Monday, February 28, 2022

From Primetime to Daytime: Who Killed The Strangler? (Burke's Law, 1965)

 From season 2 of Burke's Law (1st series):

A pro wrestler is killed while in the ring during a title fight. The job for Captain Amos Burke (Gene Barry), of course, is to find the killer.

With guest stars Annette Funicello (ex-The Mickey Mouse Club), cast against type, as is her beach movie partner, Frankie Avalon, and Robert Middleton.

I wish I had some idea who the wrestlers were in this episode, but they were not given screen credit. And it's obvious one of them might've been a stunt double for Barry in the climatic fight scene.

Recurring regular Michael Fox would later gain a recurring gig on Batman during season 1 before being written off the series.

No rating. Just a public service.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Game Time: Meet the creator of Zorro (To Tell The Truth, 1958)

 Johnston McCulley lived long enough to see his creation, Zorro, adapted for television for the first time by Disney & ABC, and to appear on To Tell The Truth. Speaking of ABC, Dick Clark (American Bandstand) is on the panel with Hy Gardner, Kitty Carlisle, & Polly Bergen.

McCulley appears in the evening's final game.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mighty Mouse in Mouse of The Desert (1979)

 From The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle:

Mighty Mouse is in ancient Egypt (!). Otherwise, it's the usual chaos in "Mouse of The Desert".

This was a rare instance of Filmation using one of Terrytoons' story gimmicks, as most episodes, aside from the serial, The Great Space Chase, were more contemporary.

Rating: B--.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Teenage Toons: Cinemadness (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

 From Archie's Weird Mysteries:

A magic potion that opens a portal between a movie and the real world falls into the hands of lovestruck Reggie, who wants to bring a B-movie actress he sees in an old flick at a second run theatre into Riverdale. Chaos, of course, erupts in "Cinemadness":

Part of the open and the last few seconds of the episode have been edited off.

I wonder how this kind of story would play today.

Rating: B-.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Remotely familiar: Robotix (1985)

 Milton Bradley (now part of Hasbro) produced the Robotix toy line in the mid-80's. Since then, the company, of course, was absorbed by Hasbro, which has, in turn, integrated the Robotix into its Transformers universe.

In 1985, Robotix was adapted for television by Marvel & Sunbow for the syndicated Super Sunday (or Super Saturday) block, which was a 90 minute package also including Jem (previously reviewed) and Bigfoot & The Monster Machines. Of these, Jem was the only survivor, as the others were cancelled after 1 season.

Let's take a look at the opener. The intro, narrated by Victor Caroli, has a familiar theme to it.

The toyetic toon glut of the 80's is partially responsible for this being a 1-season wonder.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Wally Cox shills for Jockey (1972)

 Wally Cox might've been the last guy to do an underwear commercial, but he did do one for Jockey in 1972. Bionic Disco uncovered this and posted it to YouTube earlier this morning.

How they never asked him to guest host College Bowl, I'll never know.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Sunday Funnies: Remember Utica Club's Schultz & Dooley? (1959)

 Utica Club beer had a successful ad campaign featuring some beer stein puppets named Schultz & Dooley. Oh, there were others, too, but these characters were around for nearly 20 years before the ad campaign came to an end.

In this sampler, we have some gangster mugs (get it?) in a police lineup. Voices by Jonathan Winters.

This is what led the legendary Winters toward a later career in cartoons (i.e. Smurfs).

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Toonfomercial: A 2 headed Chef Boy-ar-Dee fanatic (1970)

 Remember this ad airing on Saturday mornings in the 70's?

This was drawn the way it was to suggest that even the target audience----children----could, ah, get the picture. Unfortunately, Beefaghetti did not make it out of the 70's. Beefaroni, though, is one of Chef Boyardee's (note the spelling change) popular brands, more than 50 years later, and that's without the mass advertising it had back in the day.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Toon Legends: Heckle & Jeckle in A Merry Chase (1950)

 In 1950's "A Merry Chase", Heckle & Jeckle are escaped convicts being tracked by detective and Deputy Dimwit.

Not much dialogue, as they let the action carry the story.

Rating: A.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Toon Legends: Popeye in Crystal Ball Brawl (1960)

 Popeye gets a telegram informing him that he will inherit his Uncle Abrakadabra's fortune. That includes a crystal ball that actually can see into the future. Of course, Brutus wants in on that, but you know how this goes.

"Crystal Ball Brawl" is not to be confused with "The Crystal Brawl", produced for Paramount 3 years earlier. "Crystal Ball Brawl" comes from Larry Harmon, director Paul Fennell, and pre-Filmation staffers Lou Scheimer, Ervin Kaplan, Hal Sutherland, and musical director Gordon Zahler.

