Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Saturtainment: Flames of Doom (Return to The Planet of The Apes, 1975)

 "Flames of Doom" was the series opener of Return to The Planet of The Apes, a short-lived adaptation of Pierre Boulle's original novel that hewed closer to the novel than the movies and the previous season's live-action series had.

Worth noting is that Austin Stoker (Jeff) was the only cast member with any previous experience in the franchise, having appeared in "Battle For The Planet of The Apes". 

Whereas in the movies and the CBS series, this version has three astronauts, including one female, Judy (Claudette Nevins, ex-Headmaster). Henry Corden steps in for Mark Lenard as General Urko.

The character designs were done by associate producer Doug Wildey, the creator of Jonny Quest.

Considering this was the first straight dramatic series for DFE, this deserved a better fate. Unfortunately, it aired opposite a pair of Krofft sci-fi entries, Lost Saucer (ABC) & Far Out Space Nuts (CBS), and viewers, it seems, were more enamored with the pairing of Jim Nabors & Ruth Buzzi....!

Rating: A.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Animals Are Missing (Lassie's Rescue Rangers, 1973)

 "The Animals Are Missing" is the official series opener of Lassie's Rescue Rangers, following the pilot, "The Spirit of Thunder Mountain", 10 months earlier, on The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie.

A pair of drug traffickers have abducted Lassie and the rest of the animal Rangers in order to use them to transport their contraband. These two losers have a hard lesson waiting for them.

Lassie's owner/trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, wasn't thrilled with the finished product of the series, since it depicted what little violence could be allowed. In contrast, it wasn't any more violent than the live action Lassie itself.

Rating: B.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

From Comics to Toons: The television debut of the Punisher (Spider-Man, 1995)

 Inspired by Don Pendleton's The Executioner novels, writer Gerry Conway introduced the Punisher in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man in the 70's. More than 20 years later, the vigilante made his TV debut in Fox's Spider-Man series.

I realize we're in the middle of a season-long story arc, with Punisher (John Beck, ex-Dallas) making his debut in chapter 7, but there's a reason for this.

In memory of Ed Asner (J. Jonah Jameson), who passed away today at 91.

Toons After Dark: Tooning Out The News (2020)

 Stephen Colbert's other animated spin-off from The Late Show figures to be around a while.

Tooning Out The News bowed last year, both as a featurette on The Late Show, and as an ongoing series on Paramount+. Colbert serves as executive producer, but is not yet a voice actor on the show. Like, say for example, South Park, Tooning focuses on current events, and the development of interviews recalls Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast or even Weird Al Yankovic's mock-up interviews.

With Our Cartoon President having ended, that doesn't mean that Donald Trump and his sycophants, such as MyPillow CEO-founder Mike Lindell, aren't targets. That's what Tooning is for.

Episode length varies between 5 and 45 minutes. If you've got Paramount+, check it out. You'll be glad you did. Unless you're a Republican.

Rating: A.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Toon Rock: I'm Still Standing (2016)

 Three years before his breakthrough performance as Elton John in "Rocketman", Taron Egerton covered one of the legend's 80's hits in "Sing".

As Johnny, the teenage son of a mobster, Egerton nails a faithful cover of John's 1983 hit, "I'm Still Standing", which inspires pops to bust out of jail for a family reunion. The balance of the clip includes a portion of Queen & David Bowie's 1982 hit, "Under Pressure":

I really have to rent the movie before the sequel comes out around Christmas.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Game Time: Meet the youngest qualifier for a black belt (To Tell The Truth, 1974)

 Kicking off this post-holiday episode of To Tell The Truth is a game involving Philip Paley, who, at 9, was the youngest to qualify for a black belt. Future icon Chuck Norris is the special guest opening the show with host Garry Moore.

For all we know, this might've been Chuck's TV debut, too.

Toon Legends: Popeye Snags The Sea Hag (1979)

 From season 1 of The All-New Popeye Hour:

Popeye (Jack Mercer) is a private detective in this short, sent after old foe the Sea Hag (Marilyn Schreffler), aka Madame No-No, who has become more of a pirate. For some reason, Sea Hag's black dress has been replaced with a red one for this adventure, which I think is her Hanna-Barbera debut (she'd return in "Sweethearts at Sea", Popeye's 1st primetime special).

I think Allan Melvin voices her henchman.


Rating: B.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Good Eleven (1973)

I'll bet anything at all that this next Multiplication Rock entry has been used in Sunday School. And, yeah, the angel used in Bob Dorough's "The Good Eleven" is a reason why it would.

