Friday, April 30, 2021

Toonfomercial: Dinty Moore, the singing lumberjack (1973)

 Dinty Moore beef stew has been one of Hormel's longest running products, such that it's included in the company's line of microwave meals.

Back in 1973, someone came up with the idea of creating a Dinty Moore character to sell the product, a singing lumberjack serving his namesake stew to a hungry worker, the idea being that it's "dinner for lunch". Check it.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Grazing in The Grass (1969)

 From Happening:

The Friends of Distinction put some vocals to their cover of Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in The Grass". This is getting airplay today on oldies channels all over the joint, much more so than Masekela's version.

Mark Lindsay does the intro:

Looney TV: Chaser on The Rocks (1965)

 We all know that if you're out in the desert under intense heat, you tend to experience mirages, seeing things that aren't really there.

In 1965's "Chaser on The Rocks", the Road Runner uses this to fair effect on Wile E. Coyote early on, but of course, the rest of the gags are predictable. This one is part of the DePatie-Freleng era at WB.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

You Know The Voice(s): Frank Welker visits Paul Lynde (1973)

 In the series finale of The Paul Lynde Show, Frank Welker (The New Scooby-Doo Movies) makes a rare acting appearance in front of the camera. He plays the jealous boyfriend of a new neighbor (Christopher Norris, later of Trapper John, MD), who, in turn, has taken a shine to attorney Paul Simms (Lynde), whose family is hosting hers for a little getting-to-know-you. Roger C. Carmel (ex-The Mothers-in-Law) also guest stars.

Frank appears at around the 12 minute mark, greeted by Sally (Pamelyn Ferdin, The Roman Holidays).

Nearly 50 years later, Frank is still going strong. Pam is retired, and we lost Paul in the early 80's.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Coming Attractions: Fox tries again to mount a Flintstones revival

 Nearly a decade ago, super-geek Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad) wanted to mount a revival of The Flintstones for Fox, but the regime there at the time wasn't digging. According to TV Line, then-Fox programming boss Kevin Reilly "liked, but didn't love it".

Now, Fox is turning to actress-producer-game show host Elizabeth Banks (Press Your Luck) to give it another try.

The idea is to move the story forward 20 years from the original series. Banks will serve as an executive producer and voice a now-adult Pebbles, who may or may not be still with Bamm-Bamm Rubble. You'll recall that Hanna-Barbera had allowed the kids to grow up during the 70's & 80's, to the point where Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm eventually married and started their own family. Unfortunately, much of that history has been ret-conned out, as the kids are back to being little kids in advertising (i.e. cereal commercials).

But what about casting for what is definitely an adult-centric series?

Jeff Bergman, who has voiced Fred for several years since the passing of Henry Corden, has played the role in cameos on Family Guy and a guest shot on Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law. Frank Welker, for whom they're probably inventing the 30 hour day, since he's got so many gigs, including the Keebler Elves these days, has been doing Barney for Post's Pebbles line of cereals, and the occasional special since Mel Blanc passed away more than 30 years ago.

Then again, Banks & Fox might have their own ideas. 

Let me make it clear. I'd put more trust in this than I would the CW's live-action Powerpuff right now. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Saturday School: The Little Scouts (The Littles, 1983)

 From season 1 of The Littles:

In what may be a harbinger of things to come, "The Little Scouts" are a co-ed scouting program, with Grandpa (Alvy Moore) as scoutmaster. As usual, clumsy Dinky proves to be little more than comedy relief.

This was another episode where Henry and his family were in absentia. It would've been too easy for writer Jeffrey Scott to have Henry be a boy scout, too, so that his troop would be on the same trail, but Scott chose not to take that direction. Good thing, too.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

You Know The Voices: An ant, an aardvark, & the Inspector play Hollywood Squares (not really)(1987)

 Of course, I'm referring to John Byner (The Ant & The Aardvark) and Pat Harrington (The Inspector, ex-One Day at a Time), with John in the center square position in this entry from season 1 of the John Davidson era.