I must have seen this about 2 dozen times back in the day.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Coming Attractions: Wile E. Coyote goes to court!

 Warner Bros., or, more specifically, James Gunn (Peacemaker), wants to give Wile E. Coyote some love by letting him star in his own feature film.

"Coyote vs. ACME", due next year, has the lonesome loser going to court against ACME, which supplied him with so many devices that never worked for him against the Road Runner. Gunn will co-produce the live-action/CGI feature, set to hit theatres in the summer of 2023.

Peacemaker star John Cena will appear as ACME's current boss, as if the dude wasn't busy enough already, since Peacemaker has been renewed for a 2nd season, to be directed entirely by Gunn.

Rather than kick the Coyote when he's down and play "Lonesome Loser", this classic compilation reel will do.

I'm willing to guess the Road Runner will show up, too, because, aside from a series of shorts with Bugs Bunny, the Coyote doesn't function without his nemesis.

Toonfomercial: A gangster walks into a bar...... (date unknown)

If the character designs in this Utica Club beer ad look familiar, that's because it's the work of long time Mad Magazine artist Jack Davis, who also did print ads for Spalding in the 70's, and did a number of covers for other magazines, too, including TV Guide. The shot of the barflies rabbiting out of the bar was a gag stolen from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon with Yosemite Sam.

Sounds like Jackson Beck as the gangster, and possibly Arnold Stang as the poor shlep.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Coming attractions: Couldn't they make this into a cartoon? The Wonder Twins are coming to HBO Max

 3 years after Mark Russell & Stephen Byrne's acclaimed maxiseries hit stores, the Wonder Twins are getting a movie of their own. No joke, this time.

Image courtesy DC Comics. Artist: Stephen Byrne.

Fresh off recent appearances in Justice League under the direction of writer Brian Michael Bendis, Zan & Jayna will star in their own TV-movie for HBO Max, from Adam Sztykiel, the same writer who is responsible for the forthcoming "Black Adam" feature film with Dwayne Johnson, coming in July. The Twins made their live-action debut on Smallville in 2009, with David Gallagher (ex-7th Heaven) and Alison Scagliotti (Warehouse 13) as the Twins. Casting has not begun, but it's clear that this is a legitimate project, unlike the prank that was released a few years ago with Mila Kunis (Family Guy, ex-That 70's Show) and Ashton Kutcher attached. 

What's likely to happen, in this writer's opinion, is an adaptation of the 2019-20 series, so they'll be looking for some age appropriate actors for the roles.

My own belief is that any film project involving the Twins should be animated, be it CGI or traditional line animation or a combination of both. I honestly, as a long time Twins fan, can't see the feasibility of a live-action movie. After years of abuse from certain so-called critics, the Twins finally got some respect 3 years ago. The script rightfully should adapt the book. Anything less would be, as Jayna herself used to say, back in the day, spacey.

Stay tooned.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Valentoons: You Little Angel, You (1968)

 From The Archie Show:

Following a demonstration of "The Angel" dance (Jughead with angel's wings?), the Archies perform "You Little Angel, You":

Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Zorro in The Blockade (1981)

 Zorro (Henry Darrow) offers to help Captain Ramon with some pirates who are blocking cannons, furniture for the Alcalde, and some incoming emigres from Spain, in "The Blockade":

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: The Hornet & The Firefly (Green Hornet, 1966)

 The Green Hornet (Van Williams) investigates a series of arson fires, while reporter Mike Axford (Lloyd Gough) calls on an old friend to help with the investigation. Gerald S. O'Loughlin, later of The Rookies, guest stars in "The Hornet & The Firefly".

Gary Owens (Space Ghost, Roger Ramjet) turns up in his role as the news anchor for DSTV (Daily Sentinel-TV). As we have seen, Gary later landed another role as a reporter, on Get Christie Love! nearly a decade later. It makes ya wonder if the producers of, say for example, Lou Grant, ever considered him for a supporting role.

Rating: A.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Tooniversary: The Disappearance of 30-30 (Bravestarr, 1987)

 Bravestarr, Filmation's final series, turns 35 this year.

Set in the far future, the title hero (Pat Fraley) is a Native American galactic marshal whose best friend is a horse named 30-30, who can shift from four legs to two when needed (Ed Gilbert, ex-The Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew Mysteries). As with the series it replaced, Ghostbusters, Bravestarr gives its hero a romantic interest in Judge J. B. McBride (Susan Blu).

In the opener, a dispute between Bravestarr & 30-30 prompts 30-30 to wander off on his own. Yeah, we've seen this plot before.

Fraley & Blu had demonstrated some chemistry on Ghostbusters (Blu voiced both of Jake Kong, Jr.'s girlfriends), so it continued here. NBC-Universal currently holds the rights.

Rating: B.

