Thursday, June 30, 2022

Game time: Remember when Atari was all about home video games? (1978)

 In the 70's & 80's, Atari was a big name in video games. Both in arcades and home video.

To promote an early iteration of their video entertainment system, Atari recruited baseball star Pete Rose, then with Cincinnati, and TV icon Don Knotts, playing a convict.

Of course, Atari's long since left the playing field for Nintendo and Sony Playstation.

Getting Schooled: Elmo takes the vaccine (2022)

 Seven, nearly eight, months after Big Bird was shown getting the COVID vaccine, another Sesame Street character has followed.

Now that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which joined forces with Sesame Workshop to produce the following PSA, has authorized vaccines for younger children, the long running series, seen on PBS, HBO, HBO Max, & PBS Kids, used Elmo, a Muppet character nearing his 40th anniversary (debuted in 1984), to illustrate not only how safe the vaccine is for preschoolers, but also having his father, Louie, express his concerns when Elmo is off camera.

Unfortunately, Texas Senator Raphael "Ted" Cruz (we call him Timex Cruz over at The Land of Whatever) had a cow over this, and took to Twitter to whine about it, just like he did in November after Big Bird got his shot. Cruz doesn't get it, doesn't want to get it, and doesn't want to let any other Muppet characters (i.e. Ernie) get a shot without him getting his two cents in, if you will. Once again, Cruz is piggybacking off Sesame Street doing the right thing.

Well, I've got a solution. I'd like to see Sesame Workshop invite Cruz and a few other Republican peabrains (if you follow The Land of Whatever, you know who I mean) to appear on Sesame Street to get formally schooled with the rest of us. On the other hand, when is Cruz going to learn to stop picking fights on Twitter he can't win? That may be a harder question to answer than how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Summertainment: Bear de Guerre (The Inspector, 1968)

 The Inspector goes hunting, solo, in the pentultimate short in the series, "Bear de Guerre". He goes into a forest area that clearly is prohibiting hunting, but his single minded pursuit has him running over a ranger, and running afoul of a talking bear.

Pat Harrington, Jr. (Journey to The Center of The Earth) and Marvin Miller (Aquaman) were the only actors in this short, and would work together on Fantastic Voyage that fall. The Inspector's incompetence in the forest, we must note, makes Elmer Fudd look like a genius by comparison.

Rating: B-. They were clearly out of ideas.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Summertainment: Dune Bug (Ant & The Aardvark, 1969)

 All Charlie Ant (John Byner) wants to do is enjoy a day at the beach, like anyone else. The Aardvark (Byner) has other ideas. Unfortunately, he also has to get around a lifeguard who thinks the blue furred antagonist is a dog.

Here's "Dune Bug":

Rating: A.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Game Time: Meet the original Harlem Globetrotters (What's My Line?, 1956)

We've previously shown you an installment of To Tell The Truth which featured the early Harlem Globetrotters. Now, let's take you to December 1956, right before New Year's Eve, when the team, as a whole, including coach-owner Abe Saperstein, appeared on What's My Line?. The 'Trotters are in the 1st game.

The 'Trotters were also the subject of a feature film, "Go, Man, Go", starring Dane Clark, before becoming an annual fixture on ABC's Wide World of Sports and landing their first animated series (CBS, 1970).

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Toons After Dark: The Flintstones celebrate 25 years.......on CBS (1986)

 The Flintstones' 25th anniversary had already come & gone by the time CBS landed a primetime special in 1986 to mark the occasion.

And there are the few of you who dare ask, "why CBS"? 

Easy answer: 15 years earlier, CBS landed the 1st spinoff of the series, Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, which morphed into the 1st Flintstone Comedy Show the next season. Tim Conway hosts this retrospective, which features his good buddy, Harvey Korman (Great Gazoo, season 6), plus guest appearances from a host of celebrities, including Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White. When they get around to the song, "Teammates", Korman & Conway pick up for the original vocal track from the series (Mel Blanc and, we must assume, Henry Corden, one of two musical voice doubles for Alan Reed during the series' run before inheriting Reed's role as Fred in 1977).

Mind the video quality, which is not the greatest.

Conway opening with an Indiana Jones parody is typical Conway, but was an hour really enough? I'd like to think ABC, the original home of The Flintstones, had been offered the special, and would pick up the prequel, The Flintstone Kids, in the fall of '86.

