Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Animated World of DC Comics: The Marvel Family (& Friends) vs. Star Master (1981)

In the wrestling business, they say that an up & coming wrestler will "get the rub" from working with veteran performers in a main event.

Filmation & NBC, realizing that The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! was dying, had to play a trump card, and have three of the kids from Hero High team with Captain Marvel to save Captain Marvel, Jr. & Mary Marvel from the evil Star Master. Unfortunately, while Glorious Gal, Weatherman, & Rex Ruthless "got the rub" from teaming with the Marvels, it didn't help them in the least bit. The series was cancelled after 1 season, and Hero High and its student body became a distant memory.

Here's "Star Master & the Solar Mirror", written by Tom Ruegger, who'd make his fame working at Hanna-Barbera & Warner Bros. later on.



I don't know whose idea it was to give Uncle Dudley (Uncle Marvel) a WC Fields-esque vocal pattern, but I'd have preferred the "Mentor" version from the live-action show.

Rating: B.

Tooniversaries in 2014

Rather than wait until tomorrow to post this, I thought I'd close out 2013 by acknowledging the tooniversaries pending in 2014.

50 years: Linus the Lionhearted, Magilla Gorilla, Underdog, Peter Potamus, Go Go Gophers, Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, Jonny Quest, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

45 years: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Hot Wheels, Skyhawks, Cattanooga Cats, The Hardy Boys (Filmation), Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines, Frosty the Snowman.

40 years: Valley of the Dinosaurs, These Are The Days, Hong Kong Phooey, Wheelie & the Chopper Bunch, Devlin (the start of Hanna-Barbera's "rainbow logo" period). Also, the debuts of live-action shows such as Run, Joe, Run, Korg: 70,000 B. C., & Shazam!.

35 years: Spider-Woman, Casper & the Angels, The Super Globetrotters, Fred & Barney Meet The Thing, The New Shmoo, Plastic Man Super Comedy Adventure Show, and, lest we forget, the debuts of Scrappy-Doo and Hanna-Barbera's "swirling star" logo.

30 years: Kenner's Super Powers line prompts a change in the Super Friends franchise, as the series is given the sub-title, The Legendary Super Powers Show. After 12 seasons on CBS, Fat Albert moves into first-run syndication. Significant debuts include Pole Position.

25 years: Super Mario Brothers Super Show

20 years: Spider-Man (Fox series), Brothers Grunt.

15 years: Digimon: Digital Monsters, Spider-Man Unlimited, Avengers: United We Stand.

If there's anything I've missed, don't hesitate to let me know.

Monday, December 30, 2013

You Know the Voice: Donald Duck's original voice (1954)

Clarence Charles "Ducky" Nash has long been regarded as the definitive, if not original, voice of Donald Duck, a fact that in 1954 wasn't known to much of the general public. A guest appearance on What's My Line? took care of that. Seems Bennett Cerf's line of questioning got a little skewed early on, treating Nash as if he were just another ordinary 9-to-5 guy.

We'll take a longer look at What's My Line? over at The Land of Whatever down the line, but right now, let's get to know Mr. Nash, shall we?

Toon Legends: Popeye in Let's Celebrake (1937)

Here's a rare instance of Popeye and Bluto actually getting along!

Bluto (Jackson Beck) & Popeye (Jack Mercer) agree to let Olive's grandmother accompany Olive (Mae Questel) & the guys to a New Year's Eve party. Since Bluto occupies most of Olive's attention, Popeye decides to let it slide this time, and treat Grandma Oyl (Questel again) to some spinach, and, well, you can guess the rest........



Rating: A.

Toons After Dark: Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1975)

11 years after his television debut, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer returned, this time in Rudolph's Shiny New Year,  which aired on ABC instead of NBC or CBS, the latter of which has been home to Rudolph's original special for the last several years.

After returning to the North Pole following a successful Christmas Eve tour of the globe, Rudolph is asked by Father Time to locate the missing Baby New Year. Apparently, that red beak qualifies Rudolph (Billie Richards) as a detective of some kind. Anyway, aside from the omnipresent Paul Frees, long-time Hanna-Barbera icon Don Messick, Morey Amsterdam (ex-The Dick Van Dyke Show), & Frank Gorshin round out the cast, with narrator Red Skelton.

Here's a trailer from Warnervod:



It would only take three more years for Rudolph's next adventure. Meh.

Rating: B.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

On The Air: Crash & Bernstein (2012)

Nearly 15 years after Nickelodeon foisted Cousin Skeeter on an unsuspecting world, Disney plumbs the mine of stupid ideas for Crash & Bernstein. They'd have been better off doing a new show starring the Muppets.

Crash is the puppet in the titular duo, getting his human pal in trouble. Like Skeeter, everyone treats Crash like he's just another human, which allows for some serious suspension of disbelief. The fact that it's in its 2nd season tells you that there are enough people willing to play along with the joke to keep the show going. The problem, though, is that Crash has all the redeeming value of an expired traffic ticket. It is that lame.

DisneyXDUK uploaded the open:



I'm waiting for the inevitable crossover with the Muppets, especially since they have a movie coming in March. Then we'll see how Crash compares to Kermit and friends.

Rating: C.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Daytime Heroes: V. R. Troopers (1994)

One year had passed since Haim Saban had introduced American audiences to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Emboldened by the series' success in the ratings, Saban added a second hybrid of Japanese footage mixed with American actors, this time for syndication.

V. R. Troopers lasted two seasons, and would've gone longer had Saban not used up all the source material so quickly. That's just being kind. I tried to watch this show, but couldn't get into it any more than I could with the Rangers. Another reason the series didn't last too long was where it was placed on the schedule in most markets----in the morning, so's to avoid a conflict with the Power Rangers, which aired up to 6 days a week on Fox, including weekday afternoons, as part of a formidible combination with Batman: The Animated Series. In my area, the Fox affiliate aired Troopers at 7 am (ET), the spot filled by the series' replacement, Masked Rider, after Troopers was cancelled.

If you were into virtual reality back in the early-to-mid 90's, then this was the show for you. Standard action fare of the period, but overwhelmed by special effects and underwhelming writing.

Here's the open:



Rating: C.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Family Toons: The Why Why Family (1996)

In the 80's, producer-composer Haim Saban began importing series from other countries into the US, usually for Nickelodeon (i.e. The Little Prince). After Mighty Morphin Power Rangers took off on Fox in the early 90's, Saban then began to dabble in domestic syndication. Unfortunately, the results weren't quite as good. Two action series in the Power Rangers vein, Masked Rider & V. R. Troopers, were duds, and the cartoons that Saban imported weren't exactly world beaters, either, although Samurai Pizza Cats did develop a cult following. Eagle Riders was simply a new incarnation of Japan's Gatchaman, which of course is better known here as Battle of the Planets, but it didn't take off.

The Why Why Family was imported from France, unlike the others, which used Japanese material. The series, co-produced with the French studio, CineGroupe, initially debuted in its native land in 1996, then was brought to America 2 years later in syndication, not on Fox as Wikipedia and other sources suggest. I should know. I cannot recall, however, if it was the NBC or Fox affiliate in my area that had the rights to the series in its lone season here. On the other hand, I never saw the show, so there's not to be a rating.

Silverstar, over at Twinsanity!, offers a more detailed review of the series. I'm just going to leave you with the show open while we all wonder what might've been had Why Why Family actually been sold to Fox. Seems to me that if it wasn't on Fox, Saban wasn't getting anywhere...........

Saturtainment: Big Brother Jake (1990)

It was perhaps the most successful original series the Family Channel produced before it was sold to Fox. However, you'd be hard pressed to find it anywhere today, either on cable or video.

Fitness expert Jake Steinfeld top-lined Big Brother Jake, which lasted 4 seasons on the network (1990-4). The concept will remind some of a failed ABC series from a few years prior, the Barney Miller spin-off, Fish, which had the title character, a retired cop (Abe Vigoda) and his wife converting their home into a group home. The diff here is that Jake, who was raised in foster care, went on to become a stuntman, and is returning home to Brooklyn and the foster home to help oversee a new generation of kids to show them there is a way to succeed out of a hardscrabble childhood.

The only other "name" in the cast is Barbara Meek, whose only other notable gig was on Archie Bunker's Place at the end of its run. Unfortunately, none of the kids on this show went on to higher profile gigs that I know of, and, as I said earlier, the series now languishes in the vaults somewhere. I'm not sure who'd have the rights to the show, since Family Channel ownership has changed twice since the series ended nearly 20 years ago.

Here's a sample clip. Part of the intro has been edited out.



Rating: B-.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Getting Schooled: Romper Room (1953)

I don't think there's anyone in my generation who hasn't seen Romper Room, a daily series for pre-schoolers that was on the air for an astonishing 41 seasons (1953-94).

Romper Room started as one of television's 1st franchises, in that instead of being syndicated, producer Bert Claster would allow each station in the network to have its own hostess (Claster's wife & daughter served as hostesses in one Eastern city, one right after the other). This lasted until 1981, when Claster decided to outright syndicate the series under the title Romper Room & Friends, which would remain the show's title & format until it was finally ended in 1994.

It wasn't without controversy, though. In 1968, Peggy Charren's watchdog group, Action for Children's Television, targeted the series for using its hostess to sell toys within the framework of the show. Ironically, Hasbro bought the series the following year, and would later use the Romper Room name as a brand of pre-school toys as a division of its Playskool brand, which was part of Hasbro's acquisition of board game giant Milton Bradley.