Come to think of it, this would work in Vacation Bible School for preschoolers, wouldn't it now?

Monday, August 23, 2021

On The Air: What If? (2021)

 Well, it's here.

45 years after its initial comics debut, Marvel's What If....? has bowed on Disney+, with some of the best animation for Marvel in over a decade.

If you remember the books, you know the premise. The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright) serves as narrator, taking us into a moment in time where events in Marvel's history were changed. Some good, some bad.

In the opener, for example, series creator A. C. Bradley examines what would happen if Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) took the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers (Josh Keaton, ex-Spectacular Spider-Man, Green Lantern). Bradley Whitford (ex-The West Wing) takes over for Tommy Lee Jones as Agent Flynn. Dominic Cooper reprises as Howard Stark.

Check the season trailer:

The opener gives us Captain Carter as a mash-up of Captain America and Wonder Woman. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Rating: A+.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Saturtainment: A complete episode of POP! Goes The Country (1980-1)

 From season 7 of POP! Goes The Country:

Host Tom T. Hall is joined by Hank Williams, Jr., with whom he does a duet cover of Hank Snow's "Move it on Over", and relative unknown Stephanie Winslow, who, unfortunately, didn't survive the 80's. Hank, Jr. kicks it off with a live performance of "Dixie on my Mind":

In memory of Hall, 85, who has passed away.

Friday, August 20, 2021

From Primetime to Daytime: Roomies (1987)

 A 40-something Marine DI decides to return to college, and bunks with a teen prodigy struggling to fit in.

That was the premise behind Roomies, a spring replacement series that aired on NBC for 2 months in 1987, then returned to fill a spot on the network's Saturday morning slate four years later.

Burt Young ("Rocky"), who served in the Marines nearly 30 years earlier, co-stars with Corey Haim ("The Lost Boys"). Only 8 episodes were produced, and so it fit neatly with NBC's developing Teen TV block in the summer of 1991. The network produced the show themselves, as they were getting back into the business of developing their own shows (i.e. Saved by The Bell, California Dreams), as they did in the early days of television.

Following is a sample episode:

Edit, 9/2/21: The episode was deleted. We have a small sample in its place:

No rating.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Coming Attractions: Netflix adds a 2nd He-Man series

 While Masters of The Universe: Revelation is streaming now on Netflix, and while you're waiting for the 2nd half of Kevin Smith's epic adventure to drop later this year, the streaming service is adding more He-Man for your buck.

Coming September 16 is a reboot of the original He-Man & The Masters of The Universe, this time as a CGI animated series that hews toward Mike Young's 2002 series in establishing Skeletor's alter ego as Keldor, who, it turns out, is Prince Adam's uncle. Like, who knew?

Image courtesy Mattel Television/Collider.

The voice cast will be different, packed with veteran voice actors and not the star studded lineup of Revelation. As with the 2002 Masters series, Adam (Yuri Lowenthal) gains his powers as a teenager. As you can see, the Sword of Power is a bigger, phatter version than the original. Go figure.

The creative personnel for the show includes writers associated with other genre shows such as Arrow.

I think I'll wait for the DVD.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Toon Legends: Popeye in Golden-Type Fleece (1960)

 Popeye (Jack Mercer) spins another yarn for Swee'pea (Mae Questel), this time a send-up of "Jason & The Argonauts", which, I think, had already been made into a movie by the time this came out. Brutus (Jackson Beck) plays multiple roles, as a centaur, Neptune, & Jupiter (Roman versions of Poseidon & Zeus, of course).

Here's "Golden-Type Fleece":

Most of the opening titles were edited off to evade the copyright patrol.

Rating: B.

Coming Attractions (continued): Mindy Kaling's makeover of Mystery Inc. continues

 Recent updates on Mindy Kaling's pending Velma for HBO Max & Chumptoon Network have revealed that Kaling has plans not just for Velma herself, but certain other members of Mystery, Inc..

Photo courtesy of Twitter/WB.

Kaling, as we've noted previously, is essaying the title role, with Velma now of Indian (South Asian) descent, as are her parents. But that ain't all.

Daphne, the leggy redhead, is being reimagined as a foundling this time, adopted by two female police officers. Mitch Watson tried a similar tack with Fred in Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated in 2010, having Fred adopted as an infant, only for his "birth parents" to return in season 2 to reclaim him.

Norville "Shaggy" Rogers is being flipped to African American. Now, this is a gig Kevin Hart should've looked at. And maybe he did, for all we know.

Velma is being posited as a prequel to the Scooby-Doo franchise, which has been a fixture on television, either on broadcast or cable networks, since its launch in 1969. In other words, you might not be able to escape the earlier series if they're readily available.