No rating.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Retro Toy Chest: Remember Mr. Magnet Man? (1970)

 Take one look at the following ad for Romper Room's Mr. Magnet Man, and you'll see why it's not on the shelves anymore:

You see, the concept hewed too close to Hasbro's Mr. Potato Head, who'd been around a few years before Mr. Magnet Man showed up. Romper Room, the toy company, was absorbed into first Playskool, then, along with Playskool's parent, Milton Bradley, merged with----wait for it----Hasbro. Methinks Mr. Magnet Man didn't last more than a year. Today was the first time I'd seen the commercial, by the way.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Toon Rock: And She Was (1985)

 "And She Was" was a single off Talking Heads' 1985 CD, "Little Creatures". Director Jim Blashfield took his cues from comedian-turned-filmmaker Terry Gilliam (ex-Monty Python's Flying Circus) in creating the general look of the video.

Pulled from lead singer David Byrne's YouTube channel.

Blashfield seems to have been forgotten in the wake of Stephen R. Johnson's work the next year with Peter Gabriel ("Sledgehammer", "Big Time"), which led to Johnson helming Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Toonfomercial: Kellogg's employed other animals to plug Frosted Flakes (1953)

 In 1953, Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes (now simply, Frosted Flakes) was relatively new on the market, and aside from Tony The Tiger, there were other spokesanimals in the Kellogg's zoo.

In this ad, you'll meet Katy the Kangaroo and George the Giraffe, the latter voiced by Dallas McKennon.

Nearly 70 years later, Tony's still around, but the others are long gone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

You Know The Voices: Henry Corden & Jean VanderPyl (1990)

 In 1990, Hanna-Barbera decided to make Fred Flintstone the face of the company, if ya will, retiring the swirling star logo after 11 years for a simpler graphic using Fred to mark The Flintstones' 30th anniversary.

To help promote the occasion, co-creators William Hanna & Joe Barbera, and actors Henry Corden & Jean (misidentified as "Jan") VanderPyl, were interviewed on Entertainment Tonight. A shorter clip with just Corden & VanderPyl has floated around for years, but this nearly 4 minute piece is a better fit.

Visually, Corden looks the same as he did when he guest starred on Hogan's Heroes, Dragnet, and had a recurring gig on The Monkees in the mid-60's.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Toonfomercial: The Pink Panther for Safeco (1982)

 Those of you who also follow my other blogs know I work for an insurance agency during the day. Safeco, now a part of Liberty Mutual, gained a license to use the Pink Panther in this short piece, which may have been produced by Marvel's animation division of the era.

To be honest, this was the first time I've seen this spot.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Summertainment: Father's Weekend (1953)

 Goofy (Pinto Colvig), in the role of George Geef, reluctantly takes his son out for a day at the beach in 1953's "Father's Weekend". June Foray voices both Mrs. Geef and Junior.

Ah, the paradox of Goofy having a human wife.

Director Jack Kinney produced & directed several Popeye cartoons in the 60's.

Rating: B.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (revisited): I Want You Back (1972)

 The Jackson 5ive made their first Soul Train appearance in 1972. After an interview with host-executive producer Don Cornelius, the brothers perform "I Want You Back". Prefaced with an Afro Sheen commercial.

Saturday School: Randall's Friends (Recess, 1999)

 From season 4 of Recess:

Professional brown-noser Randall Weems has no friends because of his being a tattletale, even if he makes up a large percentage of his reports. However, life at home isn't so easy, either, as he lies to his parents about having friends, and, then, discovers that pops will visit him at school......

I've always felt Randall was a tattletale because of his own insecurities. He & his father's designs were, from what I've gathered, based on bartender Moe from The Simpsons. Which is still on the air.

No rating.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Toons After Dark: Pig Amok (Duckman, 1996)

 From season 3 of Duckman:

Cornfed (Gregg Burger) learns he has a strange genetic disorder that requires him to lose his virginity in 24 hours, or he dies. Enter Bernice (Nancy Travis).

In memory of series creator Everett Peck, who has passed away. No rating.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Rise & Fall of The Super Friends (1978)

 From Challenge of The Super Friends:

Mr. Mxyzptlk (Frank Welker) decides to torment our heroes by forcing them into a movie of his own making, using 5th dimensional magic. He'd try this again three years later in "Mxyzptlk's Flick", a shorter piece.

Here's "The Rise & Fall of The Super Friends":

A few months after this episode aired, the team met a less threatening, but just as delusional, filmmaker, Frowning Fritz Frazzle, in the Super Friends comic book.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Celebrity Toons: Kelp! (Fonz & The Happy Days Gang, 1981)

 From season 2 of Fonz & The Happy Days Gang:

The gang winds up in an undersea kingdom in the far future. Standard stuff. Greedy villain wants the domed city, and meets resistance. Here's "Kelp!":

I don't think anyone's ever explained how Fonzie's finger snapping can break prisons, turn on jukeboxes, etc.. It just is.