When the series shifted from franchising to syndication in 1981, the producers settled on one national hostess, Molly McCluskey, whose 13 year run was, I think, the longest of any of the show's hostesses, regional or national. The show was taped in New York and broadcast on WOR. If memory serves, one of the franchises was in Albany, as I seem to recall seeing Romper Room in the pre-cable era. Unfortunately, there's no record on Wikipedia's Romper Room page, which proves that they still have some work to do.

WOR had to shift the show around during its run, largely to avoid, out of respect, conflicts with the still-on-the-air Sesame Street. I think around the time this episode aired in the 80's, Romper Room & Friends had settled in at 8 am (ET) in New York.

So, let's join Miss Molly for Romper Room & Friends:



Rating: A.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A shallow imitation: The New Captain Kangaroo (1997)

13 years after Captain Kangaroo had said good-bye to CBS, Haim Saban got his hands on a license to produce an all-new version of the iconic series.

Unfortunately, The New Captain Kangaroo lasted just 1 season, leading to a spin-off series for one of the franchise's most beloved characters, Mr. Moose, which I believe also bombed.

What Saban did right was this. The familiar house setting had once more been christened, "The Treasure House", after it'd been renamed "The Captain's Place" late in the CBS run. Also, the Captain's jacket color reverted to blue from the red he had worn for most of the color run of the series.

However, as often has happened in years since with primetime shows, viewers didn't take too kindly to actor John McDonough as the new Captain. To older viewers, there's only one Captain Kangaroo---Bob Keeshan, who'd essayed the part for nearly 30 years (1955-84) for CBS, and had parlayed that gig into two separate Saturday morning gigs---Mr. Mayor, which lasted one season in the 60's, and as the host of CBS Storybreak, an anthology series that was the network's answer to ABC's long-running Weekend Special, in the 80's.

Another change, as you'll soon see, was ascribing an episode title to each broadcast, like every other children's show. What that said to the viewers was that this Captain wasn't about informing and educating, but rather, it would be short of a sitcom for children, with the obligatory moral lessons sewn right in.

In my area, the show aired in mid-morning, so I never got to see it. Also, it retained the half-hour format that the original series had ended with 13 years earlier, which had rankled Keeshan. The original Captain had been invited to be a guest on the new show, ostensibly to pass the torch, but reportedly, he'd seen some samples and opted to decline. That failed olive branch, then, was what finally killed the show.

Here's the episode, "Turn About is Fair Play". Joby, a kangaroo, is a new character that Saban's staff created for this incarnation.....



No rating.

Countdown to Christmas: The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (1973)

This entry was originally published on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, on December 19, 2012:

=====================================================================

Now, here's a holiday treat long forgotten, as it hasn't aired on cable in years.

DePatie-Freleng produced The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas for NBC in 1973, and assembled a star-laden cast for the 30-minute special. Tommy Smothers is the bear in the title, as Ted E. Bear, whose curiosity about Christmas has him postponing his hibernation for a while. The voice cast also includes Arte Johnson (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), Barbara Feldon (ex-Get Smart), and, as the narrator, in his first gig for DFE, radio & cartoon icon Casey Kasem.

Lionsgate now owns the rights to Bear, and have been seemingly reluctant to air it on TV for some reason. In fact, in order to get the complete special, you have to buy it, or rent it for at least 24 hours for $1.99, according to YouTube. As it is, Lionsgate's Video On Demand channel on YouTube provides this sample, encompassing the first 2 minutes or so, with a tag at the end urging you to buy the video in order to view it in its entirety.

Hey, it ain't my fault, pilgrims.



Rating: A.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Couuntdown to Christmas: The Town Santa Forgot (1993)

Jeremy Creek is a spoiled brat who gets everything he wants by whining and throwing tantrums. He hoards all the toys in town, but that's not enough. He wants every toy.

It gets to the point where, after Little Mr. Selfish creates a ginormous Christmas list, Santa diverts it to a small village he'd previously forgotten, a town that has the same name as Jeremy, and that is the crux of The Town Santa Forgot, one of Hanna-Barbera's last Christmas specials, produced in 1993. Dick Van Dyke narrates.

Uploaded by Justin Reece:







It is based on a poem by Charmaine Severson. I should note I'd never heard of the story before seeing it one year on Cartoon Network. Eventually, Jeremy finally gets the message, but ask yourself this. Are there any real-life Jeremy Creeks that you've encountered? I'd not be surprised if the answer was yes.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

Rankin-Bass scored another "animagic" hit in 1968 with their adaptation of The Little Drummer Boy. The Christmas classic has been recorded by artists as diverse as Jose Feliciano, Bob Seger, Johnny Cash, and the Harry Simeone Chorale, whose version plays on the soundtrack.

Ted Eccles (The Herculoids, Banana Splits) is the title character, a wayfaring shepherd boy named Aaron who gets a very important life lesson as he delivers a gift to the Baby Jesus. Jose Ferrer & Paul Frees (natch) co-star, with acclaimed actress Greer Garson narrating. 8 years later, NBC & the American Gas Company commissioned a sequel, and, so, today, the two are often shown together on ABC Family, which currently holds the cable rights.

Regrettably, the complete special isn't available due to copyright issues precluding the complete broadcast from being uploaded. Hence, Christmas Favorites gives us a sample clip, as Aaron seeks aid for a fallen lamb.



Rating: B.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Beavis & Butt-Head Do Christmas (1995)

Beavis & Butt-Head's best episode was their 1995 Christmas show, a 1 hour installment in which the dimbulbs parody Charles Dickens' oft-adapted A Christmas Carol and the film classic "It's a Wonderful Life" as only they can. It was Mike Judge's finest hour----until he created King of the Hill, that is.

Unfortunately, the entire hour is not available intact on YouTube. There are scattered pieces, and the individual parodies were posted off a phone. Not my idea of fun. Anyway, following is a compilation of the "Letters to Santa Butt-Head" skits, in which Beavis is abused while wearing a reindeer suit & bridle. Well, then again, Butt-Head always seemed to be the brighter of these lesser lights. Mind the Spanish subtitles.



Huh-huh-huh, ho-ho-ho. Rating: A.

Friday, December 20, 2013

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Vegetable Soup (1975)

In the 70's, one of PBS' most popular shows was Julia Child's legendary French Chef, famously parodied by Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live. But while Julia was teaching parents how to cook, PBS found a means for kids to learn, too. All they needed was a sentient..........spoon.

I kid you not. Woody the Spoon only appeared in 13 episodes of Vegetable Soup, which ran for 50 episodes total in just over 3 years on the air (1975-8), though reruns would continue well into the 80's, as memory serves. Overall, Vegetable Soup was a sort of magazine show for kids that taught them about typical social issues of the day that are still relevant today. Actors James Earl Jones and Daniel Stern, the latter years before "Home Alone" and The Wonder Years made him a household name, contributed to the series, as did veteran cartoon producer Al Brodax, formerly of King Features' television arm, as this was, to my knowledge, his last series. Veteran comics artist Joe Staton worked as an editor on the show.

As for Woody, singer-actress Bette Midler was the one putting words in Woody's mouth, which was along the same line of Joan Rivers, Zero Mostel, & Gene Wilder working on Letterman for the original Electric Company. Here, Woody offers up a recipe for Japanese rice:



I should note that the series aired on some NBC affiliates as a Sunday series, but that wasn't the case in my home area. The local NBC affiliate opted against it, since they had at the time a 1-2 punch of wrestling and bowling on Sunday mornings, following their public affairs programming.

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Come & Get Your Love (1974)

From The Midnight Special:

Redbone was a Native American rock group that had a brief cup of coffee on the Hot 100 in the mid-70's, with their biggest hit being "Come & Get Your Love". Being part Native American myself, this resonated with me.

Countdown to Christmas: Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Next year, Frosty the Snowman, the original animated special, turns 45. As we've noted, there've been two follow-up specials, each distinctly different from each other, over the years, and there's also an extended length team-up with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which we'll eventually get to.

A while back, I'd posted this over on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, but the copy that was used at the time has since been deleted by YouTube. Fortunately, Dailymotion has the complete version:



Rating: B.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Know The Voice: Mel Blanc (1951)

After years of being a member of Jack Benny's radio (and later television) repertory company, you wondered if Mel Blanc would ever land a headlining gig of his own, away from the Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies that made him an icon.

Well, it never quite materialized on television. Instead, the closest Mel got was a 35 minute promotional film he made for Capitol Records in 1951. "Wanna Buy a Record?" casts Blanc as a generic record store owner who's trying to make ends meet, then ends up taking a customer (musician Billy May) to Capitol for a primer on how records are made, leading to cameos by Capitol artists (at the time) Les Paul & Mary Ford and Dean Martin.

"Wanna Buy a Record?" was never released to the public until now, as it was uploaded to YouTube by Allison Martino:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas with Paul Winchell (1953)

Before Walt Disney took over the 7 pm (ET) hour on NBC, leading off the network's Sunday night lineup, before Bullwinkle occupied that space, there was ventriloquist Paul Winchell, who had the slot for four seasons before moving to Saturday mornings in 1954.

