Monday, March 29, 2021

Toonfomercial: Why is an archeologist digging around the Keebler tree? (1976)

 This is totally goofy.

An archeologist (John Stephenson) has his assistant digging around the Keebler tree, which gets the attention of Ernie (Parley Baer). Danny Dark is the announcer.

Baer (ex-The Andy Griffith Show) was the primary voice of Ernie, sometimes alternating with Walker Edmiston, until his passing in 2002. Today, ultra busy Frank Welker is the voice of Ernie, as seen in a CGI ad currently making the rounds.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Don't Let it go to Your Head (1978)

 Philadelphia International Records has its own YouTube channel. In addition to the familiar hits by Billy Paul and Lou Rawls, there are some artists you might not have heard of, like, for example, Jean Carn, who climbed up the R & B & disco charts in the summer of 1978 with "Don't Let it go to Your Head", which brought her to Soul Train. Host-executive producer Don Cornelius does the intro:

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Family Toons: Here Come The Littles (1985)

 In between seasons 2 & 3 of The Littles, the ABC series spun off a feature film, "Here Come The Littles", which, if memory serves me correctly, was later picked up by the network to use on the ABC Weekend Special. A 2nd film, "Liberty & The Littles", was produced later that year, and debuted as a 3 part episode on Weekend Special, doubling as the coda to The Littles.

The plot: Henry Bigg (Jimmy Keegan) has to live with his mean, evil uncle, Augustus (Hal Smith), when his parents disappear while on an expedition in Africa. Tom & Lucy Little end up tagging along in Henry's suitcase, and then, well, see for yourselves......

"Here Come The Littles" marked the final performance of 2nd generation actor Donavan Freberg (Stan's son) as Tom. Today, Donavan, who debuted in a series of commercials for Encyclopedia Brittanica that his father produced & directed, is a portrait photographer based in Los Angeles.

Veteran writer-producer Heywood "Woody" Kling wrote this story and "Liberty".

Rating: B.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Tooniversary: Betty Boop & The Little King (1936)

 After appearing in a series of silent shorts for Van Bueren, Otto Sogolow's The Little King was licensed out to the Fleischers to appear with Betty Boop (Mae Questel) in a 1-off in 1936. Bored by the opera, the king decides to check out the vaudeville theatre where Betty is doing a 1-woman Wild West show.

Not one of Betty's best, and it'd be the last time we'd see the king.

Rating: C.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Boys & Girls (1968)

 Here's a lesser known track from 1968's The Archie Show. Skip past the Dance of the Week segment, "The Jughead", and go straight to "Boys & Girls", not to be confused with a soul song of the same name from a few years later.

Edit, 6/23/22: Had to change the video. The Dance of the Week is not included in this copy.

You Know The Voice: Bud Collyer (1956)

 In the 50's, Bud Collyer could sell you anything, given the endorsement deals he had with Bulova, and with the in-show commercials on Beat The Clock, such as this one from 1956 for Fresh deodorant & anti-perspirant, a product that is no longer with us.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Saturtainment: The Littles take on a rat infestation (1983)

 You're heard the expression, "being eaten out of house & home", right?

Consider, then, the plight of The Littles in this first season offering.

A violent thunderstorm causes flooding in the village, and that brings hundreds of rats into the underground village that the Littles call home. Oh, sure, it's causing problems, for the humans, too, but what complicates things is one stubborn citizen who doesn't think the rats are cause enough for an emergency, contrary to the call to action from Grandpa (Alvy Moore).

Here's "The Rats Are Coming! The Rats Are Coming!":

Part of the reason The Littles didn't get past three seasons was because it was too close to the lunch hour death slot. DIC replaced them with The Real Ghostbusters in 1986, and that got a primo spot on the schedule.

Rating: A-.

Coming Attractions: Sesame Street introduces two new African-American Muppets

 In the course of over 51 years on the air, Sesame Street has always been about cultural diversity, inclusiveness, and how its target audience----children----can relate to the Muppet characters.

Roosevelt Franklin, despite the purple fur, was designated as the series' 1st African-American Muppet all the way back in 1970. Despite Roosevelt's popularity, some viewers thought he represented certain negative stereotypes. I have a suspicion I know where those viewers were based.

Today, Sesame Workshop introduced a new pair of African-American Muppets. Father & son. Wesley & Elijah Walker.

Photo courtesy of Sesame Workshop & Yahoo!

If I could hazard a guess, since Street has been based in New York from its inception in 1969, Wesley might've been named for a former NFL player who plied his trade with the Jets during the 70's & 80's. Elijah's mother is "in development", and will debut as well.

