Friday, February 28, 2014

Here's an idea for a future DC cartoon------if WB is willing to try it and shop it around

I know there are a lot of fans who are still crying the blues over the cancellation of Young Justice. Well, it just so happens that ye scribe may just have the answer to their problems.

We know that Cartoon Network prefers comedy over action these days, if only because of the narrow mindset of Stuart Snyder and his acolytes, who are aiming for boys as young as six. I honestly doubt that boys in grades 1-3, and maybe 4th grade, might get what passes for comedy on, say, Teen Titans GO!, which is already getting played into the ground and has been renewed for a second season, to start later this year. Well, the idea I have wouldn't fly at Cartoon Network, but it wouldn't hurt if Warner Bros. shopped a potential idea to other networks.

The concept is Justice League Academy, which would reboot the premise from season 1 of Young Justice in that members of the Justice League (i.e. Batman, Superman) would act as mentors to the next generation of heroes. But instead of rushing the sidekicks/trainees into action, which happened with Young Justice, you need to give the Academy room to grow. You want comedy? I'm sure there'd be room for some lighter stories that would serve as done-in-ones to bridge a gap between more serious story arcs.

As for the student body, well, we'd start with at least the vast majority of the Young Justice crew. To refresh your memories.......




The only mistake made with Young Justice was killing off Kid Flash as part of the season 2 storyline, which I never got to see. These kids would be a foundation point, but they wouldn't be alone.

No, what I have in mind is to add on. Would there be any other Titans? Yep, but with ties to the classic comics from the 80's, not the cartoons that have been out for a decade and change.

Beast Boy (real name: Gar Logan) was added to YJ during season 2 (Invasion), and that arc suggested his powers came from a blood transfusion provided by Miss Martian. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? Sure, it does. It copies She-Hulk's origin from her first comics series, which came out a few months before the Titans were reassembled at DC. However, head writer Greg Weisman gave Gar the facial appearance of a monkey in his heroic guise, something that no one at DC thought of, although it might've been inspired by the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, which gave BB the look most fans recognize now, albeit with pointed ears. In the old books, Gar was working in Hollywood as a stuntman (!) when he was recruited for the Titans in 1980, and was played up as a wanna-be playa when it came to the ladies.

Cyborg (Victor Stone) has not always been the video game/junk food junkie as presented over the last several years. He's the son of a scientist, and you'd think he could add some smarts to the team. As with Beast Boy, he was de-aged when the Titans debuted on CN in 2003.

Starfire (Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran, Earth alias Kory Anders) literally fell for Robin (Dick Grayson) in the pages of New Teen Titans 1 back in 1980. Writer-creators Marv Wolfman & George Perez came up with the boss idea of giving her a cover as an aspiring supermodel, but yet unable to explain away her golden skin. She, too, was de-aged for the cartoons, and they gradually worked in her relationship with Robin, as they also have in Teen Titans GO!, but she is no longer with Dick in the books. She wouldn't be the only one giving Miss Martian some company on the alien front, though........

Yep, that means the Wonder Twins, Zan & Jayna, would be added to the mix as well. Their guest appearance on TTG aside, they've hardly been used in recent years, and have been rebooted a couple of times. After all, they succeeded Wendy Harris & Marvin White as the Super Friends' junior partners (Wendy & Marvin had in effect graduated in issue 9 of the comic book, as the first year of the book covered their "senior year", if ya will), and the training would be priority this time.

I didn't include Raven right away because of her father, Trigon, who'd be a central villain early on, leading to Raven entering the Academy.

What do you guys think?

Personal Favorites: Jerry's Cousin (1951)

Tom & Jerry were nominated for an Academy Award for 1951's "Jerry's Cousin". Unfortunately, they lost out to UPA's Gerald McBoing-Boing.

Jerry sends for his street tough cousin, Muscles (voiced by Paul Frees), to help him when Tom is getting a little too hot under the collar. In effect, Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera had introduced MGM's answer to Mighty Mouse, except that Muscles doesn't seem to ever be happy. Cats fear him, and soon, Tom learns that important lesson.

Frees' only other work for MGM was narrating Tex Avery's "_______ of Tomorrow" series, insofar as I know.



Rating: A+.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saturday Morning Ringside: Bunny Hugged (1951)

Bugs Bunny steps into the ring to battle the Crusher after Ravishing Ronald gets incapacitated in "Bunny Hugged".



Rating: A+.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Didn't I (Blow Your Mind) (1970-1)

Today's generation might only know the song, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" from the cover version recorded by New Kids on the Block several years ago. However, the song originally debuted on the Hot 100 in January 1970, performed by the Delfonics, who'd scored an earlier hit with "La La Means I Love You".

During Soul Train's 1st national season (the show was a regional entity at first, like American Bandstand), Don Cornelius booked the Delfonics to appear on the show, even though "Didn't I" was well off the charts by the time this broadcast aired.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tooniversary: The New Shmoo (1979)

While Al Capp's L'il Abner never made it to television, a character from the strip ultimately did, but, oh, how Hanna-Barbera screwed up.

The New Shmoo introduced television viewers to an armless, pasty white creature who was befriended by some kids, which meant, of course, that this would end up being another Scooby-Doo copycat from the studio, as if they hadn't made enough of those already.

However, viewers were few, and NBC, panicking, decided to fuse the series together with Fred & Barney Meet The Thing, which led to Shmoo returning for a 2nd season and joining Fred Flintstone (Henry Corden) & Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc) in the Bedrock Cops shorts. H-B had also obtained a license that same season (1979) for Casper, and the results there were just as bad. Everyone was tuning in over at ABC and/or CBS, leaving NBC in the dust again.

Following is the episode, "Wail of the Banshee":




Simply put, Shmoo was not being used as expected. H-B saw something cute that kids could warm up to, but cute doesn't always translate into ratings and/or success.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Toons After Dark: Spider-Man (2003)

MTV screwed the works with Spider-Man in the summer of 2003.

The series was supposed to launch 8 months earlier to tie into the DVD release of the first live-action feature film. In fact, the continuity in this series is supposed to be linked to the movie series. Prolific comics writer Brian Michael Bendis served as an executive producer for this series, which boasted an all-star cast, including Neil Patrick Harris (now on How I Met Your Mother) in the title role; singer Lisa Loeb as Mary Jane Watson; Ian Ziering (ex-Beverly Hills 90210) as Harry Osborn; and, in the series opener, "The Party", Ethan Embry (who was co-starring on Dragnet at the time) as a teenaged Max Dillon, aka Electro.