Paul's self-titled series originally went by the name, The Spiegel Show, for its original sponsor, but then Winchell got star billing during season 2. In season 4, the series was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble, and, the last I checked, they still make Camay soap, although it isn't as promoted as much as it used to. In fact, P & G has sold off a lot of familiar brands, including Spic & Span, Duncan Hines, & Pringles, in recent years.

I'm digressing. Anyway, for seasons 5 & 6, Winchell moved into a morning berth, with Tootsie Roll taking over as the sponsor. This Christmas episode plays like a sitcom, although the audience is, in fact, live. Friday marks the 60th anniversary of this broadcast, which has Paul as an emergency babysitter for a neighbor's daughter, who then spins a variation on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, built around Paul's dreams of Christmases past & future, with hilarious results.



This is part of a Holiday Classics DVD compilation set released by Mill Creek in 2011, and one of the few to actually include commercials.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Does anyone remember Willie Whistle? (1962)

Willie Whistle was the most incomprehensible kids show host in known history. Period. Still, he was a Boston institution on and off for the better part of 20+ years.

Willie was on and off beginning in 1962, and his last run came around 1983-4 on WSBK. The higher-than-high-pitched, ultra squeaky voice was hard to understand, and of course difficult to duplicate unless you overdosed on helium trying to learn how to mimic him, which I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy. If he made you laugh, he did his job. If he caused discomfort, well, I guess we know who Stephen King had in mind when he created the malevolent Pennywise for his novel, It, which later became a TV miniseries for ABC.

Boston based artist Fred Grandinetti appeared on the show in 1984, and uploaded this clip to YouTube:



It's just too bad Bozo wasn't on TV-38. At least you could relate to him.

Rating: C.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Saturtainment: Ned's Newt (1997)

Fox's Saturday morning lineup in the 90's was filled with some odd, bizarre concepts, some of which actually worked, while others didn't.

One such case falling into the latter category was Ned's Newt, a collaboration between Canada's Nelvana and a German studio which lasted one season (1997-8). The Newt in the title appears to be a prototypical "imaginary friend" that only Ned can see. I never saw the show, so I can only speculate, thus no rating.

To give you an idea, here's the episode, "Out with the Old, In With The Newt", uploaded by NewtsNed:

Countdown to Christmas: The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)

I must correct myself from the last piece I wrote. It turns out that Jack Frost, which we reviewed last time, was in fact the last Rankin-Bass special sold to NBC. The Stingiest Man in Town, which is our next subject, came before Frost by exactly one year.

Stingiest is a remake of an Alcoa Theatre live-action production from 1956, and both versions are loosely based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which has been adapted so often, the rights may as well be in the public domain. Seriously. Tom Bosley (Happy Days) is the narrator, as B. A. H. Humbug, so named for Ebenezer Scrooge's pet phrase. Stingiest contains more songs than the average Rankin-Bass production, which might explain why it was replaced by Jack Frost the next year----it wasn't a ratings hit.

Walter Matthau, in a rare television performance, is Ebenezer Scrooge. Robert Morse & Paul Frees, who'd work together again the following year on Frost, are also in the cast for this one. Unfortunately, the complete special isn't available on YouTube, so we can only offer this opening sample.



The fact that this aired on a Saturday night might also contibute to the lack of ratings and subsequent cable airings. Rating: C.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Jack Frost (1979)

Rankin-Bass & NBC took a chance in December 1979. The fact that Jack Frost has aired on cable the last several years suggests that gamble paid off.

Jack Frost tells the story of how the winter sprite (Robert Morse, ex-That's Life) became human for a time, largely because he fell in love with a young woman. Of course, there are certain trials & tribulations for Jack to go through, including saving the village of January Junction from a tyrant (Paul Frees, of course). The cast also includes Larry Storch (ex-F-Troop, Ghost Busters), Debra Clinger (ex-Krofft Supershow, American Girls), and a name from the Golden Age of Television, Dave Garroway (ex-The Today Show), in what I think was his only voice-over credit in animation. The special gives narrator Buddy Hackett an avenue to demonstrate his singing ability, which is pretty fair, admittedly, especially in covering Al Jolson's "Me & My Shadow".

Jack Frost was the first special Rankin-Bass had sold to NBC in some time, as I'm not sure if the Peacock Network had actually acquired the sequel to Little Drummer Boy. NBC would get at least one more R-B special, The Stingiest Man in Town, the producers' take on Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with Tom Bosley (Happy Days) & Walter Matthau, a few years later.

Right now, let's scope a little musical action from Pardon Me Pete (Hackett):



Rating: B.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Frosty's Winter Wonderland (1976)

Frosty The Snowman (Jackie Vernon) returns, 7 years after the original special, in Frosty's Winter Wonderland, which bowed on ABC, instead of CBS, in 1976. This might be because Rankin-Bass were producing most of their holiday specials for ABC, and it had been 2 years since the last one they sold to CBS ('Twas The Night Before Christmas).

This time, the classic carol, "Winter Wonderland", is intertwined with the Frosty mythos. Some kids create a snow-woman for lonely Frosty, which raises the ire of Jack Frost (Paul Frees). A gift of love brings Crystal (Shelley Winters) to life, and, inevitably, she & Frosty are married by Parson Brown (Dennis Day), the minister prominent in "Wonderland", or, actually, a snow-simulcrum of the preacher. Yeah, it does get silly.

Andy Griffith narrated this tale, but a few years later, Frosty would return to CBS in an all-new special that ret-conned Crystal out of existence. Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video produced Frosty Returns, with John Goodman taking over as Frosty, and Jonathan Winters as the narrator. Too many continuity errors, but you'll see that, I'm sure, when we get to Returns.

Now, let's visit Frosty's Winter Wonderland:



A younger, kinder Jack Frost would get his own special a few years after this, airing on NBC, with Robert Morse in the title role. We'll get to him, too.

Rating: None. I didn't see enough of this to merit a rating.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday School: Science Court (1997)

At the tail end of ABC's One Saturday Morning block for 3 seasons (1997-2000) was Science Court, otherwise known by the alternate title used in seasons 2 & 3, Squigglevision, after the animation style employed by producer Tom Snyder (no, not the same guy who had a late night talk show in the 70's). I don't know why they had to mess with what was a successful formula, one that netted the series an award.

Anyway, this was a different kind of courtroom show, one where education, not incarceration, was the goal. Comic Paula Poundstone voiced one of the judges. H. Jon Benjamin made one of his first toon jobs here, and currently has a pair of series of his own (Archer & Bob's Burgers) on the air.

I will openly state that I barely watched this show at all, not enough to offer a fair rating. In the meantime, let's scope the episode, "Seasons":

Friday, December 6, 2013

Countdown to Christmas:The Night Before Christmas (1968)

Six years before Rankin-Bass adapted Clement Moore's A Visit From St. Nicholas as the musical 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, there was another animated special, this one not only based on the poem, but on the author's life as well.

The Night Before Christmas had some live action bumpers with TV legend Art Linkletter, but those bits have been lost to the mists of time. And, so, we have just the cartoon.

Edit: 11/30/15: Courtesy of Dailymotion, we can now present this all in one.



No rating.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Adventures of Super Mario Brothers 3 (1990)

Although The Super Mario Brothers Super Show was cancelled after 1 season, Mario & Luigi didn't go away. They simply changed channels.

NBC acquired DIC's next Super Mario Brothers series, the Adventures of Super Mario Brothers 3, which was coupled with another DIC-Nintendo offering, Captain N: The Game Master, which we'll eventually get to. However, DIC also hired two new actors to play Mario & Luigi, with a relative unknown, Walker Boone, stepping in for Capt. Lou Albano as Mario and Tony Rosato (ex-Saturday Night Live) for Danny Wells as Luigi. This time, there were no live action skits, which might help explain away Albano & Wells' departure.

Unfortunately, this series also lasted just 1 season, replaced by the next and last TV adaptation, Super Mario World, the very next year. I didn't follow the series, so I will not offer a rating. Following is a sample episode:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Hillbilly Bears (late 90's-early 00's)

Back when Cartoon Network actually gave a rat's butt about the earlier toons that helped build the channel, they created a series of interstitals, known as "Shorties" that revisited some of those characters. Sad to say, some of these bits left a lot to be desired.

In the case of The Hillbilly Bears, however, CN actually had a plot that fit them just fine. Not exactly sure what year "Miss Understanding" was produced, but as you'll see, it's a parody of a certain daytime talk show. The animation isn't quite a match, but ya can't have everything........



To be honest with ya, pilgrims, I'd rather they redid "Do The Bear". Rating: C.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)

The following was originally published on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, on November 30, 2010. Let's revisit my review of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, shall we?
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Rankin-Bass' 1st Christmas special for CBS was Frosty The Snowman in 1969. 5 years later, the studio supplied CBS with another classic, and like Frosty, it was done in traditional animation.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas is, of course, a loose adaptation of Clement Moore's famous poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas, and is told from two points of view, those of a human family, and the mice who live within the walls of the house. The voices include Joel Grey ("Cabaret", better known today as the father of Dancing With The Stars champ Jennifer Grey) and "Lonesome" George Gobel, whom most folks might remember from many appearances on Hollywood Squares and The Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson era. Aimstaind18 uploaded this sample to YouTube:





I guess they decided to have some fun with Moore's verse, hence the use of the mice. Look for this to air a few times during December on ABC Family, which plays most of the Rankin-Bass specials they own for the Christmas season multiple times, if only because they don't have enough depth in their Christmas library.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion (1955)

After playing Tarzan & Flash Gordon on the big screen, you'd think Buster Crabbe would find something other than another action hero to play. Nuh-uh.

