Thursday, December 30, 2021

Sunday Funnies: John Madden on Saturday Night Live (1982)

 I remember this well.

Days after the San Francisco 49ers won their first Super Bowl, thrashing the Cincinnati Bengals, John Madden, then with CBS (which aired the game), appeared on Saturday Night Live. As memory serves, I believe Madden was the host that night, and in this sketch, he interviews members of the Bengals. Series regular Tim Kazurinsky plays coach Forrest Gregg. The cast also includes Eddie Murphy and Tony Rosato.

In memory of Madden, 85, who passed away earlier this week.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

You Know The Voice: Howard Morris (1955)

 Long before Jet Screamer or Ernest T. Bass became 60's cultural icons, Howard Morris was part of Sid Caesar's ensemble on Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. In 1955, Caesar, Morris, & Carl Reiner formed the parody combo, The 3 Haircuts, mocking the growing rock & roll scene.

Here, the Haircuts perform "You Are so Rare" and "Flippin' Over You":

So Morris was already well versed in novelties by the time he was cast as Jet Screamer on The Jetsons seven years later. There's another clip floating where Morris wears a beanie that looks suspiciously familiar to anyone familiar with another of his cartoon roles.....!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: Bob & Doug (2009)

 Good day, eh? Our topic for today is, like, Bob & Doug, eh? Based on the legendary Great White North skits from SCTV, Bob & Doug McKenzie are back, this time in a flash-animated series that has made its way onto YouTube here in the US, but has not otherwise found an American network to broadcast it, eh?

The McKenzies' creators, Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas, serve as executive producers, with Thomas reprising as Doug. Moranis, however, opted not reprise as Bob, so the part was given to Dave Coulier (ex-Full House, America's Funniest People, Out of Control, The Real Ghostbusters), which explains why Bob for some reason sounds like Coulier is impersonating the late Lorenzo Music, his predecessor on The Real Ghostbusters, instead of Moranis.

In the series, the boys are sanitation workers, but in "I Want my CBN", they end up bringing Great White North to the Canadian Broadcasting Network (actually Canadian Broadcasting Company in real life, but, hey, creative license, eh?).

At the time, Moranis had retired from show business, though I'd read somewhere he was toying with the idea of rebooting himself as a country singer.

Rating: B-.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Saturday School: Real News For Kids (1992)

 We've all assumed Saturday Night Live mainstay Kenan Thompson got his start on Nickelodeon's All That. Then, along comes a long forgotten TBS series, resurfacing on YouTube.

Real News For Kids was a Saturday morning newsmagazine that ran for about a year or two on TBS in the 90's, but, good luck finding a lot of background material on the half hour program, which led into Bonanza reruns as of this October 1993 episode. Thompson appears in the final "article" on the show, promoting Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas".

What this program needed was some help from sister network CNN, aside from the production staff. Host Jenn Harris is just fine. Thompson, nearly 30 years later, is one busy dude, between his self-titled NBC sitcom, SNL, and his new endorsement deal with

Rating: B-.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Toon Rock: Snowman (2020)

 Singer-songwriter Sia crafted this modern day number a year ago. "Snowman" uses stop-motion animation, a la those Rankin-Bass classics from the 60's & 70's.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Monkees' Christmas Medley (1986)

 Let's take a trip back in time to when MTV was actually, well, relevant.

The network had picked up reruns of The Monkees, and heavily promoted the band's 20th anniversary tour. I actually had the privilege of seeing that tour pass through the hometown at the RPI Field House.

Anyway, this is significant for one big reason. The return of Michael Nesmith at the end of the clip. Oh, and, yeah, there's that bit with Davy Jones & Martha Quinn as a brother-sister team to the tune of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".

35 years later, Micky Dolenz is the only Monkee left, as we lost Mike earlier this month, as we noted when we posted the season 2 Christmas episode.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas on Dance Fever (1980)

 From season 3 of Dance Fever:

For Christmas, the usual dance competition swelled into a one hour holiday special, as judges Robert Blake, Chad Everett, & Connie Stevens were joined by their daughters. The Gap Band are the musical guests.

Quick fact: 1/2 of Motion, the dance team sidekicks of host Denny Terrio, was future actress Janet Jones (now Mrs. Wayne Gretzky). Like, who knew?

As you can see, part of the open and part of the closing credits, including the Merv Griffin Productions logo, were edited off. In a technical sense, the series was spun off from an episode of The Merv Griffin Show. Again, who knew?

No rating. Just a public service.

On DVD: Yogi Bear's All Star Comedy Christmas Caper (1982)

 In 1982, Yogi Bear officially completed the network trifecta of the time, with his first primetime special airing on CBS, after his earlier series had aired on ABC & NBC.

Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper is another gathering of Yogi and his buddies, including Magilla Gorilla (Allan Melvin), Yakky Doodle (Jimmy Weldon), Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound, Snooper & Blabber, and Hokey Wolf, most of whom had been palling with Yogi since Yogi's Gang, starting with that series' pilot, "Yogi's Ark Lark", in 1982.

