Thursday, September 30, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The series premiere of Zorro (1990)

 Nearly 8 years after his animated iteration went off the air, Zorro returned, this time in live-action form, airing on the then-Family Channel (now Freeform), with Duncan Regehr in the title role.

In the opener, Victoria is falsely accused of murder, and Zorro must clear her. Here's "Dead Men Tell No Tales":

As we know, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (ex-Batman: The Animated Series, 77 Sunset Strip, The F. B. I.) would leave, replaced by Henry Darrow (ex-High Chaparral), who'd previously essayed the role of Zorro himself in the 1981 animated series and 1983's Zorro & Son.

In memory of Michael Tylo (ex-Guiding Light), who played the Alcalde in the first two seasons. We've just learned that Tylo passed away at 72. No rating out of respect.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Rebound? (1971)

 Ideal came out with a different kind of shuffleboard game in 1971, and ye scribe was actually fortunate enough to get one for Christmas.

Rebound uses pucks, which players will shoot, right to left, around the board to gain points. I remember playing this game with my brother back in the day, and I certainly remember this commercial:

Unfortunately, once the rubber bands broke, we didn't think to replace them, because we didn't know how, and Rebound ended up waving good-bye after less than a year.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: A Fifth of Beethoven (1976)

 Today, Walter Murphy is known as Seth MacFarlane's go-to musical director (Family Guy, American Dad, et al). However, 45 years ago, he was riding high atop the charts with the disco-tinged "A Fifth of Beethoven", which landed him on The Midnight Special:

Murphy has won an Emmy for his work on Family Guy, and "Fifth" has been used on the show, particularly in a skit where Peter Griffin and pals are at a roller rink. "Fifth" is also in heavy rotation on some oldies channels.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: Flip the Frog in Soda Squirt (1933)

 Before signing on with Disney, Ub Iwerks was already developing a reputation in the animation industry.

Iwerks created Flip The Frog, whose shorts were distributed by MGM from 1930-3. The Iwerks estate owns the rights to Flip, which is why we haven't seen him on TV over the years.

The series finale, "Soda Squirt", from 1933, follows the familiar pattern of using established Hollywood stars such as Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers (all four in this case), Mae West, Joe E. Brown, Jimmy Durante, and Lionel Barrymore. Coincidentally, all of them, I believe, were under contract to MGM at the time, except the Marx Brothers, who were with Paramount, and would sign with MGM later in their careers.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: You're No Good (1973)

 Linda Ronstadt hit #1 on the pop chart in 1975 with a cover of "You're No Good", which had been recorded by artists as diverse as Betty Everett and the Swinging Blue Jeans.

But, before "Good" was included on the album, "Heart Like a Wheel", Ronstadt debuted her cover on The Midnight Special. Her backing band includes Andrew Gold on guitar, and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan) on the bongos.

Intro by host du jour Jose Feliciano.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Talkabout? (1970)

 Playskool's Romper Room division, named for the long running TV show, introduced its answer to Mattel's See & Say line of talking toys in 1970.

However, Talkabout didn't last.

Keep in mind, ye scribe had never heard of the product until seeing this ad.

Since I wasn't a regular Romper Room viewer due to school at this point, I don't know if this was plugged on the show.

Toons You Might've Missed: The Merry Mutineers (1936)

 From Charles Mintz's Color Rhapsody series at Columbia comes this next item, "The Merry Mutineers".

You have characters designed to look like Laurel & Hardy, W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, Wallace Beery, Charles Loughton, Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, and, of course, the Three Stooges, on board two toy boats being run by Scrappy and a rival. Scrappy was a toon star at Columbia back in those days.

Voices are not given screen credit, as was the custom of the day.


Rating: A-.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A primer on COVID from Family Guy (2021)

 Family Guy creator-executive producer-star Seth MacFarlane has been outspoken about his disdain for Fox Shmooze's persistent misinformation regarding COVID vaccines. On Monday, MacFarlane appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to premiere a short PSA with characters from Family Guy. In short, Stewie & Brian go all Fantastic Voyage into Peter's bloodstream to convince him to take the vaccine.

And, of course, there's the usual running gag of dissing Meg.

Oh, and there's still that business with The Simpsons......

Rare Treats: The first appearance of the Jolly Green Giant (1954)

 We've all seen those animated commercials for Green Giant products through the decades. However, it's now come to light, after all these years, that the Giant's 1st appearance was done with claymation.