In 1955, Crabbe and his son, Cullen, went to Morocco to shoot Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion. If I'm not mistaken, this may be Cullen's only TV gig. The series was a midseason replacement, debuting in February 1955 on NBC, and sponsored by Lionel Trains and Lego, which, at the time, was a subsidiary of Samsonite. Today, as we all know, Lego has become a global brand unto itself. I digress.

Captain Gallant shifted locations to Italy in season 2, filming from a studio owned by Sophia Loren. Not sure if she ever appeared on the show, though, although that would be a bonus, wouldn't it now?

Following is the Christmas episode, "The Boy Who Found Christmas".



Father & son work well together, of course, but that aside, this is a bit of a snoozer.

Rating: C.

Countdown to Christmas: Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus (1974)

It all started with a letter written by Virginia O'Hanlon to the New York Sun many years ago, and the editors' subsequent response became the stuff of literary legend.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus premiered on ABC in December 1974. As was the custom of the time, the special was promoted as heavily as possible during the network's Saturday morning programming, as well as the rest of the schedule. David L. Wolper, better known for producing a series of specials for oceanographer Jacques Cousteau (ABC) & National Geographic (CBS), as well as the occasional TV-movie, was slowly moving toward regular primetime programming, and this was the first, perhaps only, animated special to come from Wolper's production company. Veteran animation producer Lee Mendelson (Peanuts specials) was brought on board to co-produce & direct, and the general look reflects the Mendelson touch.

Jim Backus (ex-Gilligan's Island) narrates, with the title song performed by Jimmy Osmond. Yes, Virginia hasn't seen the light of day in years, but deserves to be back on the air.



Rating: B.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tooniversary: The True King (1968)

Time for another Three Musketeers adventure from The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.

"The True King" is, in a way, a loose adaptation of another Alexandre Dumas novel oft adapted, The Man in The Iron Mask, configured to fit into a nearly 10 minute window. Something's amiss when the King of France suddenly discharges the Musketeers without warning nor reason.

Edit: 9/13/17: The video has been deleted.

Don Messick performs triple duty (at least) as Aramis, the King, and the imposter. Not much difference to the voices, is there? Could've done without Tooly (Ted Eccles) for this one, no?

Rating: B.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: Christmas Night (1933)

Earlier this year, we presented some items from the Van Beuren studio off the "Cartoons That Time Forgot" DVD collection. Here's another one to start our annual "Countdown to Christmas".

Soglow's The Little King stars in "Christmas Night", in which the titular monarch invites two hobos to spend Christmas with him at the palace.



This was not one of the better entries in the set. Part of the gimmick to the Little King strip was that he rarely, if ever, spoke. A little more dialogue would've gone a long way in this one, just to be an exception to the rule.

Rating: C-.

Animated World of DC Comics: Knights of Tomorrow (2010)

From Batman: The Brave & the Bold comes an interesting fable.

Based in part on a story in the original Brave & the Bold comic book, "Knights of Tomorrow" sees a future imagined by Alfred in which Bruce Wayne (Diedrich Bader) marries Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, and has a son, Damian, while Dick Grayson inherits the mantle of the Batman. With the Joker believed dead, however, a "son" emerges to, he claims, take the place of the Clown Prince of Crime (Jeff Bennett voices both Jokers), but as it turns out, there's more to this than meets the eye..........

The original video was deleted, so all we can do is this modest little sample:



Rating: A.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On the Air: Uncle Grandpa (2013)

At first glance, Uncle Grandpa looks harmless enough. At least until you get to know him.

This Cartoon Network freshman series is about an eccentric, but well meaning, fellow and the wacky world around him. Like, a sentient slice of pizza? The series aspires to reach the heights of whimsical fantasy achieved by fellow frosh Steven Universe and the 3 year old Adventure Time, but at a more domestic level. Part sitcom, part satire.

Uncle Grandpa himself looks like series creator Pete Browngardt might've been inspired by the work of long time Mad Magazine cartoonist Don Martin and/or Mr. Potato Head. Like, UG is an amalgam of Potato Head and any generic Martin character, known for the elongated chin. Then again, the head is shaped like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Like, wack, man.

To demonstrate the satire of this show, we give you a mock commercial parodying the zillions of infomercials that are out there on the airwaves 24/7/365. Compliments of CN's own YouTube channel:



A talking slice of pizza. Well, there's worse. Like, a sentient wad of feces (South Park's infamous Mr. Hankey). How much lower could you go? Luckily, I don't think Uncle Grandpa has the answer.

Rating: B-.

Saturday School: A 4 minute primer in an ant colony (1968)

A litte science lesson is in order, courtesy of a Micro Ventures short from The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. Here, our family is "Exploring an Ant Colony":



Consider that these cartoons were 4-4 1/2 minutes in length, compared to the show's other animated features, which were double in size, averaging 8-10 minutes. And now they want to educate our next generation? Where was this movement 45 years ago?

Rating: A.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Toons: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

Hard to believe it's been 40 years since A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving premiered on CBS. It'll air on Thanksgiving night on ABC, but why wait?

If you've ever wondered how not to improvise a Thanksgiving dinner, pay attention to luckless Charlie and friends. At least they have the decency to say grace (led by Linus).



Rating: A.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey vs. Iron Head & the Cotton Pickin' Pocket Picker (1974)

Hong Kong Phooey (Scatman Crothers, ex-Harlem Globetrotters) has two cases to solve in this episode. First, it's a safe-snatching robot and his safecracker master, and then, the "Cotton Pickin' Pocket Picker". The sparse backgrounds in the open and some scenes were what passed for normal at Hanna-Barbera at the time, at least for their comedy cartoons.

Edit: 7/12/14: The video has been deleted due to copyright issues.

With HKP marking his 40th anniversary next year, I wouldn't count on the dunderheads at WB or Cartoon Network doing anything to mark the occasion. After all, the series is on DVD, and that seems to disqualify it from ever airing on Boomerang again.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Nights on Broadway (1975)

It's been a while since we pulled something from The Midnight Special, so let's take a trip back to the days before disco took over the airwaves, and scope out a tasty Bee Gees treat, "Nights on Broadway", with intro by hostess du jour Natalie Cole.

Thanksgiving Toons: The Turkey Caper (1985)

Who remembers the Chucklewood Critters?

In the 80's, there were a series of specials, and later, a weekly series, centering on two woodland families. A family of bears and a family of foxes. The children in these families, Buttons & Rusty, were the stars of these shows.

The characters were created by former Hanna-Barbera animators Bill Hutten & Tony Love, and debuted in the 1983 special, The Christmas Tree Train, which we'll feature next month. The second special came 2 years later, as Buttons & Rusty star in The Turkey Caper.

Uploaded by ACME Holidays.net:



Rating: B.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Toons: Pilgrim Popeye (1951)

Popeye spins a yarn that supposedly had him as a Pilgrim to keep his nephews from taking the family turkey and making Thanksgiving dinner out of it in "Pilgrim Popeye". This 1951 short is an example of just how far Paramount would go to stretch the boundaries of imagination with Popeye, as it didn't quite connect the way the Fleischers did a decade earlier. See for yourself.



Y'think maybe they should've gone to market to buy a frozen turkey?

Rating: C. Not one of Popeye's better outings.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mickey Mouse Week: Yodelberg (2013)

Today's new crop of Mickey Mouse shorts, commissioned for the Disney Channel, have a very retro feel to them, taking us all the way back to the beginning, if you will. Today's offering, "Yodelberg", is just one such example, and borrows the plot from some old MGM shorts (i.e. Droopy) from back in the day.

Uploaded by Disney Shorts:



I realize 3 minutes & change is hardly enough time for a plot to develop and close, but I guess they think their audience still has a sound byte mentality. Their loss.

Rating: A.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Daytime Heroes: The Hardy Boys (1956)

Following the success of the first Spin & Marty serial on The Mickey Mouse Club, Disney secured a license with Grosset & Dunlap & the Strathmeyer Syndicate to adapt The Hardy Boys into a serial. Two were produced, one each in seasons 2 & 3.

Tim Considine (Spin & Marty) & Tommy Kirk starred as juvenile detectives Frank & Joe Hardy in what would be the first of five TV incarnations of the long running franchise. Disney de-aged the sleuths slightly to pre-teens to keep in line with the pre-teen Mouseketeer roster, I would guess.

The first serial, "The Mystery of Applegate's Treasure", was adapted from the first book in the series, The Tower Treasure. Jackson Gillis, later a producer on Perry Mason, wrote the script, and followed with a completely new tale the next season. Here's the open:



Tim Considine would later join the cast of My Three Sons, and Tommy Kirk went on to make a few movies for Disney, including the original "Shaggy Dog".

No rating. Never saw it, even during the rerun period in the 70's.

Thanksgiving Toons: Mouse on the Mayflower (1968)

I initially reviewed this next item at my other blog, The Land of Whatever, 3 years ago. Now, though, is the time for a fresh perspective.

