Monday, November 29, 2021

Tooniversary: A Very Pink Christmas (2011)

 33 years after his first ABC special, the Pink Panther returns to the holidays.

I'm guessing A Very Pink Christmas was a DTV entry, as I don't recall seeing this on TV.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Song (1961-2020)

 "The Christmas Song", written by Bob Wells & Mel Torme, was recorded on four different occasions by Nat King Cole. The final version, recorded in 1961 with orchestrations by Ralph Carmichael, is considered the definitive version, and plays every year on radio stations around the country. Cole first recorded the track 15 years earlier in 1946, and recruited the legendary Nelson Riddle to conduct the orchestra for a 1953 re-record.

The following video is set to the 1961 version.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) (1961)

 From The Alvin Show:

It seems Alvin has obsessive-compulsive disorder. He wants a hula hoop, and, unaware that David Seville has gone shopping before a recording session, leaves several reminders all over the house. In the context of the series, Seville is wealthy enough to have a studio in the house, instead of having to rent space for a recording session.

"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" shows how Alvin is consumed by his obsession over the hula hoop.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: B. C.: A Special Christmas (1981)

 Eight years after Johnny Hart's B. C. characters made their first television special, Hart decided to take a look at Christmas through the eyes of the cast. Different animation house, and the lead voices were comedy legends Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding, no strangers to voice work themselves with their radio series, and a series of animated spots for Utica Club back in the day.

Here's B. C.: A Special Christmas:

We had B. C.: The First Thanksgiviing a while back, but lost that when it was deleted. We'll try to get that back for next Thanksgiving.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Toon Rock: The Motown Song (1991)

 Rod Stewart went animated for 1991's "The Motown Song", the 2nd single off the CD, "Vagabond Heart". The video starts with live Rod, but then after we see an animated version of Motown legends The Temptations, cartoon Rod enters......

"The Motown Song" was written by Larry McNally, who originally recorded it five years earlier for the movie, "Quicksilver", but it wasn't released as a single at the time, and McNally remains a footnote in music history as a result.

Thanksgiving Toons: Intergalactic Thanksgiving (1979)

 Nelvana's Intergalactic Thanksgiving mixes science fiction with absurd comedy, and features the voices of Catherine O'Hara (SCTV), Derek McGrath, Al Waxman, & Sid Caesar, a year removed from "Grease". Music, as usual, was composed by former Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian, with the John Hall Band, featuring the former (at the time) vocalist for Orleans, performing Sebastian's compositions.

I think there's a reason why no American channel has picked this up in recent years.

No rating.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Family Toons: Hero Sandwiched (The Roman Holidays, 1972)

 Gus Holiday (Dave Willock, ex-Margie, Wacky Races) is a reluctant hero when he accidentally---so it appears----foils a pair of bank robbers.

Here's The Roman Holidays in "Hero Sandwiched":

A variation on an old theme.

Rating: B.

Rare Treats: A Thanksgiving Tale (1983)

 Three years before ALF made him a household name, Paul Fusco made one of his first projects for television. Problem is, A Thanksgiving Tale isn't sure of what it's meant to be.

Produced for Showtime as part of a series of holiday themed puppet specials, this tale of cats & dogs and the turkey that comes between them is lost somewhere between a parody of the oft-adapted tale of the First Thanksgiving and a send-up of, say for example, "West Side Story", because of the feuding between the cats & dogs.

It's basically this. The cats are hungry, and all the local mice have been chased away by the dogs guarding a restaurant nearby. Tom Turkey (Fusco) shows up, and, well, chaos.

A Thanksgiving Tale, at last check, is available on Amazon Prime for streaming.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Thanksgiving Toons: NIckelodeon's Thanksgiving Fest (1989)

 Two years before the debut of their Nicktoons line, Nickelodeon put together a Thanksgiving special that, sadly, hasn't seen the light of day in years.

