Monday, June 28, 2021

Toonfomercial: They had Curad bandages in Oz (1967)

 Here's an in-show ad from Off to See The Wizard, uncovered by online historian Ira Gallen on his TV Days YouTube channel.

Dorothy (June Foray) brings Scarecrow, Tin Man, & the Cowardly Lion some Curad bandages.

Chuck Jones and his staff had to be well compensated for this gig.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Brother Louie (1973)

 The Stories were a 1-hit wonder with "Brother Louie", which landed them on The Midnight Special in 1973.

Why is it relevant, nearly 50 years later? Mets infielder Luis Guillorme uses the song as his walk-up music.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Toons After Dark: Conan O'Brien comes full circle (2021)

 You've heard by now that Conan O'Brien decided to end his TBS talk show, and is headed over to the network's corporate baby sister, HBO Max, with a new show to debut next year.

O'Brien opened the series finale of Conan on Thursday with a series of short skits, including one that recalls what got him his first talk show gig with NBC in the first place, back when he was a writer for The Simpsons 30 years ago.

Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) drops by to do an interview.......

They say you never forget where you came from, and in Conan's case, it's certainly true.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Rein-Toon-Ation: Spidey & His Amazing Friends (2021)

 September marks 40 years since Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends debuted on NBC. Marvel and current corporate parent Disney are marking the occasion with a reboot intended for preschoolers.

Officially, Spidey & His Amazing Friends will bow on Disney Channel & Disney Junior in August, but some short pieces are already available on YouTube. Spidey (Peter Parker), Ghost-Spider (an alternate universe Gwen Stacy), and Spinn (Miles Morales, Marvel's other Spider-Man, given a new code name for this series to avoid confusion), have been repackaged as pre-teens.

Marvel's been down this road before, with Iron Man: Armored Adventures, which was produced for Nickelodeon/Nicktoons several years back. That series de-aged Tony Stark, Jim Rhodes, & Pepper Potts into teenagers. Going further down the age spectrum eliminates any hope of Gwen pursuing relationships with either of her partners, and, yes, there was a time when they were teasing a Miles-Gwen pairing in the books, not too long ago.

Let's take a look at one of those short pieces.

Spider-Man has been marketed for preschoolers before (Spidey Super Stories was a segment of the original Electric Company in the 70's, spinning off a comics version that lasted until 1981-2.). It's as if Disney took note of WarnerMedia & HBO Max's plans for preschool-centric cartoons featuring DC & WB characters, and decided to jump in first. So far, so good.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Coming Attractions: HBO Max sets a date for Jellystone

 C. H. Greenblatt's latest, Jellystone, debuts on HBO Max in 5 weeks, on July 29. The trailer has been released. Prepare to cringe:

Jabberjaw is being voiced by a woman this time, rather than have Frank Welker reprise. Greenblatt is voicing some of the characters himself, including Peter Potamus. If you looked quick, Shazzan does appear, but how he or that two-part ring, made it to the 21st century will be revealed in the series. They actually hired an actor of Iraqi & Canadian background for the part. Jeff Bergman reprises as Yogi Bear, and, yes, I think that is also Bergman as Yogi in that GEICO commercial.

I think Greenblatt and his staff intentionally made their designs with an eye toward gearing the show toward pre-teens as well as teens and young adults. Purists will be unhappy, to be sure. Yes, Captain Caveman has his son with him, and, as of now, only one of the Teen Angels, Dee Dee, is set to appear. Wikipedia does not have the complete cast list. We think. 

The countdown is on. HBO Max may have finally laid an egg, but we'll see.

Update, 6/25: It appears the Teen Angels will in fact be together. Brenda hasn't been cast, but Taffy has.

Getting Schooled: You're Alive (1980)

 From Sesame Street:

A Muppet band rocks out with "You're Alive". For those of you with concerns about heart issues, this applies to you, too.

Vocalist Christopher Cerf is the son of long time Random House editor-publisher Bennett Cerf (ex-What's My Line?), and an accomplished author and songwriter in his own right.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Bowl-a-Matic 300? (1972-4)

 Sometime in the 70's, Coleco came up with a bowling game that kids & adults could both play.

However, Bowl-a-Matic 300 didn't survive the decade, despite this choice bit. John Quade, a veteran character actor in movies & television, appeared as the villain challenging the sheriff to a game. Quade appeared in a couple of movies with Clint Eastwood, including "Any Which Way But Loose" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales", and made the rounds of primetime television, including The A-Team, during the course of his career.

