Monday, September 25, 2017

You Know The Voice: Lennie Weinrib (1965)

Well before going before the cameras as Magic Mongo on The Krofft Supershow, Lennie Weinrib was an accomplished writer and actor. He made some movies in the 60's before breaking into cartoons. He also did some television work.

One example is a brief appearance on Burke's Law in 1965. Lennie plays Maddox, a destitute soul living in a flophouse who gets into a brawl with Capt. Amos Burke (Gene Barry). Lennie shows up around the 11 minute mark, and before that, Batman fans will see Stafford Repp as a bartender named Cody, who's also an informant for Burke. Repp, I think, had left General Hospital by that point.

We'll check Lennie's IMDB file to see if there's more we can dig up.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tooniversary: Abbott & Costello in Pigskin Pickle (1967)

Dandy Deal brings us a sporting Abbott & Costello short.

Bud Abbott is a football coach. Lou Costello (Stan Irwin) is the waterboy, but is pressed into emergency service as their team needs a miracle to get out of a "Pigskin Pickle".

"Clams" Chowder (John Stephenson) was a crook, alright, as if you couldn't tell right from the go. A nearly 6 minute short would probably translate to a full half hour with other characters today.

Rating: B.

Game Time: Capital Region Bowling (2005)

It has been a tradition in the home district through the years, but it went dormant when WRGB terminated TV Tournament Time several years ago. The Capital Region Bowling Proprietors Association (CRBPA) decided to give it a try and mount a new bowling show in 2005, but not on WRGB.

Instead, Fox affiliate WXXA was the new home for local bowlers, although that didn't last long. Thanks to the sponsorship of a prominent local retailer, Huck Finn's Capital Region Bowling restored the Sunday morning tradition, even after switching from WXXA to WNYA a few years back.

Unfortunately, after the 13th season ended in May, it was announced that the series would not return this year, citing financial issues, leaving WNYA with a big hole in their Sunday schedule.

So what was the problem? For bowlers, you have a $20 membership fee for the season, plus charging more than $50 per tournament, which will drain the resources for some bowlers. The member houses aren't exactly swimming in profits, either. As I wrote over in The Land of Whatever a few days ago, the best solution would be to lower the fees to something a little more fiscally feasible. Huck Finn's Warehouse is still underwriting some tournaments, and the high prices are still intact. Not good.

Rich Becker, now calling high school football for Spectrum News, was the first host, followed by veteran newsman John Craig. Craig, a columnist for The Record, was in absentia for the tapings for this episode, airing in April. Executive producer Art Hunsinger fills in, joined by local pro Kenny Hall, owner of a pro shop at Spare Time-Latham.

The hope here is that the series will eventually return, preferably with a more economically friendly budget for everyone concerned.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Literary Toons: Ferdinand the Bull (1938)

In 1938, Walt Disney acquired the rights to adapt Munro Leaf's children's story, Ferdinand the Bull. This tale of a pacifist bull has aired on The Wonderful World of Disney when NBC reran the annual Christmas episode, "From All of Us to All of You". Radio icon Don Wilson, better known for The Jack Benny Program, narrates.

Nearly 80 years later, Ferdinand returns later this year in a full-length feature film, with WWE & reality star John Cena attached. I wonder how they can stretch out this nearly 8 minute short into a hour-plus feature?

Rating: A.

From Comics to Toons; Josie & the Pussycats in The Jumping Jupiter Affair (1970)

We all know Hanna-Barbera acquired a license for Josie & the Pussycats so they could create another series of young amateur detectives stumbling onto mysteries.

"The Jumping Jupiter Affair" could've easily been a Scooby-Doo plot, with a gang of common Earth crooks posing as costumed aliens from Jupiter in order to loot a poor village in Peru.

Rating: B.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Toon Legends: Popeye's Cool Pool (1960)

Summer's over. Still, our final Summertainment entry for this year features Popeye.

The sailor is shamed by Brutus (Jackson Beck), Olive (Mae Questel), and Swee'pea (Questel again) into building his own pool. Here's "Popeye's Cool Pool":

Rating: B.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: That's The Way I Like It (1975)

Over the course of its run, Soul Train opened its stage to white artists such as David Bowie, Dan Hartman, and our next subject, KC & The Sunshine Band. The Florida-based combo appeared on Train in 1975 in support of their #1 smash, "That's The Way I Like It". Yes, it's lip-synched. So what? That was common on both Train and American Bandstand.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Lancelot Link in Surfin' Spy and The Missing Link (1970)

As summer winds down, let's spend some beach time with Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

In "The Surfin' Spy", Lance (Dayton Allen) and Mata Hairi (Joan Gerber) pose as surfers to uncover a CHUMP smuggling operation. Gerber provided all the female voices on the show. In "The Missing Link", Lance's uncle Mortimer, a British scientist, has been captured by CHUMP.

Aside from narrator Malachi Throne (ex-It Takes a Thief) and vocalist Steve Hoffman, all the male voices were performed by Allen and Bernie Kopell (Get Smart, ex-That Girl, The Doris Day Show).

Oh, I am begging either Me-TV or Antenna TV to pick this show up!

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Hangman (1976)

I'm sure you've played the game of Hangman with just a pen and paper. Well, Milton Bradley thought it'd be a cool idea to make a board game out of it.

Hangman was first marketed in 1976, the first ad campaign from MB to feature horror icon Vincent Price as a celebrity spokesman.

In this classic spot, Vincent plays a bank teller playing the game with a fellow teller and ignoring the customers...

Price was already familiar to the kiddo's from his appearances on Hilarious House of Frightenstein, and would join the cast of 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo 9 years later.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Bozo the Clown in A Glutten For Mutten (1962)

Time for another Bozo The Clown cartoon. Here, Bozo (Larry Harmon) outwits a sly fox (Paul Frees) trying to pass himself off as a sheepdog in "A Glutten For Mutten". Ignore the year listed on the video. This was actually released in 1962.

The trope of a wolf trying to steal sheep had been done better by Tex Avery with Droopy by a country mile.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Summertainment: Woody Woodpecker in The Beach Nut (1944)

Summer's almost over. That said, why not one more trip to the beach? This time, Woody Woodpecker makes a day at the beach difficult for one Wally Walrus in "The Beach Nut". Co-author Ben "Bugs" Hardaway is also the voice of Woody in this one.

Directed by James "Shamus" Culhane.

Woody's been locked in the Universal vault ever since his series for Fox ended. Let's bring him back to television, ok?

Rating: A-.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Plastic Man vs. the Spider (The Spider Takes a Bride, 1979)

The Spider decides the easiest way to gain power is to marry a queen. And, so, he covets the hand of Queen Katherine in marriage, but in order to ensure she agrees, the villain turns her aides into flies. That's more than enough to bug Plastic Man in "The Spider Takes a Bride".

I remember seeing this the first time. Not one of the better entries in the series.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: C. B. Bears search for Disappearing Satellites (1977)

Here's another entry from the freshman class of 1977.

The C. B. Bears are assigned to locate a missing scientist and figure out the mystery of some "Disappearing Satellites":

This plays out more like an episode of Scooby-Doo, come to think of it. Maybe the script was from Scooby's discard pile.

Rating: B--.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saturday School: Winsome Witch----school teacher? (1965)

Winsome Witch (Jean VanderPyl) ends up becoming "Schoolteacher Winnie" when the teacher at a 1 room school house (also voiced by VanderPyl) quits. Basically a reboot of a Droopy cartoon, "Blackboard Jumble",  from a few years earlier.

Something to think about. Mr. Acme, the owner of the employment agency Winnie otherwise is attached to, is voiced by Henry Corden, who would begin working with VanderPyl on The Flintstones more than a decade later.

Entertaining, isn't it?

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Bud Collyer on What's My Line? (1969)

For the 2nd straight day, we have a You Know The Voice entry taken from What's My Line?, but this time, we have a full episode from the Wally Bruner era. The significance of this one is that this was one of the last appearances of Clayton "Bud" Collyer before his passing later in 1969, and this was 2 years after he'd crossed over from To Tell The Truth, joining with Allen Ludden (Password), Gene Rayburn (Match Game) and Ed McMahon (Snap Judgment), to appear on Line with original moderator John Daly.

Arlene Francis was the only panelist to have appeared in each case. This time, she's joined by Ruta Lee, Soupy Sales, and a pre-M*A*S*H Alan Alda.

Well, that didn't take long. After Soupy brings up Bud's radio work as Superman, Bud puts in a plug for the Saturday series that was running at the time. Arlene can be heard mentioning she didn't know about the Superman radio show.

