Friday, July 30, 2021

Toons You MIght've Missed: Seaman Tarfu in The Navy (1946)

 A year after the end of World War II, the Army commissioned animators Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising, who'd bolted Warner Bros. for MGM years earlier to produce a post-war Private Snafu short. What they did was transform Snafu into "Seaman Tarfu", reassigning the private to the Navy. While Tarfu remains silent, Mel Blanc provides most, but not all of the voices:

The running gag of the sailor pursuing an attractive blonde would suggest Tex Avery's involvement, but no credits are available.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Game Time: Frogger in Hop-Along Frogger (Saturday Supercade, 1983)

 Frogger's final TV adventure has him on a dude ranch owned by the mayor, and there's some hijinks a'waitin' in "Hop-Along Frogger":

It does sound like Don Messick as the mayor, doesn't it?

Now's a good time to share that Frogger is making a bit of a comeback. The video game turns 40 this year, and a license has been granted to create a game show, which will air on Peacock. NFL Network's Kyle Brandt (ex-Days of Our Lives, The Real World) and 2nd generation actor Damon Wayans, Jr. (ex-New Girl) will co-host. No start date has been announced.

No rating.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Toonfomercial: Barney teaches Fred yoga to steal cereal, but the promotion comes first (1979)

 In 1979, Post Cereals, then part of General Foods, ran a promotion with DC Comics to insert mini-comics inside specially marked boxes of Pebbles cereals (both flavors). In a rare instance, the promotion comes first, then the usual skit with Fred (Henry Corden) & Barney (Mel Blanc).

Super Friends narrator Bill Woodson is the announcer. YouTube commentators had Woodson confused with Gary Owens for some reason.

I might've seen those mini's at flea markets, as I didn't buy the cereal back then.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Coming Attractions: Usagi Yojimbo gets his own series

 Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, who made his television debut in season 3 of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, then returned in the 2003 series, is finally getting his own show.

Netflix is teaming with France's Gaumont to produce the series, which sneak-peaked at the virtual San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend.

Veteran producer Doug Langdale (ex-Dave The Barbarian, The Looney Tunes Show, etc.) is on board as show-runner for the series, which as of press time has no start date. The CGI graphics, as sampled above, look great. Casting, though, has not been announced as of press time.

All we can say for now, though, is, stay tooned.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Getting Schooled: Fat Albert in Computer Caper (1985)

 From The Adventures of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids:

Russell meets a teenage computer hacker, which creates all sorts of problems as Russell is facing a deadline crunch on a history report.

Notice how Rudy's voice is a wee bit different in this episode, as it might be that Eric Suter may have missed this taping.

New episodes aired on Fridays most of the season, with reruns airing Monday-Thursday after the initial wave of new shows.

Rating: B.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Saturday Morning Ringside: A complete episode of WWWF All-Star Wrestling (1980)

 As the 70's turned into the 80's, the World Wide Wrestling Federation would drop the "Wide" to become the World Wrestling Federation, and that appellation would remain until 2002, due to a copyright dispute with the World Wildlife Fund.

Let's step back in time to January 1980, and an episode of All Star Wrestling, which would later be rechristened Superstars of Wrestling a few years later. It will be a little disconcerting to some to see Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik on the card, both under the same management (Fred Blassie), but with different results as we will see. Gary Michael Cappeta is the ring announcer. Vince McMahon & Bruno Sammartino on the call:

As we all know, four years later, after both had left the company and returned from various directions, Hogan to the AWA, Japan, & Hollywood ("Rocky III"), and the Iron Sheik to Georgia for a spell (Hogan had been in Georgia & Memphis before going north), Hogan dethroned the Sheik to become champion, and, of course, the rest is history.

Captain Lou Albano, native of Mount Vernon, in sandals in the winter? Mind boggling.

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: The Monkees in The Frodis Caper (1968)

 This was near the end of the series for The Monkees, and was an indication of what direction the guys were going, leading into the feature film, "Head". 

In "The Frodis Caper", Peter is hypnotized by a deranged wizard (a clean shaven Rip Taylor), and the rest of the guys have to try to take down the mad magician.

Co-written & directed by Micky Dolenz. The story ends early to allow for a brief performance by Tim Buckley.

I last saw this on MTV back in the late 80's. Trippy, or, in the parlance of the following decade, spacey.