I get what Mindy is trying to do with a more culturally diverse cast, following a popular trend du jour in Hollywood, but the accessibility of all those DTV movies and various series, either on DVD or on cable or HBO Max, coupled with negative pre-release feedback on various message boards, and a pending CW special, is cause for concern.

My guess is that CN/HBO Max will hold Velma until after the "reunion" special on CW airs later this year. I may be wrong about that, but ya never know.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Action Baseball? (1962?)

 Not long after breaking the single season home run mark set by Babe Ruth, Roger Maris was contracted by Pressman to promote a baseball "board game", if you will, called Action Baseball.

Unfortunately, it didn't survive, and was off the shelves by the time my folks started buying toys for Christmas for my bro and I a few years later.

Today, this would be marketed as a video game, either hand held or on your PC.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Astro Boy (2003)

 Roughly about 40 years after his debut in Japan, Astro Boy returned to action, both in Japan and the US, as well as in other countries, in 2003. Here in the US, Kids' WB! picked up the 50 episode series, but without a lot of fanfare. Having Astro on the schedule with another 60's icon, Scooby-Doo, should've meant a lot more than it did at WB, but, because of an ongoing ratings war with Fox and their 4Kids-programmed Saturday block (Fox Box from 2002-forward), this slipped under the radar.

Veteran actress Candi Milo was given the assignment of voicing Astro in the American version of this series, which later resurfaced on Disney Channel after getting dumped by WB. As you'll see, Sony owns the rights here, at last check. Lara Jill Miller (ex-Gimme a Break) co-stars.

Following is a sample episode.

No rating. Didn't see enough to fairly grade it.

Saturday School: Remember ABC's One to One: Feeling Good About Yourself? (1988)

 In answer to NBC's One to Grow on, which featured a number of that network's primetime stars, and gave way to The More You Know, ABC introduced One to One: Feeling Good About Yourself in 1988. It appears that the folks at Lorimar (now part of Warner Bros.) were commissioned for these bits. So far, all that's available are bits with Perfect Strangers stars Mark-Linn Baker & Bronson Pinchot and the cast of Full House, including, in this bit, Bob Saget, Jodie Sweetin, and either Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen as Michelle.

Subsequent House clips would include the rest of the regulars (Candace Cameron, Dave Coulier, John Stamos). Right now, I haven't come up with anything from the rest of Lorimar's line of Miller-Boyett-produced sitcoms (i.e. Family Matters). Coulier, of course, had joined the cast of The Real Ghostbusters by this point.

Friday, August 13, 2021

You Know The Voice: Michael Bell shills for Cool Whip (early 1970's)

 Cool Whip, introduced in 1966 by Birds Eye, then a subsidiary of General Foods (now Kraft-Heinz), has attracted celebrity endorsers for years. The longest running series featured the Tucker Inn, with Marge Redmond (ex-The Flying Nun) as Sara Tucker. That series began around 1974 and ran until the early 80's.

Before that, we have this bit with Michael Bell (ex-The Bold Ones: The Protectors, etc.) and Rick Hurst, before he landed his first series gig with 1975's On The Rocks, as a pair of bachelors distracted by a fellow party guest and her Cool Whip topped dessert.....

I can't be 100% sure, but that might also be Michael, who would do a zillion voiceovers for Parkay, Zales Jewelers, and Red Lobster, among others, doing the closing voice-over. How he never landed a leading role in a series himself, I'll never know.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Masters of The Universe: Revelation (2021)

 Netflix's Masters of The Universe: Revelation is meant to be a sequel to the 1983-6 He-Man & The Masters of The Universe, meaning it skips past Mike Young's 2002 reboot, which remade some episodes of the original series. Of course, it completely ignores Jean Chalopin's insipid 1990 New Adventures of He-Man.

The series also explains the origins of Castle Grayskull and other Eternian landmarks and characters that we're all familiar with---and some we didn't know.

Curated and created by filmmaker Kevin Smith, who cast his daughters in supporting roles, Revelation expands the backstory that toy manufacturer Mattel created nearly 40 years ago, including how Skeletor (Mark Hamill) came to be, as well as his nemesis, He-Man (Chris Wood). The all-star cast also includes Sarah Michelle Gellar (Teela), Alicia Silverstone (Queen Marlena), Stephen Root (Cringer/Battle Cat), Diedrich Bader (King Randor), Kevin Conroy (Mer-Man), Susan Eisenberg (The Sorceress), Lena Headley (Evil-Lyn), and Smith's long time collaborator and BFF, Jason Mewes. Original cast member Alan Oppenheimer was brought back, the only one from the 1983 series to do so, but this time as Moss-Man.

