Monday, December 31, 2012

Bad TV: Angela Anaconda (1999)

What hath South Park wrought?

Trey Parker & Matt Stone's idea of animation is to use paper cutouts. They can produce an episode virtually days before it's scheduled to air. Unfortunately, that magic formula didn't quite extend to another cable cartoon.

Angela Anaconda, which bowed on the then-Fox Family (now ABC Family) channel in 1999, and spent some time on Fox as well, was meant to be an answer to Recess, which was airing on ABC & Disney Channel at the time and very popular. Well, it would've actually worked if the producers opted for full CGI animation or line animation instead of paper cutouts that just didn't translate well on screen. Thankfully, its broadcast run was mercifully short.

Here's a sample episode:



The less said about this show, the better.

Rating: D.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturtainment: Heckle & Jeckle wish you a "Sappy New Year" (1961)

Heckle & Jeckle underwent a bit of a transformation once Terrytoons began producing shorts with television more in mind than theatres. Compare this offering, "Sappy New Year", for example, to the classic shorts of the early years, and you'll see what I mean.

By the way, voice actor Roy Halee's name should look familiar to music fans. There was a record producer by that same name who worked with Simon & Garfunkel a few years after this toon came out.

Uploaded by Brett Fletcher:



Jeckle was always the sensible one of the team, wasn't he?

Rating: B.

On DVD: DC Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures (1967)

In 2007, Warner Home Video issued a compilation of the six rotating backup features from the Aquaman half of the Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Some of those shorts have previously been featured here in the Archives, but let's take a closer look:

The Atom: At the time, the Tiny Titan (Pat Harrington, Jr., who was also working on Journey to the Center of the Earth for Filmation & The Inspector for DePatie-Freleng), was starring in his own DC book, alongside Hawkman, if memory serves me correctly. In fact, each of the six features were being published by DC, which was the criteria for making it to television. Professor Ray Palmer was accompanied by two other eggheads (voiced by narrator Ted Knight) in each of his three shorts, and as Atom had to fend off bizarre alien invaders and the usual selfish, power hungry despots. DC writer George Kashdan wrote all three episodes.

The Flash: Police scientist Barry Allen (Cliff Owens) had similar menaces to deal with, one of which was an alien counterpart of himself, Blue Bolt (Knight). Kid Flash (Tommy Kirk) joined Flash to battle Blue Bolt and Professor Krang.

The Teen Titans: Kid Flash was joined by Aqualad (Jerry Dexter), Wonder Girl (Julie Bennett), & Speedy (Harrington), with the team's real leader, Robin, in absentia (20th Century Fox had the rights, of course, to Batman & Robin at the time), and thus we didn't get the full team. Best of their three was the last one, "Operation Rescue".

Green Lantern: We screened all three of the Emerald Gladiator's shorts a year and a half ago, around the time the live-action feature film with Ryan Reynolds hit theatres. Hal Jordan (Gerald Mohr, Fantastic Four) was aided not by his Alaskan-born aide from the comics, Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku, but rather a Venusian immigrant named Kyro (Paul Frees). No rational explanation was ever given for the switch. Frees also voiced the Guardians and some of the villains, taking some of the burden off Knight, who otherwise seemed to have a monopoly on the bad guys.

Hawkman: Thanagarian-born Carter Hall (or, Katar Hol)(Gilbert Mack) had the most alterations made to his series. For one, he was working without wife Shiera, aka Hawkgirl, who'd make her television debut 10 years later. He was given a set of multi-purpose, talon-shaped gauntlets and a hawk sidekick, Skreel, instead. His lab partner, Prof. Forbes (Knight) apparently was privy to Hall's dual identity, as Carter changed right in front of him in two of the shorts.

Justice League of America: Even though Aquaman (Marvin Miller) was advertised as part of the team, he didn't appear in any of the three shorts. Instead, Hawkman, Atom, Flash, & Green Lantern were joined by the star of the other half of the show, Superman (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth). As noted, Batman was missing, but so was Wonder Woman, whose rights were also held by Fox at that time, and it would be five years before Filmation would get to use the Amazing Amazon.

Today, these 7 minute shorts would be stretched to three times the length in order to get on the air, allowing for plot expansion and continuity, something that was not in vogue back in those days. The DVD also includes a documentary feature on Filmation co-founder (and sometime voice actor) Lou Scheimer that is worth viewing.

TheJusticeLeaguers provides us with the Justice League episode, "Bad Day at Black Mountain":



As has been widely noted, a printing error resulted in Hanna-Barbera's Birdman appearing on the contents screen on disc 1, in place of Hawkman. Yes, the Solar Sentinel arrived the same year, but had no connection to the DC heroes then.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spiderversary: The Power of Dr. Octopus (1967)

I'm sure you all know by now what's been happening in the Spider-Man comic books. Peter Parker is dead, at least for the next year or whenever Marvel is pressured into bringing him back. Otto Octavius, aka Dr. Octopus, occupies the webhead's body in a protracted tale of redemption for a classic villain, who swapped bodies with Parker, as Octavius' own body had been ravaged by cancer. It's not the best of ideas, but then, Marvel hasn't exactly been brimming with really good ones in recent months. All they're interested in, really, is how much publicity, good or bad, they can generate with their shock value plots.

So, let's take a journey back to a simpler, happier time. 1967, to be exact, when Spider-Man first dealt on television with "The Power of Dr. Octopus".




I give Marvel less than 6 months before they push the panic button.

Rating: B.

Monday, December 24, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (1993)

One component of the last incarnation of the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (though to be fair, the umbrella title was not really being used at the time), and, clearly, its most popular, was SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron. Posited as Hanna-Barbera's answer to the runaway success known as Batman: The Animated Series over on Fox, SWAT Kats aired in syndication and on Superstation TBS, the latter twice every Sunday for 2 seasons. There should've been a third, but there are conflicting stories about why the show was cancelled.

Jake & Chance are two police department maintenance men, former officers demoted all the way down to the lower rungs because of departmental violations. This demotion actually works in their favor, as when danger threatens, the grease monkeys become the high-tech heroes Razor & T-Bone, the SWAT Kats. Revered by the public, especially bubble brained Mayor Manx, and reviled as vigilantes by their former boss, Commander Ferral (Gary Owens), the Kats sally forth to save Megakat City from threats such as the mystic Pastmaster, the villain in the series opener. Manx's assistant, Callie Briggs, also is the informant for the Kats, perhaps unaware that T-Bone harbors a crush on her. Razor (Barry Gordon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) is the more level headed one, while T-Bone is often prone to recklessness.

In season 2, Ferral's daughter, Felina, joined the Enforcers, but also became an ally of the Kats, and some fans have envisioned her being romantically involved with Razor. With the series soon to mark its 20th anniversary, there are rumors of a revival, so some fan questions could be answered.

Here's the intro:



Reruns currently are airing on Boomerang on a nightly basis, so fans can catch up on what they've missed.

Rating: A.

Looney TV: Animaniacs (1993)

Animaniacs wasn't meant to be just for kids. Fox & Warner Bros., discovering that the demographics for Tiny Toon Adventures included parents and young adults as well as kids, created something that would take them to the next level in the next generation of Looney Tunes.

Dot, Wakko, & Yakko Warner were housed in the WB studio water tower, but otherwise freely roamed the grounds like everyone else. In fact, the trio were the touchstone for a lot of silly happenings. Unfortunately, no one ever considered a crossover between Animaniacs & Tiny Toons, which would've been ratings gold.

The series ran for five seasons and ended with a feature film, "Wakko's Wish", which is making the rounds this month. Lioncereals uploaded this sample compilation, built around a parody of another Fox franchise of the period, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Reruns will air on The Hub beginning next week.



Unlike Tiny Toons, Animaniacs merited a monthly comic book from DC. If you thought the Warners' sendup of the Power Rangers was wack, and it was, it's better than the ill-conceived comic book story that had the trio parodying the Wonder Twins (I guess Wakko was supposed to be Gleek?), which lacked imagination and common sense. They might as well have parodied the 80's pop trio, the Thompson Twins, and that would've made more sense......!

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Seasin's Greetinks (1933)

Ahoy! Here's a Popeye classic from the Fleischers for the holiday season.

This is the colorized version of 1933's "Seasin's Greetinks", in which Popeye gives Olive some ice skates for Christmas, so of course, the gangly Olive finds herself clumsily trying to maintain her balance on the ice. The background music sounds more appropriate for square dance music if ya ask me.




Rating: B-.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: A complete episode of the All-New Super Friends Hour (1977)

For a while now, I've been pulling up individual episodes from The All-New Super Friends Hour, but the one thing that would be even better is a full-length episode, sans commercials, of course, and including all the features, including the health & safety tips, magic tricks, puzzles, etc..

Well, this should do the trick. This is split into 4 parts, with the additional features included.

"The Marsh Monster": Superman, Batman, & Robin vs. a fake monster that would've had an easier time befuddling Scooby-Doo.



"The Runaways": The Wonder Twins track a pair of wayward boys who've decided to leave home a little, ah, prematurely.



"Will the World Collide?": A rogue scientist makes a deal with aliens, putting Earth on a collision course with destruction, unless the Super Friends can do something about it.



"Time Rescue": Superman teams with Hawkman & Hawkgirl to rescue a scientist who flung himself 2000 years into the future, a world inspired by "Star Wars".