Rating: B-.

Friday, July 23, 2021

You Know The Voice: Bob McFadden (1964)

 Here's a real case of a voice actor who is rarely seen in front of the camera.

Bob McFadden later was the voice of Milton The Monster and Cool McCool, among others, using his talent for impersonation. However, before all that, Bob was hired by the ad agency for General Foods, which was the parent company at the time of Birds Eye, which introduced Awake frozen orange juice. 

In this spot, Bob has to navigate a very unexpected reaction to the product.....

I'll have to check and see what other "face acting" Bob did in the course of his career.

Coming Attractions: A new Star Trek cartoon

 In sharp contrast to Star Trek: Lower Decks, which was designed for laughs, Paramount+ & Nickelodeon's latest, Star Trek: Prodigy, is more of a classic Trek adventure, and with good reason. An, ah, "old friend" is on board.

That would be Kate Mulgrew, who reprises her role as Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager, but now as a holographic training module, overseeing a group of misfits who find a lost starship.

Here's the trailer:

The above debuted at Comic-Con International in San Diego, which is going on this weekend, overshadowed by the Olympic Games. Here's to hoping both Trek toons will repurpose on Nick.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Toon Rock: Bedrock Anthem (1993)

 Master song satirist "Weird" Al Yankovic mashed up the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Flintstones for 1993's laugh riot, "Bedrock Anthem", which sends up Blind Melon's "No Rain" as a bonus. Dick Van Patten (ex-Eight is Enough), who also appeared in "Smells Like Nirvana" a few months earlier, guest stars.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Literary Toons: The Big Scare (The Littles, 1983)

 How often have we seen it? By "it", of course, we mean stories of mean kids playing mean pranks to dissuade new members to their so-called club.

Henry Bigg winds up in this scenario with the Fire Wheels, but with the help of The Littles, Henry turns the tables. Here's "The Big Scare":

Rating: A.

Monday, July 19, 2021

From Comics to Toons: The series premiere of Heathcliff (1984)

 After two years away, Heathcliff returned to television, this time in syndication, this time as a daily series, paired with an original series, Cats & Company.

In the opener, Heathcliff (Mel Blanc) is jealous when his girlfriend, Sonja, falls for an opera singer in a story that predates the Milli Vanilli scandal by five years. You'll figure it out in "The Great Pussini". Then, Riff Raff and friends decide to spring Riff's honey, Cleo, from the kennel while her owners are on vacation in "Kitty Kat Kennels".

There is an alternate theme song that turns up in some videos on YouTube, so they did alternate themes depending on the market. The standard theme we all know plays on this video.

Rating: A.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Toon Rock: Paranoimia (1986)

 In the mid-80's, Max Headroom was a big star on both sides of the pond. An artificial intelligence, supposedly, Max was really actor Matt Frewer under some major prosthetic makeup.

In 1986, the British band Art of Noise decided to use Max as the centerpiece of their video for "Paranoimia", from the CD, "In Visible Silence". There are some CGI graphics more associated with message boards that turn up in the video, hence filing this entry under "Toon Rock":

Saturtainment: The Adventures of a 2-Minute Werewolf (Weekend Special, 1985)

 The Adventures of a 2-Minute Werewolf, based on an otherwise little-known young adult novel by Gene DeKreese, was adapted for television by Scholastic Productions for the ABC Weekend Special in 1985, marking one of the first attempts by Scholastic in producing children's programming, after breaking ground with NBC's Voyagers! three years earlier.

The majority of the cast consist of relative unknowns. Knowl Johnson, who plays the title role, had been heard in some Berenstain Bears specials prior to this. Melba Moore, Lainie Kazan, and Barrie Youngfellow (It's a Living) co-star.

Conceptually, this would be the formula R. L. Stine would use for Goosebumps, which Scholastic adapted for television a decade later.

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Toon Rock: Executive Time (2020)

 Harry Shearer (The Simpsons) released this satirical, musical poke at then-President Donald Trump last fall, produced in CGI-motion capture animation. Here's "Executive Time":

Insofar as I know, that leaves Christopher Guest as the only member of Spinal Tap to have not released any solo tracks. Shearer has contributed musical numbers to The Simpsons virtually from the start.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember when they marketed Dick Tracy toys? (1961)

 Here's another treat from Ira Gallen and TV Days.