Concurrently, Dark Horse Comics is running a 4-issue prequel miniseries, which as of this week has reached the halfway point. Netflix has only released the first 5 episodes of the online series, with the 2nd half to follow later this year.

Let's revisit the teaser:

In the 2002 series, it was established that Skeletor, formerly Keldor, had a humanoid form. Issue 2 of the comic book has him spinning a yarn to Evil-Lyn that suggests that he came from a race of skeleton people. Since Smith is co-writing the book, too, you can tell he's playing the readers in order to sell them on the cartoon. If this doesn't end with Prince Adam & Teela finally hooking up after nearly 40 years, then this will not be worth it in some people's minds.

Rating: B.

Remembering Dominic DeNucci, Bobby Eaton, The Assassin, & Bert Prentice

 Heaven's wrestling federation is growing in size, as we've lost four men who made significant contributions to the wrestling business when we were young.

Last week alone, three of those four men passed in a 24 hour period:

Jody Hamilton, better known as the Assassin, working mostly in Georgia & Florida for a number of years, and became a manager in the 90's. His passing came just a couple of weeks after one of the men he managed, Paul Orndorff, had passed on.

Hamilton's son, referee and part-time wrestler Nick Patrick, announced his dad's passing on social media.

Flamboyant manager Bert Prentice, otherwise known as Christopher "Honey" Love, was a fixture in Memphis in the 90's after a lengthy career that saw him also working in Texas for Southwest Championship Wrestling as the manager of future Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard, currently with AEW as a manager himself. Prentice would later become a promoter in the Memphis area until his passing. 

"Beautiful" Bobby Eaton, 1/2 of the Midnight Express tag team, one of the nicest men in the business off-camera. It is assumed that Eaton and manager Jim Cornette met at the start of Cornette's career in Memphis. People might not remember that Eaton worked the Memphis territory before forming the Express, first with Dennis Condrey, and later with Stan Lane, formerly of the Fabulous Ones, another Memphis icon. Eaton won multiple regional tag titles with the Express, and also, during the 90's in WCW, tagged with Steven (William) Regal and another future Hall of Famer in Arn Anderson.

Ye scribe actually met Eaton following a WCW Clash of The Champions here in town in 1989. A mutual friend tried to have his picture taken with Eaton, with me holding the camera. Didn't work, as I didn't know how to operate a modern camera at that point that wasn't a Polaroid.

And, overnight, we lost Dominic DeNucci, whose career began in 1958, tagging with his friend, Bruno Sammartino. DeNucci also trained future stars Shane Douglas and Mick Foley, among others.

After winning multiple tag titles in the then-WWWF, DeNucci worked jobber matches against top heels at the end of his career with the company. From 1981, DeNucci tags with jobber Angelo Gomez vs. the Moondogs, Rex & King (Randy Colley & Sailor Ed White).

Rest in peace.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Tooniversary: Mumbly vs. Bing Bong (1976)

 In 1976, Dino DeLaurentis mounted a big budget remake of the original "King Kong". All that did was make the iconic monster ripe for parody.

Here, Mumbly (Don Messick) is sent to capture Bing Bong (sounds like John Stephenson doing the vocal effects, though I cannot be sure).

Predictable farce.

Rating: B-.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Sky Writer? (1981)

 In the 80's, Ideal Toys was slowly fading in popularity. A company that once sponsored Magilla Gorilla & Peter Potamus before both shows were cancelled 15 years earlier, Ideal was trying to get a piece of the electronic toy market. So they came up with Sky Writer, a hand-held LED board that, if you wave it in the air, a message appears.

Their idea of an ad campaign was to do a sci-fi adventure, narrated by Jackson Beck.

Small wonder that Ideal was a distant memory by the end of the decade.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

On The Air: Jellystone (2021)

 Ten years ago, Warner Bros. thought that putting many of their legendary characters in a community setting would make for good television. The Looney Tunes Show lasted two seasons on Cartoon Network, and it was enough to convince WB suits to duplicate the concept with some of the Hanna-Barbera crew.

Unfortunately, Jellystone, while it copies the concept, fails because of poor character designs and a dependence on adult humor that isn't meant for today's kids.

Yogi Bear (Jeff Bergman) is now a doctor, along with Cindy Bear, with Boo Boo as a nurse, although Cindy's actually the smartest of the trio, and poor Yogi's been dumbed down to an imbecile, just like Daffy Duck 10 years ago. Contrary to his GEICO commercial and earlier appearances, Yogi's not smarter than the average bear anymore. He is the average bear!!