Grab some popcorn and hot chocolate, and enjoy the show.

Rating: B.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Mighty Mouse (1979)

Mighty Mouse returned to television in 1979, as Filmation acquired the license to adapt Terrytoons' iconic hero, along with Heckle & Jeckle, in an all-new series, airing on CBS, which had been the home to the Terrytoons' icons from 1955-67.

Versatile character actor Alan Oppenheimer, who was relatively new to voice acting, spoke for both Mighty Mouse and his arch-enemy, Oil Can Harry. That same season, Oppenheimer voiced another comics icon, the vile Ming the Merciless, in another Filmation adaptation, Flash Gordon, for NBC. One of his co-stars was another relative newcomer, Diane Pershing, who'd debuted at Filmation a year earlier, working on the Freedom Force segment of Tarzan & The Super 7, lent her voice to Pearl Pureheart, for all intents & purposes an analogue for Lois Lane, as Mighty Mouse was one for Superman.

In "Snow Mouse", Pearl is a figure skater competing in a sort-of Olympic competition at a ski lodge. Harry tries to take as many shortcuts as possible, but is presented here as a bumbling buffoon, and can't be taken seriously as a villain, any more than he was in the original shorts back in the day. And he even has a sidekick, who's more of an impediment than a help. What fun!

"Snow Mouse" was uploaded by FilmationArchive:



One season was ordered, and cycled through two seasons, with the series moving to a lunch-hour death slot in season 2. Why did it fail? Well, it was on opposite the World's Greatest Super Friends over on ABC. Game, set, & match.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Summertime Blues (1968)

Blue Cheer's only major chart hit was a remake of Eddie Cochran's classic "Summertime Blues", which brought them to American Bandstand in February 1968.



Yeah, I know, Winter's right around the corner, but I couldn't resist.......

Monday, December 17, 2012

Celebrity Toons: Super Dave: Daredevil For Hire (1992)

Sometimes, you have to take the good with the bad.

1992, of course, brought us the award-winning Batman: The Animated Series, but Fox also had one of the worst of the freshman class that season in Super Dave: Daredevil For Hire.

Super Dave Osborne (Bob Einstein) had previously appeared on the John Byner Comedy Hour and Bizarre (also hosted by Byner) before landing his own series, which had aired on Showtime. Some genius at Fox and/or DIC thought he'd make a great cartoon star. When you consider, however, that Super Dave was the (intentionally) worst stuntman on the planet, that doesn't really bode well for a cartoon, since the joke loses its flavor very quickly.

As a result, Daredevil For Hire was cancelled after 1 season of 13 episodes. Super Dave would return with a primetime special---live action, of course---in 1994, also for Fox, but hasn't landed a TV gig here in the US since.

Here's the open:



Rating: D.

Countdown to Christmas: The Cool, Cruel Christmas Caper (1968)

Here's a  Christmas themed Batman adventure as the Dynamic Duo battle Mr. Freeze.



I think this was the only one of the DC heroes to merit a Christmas episode at Filmation. Go figure.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday Morning Ringside: UWF Wrestling (1985)

In the mid-80's, wrestler-turned-promoter Bill Watts decided to carve out his own piece of the national television pie. Regrettably, it wasn't meant to last.

Watts' Mid-South Wrestling promotion underwent a name change to the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF), and landed a syndication deal that put the UWF almost on the same level with the National Wrestling Alliance (which they were affiliated with at first) and the then-World Wrestling Federation. However, before it was all said & done, as they say in the trade, Watts lost a number of talents, as Junkyard Dog, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, and the One Man Gang would eventually move up north to work for Vince McMahon. The Fabulous Freebirds called the UWF one of their bases, this after a brief cup of coffee with the then-WWF that died practically stillborn, but are better known for longer runs with Georgia Championship Wrestling and World Class. Announcer Jim Ross would later work for WCW and WWF/E. Michael Hayes, the lone surviving Freebird, is also now with WWE in a creative capacity.

Here's a sample episode:



I have no doubt the UWF aired on Saturdays in some cities, mostly in the South, but most of the network carried the action on Sunday mornings or evenings (or both, as was the case with the affiliate in my area, which was an independent then, and now is a CW affiliate). Another promoter, Herb Abrams, revived the UWF name in the 90's and landed a deal with ESPN, but met the same fate as Watts' version.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 14, 2012

From Primetime to Daytime: The Green Hornet (1966)

I previously reviewed this entry on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, nearly 2 years ago, right around the time of the feature film with Seth Rogen & Jay Chou. Now, The Green Hornet has found a new cable home-----Me-TV!

Don't ask me how it happened, though I'm sure Me-TV's #1 fan, Ivan Shreve, probably has all the details. Anyway, Me-TV decided to break up its pre-dawn cartoon block on Saturdays, cancelling The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo & Gumby, and moving He-Man & The Masters of the Universe and its spin-off, She-Ra, Princess of Power, to the unholy hour of 5 am (ET). As we noted last week, this was to make room for Green Hornet and the British-produced Invisible Man, the latter of which we reviewed previously.

You all know the story with the Hornet. Producer William Dozier (Batman) decided to do a 180 degree turn and produce a serious crime drama, adapting the Hornet for television, and having him cross over onto Batman for a 2-part adventure that became the stuff of legend all by itself. Van Williams (ex-Surfside Six), who'd earn his Saturday cred nearly a decade later starring in Westwind, played media mogul Britt Reid, aka the Green Hornet, with martial arts icon Bruce Lee as Kato. I actually had a VHS tape compilation that put more emphasis on Lee (for obvious reasons) a number of years back, but it didn't do the show justice.

Dozier is only heard in the open and only narrated when there was a two part story, which was rare in itself. Unfortunately, because it was played straight, and airing on a different night (Fridays), the series lasted just one season. KillBillReference uploaded the open:



How could you go wrong with a killer theme performed by Al Hirt? Apparently, the Hornet's fans from his radio days didn't trust Dozier and voted with their remotes.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Air: Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot (2012)

The Care Bears are back in an all-new series, subtitled, Welcome to Care-a-Lot, currently airing Saturday & Sunday mornings on The Hub. The series is in CGI, and looks mighty good in comparison to the original series from the 80's, when the Bears first hit the scene. The Hub's YouTube channel provides a preview......



If you're of a certain age that recalls the original cartoons, you can teach your kids about the Care Bears by watching right along with them.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From Comics to Toons: The Legend of Prince Valiant (1991)

Hal Foster's long-running comic strip, Prince Valiant, had been the subject of a feature film a number of years back, with future TV icon Robert Wagner (best known for It Takes a Thief and, in later years, the Austin Powers movie series) in the title role. However, for some reason, no one wanted to take a chance on adapting the strip into an animated series, despite the fact that other strips had made the plunge successfully.

Hearst Entertainment decided to do something about it, and produced The Legend of Prince Valiant for the then-Family Channel (now ABC Family) in 1991. The series lasted three years, airing in primetime first, with reruns on Saturday mornings. The series remained as true to the strip as it could be, with Valiant (Robby Benson) striving to join King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. Presently, the series is out on DVD, but reruns are not available on cable. Go figure.

Following is a sample season 2 episode.



I regret that the poster left the show open off. It happens.

Rating: B.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Powers Team vs. "The Seeds of Doom" (1985)

Let's go back to the series premiere of Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians for our next entry.

"The Seeds of Doom" marks the addition of Cyborg of the New Teen Titans as the newest member of the newly rechristened Super Powers Team (and there was never any on-air explanation for the name change, as this was mandated by Kenner Toys moreso than by ABC and/or Hanna-Barbera). With plans for a Teen Titans cartoon having died in development, it was decided to have Cyborg (Ernie Hudson, "Ghostbusters") join Titan teammate Robin (Casey Kasem), who in the comics had adopted the new alias of Nightwing a year earlier, although he instead struck up a friendship with Firestorm (Mark L. Taylor). Lex Luthor (Stan Jones) makes what I believe is his last appearance for 3 years.

I will grant the quality of animation had come down in this final season, which might be one reason why ABC decided to retire the Super Friends/Super Powers Team franchise after 13 seasons.



Of course, Darkseid would return, as we'll see down the line......

Rating: B.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

From Primetime to Daytime: The Invisible Man (1958)

H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man has been adapted for the screen on a number of occasions, including a small handful of television series.

The first of these was produced by ITC and distributed here in the US by Official Films, which sold the series to CBS for American broadcast in 1958. The gimmick was that the actor who essayed the voice of the title hero was left uncredited on purpose. In fact, in one glaring difference between the book and this series, the title character's name was changed to Peter Brady, and a number of actors were credited as voicing the character after the series had ended.

The Invisible Man lasted two seasons of 13 episodes apiece, and is back on American screens, thanks to Me-TV, which has quietly added the series to its Saturday morning lineup, airing 2 back-to-back episodes at 7 am (ET). I don't know exactly when this started, but it had to be fairly recently, and enough of a stealth addition, despite the fact it has been used as filler in primetime on Sundays, catching viewers off guard who are expecting cartoons at that hour.

Tonightonthetelly uploaded the episode, "The Rocket".



The later incarnations of this series, both US & UK, have been better, doubtlessly.