This ad regularly appeared during Matty's Funday Funnies on ABC, promoting Mattel's Dick Tracy toy guns. A pre-Lost in Space Billy Mumy stars in the ad.

Notice the subtle reference to the syndicated Dick Tracy animated series?

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Tooniversary: The Mighty Heroes vs. The Bigger Digger (1966)

 A natural disaster sent the legendary city of Atlantis underwater. In 1966, a humanoid Frog, not to be confused with the Courageous Cat enemy of the same name, who was a parody of Edward G. Robinson, decides to sink the city of Goodhaven so he can have some extra swamp.

Not if the Mighty Heroes have anything to say about it. Here's "The Bigger Digger":


Rating: B-.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Coming Attractions: Porky Pig, rapper (2021)

 The late country singer Mel Tillis shed his stutter when he sang. Movie legend Jimmy Stewart was a stutterer off camera. President Joe Biden has the same issue, but speaks perfectly after rehearsing his speeches, I would have to guess.

And that brings us to Porky Pig, making his debut as a rapper in "Space Jam: A New Legacy", which opens Friday in theatres & HBO Max. Eric Bauza takes on the porcine icon, who's been challenged by the film's villain (Don Cheadle):

Bob Bergen, who'd been doing Porky since the 90's, is only voicing Tweety in the movie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

You Know The Voices: Jim Backus & Ted Cassidy (1968)

 From season 4 of Daniel Boone:

Israel (Darby Hinton) meets up with a retired pirate (Jim Backus), who's on the run from an old rival. Ted Cassidy and Sid Haig (in one of his earliest roles, with hair, no less) also guest star.

Since he wasn't scheduled to appear in his normal role as Cincinnatus, we must assume Dallas McKennon was the voice of the crow, but was not credited.

Haig is known to Saturday morning fans from his stint on Jason of Star Command (1978-80), but to my knowledge had no cartoon credits.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Remembering Paul Orndorff (1949-2021)

 "Mr. Wonderful" has gone to the squared circle in the sky.

It has come across the wires that Paul Orndorff, or, "Mr. Wonderful", as he was known during the latter part of the 80's and through the 90's, has passed away after a bout with dementia, this after he had beaten cancer nearly a decade earlier.

Orndorff was a college football star at the University of Tampa, and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1973. However, the Saints, and, later, the Kansas City Chiefs, released Orndorff when he failed physical examinations. He would play in the short-lived World Football League in 1975 before turning to wrestling.

Orndorff won several regional titles before signing with the then-World Wrestling Federation at the end of 1983. He never won a title there, and the closest he came was in a title feud with then-champion Hulk Hogan four years later. He would win 2 tag titles in WCW in the mid-90's, and also held the TV title.

Untreated injuries to his neck & arm ultimately led to Orndorff retiring for good in 2000.

From 1986, during his first babyface run in the WWF, Orndorff teams with Tito Santana vs. Randy Savage and Bob Orton, Jr..

Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame four years later. WWE will have a tribute graphic for Orndorff later tonight.

Rest in peace.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Game Time: Click (1997)

 You can thank the late Merv Griffin for introducing America to Ryan Seacrest.

Today, Seacrest is one of the busiest people in show business, between a daily talk show with Kelly Ripa, Anerican Idol, & American Idol, making him a radio & television fixture. Of course, you have to start somewhere, and in 1997, Seacrest made his debut hosting a game show for teens that was one of Merv Griffin's last creations, Click, which ran for 2 seasons in syndication.

How Nickelodeon missed out on this show, I don't know. The pacing of the game is much faster than the average Nick game, such that you'd be forgiven if you're dizzy by the first commercial break. You'd also be forgiven if you mistook Seacrest for J. D. Roth, who was not only a game show host, but a producer, as well, by this point. Ryan was in his early 20's when Click premiered in the fall of '97.

Here's a sample episode.

You can say musical director Steve Lindsey was a legacy hire. His father, big band conductor Mort Lindsey, was Merv's musical director for a number of years, and also had the same gig for Judy Garland's 1963 variety show.

Rating: A-.

Remember when the Boy Scouts had Tiger Cubs? (1980's)

 The Girl Scouts had "Brownies", junior scouts who'd later be promoted.

The Boy Scouts had a similar program with the Tiger Cubs as far back as the 80's. They already had the Cub Scouts, so this might have been somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, this spot features characters from The Great Space Coaster, including Baxter and Gary Gnu.