There are two short subjects, "Thanksgiving Nightmare", in which a cat gets caught in between a mouse (of course) and a roach in trying to avoid ruining his owner's holiday dinner. Written & directed by Kevin Altieri, who'd later move to WB.

"Thanksgiving Dreams" plays like it was pulled from a storybook. The wraparound segments, "Thanksgiving Stops", are drawn in the familiar at the time house style.

Rating: B.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Three Stooges in Three Little Pirates (1946)

 By 1946, Jerome "Curly" Howard of the Three Stooges was in declining health due to a series of strokes. The team's best effort of the year came with "Three Little Pirates", in which the boys are shipwrecked on an island whose ruler (Vernon Dent, a frequent Stooge adversary) decides they need to be executed due to Curly's flirting with the ruler's girlfriend (Christine McIntyre).

This is the 2nd film to use the famous "Maharajah" routine, the first coming five years earlier.

The team would not use "Maharajah" until one of their movies with Joe DeRita in the 60's, out of respect to Curly.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Toonfomercial: Would this entice you to vacation in Alaska? (1981-91)

 If memory serves me, Northern Exposure was a hit series on CBS around the time this cute tourism ad aired for the state of Alaska.

The music is set to the beat of a song from "A Chorus Line", which becomes obvious by the time the ad ends.

Update, 1:16 pm (ET): Turns out the animated portion was originally produced 10 years earlier. Many thanks to the Star twins for the heads-up.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Toons After Dark: The Get Along Gang (1984)

 When we reviewed the series version of The Get Along Gang, a one season entry for CBS, we noted that American Greetings, the parent company of Those Characters From Cleveland, had switched animation houses for the series. Canada's Nelvana Studios produced what amounted to an unofficial pilot some months earlier, but when CBS picked up the show, DIC was tasked to take over production.

In truth Nelvana co-produced the "pilot" with Scholastic Television. 

The special, which aired in early evening "fringe" blocks ahead of the primetime lineups, features the voices of Charles Haid (Hill Street Blues) & Dave Thomas (SCTV), who got headline status. The title song is sung by former Lovin' Spoonful singer John Sebastian, who'd been recording music for Nelvana for a while at this point.

DIC recast the entire lineup for the CBS series with more age-appropriate actors.

No rating. Just a public service.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Tooniversary: Spider-Man meets a Triangle of Evil (1981)

 Spider-Man faces off against a "Triangle of Evil" in an episode from his short-lived daily syndicated series.

No rating.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Coming Attractions: Sesame Street's newest Muppet

 We were taught in school back in the day about how the US was a melting pot of various cultures. It still is, if you don't listen to right wing media.

On Thanksgiving night, Sesame Street will formally introduce its newest Muppet character, Ji-Young, a 7 year old Korean-American who plays guitar and rides a skateboard.

Ji-Young with Ernie. Photo courtesy Sesame Workshop via Yahoo!.

Awww, they look soooooooo cute together, don't they?

As Sesame Street, now in its 53rd season, continues to open doors for children of all cultures, it's also open for parents to gain a better understanding of our brothers & sisters from Asia, Europe, Latin America, et al, and not have to fall prey to propaganda from conservative hot air dealers like Fox News' Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, et al. Apparently, none of them want to admit they've ever read The Huddled Masses at the Statue of Liberty.

The picture above also will give cause to debunk the long-standing rumors of Ernie and his BFF, Bert, if Ernie becomes more than just a guide for Ji-Young along the Street, if you catch my drift.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Sunday Funnies: Fiddlers Three (1948)

 The Three Stooges are "Fiddlers Three" in service to Old King Cole (Vernon Dent), and must rescue the princess from a covetous rival.

"Fiddlers Three" was remade six years later as "Musty Musketeers".

Rating: B.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Saturday School: CNN & Sesame Street's town hall on COVID vaccines for kids (2021)

 This is what started all the controversy triggered earlier this week by Texas Senator Ted Cruz against Sesame Street icon Big Bird.