Some of you will recall that Soupy used to do a series of skits spoofing detectives, but it seems the work he put in as Philo Kvetch actually served him well as a panelist on Line.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Looney TV: Mad as a Mars Hare (1963)

Bugs Bunny clashes with Marvin The Martian once again in Chuck Jones' 1963 farce, "Mad as a Mars Hare". The open & close of this print have been edited off.

Yes, this is a sequel to "Hare-way to The Stars", Bugs' 1st meeting with Marvin. Seems Marv's IQ took a hit after that, don't ya think?

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Jim Henson (1974)

It wasn't so long ago that we featured Carroll Spinney, the original voice of Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, when he appeared on What's My Line?. Well, he wasn't the only Street cast member to appear on the classic game show.

Muppet maestro Jim Henson was a mystery guest in 1974, and, as with Spinney, the late Larry Blyden is the host here. Kermit, of course, is along for the ride.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Wonder Twins in Prejudice (1977)

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary for the cartoon class of 1977. At the head of the class, of course, is The All-New Super Friends Hour, and from that we get this choice Wonder Twins short, the theme of which is still socially relevant today.

When an African-American couple's car breaks down, two bigoted teens have no interest in helping. Just watch what happens when the shoe's on the other foot.

Face it, gang, racism isn't going away any time soon, as long as a certain executive is fanning the flames.

Rating: A.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Smurf Berry Crunch? (1983)

Somewhere between seasons 2 & 3 of The Smurfs, Post Cereals, then a unit of General Foods, landed a licensing deal to create a cereal based on the series.

Smurf Berry Crunch was one of what seemingly was a number of licensed properties used for cereal by Post and rivals Kellogg's & General Mills back in the day. All this did was add to the workload at Hanna-Barbera, which produced the commercials. Four years later, a 2nd Smurf cereal was added, but it didn't last as long, and the Smurf cereals were off the shelves after the series ended.

Here, Handy explains to Papa Smurf (Don Messick) that he's increased production of the cereal. Chaos follows, of course.

General Foods wasn't the only one to cash in on the Smurfs. Chef Boy-ar-Dee, now part of ConAgra, produced a line of Smurfs pasta products around the same time, and, yup, H-B did the commercials for that, too.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Rein-Toon-Ation: Jungle Cubs (1996)

Nearly 30 years after adapting Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, Disney revisited the classic characters, but this time as Jungle Cubs.

This prequel lasted 2 seasons (1996-8) on ABC before moving to Disney Channel. Today, it sits in Disney's vaults, as they couldn't be bothered to dust off the series for airing after releasing a live-action remake of "Jungle Book" a year ago.

Episodes aren't available online at present. The voice talent includes a few of the usual suspects (i.e. Jim Cummings, E. G. Daily, Pamela Adlon, Cree Summer) over the course of the 2 seasons. All we have is the intro with a revamped version of the iconic "Bare Necessities", performed here by R & B legend Lou Rawls.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Saturday School: The Adventurers' Club vs. Dr. Astro (Mission: Magic, 1973)

Time for another Mission: Magic adventure.

Rick Springfield and the Adventurers' Club have their hands full with evil astrologer Dr. Astro (Howard Morris), who intends to bring the Zodiac to life!

Morris and co-producer Lou Scheimer's children, Lane & Erika, voiced the students. While Lola Fisher is credited as Ms. Tickle, that may actually be a pseudonym for Filmation's primary voice actress, Jane Webb, since the vocal pattern resembles that of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but with more of an adult lilt.

Rating: B.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Batgirl Returns (1994)

In the context of Batman: The Animated Series, which by 1994 had been rebranded as The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Barbara Gordon (Melissa Gilbert, ex-Little House on the Prairie) put aside her mask & tights to go to college, which tells us that when she had been reintroduced to television viewers, she had been de-aged by the producers for whatever reason. Comics fans know that Barbara had already graduated from college before adopting the guise of Batgirl 50 years ago.

In "Batgirl Returns", Batgirl is duped into thinking Catwoman (Adrienne Barbeau) had stolen a priceless cat statue. However, as the Princess of Plunder herself notes when she & Batgirl meet, the method of theft doesn't match her method of operation (M.O.).

For what it's worth the sequence at the start is the extent of Batman's involvement in this episode, and tipped off viewers as to what the producers had eventually wanted to do in terms of relationships, something explored in greater detail a year ago in "The Killing Joke".

In the course of the series, they played along with what DC was doing at the time, pairing Barbara with Dick "Robin" Grayson (Loren Lester), but the teases of Bruce & Barbara, as discussed before, go all the way back to the live-action Batman 50 years ago.

Rating: A-.

Retro Toy Chest: Dark Tower (1981)

No, this has nothing to do with Stephen King, whose Dark Tower, I think, came after this Milton Bradley electronic game came & went in the early 80's.

Anyway, I hadn't heard of MB's Dark Tower until happening across the following video a few weeks back. MB, you'll recall, was getting into the electronic game business, and Dark Tower came along at a time when role-playing games, or RPG's, were emerging.

Hollywood legend Orson Welles was signed to serve as a pitchman for the product. Milton Bradley must've figured, if Vincent Price can sell games to kids, so can Welles.

At the time, Welles was also shilling for Paul Masson wines. As noted, Dark Tower didn't survive, as it was caught in the middle of litigation between MB and a pair of independents who claimed they had pitched a similar idea to MB, were turned down, and, well, I think you know how these things go.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Toon Rock: Don't Answer Me (1984)

Remember when Marvel opted to literally adapt their comics, using actual panels to animate their characters?

In 1984, the Alan Parsons Project took that concept a step further. Using the then-latest in technology, the band crafted a fictional comic book as the backdrop for their video for "Don't Answer Me", off the album, "Ammonia Avenue". You could say that "Answer" could be the forerunner to the later motion comics that Marvel and others have released.

It's too bad no one asked Arista, the band's label, about adapting Nick & Sugar into a real comic book or animated series. Would've been fun.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny shills for Weetabix (1992)

Here's a little something from across the pond. You know, from England.

The folks behind Weetabix cereal worked out a deal with WB to use Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd in this spot. Seems to the British, Weetabix was the equivalent to Popeye's spinach.....

Not entirely certain on the voices here. It's either Jeff Bergman or Greg Burson as Bugs. Not sure about Elmer.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): Son of a Gypsy (1978)

If Vincent J. McMahon, who ran Capital/Titan Sports (the parent of the World Wide Wrestling Federation) knew about "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant's other talents, he'd never have let Valiant leave the 3WF in the late 70's.

Valiant, who'd later use a version of "Boy From New York City" as his entrance theme while with the NWA and CWA, recorded "Son of a Gypsy" in 1978, with a video that premiered on the weekly wrestling program on channel 5 in Memphis (or, Mempho, as Jimmy calls it). As you'll see, Valiant grew a long beard after leaving the 3WF, which became his trademark. He also gained a new nickname, the "Boogie Woogie Man", later on.

I wonder if Valiant wrote this himself, or if Jimmy Hart wrote it for him......

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Saturtainment: Yippee, Yappee, & Yahooey in Unicorn on The Cob (1964)

Yippee, Yappee, & Yahooey were designed as a parody of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers, and used as a backup segment on The Peter Potamus Show during its 2 seasons (1964-6). The goofy guards bring the stupid in "Unicorn on the Cob", when the King (Hal Smith, also the voice of Yappee) decides to hunt the mythical creature to complete his royal trophy case.

I think this might be exhibit A as to why the guards have never been brought back, more than 50 years later.

Rating: B-.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Uncle Dudley's Wedding Day (?)(1981)

From Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!:

Aunt Minerva's hatred of the Marvel Family has a softer side. Seems she has a crush on Uncle Dudley (Alan Oppenheimer), and uses a spaceship to abduct the non-powered member of the family. Here's "Uncle Dudley's Wedding Day":

When was this episode set? Sadie Hawkins' Day?

Rating: B-.

Toonfomercial: Remember Marshal Mallow? (1980)

I know. It's early September, but the mornings have been a mite cooler of late, sooner than it usually gets around these parts. Normally, it'd be the end of the month or early October when we start pulling the hot cocoa out of the cabinet to serve with breakfast.

Anyway, while Swiss Miss is the most popular brand of hot cocoa going, Carnation (now a brand of Nestle) tried to cut in on the action in 1980 with Marshal Mallow, even creating an animated namesake to promote the product, voiced by the legendary Don Messick.......