Rating: C.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Saturday School: Watch Mr. Wizard (1951)

One of the earliest superstars of Saturday morning television was Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard. Herbert enjoyed a remarkable 14 year run with Watch Mr. Wizard, airing on NBC from 1951-65, teaching two generations of children about science, something that today would be frowned upon in an era where kids are more interested in video games in whatever forum is available, be it on computer or on their XBox or other game console.

Since the show was based in New York, the inestimable Don Pardo, still chugging along on Saturday Night Live, is the announcer, but isn't heard in this sample episode:



Herbert would return for one more season, again on NBC, in 1971, with a Canadian produced series, titled simply, Mr. Wizard. I think I might have seen at least one episode of that, since it was airing around lunch time. Finally, there was one more revival, with Nickelodeon's Mr. Wizard's World in the 80's. This version tended to air more on weekdays than on Saturdays, and as such, I did happen to catch a few bits here and there. I was but a toddler at the end of the original series' run, but my rating applies to it as well as its later incarnations.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Literary Toons: Madeline (1993)

Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline had previously appeared in a series of shorts produced by UPA in the 50's, before William Snyder's Rembrandt Films took over the franchise a few years later. Those early shorts have been lost to the mists of time, but eventually, the little redhead made her way to Saturday morning television.

Initially, Madeline had appeared on, of all places, HBO, in 1989, where DIC had sold the series after a pilot special, both of which were narrated by actor Christopher Plummer. In 1993, DIC  brought the show to the then-Family Channel (now ABC Family), with a new slate of episodes. 2 years later, the series shifted again, this time to ABC, under the handle, The New Adventures of Madeline. However, this change proved to be a big mistake, as ABC cancelled the series after 7 out of the 13 episodes aired. Disney moved the show to Disney Channel, which played all 13 New Adventures episodes in 1997.

I remember reading a reprinting of the first book, in which Madeline needed her appendix removed. The irony was, I was in a hospital at the time, at age 7, and I was getting my tonsils taken out. Serendipity, anyone? I digress.

DhxjuniorTV  uploaded the episode, "Madeline & the New House":



I didn't see the show, but, as I note, I read at least one book, and I can recommend the show for today's generation of young viewers.

Rating: A-.

Spiderversary: Mission: Save The Guardstar (1983)

Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends introduced a brand-new character in the season 3 episode, "Mission: Save The Guardstar", but unlike Firestar (Kathy Garver), who made the transition to comics, Lightwave didn't, and that's despite the fact that she was posited as the half-sister of Bobby Drake, aka Iceman (Frank Welker), which would have of course meant eventually joining the X-Men had she moved to the printed page. Unfortunately, Lightwave was never heard from again after this 1-shot tale.



Rating: B.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On DVD: The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo (1975)

Canadian producers Jean Mathieson & Al Guest attempted to reimagine Jules Verne's Captain Nemo as a heroic character, but the 5:00 shorts that aired on Captain Kangaroo in the US and Popcorn & Friends in the UK didn't last very long.

The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo bowed in 1975, and would, I believe, be a recurring feature on Kangaroo, at least, for the remainder of the 70's. Captain Mark Nemo (Len Carlson) piloted a smaller version of the Nautilus, aided by a pair of young assistants, Robbie & Chris (both voiced by Billie Richards), who served the same purpose here as Wendy & Marvin did on Super Friends over on ABC, acting as an analogue for the children watching at home as they learned about undersea life and its dangers. The episodes fly by, such that if you blinked, it was over.

Magicshadowsinc. uploaded the series opener:



EastWest has released at least a couple of volumes on DVD, easily acquired at the local dollar store. You may want to have some books on oceanography handy after your kids watch the videos.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saturtainment: Misterjaw (1976)

The success of the 1975 movie, "Jaws", led to a pair of animated sharks hitting television a year later. Hanna-Barbera welcomed back writers-producers Joe Ruby & Ken Spears, who created Jabberjaw for ABC. DePatie-Freleng, which bade farewell to Ruby & Spears after the failure of Return to the Planet of the Apes, had their own talking shark in Misterjaw, incorporated into the expanding Pink Panther program on NBC.

While Jabberjaw had the personality of Rodney Dangerfield crossed with Curly Howard (and voiced by Frank Welker doing a Curly mimic), Misterjaw was more of a menace, at least to one Harry Halibut, but otherwise was on the harmless side, swimming through the oceans with Catfish by his side. Occasionally, Misterjaw would pop out of the water to scare some humans for the predictably cheap laughs, or he'd be on the run from Fearless Freddy, the Shark Hunter.

Arte Johnson (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), who'd been on the DFE payroll since 1966's Super Six, voiced Misterjaw. Arnold Stang (ex-Top Cat) was Catfish, with Paul Winchell as Freddy, who doesn't figure into the following block of quick bumpers, including a cameo by one of Arte's Laugh-In characters, Tyrone, who'd later get his own series! Forgive the fact that the Texas (nee Tijuana) Toads are included in this block as well.



At least Misterjaw had something Jabber wanted but never got. Respect.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tooniversary: Yogi's Ark Lark (1972)

From the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie is a backdoor pilot for the following year's Yogi's Gang.

Yogi's Ark Lark brings Yogi Bear and Boo Boo together with some of their fellow Hanna-Barbera funny animal stars, such as Huckleberry Hound, Squiddly Diddly, Magilla Gorilla, Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Top Cat, and more. In a modern day, environmentally-charged spin on the Biblical story of Noah's Ark, Yogi and pals team with Captain Noah to raise awareness of the then-prevalent issues of littering and pollution, issues that would be explored again 20 years later on Captain Planet. While Yogi (Daws Butler) had a rep for being a thief, he wasn't a litterbug.

The idea behind Ark Lark was to bring back Yogi, Huck, et al, and introduce them to a new generation of viewers. Their classic shorts would soon return in syndication as a by-product of this film and the subsequent Yogi's Gang, even though the series lasted just 1 season. As we've noted previously in reviewing Gang, the series would later return, with episodes chopped up into two parts---and in this particular case, four, as it was rerun on Gang as a two-part story---in order to fit an additional segment or two into Fred Flintstone & Friends.

Despite the cancellation, interest in Yogi and his growing supporting cast was such that Yogi, Huck, Snagglepuss, and others would resurface again and again in later years, including the mid-80's series, Yogi's Treasure Hunt, which recast Top Cat (Arnold Stang) in more of a leadership role that was never really explained.



Rating: B.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday School: VeggieTales (2006)

When NBC shifted gears with their Saturday morning lineup, from Discovery Kids (now The Hub) to Qubo, in 2006, they acquired the Christian-themed video series, VeggieTales, which was, sadly, placed near the bottom of the lineup. Still, the series hung on for four seasons before being cashiered out in 2010.

VeggieTales began as a direct-to-video (DTV) series in 1993, and the popularity of the CGI toons led NBC suits to believe that this was a marketable entity for their struggling Saturday block. Well, it would've, if the network left it alone. Reportedly, references to God were deleted from network broadcasts, which raised the ire of the busybodies of the Parents Television Council. While the PTC understands that NBC and its censors want to remain neutral regarding religion, they felt offended, as did the creators of VeggieTales, by the editing, which they obviously felt was unnecessary. Currently, Trinity Broadcasting holds the cable rights to the series.

While I have not seen any of the cartoons, nor the feature film spinoffs, I do recognize the value of these cartoons for the target audience. You can imagine that the VeggieTales have been used in Sunday Schools across the country, too.

Let's check out a sample episode, "Lyle, the Kindly Viking":



Rating: A.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rein-Toon-Ation: GI Joe Extreme (1995)

GI Joe returned in 1995, this time as a weekly series that aired on Fridays in most markets, as opposed to landing a Saturday morning berth. Gunther-Wahl Productions produced this series, in conjunction with Sunbow. Co-executive producer Lee Gunther had left Marvel Productions to form his own company, which was modestly successful during this period.

The series encompasses 26 episodes, or two seasons of a weekly series. Naturally, Hasbro produced new toys and commissioned this series to help sell the new action figures and accessories. A year earlier, Sunbow had produced a 1-shot pilot, Sgt. Savage & The Screaming Eagles, which didn't sell, and the characters were incorporated into this series.

Here's the open:



Rating: None. Never saw the show.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Toon Legends: Felix The Cat (1959)

There has been much dispute over who really gets the credit for creating Felix The Cat, whose adventures stretch all the way back to the silent film era.

Some say that Australian animator Pat Sullivan, who is credited in the intro to the TV shorts that bowed in 1959, such as the one you'll see below, created Felix. Others, including noted film critic Leonard Maltin (Entertainment Tonight), passed the credit to artist Otto Messmer, who worked for Sullivan. Regardless, Felix has delighted children of all ages for nearly 100 years.

After some of his early shorts were released to television in 1954, Felix began appearing in a brand new series of cartoons produced by Trans-Lux in 1959. This version is the one most of us are most familiar with, as Felix has a magic, shapeshifting bag that adjusts to whatever he needs at a particular time. Plus, there are the recurring villains, such as the Professor, whose nephew, Poindexter, is Felix's best buddy, and Rock Bottom, a bulldog who's about as sharp as a bag of stale dog biscuits. Periodically, the Professor would abandon his quest to acquire the magic bag and aid Felix on one of his adventures.