Rankin-Bass, then known under the Videocraft label, tried to expand their holiday roster beyond Christmas with the Thanksgiving special, Mouse on the Mayflower, which premiered on NBC. Today, it doesn't air much anymore, as few cablers are willing to pick it up for a once-a-year broadcast. They'd want to play it into the ground, as ABC Family has done with several Rankin-Bass Christmas specials produced in the 70's for ABC, CBS, & NBC.

Mouse tells the story of Willum, who was aboard the Mayflower when it made its voyage to America, as narrated by a then-present day descendant (Tennessee Ernie Ford). The familiar Rankin-Bass casting formula is in place, with singers John Gary & Joanie Sommers joining veteran voice actors Paul Frees & June Foray and Green Acres star Eddie Albert in the cast. Albert voices Capt. Miles Standish, and Gary is John Alden. As William reminds, most of us know the story, but Romeo Muller's idea of telling the story from a mouse's point of view is meant to attract the kiddo's, a gimmick that would be duplicated six years later in 'Twas The Night Before Christmas for CBS.

Kevin Burns posted Mouse on the Mayflower:



Rating: A-.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

From Comics to Toons: Iron Man vs. The Mole Man (1966)

Comics fans know the Mole Man is more closely associated with the Fantastic Four. However, he beat the FF to television by one year, when The Marvel Superheroes Show adapted his battle with Iron Man from an issue of Tales of Suspense. Unfortunately, the producers erred by spelling the villain's name as one word.

Uploaded by The Armor Gallery.



Yes, the Mole Man would eventually appear on the FF's show the next year, but insofar as I know, he never menaced Iron Man again.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mickey Mouse Week: Mickey's Fire Brigade (1935)

If memory serves me, this vintage Mickey Mouse  short appeared on The Mickey Mouse Club in the 50's and during its syndicated repeat run in the 70's.

Mickey, Goofy, & Donald Duck are firefighters in "Mickey's Fire Brigade". Again, I didn't see this one before, or, if I actually did on Mickey Mouse Club, I don't remember, so there's no rating.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: She's The Right One (1969)

Here's another musical entry from Cattanooga Cats. "She's The Right One" sees Kitty Jo as the object of her bandmates' affections (what a shock).



With the resources Warner Bros. has, you'd think they'd take a chance on reviving the Cats, this time as a country band, in time for their 45th anniversary next year. Then again......

Mickey Mouse Week: Mickey Mouse Works (1999)

Mickey Mouse Works marked the Saturday morning debut of Disney's iconic rodent in all new adventures designed to capture the magic of the old shorts. However, the series was cancelled halfway through season 2, replaced by Disney's House of Mouse, but still occupying the same lunch hour berth on ABC.

In fact, the shorts were recycled and used on House, intros included, which makes one wonder what went into the thought process. After House was cancelled, ABC filled the space first with Kim Possible, then the short-lived W.I.T.C.H.. Aside from current shorts being produced for the Disney Channel, Mickey now appears every day on Disney Channel and its sister network, Disney Junior, on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a CGI animated series that is aimed at preschoolers mostly.

Here's at least 1 intro:



No rating.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Toon Legends: Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!

In honor of Mickey Mouse's 85th birthday, we're going to be saluting Mickey all this week.

First up: From Season 3 of Disney's House of Mouse comes a 2001 short that made its network television premiere on the show: "Mickey's Airplane Kit". Mickey's totally forgotten his date with Minnie, and has to improvise his way out of possible trouble.

Mickey & Minnie have been one of toondom's most enduring couples, much like Popeye and Olive Oyl. While Olive & Popeye made it to the altar in a 1-shot comic book special some 15 or so years ago, Mickey & Minnie haven't yet said "I do!", and maybe that's part of the charm.

Now, here's "Mickey's Airplane Kit":



Earlier this year, Disney began producing new shorts for television, one of which was reviewed in this space previously. Figure on more during the week.

No rating for "Mickey's Airplane Trip", as I didn't see it when it first came out.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Funnies: Inspector Gadget's Field Trip (1996)

In 1996, the History Channel took a chance on a weekend educational program that seemed to fit right into their programming millieu. It also marked the return of an 80's icon.

Inspector Gadget's Field Trip found Gadget (Don Adams) going it alone. No sign of his niece, Penny, nor Brain, their dog. In fact, Gadget was the only animated character, superimposed on live-action backgrounds via computer technology. The idea was to lure in the kiddo's who otherwise wouldn't give the network a first or second look. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to work, as I think the show was cancelled after 1 season.

Nice idea, wrong network, really. If DIC really wanted to make this show work, they'd have been better off selling it to one of the broadcast networks, or have it set up where one of them, say, for example, CBS, could partner with History Channel. Oh, sure, History is hot stuff now, after their adaptation of The Bible racked up beaucoup ratings a few months back, and they're talking about reimagining Alex Haley's Emmy winning Roots, which I think is either next year or 2015. In 1996, though, they were looking to improve their standing. Not with an animated comedy act.

Following is a sample clip, complete with the show open:



Rating: C.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Toons After Dark: The Flintstones Meet Rockula & Frankenstone (1979)

Spooktober ended two weeks ago, but I just couldn't pass this up.

The Flintstones had returned to the air with The New Fred & Barney Show, which then was rechristened Fred & Barney Meet The Thing in the fall of 1979. Two months in, The New Shmoo was shoehorned into the mix to expand the series to 90 minutes, for all the good that did, and we've covered that before.

However, NBC decided to take a chance and bring the Flintstones & Rubbles back to their primetime roots with The Flintstones Meet Rockula & Frankenstone, a 1 hour special that was never shown on Saturday mornings, though NBC, if they wanted, could have done so to spare us further embarrassment for the Thing.

Fred (Henry Corden) & Wilma (Jean VanderPyl) and Barney (Mel Blanc) & Betty attend a taping of Make a Deal or Don't, a Stone Age parody of Let's Make a Deal, hosted by Monty Marble (guest star Casey Kasem). Next thing you know, they're off on one of their strangest adventures yet.

When the Saturday morning show was tweaked again the following season, the Frankenstones were added as new neighbors, with Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game, ex-Lidsville, Uncle Croc's Block) as the domesticated monster for comedy relief. However, after the series was cancelled, the Frankenstone family was retconned out of existence.

I didn't see the episode per se. However, the NBC affiliate could be picked up on the radio, and so I listened to the broadcast, as if it were a radio play. As I noted, it was never rebroadcast, which tells you how well it didn't do in the ratings.

Now, scope out a sample of The Flintstones Meet Rockula & Frankenstone:



Rating: B.

Literary Toons: The Trouble With Miss Switch (1979)

From the ABC Weekend Special comes this Ruby-Spears adaptation of Barbara Brooks Wallace's The Trouble With Miss Switch. Originally shown in two parts, it was eventually released on home video by the network's video arm, as you'll see.

Miss Switch (Janet Waldo) is a substitute teacher as well as a practicing witch whose coven has fallen into the hands of the evil Saturna (June Foray). Two students are recruited to help Miss Switch stop Saturna. There would, unsurprisingly, be a sequel, Miss Switch To The Rescue, which Ruby-Spears would produce for ABC the next year. I never saw this, so there isn't going to be a rating. I meant to post this during Spooktober, but I kept finding other things that got my attention.

Uploaded by ClintGThaShowstoppa:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Little Mermaid (1992)

3 years after Disney had produced a loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's original story for the big screen, the studio brought back The Little Mermaid for a weekly series run on CBS, leading off the network's Saturday morning lineup. Ariel (Jodi Benson) would only be around for a couple of years, however, due to declining ratings and changing viewer tastes.

Oh, I regret never seeing the show the first time around, and I hadn't seen the movie.You can bet, though, that there were plenty of teenage boys watching with their kid brothers and swooning over Ariel. Sebastian the crab (Samuel E. Wright, ex-Enos) was there mostly as comedy relief, in my opinion. Disney has this habit of populating their adaptations with cute characters that weren't part of the original stories. In this day and age, that means they're there to sell toys. To that, I say, meh, whatever. Let's move on.

Here's the intro:



Jodi Benson would also be heard, but not seen, lending her voice to a floating computer that aided Robin Williams in "Flubber", a reimagining of "The Absent-Minded Professor" that didn't go over very well with audiences, though I actually found it amusing.

Rating: None.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Teenage Toons: Maxie's World (1989)

DIC & Hasbro introduced an enterprising teenager to television in 1989. Unfortunately, Maxie's World was found wanting.

Maxie's World centered on the title teen, a high schooler who moonlighted as a talk show host in her after-hours, self-producing her show, likely for public access. I say likely because I never saw the show, and thus can't fairly rate it. The series aired either on Sundays or weekdays, depending on where you lived. Reruns of 1987's Beverly Hills Teens, reviewed earlier this week, and the former NBC series Punky Brewster (the Ruby-Spears animated series, of course), helped pad the Sunday show to a full two hour block. Not that it mattered, because it seemed young girls weren't interested in doing their own talk shows. They wanted to cut past that and deal with the usual high school drama, and there was certainly a fair amount to go around.

Here's the intro:



A modest theme song, not much else. Perhaps it's safe to think this was another ahead-of-its-time cartoon.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Game Time: Jep! (1998)

Bob Bergen is known today as the voice of Porky Pig, most recently on The Looney Tunes Show. In 1998, Bergen was given an opportunity to step in front of the cameras as host of Jep!, a grade school version of Jeopardy! which aired on Game Show Network (GSN) for 2 seasons.