We'll try to discern exactly when this commercial was produced and update the subject box.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Summer Madness (1974)

 Kool & The Gang are best known for hits like "Jungle Boogie", "Hollywood Swinging", "Ladies Night", and "Joanna". However, in 1974, they also served up a jazzy, synth-fueled instrumental number on Soul Train. Here's "Summer Madness".

Like, this is the first I've heard it, and it swings.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Coming Attractions: Marvel brings its alternate realities to television

 45 years ago, Marvel embarked on a modest, ah, experiment.

The publisher began exploring the idea of how some of its history might've changed due to a moment in time going differently. The original What If? comics lasted into the 80's, and was then cancelled. It was brought back in the 90's, and had a healthy run as a monthly series. The concept's been revisited in smaller doses in recent times.

Next month, Marvel dips back into the animation pool with What if?, a 10 episode series that holds true to its concept, but the scope's been expanded to include the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the company's alternate world where their heroes and some villains were turned into zombies.

Tony, Emmy, & Golden Globe winner Jeffrey Wright voices the Watcher, who serves as the series host, just as he did in the books back in the original run. MCU regulars Mark Ruffalo, Sebastian Stan, Michael B. Jordan, and Hayley Atwell will reprise their roles (i.e. Hulk, Killmonger), while Chadwick Boseman, in his final performances, will not only reprise as the Black Panther, but takes over the role of Star Lord from Chris Pratt ("Guardians of The Galaxy").

Following is the trailer:

I've read some of those old books. All I can say is, prepare to have your world rocked.

iCarly is back, but some idiots aren't happy

 Last month, iCarly became the latest Nickelodeon series to be revived, but unlike, say for example, Are You Afraid of The Dark, it wasn't that long ago that the series had its first run.

However, one key cast member from the original series isn't back, and some fans aren't having it, unleashing vitriol on a new cast member for no other reason than needing to vent, but going about it the wrong way.

Jeannette McCurdy, who played Samantha "Sam" Puckett, best friend and sidekick to teen talk show host Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove), has retired from show business, and, for the new series, currently streaming on Paramount+, a new character was created, Harper, played by Laci Mosley.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo!

Seems a bunch of racist, low information trolls decided to vent on Mosley, using the predictable slurs, among other things, but they don't understand that none of this is Mosley's fault. All these idiots want is to have the same exact show, continued from the point where it ended a few years ago, and sometimes, that isn't possible.

McCurdy's not the only one missing, of course. Series creator & executive producer Dan Schneider (ex-Head of The Class) left Nickelodeon under a cloud of controversy due to allegations of sexual harassment a while back, and has zero to do with the revival or the casting thereof.

The trolls can't be bothered to pick up a newspaper or do online searches. Otherwise, they'd be a bit better informed. Then again, their parents probably are fans of America's most famous troll, Tucker Carlson...!

If you don't like the casting, fine, don't watch the show, and shut up. That's all I have to say about it.

We'll review the original iCarly soon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

From Comics to Toons: Ultraman: The Adventure Begins (1987)

 Currently, Japan's Ultraman is starring in a series of comic book miniseries from Marvel. In the 80's, another American company had a license, and actually co-produced a movie with Japan's Tsuburaya Productions.

Ultraman: The Adventure Begins was apparently a pilot for a possible series, either here or in Japan, and boasted an all-star cast, most of whom were not associated with cartoons. The plot, however, smacks of a knockoff of another Japanese toy brand that was licensed in the US in the 70's, the Shogun Warriors, which Marvel also had a license for, along with Mattel, circa 1977-8. Three American stunt pilots are involved in a bizarre accident that links them with aliens and we get not one, not two, but three Ultramen.

Adrienne Barbeau (Batman: The Animated Series, ex-Maude), Chad Everett (ex-Medical Center), and Michael Lembeck (ex-One Day at a Time, The Krofft Supershow) head up the cast, which also includes Bill Calloway (ex-Super Friends, Cattanooga Cats, Love, American Style), Ed Gilbert (ex-The Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew Mysteries), Lorna Patterson (ex-Private Benjamin), Charlie Adler, and Stacy Keach, Sr. (ex-Get Smart). It's clear the animation was done in Japan, and it isn't the first time that H-B had used animation from other countries, dating back to their acquisition of an Australian studio in the 70's.