Therein lies a problem with the series. Dillon was ret-conned into a college freshman and an acquaintance of Peter Parker (Harris), Mary Jane, & Harry. A frat prank gone wrong ultimately leads to the debut of Electro.



Sony & Mainframe collaborated on the series, but no explanation was ever given for the 8 month delay, which ultimately proved costly. Sony would rebound with Spectacular Spider-Man 5 years later, which would be their last Spider-toon.

Rating: C.

How to reinvent Wheelie & the Chopper Bunch

Let us consider Hanna-Barbera's freshman class of 1974, marking their 40th anniversary this year.

*----These Are The Days: A period drama set around the same time as---and inspired by---The Waltons.
*----Korg: 70,000 B. C.: A live-action drama set in the Stone Age.
*----Valley of The Dinosaurs: H-B's animated answer to the Kroffts' Land of The Lost, which premiered the same year, and lasted three seasons to Valley's one.
*----Hong Kong Phooey: K-9 kung fu crossed with Get Smart, except that HKP's alter-ego is a police janitor.
*----Devlin: A stunt cyclist on the road with his brother & sister.
*---Partridge Family 2200 A.D.: The Partridges shift from live-action to animated in a poorly conceived series that was meant to be a revival of The Jetsons, and that wouldn't happen for another 11 years.

And, then, there is Wheelie & the Chopper Bunch, which owed some of its existence to the sentient vehicles that Tex Avery dreamed up at MGM some years prior. A car whose "voice" was a horn, although his girlfriend could talk, opposed by 4 sentient, bumbling motorcycles. Remember, this was well before Disney & Pixar came up with "Cars".

The common link is that all six series were cancelled after one season of episodes, and of this group, only Hong Kong Phooey would return in a rerun cycle, after changing networks.

A few short years ago, I began a series of posts on ToonZone postulating potential revivals of older series. A fellow poster suggested that Wheelie could be rebooted by making the title character, his girlfriend Rota, and the Chopper Bunch human, and active in extreme or action sports, as the kids call it these days. You know, motorcross would be perfect for Chopper and his crew if they weren't so obsessed with Wheelie. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this guy was on the right track.

Warner Bros. now holds the rights to Wheelie, and, given the success of "Cars", would be inspired to stick to the original concept, with a few revisions to fit the modern era. It's either that, or they go the action sports route. If they stick with the sentient cars/bikes, they could fit this to satisfy Cartoon Network's obsession with lame comedy that actually goes right over the heads of the younger half of their target audience.

Personally, I'd try the action sports angle, except that Wheelie & Rota would be riding bikes themselves, with Chopper and his crew as rivals who would/could take shortcuts to beat them in races, but like Dick Dastardly on Wacky Races, they'd always fail, and badly.

An action sports reboot of Wheelie wouldn't need to be a cartoon, though, really, and it'd be shopped to any number of networks that'd be interested, especially considering that Cartoon Network would screw it up badly as only they can.

Cartoonsintros reminds us of the series as it was.



What do you think?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Moby Dick & the Mighty Mightor (1967)

Hanna-Barbera, for the 2nd straight season, sold CBS a two-feature series where the headline star was in the middle feature, and thus isn't quite as remembered today.

Moby Dick was a loose adaptation of Herman Melville's classic novel, but this time, Moby, like King Kong a year earlier and Godzilla 11 years later, was rebooted as a hero, guarding a pair of shipwrecked kids, Tom & Tubb, and their pet seal, Scooby, as they travel underwater on exploratory adventures.

Mightor was on a prehistoric planet, which could easily be ret-conned today to be somewhere on the Herculoids' home planet, Quasar (known as Amzot back in '67). Some might think, as I did at one time, that Mightor could just as easily have been one of the world's first real superheroes, 10 years before H-B introduced the campy Captain Caveman, who was billed as "The World's First Superhero".

As it was, Mightor starred in 2 shorts per week, with Moby in the middle, same as Frankenstein, Jr. & the Impossibles the previous year.

Here's the basic intro:



And, a variant with narration by Don Messick:



Rating: B.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rein-Toon-Ation: The New Yogi Bear Show (1988)

Yogi Bear returned in 1988, the 3rd Hanna-Barbera revival in 4 years, but this one didn't take quite as well. If I'm not mistaken, Yogi replaced The Jetsons in weekday syndication.

This time, Yogi is back at Jellystone Park, joined, of course, by Boo Boo (Don Messick) and back under the supervision of Ranger Smith (Messick). Greg Burson was the new voice of Yogi, as Daws Butler had passed on after the conclusion of Yogi's Treasure Hunt. Cindy Bear returned as well, as she hadn't been seen in some time. Added to the mix was Blubber Bear, from Wacky Races, and a long ways away from his home in Arkansas.

The producers also gave Yogi a new enemy in this series in Ninja Raccoon, who appeared in a small handful of episodes. Unfortunately, only 1 season was produced, which would suggest that Yogi's popularity was waning, and this "solo" series was a replacement for Treasure Hunt as well. Of course, Yogi would get one more series, the abysmal Yo, Yogi!, which recast him as a juvenile in 1991.

I didn't see enough of this series to merit a legitimate rating. For now, here's a sample episode:


Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Secret Squirrel vs. Captain Kidd (?)(1965)

Secret Squirrel was dealing with a fake ghost, 4 years before Scooby-Doo.

In "Captain Kidd's Not Kidding", Yellow Pinky (Paul Frees) poses as the ghost of Captain Kidd to steal an ancient Spanish galleon that was just raised from the depths by the Panaravian government. Mel Blanc resurrects his "Mexican guy" character from The Jack Benny Program in the form of a Panaravian representative, while Frees is also the news reporter conducting the interview, and, in a hint of the future, tossing in a sponsor plug for the "ghost"'s appearance. I don't know who wrote this story, but it was ahead of its time in a lot of respects.

Edit: 11/4/15: Unfortunately, the video has been deleted due to a copyright claim issued by WB.

Blanc & Frees had such good chemistry together. It's just a shame that the only other project the two did together was the movie, "The Man Called Flintstone", the very next year.

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

How to plan the next Scooby-Doo series

This has been the subject of much debate on message boards, such as ToonZone, ever since Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated was royally screwed over by Cartoon Network, which decided that the 2nd season episodes would be shown in a weekday package, with each 13 episode block airing over a 2 1/2 week period, with no repeats. An utter disgrace to a franchise once worshipped like a god at the network under a different administration.