Unfortunately, Sony has chosen to deposit this in the vaults, opting not to even consider reruns to mark the 15th anniversary of the series. Luckily, we were able to find a full episode to present for your edification. This came a year after Sony sold a juvenile clone of Wheel of Fortune, Wheel 2000, to CBS, but it bombed. Meanwhile, Rock & Roll Jeopardy!, which we previously reviewed, aired on VH1 around this time.

Following is a sample clip:



No rating.

From Comics to Toons: Sub Mariner vs. The Thing From Space (1966)

From The Marvel Superheroes Show comes a Sub Mariner serial, "The Thing From Space".

Attuma, the power-coveting warlord of Atlantis, is turned back yet again by Prince Namor, but when a robot from outer space splashes down in Atlantis, Attuma sees a golden opportunity to finally overthrow his nemesis.



In the comics, Attuma's skin was colored blue at least as far back as the late 60's, but was changed to flesh tone for TV, likely so's not to scare the kiddo's.

Rating: B-.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunday Funnies: The Angry Beavers (1997)

Mitch Schauer is known to comics fans for co-creating (w/writer Mark Evanier) the DNAgents for Eclipse Comics in the 80's. After that series ended, Schauer sought his fortunes in Hollywood as an animator. Showing a talent for comedy as well as adventure, Schauer created The Angry Beavers for Nickelodeon in 1997.

Norbert (Nick Bakay, Sabrina The Teenage Witch) & Daggett were booted from their home after their sisters were born. I guess the parents only had room for two kids at a time. So, the guys try to get on as bachelor beavers, with the usual chaos. The fact that Daggett is a little on the dense side suggests that maybe Schauer sought inspiration from John Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men, but I can't be sure of that.

Anyway, here's the episode, "Bummer of Love", in which the boys scheme to go to a rock music festival:



The boys' twin sisters, Stacy & Chelsea, are voiced by (and named after) Schauer's own daughters. Nice way to keep it in the family, y'know?

Rating: B.

Tooniversary: Archie joins the Circus (1968)

Joramma20 brings another episode from The Archie Show. This time, Archie, Jughead, & Reggie decide to seek part-time jobs when the circus rolls into Riverdale. Personally, this would've worked better if the whole gang got involved. Can you picture Betty & Veronica in those trapeze artist outfits? Of course you can.



Rating: B.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Teenage Toons: Beverly Hills Teens (1987)

In 1987, the watchword at DIC seemed to be, "diversity". The Real Ghostbusters, in its 2nd season on ABC, added a daytime syndicated run, airing locally on the Fox affiliate, which, in a bizarre irony, aired the show opposite ABC's #1 soap opera, General Hospital. You needed to have 2 sets in the house by this point so your kids could watch Real Ghostbusters and you could watch, if you wanted, General Hospital or whatever caught your fancy. DIC also went to the other extreme, celebrating the vapid stereotypes of certain West Coast teenagers.

Beverly Hills Teens didn't click as well as it should have, perhaps because of the stereotypes, the big hair, and, well, airheaded writing. The series did merit a toy tie-in (from Mattel, if memory serves), but, if it could be considered a harbinger of things to come, the toys didn't sell all that well, and the ratings weren't there. Being six years removed from high school myself at the time, I couldn't relate to these kids.

Here's the episode, "The Dog Ate My Homework":



If the theme song is the best thing about this show, then you should've known it was in trouble.

Rating: C.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturtainment: Santo Bugito (1995)

Klasky-Csupo, enjoying success on cable with the likes of Rugrats & Duckman, tried to expand to broadcast networks in 1995. Unfortunately, their first entry for CBS, Santo Bugito, fell victim to station disinterest, as it was scheduled during the 2 hour black hole at the end of the block (11 am-1 pm ET) where affiliates opted out in favor of syndicated programming. Locally, Santo Bugito was aired nearly 4 hours earlier than the rest of the country for this reason.

The show's titular location is a small community of insects, well ahead of feature films like "A Bug's Life" & "Antz". Since most kids still thought of bugs & other insects as creepy and not pet-worthy, well, this show had a tough climb become even tougher.

Here's the open:



No rating.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Looney TV: Dumb Patrol (1964)

Boomerang has put Looney Tunes back on the schedule, with a 1 hour block weeknights at 7 (ET). Tonight's set closed with 1964's "Dumb Patrol", starring Bugs Bunny & Yosemite Sam, with a silent, brief cameo by Porky Pig.

The plot: In World War I, Smedley (Porky) draws the assignment of going into a dogfight with the Baron Sam von Spam. However, fearing for his friend's family, Bugs takes Smedley's place. Some of the gags are recycled from past Sam vs. Bugs encounters, as any fan can tell. If I'm not mistaken, this may also be a remake of a 1931 short by the same name, which starred Bosko.

Now, let's take to the skies!:



Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. The Weather Maker (1973)

Here's another 1973 episode of Super Friends. Set, one would assume, in the summer, someone's messing around with the weather. One wonders if future vice president Al Gore got the idea for global warming from this episode........



The open & close have been deleted.

Hmmm, maybe WB could be persuaded to reboot this particular tale, but with different characters for today's audience?

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On The Air: Steven Universe (2013)

The success Cartoon Network has enjoyed with whimsical comedy cartoons such as Adventure Time & Regular Show suggests that the avant-garde flights of fancy in both shows could and should be a trend to follow. For all the criticism leveled against the network for their shabby treatment of corporate siblings DC & Warner Bros. Animation in recent years, their own in-house creations have been the bright spots in the lineup.

The latest to come along is Steven Universe, which bowed on November 4. Being that it's on CN, it'll get played into the ground with frequent repeats during the week. That's just the way it is, but if you miss out, don't despair. It'll be available On Demand soon enough, if not already.

Steven is the youngest of four siblings, the three sisters being magically powered beings known as the Crystal Gems. Since Steven has a ruby embedded in his belly button, he's destined to join his sisters, but the eager young fellow wants in ASAP. He also plays a ukelele and sings songs (series creator Rebecca Sugar is also a songwriter). You've got to admire the kid's initiative & desire. The character designs fall somewhere between Adventure Time's Golden Age-inspired characters and the look of Codename: Kids Next Door, a CN flavor of the month from a decade ago. Still, it works.

Here's a sample video:



Steven Universe is also striving to convince today's generation that imagination is still a wonderful thing. Life is not always built around social media, and wasn't meant to be.

Rating: A-.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Toon Rock: I Like to Move It (2005)

If you've seen any of the "Madagascar" movies, you're probably familiar with the infectious "I Like to Move It", which has been used in at least the first two, and probably in all three films to date. Wouldn't surprise me if the video has been used on the Nickelodeon spinoff, The Penguins of Madagascar, as well.

Anyway, "Move" originally was a dance hit for Reel 2 Real in 1994, reaching the top 5 in the UK, but failing to make the Billboard Hot 100 here. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen recorded the cover heard in the first movie, but for the sequel, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas recorded his own version. Cohen's version has been used at sporting events, including Tri-City Valleycats games, over the last couple of years as a means of getting the kiddo's into the between innings fun. Not sure if either cover charted, though........!

Anyway, considering that one of Cohen's best known alter-egos is a pseudo-rapper named Ali G, the fact that he can actually sing shouldn't be a surprise.........



How much d'ya wanna bet they play this at Zumba dance classes?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Funnies: The Adventures of T-Rex (1992)

By 1992, DIC co-founder Jean Chalopin had left the company, and was looking for a hit series he could call his own. Lee Gunther had left Marvel Productions, ending a run that began with that company's predecessor, DePatie-Freleng. The two of them had a hand in developing an amusing, but short-lived syndicated series, The Adventures of T-Rex, which lasted just 1 season, airing on Sundays in New York and other cities.

T-Rex was the team name of 5 blues singing dinosaurs, whose sister was part of their stage act, but had no clue about their moonlighting as crimefighters. Bearing in mind that this was right before the first "Jurassic Park" movie, you could say this show was ahead of its time. Others can say that Gunther and friends might've had inspiration from "The Blues Brothers", among other things.

Gunther-Wahl Productions, Lee Gunther's new outfit, produced a number of short-lived series during the early 90's, so give them credit for perseverence. Here's the intro, courtesy of CartoonsIntros:



I made the notation at the start because the person who composed the page on Wikipedia for this series assumed, wrongly, that Chalopin was still with DIC at this point. To my knowledge, he wasn't.

Rating: B.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Dennis The Menace (1986)

In 1986, reruns of the live-action Dennis the Menace  were airing on Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite schedule, and sometimes on Nick itself. Someone at DIC and/or the Program Exchange, which handled the distribution, must've seen the ratings and decided it was way past time for Dennis to return to television, this time in an animated series.

This version of Dennis the Menace lasted a couple of seasons, airing weekdays, but unless you were a fan of the Hank Ketcham comic strip and its accompanying line of comic books, published by Fawcett until the 70's, then revived by Marvel briefly in the 80's, you probably forgot about this, since 1986 to cartoon fans was largely the Year of the Ghostbusters, with two competing series debuting that same year, including one produced by DIC (in conjunction with Sony) based on 1984's "Ghostbusters".

For Dennis, DIC's art staff came up with a faithful adaptation of the strip, right down to the character designs. For what it's worth, DIC brought Dennis back in a weekly series a decade later, airing on CBS on Saturday mornings that lasted about the same length of time. If memory serves me correctly, Dennis replaced Inspector Gadget on DIC's 1st run roster.