I do remember the ad, and, seeing it again for the first time since then, I think the animation might be from the folks that brought us Schoolhouse Rock!, for all we know. Anyway, Marshal Mallow didn't last long, and rode off into the sunset after a few months or so. Nestle acquired Carnation in 1985, eliminating a competitor, as Nestle was putting out their own hot cocoa (and still do).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Tooniversary: Stevie & Zoya (1987)

After dipping into the waters of cartoons by acquiring the 1965 Beatles series, MTV began commissioning original animated programming, starting in 1987.

Joe Horne's Stevie & Zoya was a series of interstital shorts, usually about a minute or less, which ran for 2 years (1987-9), airing several times a day to lead into or out of commercial blocks. Russell Johnson (ex-Gilligan's Island) is the narrator.

Yes, the bloopers are included, reportedly to create a more improvisational feel. The series has been brought back online twice, in 2010 and 2014, but, I believe, with different narrators.

Horne would return and contribute the slightly longer series, The Specialists, to the Liquid Television anthology series in 1992. His last known work for television was for Andre Benjamin's Cartoon Network series, Class of 3000.

I get the simplicity of the animation and storytelling here, tailored for the reputed sound byte mentality of the day, but one wonders if there might be a television comeback for Stevie & Zoya......

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

From Comics to Toons: The Wizard of Id (1970)

The late cartoonist Johnny Hart is known for 2 creations, B. C. and The Wizard of Id, both of which are still running today, long after Hart has passed on.

There was, once upon a time, some interest in developing Wizard into a television show. Jim Henson tried it first in 1969 with Muppet characters, a few months before Sesame Street took off and became the icon it is today. A year later, animation legend Chuck Jones took a stab at it, commissioned by ABC.

Unfortunately, the network subsequently passed on green-lighting a series. This short pilot, directed by frequent Jones collaborator Abe Levitow, and co-written by Hart with Bob Ogle, features the voices of Paul Winchell, Don Messick, and Bob Holt. Co-creator Brant Parker was credited, but did not contribute to this project.

Here at home, the Wizard no longer appears in local papers, but, as noted, the strip is still being published today, written and illustrated by Hart's grandson, Mason Mastroianni.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Henry Corden (1966)

Henry Corden was a busy fellow in 1966. In addition to a recurring gig on NBC's The Monkees, the future voice of Fred Flintstone was in demand, and guest starred in an episode of ABC's The Double Life of Henry Phyfe, a short-lived spy comedy from Filmways that starred Red Buttons & Fred Clark.

In "Jailbird Phyfe", Corden is the villain of the piece, The Butcher, who gets Henry (Buttons) in some very hot water....

What Filmways wanted to do was give ABC their answer to Get Smart, then on NBC, and it was one of two freshman series they sold to the network to replace The Addams Family (Phyllis Diller's Pruitts of Southampton, later rebooted as The Phyllis Diller Show, was the other). It would be a while, I think, before Filmways would sell another series to ABC.

It's just too bad Corden didn't land a regular live-action gig before signing on to succeed Alan Reed as Fred in 1977. Monkees was the closest he'd get.

Tooniversary: Don Osmondo in Spain (The Osmonds, 1972)

Rankin-Bass, in the wake of The Jackson 5ive going into all-rerun mode, added two more series to ABC's lineup in 1972. The network was diving back into the bubblegum pop arena with not only the Brady Kids, spun off from The Brady Bunch and launched in the premiere of the Saturday Superstar Movie, but with The Osmonds as well.

Unlike the Jacksons, the six Osmond brothers voiced their own animated counterparts, with the omnipresent Paul Frees giving voice to the made-for-TV family dog in addition to the usual supporting characters du jour. Also, the Osmonds were able to go on a world tour in the series.

The show also marked the return of record producer Mike Curb to cartoons. You'll recall that Curb worked with Hanna-Barbera (Cattanooga Cats) and Ken Snyder (Skyhawks, Hot Wheels) three years earlier, only to see all three series flop. Curb, representing MGM Records, was co-executive producer with Arthur Rankin, Jr. & Jules Bass. In case you wonder, R-B used a different animation house for Kid Power as opposed to England's Halas & Bachelor studio, which cranked out The Osmonds.

Otherwise, it was the same kind of animated sitcom silliness as Jackson 5ive a year earlier, and in this case, veteran comedy writer Earle Doud was one of the writers on the show. Doud would return with his friend, Chuck McCann, as a writer for McCann's 1975 CBS series, Far Out Space Nuts.

Right now, let's take a trip to Spain, where "Don Osmondo" (Donny, of course) has to win the heart of a mayor's daughter.

Cliched? Of course. Problem was the laugh track foisted on the show. The gags weren't that funny.

Rating: C.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Toon Rock: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me (1995)

Footage from "Batman Forever" is interspersed with an animated version of U2 in the video for "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", the 2nd single off the "Batman Forever" soundtrack.

I wonder if it was Bono's idea to have his animated self dressed almost like the Joker.......

Tooniversary: The first episode of Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids (1972)

There are those that believe that out of all the allegations levied against entertainer Bill Cosby for sexually assaulting women, a fair number of them could conceivably be bandwagon jumpers looking for an easy payday, because a lot of the allegations date back years and years, perhaps beyond the statute of limitations.

That said, we here at the Archives are dedicated to celebrating what Cosby meant to millions of kids growing up in the 70's & 80's, because those memories are not going to be tainted by what has been brought out decades later. Oh, sure, you're not going to find Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids on any cable channel any time soon, except maybe Aspire, which I think still carries Cosby's two live-action series from the 60's, I Spy (1965-8) and The Bill Cosby Show (1969-71).

Anyway, since it's the first of the month, what better way to mark Fat Albert's 45th anniversary with the series premiere, "Lying", in which we're introduced to the gang's "mentor", if ya will, Mudfoot.

It seems that Fat Albert was really part of a package deal that brought Cosby to CBS, as he also was given his first variety show that same year (1972). The variety show bombed, but Cosby would soldier on with Fat Albert for a grand total of 13 seasons (12 on CBS, 1 in syndication), his most successful series to date. Bear in mind that Cosby had left The Electric Company after its 1st season to focus on his two CBS projects.

Rating: A.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Saturtainment: Breezly & Sneezly in No Place Like Nome (1964)

Breezly Bruin (Howard Morris) schemes to get into the Camp Frostbite theatre to see a movie. Of course, while Sneezly (Mel Blanc) stands idly by, Colonel Fuzzby (John Stephenson) has his hands full with the mooching bear in "No Place Like Nome":

Maybe Breezly shouldn't have bothered with the parachute.....

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in Blast Out and The Long Drive (1981)

The Lone Ranger returns in a pair of short pieces from the 2nd season of his Filmation run for CBS. First up, the Ranger (William Conrad) and Tonto (Ivan Naranjo) meet Alfred Nobel, whose dynamite is being used by outlaws. Then, in "The Long Drive", the Ranger and Tonto join a cattle drive bound for Abilene, Kansas, to head off some rustlers. Each short closes with a factoid from the Ranger.

Speaking of factoids, Ivan Naranjo was a Native American himself, a Blackfoot/Southern Ute hailing from Colorado. Not sure if he did any other cartoons or other acting jobs.

Rating: A.

Toonfomercial: A primer on Chevron employees (1979)

This next item was originally posted over at The Land of Whatever a ways back, and at that time I promised I'd run it here, too. Well, here we are.

In this Chevron spot, we learn just what it takes for a Chevron employee to be knowledgeable about the product. Narrated by Casey Kasem.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Getting Schooled: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1963)

He has been parodied by no less than Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live, and his legacy lives on today with an animated PBS series that we've previously covered. Fred Rogers was every kid's neighbor, the nice guy next door who never had a cross word for anyone.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood's origins actually include a Canadian puppet show, The Children's Corner, for which Rogers was one of the puppeteers. He brought some of the puppets with him back to WQED in Pittsburgh, and the Neighborhood started as a regional entity in 1963 before going national on NET (now PBS) in 1968, one year before Sesame Street hit the air. Counting the time it spent as a regional only series, the show ran for an amazing 38 years before ending in 2001.

Rogers' format was simple. Soft casual conversation directed at the viewer, who was invited, if you will, into Rogers' home. There would be the journey into the Kingdom of Make Believe, home to King Friday and Daniel Spotted Tiger and their friends. That particular segment led to the development of the current Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which bowed in 2012.

In the early 80's, Eddie Murphy turned the show on its ear with a series of skits on Saturday Night Live that took viewers to Mister Robinson's Neighborhood. I have to see if some of that is available for use over at The Land of Whatever down the road. I have to believe that the character of Ned Flanders on The Simpsons was also modeled after Rogers, not so much as a parody, but a left-handed homage.