The plot: Huck, Snag, and the gang come to Jellystone Park, intent on spending Christmas Eve with Yogi & Boo Boo, but the bears are going in the opposite direction, hitching a ride to the big city. He runs into a 7 year old girl whose father is an ultra-busy, wealthy business mogul who has neglected her. A familiar plot, sure, but writer Mark Evanier felt it was the best possible story.

To show how the Hanna-Barbera universe of that time operated, Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble (Henry Corden & Mel Blanc) cameo as a pair of sidewalk Santas.

Right now, we'll tease you with this sample clip:

Unfortunately, CBS never saw fit to repeat this special, which means the ratings must've tanked. It has aired on Cartoon Network & Boomerang, though, and likely is running on HBO Max this month.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with Weird Al Yankovic & friends (The Weird Al Show, 1997)

 The penultimate episode of The Weird Al Show is titled, "Obligatory Holiday Episode". Weird Al Yankovic is joined by guest stars including Judy Tenuta, Stan & Donovan Freberg, and co-executive producer Dick Clark, who uses the occasion to parody his New Year's Eve specials.

It's just unfortunate the Frebergs couldn't be on the set together, as Stan appears on a TV monitor.

No rating. Just a public service.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Gifts in The Air (1937)

 From Columbia's Color Rhapsody series comes this holiday offering from 1937, "Gifts in The Air". Me-TV was able to obtain the rights to the film, and aired it a week ago as part of a primetime Christmas cartoon special, spun off from their morning Toon in to Me anthology series.

Otherwise, this may be the first time most of us have seen it.

Rating: B.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Raccoons (1980)

 The Raccoons was one of those forgotten gems from Canada back in the 80's. To think it all started with a simple Christmas special, which aired in syndication here in the US in 1980.

"The Christmas Raccoons" was the first of four specials produced between 1980 and '84 before going to series in 1985. By then, however, local stations had no room for a Raccoons series, and it, along with the specials, eventually landed at Disney Channel here in the US.

Series creator Kevin Gillis went the independent route, but copied Nelvana's formula of using music to help tell his stories. For this reason, he cast singers Rita Coolidge and Rupert Holmes in "Christmas Raccoons". Coolidge didn't return for the series, replaced by country singer Dottie West.

The plot? We're introduced to the Raccoons' enemy Cyril Sneer (Len Carlson), whose destruction of the forest is for personal gain, though his nephew, Cecil, seems to have other ideas.

Narrated by Rich Little.

We'll look at The Raccoons series another time.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: A Christmas Place (Here Come The Brides, 1968)

 We had this next item up before, then it was taken down. The YouTube poster who blessed us with "A Christmas Place", from season 1 of Here Come The Brides, retrenched, and started a new channel, cognizant of the fact that, to avoid getting deleted again, the opening and closing had to be edited off.

Michael Bell guest stars in "A Christmas Place", one of the more prominent roles of his early career. Screen Gems (Sony) missed the boat in finding him a show of his own before he turned to cartoons.

Michael first appears around the 5:00 mark.

The closing number, "St. Day Carol", sung by Bobby Sherman & David Soul as Jeremy & Joshua Bolt, is over at The Land of Whatever.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Sunday Funnies: What's The Matador? (1942)

 The Three Stooges travel to Mexico, but a luggage mix-up, and a jealous husband, lead Curly into the ring with a real bull!

"What's The Matador?", shot in the summer of 1941, reminds us that Curly had a gimmick of having a battering ram for a head.

Rating: A-.

Toonfomercial: Talking Christmas lights? (1972)

 It used to be back in the day that when it came to Christmas, you not only being sold trees in commercials, but also various accessories, such as Christmas lights.

General Electric came up with this cute bit in 1972.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Eve with the Hollywood Squares (1986)

 Game show legend Wink Martindale has acquired a master tape of a Christmas Eve episode of Hollywood Squares from the 1st season of the John Davidson era. Davidson is joined by son John, Jr. as co-host, and our panel includes children's television legends Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert and Shari Lewis, the latter with her newest puppet, Green Belle, plus David Naughton (My Sister Sam), Brenda Vaccaro (who'd later work on Johnny Bravo), NFL legend Dick Butkus, Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life), Roseanne Barr, Jackie Mason, and a reunion of Happy Days co-stars Tom Bosley and Marion Ross, who were appearing in a production of "Arsenic & Old Lace" while Bosley was appearing at the time on Murder, She Wrote.

Herbert was back in business with Mr. Wizard's World on Nickelodeon at that time.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Toons You Might've Missed: The Cookie Carnival (1935)

 From Disney's Silly Symphony series comes a whimsical tale that borrows from Cinderella, which Disney would adapt some years later.

In "The Cookie Carnival", a gingerbread man (Pinto Colvig, who also co-wrote the story) meets a sugar cookie girl who is destitute. She wants to go to the carnival, but has nothing worthy to wear. The gingerbread man fixes that with some quick improvisation.....

Awww, wasn't that cute?

Rating: A.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Look who's shopping at AT&T! (2015)

 We had this up before, but it got taken down. Now, it's back.