Here's the episode, "Dennis' Yard Sale":



One wonders if Ketcham got his inspiration for the strip from Hal Roach's Our Gang, aka The Little Rascals. Dennis was a 1-boy gang by comparison. He meant well, but was just too over-eager.

Rating: B.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Literary Toons: Dr. Seuss on the Loose (1973)

Dr. Seuss On The Loose was the 3rd special based on Seuss' (Ted Geisel) works produced by DePatie-Freleng for CBS, after The Cat in the Hat (1971) & The Lorax (1972). Your host for the evening is the aforementioned Cat (Allan Sherman, in his final performance for DFE), who introduces adaptations of three Seuss short stories:

The Zax, with all the voices performed by Hans Conreid, who starred in a live-action adaptation of Seuss' 5000 Fingers of Dr. T some years earlier; The Sneetches; & Green Eggs & Ham, whose lead character, Sam I Am, is voiced by Paul Winchell. Bob Holt, who starred in The Lorax, handles the rest of the voice work. Green Eggs & Ham was famously parodied by Johnny Bravo in season 1 of his series, in the episode, "Cookie Crisis", 24 years later.

Now, let's scope out Dr. Seuss On The Loose:



Delightfully silly. As you can tell, Universal owns the video rights.

Rating: A+.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

On DVD: Flight 29 Down (2005)

While Discovery Kids might've been late to the party in terms of teen horror (Strange Days At Blake Holsey High, reviewed earlier this week), that wasn't the case with Flight 29 Down, which anchored NBC's Saturday morning lineup for a couple of seasons.

Flight 29 Down was meant to be a juvenile version of ABC's then-hot drama, Lost, and partially came from the pen of D. J. MacHale (ex-Are You Afraid of the Dark?), who knows a thing or twenty about teen drama. Unfortunately, Flight comes across as part drama, part semi-reality show, the latter in the video diary segments sprinkled in by Nathan McHugh (Corbin Bleu, "High School Musical"), whom the show is built around. Nathan is part of a school field trip that ends up crashing on a deserted (we think) island in the South Pacific. There are the predictable teen stereotypes, including the vapid airhead, although in this case she does have a positive outlook on things at first. Sorry to say, but Flight only lasted about half as long as Lost, and didn't have the fan following, despite Bleu's presence.

Following is the series opener:



Lesson to be learned. Never trust a plane named after a question in a crossword puzzle.

Rating: C.

Spooktober: The Ghost & Mr. Panther (1993)

From the 1993 syndicated Pink Panther series comes a parody of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir. An elderly woman leaves the Panther (Matt Frewer) in charge of her home for a day, and he has to deal with a pesky parrot, among other things, in "The Ghost & Mr. Panther":



No rating.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spooktober: Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1991)

In the wake of the runaway success of Fox's adaptation of R. L. Stine's Goosebumps, you knew there would be others trying to grab a piece of the action.

Nickelodeon had the right answer, it seems. The network introduced Are You Afraid of the Dark? to their Saturday night Snick block, but the series was so popular, reruns inevitably began airing weeknights as well. Dark came from the pen of author D. J. MacHale, and lasted 7 seasons in all. Much like another Nick series, All That, Dark introduced viewers to a number of young talents, including Rachel Blanchard (later of Clueless).

Everyone has their favorite episodes, but with Halloween right around the corner, let's try a season 1 episode, "The Tale of the Prom Queen":



Dark also attracted other stars, including Emmy winner Frank Gorshin, Olympic skating champ Tara Lipinski, and Nick alumnus Melissa Joan Hart. Down the line, we'll play some other episodes, including a couple of my own favorites.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spooktober: Pink Plasma (1975)

The Pink Panther traveled to Transylvania in 1975 in the short, "Pink Plasma". I needn't tell you anything else, lest I spoil the fun for you. Uploaded by vampirewiki1:



Surreal and silly. Rating: A-.

Saturday School: Strange Days at Blake Holsey High (2002)

When Discovery Kids (now The Hub) began programming NBC's Saturday morning block, they brought some diversity into the latter network's schedule that had been missing for some time. In addition to the return of animated programming to NBC, DK also had some live-action dramas, as opposed to NBC being overrun with sitcoms (teencoms) since the 90's.

One of those dramas was the Canadian-produced science-fiction series, Strange Days at Blake Holsey High, which spent 4 seasons on the air (2002-6). A decade earlier, it might've fit right at home with other live-action fantasy shows with a high school theme, such as ABC's Bone Chillers.

The final three episodes of the series were stitched together into a TV-movie, which was the last anyone had seen of Blake Holsey High. When DK became The Hub 3 years ago, the series was dumped in the network's vaults and has hardly been seen.

Here's the intro:



I didn't see enough of the show to merit a rating.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Spooktober: Inspector Gadget in Transylvania (Haunted Castle, 1983)

Wowsers! Inspector Gadget (Don Adams) travels to Transylvania intent on a crime fighters convention, but Dr. Claw (Frank Welker) is waiting for him with a trap. Here's "Haunted Castle":



Cookie Jar, which bought DIC, is developing a new Inspector Gadget series, having reacquired the rights to the series after 2 movies from Disney. Whomever is cast as Gadget has a tough act to follow.

Rating: B.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Spooktober: The Haunting of Riverdale (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 1999)

Time for another episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries. This time, Archie investigates sightings of a ghost at the Riverdale Public Library. But what does Jughead have to do with it? Here's "The Haunting of Riverdale", uploaded by TBEntertain:



No rating. Didn't see this episode.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Teenage Toons: Reggie & the Monster (1968)

Joramma20 brings another episode from The Archie Show.

Archie's dad gives the gang an idea to raise money for a school dance. After millionaire Hiram Lodge, Veronica's dad, rents out a yacht to the kids, they head off to a far-away island. Chaos, some of it caused by Reggie Mantle (John Erwin), follows, as per normal.



Ever notice how the gang wears the same clothes in almost every cartoon? Apparently, Filmation's artists didn't have enough in the budget to give them a complete wardrobe!

Rating: B.

Halloween comes early for Cartoon Network viewers: CN plays a cruel trick by pulling Beware the Batman

I am not going to waste my time quoting Santayana again to open this post, but his words need to be relayed to the morons in charge of Cartoon Network.

One year ago, CN suits pulled Young Justice & Green Lantern out of the DC Nation Saturday block, holding them off until the early part of this year before cancelling them outright. Now, the same fate may befall Beware The Batman, as it was reported yesterday that the series will not air this Saturday, and will return in January. As was the case last year, CN refused to offer a tangible explanation for the change, which means that DC Nation, aside from the quickies in between shows, will be a full hour of the inferior Teen Titans Go!, a comedy series that seems to appeal more to the target audience than the high impact drama of Beware.

Those of us who learned about CN's lame practices from the last few years can speculate on the two likely reasons for Beware being pulled.

1. Ratings apparently aren't strong enough. Well, if that was the case, why not flip the two series over and let Beware air at 10:30 (ET)? Because CN honchos Stuart Snyder & Rob Sorcher, who don't know a good idea when they see one, see little or no value in action cartoons these days.

2. Merchandising. DC just launched a comics version of Beware yesterday. I cannot state any sales figures on the action figures because I haven't been at Toys 'R' Us or checked the toy department at Walmart. One must imagine that the figures ain't moving because of a 3rd, even more likely reason among even long time Bat-fans:

3. Bat-fatigue. WB Animation has produced Batman cartoons on a steady basis for 21 years. Even Scooby-Doo needed a break every now and again, which is why it took 4 years between Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue and Mystery, Incorporated. Mitch Watson is one of the show runners on Beware, and so that leads to a 4th reason:

4. Backlash on Watson. A lot of people were turned off by Watson's reimagining of the Scooby-Doo franchise, but CN turned their backs on Watson by burning off Season 2 of Mystery Incorporated in 2 chunks of daily episodes and refusing to air repeats. Still, WBA gave Watson the assignment on Beware to see if he could handle another icon. The low ratings would suggest that there is little patience with another gradually developing storyline. Add to this the fact that Watson and his staff chose to avoid using the traditional Batman Rogues Gallery (Joker, Riddler, et al) right away and giving some shine to lesser known characters. If Beware The Batman ends up getting the hook for good from CN, I'd say Watson would be well served to follow fellow creators Craig McCracken and the Man of Action studio out of CN and move elsewhere.

Make no mistake, I think Watson did the right thing in this case by opting for more obscure characters and getting people to care about them. He knew, just like we all did, that Joker, Catwoman, etc., had been in need of a break from being in every Bat-series, so he sent them on vacation for now. If he can convince the suits at DC that, say, Magpie would be worth resurrecting in the New 52 Universe, well, more power to him.

Because of the severe disconnect between WB & CN, I'd say also that WB would be well served to shop around their properties to other cablers going forward, given CN's lack of respect under Snyder & Sorcher. You know Nickelodeon, the Hub, and maybe even Disney Channel would take a shot in a heartbeat to pick up a fresh take on the Justice League.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spooktober: Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999)

It seemed only appropriate that Cartoon Network, marking the 30th anniversary of Scooby-Doo, added a smaller canine who was even more of a chicken than Scooby!