What the problem seems to be is that it was lacking a specific element to the formula. Humor.

In the warped mind of CN's Stuart Snyder, it was too much of an action show for his liking, and it was too dark and scary for his self-admitted target audience of boys between the ages of 8-14. Scooby's own creators, Joe Ruby & Ken Spears, have been on record stating that they felt head writer-producer Mitch Watson's vision was closer to their own original vision when they first developed Scooby 45 years ago. In my own opinion, Watson had made some mistakes, the biggest of which was perpetuating the notion, established in the 2002 live-action movie, that Fred was a bit of an airhead, which he certainly wasn't in past incarnations of the franchise.

Even though he was the title star, Scooby has always been a comedy character. He and his owner-partner, Shaggy, were used for slapstick comedy in the midst of each episode, but that went the way of the Edsel in Mystery Incorporated. What Watson wanted to do was make Scooby, in particular, more assertive, and less comical. From what I saw in season 1 (never saw season 2), it appeared that he'd succeeded. Unfortunately, serious Scooby doesn't bring the ratings, at least that's how Snyder and his idiot cohorts see it. They essentially buried season 2, and haven't even scheduled a DVD release insofar as I know.

So that brings us to the topic at hand. How do you put the inevitable next incarnation of the franchise together? It has to be a mix of comedy and adventure, much like it has been for most of the last 45 years. Silly slapstick will attract the little boys Snyder covets as his core audience. However, for older fans, the next series has to have the following:

*--Done-in-one mysteries. Part of the reason Mystery Incorporated ultimately failed in Snyder's eyes is that Watson went with the serial format, which was fine and new for the franchise, but Snyder felt it was too much for the kids to bear. As What's New Scooby-Doo demonstrated, a procedural whodunit works well for the Mystery Inc. team, just as it did for Clue Club years earlier. In fact, since the two teams never met, the next series could fix that little problem, since the CC weren't part of that fever dream Scooby had in season 1 of Mystery Incorporated.

*--Reintroduce "lost" supporting characters, specifically, Scooby's relatives, like his cousins, Scooby-Dee & Scooby-Dum, last seen several years ago, brother Yabba, who has been missing in action for more than 30 years, and, of course, Scrappy, who was really screwed over by the internet.

You all know the story with Scrappy. Fans turned away in droves because of his obnoxious but assertive persona, introduced in his first season (1979), which, in turn marked Scooby's 10th anniversary. Scrappy matured as time went on, but the writers of the 2002 movie seemingly ret-conned everything post 1979 out, as the movie was written with those haters on the internet in mind. Watson apparently also followed this logic, as Scrappy was mentioned in passing in season 1 of Mystery Incorporated, and not in a good way.

As for Dee & Dum, they've been missing for way too long. Dum was the Mortimer Snerd-influenced dimbulb who aspired to be a real detective like Scooby, hence the deerstalker cap he often wore. Dee was an actress, which would come in handy if /when she does get used.

*---Guest stars. Watson managed a minor miracle, one that I didn't get to see, by reviving Dynomutt, and ret-conning Blue Falcon into a former security guard instead of a millionaire. He didn't see the value in keeping Falcon a Batman-clone, and I can't blame him there. However, given the way season 2 was scheduled, should it surprise anyone at all that CN isn't interested in spinning the new-look Dynomutt off into his own series, what with his 40th anniversary 2 years away?

I mentioned the Clue Club earlier. Let's take it a step further and reboot the fever dream into something a little more substantial, and have Scooby meet Goober & the Ghost Chasers as well. And, then, there is the matter of returning the favor to Johnny Bravo after the gang paid him a visit in 1997.



*---Continuity. Some ill-informed souls on the message boards don't want to see the romantic subplots from the last series. Here's a newsflash, folks. There are older fans that do want to see Fred & Daphne's relationship develop in a more mature, dramatic fashion. What hurt that angle before was how Fred was written, as a trap-happy imbecile. If you revert Fred to what he was in the first place, as an assertive, mature sleuth, to fall into line with how Daphne's character has evolved from being a damsel in distress to being more assertive. They would be a toon couple on the order of, say, Popeye & Olive Oyl or Mickey & Minnie Mouse. I'd find love interests for Velma & Shaggy, but not with each other.

*---Format. Instead of the usual half-hour, or the 15 minute format CN has favored for their original series these days, I'd go with a 1 hour show in the style of live-action procedurals. That would ensure the "Done-in-one" format is employed.

*---Shopping to networks other than CN. An absolute must, given how CN screwed its audience and the franchise in one fell swoop. I'd shop the show to Nickelodeon and the Hub, or even to CW's Vortexx block. CN? Fuhgeddaboutit, as long as Snyder's in charge.

It will be interesting to see how CN celebrates Scooby's 45th birthday later this year.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Toonfomerical: Quisp tangles with space yarn (1965)

Quaker Oats introduced a really spacey new cereal in 1965, Quisp, and once more contracted animator Jay Ward to produce the commercials for the product.

Daws Butler provides the voice for Quisp in the ads, and here, he's playing hero, having to deal with some out-of-control space yarn whilst attempting to deliver a supply of his namesake cereal. Typical Ward nonsense.

From Comics to Toons: The origin of the Fantastic Four (1967)

Pay close attention to the 1967 Fantastic Four episode, "The Way It All Began", which explains the team's origin for the first time on television. Considering the casting for a reboot of the feature film version of the series, comic book purists will have reason to be up in arms again.



In another example of casting to the attention of casual, non-comics-reading fans, Michael B. Jordan (no relation to you know who) was cast as Johnny Storm in the pending reboot, with Kate Mara as Johnny's sister, Sue. Jordan is African-American. While Hollywood has been able to succeed by recasting white supporting characters as African-American in the transition from comics to screen (Samuel L. Jackson was, in fact, the model for Brian Bendis' reboot of Nick Fury, and Marvel neatly explained that away a few months back in storyline), doing the same for a central player in this film may be a mistake. Ben Grimm aside, there is a reason why the FF is known as the "First Family" of superheroes. By the time the above episode aired, Marvel had already had Reed Richards marry Sue Storm, which makes Johnny Reed's brother-in-law. It's going to be a little difficult to explain that away in this new movie.