When the Walkers do join the cast, as you're aware by now, 1st run episodes are airing on HBO, and will also appear on HBO Max, PBS, & PBS Kids. Meaning that, assuming the Walkers debut this year, their first appearances will appear on PBS around this time next year.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Toonfomercial: Rocky Balboa shills for Lipton! (1997)

 In the late 90's, Loose Moose Productions was commissioned to produce a series of claymation (sort of) ads for Lipton Brisk Iced Tea, currently under the Unilever umbrella.

Loose Moose has a YouTube channel, from whence we get this 1997 spot, in which Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, reprising his iconic creation) needs some refreshment between rounds, and water ain't gonna cut it.

Supposedly, Burgess Meredith reprised his role as Mickey, Rocky's trainer, but others have claimed impressionist and radio personality Billy West was Mickey. The fact that Stallone actually agreed to do the ad was news all by itself. Yo!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Tooniversary: Niagara Fools (1956)

 Woody Woodpecker (Grace Stafford Lantz), after a park ranger (Bob Johnson) boasts of never letting anyone go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, decided to challenge the ranger's record. Here's "Niagara Fools":

Curiously, while Johnson was credited, Grace Stafford Lantz was not. 10 years later, Johnson landed his most famous gig, as the uncredited voice giving IMF agents Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) & Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) their assignments on tape on Mission: Impossible.

Take note of the design of the ranger. I think we've found one of John Kricfalusi's influences.

Rating: B.

Saturtainment: Gulliver in The Valley of Time (1968)

 I think we had this one up before, but it was deleted because of the YouTube user's account being terminated. So, we've brought this Adventures of Gulliver episode back.

In a thunderstorm, Gary Gulliver (Jerry Dexter) and his friends, Glum (Herbert Vigran), Bunko (Allan Melvin, The Banana Splits, Gomer Pyle, USMC), Flirtacia (Ginny Tyler, ex-Space Ghost), & Eager (Don Messick) find shelter in a cave, unaware that they've been spotted by Captain Leech (John Stephenson). That cave, however, is a portal into "The Valley of Time":

Herb Vigran also appeared occasionally on shows like Gomer Pyle, playing a variety of characters. Executive producer Sheldon Leonard also used Vigran on The Dick Van Dyke Show, among other series. Vigran was also a H-B veteran, with his resume including guest appearances on The Flintstones.

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Animated World of DC Comics: Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons (2020)

 More than 40 years ago, Marv Wolfman & George Perez created Deathstroke as a foe for The New Teen Titans. Riding the wave of popularity of that series, Deathstroke has been awarded his own DC Comics series on several occasions over the last 30 years. Last year, producer Greg Berlanti (who else?) developed an online animated movie that was supposed to be a series of shorts. "Knights & Dragons" was released as a feature film last summer, and currently is streaming on CW Seed & HBO Max.

The continuity in the movie is far, far removed from Wolfman & Perez's original vision.

Slade Wilson (Michael Chiklis, ex-Gotham, The Shield, The Commish) maintains the pose of a businessman insofar as his wife, Addie (Sasha Alexander, ex-Dawson's Creek) and son Joseph know. The cover, however, is blown when an old enemy abducts Joseph.

I should note that in the books, Slade actually had three children. Eldest son Grant, the original Ravager, was killed off in New Teen Titans (1st series) 2, leading to Slade taking on his contract for the H. I. V. E. Joseph and his sister, Rose (Ravager II), came along later. As Jericho, Joseph's abilities are vastly different from the comics and his appearances on Titans. It appears that as far as DC is concerned, Grant has been ret-conned out.

Here's the trailer:

The door is open for a sequel, but the question is whether or not DC/WB will do one. 

Rating: B.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Rise (1979)

 A & M Records co-founder Herb Alpert landed a #1 hit in 1979 with "Rise", which was used on General Hospital back then, and the success of the instrumental got Alpert on Soul Train.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Tooniversary: Zorro: Generation Z (2006)

 Since the dawn of the 21st century, Hollywood has stupidly tried to reboot classic heroes in a more modern setting.

In 2003 alone, the WB network had tried a contemporary take on Tarzan as a weekly series, and a Lone Ranger TV-movie, starring One Tree Hill's Chad Michael Murray in the title role, but they created a new Ranger unrelated to John Reid, likely because the studio didn't have the rights to Green Hornet, and couldn't maintain the family connection.

Syndicator-producer Allen Bohbot didn't learn anything from those failures.