Winston Sharples, long time musical director for Famous Studios (Paramount), composed the theme song, sung by Ann Bennett, a big band singer of some renown. Continuing the Famous connection, all the voices in the Trans-Lux series were the work of one man------Jack Mercer (Popeye). Coincidentally, Mae Questel (better known as the voices of Olive Oyl & Betty Boop) was the original voice of Felix in the 1930's shorts. Considering that there were no credits or episode titles when the shorts reran in syndication in the 70's, the revelation is amazing in and of itself. Producer Joe Oriolo is another link in the Famous chain. He's also responsible for another cartoon icon---Casper the Friendly Ghost!

My first exposure to Felix came during the 70's, when the shorts aired on WPIX on weekday mornings. He'd return in 1995 with the CBS series, The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, which returned Felix to his silent era roots.

Now, let's scope out why the Professor was after "The Magic Bag":



Too bad Felix doesn't have a home now on the cable, as he'd be a welcome addition anywhere.

Rating: A.

Rein-Toon-Ation: GI Joe (1989)

2 years after having had their original series "decommissioned" (cancelled for the rest of us), GI Joe returned in 1989 with an all-new series, and a new animation studio at the helm, DIC, which obtained the rights, even though Marvel was still publishing the comic books at the time.

Granted, the theme song is different, and sounds a little more macho, but it's cheesy at the same time. Judge for yourself, as superherocartoonsite uploaded the theme:



I remember the theme music, but didn't watch too many episodes. In fairness, I cannot rate this version.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Daytime Heroes: GI Joe: A Real American Hero (1983)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the GI Joe: A Real American Hero comic book series from Marvel, which in turn rebooted the line of action figures that had been created by Hasbro some 2 decades earlier. Whereas before, GI Joe was just one person, Hasbro & Marvel reimagined it as an entire counter-terrorism force under the direction of the US Military.

In 1983, Marvel's television arm, in conjunction with Sunbow Productions, produced the first GI Joe miniseries. A second one followed a year later, and the fan response, coupled with sales numbers on the comic remaining strong, led to the decision to go full bore with a regular series, which launched in 1985, and lasted two seasons. During this time, pro wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, who had left the World Wrestling Federation for the American Wrestling Association (AWA) at the time, joined the cast, credited under his real name, Robert Remus. Slaughter stuck around through the end of the series in 1987, culminating with a direct-to-video movie, but didn't return for subsequent revivals and reboots.

GI Joe would return again in 1989, but this time produced by DIC, which didn't have the same kind of success, and the DIC-era series hasn't yet turned up on The Hub, the Hasbro-owned cabler that holds the rights to the series, at least as far as I can tell. Sunbow took back the franchise and produced a weekly series, GI Joe Extreme, in 1995, which lasted two seasons. The Joes have subsequently returned twice more since, first with the Japanese-produced GI Joe: Sigma Six, which aired on Fox initially, and has found its way to The Hub, which launched the current series, GI Joe: Renegades, in 2010, and thus there has been at least one series in each of the last four decades. Pretty good, don't ya think?

Here's the season 1 open. Jackson Beck is the narrator.



We'll catch up with the other incarnations down the road, but the original is still the best.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Mutant X (2001)

Marvel Comics' film division decided to get into first-run syndication in 2001, partnering with Tribune Entertainment to produce Mutant X, which aired in primetime in some markets, but in others, it aired in the afternoon or morning, hence its inclusion.

Because 20th Century Fox had the license, via Marvel, to produce the X-Men movies, Marvel had to be very careful about how they marketed Mutant X. The ensemble cast was built around veteran actor John Shea (ex-Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), who starred as Adam Kane, the leader of Mutant X, which was created to protect a new generation of mutants, whose powers weren't granted as a result of genetics, but rather, illegal experiments performed on their parents years earlier. Marvel would produce a comics version of the series between seasons 1 & 2, but it didn't last very long. In fact, Mutant X, while it lasted three seasons, was meant to continue into a fourth, but co-producer Fireworks went out of business.

Here's the first season open:



20th Century Fox sued Marvel, claiming that, ironically enough, the series was too close to the X-Men, as if Marvel was covertly planning on incorporating Mutant X into the fabric of their comics universe down the road. The two studios settled out of court. Some people are just too sensitive, aren't they?

Rating: None. Didn't follow the show enough to rate it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Sheep in the Big City (2000)

It was designed as a left-handed homage to Jay Ward's legendary Rocky & His Friends. Unfortunately for creator Mo Willems, Sheep in the Big City didn't have the popularity that Rocky & Bullwinkle have enjoyed since their debut. Introduced as a primetime series on Cartoon Network in November 2000, Sheep is about a singular sheep on the run from a lunatic named General Specific, who is trying to develop a---wait for it---sheep-powered ray gun. Not even Ward was this wacky!

Specific and Sheep were both voiced by ex-MTV personality Kevin Seal, who'd dropped out of sight after leaving the network in the 90's, and hasn't been heard from since Sheep was cancelled in 2002. Seal was also the voice behind the Ranting Swede, who'd appear usually at the end of the show for an angry commentary of some kind that really had 0 to do with the plot of the show.

Anyway, here's the series open:



Rating: C-.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Rubber Band Man (1976)

Discolarry124 uploaded this off a VHS he made of a VH1 rerun of American Bandstand from 1976. The Spinners perform "Rubber Band Man", which was a huge hit that summer & fall, and let me tell you, more than a decade later, when I saw them live on a package tour to promote Bandstand, they still had those ginormous rubber bands, which were totally wack.

Ya know, ABC kinda blew it three years later when they could've used this song to promote Plastic Man. Then again, what do some network suits know about synchronicity, anyway......

Toonfomercial: The Sundance Kids for the Girls Clubs of America (1973)

Here's one from the lost & found file.

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kids explain the Girls Clubs of America to their computerized boss, Mr. Socrates (John Stephenson) in this spot, uploaded by Seanmc.



Amazingly, the computer didn't sneeze in the presence of the band's dog-mascot, Elvis. Go figure.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Looney TV: Wakko Warner's 2:00 travelogue of the USA (1993 or so)

From Animaniacs comes this delightful gem.

In what starts off as a sort-of parody of Jeopardy!, sans Alex Trebek, Wakko Warner is challenged to name all 50 states & their capitals. Abruptly, he pulls out a map and a fiddle and sings his answer. Uploaded by DCNorton to YouTube:



Enough said.

"Beware the Batman"? Viewers should be wary.

There is a teaser trailer that lasts less than 30 seconds currently circulating on YouTube for the forthcoming Beware the Batman, the latest CGI offering from Cartoon Network. I'm not posting it because it doesn't address the issues I want to talk about.

My brother was visiting today for the holiday and we shared information on what we knew. Prepare to cringe.

*Alfred is packing a gun. The idea is that Alfred Pennyworth, in this version, is a former secret agent before signing on as a butler to the Wayne family. For years, Batman has been presented as having no use for firearms, even though he actually did wield a gun early on in the Golden Age. So why have Alfred packing heat? Not only that, but instead of remaining confined to the Batcave, Alfred is actually accompanying the Dark Knight, based on what I've been told. Something tells me we won't be seeing much, if at all, of Bruce Wayne on this show, which would be two consecutive Bat-series.

*Batman's sidekick, at least for now, is Katana. The Japanese swordswoman was introduced back in the 80's in the first volume of Batman & The Outsiders, and more recently was a member of the Birds of Prey. Coincidentally, DC announced in their February 2013 solicitations that Katana would star in her own series. Hmmm. Y'don't suppose that Beware will be on the air by then?

*As of now, the classic villains, such as Two-Face, the Riddler, Catwoman, & Joker, the latter front & center in a current DC story arc in the Bat-books, are not scheduled to appear. Given how Joker was horribly handled on The Batman, miscast as a barefoot, dreadlocked sort, maybe it's just as well. Instead, Anarky, who was introduced in the comics in the 90's, is the central villain. That merits a......

SAY WHAT??

Actually, this shouldn't be a surprise, considering that one of the producers on the show is Mitch Watson, the man who has single-handedly ruined Scooby-Doo for a lot of fans the last couple of years with his revisionist retconning. Clearly, Watson is a fanboy whose roots are in the 80's, but by ignoring Robin and Batgirl, he's removing a large chunk of the Bat-mythos, and for no other reason than to put his own stamp on another icon that doesn't need this sort of abuse.

Look, I get that Watson thinks the viewers are tired of the Joker and Catwoman. The truth is, they're also a big part of Bat-history. Catwoman, one would think, would be a hot commodity again after the blockbuster success of "Dark Knight Rises" earlier this year. I've never met the guy, but so far, I've gotten nothing but bad vibes out of his work. Bear in mind, CN screwed viewers by scheduling Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated on weekday afternoons for season 2, as if they're saying they're just washing their hands of the show, but if that were a reason, why give Watson another iconic character to mess with?

The CGI looks nice, but the writing, if it isn't solely Watson (pray there are others involved), needs to be first-rate. The DC Nation block is on hiatus from CN, and they're not exactly forthcoming with the rationale on why, be it ratings or something else, though they're airing reruns of Young Justice on Boomerang lately to appease angry fans. However, the comics version of that series is ending, also in February. Clearly, Beware the Batman is being posited to move into the block, if not to expand it, but to replace Justice, but CN is remaining coy about their plans.

Those of us who've been detractors of Watson have but two words for supporters and fans anticipating Beware:

Caveat emptor. I will paraphrase the translation: Let the viewer beware.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rein-Toon-Ation: Godzilla (1998)

We are all accustomed to the classic Godzilla. Green, scaly, thirty stories high, as the theme to his 1978 series describes his height. Toho in Japan turned him from a villain to a hero in a series of sequels, and made him a beloved figure here in the US.