Contrary to announcer Richard Stevens' pronouncement, One Day was off the air and in reruns by the time this episode aired in February 1987.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Toon Legends: The Fantastic Four vs. The Molecule Man (1967)

 It's been a while since we checked in with the Fantastic Four.

Hanna-Barbera's take on "The Mysterious Molecule Man" is similar to the character's actual origin, revealed four years earlier. A lab technician (guest star Henry Corden) is caught in an explosion, and transformed from a gray haired scientist into the dark haired Molecule Man, complete with now-pointed ears and lightning bolts imprinted on his face, though Alex Toth's design doesn't match Jack Kirby's original drawings from 1963.

Unfortunately, Molecule Man would not return to cartoons until The Marvel Super Hero Squad Show, some 40-odd years later.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voices: Paul Lynde & Pamelyn Ferdin (1972)

 From The Paul Lynde Show:

Paul Simms (Lynde) initially objects when youngest daughter Sally (Pamelyn Ferdin, The Roman Holidays, ex-Curiosity Shop, Lassie, Blondie) is invited to a classmate's house to do some studying. The other plot centers on Howie (John Calvin), who winds up appearing on a quiz show. Anson Williams, in one of his first pre-Happy Days appearances, guest stars.

The quiz show plot recalls "The $99,000 Question" from The Honeymooners:

Lynde & Ferdin, as we know, would also work together on "Charlotte's Web", which came out after The Paul Lynde Show was cancelled. The clip is taken from an airing on Antenna TV (no longer available on Spectrum Cable in the 518).

Friday, April 23, 2021

Getting Schooled: A nearly complete episode of Captain Kangaroo (1980)

 You can't say Captain Kangaroo didn't change with the times during its CBS run.

The comedy sketches had always been there, including the bits with Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit. Puppeteer Cosmo Allegretti moved out from under the puppets to appear in front of the camera to do some sketches. The Captain (Bob Keeshan, who was also an executive producer) created additional characters he could play, like Dr. Silly Dilly, for example, who figures into this offering from 1980.

Part of the "Good morning, Captain" intro, which was introduced in the 70's, was edited off, according to YouTube poster Avi Forstein, due to taping an episode of Real People over that first minute or two. John Schuck (ex-McMillian & Wife, Holmes & Yoyo, Turnabout) guest stars in this one, most prominently as Humpty Dumpty in a skit with Dr. Dilly. Other segments include The Toothbrush Family (previously reviewed) and PicturePages as the Captain joins Bill Cosby (Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids).

One recurring segment, Town Clown, may have been inspired by Keeshan's run on Howdy Doody as Clarabell the Clown, as well as classic pantomime skits by Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Coming attractions: A live-action Fairly OddParents??

 Apparently, it isn't enough that there will be a live-action version of the Powerpuff Girls. Now, Nickelodeon wants some of that action.

One of Nick's most popular shows of the last two decades, Butch Hartman's Fairly OddParents, is being rebooted as a live-action series for Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access).

Nick played OddParents into the ground at one point, something Chumptoon Network does today with Teen Titans Go!, but what makes them think a live-action OddParents will actually work? Hartman is on board, as is Fred Siebert, who was a producer at Nick back in the day.

Grown-ups like me couldn't see the humor in the repetitive plotting surrounding a dimwitted grade schooler and his fairy godparents. Cosmo wasn't exactly a brain surgeon himself, as Wanda was always the sensible one. And, just like the CW's pending Powerpuff, PP's OddParents, which begins filming in June, makes little sense to nostalgia marks.

It's one thing that PP will be home to some new Star Trek-related projects and a revival of another Nick series, iCarly, but this has the potential to be a bomb.

Alphabetic Toons: Spelling made easy with Alpha-Bits (1975)

 In 1975, Post Cereals started an advertising campaign in which there was "an adventure in every bowl of Alpha-Bits", which was an excuse of show kids that they can learn how to spell words while having breakfast.