Three years after those twin flops, Bohbot acquired a license from the rights holders of Zorro to develop a contemporary animated series, set in the not-too-distant future of 2015, or, 9 years after the year the series was released.

Zorro: Generation Z brings Johnston McCulley's hero back to animation, 25 years after Filmation's one season wonder for CBS. This time, Zorro is a college student, and the grandson of the original Diego de la Vega. He fancies the daughter of the corrupt mayor, but she, too, has a secret identity as Scarlet Whip, Zorro's occasional partner. 

The 21st century's Zorro has a motorcycle instead of a horse, although he did have to go old school in one episode. Bernardo, his mute associate, is a computer genius, and the whip is a multi-purpose laser tool. Not only that, but Zorro's cape is designed to be bulletproof, and protect him from all kinds of harm. It's a case of coming full circle, since the Batman, inspired in part by McCulley's classic hero, had similar upgrades in his costume and equipment over the years.

In "The Earthquake Machine", Zorro & Scarlet Whip have to deal with a deranged professor whose titular invention attracts the attention of the mayor.....

Bohbot Kids Network had planned a 2nd season, but that went nowhere, and the company went belly up, its assets claimed by Cookie Jar. Based on what we've seen, I'd think WB would do a better job.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Run to Me (1973)

 From The Midnight Special:

The Bee Gees perform the gentle ballad, "Run to Me", which was released in 1972. The clip starts after host du jour Paul Anka has introduced the trio.

Edit, 5/8/23: Had to change the video. This one comes from the official Midnight Special YouTube channel, with Paul Anka's intro edited off.

There is another clip that has Maurice on piano, and no guitars. Probably covering for the backing band.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Tooniversary: Daniel Boone (1981)

 Recent research has revealed that CBS' Famous Classic Tales actually continued all the way to 1984, even though the output had significantly decreased by the end of the series.

From 1981, Hanna-Barbera's Australian division serves up a different look at "Daniel Boone". You see, the reason Boone, as played by Fess Parker from 1964-70 on NBC, had a coonskin cap was because Parker was associated with the cap from his time as Davy Crockett for Disney a few years earlier.

Richard Crenna joins H-B regulars Michael Bell, Janet Waldo, and John Stephenson for this rendition of "Boone". Mind the video issues.

No rating. Just a public service.

Tooniversary: Zorro in Turnabout (1981)

 Filmation's adaptation of Zorro turns 40 this year. As we've noted some of the artwork was outsourced to a studio in Japan, it would appear, giving this an amalgam of American animation and Japanese anime.

In "Turnabout", Captain Ramon hires a man to try to trap Zorro (Henry Darrow), but things, as usual, go awry for the villain.

In memory of Henry Darrow, 87, who passed away over the weekend. No rating out of respect.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

You Know The Voice: Mike Road (1971)

This one's for Hal Horn at The Horn Section:

Forrest Tucker (ex-F-Troop) plays a xenophobic parent who doesn't want his daughter seeing a college student from the Middle East in the Cade's County episode, "The Alien Land", which aired in December 1971. Mike Road (ex-Jonny Quest, The Herculoids, The Roaring 20's, Buckskin) appears as District Attorney Jack Forbes, and first appears at the 25 minute mark.

Animated World of DC Comics: Reign of The Supermen (2019)

 In the wake of "The Death of Superman", there are four new players all looking to fill the void. "Reign of The Supermen" adapts the follow-up storyline from the comics and compresses it into a 90 minute movie when it certainly deserved more time.

While all of Metropolis is recovering from the apparent demise of the Man of Tomorrow (Jerry O'Connell), another man presumed dead, Hank Henshaw (Patrick Fabian) returns to earth, now a cyborg, and claiming to be Superman. O'Connell takes over when Henshaw uses voice modulation to impersonate Superman. Dr. John Henry Irons (Cress Williams, Black Lightning) creates his own Superman-inspired suit of armor, which looks like they either used or improved upon Jon Bogdanove's design in the books. Not only that, but with the movie now set nearly 25 years after the original story, Irons' armor works the same way that Tony Stark's Iron Man armor does over at Marvel. In a way, Steel was designed as DC's answer to the Armored Avenger back in 1994, anyway.

A Kryptonian Eradicator, a hologram come to life, tries to fill the void, absent Superman's moral code. That's trouble. Finally, there is a clone with the DNA of both Superman and Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson), the latter of whom is Superboy's patron, which doesn't sit well with the lad (Cameron Monaghan, Gotham, Shameless). Nearly a year's worth of story arc is compacted into a more palatable package for viewer consumption.