On November 6, CNN, partnering with Sesame Workshop once more, presented a town hall special to educate children on the COVID vaccines which are now available for children between the ages of 5-11. CNN's Erica Hll and Dr. Sanjay Gupta are the moderators, joined by Big Bird, Rosita, Granny Bird, and Elmo.

Need we add that CNN's sister network, HBO, is home to first-run episodes of Sesame Street these days? Wouldn't be surprised if this turns up on HBO or HBO Max, as well as PBS.

As we discussed earlier in the week, Senator Cruz decided to be a bully and slammed the special as "propaganda". No, it's not. Cruz and his state's governor, Greg Abbott, would rather that their citizens remain ignorant about protecting themselves, as the politicos see their state's bottom line as more important than the people they are supposed to serve. As noted previously, Big Bird acted as an avatar for earlier generation of Sesame Street viewers nearly 50 years ago in getting vaccinated for measles. Big Bird does have some celebrity backup in the form of actor-singer-producer Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, The Orville, American Dad), who came to the eternal 6 year old's defense vs. Twitter nemesis Cruz.

I think WarnerMedia and Disney can go to their bullpens for some extra help. You know, from the likes of Batman, Spider-Man, The Avengers, Superman, et al, because kids of all ages will respond to advice from their heroes. MacFarlane did his part on Family Guy. I think H. Jon Benjamin (Bob's Burgers, Archer) could probably jump in if asked.

Notice, too, that Cruz went after Big Bird by name, but not Rosita, a Latina Muppet. Hmmmmmmm.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here! (1974)

 Bob Dorough pulls an Alvin & The Chipmunks trick in voicing three generations of a family of shopkeepers who sell adverbs. Meet the Lollys. You'll figure out the trick, I'm sure.

They could probably get those adverbs for you wholesale if they weren't already free.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Wonder Wheels & The Skyscraper (1977)

 It's been a long time since we checked in on Wonder Wheels.

In this shortie, the superbike and its pilot, Willie (Micky Dolenz), are after a pair of escaped convicts in "Wonder Wheels & The Skyscraper":

Yeah, I know. The screencap above shows Dooley, Willie's boss. I had an idea for a revival that would have her taking over Wonder Wheels in place of bumbling Willie, but, so far, it seems WB isn't interested in bringing back this short-lived series from Skatebirds.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Literary Toons: Doctor Doolittle in The Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly (1970)

 Doctor Doolittle (Robert Towers) nurses a gooney bird back to health, just in time to thwart the latest scheme of Sam Scurvy (Len Weinrib, who co-wrote the script with writing-producing partner Paul Harrison).

Here's "The Bird Who Was Afraid to Fly":

Towers & Weinrib give Leslie Bricusse's "Talk To The Animals", the show's theme song, a workout. Unfortunately, the show's cancellation may have short-circuited any plans Weinrib might've had to develop his own concepts.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Galaxy Goof-Ups (1978)

 Galaxy Goof-Ups began as a component of Yogi's Space Race, and was a spoof of the sci-fi genre that was getting hot again, thanks to "Star Wars" becoming a global phenomenon a year earlier.

Yogi Bear (Daws Butler) commands a new field team, including Huckleberry Hound (Butler), and newcomers Quack-Up (Mel Blanc, of course), and Scare Bear (Joe Besser, also heard on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics), who, because he's afraid of everything, might've been the forerunner to John Dilworth's Courage The Cowardly Dog more than 20 years later.

Captain Snerdley (John Stephenson, impersonating Joe Flynn) is the team's commanding officer, often exasperated by their bumbling. Stephenson doing his Flynn mimic, recycled from Inch High, Private Eye and Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch!, was an inspired idea, considering that the Goof-Ups, or Galaxy Guardians, to use their official name, somehow managed to overcome their own bungling, just as much as McHale's Navy perpetually frustrated their boss, Captain Binghamton (Flynn), who wanted them court-martialed.

