978, an adaptation of Mark Twain's oft-adapted tale of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, starring Paul Rudd (not the same as the "Ant-Man" star), Tovah Feldshuh (Holocaust), Richard Basehart (ex-Voyage to The Bottom of The Sea), and Roscoe Lee Browne. Bill Bixby (by this time starring in The Incredible Hulk) is the series host.

I hadn't seen this the first time, though I had seen previous adaptations, including one with Bing Crosby.

Rating: B.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Toon Legends: Mr. Magoo in Destination Magoo (1954)

 Mr. Magoo reconnects with an old schoolmate, who's now a respected scientist, and sabotages an experimental rocket meant to go to the moon. "Destination Magoo" was co-written by Jim Backus (Magoo) & Jerry Hausner (Magoo's nephew, Waldo), with a treatment by WB veteran Tedd Pierce.

I believe this might've been a parody of George Pal's "Destination Moon".

Standard Magoo farce of the era.

Rating: B.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Spooktober: Goblins Will Get You (Tennessee Tuxedo, 1965)

 From season 3 of Tennessee Tuxedo & His Tales):

Tennessee (Don Adams, Get Smart, ex-The Bill Dana Show) ignores Chumley's warning about eating too much candy, and has a wicked dream. Here's "Goblins Will Get You":

Kinda weird, isn't it? Chumley actually being smart for a change.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Spooktober: Fangface meets a robot she-wolf (1979)

 Fangface (Frank Welker) falls for a female werewolf, unaware that it's actually a robot being used to lure him into a life of crime.

I should note that by the time Fangpuss arrived on the scene, Marvel's original Werewolf by Night had gained sentience, and was just another wise cracking hero. Fangface, on the other hand, was the classic case of not only being a dim brute, but being dim as a human as well.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Spooktober: Visit to a Ghost Town (Here Comes The Grump, 1969)

 On their journey to locate the Cave of The Whispering Orchids, Princess Dawn & Terry pay a "Visit to a Ghost Town", with the Grump dogging their every step aboard an allergic dragon.....

In a way, the title is a misnomer, since the ghosts seem to have given sentience to the buildings in the town.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Spooktober: The Flintstones' New Neighbors (1980)

 A year after The Flintstones returned to primetime with "The Flintstones Meet Rockula & Frankenstone", Hanna-Barbera got the idea to reboot Frankenstone as a family man, replacing the Gruesomes as the Flintstones' & Rubbles' new neighbors.

See, in the earlier special, Frankenstone was Rockula's unfinished servant (think "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein"). This time, Frank Frankenstone arrives in Bedrock with his family. The parts were recast when The Flintstone Comedy Show bowed a month later. John Stephenson, the reliable utility player, had voiced Rockula in the previous special, and does Frank here, only to be replaced a month later by Charles Nelson Reilly. In fact, the entire Frankenstone family was recast. Here, Hidea is Frank's daughter (Julie McWhirter-Dees, ex-Jeannie, Casper & The Angels, The Rich Little Show, Wacko!), but in the subsequent series, Hidea is Mrs. Frankenstone (Ruta Lee, ex-High Rollers). 

Try figuring out the continuity while watching our first Spooktober entry of the year.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Rare Treats: Remember The Nutty Squirrels Present? (1960)

 The Nutty Squirrels Present was a syndicated anthology series of shorts imported from overseas, which lasted one season (1960-1), then revived for a rerun cycle in the 70's.

This was spun from a novelty band formed by jazzman Don Elliott and TV composer Sascha Burland, who composed the original theme to What's My Line? a decade earlier. The musical Squirrels were clearly a knock-off of Ross Bagdasarian's wildly popular Alvin & The Chipmunks, and the animated iteration beat Alvin to television by a whole year.

The Squirrels only appeared in the open and whatever bumpers were produced for the show, serving as hosts as the title implies.

Following is "Tiger Trouble".

Pedestrian, at best.

Rating: C-.

Friday, October 1, 2021

You Know The Voice: Robert Ridgely (1978)

 I'd imagine this next item aired during sports programming when it was issued in 1978.