Not too long after, Ideal came out with Snap Bowling, which I actually can say I owned & played. Ended up breaking the rubber band used to throw the ball, though......

Monday, June 21, 2021

Rare Treats: A pitch reel for Aurora toys (1969)

 After having done commercials for Winston cigarettes, Busch beer, Welch's grape drink, and launching Flintstones vitamins, Hanna-Barbera was commissioned by Aurora in 1969 to help sell a new line of toys, which, unfortunately, save for Skittle Bowl, didn't last very long.

Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble (Alan Reed & Mel Blanc) host, and introduce the one-off toon band, the New Generation (likely the Mike Curb Congregation or Curb & The Curbstones, since Curb worked on Cattanooga Cats for H-B that same year).

Of those toys, I only remember Skittle Bowl, which I remember having one year. What about the rest of y'all?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Toons After Dark: Fatherhood (2004)

 In 2004, Nick at Nite experimented with original, animated fare, mixed into their rerun-centric lineup.

For their first series, they turned to then-respected, now-disgraced icon Bill Cosby, who co-created Fatherhood, based on the book of the same name. The series ran for two seasons of 13 episodes each, 26 total.

Cosby served as an executive producer and writer, and cast Blair Underwood (ex-LA Law) in the lead role of Dr. Arthur Bindlebeep (yep, a Cosby name if there ever was one), and brought in former Cosby Show castmate Sabrina LeBoeuf to co-star.

Following is a sample episode:

Like virtually every other Cosby series, this had been removed from online sources after the sexual harassment case against Cosby first broke.

Rating: B.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

You Know The Voices: Ted Knight & Robert Ridgely (1964)

 We had this up before in its original form, as an episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre. However, that had been deleted twice before, and it's only available now in its feature film form.

Universal reissued the episode, "Once Upon a Savage Night", as the feature film, "Nightmare in Chicago", produced and directed by Robert Altman, and starring Charles McGraw, Ted Knight, Robert Ridgely, and Philip Abbott. More on this at The Land of Whatever.

Coming Attractions: Johnny Test returns

 It has been seven years since the last new episode of Johnny Test had aired. Come July 16, that all changes, as Johnny and his family return, this time finding a home on Netflix.

Billed as season 7, it's more of the same oddball comedy-adventure that previously aired on Kids' WB!/CW and Cartoon Network here in the US. Looks as though the entire cast is returning as well.

While Johnny Test has been a labor of love for cast & crew, fans have been divided over the years, finding Johnny to be a tad too annoying for their tastes. Seems even frenemy Eugene, aka Bling-Bling Boy, is more popular than Johnny is.

Here's the season 7 trailer:

Like, can your heart stand it, eh?

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Tooniversary: Mumbly meets Fatbeard's Ghost (1976)

 Mumbly (Don Messick) gets shanghai'd by Inspector Shnooker (John Stephenson) when his latest case involves a ghost, namely, Fatbeard (Messick again). You know the drill.

Since when are ghosts scared off by mere mortals? Well, who said Mumbly was actually mortal with his Droopy-esque tricks?

Doggone it!

Rating: B.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Getting Schooled: Discovery (1962)

 We've talked before about how ABC used to have children's programming on Sundays. There used to be a full block of programming, just like on Saturdays, albeit smaller, and the cartoons were usually reruns shifted over from the Saturday block. ABC News contributed by producing a series of live-action programs with an educational bent from 1962-81. We've previously looked at Make a Wish and Animals, Animals, Animals, as well as the variety series, Kids Are People, Too. Now, however, it's past time to go back to the beginning.

Producer Jules Power came over from NBC (Watch Mr. Wizard), and developed Discovery, which anchored the bottom of the block from 1962-71, until it was succeeded by Make a Wish. Comedian Frank Buxton was the original host, paired with Virginia Gibson. Buxton left after four seasons (1962-6), replaced by newsman Bill Owen.

I do recall seeing some episodes from the Owen/Gibson era. None of Buxton's episodes are currently available, presumably lost to the mists of time.

Discovery's logo bears some resemblance to the one for Kenner's Spirograph drawing apparatus. Go figure. Anyway, the show covered a wide range of topics in its nine seasons. This sample, from Bill Owen's YouTube channel, covers "The Constitution":

Rating: A.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

On The Air: Invincible (2021)

Invincible was an Image Comics mainstay for 15 years (2003-18), totaling 144 issues. Coming from Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Invincible finds new life in an animated series on Amazon Prime. The series has already been renewed for 2 more seasons after the 8-episode first season dropped.