Rating: B.

Monday, June 13, 2022

You Know The Voices: Bob Hastings, Gary Owens, Bill Calloway, and Gregg Burger (1982)

 From the series finale of the short-lived No Soap, Radio:

This wacky sketch-driven sitcom lasted just five weeks, but provided opportunities for the likes of Bill Calloway (ex-Love, American Style) and Gary Owens (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Space Ghost, Dynomutt, etc.) to return in front of the cameras. Owens was doing a few guest shots here and there, anyway, and was mostly working in radio other than his cartoon work, his 2nd stint as Space Ghost having ended.

Bob Hastings was on General Hospital at the time, and lightened his hair for his appearance here. Gregg Burger? Well, if you didn't know what one of the more prolific voice actors of the 80's & 90's looks like, here's your chance.

Full review in The Land of Whatever:

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Retro Toy Chest: Remember the Incredible Super Stamper? (1976)

 Hasbro introduced the Incredible Super Stamper in 1976. Unfortunately, it didn't last, though this ad did.

Of course, since this was a variant on Kenner's Spirograph, Hasbro did the next best thing. They bought Kenner.

Toonfomercial: Chunky's 80's comeback, done in song (1986)

 Today, Chunky is one of the candies now made by Ferriero, which acquired the brand from Nestle a ways back. In 1986, the thick, square bar was announcing its comeback with a jingle written to the beat of the Angels' one-hit wonder, "My Boyfriend's Back":

Chunky hadn't gotten this kind of attention since the 50's, when Arnold Stang did a series of ads for the product. I think, though, that today, Chunky is in reduced distribution, as not too many retailers carry it.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Toon Rock: I Got You Babe (1993)

 A few months after the launch of their first series, Beavis & Butt-Head were blessed with a compilation CD, "The Beavis & Butt-Head Experience", in which the Texas Twits (both voiced by Mike Judge) comment on the songs on the album, with 2 exceptions---their own tracks.

"Come to Butt-Head" is a slow jam that plays on Butt-Head's signature come on catchphrase. On the other hand, pop icon Cher joins the boys for a retooling of "I Got You Babe", which was a huge hit for Cher and then-partner Sonny Bono nearly 30 years earlier.

It's a good thing Judge didn't try to have the boys learn how to use musical instruments.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Bad TV: Phantom Investigators (2002)

 If this was Kids' WB!'s idea of summer entertainment in 2002, someone sold them a bill of goods.

Phantom Investigators was, in fact, a summer replacement series that lasted just 13 weeks (May-August), and was a mix of stop motion animation, puppets, and a hint of live-action. The faces were paper cutouts, not too dissimilar to Angela Anaconda, but nowhere near the genius of South Park. Basically, this show, since it was from Columbia-Tri-Star (Sony), aspired to be a junior version of The Real Ghostbusters, but minus the gadgets and boss animation. Epic fail!

Methinks WB intended this for the fall of 2001, but held it to the summer of '02 for reasons only they know. 

"Demon Driver" first aired 20 years ago this month, and is not the series opener, contrary to what was posted.

Small wonder this hasn't seen the light of day since cancellation.

Rating: D-.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

This is why the Super Friends jumped the shark: Super Powers Collection (1983)

 Kenner took over the license from Mego to produce action figures based on the DC comics heroes in 1983.

The resulting Super Powers Collection line of action figures led to some changes for the Super Friends franchise on Saturday mornings the following year. For starters, the series was given the sub-title, The Legendary Super Powers Show, for the 1984-5 season. With just 8 episodes, the Wonder Twins were written out of the series after the series finale. As we know the final season was rechristened, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, with narrator Bill Woodson all but removed. Unfortunately, the toy tie-ins had an adverse effect, as the series was cancelled, this time for good, after 13 years (1973-86), to be replaced by The Real Ghostbusters in the center of ABC's lineup.

For what it's worth, Zan & Jayna had to wait 26 more years before they got action figures.

Let's take a look at an early commercial for the action figures.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Toons After Dark: Beetle Bailey (1989)

 We had this up before, and then, it was deleted. Now, it's back.

Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey returned to television for the first time in an animated cartoon in several years. Unfortunately, while the special was produced for CBS, the network was undergoing management changes at the time, and backed away.

This show did air overseas, which is why it has been available online off and on. Hank Saroyan (Jim Henson's Muppet Babies) teamed with Walker on the script. The only familiar voices heard here are Henry Corden as Sgt. Snorkel (the part was essayed by Allan Melvin in the 60's), and Frank Welker (Smurfs, Real Ghostbusters, etc.) as Snorkel's canine sidekick, Otto, and dim-witted Zero. Corden's name getting misspelled might've been a bad omen.