So why in the blue hizell did Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") decide to turn him into a crawling giant lizard for their 1998 feature film and subsequent Fox cartoon series? Lord only knows. The movie was one of the worst I'd ever seen, despite standout performances by Matthew Broderick & Jean Reno. The cartoon? All that did was perpetuate the mistake, and it managed to hang on over the course of two seasons, thanks to Fox's rotating their cartoons in and out without advance warning. Thanks, but I'll take the genuine model over this imposter.

As a public service, we present the open to the 1998 series.



And ya wonder why there hasn't been a sequel, though rumors persist of a reboot of the franchise.

Rating: C-.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Happy Anniversary (1961)

From season 1 of The Flintstones comes an all time classic bit.

Wilma (Jean VanderPyl) thinks Fred (Alan Reed) has forgotten their anniversary. With help from faithful sidekick-neighbor Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc), and four Bedrock cops, Fred manages a miracle.........



Many thanks to SaturdayMorningFan for helping provide some key information.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Gigantor (1964)

Gigantor was part of the first wave of Japanese anime imported to the US in the mid-60's, but to some it isn't as fondly remembered as, say for example, Speed Racer.

That could be because two years after Gigantor arrived in the US, Hanna-Barbera created their own super robot-----Frankenstein, Jr., complete with the boy genius "sidekick". While Frankie fought far more campy villains, Gigantor's "rogues gallery" might as well have come from some of Toho's monster movies. There wouldn't have been much difference, don't you think?

Years later, Gigantor was given a second chance in America, and we'll take a look at that another time. Right now, let's take a trip back nearly 50 years. OriginalErty uploaded the open to Gigantor:



Rating: None. Never saw the show.

The bane of a blogger's existence

Every now and then, I'll go through the backlog of posts here in the Archives, and also in The Land of Whatever, to revisit some past posts. Of late, I've noticed that a lot of the videos I've posted here have been removed from YouTube, and, thus, by extension, unavailable here, either by YouTube, the user that posted it, or at the request of a network or studio due to copyright issues.

It's not cool, I realize that, but that's just the way it is. I've had to edit some posts, but others will wind up being deleted altogether because I can't replace the video(s) at all. As a result, you'll see the post count drop a bit at a time while I attend to this matter. Bear with me, and I apologize for any inconvienence this may cause.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday School: A musical lesson in brushing your teeth (1980's)

While not a part of ABC's Bod Squad series of animated PSA's, per se, this short piece had to have aired during the early 1980's. It happens to be a coincidence that Chopper is loosely based on Fonzie (Henry Winkler) from Happy Days, who happened to have his own Saturday morning show at the time. However, this was the first time I'd seen this one, which SatAMBrainfood has titled, "Exercise Your Choppers", meaning, of course, your teeth.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Toonfomercial: Why talking food should never be near a ski slope (1980)

With news that Hostess is going out of business, let's take a look back at two of the company's mascots.

In this 1980 commercial, Fruitpie the Magician (Allen Swift, using a variant on his King Leonardo voice) needs the help of Twinkie the Kid (Mort Marshall) when he gets caught in an avalanche while trying to entertain a couple of kids. They just don't do ads like this anymore.

Saturtainment: Mystery Island (1977)

As we've documented previously, Hanna-Barbera sought to recreate the magic of the Banana Splits with CBS' Skatebirds in 1977, nearly a full decade after the Splits' debut. Unfortunately, it didn't work so well this tme.

The serial part of the show, Mystery Island, wasn't a direct copy of Danger Island, but then again, it came across as a little too B-movie cheesy for viewers to handle. A family is forced to land on a remote island controlled by a crackpot scientist, Dr. Strange (not to be confused with the Marvel hero of the same name), who wants their robot, P.O.P.S. (voice of Frank Welker) as part of his scheme for world domination. Yawn. I think we know how this will end, don't we, kids?

Well, actually, we don't. The series was cancelled without a proper conclusion to the story, if memory serves, unlike Danger Island, which had a definitive ending. It sounds as though the narrator is Sunn Classic Pictures narrator Brad Crandall, but he is not credited according to sources I've read. I should point out that Sunn Classic was, I believe, a sister company to Hanna-Barbera at the time (both owned by Taft Broadcasting), so it would have made sense to fit Crandall into the mix here.

70skidvid uploaded the beginning & ending to the episode, "The Mind Blower". Sorry to say, that's all that is available at the moment.....



No rating. I didn't watch the show. (After all, the Super Friends had my full attention at that hour.)

On The Air: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (2012)

Growing up during the 70's, I don't think you could find anyone that didn't watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and travel into the "Neighborhood of Make-Believe", which at the time was populated by puppet characters such as King Friday & Daniel Striped Tiger. Today, Fred Rogers' legacy lives on through the spiritual successor to his seminal series. Welcome, then, to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

Young Daniel carries on the Rogers traditions from back in the day. He sings "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" as he ties on his shoes, and speaks directly to the viewer as his "neighbor", just as Fred did for so many years. It's almost as if we've stepped through a time warp!

In truth, Daniel is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from the original series, and has his own circle of friends, including Prince Wednesday, King Friday's son. In effect, he's the perfect playmate for the preschoolers tuning in. PBS has the series airing weekdays at 11 am (ET) presently, and I would imagine that if the series takes off---it's been on the air 2 months---additional airtimes will be added, depending on where you live. After all, back in the old days, local affiliates could schedule Mister Rogers to air in the late afternoon-after school block, right before dinner, so everyone could watch.

Following is the intro:



The animation is produced on computer such that it looks like it leaps off the pages of a storybook. Naturally, it wouldn't surprise anyone if PBS licenses out picture books and other merchandise based on the show. Fred Rogers is smiling up in Heaven, knowing that his mission is continuing.

Rating: A.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Daytime Heroes: Crusader Rabbit (1950)

Crusader Rabbit holds two distinctions in television history. It is the first made-for-TV animated series, and the first to spring from the imagination of maverick producer Jay Ward. The limited animation used on the show was the result of budget limitations imposed on Ward and his business partner, Alex Anderson, and so that explains why it doesn't have what would become the signature Ward style later used on Rocky & His Freinds. In fact, the reason Rocky, Bullwinkle, & Crusader never met, much less teamed up, is because by the time Ward conceived Rocky & Bullwinkle, he'd lost the rights to Crusader.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Crusader Rabbit aired on weekdays in syndication, even though it was partly owned by NBC (another one the network let get away). In addition, the one distinction that marks it as a Ward creation is the serial format later used on Rocky, which of course was more successful, achieving iconic status.

We are presenting the very first chapter of the first serial, and doing so in memory of actress Lucille Bliss, the original voice of Crusader, who passed away last week at the age of 96 after a long and distinguished career, which included working on shows such as The Flintstones & Smurfs.



The narrative, coupled with the limited animation, makes it seem like they were adapting a children's book. Hmmmm, maybe they could've taken that route, too. Crusader returned in 1957, with Creston Studios, which would later animate the primetime series, Calvin & The Colonel, handling the animation, and with a different actress as Crusader.

Rating: C.

Daytime Heroes: Mummies Alive! (1997)

After Disney's Gargoyles ended its run with an ill-advised Saturday morning, ah, reincarnation, two of the show's writers moved to DIC and developed a similarly themed show about ancient guardians coming back to life in the modern world. Unfortunately, Mummies Alive! didn't have the same kind of staying power as Gargoyles, and was cancelled after just 1 season, though some stations kept the show around for a few more years. Currently, Cookie Jar, which bought out DIC a while back, has the series airing on Sundays (check your listings).

The series is set in San Francisco where a young boy named Presley discovers that he is the reincarnation of a young Egyptian Pharoah, Prince Rapses (based on Ramses). A group of mummies are brought back to life as Presley's bodyguards to protect him from an ancient enemy, Scarab, who wants Rapses/Presley's life force to achieve immortality.

Poing2001 uploaded the open:



Cookie cutter cartoon drama, by the numbers. Rinse & repeat. Nothing really new to see.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Saturday School: Bobby's World (1990)

Here's one that NBC is probably regretting they never bought.

You see, Canadian-born comedian-actor Howie Mandel had been on the network's St. Elsewhere, one of his first dramatic roles, and if memory serves, I believe he'd been nominated, or at least in the conversation, for an Emmy during the show's run. Quite a jump for a guy whose first impression on me was blowing up a balloon around his head on Make Me Laugh back in 1979.

The next jump came when Mandel pitched an idea for an animated series that would land on Fox, Bobby's World. Little Bobby Generic (Mandel) has a vivid imagination, which usually kicks in when he gets himself in trouble at home. Mandel also voiced Bobby's dad, who was basically the actor's animated alter-ego. Bobby's World spent the better part of 7 seasons on Fox, and rerun rights currently belong to Kabillion (check your listings). The series also aired on weekdays during its run, a typical Fox practice back in those days.

The following video comes from Kabillion's YouTube channel:



Mandel brought Bobby back for a guest appearance on Deal or No Deal a few years back, but if you thought NBC might ask about reviving the series......naaaaah. It's been reported, though, that the series is back in production, at least according to the not-so-reliable Wikipedia. Walter Mitty would be proud......

Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

From Comics To Toons: The X-Men & the Spider-Friends team up! (1983)

During season 3 of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, Stan Lee thought it might be a good idea to mark the X-Men's 20th anniversary by having the team appear on the show. One quibble. The Native American Thunderbird had been killed off in the comics well before this point, and so his inclusion, one must assume, would be in answer to the Super Friends' Native American hero, Apache Chief, as if to say, we did it first.

When Marvel decided to revive the X-Men in the comics in the mid-70's, they did make them more globally diverse, with Canada (Wolverine), Ireland (Banshee), & Africa (Storm) represented. The Japanese mutant, Sunfire, briefly joined the team, but, like Wolverine & Banshee, he wasn't new, having previously appeared in Sub-Mariner. So it can be said that DC & Hanna-Barbera responded with Apache Chief, Samurai, & Black Vulcan being added to the Super Friends, despite the haterizing that would follow years later. I digress.

Warp to 1983. While some members of the X-Men's original team had appeared on The Marvel Super Heroes Show some years earlier, this was the first appearance of the more popular incarnation introduced in 1975 on TV. The plot sees a former boyfriend of Angelica Jones, aka Firestar (Kathy Garver, ex-Family Affair), now a cyborg known as Cyberiad, attack the Spider-Friends and the X-Men in the latter team's own Danger Room. The idea is that Angelica was originally an X-Man, but that wasn't really the case.

After production on Amazing Friends had ended, Marvel decided to bring Firestar into the Marvel Universe proper in a 4-issue miniseries produced in 1984. She would eventually join the Avengers instead of the X-Men, but hasn't been seen in years.




In 1989, the X-Men would return to TV in an ill-fated, but well-received pilot. Unfortunately, it would be 3 more years before they'd get their own show, which we've previously discussed. We will serve up Pryde of the X-Men real soon, so you can judge for yourselves.

Rating: B-.

Saturday School: Timer explains how "You Are What You Eat" (mid-70's)

It's been a while since we heard from Timer (Len Weinrib), so here's a gem from the mid-70's, uploaded by Muttley16. If you've ever wondered just what makes up your body, wellllll..........

Krofftverse: Dr. Shrinker (1976)

Dr. Shrinker was Sid & Marty Krofft's left-handed homage to the horror B-movies of the 40's & 50's, as part of the Krofft Supershow. Unfortunately, it lasted just one season, and was replaced by Magic Mongo in season 2.

Shrinker (Jay Robinson, "Train Ride to Hollywood") and his sidekick, Hugo (Billy Barty, fresh from Sigmund & the Sea Monsters) take three young people who crashed on their island and shrink them down to virtually doll-size, which recalls "Dr. Cyclops". The idea is that Shrinker wants to sell the kids to a foreign power. I can't see what that would amount to, but then again, a lot of things in the Krofftverse don't make sense years later.

Dr. Shrinker marked a rare on-camera gig for voice acting vet Ted Eccles, who might be better known for his work on The Herculoids and The Three Musketeers. Co-star Jeff MacKay would later star on Tales of the Gold Monkey in the early 80's, while Robinson made the guest star rounds in primetime, including Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

The cheesy production values hurt Shrinker big time, but if they wanted to remake this show, they now have the technology to make it work.

Edit: 2/21/15: We now have a sample episode available. Here's "Pardon Me, King Kong":




Rating: C-.

Monday, November 12, 2012

You Know The Voice: Bob Hastings (1974)

In the course of nearly 70 years in show business, Bob Hastings has had success on television & radio, but being a game show host wasn't the smartest of career moves.

Hastings began his career in radio during the Golden Age as the voice of Archie Andrews, which begs to ask why in the blue hizell Filmation didn't cast him when they picked up the license for Archie in 1968. Hastings was already on the Filmation roster (Adventures of Superboy), but for some unknown reason, Norm Prescott, Lou Scheimer, & Hal Sutherland went with Dallas McKennon (Daniel Boone), who'd gained voice-over cred with Gumby & Courageous Cat earlier in the 60's, and, if you pay attention, he does use a variation on his Courageous voice for Archie.

Of course, Hastings would wind up at Hanna-Barbera during the 70's, playing Henry Glopp, the sidekick to Cory Anders (Mark Hamill) on Jeannie, as well as D. D. on Clue Club, before returning to "face acting", and his longest running gig, as Bert Ramsey, on General Hospital. In between Jeannie & Clue Club, Hastings had a brief role as bartender Tommy Kelsey on All in the Family. Brief because I think the reason he left was for that game show gig I referenced at the start.

In 1974, Hastings was tapped to host Dealer's Choice, a game show taped in Las Vegas (the first of its kind, but not the last). However, despite his carnival barker style, Hastings was a flop and was let go rather abruptly, replaced by game show veteran Jack Clark. I remember seeing Dealer's Choice when it first aired, and perhaps the fault on Hastings was that he was too excitable. Judge for yourself.

The video has been deleted by YouTube due to copyright issues.

Of course, today's generation knows Hastings as the definitive voice of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon on Batman: The Animated Series, marking the actor's return to cartoons after 15 years. I believe he's retired now, but the body of work he created from the 40's through the last decade will last forever.

Daytime Heroes: Tranzor Z (1985)

Not every anime imported from Japan makes a successful transition to American television.

In the mid-80's, audiences in the US were accustomed to Voltron & Robotech. Star Blazers had gone off the air. An enterprising soul decided to acquire a 1972 anime, Mazinger Z, and adapt it for American audiences under the title, Tranzor Z. However, a great deal of editing was required in order to get Tranzor sold to US stations such as WSBK in Boston, because, you see, Mazinger had not only more violence than most of the other anime, but it had mature content that didn't seem appropriate for daytime viewing.

As a result, Tranzor Z lasted just one season in America, lost amidst a growing market for first run syndicated cartoons. Because it had been heavily edited or "watered down", as some critics might suggest, it wasn't very popular, unlike Robotech, which landed merchandising deals, including a line of comic books, and Voltron, which quickly gained a cult following.

ElHijodelDuce uploaded the open for Tranzor Z.



Rating: C-.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Toon Sports: Speed Racer (1966)

As part of the first wave of Japanese anime to land in the United States in the mid-60's, Speed Racer has turned out to be the most enduring of those franchises, such that there have been revivals over the last 20 years, including an ill-fated live-action feature film adaptation that laid an egg at the box office in 2008.

Most of you probably know the story. Speed, or Go Mifune as he's known in the original Japanese version, enters a race against the wishes of his father, and unbeknownst to both, the original Mach 5's windshield includes some secret plans that Pops had developed. So, of course that means some cloak & dagger action with enemy spies.

Speed's younger brother, Spritle, and his pet monkey, Chim Chim, provided comedy relief, more than anything, setting the stage for similar comedy sidekicks to be introduced in the US in later years. Trixie was Speed's faithful girlfriend, but hardly a damsel in distress. In fact, a few years ago, GEICO took a clip from the show, with Trixie in her helicopter, and redubbed new dialogue to fit the sponsor. Silly stuff. Around the same time, Nicktoons had introduced a follow-up series, Speed Racer: The Next Generation. By this point, Speed, Trixie, & Spritle are all grown up, and it's assumed (since I never saw this show) that Speed & Trixie finally got married. Unfortunately, this, along with a 1993 revival, were done without the authorization of the Japanese producers who introduced the franchise all the way back in 1966.

Speed has made his way through a few cable networks, including MTV, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, and, finally and appropriately, Fox's Speed channel, which was the last network to hold the rights to the classic series.

Treadwell Jay uploaded the original open/close dating back to when the series first arrived in America in 1967. What you don't know is that the theme is performed by the country music group, Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass.



Dexter's Laboratory famously parodied Speed in the 90's in the episode, "Mock 5", with Dee Dee in the Racer X costume (as Racer D). Gotta remember to pull that one up sometime.

Rating: B-.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman encounters "Two Penguins Too Many" (1968)

What happens when Joker & Penguin team up? Utter chaos, especially when the circus is in town. What happens, then, when a pair of stray penguins, confused by all the commotion, begin following the dire duo? Oh, the irony of it all, when Batman & Robin catch up, in "Two Penguins Too Many".

Unfortunately the video has been deleted due to copyright issues.

Enough said. Rating: A.

On The Air: South Park (1997)

I once coined the term, "animated colorforms", to describe my disdain for season 1 of Problem Child because of the poor quality of the animation. However, a couple of independent cartoonists took it to a whole new level.

South Park is one of Comedy Central's longest-running series, marking its 15th anniversary this year. It merits mention in the Archives because reruns air on weekdays on the network, though when it was in syndication the last 4 years, stations opted to air it in late night because of  the coarse language used in many episodes. Still, the biting satirical humor employed by creators and primary performers Trey Parker & Matt Stone has incurred the wrath of the Catholic League and other organizations over and over again over the course of the past 15 years.

With Parker & Stone, nothing is sacred, not even religion. They've depicted Jesus as a talk show host, for starters. However, even they realize that a joke loses its power when it's used too often, as was the case when one of the four core characters, Kenny, was killed in virtually every episode during the first 5 seasons, and after a vacation, returned at the end of season 6, and has been around ever since.

The other reason it's here is because of a Halloween episode from I believe 1999, with musical guest stars Korn in a episode that parodied not only The New Scooby-Doo Movies, but also gave the rockers a superhero gimmick that crossed Captain Planet (there are 5 guys in the band) and the Wonder Twins. With predictable results.