Occasionally, Rogers welcomed guests onto the show. Case in point, actress and Maxwell House pitchwoman Margaret Hamilton in 1975.

Now, I don't know if Rogers ever hosted a talk show. PBS missed the boat by not offering him one.

Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman meets the Iron Eater (1966)

Superman (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth) encounters a shape-changing alien who's crash-landed on Earth with a major appetite for iron & steel. Here's "The Iron Eater":

The creature's general look recalls the Filmation staff's earlier work on humor cartoons such as Popeye and Bozo The Clown before striking out on their own. The contrast really doesn't work here as the creature isn't as terrifying a menace as he's made out to be. One of the weaker entries of the 1st season.

Rating: C.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Toon Legends: Betty Boop in Judge For a Day (1935)

Betty Boop is a court stenographer who endures way too much humilation on her way to work. Once at work, she sees that the judge isn't in yet, and tries on his robe. She then imagines some bizarre payback.

Ann Rothschild is the voice of Betty in "Judge For a Day". Mae Questel does do some other voices, but would later take on the role of Betty.

Virtually a 1-character story, when you think about it.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

On The Air: Marvel's Spider-Man (2017)

50 years ago, come next month, Spider-Man made his television debut, the last American project for Grantray-Lawrence before dismissed by Marvel & Krantz Films, which then hired Ralph Bakshi away from Terrytoons. The rest, of course, is history.

After 5 years of Ultimate Spider-Man and various sub-titles, Marvel has rebooted with a new Spider-Man solo series, which launched last week after a few short subjects had appeared prior to and after the release of "Spider-Man: Homecoming". The series is inspired by "Homecoming", as Peter Parker, wearing a homemade costume worse than the one created in the books many moons ago, begins his career while juggling the responsibilities of being a high school student and de facto man of the house after his uncle Ben (Patton Oswalt) is killed by a burglar. Ben shows up in a flashback segment in the first half of the 2-part series opener.

Newcomer Robbie Daymond is the new voice of Spider-Man, and while they were looking for someone who could be as young, dynamic, and energetic working on this show as Tom Holland brought the ol' web-head to life in "Homecoming", it works, but as with Ultimate, there's just too much expository dialogue, and in the opener, most of it comes from Peter himself.

DisneyXD has its own YouTube channel, from whence we get the first half-hour episode:

I am so not digging the prototype costume Peter has now, but don't worry, kids, he'll get the more traditional gear soon enough. Per Wikipedia, 11 episodes are on order for season 1, with some odd quirks. 2 episodes last week, 1 today and on 9/9, 2 next week, 3 on 9/16, and the 1st season wraps rather quickly---we think--on September 30. Maybe they'll run the origin shorts, which I think were online only at first, as a 12th week.

In short, this suffers from the same problem as Ultimate in that it's too noisy, this time in terms of dialogue, for its own good. Also, the CGI is inconsistent, as the vehicles don't look too realistic, as normally would be the case if the entire show were animated on computer. The characters themselves are fine, but the rest of the animation needs help.

Rating: C-.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Looney TV: Rabbit Punch (1948)

Bugs Bunny, taking umbrage at a 1-sided boxing match involving Battling McGook (later rebooted as the Crusher, voiced by Billy Bletcher), ends up in the ring with McGook. Chaos ensues in "Rabbit Punch".

The ending is a cop-out so Bugs can save face, if you will, but this farce was spiraling out of control by that point. I wonder if this wasn't part of the inspiration for how today's pro wrestling is presented.

Rating: B.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Waldo Kitty as Captain Hurk (1975)

From The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty:

Waldo (Howard Morris) imagines himself as Captain Hurk of the Starship Second Prize, being pursued by Tyronius (Allan Melvin). Coincidentally, Waldo Kitty replaced Filmation's adaptation of Star Trek on the NBC schedule. Here's "Cat Trek":

Capt. Hurk would return in "Ping or Pongo".

As it happens, Filmation got in trouble with the estate of Walter Mitty author James Thurber, as his widow alleged that the studio had used the basic title without permission. For this reason, the series was rechristened as The New Adventures of Waldo Kitty when it was reissued as part of Groovie Goolies & Friends a couple of years later.

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): Grab Them Cakes (1985)

At the end of 1985, the then-World Wrestling Federation dove headlong into the music business with the release of "The Wrestling Album" on Epic Records. Inevitably, someone was going to be tapped to represent the promotion on American Bandstand, and that someone happened to be the Junk Yard Dog (JYD).

JYD (real name Sylvester Ritter) recorded "Grab Them Cakes" as a duet with 70's disco 1-hit wonder Vicki Sue Robinson, and I don't think there isn't anyone over the age of 10 who hasn't figured out the double entendre in the title.

Sorry, but this is the only copy of the clip available at the present time. I'll bet you anything at all that Vince McMahon, who turns 72 today, is still groovin' to this track when he works out at all hours of the day. He's that kind of crazy, you know.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tooniversary: The Great Billionaire Chase Case (Heyyy, It's The King, 1977)

It's been a while since we checked in with the C. B. Bears segment, Heyyy, It's The King.

In "The Great Billionaire Chase Case", King (Len Weinrib) decides to get an interview with an eccentric recluse, modeled as a parody of Howard Hughes (and voiced by Don Messick).

King and his pals turn 40 this year, long forgotten, just like C. B. Bears. Except at this desk.

Rating: B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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

From Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling:

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

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

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

Rating: C-.

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

From the 1988 Superman series:

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

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

Rating: B.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Getting Schooled: Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel (1972)

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

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

Rating: A.

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

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

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

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

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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

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

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

Back to the drawing board, Bluto.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Daytime Heroes: He-Man in The Cat & The Spider (1983)

He-Man (John Erwin) has to clean up some serious kitty litter when one of Skeletor's aides steals a statue that Adam and the Royal Archeologist had brought back from the temple of the cat people. Also, we find that Kitrina of the Cat People has a serious crush.....on Battlecat. Go figure. Here's "The Cat & The Spider":

You'd think Mattel would have marked He-Man's 35th anniversary with a new line of action figures (He-Man debuted in 1982, with the cartoon following a year later), but insofar as I know, that hasn't happened. Maybe they'll wait until 2022.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Bound To Lose (1982)

Jerry "The King" Lawler was a disc jockey in his hometown of Memphis before turning to professional wrestling. Every now and again, Lawler would, like his 80's nemesis, Jimmy Hart, put out a record, and in the early 80's, Lawler even made some music videos for the local promotion. We've previously shown his anti-Hart clip, "Wimpbusters" (to the tune of, of course, "Ghostbusters"), but let's turn back the clock a couple of years to 1982 and "Bound to Lose", which also turns up on a VHS compilation of Lawler matches that came out a few years later.

Too bad Jerry didn't take his musical talents national, to, like, American Bandstand, or sing on Late Night With David Letterman......

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rein-Toon-Ation: Gadget Boy & Heather (1995)

In 1995, the History Channel took another chance on the Inspector Gadget franchise, this time with a juvenile version of the cyborg sleuth.

Gadget Boy & Heather was a total departure from the original Gadget, as Heather (Tara Strong, then going by her maiden name, Charendoff) was in her early to mid 20's. Gadget Boy himself had the body designed like a grade schooler (I'd guess 1st or 2nd grader), but with the mind of a veteran detective. Don Adams voiced Gadget Boy in the first season, while all the other male characters were performed by impressionist Maurice LaMarche (Pinky & the Brain, etc.). Instead of Dr. Claw, the big bad in the series was a masked woman known as Spydra, who had 4 extra arms, but whose true face was never seen. The idea was that anyone that saw her supposedly disfigured face would turn to stone, a la Medusa, out of shock in this case.

Viewers had to wait 18 months, from the point where the first season ended, to the start of the 2nd season, which saw a change in format to Gadget Boy's Adventures in History, which saw Gadget Boy & Heather travel through time. LaMarche took over as Gadget Boy. Unfortunately, the format change also resulted in the series' cancellation.

Let's take you back to the 1st season opener, "Raiders of the Lost Mummies":

Just wasn't the same, and the magic wasn't there.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: My Old School (1973)

Now, you and I know the kiddo's will be headed back to school after Labor Day, and some colleges will be starting in the next week or two. Why don't we take a trip back in time to 1973, and Steely Dan's "My Old School", with Donald Fagen on lead vocal & piano, from American Bandstand. Bear in mind that this clip is prefaced with host Dick Clark queuing it up in a primetime retrospective of the series, probably in the late 70's or early 80's.