Mark Grayson (Steven Yuen, ex-The Walking Dead) is a high school senior whose father, Nolan, aka Omni-Man (J. K. Simmons), is the most powerful man on the planet. Literally. Kirkman designed Omni-Man and the Guardians of The Globe as his analogues to Superman & the Justice League, but with less than traditional goals in mind. As the series begins, Mark is being bullied, but that will soon change as his powers begin to gestate and emerge.

I wouldn't try to compare this to the current live-action Superman & Lois, which also deals with a super-offspring just getting his powers, as this is far more graphic, violent, and in your face. The show's cast also includes Mark Hamill (of course), Sandra Oh, and another Walking Dead vet in Ross Marquand, plus, Oscar winner Mahershala Ali will be heard from during the season.

Let's check the trailer. Parental discretion is advised.

Kirkman's not the only one who's used the Justice League as inspiration for a series. I wonder what it'd take for Jeff Lemire to adapt Black Hammer, his line of books for Dark Horse, for television and/or streaming.

Rating: Incomplete.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Coming Attractions: Tweety gets a new series----and a new partner

 New Cartoon Network honcho Tom Ascheim is making plenty of waves.

On the heels of Mindy Kaling's take on Velma, and animated reboots of Batman & Superman, Ascheim is turning toward the Looney Tunes for another project.

The Tweety Mysteries (working title) pairs the iconic canary with a human podcaster named Sydney to solve mysteries. While Ascheim invoked the Nickelodeon produced "Harriet The Spy" as an inspiration, the fact that this is a live-action/animation hybrid, we must also consider "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (which Tweety appeared in, oh, by the way).

Tweety's no stranger to detective work, of course, co-headlining The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries (1995-2002), but this time, he's far, far, far away from his usual milieu. Casting the rest of the show, including Sydney, has yet to be announced.

Stay tooned.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: Hunky & Spunky in You Can't Shoe a Horse Fly (1940)

 When you think of the Fleischer brothers' body of work, what comes to mind? Popeye. Betty Boop. Superman. Out of The Inkwell.

But before Popeye could make his color debut, the Fleischers introduced Hunky & Spunky, mother & son burros introduced in a self-titled, Oscar nominated short in 1938. There would be a few more over the course of three years (1938-41), before Hunky was retired. Spunky would later appear periodically, including guesting in a pair of Casper shorts for Famous Studios, Paramount's successor to the Fleischers.

From 1940, here's "You Can't Shoe a Horse Fly", or how horse flies can easily mistake donkeys for horses.....!

I do recall seeing Spunky in one of his appearances with Casper, and we'll try to find that. There is a reason for the obscurity, though.

Rating: C.

A primer on Flintstones vitamins (1974)

 Miles Laboratories and Hanna-Barbera made sure to educate parents about Flintstones vitamins in many of their earliest commercials.

This 1974 spot has Fred (Alan Reed) and Wilma (Jean VanderPyl) in teaching mode. William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show, Dobie Gillis) is the narrator.

As we've frequently noted, the product is now part of Bayer's family of vitamins.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Coming Attractions: He-Man returns, with an all-star voice cast

 After Netflix rebooted She-Ra, Princess of Power into She-Ra & The Princesses of Power, which recently ended a 5 "season", 2 year run, She-Ra's brother is finally stepping back into the spotlight.

Masters of The Universe: Revelation, due to drop next month, brings back He-Man and the Masters, who've now been scattered in a storyline that is a direct sequel to the original 1983-5 Filmation-produced series that featured now-iconic creators as Paul Dini and J. Michael Straczynski.

Filmmaker, part-time actor, and all around geek Kevin Smith is at the helm for the new series.

Casting already announced includes Chris Wood (ex-Supergirl) as He-Man/Prince Adam, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Teela, and, predictably, Mark Hamill as Skeletor, although the villain's original portrayer, Alan Oppenheimer, has demonstrated at conventions he can still carry off the role. Oppenheimer will instead voice Moss-Man. Also on board are Stephen Root (ex-NewsRadio), Kevin Conroy, Lena Headley (as Evil-Lyn), and Diedrich Bader as King Randor and Trap Jaw.

While He-Man and friends have recently appeared in comics produced by DC, including a cross-over with the company's Injustice books, the Eternia storyline moves to Dark Horse with a 5 issue miniseries, written by Smith, and due to debut in time for the debut on Netflix, set for Friday, July 23.

Check the trailer:


Maybe Smith can do us all a favor and have Adam & Teela hook up after all this time.......