The90scartoons uploaded this brief sample clip that illustrates what I'm talking about.



What keeps South Park on the air is its timely, headline-ripping, topical humor. I believe I read that this week's episode was themed on the previous night's Presidential election. You may not agree with Parker & Stone's warped viewpoints, but somehow they just keep rolling along.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Know The Voices: June Foray & Bill Scott (1984)

June Foray would have to be considered the grand dame of voice actresses. June is still active, with a recurring part on Cartoon Network's The Looney Tunes Show, now in its 2nd season, but her career began in radio many, many moons ago, as it did for many other voice actors. June initially wasn't credited for some of the Looney Tunes characters she created for the classic shorts back in the day (i.e. Witch Hazel, Granny), since Mel Blanc had it written in his contract that he was the only actor to receive credit. Try figuring that one out.

June's most famous character, however, is Rocket J. (Rocky) Squirrel, star of Rocky & His Friends, aka The Bullwinkle Show, which passed its 50th anniversary a while back. She also was the show's lead villainness, Natasha Fatale, while Bill Scott was Bullwinkle, as well as Mr. Peabody & Dudley Do-Right.

In this clip from 1984, Bill & June are in Boston for an animation convention, and, as you'll see, even got to do their act on radio. Rocky queuing up a Kiss record? What next? Well, a year later, they appeared on Joe Piscopo's comedy-music CD, "New Jersey", not to be confused with the Bon Jovi disc of the same name that came out 3 years later.

Bill Scott passed away some time back, but as I noted earlier, June Foray is still with us, still entertaining audiences of all ages.......

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Operation Rescue (1967)

TheTeenageTitans serves up the last of three Teen Titans shorts from 1967's Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure. "Operation Rescue" is self-explanatory.



To think that it would be more than 35 years before there would be new Titans cartoons........

Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: The Death of Superman (1985)

8 years before DC dared to try it in print, Hanna-Barbera presented the coda, the final episode of Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, in which Superman dies----for about half the show, anyway.

"The Death of Superman" comes across much better than the contrivance conceived at DC in 1993, as this would be the last meeting between the Super Powers Team (formerly the Super Friends) and Darkseid. This was the 8th and final broadcast in the series, as the episodes would continue to cycle through for the rest of the season before ABC cancelled the series, ending the Super Friends franchise after 13 seasons.



This episode would also mark the end of Danny Dark's run as the voice of Superman. When the Man of Steel returned in 1988, Beau Weaver was at the microphone, and that, as we've documented, lasted just one season.

Rating: A-.

Teenage Toons: All Grown Up (2003)

Nickelodeon, seeing how their 1991 series, Rugrats, continued to thrive in reruns, experimented with a follow-up series, the result of a backdoor pilot that was produced around the 10th anniversary of the series.

All Grown Up went to series in 2003, recasting Tommy & Dil Pickles, Chuckie Finster, and the rest of the gang as pre-teens or teens. Tommy, in fact, is already a successful filmmaker, for example. Production stopped on the series after 3 years and 55 episodes, but the series continues in repeats, just like the earlier series, airing on weekends on Nicktoons and, supposedly also, Nickelodeon (check listings to verify, since the MTV Networks channels tend to make last second changes).

All Grown Up also aired briefly on CBS, and I do mean briefly, maybe a few months at the most.

One positive, as exemplified by Tommy (EG Daily), is that the kids are pursuing careers, as most kids are wont to do. There are some new faces, and, as we'll see, Tommy has also found love and heartbreak.

Here's the intro, with the theme song sung by Cree Summer.



The voice cast for the series also includes TV vets Ron Glass (ex-Barney Miller) and Lara Jill Miller (ex-The Life & Times of Juniper Lee, Gimme A Break!). With David Doyle (ex-Charlie's Angels) having passed away while Rugrats was still in production, Joe Alaskey was called on to fill in as Grandpa. Otherwise, most of the original cast returned, which helped the continuity in a big time way.

Rating: A-.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rein-Toon-ation: George of the Jungle (2007)

To mark the series' 40th anniversary, Classic Media commissioned a flash-animated revamp of Jay Ward's George of the Jungle, produced in Canada and broadcast there on Teletoon and here in the US on Cartoon Network. To say that George has been downsized, compared to the original series, would be a gross understatement.

There are some elements in this version that appear to have been inspired by the two feature films produced in the interim by Disney, the first of which starred Brendan Fraser (as George) & Thomas Haden Church. You may get a picture once you see the open, uploaded by RetroHeroes, which, come to think of it, might just be connected to Classic Media......



Like the original, the 21st century George was a flop in terms of ratings here in the US, and hasn't seen the light of day on CN, or even Boomerang, since initial cancellation.

Rating: None. Didn't see this version.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Supergirl buckles up (1984)

Now, here's an ad I've never seen. Ever.

If you thought Supergirl made her television debut on Justice League Unlimited, you'd be mistaken. In truth, the Maid of Might appeared in a commercial/public service announcement for the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) in 1984. I find it very hard to believe that this never aired during Saturday morning programming on the networks at the time.

Uploaded by servewithchips:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Young Hercules (1998)

Today, Ryan Gosling is known for his work in movies. What some of you might not know is that he was part of the same graduating class of The Mickey Mouse Club as singers Britney Spears (The X Factor), Christina Aguilera (The Voice), Justin Timberlake, & JC Chasez, and before going full bore into movies, Gosling's only other series gig was in 1998's Young Hercules for Fox.

Set up as a prequel and a spinoff from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, as there was a backdoor pilot on that series, Young Hercules reimagines Herc (Gosling) as a teenager, along with his friends. Fox thought they had a hit on their hands, but the series was cancelled after 1 season.

Unfortunately, the series now languishes in Universal's vaults, as it isn't on any cable channel that I know of at present.

The following sample video presents an early battle between Herc and Apollo.......



Believe me, the parent series was much better. Rating: C.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Sugar Bear (1964)

Remember back in the 80's when Sugar Bear used his cereal like Popeye would power up with spinach? He didn't need to do that in the 60's, when he had his own backup feature on Linus the Lionhearted. While it seemed as though Sugar was more interested in playing his banjo all the day long, he really did have a girlfriend in Leslie Bear, who unfortunately wasn't around by the time Post introduced Super Sugar Crisp and turned Sugar into Super Bear.

In "Head Over Heels", it takes Leslie being in distress for Sugar to take his mind off his banjo, and ultimately settle up with Mervyn the Magician. Voice actor Gerry Matthews based his characterization of Sugar on Dean Martin, which wouldn't exactly make Lovable Truly, for example, to be Post's answer to Jerry Lewis, now, would it? I digress.......



Yeah, Sugar might've been a bit slow on the uptake, but when you're in love.......!

Rating: B.

Daytime Heroes: Star Blazers (1977)

Following the success of translating Japan's Science Ninja Team Gatchaman into Battle of the Planets, another anime series found its way to the US, becoming a major sensation.

Space Battleship Yamato (or, Space Cruiser Yamato) first premiered in Japan in 1977, and made its way into American syndication 2 years later under the title, Star Blazers. Claster Entertainment, better known at the time for Romper Room, handled distribution here, and ultimately became a player in the animation market after linking with Marvel Productions and Sunbow in the 80's.

Star Blazers was, for all intents & purposes, an anime serial, with a continuing story that ran for an entire season, and there were three in all. The series has been adapted into comics on a few previous occasions, most notably here in the US through the now-defunct Comico in the mid-80's, long after the series had ended. No local station in my market took a chance on the show, but thanks to cable, viewers would get their fix, thanks to WSBK in Boston, which aired the show weekday mornings. I can recall my brother & I watching before going off to school.

Oggmonster uploaded the season 1 open, which in turn was picked up from Retro Junk's website.....



During season 3, which wasn't quite as well received in the US as the first two, anime veterans Jack Grimes, Peter Fernandez, & Corinne Orr, who had all starred on Speed Racer back in the 60's, joined the cast. Sadly, I don't recall seeing too many, if any at all, episodes from the final season, but I believe all three seasons are available on DVD.

Rating: A.

Toon Rock: That Time is Now (late 90's)

When Cartoon Network really cared about its audience, they paid tribute to Super Friends with this remix mashup of the 1973 Super Friends theme, coupled with a collection of footage. The remix is credited to Michael Kohler. Enjoy.

Uploaded by Davis Gavitt to YouTube:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Daytime Heroes: M.A.S.K. (1985)

Kenner Toys, now part of Hasbro, introduced the M.A.S.K. line of action figures in 1985, so, naturally, there was a daily animated series to help sell the line. The series lasted three years, 75 episodes in all, meaning only 10 new shows were produced after season 1.

In addition to the series, a license was granted to DC for a 4-part comics miniseries, and there were also comics published in the UK based on the show. Like fellow DIC frosh Jayce & The Wheeled Warriors, which came out that same season, M.A.S.K. had a kickin' theme song, and even though the concept was a bit derivative of GI Joe, it still managed to form its own fanbase.

Nearly 25 years later, after absorbing Kenner and some of its other rivals, Hasbro incorporated some of the characters, including Matt Trakker & Miles Mayhem, into the GI Joe line, so you can forget about any chance of a revival.