I get the rationale behind the selection of Jordan, having previously worked with either a castmate or the director on another project. I get that they are targeting, as noted earlier, the non-comics audience who may have some periphery knowledge of the long running FF franchise. However, it wouldn't surprise me all that much if this ends up backfiring.

"The Way It All Began" merits an A, by the way.

Game Time: Joker! Joker! Joker! (1979)

Joker! Joker! Joker! was a syndicated spin-off of The Joker's Wild, and aimed at children. There had been an annual tradition on the parent series during Easter when kids would play the game, similar to other shows using the promotion at Christmas.

Jack Barry served as both executive producer and host for the series' short run. No stranger to kids' shows, having previously presided over Juvenile Jury & Winky Dink & You, Barry found himself appearing on a network of stations, usually on Sunday afternoons, such as in New York on WWOR. No station in my market, that I know of, tried the show, which lasted just a year or two.





Sony now owns the rights to this series. CBS blew it by not taking a chance, but then, as we've discussed before, Saturday morning game shows, as CBS found out with Way Out Games & Video Village, Jr., for example, have short shelf lives.

Rating: A.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Saturtainment: Super Mario World (1991)

This would be the last Super Mario Brothers series that DIC produced, having done three in as many seasons. It just happened that it was on NBC, which was giving up cartoons after the 1991-2 season, making this a lame duck in every way imaginable.

In fact, it wasn't a good year for DIC. All of their NBC series were being canned, including 1st year entries Wishkid & Pro-Stars, and over at ABC, The Real Ghostbusters had packed up and left after 5 seasons, but their replacement, Hammerman, was a total dud.

Here's the episode, "Mama Luigi", in which Luigi (Tony Rosato, ex-Saturday Night Live) just happens to be there when an egg hatches..........




No rating. Didn't see the show.

Game Time: Storybook Squares (1969)

Seeing the success of Hollywood Squares, both in daytime & primetime, prompted NBC executives to order a Saturday morning spin-off from Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley. Unfortunately, the track record of game shows on Saturday mornings back then wasn't that great, and that included a pair of previous H-Q entries. In fact, their other entry during the 1968-69 season was a collaboration with Hanna-Barbera, Wacky Races, which was meant to be a hybrid game show/cartoon, but the game show part never got off the ground.

Storybook Squares lasted 8 months, from January-August 1969, airing near the bottom of NBC's moribound Saturday lineup. Peter Marshall continued as host, with announcer Kenny Williams on stage for the first time since Shenanigans as the Guardian of the Gate. Why did it fail? Chalk it up to the indifference of parents who felt that after seeing six episodes of the regular series during the week, they might not have wanted to expose their kids to some of the silliness, even if it was aimed at the kiddo's.

Undaunted, H-Q & NBC would try again, this time folding Storybook into the main show for theme weeks in the late 70's. Original episodes from 1969 have been lost and taken off YouTube, so all we have is a 1977 sample.



By that time, Williams was now a Town Crier instead of the Guardian of the Gate, as the original set had been dismantled long ago. It's too bad that when the ownership of the series changed hands twice, the Storybook version didn't go with it. The last incarnation, MTV's Hip Hop Squares, apparently has been cancelled after two seasons. If we're lucky, maybe Storybook would return to mark its 45th anniversary, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Rating: B.

Edit: 12/10/16: A 1969 episode has just surfaced, featuring Paul Winchell & Jerry Mahoney as Romeo & Juliet, Soupy Sales as King Henry VIII, and Carolyn Jones reprising her Addams Family role as Morticia Addams, plus Arte Johnson bringing the Soldier over from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Toons You Might've Missed: Clint Clobber (1959)

Clint Clobber was a back-up feature on CBS' Mighty Mouse Playhouse, but aside from that, the misadventures of a bumbling building superintendent haven't seen the light of day in years.

Clint was part of the new era of Terrytoons, as they were trying out some new ideas, not all of which worked out so well.

Toontracker presents "The Flamboyant Arms", in black & white.




I think I can see why it wasn't in syndication when I was catching up with Mighty Mouse as a teenager.

Edit, 1/30/17: Dandy Deal has found a color version, slightly longer, with the same intro used for Possible Possum:



Rating: C.

Monday, February 17, 2014

From Primetime to Daytime: Annie Oakley (1954)

There's a lot of noise these days about how certain children's cablers are ignoring female viewers, and targeting pre-teen to early-teen boys. Back in the early days of television, demographics didn't matter, because programmers were more concerned with building their programming to appeal to the entire family.

In addition, after some series ended their runs, they were usually brought back in reruns to fill time on weekend mornings. Annie Oakley was one of those shows, airing on Saturdays & Sundays on ABC in the early 60's after its original syndicated run ended in 1957 after 3 seasons.

Produced by actor-singer Gene Autry's production company, Annie Oakley starred Gail Davis in the title role as the Old West icon, now joined by brother Tagg (Jimmy Hawkins, though Billy Gray, later of Father Knows Best, also essayed the part) and her horse, Target. Let's take a look at a sample episode:



Hawkins experienced a growth spurt, leaving him unable to continue as Tagg, and so Autry opted to end the series, rather than recast the part again.

Didn't much care for saddling Annie with the kid brother-sidekick angle, which I think was done for the sake of attracting families to the show. Meh.

Rating: C.

Tooniversary: Monster Rancher (1999)

The sudden success of Pokemon in American syndication led to WB acquiring the series in February 1999. This, in turn, led Fox to counter by buying up as much anime as possible, at the expense of shows previously ordered by the network for the fall season.

One of these anime was Monster Rancher, which was added to the schedule early in the 1999-2000 season, two years after the namesake CD-Rom game had been introduced in Japan. There were only two seasons produced, which aired almost concurrently in Japan and the US. Bohbot distributed the series here, as opposed to Saban or 4Kids, the latter of whom had imported Pokemon. To those of us who weren't familiar with the game, we wondered why Fox would abruptly pull comics-related toons that Saban was doing, Avengers: United We Stand & Spider-Man Unlimited, both of which had been delayed anyway, along with Sony's adaptation of Frank Miller's Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot, then yanked when their ratings couldn't dent Pokemon's. It's not that Monster Rancher or Digimon were any better performers, it was simply a case of counter-programming anime with more anime, which actually can be counter-productive.

As the series marks 15 years this year, let's take a look back at the series opener, "In The Beginning":




No rating. Didn't watch the show.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park (1972)

2 years after their NBC series had ended, The Banana Splits returned in an all-new 1 hour movie as part of the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie.