Unfortunately, no episodes are presently available, so here's the intro:

Mel Blanc had returned to the H-B fold a year earlier (Captain Caveman), and you'd be forgiven if you thought Quack-Up was a distant relative of a certain duck at WB. The various Flintstones series kept Blanc busy, along with the occasional Looney Tunes project at WB, until his passing in 1989.

Rating: B--.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Getting schooled: Big Bird gets vaccinated, and you should, too!

 We talked about this over at The Land of Whatever earlier today, but since it involves a Sesame Street icon, such as Big Bird, it also merits discussion here, too.

Y'see, Big Bird appeared on a Town Hall special on CNN over the weekend, and was vaccinated for COVID-19. Not the first time the eternal 6 year old has been vaccinated. He got in line in 1972 for a measles vaccine.

File photo courtesy National Public Radio.

Big Bird is a character kids can relate to. They can't relate to conservative fear-mongers like Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who blasted Big Bird for no reason, accusing him, and, by extension, CNN & Sesame Workshop, of spreading propaganda.

Deflect much, Teddy?

Fortunately, uber-geek and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane came to Big Bird's defense, as he & Cruz have had a running feud on Twitter. Having already used his show to educate viewers about the vaccines, MacFarlane took the opportunity to shred Cruz.

Republicans such as Cruz, and right wing media garbage peddlers like Tucker Carlson trade on fear and misinformation, and, as a result, are prolonging the pandemic because they refuse to educate their vulnerable, low information, low education base.

By going public with vaccinating, Big Bird is telling viewers, don't be afraid. It's the simplest message possible.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Love I Lost (1973)

 Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, with Teddy Pendergrass on vocals, reached the top of the R & B chart, and the top 10 on the Hot 100, with 1973's "The Love I Lost", which landed them a return trip to Soul Train.

Mighty, indeed.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Remembering Angelo "King Kong" Mosca (1937-2021)

 A good number of wrestlers made the transition to the mat from the gridiron, most famously former Kansas City Chiefs star Ernie Ladd. A close second would be Massachusetts-born Angelo Mosca.

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Notre Dame in 1959, Mosca opted for the Canadian Football League, where he won 5 Grey Cups out of 9 appearances, four of them the the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a defensive lineman.

While with the CFL, Mosca began wrestling during the offseason (The CFL starts its season before the NFL), and eventually came back to the US to compete in the then-World Wrestling Federation and the National Wrestling Alliance before retiring from competition for good in 1986. His WWF run ended with a brief stint as a color analyst for the company's syndicated programming, partnered with Jack Reynolds, a partnership that didn't last, based mostly in Canada.

It was reported earlier today that Mosca had passed away at 84 after a lengthy bout with Alzheimer's disease. Following is a WWF TV match from 1981, as Mosca, managed by Mount Vernon native Lou Albano, takes on Jose Estrada:

Rest in peace.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Bad TV: Magic Mongo (1977)

 When ABC renewed The Krofft Supershow for a 2nd season, the series was overhauled.

For starters, the house band, Kaptain Kool & The Kongs, were now a quartet, with Albany native Bert Sommer (Flatbush) having been cut during the off-season. Two season 1 segments, Dr. Shrinker, starring Jay Robinson & Billy Barty, and the Batman knockoff, Electra Woman & DynaGirl, were cancelled. This allowed Electra Woman herself, Diedre Hall, to devote more time to her other gig on Days of Our Lives.

While the action ramped up with Bigfoot & Wildboy replacing Electra Woman, Dr. Shrinker, a knockoff itself, in this case of the 40's movie, "Dr. Cyclops", was replaced by an even worse entry.

Enter Magic Mongo.

Actor-filmmaker Len Weinrib, who hadn't been in front of the camera all that much since a Pringles commercial, was cast in the title role after years of playing small supporting roles (i.e. Burke's Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show). Helaine Lembeck (ex-Welcome Back, Kotter), sister of Kaptain Kool himself, Michael Lembeck, co-starred. Father Harvey was a producer. With that kind of experience, this should've been something besides a parody of I Dream of Jeannie. It wasn't. Not even close.