While the musicians were plugged in, that was for appearance's sake, as, more often than not, they usually mimed on the air back in those days.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Toons After Dark: Huddles & friends consider life after football (1970)

From Where's Huddles:

When Huddles (Cliff Norton) and friends find themselves in an all night car wash, it gives them some ideas about finding work after football.

However, snafu erupts when Bubba (Mel Blanc) is trapped in a mailbox, forcing Huddles to stall the mailman (Blanc again). Here's "Get That Letter Back":

With the NFL having started preseason games, and the CFL season in Canada in full swing, with college & high school games to follow starting in 2 1/2 weeks, maybe someone should take a flier on Huddles.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Houndcats in The Misbehavin' Raven Mission (1972)

The Houndcats are on the trail of an art thief and his gang. Here's "The Misbehavin' Raven Mission".

The Raven's true identity was just too easy, especially if you followed primetime crime dramas moreso than the cartoons that tried to emulate them.

This may have been the only cartoon credit for film star Aldo Ray, who might've been near the end of his career at this point.

Rating: B.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tooniversary: The Blue Racer (1972)

The Blue Racer was a spin-off from Tijuana Toads when his first short, "Hiss & Hers", bowed in July 1972. However, unlike the Toads, the Racer never appeared on television, although a snake that bore a resemblance to him appeared in a 1978 Pink Panther short that did air on TV.

While Bob Holt had voiced the Racer in his first appearance, 1971's  "A Snake in the Gracias", Larry D. Mann takes over beginning with "Hiss & Hers". Here, the Racer is a henpecked husband with three kids, but still runs afoul of a Japanese beetle (Tom Holland, not to be confused with the current "Spider-Man" star, though Wikipedia certainly is), who also appeared in "Gracias".

What they were looking to do at DePatie-Freleng was clone the successful Daffy Duck series of shorts with Speedy Gonzales, although Racer, while another speedster, isn't quite as clever.

Part of the reason these shorts aren't airing anywhere these days is because of the stereotyped voice given to the beetle, who does sound like Holland's mimicing Dick Tracy's old aide, Joe Jitsu.

17 shorts were produced between 1972-4, after which DFE replaced the Racer with the Dogfather, whom we'll meet another day.

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Manta & Moray in The Freedom Fighters (1978)

From Tarzan & The Super 7:

Manta & Moray discover a pair of dolphins are breaking some whales and other sea creatures from captivity, unaware that those creatures are being studied and cared for by the humans.

Here's "The Freedom Fighters":

Joan Van Ark (Moray) would pick up a live-action gig soon after (Knots Landing), and since only 7 episodes were recorded, moved her cartoon gig to DePatie Freleng for the short-lived Spider-Woman the next season. Joe Stern (Manta) may not have had any other voice jobs after this was cancelled.

Also, some of the swimming scenes, either in tandem or Manta alone, look like they were redrawn from---who else?---Aquaman.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Air: DuckTales (2017)

Donald Duck leaves his nephews--Huey, Dewey, & Louie---in the care of his estranged Uncle Scrooge while he goes on a job interview that he'll soon regret. That's just the beginning of the adventure as Disney marks the 30th anniversary of DuckTales by rebooting the series so that Scrooge (David Tennant, ex-Jessica Jones, Doctor Who) meets his nephews for the first time.

You see, Donald (Tony Anselmo) and Scrooge haven't spoken in a decade, so Huey (Danny Pudi, ex-Powerless), Dewey (Ben Schwartz), and Louie (Bobby Moynihan, ex-Saturday Night Live) have never met their other uncle. The family reunion comes sooner than planned, however, thanks to a traffic jam trapping them on the road.

Once at McDuck Mansion, the boys meet Webigail (Webby) Vanderquack (Kate Micucci, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo), whose design is radically different from the original series, and who is under the care of her grandmother, Mrs. Beakly. A few mishaps lead to the release of several odd creatures that are quickly recaptured by Scrooge and his chauffeur/pilot, Launchpad McQuack (Beck Bennett, Saturday Night Live).

The series opener, "Woo-oo", is being replayed continuously until midnight (ET) tonight, while new episodes resume in a hour-long block starting September 23, as this version will be weekly instead of a daily series. Keep an ear open for a reference to Launchpad's other series, Darkwing Duck, and I can tell you that Disney's Batman send-up will meet Donald and the gang this season.

Here's the intro. Felicia Barton sings the iconic title song.

The animation isn't quite as fluid as the original series, but I think that if this clicks, it'll get better with time. Nice opening story, but I'm not digging that we have to wait 6 weeks for the next episode.

Rating: B+.

Toonfomercial: The introduction of Glade (1956)

S. C. Johnson & Co., makers of Raid bug sprays and other products, introduced Glade Air Fresheners in 1956. Like Raid, the company utilized a mix of live action & animation in their introductory ad, narrated by Michael Rye.

The animation is not as flashy as the Raid spots, and the company had hired animation legend Tex Avery to direct the Raid ads.

Toon Rock: Why Should I Worry? (1988)

From "Oliver & Company":

This should've been a Top 40 hit, but it wasn't.

Disney's "Oliver & Company" is a modern day retelling--using dogs, cats, and rats, as well as humans---of Dickens' Oliver Twist. Oliver (Joey Lawrence, currently in Melissa & Joey) is a cat, and (Artful) Dodger is one of the dogs working for Fagin (Dom DeLuise).

In this scene, Dodger (Billy Joel) is trying to shake Oliver off his trail, leading to "Why Should I Worry?", co-written by Dan Hartman.

The film's voice cast also includes Bette Midler, Richard Mulligan (Empty Nest), Cheech Marin, Taurean Blaque (Hill Street Blues), and Roscoe Lee Browne. We may be doing a full review down the road.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Toons After Dark: The 2000 Year Old Man (1975)

In 1961, Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner began a series of comedy albums that told the story of The 2000 Year Old Man. Brooks played the title role, interviewed by Reiner.

Someone convinced Brooks & Reiner that this would make a good animated special. This aired in January 1975 on CBS, and I think it was never rerun.

This would serve as Reiner's first cartoon work since Linus the Lionhearted a decade earlier. As for Brooks, who was in the midst of a very successful movie career, this was the start of a television comeback (he co-created Get Smart, among other accomplishments), which continued that fall with the short-lived When Things Were Rotten. However, it'd be more than 30 years before Brooks would do an animated series for television again, adapting his film, Spaceballs, into a short-lived series.

From the sound of things, this might have been a direct adaptation from one of the albums, judging from the laugh track.

Color me unimpressed.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hoppity Hooper in Hair Tonic (1960)

Don't let the year above fool you, peeps. This is the pilot episode of Hoppity Hooper, four years before the series was finally picked up by ABC.

"Hair Tonic" establishes the basics on our protagonists, although Waldo Wigglesworth (Hans Conreid), a very sly fox, is actually a con man, aided by his simple-minded, bugle-playing assistant, Fillmore (Alan Reed). The two meet up with Hoppity (Chris Allen) in the frog's home while on the run from the police.

As we've previously discussed, when the series was picked up, Reed had moved on to The Flintstones (and his Fillmore does have a bit of Fred Flintstone to him, doesn't he?), so Bill Scott (Bullwinkle) took over as Fillmore. Waldo passes himself off as Hoppity's "long lost uncle" in order to gain Hoppity's confidence.....

Scott, of course, had plenty of time on his hands, as The Bullwinkle Show had ended, and Bullwinkle was only being used for commercials, as we showed yesterday. Unfortunately, there hasn't been as much of a call for Hoppity to return, unlike Bullwinkle, Peabody & Sherman, and Dudley Do-Right, to name a few.

Rating: B.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Toon Rock: (How to be a) Millionaire (1984)

England's ABC scored their last American hit in 1984 with "(How To Be A) Millionaire", off the CD, "How To Be a Zillionaire". Don't know the animation house responsible for this video, but it's definitely different from the animated clips made a few years later for Elton John ("Club at the End of the Street") and Rod Stewart ("Motown Song").

Toonfomercial: Bullwinkle bowls for Cheerios (1965)

Bullwinkle (Bill Scott) continued to shill for Cheerios well after his series had ended production. I guess Jay Ward figured, as long as his company was commissioned to produce ads for Quaker Oats, a rival to General Mills, why not continue to crank out some work for Cheerios, using Bullwinkle?

Here, Bullwinkle tries to bowl and shill at the same time.