Courage the Cowardly Dog debuted on World Premiere Toons (aka The What a Cartoon Show) 3 years earlier, and the debut short, "The Chicken From Outer Space", was also released in theatres and nominated for an Academy Award. The series bowed in 1999, lasted 4 "seasons", but 3 years total, and is in reruns on CN & Boomerang (check listings). Veteran voice actor Lionel Wilson (ex-Mighty Heroes) voiced Eustace.

Here's the open & close:



Silly, repetitive (naturally), but dull.

Rating: C+.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Saturday School: Computer Critters (1984)

In 1984, ABC introduced a new series of animated interstitals aimed at educating young viewers.

Unfortunately, only 4 Computer Critters shorts were produced. At the time, there was no such thing as the internet, as the information super-highway was in its infancy. Around this time, I was just getting used to using a computer, as part of a training course I was taking.

TimKangaroo uploaded the first episode of Computer Critters:



Today, it's still a teaching tool for beginners, but not much more. Rating: A.

Lou Scheimer (1928-2013)

Regular correspondent Geed tipped me to this bit of unfortunate news.

Filmation co-founder Lou Scheimer passed away on Thursday, two days shy of his 85th birthday. Not only was Scheimer involved on the production end of things, but he also had the time to contribute some voice work to many of Filmation's cartoons, often either uncredited or using a stage name. His two children from his first marriage, son Lane and daughter Erika, would follow him to the microphone during the 70's.

Scheimer was also the announcer for most of Filmation's live-action entries in the 70's, including Shazam!, Jason of Star Command (he was the announcer for Tarzan & The Super 7, anyway) & The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! (1981). His voice work included Bat-Mite (New Adventures of Batman) & Orko (He-Man & The Masters of the Universe). Imagine if Filmation and not Ruby-Spears had acquired Alvin & The Chipmunks in the 80's. Scheimer probably wouldn't need his voice sped up, like Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. did.

Last year, Scheimer was honored at Comic-Con International in San Diego, as he made his final convention appearance. Author Andy Mangels is the moderator. Here is the video:



Rest in peace, Lou. Thanks for the memories.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spooktober: Bunnicula, The Vampire Rabbit (1982)

From the ABC Weekend Special comes an adaptation of James & Deborah Howe's Bunnicula, The Vampire Rabbit, produced by Ruby-Spears, which did most of the animated entries for the anthology series, which included some episodes that later spun off into The Puppy's Great Adventures.

Bunnicula's cast includes a mini-Battle of the Planets reunion of Alan Dinehart (also the voice director), Alan Young, & Janet Waldo. Young & Waldo are the unsuspecting parents who take in Bunnicula, prompting the family pets, Chester & Harold, to take action, thinking the worst. The story is told by Harold (Jack Carter, in a rare voice role).



No rating. Never saw this the first time around.

From Comics to Toons: Thor vs. the Lava Men (1966)

With Thor returning to theatres in "The Dark World", opening November 8, I thought we'd check out one of his adventures from the Marvel Superheroes series back in 1966. It's one of the first appearances of The Avengers on TV, and by then, the Hulk had left the team he had help found.

The complete three part serial is shown here, and if the concept of the Lava Men attacking from underground seems familiar to some of you, well, 11 years later, when ABC revived the Super Friends, one of their first episodes, "Invasion of the Earthors", plowed similar ground.



Come to think of it, aside from using the original designs by Jack Kirby, this story doesn't translate well on TV, and Hanna-Barbera did it better.

Rating: C.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

You Know The Voice: June Foray & John Stephenson (1955)

Here's a 2-for-1 special.

From Johnny Carson's self-titled 1955 primetime show come a pair of voice-over legends, plus a 3rd who isn't quite at legendary level.

That would be Sara Berner, who went uncredited for her work for Warner Bros. in the Golden Age. She appears in the midst of this clip, which is bookended by the two legends we spoke of, June Foray & John Stephenson.

June Foray, the grand dame of voice acting, seems to have been around since the dawn of time, right along with Janet Waldo. June made a rare on-camera appearance in the following skit, which demonstrates just how much the future King of Late Night had to learn before perfecting his craft. Meanwhile, John Stephenson was a regular on The Johnny Carson Show, appearing as the anchorman for the Catch Up With The News segment, which falls apart as soon as Johnny gives away the joke a wee bit too early. Stephenson spent quite a bit of time in front of the cameras in the 60's, working on a number of Westerns, as well as a few appearances on Hogan's Heroes. As we've documented in the past, he also served as a narrator early on during the 1967 run of Dragnet.

Uploaded by RRaquello.

Animated World of DC Comics: How Many Herring in a Wheelbarrow (1968)

Batman (Olan Soule) has his hands full with the Joker in this 1968 cartoon. "How Many Herring in a Wheelbarrow", uploaded by Donaldson1, has been edited to remove the cliffhanger leading to a commercial break, and was uploaded off a Super Powers video compilation.

Unfortunately, the video has been deleted due to copyright issues.

Rating: A.

Friday, October 18, 2013

On The Air: Wander Over Yonder (2013)

Take the inventive whimsy of Dr. Seuss, mix it together with the up-tempo slapstick comedy of Looney Tunes, and you have an idea of Disney's latest hit, Wander Over Yonder.

Wander (Jack McBrayer, ex-30 Rock) is a space traveler who keeps crossing paths with galactic despot Lord Hater (Keith Ferguson), oblivious to the threat Hater poses to the universe. Wander's best friend & sidekick, Sylvia (April Winchell) is a horse-like steed who can also stand on her hind legs, much like 30-30 did for Bravestarr more than a quarter-century ago. However, unlike 30-30, Sylvia is mostly all talk. The eternally cheerful Wander manages to win the day via sheer luck, which frustrates Hater to no end.

The series' opening episode, "The Greatest", took several pages from the Bugs Bunny playbook as Wander finessed Hater into defeat. The backup, "The Egg", was for all intents & purposes a left-handed homage to Dr. Seuss' Horton Hatches The Egg, which was the sequel to Horton Hears a Who. Let's scope out this sample clip from "The Greatest". Let's face it, Muhammad Ali Hater ain't.



Ah, such fun. Too bad Disney has no room for it in the daytime. Yet.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Mexican Radio (1982)

From American Bandstand comes a two-song mini-set from Stan Ridgway and Wall of Voodoo. We start with their lone Top 40 hit, "Mexican Radio", followed by "Tomorrow", with an interview conducted by Dick Clark in between.

Toons After Dark: Aeon Flux (1991)

Aeon Flux was one of two series spun off from MTV's 1991 anthology series, Liquid Television. Of course, the other one was Beavis & Butt-Head, and the only other thing the two series have in common is that both graduated to the big screen. However, the feature film version of Aeon was a live-action film starring Charlize Theron, which didn't do very well at the box office.

Animator Peter Chung had worked on Nickelodeon's Rugrats, but wanted to do his own thing. In fact, you can probably detect a certain similarity in the designs, although MTV didn't contract Klasky-Csupo, producers of Rugrats, to help with their show. Aeon was as far removed from anything else on Liquid Television as you could possibly get. The six short features would lead to the regular series a year later, but that lasted just 5 episodes, and was brought back three years after that for 10 more. The common thread was a glaring lack of continuity. Aeon was being killed off in every episode, supposedly because Chung didn't think there'd be a need for further episodes. So you can say that this particular gimmick was ripped off by South Park, which launched just a couple of years after Aeon ended.

Here's the open:



Chung was better off getting a comic book deal.

Rating: C.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dave the Barbarian (2004)

Imagine if the late Jay Ward had developed a spoof of, say, Conan the Barbarian. Doug Langdale (The Weekenders) must've had that thought in mind when he created Dave The Barbarian, which spent a year on Disney Channel, debuting in January 2004.

Dave (Danny Cooksey, Xiaolin Showdown) is a coward at heart who'd rather cook and do needlepoint. As the only son of the king & queen of his kingdom, it falls on Dave to protect his sisters from harm. Ha! Older sister Candy seems to be more on the ball than Dave is, but is also a stereotypical teenager who'd rather be at the mall than fighting monsters. The other sister, the oddly named Fang, doesn't like being referred to as a monkey, but seemingly hasn't seen herself in a mirror to see why people think of her that way.

Because it was a light-hearted comedy adventure with moral lessons included (if you can find them in the story), you'd think Disney would've repurposed the series on ABC. Nope. It aired exclusively on Disney Channel, then shifted to Toon Disney (now DisneyXD) a year later, and hasn't been seen since then. Dave Feiss (Cow & Chicken) can be credited with the character designs, I think, paying homage to Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier's barbaric spoof, Groo the Wanderer.

Here's the first episode:



I think they were hoping for Bullwinkle in the Middle Ages, but the viewers didn't respond in kind.

Rating: C.

Sunday Funnies: Abbott & Costello Meet The Invisible Man (1951)

3 years after a teaser ended "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein", the boys encounter another legend from Universal's vaults in "Abbott & Costello Meet The Invisible Man".

Arthur Franz is the title transparency this time, a boxer named Jimmy Nelson framed for murder by a shady promoter (Sheldon Leonard). Bud & Lou are rookie PI's on their first case, and Lou goes undercover as a boxer, with Jimmy as his back-up, to nail the real killer. William Frawley (I Love Lucy) co-stars as a police detective assigned to the case.

Following is what's billed online as a trailer.....



Rating: B.