In "The Banana Splits in Hocus-Pocus Park", the boys (Paul Winchell, Don Messick, Allan Melvin, & Daws Butler) are reduced to being tour guides at an amusement park. Forced to reduce their rates down to nothing, they attract one solitary little girl, who ends up being lured into the Forbidden Forest, where the wizards, Hocus & Pocus (both voiced by Howard Morris, although it sounds like Messick takes over as Hocus briefly), capture her. The Splits follow, and so does chaos......



If this was meant to be a pilot for a revival, it failed, obviously. Wikipedia for some reason listed Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch/Brady Kids) as being in the cast, but obviously had this film confused with the Brady Kids pilot that was part of the Superstar Movie series as well. Butler's Bingo voice was a bit off, suggesting that there was a sound mix problem or Butler might've been ill, and either Messick or Morris filled in at some point, I can't be sure.

Rating: C.

Looney TV: Hollywood Capers (1935)

Here's a Golden Age Looney Tunes short that Cartoon Network won't even consider running nowadays.

"Hollywood Capers" is one of those occasional pieces that pokes fun at the movie capital. The key to this long forgotten short is how the Monster of Frankenstein is presented. Instead of being the patchwork monster we know and love, he's a robot. That is really way ahead of its time, when you think about later robo-monsters.

To be honest with you, I barely remember seeing Beans if at all when Nickelodeon had the rights to air these cartoons in the 90's, but "Hollywood Capers" has fallen into the public domain, something that WB might consider doing something about in due time........



Pedestrian, and now I can see why Beans isn't a marquee player.

Rating: C.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturtainment: Precious Pupp in Bites & Gripes (1965)

It's amazing how Precious Pupp has been forgotten and shunted off to the vaults, with his 50th anniversary a year away. Then again, given how [adult swim] has dissed other Hanna-Barbera characters from the 60's with their so-called humor, maybe it's just as well. It would require a new administration with a better appreciation for the older cartoons taking over Cartoon Network/Boomerang before Precious is even considered for a revival.

That having been said, let's revisit Precious at his best, in "Bites & Gripes".

The video has been deleted due to copyright issues.

See what happens when crooks don't pay attention to every word?

 Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: Ask the Manager (1974)

If you've ever wondered just what goes into programming a television station, WSBK in Boston had the answer. In 1974, the station, once again an independent after the demise of the UPN network a few years ago, introduced what amounts to definitive reality television.

Ask The Manager launched that year, airing on Sunday nights with replays on Saturday mornings ahead of their screenings of Charlie Chan movies and Three Stooges shorts. No station in my market has ever tried to duplicate the format, and Lord only knows why they wouldn't. Viewer questions are answered on the air by the station manager himself.

By the mid 1980's, that manager was Daniel Berkery, who was also a station vice president, aided and abetted by a rotating cast of station staff, including WSBK's most famous on-air personality, Dana Hersey, and sportscaster Sean McDonough (now with ABC/ESPN after a short stint with CBS in the 90's), son of newspaper columnist Will McDonough. Back then, as now, WSBK was an independent station, so they could fill all their hours with whatever was available. The Stooges, predictably, were and still are very popular, and were often a subject of viewer questions, especially when they were put "on vacation" for a while, although in some cases, other stations would snatch up the rights to the classic shorts for a period, and then WSBK would negotiate to get them back.

Following is the first 5+ minutes of an episode from 1985. Hersey is also the voice-over announcer, whose intro is pre-recorded since he's in the studio. If you really think Hersey & Berkery are in Paris, you'd probably buy a bridge from these guys...............



There were those moments where Berkery would actually come up with some funny lines. Must've missed his true calling.

Rating: A.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tooniversary: Popeye in Aladdin & His Wonderful Lamp (1939)

Not long ago, we presented Popeye's encounter with "Sindbad". This time, it's another extra length adventure, with the spinach-eating sailor cast as "Aladdin".

You might say this is "The Famous Adventures of Popeye", since Popeye (Jack Mercer) is actually working out of a movie studio, as you'll see as this film begins. "Aladdin & His Wonderful Lamp" clocks in at just over 20 minutes, which in syndication meant room for 2 commercial breaks.




It's fun, isn't it? Rating: A.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

From Primetime to Daytime: The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin (1954)

In Hollywood, there are two iconic dogs: Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin.

Rin-Tin-Tin, or, Rinty, to use the nickname given to him on his 1954-9 ABC series, began his career in silent films in the 20's, so this was a descendant who appeared in the 50's. The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin originally aired on Friday nights, then had reruns air in the afternoon. CBS picked up rerun rights to put the series in their Saturday morning package in 1962. In 1976, the series was brought back for a syndicated run with the episodes now slightly colorized. That's how I first came across the show, airing as an after-school entry on what is now the local NBC affiliate, WNYT (which was an ABC affiliate when they picked up the colorized version).

Unlike Lassie, this series was set in the Old West, with Rinty and his owner, a young boy named Rusty (Lee Aaker) on an Army base, where Rusty had to be the youngest soldier in history. Cast member Abel Fernandez later moved on to The Untouchables, for which he's better known.

Following is a sample episode:



I only caught bits and pieces, and don't recall seeing a full episode, hence no rating.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: How Long (1974)

From The Midnight Special comes Ace's 1-hit wonder from 1974, "How Long". Lead singer Paul Carrack would later be the voice of bands such as Squeeze & Mike and the Mechanics before branching out as a solo act at the end of the 80's.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sunday Funnies: Sonic Underground (1999)

Sonic the Hedgehog (Jaleel White, ex-Family Matters) returns in an all-new series that somehow the networks passed on in 1999.

Sonic Underground premiered overseas before arriving in the US in the summer of 1999, with a 1 season order of 40 episodes. It had a completely separate continuity from the previous Sonic series that aired on ABC (Saturdays) and in syndication (weekdays) a few years prior. This time, Sonic is, essentially, a prince on Mobius, but his mother, Queen Aleena, is in hiding after Robotnik takes over the planet. Sonic has a brother & sister (also voiced by White), and the trio's cover for their resistance efforts is that of a rock band. Their instruments convert into magic medallions when needed. Yeah, I know. Way past wack, as Sonic himself might put it.