Now, get some popcorn.

No rating. Just a public service.

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Power Tennis? (1974)

 Hasbro thought they were being clever. Parents had other ideas.

Bobby Riggs milked his 15 minutes of fame after getting spanked by Billie Jean King. He'd made his acting debut, as himself, on The Odd Couple, and getting an endorsement deal with Hasbro to push Power Tennis, which actually looks more like a glorified ping pong table. Check it:

Unsurprisingly, Hasbro double faulted on the product in short order.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Sunday Funnies: Celebrity Golf (1960)

 In the 50's & 60's, Sam Snead was one of the biggest names on the pro golf tour. To that end, independent producer Jerry Fredericks approached him about building a weekly challenge series pitting him against not fellow golfers, but celebrities.

Celebrity Golf, however, lasted just one season. Reruns would surface several years later on the Golf Channel (now part of NBC-Universal-Comcast). Harry Von Zell (The Burns & Allen Show) is host/commentator.

Following is a sample episode with Jerry Lewis. Part of the open has been edited off.

The pop-up trivia notes are part of the Golf Channel package, not the original broadcast.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Summertainment: Salute Your Shorts (1991)

 Ye scribe spent two summers at Sunnyside Day Camp in the 70's, and during this time, I contracted chicken pox, and forced to quarantine at home for a few days (true story). That said, I do have some idea of what the kids at Camp Annawanda were in for in Nickelodeon's Salute Your Shorts, based on a 1986 book by Steve Slavik.

However, Nick only got two seasons out of what should've been a perennial seasonal treat. Danny Cooksey (ex-Diff'rent Strokes) was the camp bully in what would be one of his last roles in front of the camera before making a second career a a voice actor.

While episodes have become available again, I don't expect them to last very long if ViacomCBS has its way, so we'll serve up the opener, as Cooksey and the rest of the cast perform the camp theme song.

To think this was from the same studio that also helped produce the original Beverly Hills 90210 for Fox. Today marks Salute's 30th anniversary.

Rating: B.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Toonfomercial: Archie shills for Pals vitamins (1969)

 In the best interests of equal time, after we located a Chocks commercial earlier, we have this rarity up next.

In answer to Chocks, Bristol-Myers, then the makers of Bufferin and Excedrin, came up with Pals vitamins for kids, which was the presenting sponsor of CBS' Archie & His New Pals primetime special in September 1969.

Here, Archie (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone) intros the main portion of the commercial. The little girl on the playset? That's a very young Erin Moran, who'd previously been on Daktari before hitting it big with Happy Days.

Unfortunately, Pals vitamins are not around anymore.

Remember Chocks vitamins? (1963)

 Miles Laboratories (now part of Bayer) introduced Chocks vitamins for kids in 1960. By the end of the decade, they added a mascot, Charlie Chocks, as it appeared sales were starting to wane after the addition of Flintstones brand vitamins. In 1974, Bugs Bunny Chocks were added, changed to simply Bugs Bunny vitamins in short order.

From 1963, here's an interesting spot, featuring the voices of Paul Winchell and Dick Beals. One YouTube commentator speculated that singer Norma Zimmer (The Lawrence Welk Show) narrated, but it could easily have been either one of Hanna-Barbera's grand dames of the period, Janet Waldo or Jean VanderPyl. Waldo was doing narrative voice-overs for Mattel around this time.

For all we know, the rocking horse might've been Mel Blanc, since someone had suggested incorrectly that it was Daws Butler.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Bad TV: He-Man in Crack in The World (1990)

 We've noted previously how former DIC co-founder Jean Chalopin's new company had landed a deal to produce The New Adventures of He-Man in 1990, four years after the Filmation series ended. It appears as though Chalopin retained his contacts in the animation business, as some of the artwork has some influence of Japanese anime.

Unfortunately, the voice casting left a lot to be desired. Campbell Lane was cast as arch-villain Skeletor, and is just all wrong for the part. Apparently, the recording was done in Canada, else Alan Oppenheimer could've been brought in to reprise. Filmation wasn't exactly the greatest during their 25 years in the business, but there's no brightness to this series.

If you don't believe me, check "Crack in The World":

The revival, helmed by Kevin Smith, debuts later this month on Netflix, and it can't come soon enough.

Rating: D.