Paul Frees is the narrator. I don't get how he and others could mispronounce "protein" back then. Here, it is pronounced, "pro-tee-en", but I've always said it as "pro-teen". Go figure.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sunday Funnies: Dudley Do-Right in Trading Places (1963)

Dudley Do-Right was added to Rocky & His Friends beginning with the 3rd season (1961-2). Only 5 shorts were produced that year, but the number would start to increase with each successive year. In 1969, Dudley was spun off into his own Sunday morning series, as the franchise had returned to ABC after finishing its initial run on NBC.

"Trading Places" closed Dudley's 3rd season as part of Rocky & His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show. In it, Dudley (Bill Scott) swaps jobs with Nell Fenwick (June Foray), but Nell's father, Inspector Fenwick (Paul Frees) tries discouraging Nell, even after she's captured Snidely Whiplash (Hans Conreid).

Nell never even bothered getting fitted for a uniform, probably because, as we'd see, her father wouldn't have allowed it. That flaw hurt the humor in this story.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Saturtainment: I've Got Ants in My Plans (1969)

In 1969's "I've Got Ants in My Plans", we are introduced to a 2nd Aardvark, this one being green. Charlie Ant (John Byner) really has his work cut out for him this time.

The Green Aardvark would return in "Odd Ant Out" a year later, and we've previously screened that one. Pretty much the same thing, but with a different plot.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Southern Nights (1977)

It's been a while since we showcased something from The Midnight Special, but I couldn't resist this time. From 1977, here's Glen Campbell, with a cover of Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights":

In memory of Campbell, who passed away today at 81.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: The Wonder Twins in Shark (1977)

Last night, SyFy premiered the latest in the "Sharknado" series. The well's going to run dry on that real soon, since there's a finite number of ideas for that "franchise".

Meanwhile, let's turn the clock back 40 years and scope out this Wonder Twins short, as Zan & Jayna have to help two boys avoid a "Shark".

That had to be one of the biggest sharks ever. I think what happened is that what was originally meant to be a great white shark may have mistakenly started as a whale, and then the artists realized their mistake, but too late to redesign the predator.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Roland & Rattfink (1968)

DePatie-Freleng tried to expand their line of comedy shorts beyond The Pink Panther, Ant & The Aardvark, & The Inspector, at the end of the 60's. However, Roland & Rattfink, a human-centric riff on the adversarial conflicts of, say, Tom & Jerry or even the Panther himself and the Little Man, didn't really catch on, with 17 shorts produced between December 1968 and April 1971.

For all but one of these shorts, the vocal effects were performed by Len Weinrib. In "Hurts & Flowers", which carries a 1968 copyright but was released in February 1969, Rattfink tries to spoil Roland's good times, which pacifist Roland always responds with a simple daisy.

Roland & Rattfink, according to at least Wikipedia, had appeared on one of the Panther's NBC shows, but I cannot confirm that, as I don't recall seeing these two on TV. This was DFE's way of reaching out to the huppie culture of the period, which unfortunately, based on the low output, tuned them out.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Inspector in Plastered in Paris (1966)

I've heard of wild goose chases, but this one's a real trip.

The Inspector (Pat Harrington) and Deux-Deux (Harrington) take a radio call from the Commissioner (Paul Frees) to catch an elusive crook named X. Wait for the twist ending to "Plastered in Paris".

Considering how the Inspector made the Commissioner look foolish so often, I guess this was a little bit of payback.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturtainment: Misterjaw in Aloha Hah Hah (1976)

Just to prove that pirates are people, too, Misterjaw goes after a 2-man pirate crew in "Aloha Hah Hah".

This literally is a 2-man show, as Arte Johnson & Arnold Stang double up as the pirates.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Simon (1978)

Milton Bradley got into the electronic game business in 1978 with Simon, in which players had to follow the instructions via flashing lights on the game board.

Nearly 40 years later, Simon has been rebooted and the line expanded by Hasbro, which acquired Milton Bradley in the 80's. Nothing, though, beats the original ad campaign, with a poem recited by horror legend Vincent Price.

Price also shilled for two other Milton Bradley games, Hangman & Stay Alive, both of which I played. Simon? Not so much. In England, the same commercial played with a British actor reciting the same poem.

Tooniversary: An episode of Baggy Pants & The Nitwits (1977)

Baggy Pants, the feline Charlie Chaplin-wannabe, is finally on YouTube.

An enterprising poster mixed and matched episodes of 1977's Baggy Pants & The Nitwits, the last original series that DePatie-Freleng sold to NBC. I say mixed & matched because a quick check of the episode guide reveals that the two shorts you're about to see were not originally presented together.

There are bumpers, but no closing credits.

"Baggy Pants & Forgetful Freddy": What DFE was hoping for was not only a homage to Chaplin, but another pantomime cat in the tradition of The Pink Panther, who was in his final season at NBC. Here, Baggy gets mixed up with a wealthy gentleman who becomes angry when a bell rings.

"Rustle Hustle": The Nitwits---Tyrone & Gladys (Arte Johnson & Ruth Buzzi) head West to catch some cattle rustlers. I don't think enough kids got the idea that this was a parody of superheroes, and back then, the Saturday schedule was front-loaded with them, as this series aired around lunch time.

The open and the first few minutes of the Baggy Pants short are replayed to fill time. Don't ask.

Rating: B-.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman in Prehistoric Panic (1980)

Captain Caveman (Mel Blanc) gets to return home to the Stone Age, if but for a short time, in 1980's "Prehistoric Panic". You might think that this could've ended up being a sort-of backdoor pilot, since Cavey would return home again and move to Bedrock later that year.

One other thing. ABC brought back Captain Caveman & The Teen Angels as a mid-season replacement series in March 1980, replacing the cancelled Spider-Woman. To make room, Scooby & Scrappy-Doo was moved to 11 (ET), with Cavey airing at 11:30. The 3rd and final season for the Captain in modern times was a mix of 16 new episodes and reruns from the 1977-9 run. However, the network decided to end the series after three seasons, and, had this been the finale, instead of the 4th episode of the season, maybe this would've had a different, more appropriate ending.

The Flintstone Comedy Show was rebooted on NBC that November, and ran for 2 seasons, and, as we've previously documented, Cavey would return as a backup feature to The Flintstone Kids, but with no continuity between any of the series.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: Rocky & Bullwinkle shill for Taco Bell (1993)

For a period of about a year (1992-3), Rocky & Bullwinkle were licensed for use in commercials for Taco Bell. In each case, the iconic duo thwarted hamburgers hustlers Boris Badenov & Natasha Fatale.

Seeing as how Bill Scott & Paul Frees (Bullwinkle & Boris, respectively) passed away in the 80's, I don't know who's filling in for them here, working with June Foray.

Hamburgers being boring? Seeing as how I enjoy both hamburgers & tacos, I disagree.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summertainment: Tijuana Toads in Never on Thirsty (1970)

Every summer, it rains more in the East than it does in the West. While they suffer with droughts and wildfires in California, Arizona, and Washington, the rain hangs around the East coast like a bad neighbor that won't go away.

For the Tijuana Toads, it certainly appears as though they're going through one of those dry spells. Toro & Pancho, though, have to deal with a watchdog that looks to be smarter than he looks. "Never on Thirsty" borrows that trope from other cartoons, and some incidental music from Ant & The Aardvark.

Six years later, the Toads made their television debut, added to the expanded Pink Panther show on NBC, and rechristened the Texas Toads to avoid stereotyping, which killed the vibe.

Rating: B--.

June Foray Memorial Week: June on Green Acres (1967)

From season 3 of Green Acres:

June Foray guest stars as a Mexican immigrant recruited by Oliver Douglas (Eddie Albert) to operate Hooterville's telephone switchboard. At this point in the series, Oliver, a lawyer by trade, had acquired the town phone company. Chaos follows, of course.

Eddie Albert would later get into voice work himself, as would Pat Buttram (Haney) and Eva Gabor (Lisa). Gabor & Buttram were reunited at Disney in "The Rescuers", and Buttram also worked on "The Aristocats" (with Eva's sister, Zsa Zsa) and "Robin Hood", among other projects.

Ignore the label in the video. The poster mixed up episode titles to confuse the copyright police.

I have no memory of seeing this episode in syndication back in the day, so, no rating.

From Comics to Toons: It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969)

The Peanuts gang heads off to summer camp for the first time in 1969's It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. At the time, the specials were airing on CBS on a seemingly annual basis, and the pace would pick up during the 70's.