This series was in syndication, distributed through Bohbot, and around my neck of the woods, I recall it airing on Sundays, though it may have aired on other days in other parts of the country. This TV was the last network to hold the rights. For now, enjoy the open:



Actor Sam Vincent, who'd later work on WB shows like Baby Looney Tunes and Krypto the Superdog, provided the singing voice for Sonic. Like, go figure.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From Comics to Toons: Goddess Melody? (Josie & the Pussycats in Outer Space, 1972)

This is easily one of the most befuddling episodes of Josie & the Pussycats in Outer Space.

Naive, airheaded Melody (Jackie Joseph) is treated like a goddess on an alien planet, which may not exactly be a blessing for the rest of the gang..........



What Hanna-Barbera set out to do with this series was use the Pussycats in a send-up of Irwin Allen's Lost In Space. In an odd coincidence, the very next year, H-B was tasked to produce an animated adaptation of Lost In Space for ABC's Saturday Superstar Movie. It's funny how things work.

Rating: C.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Toonfomercial: Smoking in the Stone Age? (1960's)

Back in the day, it was fairly common for commercials to actually be part of the show. It was uncommon, however, for The Flintstones to have either Fred (Alan Reed) or his best buddy, Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc) lighting up a cigarette. However, since RJ Reynolds, the world's biggest tobacco manufacturer, was sponsoring the show, Hanna-Barbera felt obliged to do an in-show ad with the boys taking a Winston break........



Oh, sure, some incidental characters were often depicted with a fancy cigarette holder, but that was as far as it went in the plots.

Valentoons: La-La-La-La-Love (1970)

Pterixa serves up an Archies track from Archie's Funhouse, queued up by Archie himself (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone). Here's "La-La-La-La-Love" to start Valentoon Week.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Getting Schooled: The New Zoo Revue (1972)

For five seasons in the 70's, programming for preschoolers had suddenly become a very crowded place.

On PBS, there was----and still is---Sesame Street. Captain Kangaroo had the Treasure House open for business on CBS. In syndication, the Romper Room now had some company in the form of The New Zoo Revue.

The setting was a modest zoo in an unnamed city, where two humans--Doug & Emmy Jo (real-life husband & wife Doug Momary & Emily Peden)---interacted with a frog, a hippo, & an owl in comedy skits & musical numbers. Puppeteer and former Mouseketeer Sharon Baird, who otherwise was working for the Kroffts at the time, worked on the show. Voice talent included Bob Holt, more closely associated with DePatie-Freleng during his career. What would be a surprise is the presence of actor-singer and future game show host Chuck Woolery, a couple of years before the launch of Wheel of Fortune, playing an elderly postman, Mr. Dingle, under a ton of makeup.

Here's the open everyone knows:




There were the occasional guests, including June Lockhart (ex-Lost In Space, Petticoat Junction) & Richard Dawson (ex-Hogan's Heroes), who played a time-traveling knight. Oh, if only the Kroffts had thought of something like that.

Rating: B+.

The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night & I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1965)

Yes, "A Hard Day's Night" was also the title of The Beatles' 1st feature film, as well as the title used for the first short in their animated series. Coincidence? Yep.

Unable to find a quiet place to rehearse in, of all places, Transylvania, the band decides to visit a certain spooky castle, at the suggestion of Ringo (Lance Percival), who is presented here as being dumber than a  bag of hammers.

The only drawback I can see is Paul Frees' characterization of John & George. His voice for John sounds the same as the one he uses for authority figures, such as Inspector Fenwick (Dudley Do-Right) or the Chief (Secret Squirrel, which also debuted that season), and his George is simply another "Generic Frees Voice". Frees also is the caretaker in the graveyard.

The show open has been deleted by Beatles Planet, who probably didn't time it right.



Executive Producer Al Brodax may have exhausted King Features' expense account on licensing fees for the music, such that he couldn't hire enough actors. Bad idea.

 Rating: C.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Animated World of DC Comics: The New Batman-Superman Adventures (1997)

After 5 seasons on Fox, Batman: The Animated Series, which had morphed into The Adventures of Batman & Robin 3 years in, shifted over to WB to join Superman: The Animated Series, which was entering its 2nd season. The network decided to put the two together in a hour-long Saturday block for the first time since 1968, when Filmation held the license and aired the cartoons on CBS.

Because Time Warner had already produced a compilation series under the title, The Batman-Superman Adventures for cable, this block had "New" added to the title to create distinction. As a result, The New Batman-Superman Adventures lasted three seasons before WB pulled the plug. With Superman also airing weekdays, WB had the option of either using a fresh episode on Saturdays, or repeating one from earlier in the week.

From this spun a 90 minute special editon, "World's Finest", which brought the Man of Steel (Tim Daly, ex-Wings) and the Dark Knight (Kevin Conroy) together to battle the Joker (Mark Hamill) & Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown). That particular adventure was reviewed a while back. Bat-fans will point to the episode, "Holiday Knights", as one of the best Batman episodes in this series, one that was adapted from the comics.

Today, the Hub holds the rights to all of the 90's DC toons, running them mostly in the morning to counter-program Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, et al. For now, let's scope the open, uploaded by Christopher Fluhr:



Rating: A-.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Jonny Quest (1986)

You might say it was viewer demand that brought Jonny Quest back for all-new adventures as part of the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera in 1986. Edited repeats of the original 1964 series were back in syndication at this point in some cities, and interest was such that Jonny would eventually be licensed to Comico for a comic book series that lasted about as long as the TV revival did, if not longer.

Only 1 season of new episodes were produced, and only Don Messick (Dr. Benton Quest/Bandit) returned from the earlier series. Messick, in fact, had taken over for John Stephenson as Dr. Quest six weeks into the original series. Lord only knows what brought that change on. Scott Menville landed one of his first lead roles as Jonny, who sounds much younger than he did in the original as a result.

2 TV-movies would follow, with the first, "Jonny's Golden Quest", premiering on USA Network, if memory serves. The 2nd one, "Jonny Quest & the Cyber-Insects", would make its debut on TNT, and not long after, a new series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, surfaced on Cartoon Network as part of its then-weekday Toonami package. Jonny & Hadji were allowed to age just a tad, and Race Bannon's daughter, Jessie, was added to the mix, allowing the producers to tease the prospect of either of the boys falling for Jessie. Didn't happen, unfortunately. Real Adventures, however, was fraught with more casting changes, as they ended up using 2 actors apiece for each of the core characters. We'll discuss that another time.

What was missing from the 1996 series and the 2 TV-movies, though, was the subject of the episode, "The Monolith Man", Hardrock (Jeffrey Tambor, ex-The Ropers), who would remain for the final 5 episodes of the 1986 series, and was never seen again. We won't see Hardrock, though, in this sample.