Following is the series opener, "The Deathstone":



Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Holy Women's Lib, Batman! (1974)

A mini-Batman reunion highlights this long forgotten public service announcement (PSA), produced in 1974. Burt Ward (Robin), Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), and narrator William Dozier are all back, but instead of Adam West, we have Dick Gautier (ex-Get Smart) as Batman. At that time, West was looking to avoid being typecast, but as we all know, he'd later re-embrace the mantle of the Bat.

As it is, Gautier has only one line, trying his hardest to mimic West (serviceable, but not perfect), but that leaves room for Batgirl to make her case for equal pay (as if there was ever a salary scale for superheroes). This would be the last time we'd hear from Dozier, but Ward would reunite with West 5 years later for The New Adventures of Batman.

Uploaded by Tommy Brookshire:


Animated World of DC Comics: Night of the Living Shadows (1988)

The Shadow-Thief is one of Hawkman's enemies, not Superman, but that didn't seem to matter to writer Buzz Dixon, who penned the episode, "Night of the Living Shadows", the next to last episode of the 1988 series.

Lex Luthor (Michael Bell) has developed his own shadow-suit, and created a line for a gang of thugs. Of course, with his new image as a millionaire businessman-philanthropist, Luthor can't be linked to the crimes publicly, as you'll see. Lois Lane goes undercover, and, well, chaos ensues soon after.



Now, Lois does look kind of fetching in a shadow-suit, doesn't she? Too bad the series was cancelled, else we might've gotten a sequel, even though Luthor destroyed his suit......

Rating: A+.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Spooktober: Toonsylvania (1998)

Steven Spielberg's last animated series for Fox wasn't produced with Warner Bros., but rather with the company he co-founded, Dreamworks. As it turned out, moving out from under the WB shield, proved to be a costly mistake for Toonsylvania.

The series initially aired on Saturdays, packaged with Goosebumps and reruns of Eerie, Indiana, but low ratings dictated a banishment to weekdays, particularly on Tuesday afternoons, and the series was subsequently cancelled, although reruns would return intermittently until 2000.

The show's cast included Brad Garrett (later of Everybody Loves Raymond) and Wayne Knight (ex-Seinfeld, and would later join the cast of Third Rock From The Sun), with guest appearances by Jonathan Harris (one of his last toon jobs) and Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons). In addition to Spielberg, the creative personnel included cartoonist Mike Peters (Mother Goose & Grimm). How could they have gone wrong? Simple. Not enough promotion, but then, Fox wasn't that big on emphasizing one show at a time.....!

CBS-Paramount now owns the rights to the show, but it sits presently in the vaults. What a shock.

Here's a sample clip:



No rating. Never saw the show.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Spooktober: Fat Albert Halloween Special (1977)

Hey! Hey! Hey! Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids returned to their primetime roots in a 1977 Halloween special, one of two holiday treats during the series' 12 year run on CBS.

I'd better explain the "primetime roots" part to some of you uninitiated folks. See, while series creator Bill Cosby was starring in a self-titled sitcom for NBC, the network aired a pair of primetime specials that first introduced viewers to Fat Albert and the rest of Cosby's childhood pals. A different studio produced those two shows, but Filmation struck a deal with Cosby when the iconic series launched in 1972, a year after Cosby had graced PBS on The Electric Company.

Anyway, the gang learns not to believe heresay when it comes to the elderly, specifically a widow who's been cast in a bad light by a so-called friend of the gang. I am not sure if CBS took the opportunity to air this episode on a Saturday afternoon, when the series normally aired.......

Here's a preview:



Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Golden Age of Justice (2010)

From season 2 of Batman: The Brave & the Bold:

Batman (Diedrich Bader) first teams with Detective Chimp in the teaser segment, but after that, the Justice Society & Black Canary join the Caped Crusader to take down old foe Per Degaton in "The Golden Age of Justice".

One quibble. In the comics, Professor Zee, shown as Degaton's servant, was actually Degaton's employer, and looked nothing like the character shown here. Instead, the animated Zee bears some resemblance to Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana, arch-nemesis of Captain Marvel. How the producers screwed this up, I'll never know.

For now, we only have this sample:



It's a pity the series has ceased production, but that was Cartoon Network's call. Of course, those idiots are creating some havoc with their DC Nation block, which we'll discuss another time.

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spooktober: Big Wolf on Campus (1999)

In 1999, Fox Family (now ABC Family) picked up a Canadian produced adventure series that was a twist on the 1985 movie, "Teen Wolf" (which later became an animated series and was revived as a drama last year by MTV).

Big Wolf On Campus lasted three seasons, and was often aired not only on Saturdays, but also on weekdays, which of course meant instant burnout. High school quarterback Tommy (Brandon Quinn) was bitten by a werewolf while on a camping trip, and thus becomes a werewolf himself. Only diff is, Tommy is using his new powers as the secret defender of his town. Best buddy Merton, the resident geek (Danny Smith, who also composed and sang the show's theme song) is at first the only one who is privy to Tommy's secret.

In season 2, Tommy & Merton picked up a female sidekick (Aimee Castle) who would also be Tommy's girlfriend for the rest of the series. I could swear two of the other students bore some resemblance to Bulk & Skull, the comedy relief bullies from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Anyway, here's the season 2 open.



Since its cancellation in 2002, the series has been buried in the Disney vaults. Go figure, as it would be a companion series to Disney Channel's My Babysitter is a Vampire.

Rating: A-.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spooktober: Seymour Presents (1971)

We've all read about classic horror show hosts like Ghoulardi, Zacherle, Svengoolie, and, in recent years, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who became a cottage industry of merchandising all by herself. There is one, however, who seems to have slipped through the cracks.

The sinister Seymour (Larry Vincent) was based in Southern California, working for KHJ-TV and hosting a Friday night program. In 1971, Seymour went national with a syndication deal through Rhodes Productions, which later became a subsidiary of Filmways. Anyway, Seymour Presents was meant to air at night (of course), but in Albany, NY, the show aired in the afternoon occasionally, when there wasn't any sports programming on the schedule.

Sad to say, no footage of Seymour Presents is actually available on YouTube at present, and all I can offer you of the late Seymour, who passed away in 1975, is this outtake from KHJ-TV.



About the only film I can recall seeing on this show was "The Monster Club", with Vincent Price & John Carradine, among others. I guess that, in a nutshell, illustrates just how forgotten Seymour has become. Rating: C.

Spooktober: Halloween is Grinch Night (1977)

Dr. Seuss' Halloween is Grinch Night was one of the last specials produced by DePatie-Freleng, and premiered on ABC in 1977, the first Seuss entry to air on a network other than CBS. Now, I've always felt that these primetime offerings could've been repurposed on a Saturday morning closest to Halloween, but the networks never took advantage unless it had to do with a series already established on the Saturday schedule, the notable exception, of course, being Bugs Bunny, since his primetime offerings for CBS were mostly clip shows with a new plot tying everything together.

Anyway, Dr. Seuss and DFE thought it might be a good idea to expand upon the iconic Grinch (voiced this time by Hans Conreid, who had previously starred in a live-action film adaptation of another Seuss story, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T), thinking, perhaps rightfully, that Halloween would be the only other holiday that would be perfect for him. See for yourself.



Seuss (Ted Geisel) wrote the lyrics, but the rest of the music was composed by the late Joe Raposo (Sesame Street). Sadly, while Universal, as you can plainly see, bought the rights as part of the deal that enabled them to adapt "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" & "The Cat in the Hat" into live-action feature films, it doesn't appear as though it'll air anywhere over the next week. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

No rating, as I never saw this show, and cannot fairly rate it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends battle "Terror From The Phantom Zone' (1978)

What people forget about Challenge of the Super Friends is that it was originally a 1 hour show. The first half continued the team adventures from the previous year, and the second half was the Justice League vs. the Legion of Doom, with the Wonder Twins conveinently in absentia (though they'd encounter some of the Legion members, including Lex Luthor, in later seasons).

Just in time for Halloween, we offer up "Terror From The Phantom Zone". Three Kryptonian outlaws, long banished to the Phantom Zone, somehow find their way to Earth, bringing with them some Red Kryptonite, which is the first time that variation on the Kryptonite was used in the franchise, and would be used again a couple more times in succeeding seasons.



In some ways, this would be a precursor to Superman battling three different Kryptonian foes in "Superman 2", three years later, and that was actually a better story.....!

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

From Comics to Toons: Matty's Funday Funnies (1959)

This was before my time, so you know there won't be a rating on this show.

Matty's Funday Funnies, sponsored by Mattel Toys, aired on ABC as a (mostly) Sunday morning entry, after first running on Friday nights, beginning in 1959. The series ran for three years, and featured Harvey Comics characters including Casper & Playful Little Audrey, both of whom had starred in theatrical shorts for Famous Studios (Paramount). Toontracker provides the open & close:



In 1962, the series was changed to simply Matty's Funnies, which headlined Bob Clampett's Beany & Cecil. In the above video, actor Marvin Miller (The Millionaire, later the voice of Aquaman) is the show's announcer. Matty Mattel, the company "mascot", was voiced by two actors during the course of Mattel's TV run. Cecil Roy (a woman, believe it or not) essayed the role during the Funday era, but when Beany & Cecil became the stars, Matty's voice was done by a future TV icon-----Bill Mumy (better known for Lost In Space). Who'dathunk?

Now, don't ya wish they brought this back?