Mongo (Weinrib) was a bumbling genie on the order of the animated Jeannie's sidekick, Babu, who was now over on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, which preceded Supershow. They even tried a stunt by having Nashville (Louise DuArt) visit, but to no avail.

Here's the intro, as the episodes have been removed from YouTube.

Larry Larsen (ex-The Lost Saucer) was finally allowed to appear on camera without a Krofft Kostume in a supporting role. 

Rating: D.

You Know The Voice: George S. Irving (1975)

 Here's another Gillette Trac II ad with George S. Irving (ex-Underdog, Go-Go Gophers, etc.), this time in a dual role as the shopkeeper and his pop.

I'm wondering who else George shilled for, besides Gillette & White Owl, which we've showcased before.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Thanksgiving Toons: ESPN explains the origins of Thanksgiving day football (2017)

 Cartoons on ESPN? Yep.

Over the last few years, there've been short, animated vignettes on SportsCenter. Don't know whose idea it was, but this short piece offers the origins of the NFL's Thanksgiving Day football traditions in Detroit & Dallas.

Sure, the animation is crude, only because they couldn't be bothered to ask Disney to do the animation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Toonfomercial: Tennessee Tuxedo shills for Frosty O's (1963?)

 General Mills was a sponsor of Tennessee Tuxedo & His Tales, and, as such, Tennessee and the gang would do in-show ads for the cereal maker's products.

However, series star Don Adams wasn't available for the following ad. Cast member Mort Marshall fills in as Tennessee. I would venture a guess that Don was, if this is from the first season, working on The Bill Dana Show at the time they recorded this ad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Toons After Dark: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You Now? (2021)

 This is the sort of thing the CW should've considered doing 2 years ago, but didn't.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You Now? is both a celebration and a meta-special honoring the long running franchise, now 52 and still going strong. It's kind of like a goofy take on This is Your Life, with a predictable mystery mixed right in, and comments from producers Tony Cervone and Mitch Watson, historian Jerry Beck, and others. Frank Welker (Fred/Scooby, the latter role since 2002) confirmed what we've all known, that the original Scooby-Doo was his first cartoon job, all the way back in 1969.

Guests include Olivia Liang (Kung Fu), passed off as a martial arts instructor for Shaggy (Matthew Lillard, fresh from Good Girls), Weird Al Yankovic, and Cheri Oteri (ex-Saturday Night Live), who plays the villain of the piece. Lillard, Grey Griffin, and Kate Micucci all appear as themselves toward the end of the show. Archived footage with Speed Buggy, Great Grape Ape, and the original Jr. Super Friends, Wendy & Marvin, had new voices dubbed over. Archived footage with Scooby and Mystery, Inc. was scattershot, mixing in various series iterations and DTV's.

Perhaps the only archived footage not dubbed over involved Batman (Diedrich Bader), using material from Batman: The Brave & The Bold, from the look of things. It comes off as a sneaky plug, without saying so, for DC's current Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries limited series.

Here's a short featurette:

I don't know what the ratings were when this aired last week, but it might not have been too good.

Rating: C for Cheesy.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Teenage Toons: Pepper Ann (1997)

 Part of ABC's One Saturday Morning block, Pepper Ann chronicled the misadventures of the titular 7th grader (Kathleen Wilhoite), at home and at school. 

The series also spent some time as part of UPN's Disney's One Too weekday block in 2000, but once the series hit 65 episodes total, Disney ended the series. The supporting cast included Jeff Bennett (Johnny Bravo), voicing multiple characters, and, as the school principal, Don Adams (ex-Inspector Gadget, Tennessee Tuxedo, Get Smart).

In "Thanksgiving Dad", from season 1, Pepper Ann frets about whether or not her dad will come home for the holiday.

If the designs look familiar, they were created by artist Tom Warburton, who'd later create Codename: Kids Next Door for Cartoon Network.

Rating: B.