Not long ago, some jabroni came up with the idea of a live-action adaptation of the series, with Zac Efron as Jonny. Luckily for us, it never got past the talking stages.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 7, 2014

You Know The Voice: Shannon Farnon (1970)

Before she was cast as the voice of Wonder Woman on Super Friends, Shannon Farnon had made the rounds in primetime, making guest appearances on shows like Name of the Game and, in this case, Dragnet.

Let's take you back to March 1970, 3 1/2 years before the launch of the Super Friends franchise, and one of the last episodes of Dragnet in the Jack Webb era. Joe Friday (Webb) is taking a night school course that he may just flunk out of if he goes through with arresting a classmate for drug possession. Pay close attention to the first scene Webb has with Shannon. Doesn't it seem as though they were setting her character up as a prospective girlfriend for Friday? Of course, they didn't follow up, as Friday was the eternal bachelor.....


Family Toons: The Proud Family (2001)

Disney's The Proud Family didn't last as long as it should have, but then, we say that about a lot of Disney series, since the studio has set limits on how many episodes are produced for each series. Stupid idea? Yep, but Disney's not about to change their policy any time soon, despite what fans might think.

Proud Family aired on both Disney Channel and ABC during its run, exposing the series to a wide audience. The show was built around daughter Penny (Kyla Pratt, who'd been in a UPN sitcom, One On One, before Proud), moreso than her father (Tommy Davidson, ex-In Living Color). The voice cast also included two cast members from Family Matters: Jo Marie Payton & Orlando Brown, the latter of whom would go on to co-star in the sitcom That's So Raven.

Here's a sample episode, "Love Thy Neighbor":




Rating: A-.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

On The Air: Doc McStuffins (2012)

When we get sick, we go to the doctor's office. Pets are taken to a veterinarian. Toys? Well, that's another story altogether.

Disney's Doc McStuffins is about a 6 year old girl who aspires to be a doctor when she grows up. So, to get some practice in, she starts a practice of her own by being a toy doctor. That is, she "fixes" toys that are broken down or "sick". Her stuffed animals come to life thanks to a magic stethoscope she wears around her neck.

The series is approaching its 2nd birthday, having been launched in March 2012, airing on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. While it's geared to pre-schoolers, the series airs at various times during the day, even at night, on DJ, which is Disney's answer to Nick Jr., another pre-school-driven channel.

Kiara Muhammad voices the title character, while some of the stuffed animals have more familiar voices, such as Jess Harnell, Grey DeLisle, Lara Jill Miller (ex-The Life & Times of Juniper Lee) and Robbie Rist (ex-The Brady Bunch, Kidd Video). Given the flexibility of DJ's schedule, parents can watch Doc with their small ones and learn something at the same time.

Disney Junior UK's YouTube channel provides this sample clip, in which Doc asks her father for a favor........



Rating: A.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Saturtainment: C-Bear & Jamal (1996)

In the 90's, Fox was taking whatever came along and trying to make a hit series for their Saturday morning block. And they took in a few clunkers along the way.

C-Bear & Jamal was snuck onto the schedule in February 1996 with little promotion. After 3 weeks, the series disappeared, only to return in the fall. The gap in between was too large for viewers to come back to the show for its fall run, and thus, a year after its launch, this innovative inner-city toon was el-defunct-o. Cancelled, that is.

Rapper-actor Tone Loc, best known for late 80's hits like "Funky Cold Medina" & "Wild Thing", voiced C-Bear, a talking teddy bear who was best buds with his owner, 10-year-old Jamal. On the surface, the series strove to be a post-modern, urban reboot of AA Milne's Winnie The Pooh, but failed miserably. Like so many other shows back then, Fox ruined it themselves with their schedule roulette, if ya will. Sad to say, the series hasn't been seen, not even on urban networks like BET or Aspire, since it was cancelled.

Here's the intro. Tone Loc also performs the theme song:



Like, I can't relate. I didn't have a teddy bear when I was a kid, unlike most guys at that age. My folks once got me a transistor radio shaped like a dog. No lie, I think it was a poodle or a cocker spaniel. Lasted less than a year.

Rating: None. Never saw the show.


Is Cartoon Network being phased out of its own channel?

Traditionally, prime time television hours run 8-11 pm (ET) Monday-Saturday, starting an hour earlier on Sundays. At Cartoon Network, prime time for the core network has been from 6-9 (ET), due to the [adult swim] half taking over at 9, aside from a respite in December when CN was given back the 9-10 (ET) hour to showcase some of their best original programs.

Despite the fact that the ratings favored CN hits like Regular Show & Adventure Time, Stuart Snyder, the moron in charge, restored the [as] block to a 9 pm (ET) start after the holidays, but it's not enough anymore.

According to a couple of newsboards I frequent, plans call for [adult swim] to expand again at the end of March, taking away another hour of programming from CN itself. Like, is this move really necessary? As far as Snyder is concerned, the answer would be yes, but it should be no. Snyder is claiming this is what advertisers want. Oh, really?

The target demographic that Snyder is after are boys 6-14 years of age. [adult swim] is geared toward young adults from 18-up. That leaves a small teenage demographic, from 15-17, that isn't being addressed, and that is something that should be a point of emphasis.

Let's take a look at some of the original programming on CN these days.

Regular Show, with its surrealist, absurd humor, would fit right into that 15-17 demographic, but can also fit in with [adult swim]. Uncle Grandpa falls into this category as well. Steven Universe, Adventure Time, & The Amazing World of Gumball, as bad as that is, fall closer to the 6-14 demo. Mad, adapted from the long running humor magazine of the same name, would/should be geared for teenagers, but there's no need for it on [adult swim], unless it's to be coupled with the longer running Robot Chicken, which treads the same satirical ground.

And, then, there is the beleagured DC Nation block, which as presently constituted, is a full hour of Teen Titans GO! and filler material. Beware the Batman is overdue to return, but its comics counterpart is being cut by DC, effective next month. CN's mishandling of the series and other action cartoons would be muted by repackaging these shows for the 15-17 demographic and plugging them back into the mix. That would appease older fans of the comics those shows are based on, but that isn't what Snyder wants to do. His myopic mindset puts him in the same category as WWE's Vince McMahon and cable/sports mogul James Dolan. Too stubborn to accept change, and unwilling to acknowledge mistakes being made.