Check this sample out:

Unfortunately, Post ditched this campaign by the end of the 70's. It's a shame, too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Toonfomercial: A primer on sharing (1970)

 This ad, produced for the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, eventually went national when it launched in 1970. Its simple message still resonates today.

Or, as the Salvation Army might put it, sharing is caring.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Meet the Shogun Warriors (& Godzilla)(1978)

 In the mid-70's, well before being adapted for television by Hanna-Barbera & NBC, Godzilla had been licensed by Toho Productions to Marvel Comics. The series lasted a couple of years, and had some nice art. I actually owned an issue or two before the family moved to our current abode, and I had to give away what I had.

At the same time, Marvel had also acquired a license for a series based on some Japanese action heroes/action figures, the Shogun Warriors, who actually crossed over into Godzilla's book, as memory serves.

In terms of toys, Mattel had the license to create action figures for both the Warriors and Godzilla, which were marketed together. Actor Marvin Miller (ex-Aquaman, The Millionaire), at the time doing some voice work for the Kroffts, is the narrator.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saturtainment: Sylvanian Families (1987)

 In the midst of the toy-centric syndication market of the mid-80's, DIC acquired a license to adapt Sylvanian Families, a Japanese toy line, in North America. Unfortunately, the series lasted one season of 13 episodes, each with 2 short features. In other words, 26 cartoons total.

The Sylvanian Forest is in another dimension, accessible only by children, and guarded by one human adult, the Woodkeeper.

Just as unfortunate is the fact that the toys didn't catch on here in the US, and Tomy lost the license in North America in the 90's.

In the episode, "Know-it-All", a young boy learns a hard lesson about how smart he really is.

I remember seeing commercials for the toys, but never saw the show. From what I've seen above, I'm not impressed.

Rating: B--.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Looney TV: Sylvester & Tweety actually agree on something! (1979)

 We've previously seen Bugs Bunny appear in a Dr. Pepper ad with David Naughton (Makin' It) and T. K. Carter. Now, Naughton and some young ladies pretending to be high schoolers share the screen with Sylvester & Tweety. Check the "Be a Pepper!" shirt on Sylvester.

Where was Porky Pig when you really wanted some laughs?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (Revisited): Make it With You (1977)

 Bread's 1970 #1 hit, "Make it With You", was a staple of AM radio in the 70's, and today is still getting airplay on oldies and adult contemporary channels.

David Gates and the band turned up on The Midnight Special 7 years later to do a live version.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

From Primetime to Daytime: The series premiere of Rin-Tin-Tin (1954)

 It's been a while since we looked at a 50's legend, The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin, and the best way to do that is with the series premiere, "Meet Rin-Tin-Tin", from 1954.

We bring this up due to the passing of Lee Aaker (Rusty), who has passed away at 77. No rating out of respect.

Sunday Funnies: Let's Have Fun (1960)

 The late Chuck McCann built his legend in New York, first hosting a weekday show devoted to Laurel & Hardy. The success of that series prompted his bosses at WPIX to request that McCann also work his magic on Sundays with what started as a four hour block of programming, mixed with comedy skits performed by McCann and puppeteer Paul Ashley.

Let's Have Fun launched in 1960, airing from 9 am-1 pm, which meant being a lead-in to Yankee baseball on Sundays during the spring & summer. The block included reruns of Gumby, The Adventures of Superman, Mack & Myer For Hire, and other goodies.

Unfortunately, WPIX suits butted in, and it led to McCann & Ashley leaving in the summer of 1965. Another daytime host, Jack McCarthy, took over for a week, and then, the merry-go-round began to spin for the final three years of the series run, culminating with then-'PIX staffer and future TV star Scoey Mitchell, as Fireman Frank, taking over as host for the final season. Let's Have Fun was cancelled in June 1968. Mitchell had started as a cameraman at 'PIX. Who knew?

During a newspaper strike, the New York Daily News had asked McCann to read the funny pages without doing his usual cast of characters. Ultimately, he would dress up as Dondi, Little Orphan Annie, & Dick Tracy for skits.