Robert Ridgely, at the time the voice of Tarzan, Lord of The Jungle, hams it up as he shills for Schlitz Malt Liquor.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The series premiere of Zorro (1990)

 Nearly 8 years after his animated iteration went off the air, Zorro returned, this time in live-action form, airing on the then-Family Channel (now Freeform), with Duncan Regehr in the title role.

In the opener, Victoria is falsely accused of murder, and Zorro must clear her. Here's "Dead Men Tell No Tales":

As we know, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (ex-Batman: The Animated Series, 77 Sunset Strip, The F. B. I.) would leave, replaced by Henry Darrow (ex-High Chaparral), who'd previously essayed the role of Zorro himself in the 1981 animated series and 1983's Zorro & Son.

In memory of Michael Tylo (ex-Guiding Light), who played the Alcalde in the first two seasons. We've just learned that Tylo passed away at 72. No rating out of respect.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Rebound? (1971)

 Ideal came out with a different kind of shuffleboard game in 1971, and ye scribe was actually fortunate enough to get one for Christmas.

Rebound uses pucks, which players will shoot, right to left, around the board to gain points. I remember playing this game with my brother back in the day, and I certainly remember this commercial:

Unfortunately, once the rubber bands broke, we didn't think to replace them, because we didn't know how, and Rebound ended up waving good-bye after less than a year.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: A Fifth of Beethoven (1976)

 Today, Walter Murphy is known as Seth MacFarlane's go-to musical director (Family Guy, American Dad, et al). However, 45 years ago, he was riding high atop the charts with the disco-tinged "A Fifth of Beethoven", which landed him on The Midnight Special:

Murphy has won an Emmy for his work on Family Guy, and "Fifth" has been used on the show, particularly in a skit where Peter Griffin and pals are at a roller rink. "Fifth" is also in heavy rotation on some oldies channels.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: Flip the Frog in Soda Squirt (1933)

 Before signing on with Disney, Ub Iwerks was already developing a reputation in the animation industry.

Iwerks created Flip The Frog, whose shorts were distributed by MGM from 1930-3. The Iwerks estate owns the rights to Flip, which is why we haven't seen him on TV over the years.

The series finale, "Soda Squirt", from 1933, follows the familiar pattern of using established Hollywood stars such as Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers (all four in this case), Mae West, Joe E. Brown, Jimmy Durante, and Lionel Barrymore. Coincidentally, all of them, I believe, were under contract to MGM at the time, except the Marx Brothers, who were with Paramount, and would sign with MGM later in their careers.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: You're No Good (1973)

 Linda Ronstadt hit #1 on the pop chart in 1975 with a cover of "You're No Good", which had been recorded by artists as diverse as Betty Everett and the Swinging Blue Jeans.

But, before "Good" was included on the album, "Heart Like a Wheel", Ronstadt debuted her cover on The Midnight Special. Her backing band includes Andrew Gold on guitar, and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan) on the bongos.

Intro by host du jour Jose Feliciano.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Talkabout? (1970)

 Playskool's Romper Room division, named for the long running TV show, introduced its answer to Mattel's See & Say line of talking toys in 1970.

However, Talkabout didn't last.

Keep in mind, ye scribe had never heard of the product until seeing this ad.

Since I wasn't a regular Romper Room viewer due to school at this point, I don't know if this was plugged on the show.

Toons You Might've Missed: The Merry Mutineers (1936)

 From Charles Mintz's Color Rhapsody series at Columbia comes this next item, "The Merry Mutineers".

You have characters designed to look like Laurel & Hardy, W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Wallace Beery, Charles Loughton, Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, and, of course, the Three Stooges, on board two toy boats being run by Scrappy and a rival. Scrappy was a toon star at Columbia back in those days.

Voices are not given screen credit, as was the custom of the day.


Rating: A-.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A primer on COVID from Family Guy (2021)

 Family Guy creator-executive producer-star Seth MacFarlane has been outspoken about his disdain for Fox Shmooze's persistent misinformation regarding COVID vaccines. On Monday, MacFarlane appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to premiere a short PSA with characters from Family Guy. In short, Stewie & Brian go all Fantastic Voyage into Peter's bloodstream to convince him to take the vaccine.

And, of course, there's the usual running gag of dissing Meg.

Oh, and there's still that business with The Simpsons......