No rating.

You Know The Voice: "Superman" meets a hockey legend and the creator of Monopoly (To Tell The Truth, 1957)

 It's been a while since we checked on Bud Collyer and To Tell The Truth.

From November 19, 1957, four days before Thanksgiving, we meet the creator of the long running board game, Monopoly, and, in the first game, hockey legend Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens.

That last game was too easy, wasn't it?

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Get Closer (1976)

 Seals & Crofts returned to The Midnight Special for this performance of their 1976 hit, "Get Closer", featuring singer Carolyn Willis (Honey Cone) as the added vocalist.

In memory of Jim Seals, 80, who has passed away, per reports just out this afternoon.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Rare Treats: A SNL skit that hit the cutting room floor (2022)

 When Saturday Night Live ended its season May 21-2, a parody of ESPN's First Take ended up on the cutting room floor, edited for time.

Special guest Natasha Lyonne is made up to look like actor Michael Rappaport. Kenan Thompson gets a fake beard to pose as Kendrick Perkins. Chris Redd's mimic of Stephen A. Smith, though, is the highlight.

Redd has all of Smith's nuances and cadence down. I'd like to see them work with ESPN to do an April Fool's stunt and have Redd sub for the bloviating Smith on First Take.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Toonfomercial: Remember Caravelle? (1970's)

 By 1966, Peter Paul, makers of Almond Joy & Mounds, added Caravelle to their roster, and in short order, also brought along Power House and (Peanut Butter w/) No Jelly. It is not known if Power House actually survived to this day, but No Jelly and Caravelle did not.

Caravelle was the company's answer to Nestle's $100,000 Bar, later rebranded as 100 Grand, and recently sold off, along with the rest of Nestle's candy line.

Check out this ad. Sounds like it might be Lynn Ahrens (Schoolhouse Rock) as the vocalist.

Today, Almond Joy and Mounds are made by Hershey, which acquired Peter Paul and Cadbury some years back. Peter Paul discontinued Caravelle in 1978 after being acquired by Cadbury-Schweppes.

Coming Attractions: Beavis & Butt-Head do outer space, and reruns are heading for streaming

 26 years after their first feature film, Beavis & Butt-Head will star in another movie, this one streaming on Paramount+ later this month.

"Beavis & Butt-Head do The Universe", debuting June 23, sounds like a natural sequel to 1996's "Beavis & Butt-Head do America", as Mike Judge's dimwitted teens wind up in outer space, as seen in the following image supplied to the media.

In addition, Paramount+ will be the home for remastered episodes of the 1993-7 series, with music videos intact. That should appease fans who've seen excerpts of those episodes on YouTube shorn of the videos for copyright reasons. And, yes, the revival that's been in the works the last couple of years will also be heading to Paramount+, which is why the boys were part of the advertising for the streaming service when it launched. Beavis & Butt-Head debuted on Liquid Television in 1991, so their 30th anniversary has passed. The series itself reaches 30 next year.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Toon Sports: The Kindergarten Derby (Recess, 1999)

 From season 3 of Recess:

Ashamed of his own failures in "The Kindergarten Derby" years earlier, Mikey (Jason Davis) refuses to participate in the current event, until a boy named Tubby (Davis in a dual role) persuades him to be his coach.

Mikey did have a point. The kindergarteners were being exploited in an athletic competition not unlike some of the stunts on Nickelodeon's family of game shows back then. However, Tubby brings a happy ending to the event, as we see.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Is nothing sacred anymore? A Winnie The Pooh horror movie is coming

 Many thanks to correspondent Steven Dolce for the tip (in the comments section of our last entry) on this next item.

Winnie-The-Pooh, to be formal, went into the public domain back in January. Jagged Edge, an independent studio, has capitalized, and finished primary production on a horror movie, "Blood & Honey", in which the beloved bear and his BFF, Piglet, turn into murderous killers after being left to fend for themselves by Christopher Robin.

Courtesy Jagged Edge Productions/Variety.

As you can tell, this was shot in England near the inspiration for AA Milne's famous children's books. Jagged Edge has previously turned the nursery rhyme character, Humpty Dumpty, the same way. It wasn't so long ago that some twisted "genius" decided to use The Banana Splits in a similar vein.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Not for kids, and likely to wind up on SyFy before the end of the year. Ugh.

Tooniversary: Valley of No Return (CB Bears, 1977)

 The CB Bears travel to the "Valley of No Return" to find out why the animals have left the valley. Seems some greedy fellow is looking for a lost city....

Rating: B.