After leaving Let's Have Fun, McCann began his Hollywood career, working in cartoons not only as a voice actor (i.e. Cool McCool), but also as a production staffer. He's best remembered nationally for a series of ads for Right Guard deodorant in the 70's, in addition to his founding the Sons of The Desert, a Laurel & Hardy fan club, and playing Hardy, or an impersonator thereof, on TV in the 70's and early 80's. His last kids show was 1975's Far Out Space Nuts, which he co-created, for CBS in 1975.

Mitchell might be known for many appearances on game shows like Match Game, and co-starring in a 1970 adaptation of Barefoot in The Park for ABC.

Let's move back to 1965, and McCann showing off his talents as a song & dance man with a cover of "Put on a Happy Face":

I wanted to find this three years ago after McCann passed, but the above clip didn't become available until last year.

No rating. We didn't get cable in upstate until 5 years after the series ended.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Game Time: I've heard of passing gas, but.....! (1979)

 Pennzoil motor oil didn't limit its celebrity endorsements to golf icon Arnold Palmer.

In this 1979 spot, NFL QB Ken Stabler, then with the then-Oakland Raiders, uses a full can of the product as if it's a football. The trick photography used to illustrate how the can fits neatly into a case is just ridiculous.

Narrated by Bill Woodson (Battle of The Planets, Super Friends, ex-Ellery Queen, The Odd Couple, The Invaders):

Looney TV: Corn on The Cop (1965)

 This ain't exactly a send-up of, say for example,  Car 54, Where Are You?, but it's not one of Daffy Duck or Porky Pig's best efforts, either.

"Corn on The Cop" borrows its title from a 1934 live-action short that featured Shemp Howard, but it's a completely different plot. Porky & Daffy are patrol cops who get confused when a thief is dressed exactly like Granny (voiced here by Joan Gerber instead of June Foray). This would be the final appearance of Porky and Granny for a long time to come.

The gag that carries the story is the confusion, because it's obvious to the viewer what the differences are, including the thief wearing a mask and puffing on a cigar, something the oblivious cops can't see. To think it would be 30 years before we'd see Granny again (Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, with June Foray returning to the role).

Rating: B---.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

A prominent Powerpuff Girls supporting character will finally show her face

 When it comes to adapting cartoons into live action, nothing is sacred. That lesson's been taught many times over.

So it comes as no surprise that when the producers of the CW's prospective series, Powerpuff, made their latest casting announcements on Friday, they once again messed with the uniqueness of the original series.

Actress Robyn Lively, half-sister of Blake Lively (which makes her a half-sister-in-law to Blake's husband, Ryan Reynolds), has been cast as Sara Bellum, the Mayor's assistant.

Photo courtesy of TV Line, via Yahoo!

Ms. Bellum, right, was easily identifiable by her long red hair, and her face was never shown. In Powerpuff, it's being hinted that she has had a relationship with Professor Utonium (to be played by Donald Faison). As long time fans of the original series recall, it seemed as though series creator Craig McCracken was hinting at something between Utonium and Ms. Keene, the girls' kindergarten teacher, not with Ms. Bellum.

Considering they've already monkeyed with the supporting cast by rebooting Mojo Jojo as having a human son, the producers are subscribing to the axiom that viewers need to see the actors' faces, hence "unmasking" Ms. Bellum. Then again, Ms. Lively, left, is easy on the eyes, and we've wondered about Ms. Bellum for years.

I shudder to think about what they could do with Ms. Keene if she factors into the series.

Toonfomercial: AMF shills for the weekend warriors (1978)

 I seem to recall seeing this next item on TV Tournament Time back in the day.

And there was a time when AMF distributed Harley-Davidson motorcycles, before the brand went on its own, and prospered.

I actually owned a couple of AMF bowling balls in my lifetime. Not today, though, even after I've retired from competition.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sunday Funnies: Cowbell in a metal band? (Saturday Night Live, 2000)

 Everyone knows Blue Oyster Cult is famous for FM radio staples such as "Godzilla", "Don't Fear The Reaper", & "Burning For You". The writers of Saturday Night Live came up with the idea that an influential producer (Christopher Walken) thought he could add to the band's iconic sound with.......cowbell.

Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, & Will Ferrell are the band members, with Ferrell wielding the cowbell. Portions of this skit have been used by the Tri-City Valleycats to rally the baseball team over the years.

Walken was the host du jour the night this premiered in April 2000, and had become something of a cult favorite himself from appearing in a Fatboy Slim video.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Toon Rock: Aqualung (1971-2021)

 It is Jethro Tull's most famous song, first released 50 years ago. To mark the anniversary, the band released an animated music video over the weekend for "Aqualung".

On The Air: Birdgirl (2021)

 14 years after Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law ended its run, [adult swim] returns to the continuity of that satirical look at courtroom drama with Birdgirl. The series launched Easter weekend after having been in development dating back to Christina Miller's run in charge of Cartoon Network (Miller has since been replaced).

Judy Ken Sebben (Paget Brewster, ex-Dan Vs., reprising her role from Harvey Birdman) is having issues getting over the death of her father, Phil (apparently Stephen Colbert wasn't interested in returning due to his talk show and the animated spinoffs of same), but having an impersonator show up at the offices of Sebben & Sebben was a little too over the top.

Keeping in mind that originally, Birdgirl was a 1-shot on the original Birdman, being rebooted in Harvey Birdman as Phil's daughter renewed interest in the character. [adult swim] has its own YouTube channel, and is streaming the opener:

Grade: Incomplete.

Monday, April 5, 2021

From Primetime to Daytime: The Monkees meet Captain Crocodile (1966)

 From season 1 of The Monkees:

The guys are booked on a children's show, but its host, Captain Crocodile (Joey Forman), seems to have an ego problem. The episode, obviously, is a satire on children's shows of the 50's, like Howdy Doody, Andy's Gang, and The Pinky Lee Show:

Rating: B.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Toonfomercial: Remember the Kleenex Town Crier? (1976)

 It looks as though Kimberly-Clark, the folks behind Kleenex, hired the same animation studio that did all those Keebler Elves ads to do something for them, too.

The Town Crier was introduced in this 1976 ad, produced in the 2nd half of 1975. Harold Peary, a veteran of radio (Fibber McGee & Molly), voices the Crier. William Schallert narrates.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The CW's Powerpuff has its Jojo. No Mojo.

 As the subject indicates, the CW's reboot of The Powerpuff Girls has been rechristened Powerpuff, and in the last 24 hours, the producers have cast both Professor Utonium and arch-foe Mojo Jojo. Except that there's no Mojo to this Jojo.

While Donald Faison (ex-Scrubs) landed the role of Professor Utonium, Greg Berlanti, Diablo Cody, and staff have decided that Jojo will be------human. Nicholas Podany (ex-Hart of Dixie) has been cast.

Photo courtesy of Variety.

Part of the humor of Powerpuff Girls stems from Mojo Jojo's overuse of expository dialogue to explain his plots. I can't see that here. Now, the series is shaping up as just. Another. CW. Show. From the network that has seen 2nd year crime drama Nancy Drew sink to a new low in ratings (0.0) in the overnights after last night's episode (Riverdale, in its finale before it takes a 3 month hiatus, returning in July, wasn't much better, doing a 0.1), you'd think they would try to break the formula and try something different. Right now, I'm not trusting Team Berlanti to keep Him and Fuzzy Lumpkins, a pair of villains that virtually demand the use of CGI, from being cast as humans as well.

This ain't an April Fool's joke, kids. This is a nightmare.

Sunday Funnies: Three Stooges in Restless Knights (1935)

 The Three Stooges are "Restless Knights" when they must atone for being lax in protecting the queen of a neighboring kingdom. Keep an eye open for a future icon in Walter Brennan early in the short.

For you Stooges fans, their 1977 TV iteration, the Robonic Stooges, make their comics debut in May from American Mythology Press, which holds the license for Stooges comics.

"Restless Knights" gets an A.