Green Giant, and the company that would be its parent for a time, Pillsbury, were the sponsors of The Mickey Rooney Show, aka Hey, Mulligan!, which lasted one season because Rooney reportedly insulted the president of Pillsbury.

Check it:

Saturtainment: An episode of The Beagles (1967)

 Sources say that the first part of "The Man in The Moon", a four part Beagles arc, premiered in March 1967, backed with a King Leonardo rerun.

While the series was itself a parody of The Beatles, whose own licensed animated series was in its 2nd season, Stringer (Mort Marshall) & Tubby (Allen Swift) were actually parodies of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Kenny Delmar is the narrator.

Edit, 10/10/21: The video has been deleted because the YouTube poster lost his channel. In its place is a sample clip:

What killed the show was the fact that at the time, networks didn't program their children's blocks from 8 am to the afternoon, but rather, from 9 or 10 am (ET). The schedule would expand a couple of years later, but too late for The Beagles.

No rating. Just a public service.

Monday, September 20, 2021

It ain't a movie----yet----but Jessica Rabbit's back as a detective at Disneyland

 "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" was more than 30 years ago, closing in on 35. Disney has decided to give Roger's human wife, Jessica, a reboot, swapping out acting for a new career as a private eye.

This all has to do with a Roger-centric ride at Disneyland, and how Jessica has gone from being a damsel in distress to a heroine. Well, WB did that with Daphne Blake in the two "Scooby-Doo" live-action movies, making her more pro-active instead of being the customary, danger prone damsel. Disney's figuring, if that worked, we can do something with one our ladies fair.

Well, it ain't the same as spinning cute-as-a-button Gadget Hackwrench from Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, but, welllllll.....just judge for yourselves.

Disney is testing the waters here, but positive reaction could result in a movie spinning out of this, although for today's audience, they would recast the role (originally essayed by Kathleen Turner), I would suspect.

Stay tooned.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

You Know The Voice: Matthew Lillard (2018)

 From what I've been reading, WB may be looking for a new Shaggy.

Matthew Lillard, who brought the character to life in 2 live-action "Scooby-Doo" movies before taking over the role in animation a few years later, paid a visit to Rich Eisen's talk show in 2018. I think at that time, Lillard was also working on the just-concluded NBC series, Good Girls, with fellow voice actor Mae Whitman.

Seems essaying the part over the course of nearly 20 years, between live-action and animation, has done some damage to Lillard's vocal cords, to the point where he has supposedly decided to step aside. He was the closest to matching the late Casey Kasem's original characterization, and some say he was actually even better than Casey.

Here, Rich asks Matthew to read the NFL's controversial Catch Rule as Shaggy:


Game Time: Legends of The Hidden Temple (1993)

 It was the most daring of Nickelodeon's game shows during its peak years in the late 80's-early 90's, and even spawned a feature film spin-off.

Legends of The Hidden Temple started off as a weekend series on Nickelodeon in 1993, but in less than six months was promoted to weekday afternoons, where it'd remain until cancellation in 1995.

Kirk Fogg was the series host, aided by Cristela Alonzo. Voice actor Dee Bradley Baker was the man behind Olmec, the "keeper", if you will, of the titular temple.

Unlike most Nick games, Hidden Temple didn't have a Q & A segment. Points were earned by completing stunts, sort of like Beat The Clock, after a fashion. In all, three "seasons" worth of episodes, airing over a two year period (1993-5) were taped at Nick's base at Universal Studios in Orlando.

With a more adult-driven revival due in three weeks on the CW, let's take a look at a sample clip from the original.

Alonzo & Baker are returning for the new series, though Fogg is doing his part to promote the show. Fogg & Baker also starred in the 2016 feature film spin-off. Alonzo was last seen fronting her own primetime sitcom for ABC, which didn't get very far.

Rating: B.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Toon Rock: Levitating (2020-1)

 British singer Dua Lipa released her sophomore CD, "Future Nostalgia", last year. "Levitating" is the latest single from the album, and this animated clip is the second clip for the song.

In keeping with the theme of the album, the anime is inspired by the popular Sailor Moon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Blinded by The Light (1976)

 Manfred Mann's Earth Band scored a hit with Bob Dylan's "Mighty Quinn" in the 60's. Nearly a decade later, they reached into another Columbia artist's songbook for another hit. Manfred Mann, you see, was contracted to Warner Bros. here in the US.

The writer of "Blinded by The Light"? Bruce Springsteen.

There are two versions of "Blinded" that play on the radio. One is the familiar radio-ready Top 40 version everyone knows, and there's a longer version. However, on The Midnight Special, Manfred Mann appeared to go with an extended version of the radio cut, as the additional verse not included in the Top 40 version is missing.