Sunday Funnies: The Three Stooges in Horses' Collars (1935)

 "Moe! Larry! The Cheese!"

In 1935's "Horses' Collars", Curly Howard of The Three Stooges has a reaction to the sight of a mouse that forces either Moe or Larry to feed him a specific type of cheese.

The basic plot has the boys venturing out west as undercover detectives to help a client retrieve an IOU her father was duped into signing by a shady rival.

The gag with Curly sharing a jacket with one of the bad guys was reprised with Shemp in "Sing a Song of Six Pants". Casting the boys as sleuths at least makes them appear to be somewhat competent. Oh, and they sing in this one, too.

Rating: A.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Shilliin' with The Ranger: The Lone Ranger for General Mills (1956)

 Toward the end of The Lone Ranger's initial run, General Mills began a promotion with some "mystery adventures" in boxes of Cheerios, Wheaties, & Kix.

The Ranger (Clayton Moore) is interviewed by announcer Bob Warren:

We've done other "Shillin' With The Ranger" bits over at The Land of Whatever, but this one felt more appropriate to include here.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Toon Legends: Popeye in Aladdin's Lamp (1961)

 In 1939, the Fleischers had produced a 2-reel Popeye featurette in which he was cast after a sort as Aladdin. 22 years later, "Aladdin's Lamp" comes into play again, this time in a more modern setting, as Olive Oyl (Mae Questel) buys the lamp at auction, but the Sea Hag (Questel again) covets it for her own selfish purposes.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in Renegade Roundup (1981)

 From season 2 of the Filmation Lone Ranger:

The Masked Man (William Conrad) is called on to prevent the destruction, if you will, of the Pony Express. Here's "Renegade Roundup":

No rating. Just a public service.

Tooniversary: Remember the Dodge Boys? (1967)

 Quaker Oats wasn't the only sponsor employing legendary producer Jay Ward for animated ads.

Dodge, in hyping The Dodge Boys, commissioned Ward and his crew to produce some ads, including this 1967 piece.

The stage set is exactly the same as the one in the open for Dudley Do-Right.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Toonfomercial: Snap, Crackle, & Pop at a wedding? (1982)

 Rice Krispies' elves, Snap, Crackle, & Pop, are all dressed for a wedding, and help a junior bridesmaid with her breakfast.

Sounds like Don Messick took on two of the elves, with Daws Butler being the other. Paul Winchell was too busy with Smurfs, it seems.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Remember when Atari made video games?

 The prototypes for today's video games emerged in the late 70's, leading to a variety of promotions, including WPIX's TV Pixx phone-in game.

In 1982, Atari obtained a license from Namco to produce a Pac-Man video game.

Will Lee (Sesame Street), in one of his last appearances, plays a grandfather learning the game.

Will passed away in December of 1982, and Sesame Street honored him with a tribute, in which his character of storekeeper Mr. Hooper had passed away off-screen, in November 1983.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Saturtainment: Series premiere of Disney's House of Mouse (2001)

 If there was a real reason Disney flopped with Disney's House of Mouse, ending the series a month into its 3rd season, it might've been because they opted to create a running storyline instead of making this a straight variety show, which would've been waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better.

In the opener, "Stolen Cartoons", Pete (Jim Cummings), the landlord, steals a number of toons from the library in a vain effort to force Mickey (Wayne Allwine) to close the club. As toon villains are wont to do, Pete is foiled at the end because his own arrogance and vanity get in the way.

At least they had "prize plugs" to make announcer Rod Roddy (The Price is Right, ex-Soap) feel right at home. Theme song performed by ex-Stray Cats frontman Brian Setzer and his orchestra.

We're going to see if we can find the Quackstreet Boys (Huey, Dewey, & Louie) doing a number.

Rating: B.

Even Chex got in on the spy craze (1966)

 When Chex cereals were part of Ralston-Purina, the company decided to cash in on the popularity of spy movies & TV shows with a 1966 promotion that included the predictable merchandise---decoder rings, invisible ink pens, etc.---in specially marked boxes.

In this spot, Butch Patrick, fresh from The Munsters, dons the trenchcoat, roaming with a briefcase full of cereal.....

Now, what about that scarecrow on those boxes? Well, they did use that as well, though not in the above ad. Too bad that was discontinued by the end of the decade.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Coming Attractions: Goosebumps returns

 After 2 feature films, R. L. Stine's Goosebumps is getting a new life on the small screen, this time on Disney+.

Image courtesy Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection.

The original Goosebumps enjoyed a healthy run on Fox in the 90's, and reruns had aired on Cartoon Network, of all places, at one point, then moved to The Hub (now Discovery Kids).