The most shocking part? Luthor joining forces with Lois Lane (Rebecca Romjin), realizing that the honor of ending Superman should be his and his alone, kind of like the Joker vs. Batman.

Check the trailer:

Darkseid (Tony Todd) likely will return.

Rating: A.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Family Toons: Prescription For Disaster (The Littles, 1983)

 The Littles lasted just three seasons on ABC (1983-6), but it was also the network's answer to Fat Albert over on CBS, which was in its final network season when The Littles arrived, in that there were episodes that taught kids about common dangers, including drugs.

In "Prescription For Disaster", Grandpa (Alvy Moore, ex-Green Acres) takes Dinky, Tom, & Lucy to visit some relatives who live within the walls of a home where a single mother, a drug addict, is trying to raise her daughter. Dimwitted Dinky ends up in some trouble, but not quite like the trap Lucy ends up in. Henry Bigg & his family do not appear in this episode.

To think that the show's head writer, Jeffrey Scott, was also in that same role on Super Friends, which was on hiatus when the season began.

Rating: A.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Saturday School: Fat Albert in Mom or Pop (1973)

 From season 2 of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids:

The gang intercedes when a new classmate has some issues with her parents' plans to divorce. Here's "Mom or Pop":

Despite each episode containing some kind of teaching tool, CBS simply refused to move the series out of the lunch hour death slot over the course of 12 years (1972-84). Had it been on at an earlier time, who knows?

Rating: A.

Rare Treats: I Created Lancelot Link (1999)

 Right before the series' 30th anniversary, Diane Bernard & Jeff Krulik produced I Created Lancelot Link, which was more about the show's creators, veteran comedy writers Mike Marmer & Stan Burns, who came over from Get Smart, and whose resumes also include stints with Ernie Kovacs, Steve Allen, and Carol Burnett.

Mike Krulik, one of the editors credited, posted this to YouTube:

I don't know if they'd attempted to contact musical director Steve Hoffman, who recorded the title song and all of the Evolution Revolution numbers. The records were released through, fittingly, ABC-Dunhill, where Hoffman produced records for the Grass Roots as well.

Rating: A.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Looney TV: Forward March Hare (1956)

 A case of mistaken identity, caused by some misdirected mail, puts Bugs Bunny in the Army in Chuck Jones' "Forward March Hare":

The fact that it took the Army that long to realize the mistake is icing on the cake.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: Private Snafu in Censored (1944)

 It's been nearly 5 years since we last featured Private Snafu, so let's go back to World War II, shall we?

Snafu (Mel Blanc) desperately wants to send a letter to his girlfriend stateside. Unfortunately, military censors will have none of that. When we do see Sally Lou, we see a scantily clad woman (this was produced for the Army, after all), topless (her breasts are hidden under the letter), dressed in thigh-high stockings. Too bad we'd never see her again.

Here's "Censored":

Luckily for Snafu, this was a dream. And a lesson for the soldiers.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Toons After Dark: Powerpuff Girls in Powerpuff Bluff (1998)

 Before we get into our next short subject, some news regarding plans for a live-action Powerpuff Girls.

The pending CW series has cast its three leads, and two of them are not strangers to the superhero genre.

Dove Cameron (Bubbles) voiced Spider-Gwen in the Marvel Rising miniseries of shorts and movies, and her resume also includes Liv & Maddie and Descendants. Speaking of Marvel, Chloe Bennett, who will play redheaded Blossom, is fresh from Marvel's Agents of SHIELD after 7 seasons on the now-defunct ABC series.

I still have doubts regarding Diablo Cody's take on things, recasting the girls as a trio of disillusioned 20-somethings who lost a large chunk of their childhood due to their crime-fighting careers. Cody is hoping this will have the same kind of success as another CW reimagining of a saccharine comics series, that being, of course, Riverdale. TV executives believe sweet & innocent doesn't cut it in primetime anymore. Simple as that. We'll see come the fall, if it's ready by then.

Now, let's move the clock back to 1998, and "Powerpuff Bluff". A trio of adult thieves, repeatedly thwarted by the girls, decide to impersonate them---badly, of course---to discredit them.

Edit, 12/26/21: The video was deleted by Dailymotion. In its place is a title card:

I recall Jimmy Kimmel doing a skit on Fox NFL Sunday a year or so later with three guys wearing Halloween masks of the girls. Whether or not Kimmel had seen "Powerpuff Bluff" is unknown at this point.

Rating: B.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Saturtainment: The Mr. Potato Head Show (1998)

 Mr. Potato Head got a raw deal from Fox.

