Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Piper's Pit goes primetime! (All Star Rock 'N' Wrestling Saturday Spectacular, 1985)

CBS' Saturday morning Fall Preview special for 1985 put a heavy emphasis on what was the crown jewel of the class of '85, that being Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling.

Rowdy Roddy Piper "took over" the show as host, creating an extra long version of his increasingly popular Piper's Pit, since the set was modeled as a larger scale version of the Pit set on wrestling programming. Musical guests Patti LaBelle & New Edition are joined by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Herve Villachaize, and much more.

The Kroffts were responsible for this hour-long special, in conjunction with Cyndi Lauper's production company, which she formed with then-manager/beau Dave Wolf.

At the time, the tradition had been for half-hour preview specials, but someone sold CBS on the idea that this would work better in an hour format. Radio personality Scott Osborne is the street reporter at the start, and Hogan appeared via satellite for reasons known only to him, it'd seem.

I didn't see this in '85, nor would I care to now. It was, after all, a harbinger of things to come. No rating.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

They say you can't fight city hall......can you? (Ballot Box Boneheads, 1985)

From Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling:

The Hulkster (Brad Garrett) and pals discover that a local mayor is corrupt, and decide to help his opponent in the upcoming election. Naturally, the crooked mayor recruits Roddy Piper (voiced by Charlie Adler) and his team. Here's "Ballot Box Boneheads".

Cookie cutter, by the numbers plot that could easily fit anywhere else.

The series' Wikipedia page is incorrect in saying the series ran for 2 seasons. It didn't. It was cancelled after 1. Wikipedia claims this was a half-hour show. It wasn't. It was a hour-long show, and was trimmed to 30 minutes in syndication when someone convinced DIC to give it another life in syndication. Shows you what some people know.

Rating: C-.

Animated World of DC Comics: Clark Kent's First Day at School (1988)

From the 1988 Superman series:

In this Family Album short, Martha Kent (Pat Carroll) drives young Clark to school for his first day at kindergarten.

Some schools around the country have already started their seasons. Classes resume in the Northeast in another 2 weeks. Thought I'd get this little primer in before then.

Rating: B.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Getting Schooled: Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel (1972)

Shamus Culhane came up with a winning series of educational shorts, the Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel, which ran in syndication beginning in 1972, at first commissioned by Bristol-Myers for their short-lived Pals vitamins, which would sponsor the short pieces. After 4 years, Worldvision took over distribution. Until today, I hadn't seen any of these shorts, and over 100 of them were produced over 4 years (1972-6). I believe that after that, Culhane moved on to the series that I'm trying to find, the Spirit of Independence, which I did see.

Anyway, the professor (Paul Soles, ex-Spider-Man, Rocket Robin Hood) intros a bio on "John Cabot".

Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. Japoteurs (1942)

Today, the US & Japan are allies, and Japan is also one of the biggest exporters of electtonics and automobiles on the planet.

More than 70 years ago, during World War II, that wasn't the case. "Japoteurs' might not be seen on television anymore, but it illustrates how Japan had been one of our enemies. Superman has his hands full in this one.

Simple and effective. Not only that, but the Japanese saboteur wasn't given much to say anyway to avoid stereotyping.

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Toon Sports: The Umpire Strikes Back (The All-New Popeye Hour, 1980)

Popeye has to rally his baseball team from a 49-0 deficit in his last at-bat, but Bluto has other ideas.

1980's "The Umpire Strikes Back" isn't exactly a reboot of the Fleischers' "The Twisker Pitcher", but judge for yourselves.

Back to the drawing board, Bluto.

Rating: B.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Toon Rock: Yellow Submarine (1968)

The Beatles' coda in animation was the 1968 feature film, "Yellow Submarine", coinciding with the album of the same name. Released after their ABC series had ended production after three seasons, the Fab 4 still didn't lend their voices to their newly redesigned animated selves. A new set of actors were hired on, although Lance Percival, who voiced Ringo Starr & Paul McCartney in the series, played a different character this time around, in order to differentiate this from the series in other ways.

The animation wasn't really by legendary pop-art master Peter Max, but certainly seems to be influenced by him.

Here's the title track:

The Beatles appear in live-action form at the end of the movie in a short cameo. They'd release one more film, based on the album, "Let it Be". After that, Ringo would go on to a modestly successful solo career in acting, and Paul would wait a few years before releasing "Give My Regards to Broad Street", which was heavily panned by critics.