Of course, this is not the first time that a youth horror series has been revived. Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of The Dark? was brought back a ways back, but the revival didn't last. Goosebumps, though, was the one that started the trend of adapting youth horror books for television. Stine's Nightmare Room spent one season at Kids' WB! (2001), and hasn't been seen since, for example.

Given that Goosebumps is now at Disney, it could have a chance to match or eclipse its Fox run. Stay tuned.

Getting Schooled: Fraggle Rock (1983)

 Fraggle Rock, when it debuted on HBO in 1983, was set up as an after-school treat, and, for all we know, could've aired on weekends, too.

The series was Jim Henson's 1st collaboration with HBO, and was produced in Canada for the CBC, in addition to HBO. Fraggle Rock lasted five seasons on HBO, which, I think, might've been during the first half of each calendar year (1983-7). I remember seeing promos for the show on other channels featuring Traveling Matt, an uncle to one of the lead characters, but missed out on seeing actual episodes of the series, even during the occasional free weekends, where HBO used this as an opportunity to gain added subscribers in those days.

As you'll see, there is one lone human in the cast, Doc (Gerry Parkes), who, until the very end of the series, is unaware of the Fraggles' existence, although his dog, Sprocket, is aware.

Let's go back to season 4 for "Wonder Mountain":

After the series ended its HBO run, an animated version turned up on NBC, a collaboration between Henson and Marvel Television. You could say it was an unofficial 6th season for the series. Unfortunately, the animated Fraggle was gone after 1 season.

With the series about to hit its 40th anniversary next year, a new series, Fraggle Rock: Back to The Rock, bowed on Apple+ last month after a series of shorts had aired on the streamer in 2020.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Toon Rock: Three Little Birds (1977-2020)

 Reggae legend Bob Marley recorded "Three Little Birds" in 1977, but it wasn't released as a single until 1980, when it peaked in the top 20 on the UK charts.

40 years later, a flash animated video was produced, in which the titular birds are just window dressing, while a wolf stalks a pig. Said pig also offers the wolf a blunt, which would turn off some people.

Toonfomercial: Remember Quangaroos? (1970's)

 After Quaker Oats pulled Quake cereal off the shelves, the company introduced Quangaroos, an orange-flavored cereal, and, in lockstep, commissioned Jay Ward's studio to produce a new series of ads to introduce the product's mascot, Simon the kangaroo, or, if you prefer, Quangaroo.

Quangaroos debuted in 1973, but was gone five years later. Ward produced a series of ads that pitted Simon (Bill Scott attempting an Australian accent) vs. Quisp (Daws Butler) in an around the world race, with Quake to present a golden cereal bowl to the winner. Note that it's not William Conrad as Quake this time. Conrad was starring in CBS' Cannon at the time, and it sounds like Marvin Miller (ex-Aquaman, The Millionaire), who otherwise would begin working with the Kroffts around this time, takes over as Quake.

Paul Frees, of course, narrates.

Silly stuff.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Saturtainment: Pound Puppies in Ghost Hounders (1986)

 "Ghost Hounders", the 1st season finale of Pound Puppies, was a clear case of ABC having a little fun at their own expense, as it parodies "Ghostbusters". Season 1 of The Real Ghostbusters, I believe, ended the same day that this episode aired.

Anyway, Whopper's hero worship of Biff Barker leads to Biff showing up to bust a phony ghost linked to the latest scheme of Katrina Stoneheart (Pat Carroll).

The opening sequence has been edited off.

While TV & movie vet Robert Morse (ex-That's Life) provided Howler's speaking voice, the howls came from one of the Real Ghostbusters---Frank Welker (naturally). The cast also includes a pre-Simpsons Nancy Cartwright, who was doing quite a bit of work for Hanna-Barbera in those days, Dan Gilvezan (ex-Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends) and Peter Cullen.

No rating.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Valentoons: Don't Run From Love (1970)

 From Archie's Funhouse comes a Giant Jukebox entry with the Archies, but the intro was edited off. Here's "Don't Run From Love".

This season would mark the end for Ron Dante as the lead singer of the Archies, as they recast the gig when they resumed writing songs for US of Archie in 1974. Dante went on to greater success as a producer for Barry Manilow for the rest of the decade.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Tooniversary: Remember Corn Crackos? (1967)

 The year is 1967. Linus the Lionhearted had been bounced off the airwaves, but that didn't mean producer Ed Graham was done with Post Cereals. Not if you go by this next item.

Commentators on YouTube mistakenly assumed that Jay Ward, who had contracts with Quaker & General Mills, was also being asked to help promote Post's short-lived Corn Crackos. Its mascot, Cracko, might well be the British or Australian cousin to Linus' pal, Billie Boid, which gives me the thought that it was Graham and his studio, or at least some of the same animators, who worked for other studios concurrently, that dreamed this up:

If anyone can confirm the animators or voices, feel free to comment.