Huckleberry Hound (Jim Conroy) is the mayor, and he, too, has been dumbed down. Other characters, such as Augie Doggie, Squiddly Diddly, and Jabberjaw (!) have been gender-flipped to female to reduce the disparity in male vs. female characters. Now a girl, Augie is an aspiring singer, and Doggie Daddy comes off as more overbearing than he used to be.

Before we continue, this sample clip was presented two weeks ago at the San Diego Comic-Con:

Series creator-head writer-executive producer C. H. Greenblatt (Harvey Beaks, Chowder) misfired with many of the character designs. Like, what was wrong with retaining the classic looks? Fans yearning for crossovers with other franchises such as Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones are out of luck, as the latter has a revival in the pipeline, and Scooby is a few years removed from a poorly designed series of his own (Be Cool, Scooby-Doo).

Realizing that not everyone has HBO Max, WB is repurposing Jellystone on Cartoon Network starting Saturday, September 4 (check listings), assuming they can find time to break the gridlock that is known as Teen Titans Go!

I'd rather chase the classic DVD's.

Rating: C--.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Jana of The Jungle in Katuchi Danger (1978)

 Jana of The Jungle (B. J. Ward) and Montaro (Ted Cassidy) search for the occupants of an emergency plane carrying medical supplies, which has crashed in the jungle. However, the doctor and the pilot have already been captured by a tribe of man-apes. Here's "Katuchi Danger":

Ok, so Tiko was meant to be comedy relief. Rogue's Retro, the YouTube user who posted the video, intentionally mis-numbered the episode, as this is actually episode 3 in the series.

Jana, along with Ghost & Tiko, are part of the large cast of the new HBO Max series, Jellystone. I shudder to think how they'll be used.

Rating: B.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The series premiere of the Harlem Globetrotters (1970)

 Between 1969-71, Saturday morning television made some serious strides in what we call cultural diversity. After Filmation created an African-American character for The Hardy Boys, Hanna-Barbera responded by acquiring licenses for Josie & The Pussycats (with an African-American percussionist who was also cast as their answer to Greg Morris' character of Barney Collier on Mission: Impossible) and The Harlem Globetrotters.

As we've documented, the 'Trotters didn't voice their animated selves. Meadowlark Lemon was credited, but only because he recorded backing vocals on some of the musical numbers. Scatman Crothers ("The Aristocats") voiced Lemon's animated alter-ego. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson (ex-The Jack Benny Program), who hadn't done any animated work since doing a cartoon with Benny several years earlier ("The Mouse That Jack Built"), voices Bobby Joe Mason, who figures into the plot of the series opener, "The Great Geese Goof-Up", in which the team thinks Geese was transformed into a kangaroo, not knowing the kangaroo, a magician's assistant, is being used by jewel thieves.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Saturtainment: A Big Cure For a Little Illness (The Littles, 1983)

 From season 1 of The Littles:

Dr. Hunter (Ken Sansom), obsessed with capturing at least one Little, uses a poison gas, which Helen Little is exposed to. That forces Tom, Lucy, Dinky, Grandpa, and Henry Bigg into action.

Here's "A Big Cure For a Little Illness":

Hunter was written out of the show during season 2. Probably ended up going to prison.

No rating.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (Revisited): Soul Man (1974)

 The legendary soul duo Sam & Dave (Samuel Moore & Dave Prater) originally recorded "Soul Man", co-written by Isaac Hayes, in 1967. Seven years later, the pair turned up on The Midnight Special.

As we all know, the Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi) took "Soul Man" up the charts again four years later, with Belushi filling Moore's role as lead singer.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Literary Toons: Swiss Mis-Adventure (Around The World in 79 Days, 1969)

 It's past time we checked in on Phineas Fogg, Jr. (Bruce Watson) in chapter 2 of Around The World in 79 Days. Here's "Swiss Mis-Adventure":

Rating: B.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Toon Rock: Lucky Seven Sampson (1973)

 Schoolhouse Rock!'s Multiplication Rock segment served up this snappy little ditty, a tale of "Lucky Seven Sampson", written & sung by Bob Dorough:

Tooniversary: A toonfomercial for Dial MTV (1986)

 Back when MTV was actually Music Television, they began a nightly call-in show where viewers, usually heavy metal fans, would vote for their favorite videos.

In this ad for Dial MTV, which ran for about 4-5 years, a geek tries to pick up a date after the show's over....