On the flip side, CN's kid sister network, Boomerang, will be a fully ad supported network soon. Non-house ads began airing on the channel a while back, but as Boomerang is also in need of a face lift, it's clear that it will house more CN material as well as older series. The problem there, though, is that more older series will be consigned to the vaults, unused and unloved. CN/Boomerang has already lost some WB properties to The Hub, for example, and let Marvel Super Hero Squad defect to the Hub as well. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is bound for DisneyXD to wrap that series up. There are older series from Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, and WB that are just sitting there, dormant, collecting dust. Snyder doesn't care about them, but that doesn't mean nobody else does.

Meanwhile, plans call for more original material to air online, calling attention to the network's website as being more than just about video games. Like other networks, if you're missing your favorites, and they're not On Demand, they're likely going to be streaming online so you can catch up. It's the way of the world.

In terms of ratings, and I cannot be certain of this, CN may be trailing badly behind Disney Channel and/or Nickelodeon, and on the verge of falling behind The Hub, if it hasn't already. Personally, I'd rank Disney & Hub 1-2, because their programmers seem to get it. Nickelodeon fostered the idea of playing popular series into the ground nearly 25 years ago, and while Disney got away from that, CN hasn't. It's time they should, and it's also time they started addressing all of their viewer demos, not just selected ones. Their future depends on it.

On The Air: Regular Show (2010)

One of Cartoon Network's most popular original series is also one of its most surreal. Ever.

Regular Show gathers together a raccoon, a blue jay, a Yeti, a sentient gumball machine, a robin, and a humanoid lollipop, among others, for some absurd comedy that has amassed a huge following in nearly 3 1/2 years on the air. Series creator JG Quintel had developed at least part of the concept while at college, where two of his classmates would also develop series for CN.

Quintel lends his voice to Mordecai, the blue jay mentioned earlier. Mordecai is the show's primary protagonist, and, with his best friend/roommate, Rigby (the raccoon), works as a groundskeeper at a local park, but prefers to goof off. I would guess Quintel was a fan of Mort Walker's comic strip, Beetle Bailey, but we don't know that for sure. What we do know is that Mordecai has a serious crush on Margaret (the robin), a waitress at a coffee shop. They do make such a cute couple, but while Mordecai is interested in them being a full-on couple, Margaret may not be ready for such a commitment just yet.

Of course, given the 15 minute format, CN has played it into the ground over the course of 3+ years. Regular Show has also made its way into comics, as Quintel & CN licensed the series to Boom! Studios last year (same company also adapted Adventure Time into a very popular comic book). Given what CN intends to do with their schedule in the spring, they may be left with no choice but to either push Regular Show into a daily berth for premieres, or loan it out to [adult swim], which is taking over primetime, piece by piece, the latest stupid idea from the current administration.

Right now, Mordecai and the gang are getting ready to play dodgeball. Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn have nothing to fear. We think.



Rating: B.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Roy Rogers Show (1951)

Hollywood's "King of the Cowboys", Roy Rogers, transitioned to television in 1951 with a Sunday night oater on NBC that lasted for 6 seasons. Roy and wife Dale Evans were joined by comedy relief Pat Brady of the vocal group, The Sons of the Pioneers, the same ensemble that another actor, Ken Curtis, sang with before he became an icon as Festus on Gunsmoke. Add Trigger & Buttermilk and Bullet, a German Shepherd "wonder dog", sort of Roy's answer to Rin Tin Tin, if ya will, and all the elements are there for a family adventure show.

After 4 years away, the series returned as an all-rerun Saturday morning entry on CBS from 1961-4, though I doubt that they were able to air all of the episodes. A few years ago, the Variety Channel, a small cable channel, carried repeats of the series on its original night, Sundays, but at a later time, around 9 (ET), and that's where I ran across it after acquiring a DVD that had a single episode, coupled with a radio episode (yes, Roy did radio, too), from Radio Spirits.

The plots were generic and typical of the era, as you'll see in the episode, "Ranch War". Wild West Toys, an online retailer, has a number of channels on YouTube, and RoyRogersShow is one of them........



Rating: A.

Arthur Rankin, Jr. (1924-2014) & Morrie Turner (1923-2014)

Arthur Rankin, Jr., together with Jules Bass, founded what was known originally as Videocraft International (later rechristened Rankin-Bass Productions after its founders) in the early 60's, and specialized mostly in holiday-themed specials, including a pretty large chunk of Christmas shows, such as adaptations of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & Frosty The Snowman, both of whom became holiday franchises for the studio in later years.

Rankin-Bass' output on Saturday mornings was sparse, compared to their contemporaries, but perhaps their last Saturday entry was an adaptation of Morrie Turner's ground-breaking newspaper strip, Wee Pals, which was renamed Kid Power for an all-too-brief run on ABC in 1972. The series had the unfortunate luck to debut the same year as Bill Cosby's award-winning Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids, and because Wee Pals didn't appear in a lot of newspapers, even at its peak, there were very few takers for the series in terms of viewers.

Today, we celebrate the lives of both Morrie Turner & Arthur Rankin, Jr., who've left us over the last two weeks. Turner passed away at 90, Rankin at 89. Fittingly, we have a commercial promo for Kid Power, uploaded by Muttley16, for your perusal.




Rest in peace, gentlemen. Many thanks, by the way, to regular correspondent Geed for tipping me onto Rankin's passing.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Saturtainment: Waynehead (1996)

Kids' WB! had a few clunkers back in the day, but this one shouldn't have been one.

Waynehead sprang from the mind of actor-comedian Damon Wayans (In Living Color), who based the series on his own childhood. Brothers Shawn & Marlon and fellow Color cast member T'Keyah "Crystal" Keymah were in the cast, with Orlando Brown (Family Matters) in the lead as Damey.

Unfortunately, the series lasted just one season of 13 episodes due to poor ratings, and just not enough attention given to the show. I've a feeling Wayans may have offered Waynehead to Fox, Color's home network, but was turned down, leading to WB getting the show, and fumbling.

Here's the open. The series hasn't been seen since an all-too-brief run on Cartoon Network several years back.




Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: If You Don't Know Me By Now (1972)

February is Black History Month. Here in the Archives, we're going to do our part, starting by offering this choice clip from Soul Train, featuring one of the greatest R & B groups of the 60's & 70's, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, who scored a #1 on the R & B chart in 1972 with "If You Don't Know Me By Now", which was covered several years later by Simply Red. Enjoy.