Rare Treats: The first appearance of the Jolly Green Giant (1954)

 We've all seen those animated commercials for Green Giant products through the decades. However, it's now come to light, after all these years, that the Giant's 1st appearance was done with claymation.

Green Giant, and the company that would be its parent for a time, Pillsbury, were the sponsors of The Mickey Rooney Show, aka Hey, Mulligan!, which lasted one season because Rooney reportedly insulted the president of Pillsbury.

Check it:

Saturtainment: An episode of The Beagles (1967)

 Sources say that the first part of "The Man in The Moon", a four part Beagles arc, premiered in March 1967, backed with a King Leonardo rerun.

While the series was itself a parody of The Beatles, whose own licensed animated series was in its 2nd season, Stringer (Mort Marshall) & Tubby (Allen Swift) were actually parodies of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Kenny Delmar is the narrator.

Edit, 10/10/21: The video has been deleted because the YouTube poster lost his channel. In its place is a sample clip:

What killed the show was the fact that at the time, networks didn't program their children's blocks from 8 am to the afternoon, but rather, from 9 or 10 am (ET). The schedule would expand a couple of years later, but too late for The Beagles.

No rating. Just a public service.

Monday, September 20, 2021

It ain't a movie----yet----but Jessica Rabbit's back as a detective at Disneyland

 "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" was more than 30 years ago, closing in on 35. Disney has decided to give Roger's human wife, Jessica, a reboot, swapping out acting for a new career as a private eye.

This all has to do with a Roger-centric ride at Disneyland, and how Jessica has gone from being a damsel in distress to a heroine. Well, WB did that with Daphne Blake in the two "Scooby-Doo" live-action movies, making her more pro-active instead of being the customary, danger prone damsel. Disney's figuring, if that worked, we can do something with one our ladies fair.

Well, it ain't the same as spinning cute-as-a-button Gadget Hackwrench from Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, but, welllllll.....just judge for yourselves.

Disney is testing the waters here, but positive reaction could result in a movie spinning out of this, although for today's audience, they would recast the role (originally essayed by Kathleen Turner), I would suspect.

Stay tooned.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

You Know The Voice: Matthew Lillard (2018)

 From what I've been reading, WB may be looking for a new Shaggy.

Matthew Lillard, who brought the character to life in 2 live-action "Scooby-Doo" movies before taking over the role in animation a few years later, paid a visit to Rich Eisen's talk show in 2018. I think at that time, Lillard was also working on the just-concluded NBC series, Good Girls, with fellow voice actor Mae Whitman.

Seems essaying the part over the course of nearly 20 years, between live-action and animation, has done some damage to Lillard's vocal cords, to the point where he has supposedly decided to step aside. He was the closest to matching the late Casey Kasem's original characterization, and some say he was actually even better than Casey.

Here, Rich asks Matthew to read the NFL's controversial Catch Rule as Shaggy:


Game Time: Legends of The Hidden Temple (1993)

 It was the most daring of Nickelodeon's game shows during its peak years in the late 80's-early 90's, and even spawned a feature film spin-off.

Legends of The Hidden Temple started off as a weekend series on Nickelodeon in 1993, but in less than six months was promoted to weekday afternoons, where it'd remain until cancellation in 1995.

Kirk Fogg was the series host, aided by Cristela Alonzo. Voice actor Dee Bradley Baker was the man behind Olmec, the "keeper", if you will, of the titular temple.

Unlike most Nick games, Hidden Temple didn't have a Q & A segment. Points were earned by completing stunts, sort of like Beat The Clock, after a fashion. In all, three "seasons" worth of episodes, airing over a two year period (1993-5) were taped at Nick's base at Universal Studios in Orlando.

With a more adult-driven revival due in three weeks on the CW, let's take a look at a sample clip from the original.

Alonzo & Baker are returning for the new series, though Fogg is doing his part to promote the show. Fogg & Baker also starred in the 2016 feature film spin-off. Alonzo was last seen fronting her own primetime sitcom for ABC, which didn't get very far.

Rating: B.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Toon Rock: Levitating (2020-1)

 British singer Dua Lipa released her sophomore CD, "Future Nostalgia", last year. "Levitating" is the latest single from the album, and this animated clip is the second clip for the song.

In keeping with the theme of the album, the anime is inspired by the popular Sailor Moon.