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Coming Attractions: The voice cast is filling up for League of Super-Pets

 Now we know who will be in the booth with Dwayne Johnson for "DC's League of Super-Pets" (known as the Legion of Super-Pets in the books back in the Silver Age), and this is a doozy.

We know the People's Movie Star will voice Krypto. Frequent co-star Kevin Hart (i.e. "Jumanji") will be Ace, the Bat-Hound (prepare to cringe). The cast also includes John Krasinski (ex-The Office), Natasha Lyonne, Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), and Keanu Reeves, who already has claimed his geek card by co-authoring his first comic book, BRZRKR, which debuted a few weeks back.

Why Hart was plugged in as Ace, I don't know. If they wanted Ace to be just as serious as his master, the Batman, then Reeves would've been a better choice. They're expanding the group to include Jumpa, Wonder Woman's pet kangaroo, probably not seen since the Silver Age, for all we know, and Topo, Aquaman's octopus pal. (What? No Tusky?)

The movie debuts May 22, 2022, in theatres, and likely also on HBO Max.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Saturtainment: Weird Al meets Lenny & Squiggy (well, not really) (The Weird Al Show, 1997)

 From The Weird Al Show:

A group of miners breaks into Al's home, and chaos follows.

Plus, Al takes a page from Bill Cosby, and we have a show-within-a-show, with the adventures of Fatman ("Weird" Al Yankovic, based on his 1987 song, "Fat"). Michael McKean, David L. Lander, Clarence Clemons, and Martha Quinn guest star in "Mining Accident":

This marked Lander's return to Saturday mornings for the first time since Will The Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down? (1970), and, aside from maybe doing Comic Relief, this might've been the first time Lander had worked with long time best pal McKean since Laverne & Shirley ended nearly 15 years earlier on camera.

Billy West is our announcer, and voices Harvey in the Fatman segment. Beau Weaver (ex-Fantastic Four, Superman) handles the announcing for various channel-surfing skits, including Al doing a parody of fitness videos.

This deserved an earlier time slot.

Rating: B (mostly for 2 minutes of bliss from Martha).

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Saturtainment: The Littles take up babysitting (1984)

 From season 2 of The Littles:

Seeing a human baby piques Lucy's curiosity, and when Henry (Jimmy Keegan) is tasked to babysit to child, Lucy & Tom offer to help, with disastrous consequences.

Plus: Lucy, Dinky, Tom, & Henry build an elevator out of a milk carton. ABC began soliciting ideas from viewers beginning with season 2.

Here's "The Little Babysitters":

No rating. Didn't see this the first time.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Saturtainment: Saturday Morning Videos (1991)

 1991 was a transitional year for NBC's Saturday morning lineup. By the end of the season, their freshman animated series (i.e. Yo, Yogi!, Pro-Stars, Wishkid) would all be cancelled, and the network would go all-in on a live-action lineup, built around Saved by The Bell.

This was also the year for an experimental spin-off from the early morning Friday Night Videos, which the network was tinkering with. Saturday Morning Videos had the cushy slot behind Bell, but few remember the show because it was a ratings bomb. It lost viewers from Bell.

There are no complete episodes. Just selected segments mixed with commercials. NBC primetime personalities served as VJ's for the series. In this sample, Raven-Symone, then on The Cosby Show, serves as co-host. Raven just stares into the camera to read her cue cards, it's clear.

Raven would return to Saturday mornings when ABC repurposed reruns of her Disney Channel series, That's so Raven, a few years later.

No rating.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Toon Legends: Clock Cleaners (1937)

 Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, & Goofy are "Clock Cleaners", a legendary short in its own right, currently available for streaming on Disney+.

Donald's incomprehensible speech nearly got Disney in some trouble in the 90's.

Rev. Donald Wildmon and his American Family Association, a group of media nannies from Mississippi, convinced Walmart to pull some VHS compilations that included "Cleaners", claiming that Donald (Clarence Nash) did some swearing, but while Disney reissued the film with altered dialogue to appease Wildmon and his ilk, it's clear that this is not the case, and the original print has since turned up on DVD, as well as on Disney+.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Getting Schooled: a different take on different and same (Sesame Street, 1970's)

 The Swiss masked troupe Mummenschanz made one of their first American appearances on Sesame Street before appearing on The Muppet Show during that series' 1st season. The group had been founded in 1972, but we don't have an exact date of this tape, in which two of the performers demonstrate "different" & "same", with some children commenting off-camera:

Mummenschanz was quite the sensation, even making it to Broadway.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Magic (1980)

 This time, we're checking out The Midnight Special from 1980, and Olivia Newton-John, with the first single from the "Xanadu" soundtrack, "Magic":