Charlie (Peter Robbins, ex-Blondie) and Peppermint Patty captain the teams in a lopsided battle of the sexes. The boys reflect Charlie's personality, as they can't seem to get out of their own way, while the girls prove to be more organized and superior in every event. Imagine having these kids in a Battle of the Network Stars-type competition.

The complete episode is not available. Instead, here's a compilation of clips, culminating in the infamous wrist wrestling match between Lucy and the Masked Marvel (Snoopy, of course).

Some wiseguy on Wikipedia made an editing goof, trying to claim that Chuck Jones and DePatie-Freleng had something to do with this when they clearly didn't. Probably transposed the information from The Cat in the Hat.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tooniversary: The Crystal Brawl (1957)

Popeye poses as a swami to get even with Bluto in 1957's "The Crystal Brawl". The short recycles footage from two previous entries, "Alpine For You" and "Quick on the Vigor":

Paramount's cartoon division had gotten into a familiar formula by this point, as some reaction shots look similar to, say for example, reaction shots in Casper cartoons.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Famous Firsts: The 1st episodes of Underdog (1964), Commander McBragg (1963), & Go Go Gophers (1966)

Underdog's adventures usually were in the form of 4-part serials, which, in syndication, stretched across two episodes. For a period in the late 60's & early 70's, NBC would put the serials together to air them in one sitting.

The first three shorts, however, are done-in-ones that illustrate that while he is dedicated to his mission, Underdog (Wally Cox) leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Lord knows how many phone booths were destroyed when Shoeshine Boy had to change to Underdog. Anyway, those three stand-alone shorts--"Safe Waif", "March of the Monsters", and "Simon Says"--are all here, plus the debut of the Go Go Gophers ("Moon Zoom") and Commander McBragg ("Over The Falls").

We would see better from the Gophers, and McBragg got repetitive in a hurry, to the point where the joke gets lost. Underdog is back in comics, as American Mythology Press obtained a license earlier this year. The others? Not so much.

Some sources don't have "Moon Zoom" as the Gophers' 1st episode. The copyright is 1962, but they didn't debut until 4 years later. Hmmmm.

Rating: B.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tooniversary: The first episode of Kid Power (1972)

Normally, I'd do the "famous firsts" on the first of the month, like tomorrow. However, I couldn't let this pass or wait until tomorrow. Rest assured, there will be a famous first episode tomorrow, just the same.

Anyway, Morrie Turner's Wee Pals was adapted for television by Arthur Rankin, Jr. & Jules Bass as Kid Power for ABC in 1972, so the series marks its 45th anniversary this year. Long time Rankin-Bass standby Paul Frees (who also worked for just about everybody) heads a voice cast that includes a pair of 2nd generation actors in April Winchell (Paul's daughter), who voices Connie, and Jay Silverheels, Jr. (Rocky). While April continued on, and still works to this day, young Mr. Silverheels wasn't heard from much again.

In the opener, the Rainbow Club tries to raise money for baseball uniforms.

It was supposed to be ABC's answer to Bill Cosby's Fat Albert over on CBS. However, Kid Power was shunted off to Sundays the next season, then cancelled. Funny thing. Kid Power aired first, but folks preferred Cosby back then. While Turner passed away a few years back, Wee Pals is still going strong. It's another one of those strips I remember reading as a kid that isn't around in my area anymore.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Arthur Q. Bryan (1940's)

In addition to his work as Elmer Fudd until his passing in 1959, Arthur Q. Bryan had forged a career in radio (Fibber McGee & Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, Richard Diamond, etc.) and even made a few shorts.

In "The Golfer's Lament", Arthur sings about the game while trying to get off a tee shot.

The song is actually a poem set to music. Can't get a handle on the exact year this came out, though.

Toon Legends: Rocky & His Friends, aka The Bullwinkle Show (1959)

Today, we start a week-long salute to the grand dame of voice actresses, June Foray, who passed away last week at 99. What better way to start than with the show that made her an icon.

Rocky & His Friends, otherwise known as The Bullwinkle Show, launched in November 1959 on ABC, then moved to NBC and into a Sunday night berth for its final three seasons (1961-4). Reruns ultimately alternated between the two networks until the early 80's before moving to cable.

What you might not know is that the show was originally intended with a different purpose, in that Rocky (Foray) & Bullwinkle (Bill Scott) were part of a group of forest animals running a television station. Nearly 40 years later, the Muppets tried a similar approach, except that between two networks, ABC & Disney Channel, Muppets Tonight was not as successful as The Muppet Show or Rocky, and even occupied the Sunday 7 pm (ET) berth when it aired on ABC. Go figure. As it is, I find it hard to believe they wanted this to be a variety show. With backup features such as Fractured Fairy Tales and Peabody's Improbable History, it wouldn't classify as a variety show.

Digression over. Co-creator Alex Anderson, who'd worked with Jay Ward on Crusader Rabbit, was unwilling to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles, so that's how Scott entered the picture. Writers Allan Burns & Chris Hayward might be even more known for their work writing live action shows, including Get Smart and, in Burns' case, The Duck Factory, a short-lived NBC sitcom we've screened here previously.

During the NBC years, a Bullwinkle puppet, voiced by Scott, served as MC, going so far as biting the hand that fed it, lampooning Disney's Wonderful World of Color, which aired in back of Bullwinkle on Sundays. One stunt led to a lot of complaints from parents after Bullwinkle suggested that children pull the tuning knobs of their television sets to ensure they'd watch the show the following week. Kinda like Soupy Sales' infamous New Year's Eve gag with money that also got him in trouble in New York.

My earliest memory of the series is the Saturday morning reruns on ABC in the early 70's. At the time, the show aired around noon, before it became a death slot for cartoons. Rocky was the smarter one, of course, with Bullwinkle being a little slow on the uptake. Thing was, for all the times they clashed with spies Boris Badenov (Paul Frees) and Natasha Fatale (Foray), they never had any fights. Maybe that's why they kept it around after anti-violence regulations were put in place at the end of the 60's, forcing adventure shows off the air for a time.

Anyway, you might not have seen this intro:

Now, here's the Bullwinkle into we all know:

Amazingly, Bill Scott chose not to be credited as an actor, just as a writer-producer. Talk about being modest and humble. Narrator William Conrad added the same duties on The Fugitive when that series premiered in Rocky's final season (1963).

Could Rocky & Bullwinkle make a comeback today? Well, the closest we've gotten was an appearance in a GEICO ad a couple of years back, but no one's rushing to get them back on TV, even after the modest success of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, first in theatres, then on Netflix. After all, Rocky & Bullwinkle, along with Dudley Do-Right, flopped at the box office in feature film form.

Rating: A.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Plastic Man vs. Dogmaster (1979)

It's a popular trope in science fiction, especially in relation to comic books, that chimps are often used in scientific experiments. Plastic Man (Michael Bell) is called on to locate a chimp that has a top secret formula locked into his brain, while "Dogmaster" seeks to claim the chimp and the formula for his power-mad schemes.

By this point in the series, they'd already settled into a lame formula in the lead feature, but this was actually better because it didn't adhere to said formula.

Rating: B-.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Looney TV: The Case of the Missing Hare (1942)

Bugs Bunny swaps out his usual hole in the ground for a tree in Chuck Jones' 1942 farce, "The Case of the Missing Hare". That's really the least of the issues here. A traveling magician, Ala Bahma, plays a cruel trick on Bugs, and, of course, you know that means war!

I wonder if this wasn't a veiled shot at a certain southern state......

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Preamble (America Rock, 1976)

In 1976, Schoolhouse Rock added a new component, America Rock, to mark the bicentennial, which had come & gone in July.

Lynn Ahrens wrote and sings "The Preamble", a short piece about the first part of the Constitution. Something a certain President needs to be reminded of. Every day.

If you looked real close, you'd see Lynn's name, along with producers George Newall and Tom Yohe, on the ballot. Cute inside joke, no? Yes, "The Preamble" comes off as a folk song, but it still resonates today. If only someone could "rick-roll" the White House........

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Kix Cow? (1968)

General Mills has had mascots for a number of their cereals through the years. Cheerios has had the Kid and Sue on and off, and Buzz Bee has been touting Honey Nut Cheerios since their inception. Of course, we can't forget Lucky the leprechaun, the Trix Rabbit, and the titular fiends of the monster cereals (Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Franken Berry). But, did you know that Kix had a mascot once?

The Kix Cow was a short-lived gimmick who appeared in 2 ads circa 1968. Actor Frank Nelson (ex-The Jack Benny Program) is the voice of the cow, who is kind of a bully....

I think we can see why the Cow quickly was cut.