What it is, of course, is a cute little AT&T ad that pays homage to Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by being produced not with stop-motion animation, but it looks more like they used claymation for Lily (Milana Vayntrub).

Too bad they didn't do a sequel.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: White Christmas (1942-2020)

 Originally recorded for the movie, "Holiday Inn", not for its namesake, "White Christmas" has become a holiday standard, the most definitive version having been recorded by Bing Crosby, who starred in both movies.

The video captures the feelings of a family when a father goes to war, and is killed in action.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Night Before Christmas (1933)

 Disney took a swing at Clement Moore's 'Twas The Night Before Christmas in a 1933 Silly Symphony with this loose adaptation that might not see too much airtime these days due to a very, very brief stretch during the final couple of minutes when the youngest child is briefly in blackface due to soot falling on his mug when he looks up the chimney after Santa has departed.

Check it for yourselves, pilgrims.

That brief blackface bit is really harmless. After all, he is just a little kid.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with The Monkees (1967)

 From season 2:

The Monkees bring some Christmas cheer, as only they can.

In memory of Mike Nesmith, who has passed away at 78, leaving Micky Dolenz as the last surviving member of the band. No rating.

You Know The Voice: Shari Lewis (1961)

 It was Christmas Eve, 1961. Ventriloquist Shari Lewis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with Lamb Chop & Charlie Horse. Judging from some of the comments on YouTube, it seems Shari had a huge fan following back in the day, especially among smitten little boys.

To think that 8 years later, Shari would team with fellow ventriloquist Paul Winchell on Love, American Style in what had to be a dream pairing. By then, of course, Shari had Honey Halfwitch and The Arabian Knights on her resume, but she & Paul never worked on a project together at Hanna-Barbera that we know of.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Dominick The Christmas Donkey (1960-2019)

 "Dominick The Christmas Donkey" is a holiday novelty recorded by Lou Monte in 1960. Nearly 60 years later, a partially animated lyric video, centered around a snow white donkey, was issued by Rhino Records. "Dominick" has been getting airplay every year around this time, and should put a smile on your face.

In the context of the song, Monte claims the reindeer can't climb the hills of Italy. It remains to be seen whether or not that's really true.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: The Christmas Waltz (1954-2020)

 Here's another Frank Sinatra Christmas entry made into a flash animated music video. Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne's "The Christmas Waltz".

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas (2016)

 Nearly 40 years after its first primetime holiday special, Sesame Street serves up a fresh Christmas treat for today's generation. Jim Gaffigan guest stars as Santa Claus in Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas:

Recommended for the whole family. Rating: A.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: This Christmas (1970-2020)

 R & B legend Donny Hathaway co-wrote "This Christmas" all the way back in 1970. 50 years later, it was re-issued with an accompanying animated music video.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Curious George's Merry Little Christmas (2020?)

 The current animated iteration of Curious George currently airs on Peacock, PBS Kids, & Hulu here in the US, according to sources. Trying to confirm exactly when this next offering premiered has been a bit of a chore. Seems to have debuted on Peacock last year.

Like most kids, George (vocal effects by Frank Welker) can't wait for Christmas, prompting the Man in The Yellow Hat (Jeff Bennett) to school him on Christmas traditions. Rino Romano (ex-The Batman, Spider-Man Unlimited) narrates.

Rating: A.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Beebo Saves Christmas (2021)

 When Peanuts creator Charles Schulz mounted A Charlie Brown Christmas back in 1965, his message was one of reminding his audience of what Christmas was really all about, not the commercialism that had already taken over the holiday.

56 years later, that message has been updated with a new set of characters, although the concept might be cringe-worthy.

Beebo Saves Christmas is a spin-off special from Legends of Tomorrow, from whence the plush toy made its debut a few years ago. While the character designs would suggest some influence from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, co-executive producer Kevin Shinick's resume includes Robot Chicken. Greg Berlanti also brought in Mark Marek (Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs) to help.

The plot is simple enough. Beebo (Ben Diskin, ex-Codename: Kids Next Door) is stunned to learn that he & his friends all received form letters from the North Pole, which suggests that it's not so much commercialism, but now corporate control is the issue here. So Beebo gathers three friends for a trip to the Pole, which also highlights some of today's preferences, including live-streaming.

Victor Garber (ex-Legends of Tomorrow, The Orville, Alias) narrates in the rhyming manner of Dr. Seuss at the start, but then isn't heard from again the rest of the way. Our supporting cast includes Yvette Nicole Brown (ex-Community), Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters", ex-Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians), and Chris Kattan (ex-Bunnicula, Saturday Night Live).

Check the trailer:

Expect this to also air on HBO Max and/or Cartoon Network before the end of the month.

Rating: B---.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Countdown to Christmas: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (2021)

 Singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson collaborated with actress-singer Zooey Deschanel (ex-New Girl) and co-writer Dave Barnes to serve up some fresh holiday cheer. The stop motion puppets used in "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year" were designed by Andrea Love.

Rankin-Bass would be proud. Now, if they can just get this on the radio........