Back in 1998, the iconic Hasbro toy was licensed to producer Phil Roman (Bobby's World, Garfield & Friends, etc.), who sold the puppet-centric Mr. Potato Head Show to Fox. However, you'd be forgiven if you didn't know this show actually existed, since by the end of the 90's, Fox was shuffling shows in and out of the lineup, usually without any prior notice.

The cast was largely made up of unknowns, with Kevin Carlson voicing Mr. Potato Head. Debra Wilson (MadTV) was the only recognizable name in the cast. If Fox was serious about this, they could've chanced a crossover with their late night series. Unfortunately, Mr. Potato Head only got 13 weeks before being canned.

Following is a sample episode:

No rating.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Tooniversary: Heaven Scent (1956)

 Pepe Le Pew resumes his unwarranted pursuit of Penelope Pussycat in Chuck Jones' 1956 entry, "Heaven Scent".

Things are a wee bit different this time. Penelope is on the run from some dogs, and decides to get even by purposely using a newly painted flagpole to paint a certain white stripe down her back & tail, which, of course, gets Pepe's attention.

Edit, 9/15/23: The video has been deleted. The only other usable copy has some Spanish over the opening titles. In its place is a title card. 

 The reason we bring this up? A New York Times columnist, one Charles Blow, pointed out in a tweet that Pepe presents a negative stereotype as a sexual predator, a stereotype that WB had assigned to overly amorous French males as a result.

The timing of Blow's tweet is just as curious, as NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has been bombarded in recent days with accusations of sexual harassment, dating back to his days working for the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Without former president Donald Trump as a bogeyman for Cuomo to play off of in the press, he's now being recast as a villain himself.

As the old saying goes, and this applies to Penelope in "Heaven Scent", sometimes, you reap what you sow.

"Heaven Scent" gets a B.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Toonfomercial: An elf at a construction site? (1976)

 Ernie Keebler (Parley Baer, ex-The Andy Griffith Show) is at a construction site, trying to sell Keebler's Town House crackers to a worker.

Danny Dark is the announcer.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

From Out of The Recycling Bin: Cartoon Lost & Found (1989)

 The problem with Nick at Nite's 1989 pilot, Cartoon Lost & Found, was that the cartoons showcased weren't entirely lost.

Take, for example, Deputy Dawg, who was a fixture in syndication in the early 80's, before 1st run syndication pushed the older shows off the air. Most, if not all, of the shows presented in this half hour show, which didn't go to series, had or would soon be seen on cable. For example, Nickelodeon's sister network, MTV, had aired Speed Racer reruns not long before this show aired, and Speed would not only move over to Nick, but the network later acquired a sequel series.

Adam West (ex-Batman, The Detectives) is essentially our host. This was another failed pilot for the actor, after 1986's The Last Precinct. Comic Spike Feresten, who co-created the show and co-wrote it, would later surface on Fox with his own show some years later.

See how many toons you can recognize, and see exactly why this ended up a bomb.

Today, this might work, but 32 years ago? Not so much. Not West's fault. He tried to get this to work, but this required a better script and format.

Rating: C-.

Daytime Heroes: Heathcliff vs. The Siamese Twins (1984)

 When the owner of the fish market gets clipped by a car while chasing Heathcliff (Mel Blanc), the orange feline shows some remorse, and tries to change his ways. However, some new cats come to town, and 'Cliff will need the Catillac Cats' help with "The Siamese Twins":

The twins turned out to be a 1-shot opponent, unfortunately.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Saturday's Child (1966)

 From season 1 of The Monkees:

The guys give a lift to some local kids on the beach to the beat of the David Gates-penned "Saturday's Child". Three years later, Gates, a journeyman songwriter at this stage, formed the band, Bread, and began producing hit records of his own.

From the episode, "Monkee vs. Machine". We'll put the complete episode up another time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

You Know The Voice: Keye Luke (1953)

 Keye Luke was one of the most successful Asian-American actors of our lifetime. In a career that spanned six decades, from the 30's through at least the 80's, Luke was a dependable character actor, starting off as Charlie Chan's #1 son, Lee, to voicing Chan himself in 1972 while also starring on Kung Fu and the short-lived Anna & The King, to appearing in films like "Gremlins" in the 80's.

Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan may be the only Hanna-Barbera series where Keye had been credited, as he was the original voice of Brak (Space Ghost), and also made uncredited guest appearances on Scooby-Doo, among other places.

We're going to turn the dial back to 1953 here, as Keye appears in the pilot episode of Terry & The Pirates, playing an agent of the Japanese government. This episode also appears at The Land of Whatever.