I think Springsteen's done a jam with "Blinded", too, that has made the rounds of FM radio through the years.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Tooniversary: Masked Identity (Jumanji, 1996)

 Jumanji, the animated spin-off from the original 1995 movie, in turn adapted from a 1981 novel, marks 25 years this season.

One of the better episodes in season 1 was "Masked Identity", in which Peter Shepherd (Ashley Johnson) joins the Manji mask-warriors after rescuing one from a rhino, but that causes problems when the Manji's decide to burn Judy (Debi Derryberry) & Alan (Bill Fagerbakke, Gargoyles, Coach).

Edit, 11/15/21: The video has been deleted. In its place is a sample clip:

The animated Jumanji ran for 3 seasons and a total of 40 episodes, with Everett Peck (Duckman) handling character designs. His designs were a hallmark of Sony's Adelaide Productions during the course of his time there, including Men in Black.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Toon Sports: Base Brawl (1948)

 In 1947, Famous Studios revived the Fleischers' old Screen Songs series of shorts, which featured a musical number and that famous bouncing ball that enabled moviegoers to sing along.

In January 1948, Famous & Paramount released "Base Brawl",  which had a team of "Forest All-Stars" trying to compete with a team of elephants. As silly as it sounds.

Contrary to the title, there was no fighting. 

Rating: B.

Monday, September 6, 2021

You Know The Voice: Don Messick (1981)

 The late voice-over icon Don Messick made a rare on-camera appearance on Bill Tush's WTBS chat-fest circa 1981. Clips include Yogi Bear, and Bill has a Jokey Smurf toy, likely from a McDonald's Happy Meal.

As we know, Don would land his only live-action role in 1984's Duck Factory.

On The Air: Trese (2021)

 Based on a series of graphic novels from the Philippines, Trese arrived earlier this year on Netflix, introducing viewers to a supernatural forensic detective, Alexandra Trese (Shay Mitchell, ex-Pretty Little Liars).

Alexandra inherits her father's role as a special investigator working with the local police. Only six episodes for the first season, and I'd not be surprised if producer Jay Oliva gets the go-ahead for season 2.

There is a comics version of the series here in the US, which was previewed last month during Free Comic Book Day, and worth checking out.

Let's take a look at a trailer:

Bone chillingly intense.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Tooniversary: Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat (2001)

 A collaborative effort between Sesame Workshop here in the US, and Canada's CineGroupe, Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat, based on a series of children's books by best-selling author Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), landed on PBS Kids in 2001. That was the good news. The bad news? One season of 40 episodes, and done.

Apparently, American children weren't interested in a series set in China in another age. Since the series' cancellation, however, Sagwa continues to air reruns across the globe, and remained on PBS for a while. PBS likely has it online at present.

Following is a sample open/close:

No rating. Never saw the show (I was at work when it was on).

Friday, September 3, 2021

Daytime Heroes: SOS Dinobots (Transformers, 1984)

 Season 1 of The Transformers was a bit of an odd duck.

The season began with a 3-part miniseries, "More Than Meets The Eye", and then shifted to a weekly format for the next 13 weeks, finishing right after Christmas.

Right before Halloween, Marvel Television, Sunbow, & Hasbro introduced the Dinobots.

Rating: B.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Toons After Dark: Marvel Anime: X-Men (2010)

 Marking the 30th anniversary of one of the most landmark and controversial episodes in the history of Marvel's X-Men, the publisher entered into an agreement to bring the mutant heroes back to television, this time with the auspices of some Japanese anime producers.

Marvel Anime: X-Men was one of four series in the package, the others featuring a Wolverine solo series, plus Blade and the return of Iron Man. It'd been a year since the last American-produced X-series had aired (Wolverine & The X-Men), and the producers were able to bring in three actors from that last series. Jennifer Hale (Jean Grey/Phoenix/Dark Phoenix), Steve Blum (Wolverine), & Fred Tatasciore (Beast) had previously worked on Wolverine & The X-Men). Curiously, despite bringing Blum in, the same producers cast Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes; currently on This is Us) in the role for the other series.

The cast also included current The Flash co-star Danielle Nicolet.

The opener adapts, albeit loosely, the death of Jean Grey from Uncanny X-Men 137 before moving on to "the present", as written by Warren Ellis, and introduces one of Joss Whedon's creations, Armor.

In the US, each of the Marvel Anime series aired on the original G4.

Rating: B.