June Foray (1917-2017)

For millions of television viewers, spanning 7 decades, this hurts.

June Foray, the grand dame of cartoon voices, passed away Wednesday, just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday. To try to list all of her accomplishments would probably take a month or so.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see if Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or any other cabler will do a tribute in her honor. Over the next few days, we're going to do our own tribute, with a week long celebration starting on Monday, July 31. For now, we're going to start the ball rolling with one of June's rare "face acting" jobs, when she appeared as herself on the short-lived NBC series, The Duck Factory. Keep an eye open, too, not only for series co-star Don Messick, but also June's partner-in-mirth, Bill Scott, also making a rare appearance before the cameras, in the episode, "The Annies". June appears around the 15 1/2 minute mark.

Rest in peace, June.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Krypto, K-9 Detective (1967)

In order to catch a dog-napping ring, Superboy sends Krypto out on an undercover assignment. Superboy (Bob Hastings) had asked, "How low can you go?" when he learns of the dog-nappers. Well, the answer to that would be, crooks will do anything to get rich quick.

Here's "Krypto: K-9 Detective":

Rating: B. Today, this same story would be expanded for story depth.

Game Time: "Superman" meets the creator of Dick Tracy (To Tell The Truth, 1965)

In the fall of 1965, Chester Gould's legendary detective, Dick Tracy, became a grandfather when his adopted son, Junior, and his wife, Moon Maid, had their first child. To mark the occasion, Gould agreed to appear on the evening edition of To Tell The Truth on October 4. Host Bud Collyer, a year away from reprising the voice of Superman, moderates the panel's questioning of Gould and two "imposters".

Two years later, 20th Century Fox and producer William Dozier tried to bring Tracy back to television after a short-lived animated series. Their pilot flopped, signalling the end of Dozier's time at Fox after Batman was cancelled. Tracy would return as part of Archie's TV Funnies in 1971.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Toon Rock: Yakko's World (Animaniacs, 1993)

A while back, we served up a choice musical number from Animaniacs in which Wakko (Jess Harnell) recited the 50 states in song, to the beat of "Turkey in the Straw". Well, brother Yakko (Rob Paulsen) did it first, in just the 2nd episode of the series, with "Yakko's World", in which Yakko recites every country in the world.....

Now, who said this wasn't educational?

You Know The Voice: Norman Alden (1967)

Six years before he was cast to voice Aquaman on Super Friends, character actor Norman Alden made his Saturday morning (actually, afternoon) debut, appearing on American Bandstand in the fall of 1967 to promote Rango, alongside co-stars Tim Conway & Guy Marks. Scope!

ABC must've had high hopes for Rango, such that the show's theme song, performed by the inimitable Frankie Laine, had been used for a Rate-a-Record segment. Unfortunately, Rango was sent off to Boot Hill before the season was over.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Batfink vs. Big Ears Ernie (1966)

Just to prove that his rogues gallery wasn't entirely composed of Hugo A-Go-Go, Batfink takes on "Big Ears Ernie", whose enlarged ears are his best defense against the law-----but just wait and see how Batfink spoils that strategy.

Oh, I'm just begging someone to revive this series, with longer stories.

Rating: B-.

Retro Toy Chest: Play 'n' Make (1970's)

Once upon a time, Kenner had a huge hit with their Easy Bake Oven. Hasbro, which later bought out Kenner, felt they needed to cut in on that action, and developed Play 'n' Make, a mini kitchen set that came out no later than 1977. The exact year it debuted remains uncertain, although it's possible 1977 was the only year it came out. Funny thing, though. Until today, I'd never seen ads for the product, and didn't know it existed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

On DVD: Justice League Dark (2017)

Warner Bros. visits a dark corner of the DC Universe in the direct-to-video feature, "Justice League Dark". Based on the defunct series of the same name, Batman (Jason O'Mara) investigates when a number of civilians are involved in some unusual incidents, mostly because the aggressors see their victims as demons.

In order to fight this supernatural menace, the Dark Knight finds himself briefly possessed by Deadman (Nick Turturro, ex-NYPD Blue), who convinces Batman to recruit John Constantine (Matt Ryan), and, in turn, Zatanna  (Camilla Luddington), who has had relationships with both Batman & Constantine in the past.

The villain is the sorcerer Destiny. No, not a revamp of a former DC horror host, but rather a reboot of a classic Justice League villain, Dr. Destiny. Destiny manipulates and eventually controls Constantine's friend, Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies, ex-Constantine) in a quest to regain a specific artifact that would make him akin to a god.

The supporting cast includes Marvel-Netflix regular Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman and Jerry O'Connell (ex-Sliders, Crossing Jordan, etc.) as Superman.

Here's a trailer:

As you can see, there are some genuinely funny bits mixed into the action. There are also some shocking surprises. The movie races along at a speedy 76 minutes, par for the course for a DCAU movie. Not really all that thrilled, however, with the use of Swamp Thing in this, as opposed to how he is used on Justice League Action, but, then, that's six of one and half a dozen of another, and, we'll leave it at that. Then again, I wasn't digging the Shiwan Khan look to Felix Faust, either, as that just doesn't look right on him.

They really need to concentrate on giving Zatanna a solo movie of her own. Just sayin'.

Rating: B+.

From Primetime to Daytime: Buffalo Bill, Jr. (1955)

Buffalo Bill, Jr. was a 1-year wonder that came from Gene Autry's Flying 'A' stable, and perhaps a big reason why it didn't last more than 42 episodes wouldn't be the fault of the show's cast, but rather the very large glut of Westerns on the air at the time, and that wouldn't diminish until the mid-60's. By that time, ABC had exhumed the formerly syndicated series to fill its Saturday morning block.

Dick Jones (ex-Our Gang, The Range Rider, Annie Oakley, among a number of credits) toplined as Buffalo Bill, Jr., although for the life of me I can't discern if this Bill was in fact directly related to "Buffalo" Bill Cody in real life. Jones also did his own stunts on the show.

Unfortunately, I never saw the show, so I can't rate it. This would be the kind of Western that deserves a home on cable today, though.

Right now, let's scope out the episode, "First Posse".

I wonder why Bill's sister was named "Calamity". Implying perhaps a reference to Calamity Jane?

Anyway, what some of you might not know is that Dick Jones was also the voice of "Pinocchio" in Disney's 1940 animated feature.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturtainment: Muttley becomes a stuntman (1969)

Magnificent Muttley sees himself as a "Movie Stuntman" in this short-short episode. Director Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) tries to sabotage Muttley's efforts, but......

A rare case where Zilly (Don Messick, also the voice of Muttley) is in the mix, in this case as a cameraman. It's just unfortunate that these shorts were way too short, but when you consider they also had the Wing Dings gags to fill out the half hour of Dastardly & Muttley......

By the way, Dick & Muttley will return to DC Comics in September in an all new series.

"Movie Stuntman" gets an A.

Toon Legends: Popeye in Childhood Daze (1960)

When Professor O. G. Whatashnozzle creates a machine that can send a chicken back into the egg, Brutus (Jackson Beck) decides to use it on Popeye (Jack Mercer) so he can have Olive (Mae Questel) all to himself. Here's "Childhood Daze", produced by Larry Harmon, and directed by Paul Fennell.

Kind of odd seeing Popeye (and later, Brutus) with adult faces on infant bodies. I guess the Professor has to go back to the drawing board.

As previously noted, Harmon employed some future talents from Filmation, including Hal Sutherland, Erv Kaplan, and musical director Gordon Zahler, who later worked as a music supervisor not just for Filmation, but also for Ivan Tors.

Rating: C.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Oscar Mayer jingle? (1965)

Today, Oscar Mayer is part of the ever growing conglomerate that is now known as Kraft Heinz. Yeah, mergers are a thing again. I guess they did away with anti-monopoly laws, but never made it public. Digressing. Anyway, back in 1965, this next ad made its debut, and would resurface in the 90's when Nick at Nite's TV Land debuted and began running "retromercials".

Too bad this hasn't been updated for the here & now.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Toonfomercials: The Jack Davis collection (1960's-85)

Artist Jack Davis is best known for his work on Mad Magazine and about a bazillion covers of TV Guide way back in the day, plus some advertising.

Starting back in the mid-60's somewhere, Davis' art was brought to life in a series of ads for a number of sponsors. The following block features:

McCracken Apple Chips (1985): Frito-Lay tried out this particular brand, using an apple-headed detective and his girl Friday. Gary Owens is the announcer at the end of the clip.

Gillette Trac II razor blades (1971): Jackson Beck narrates this one, in which a wicked Shadow gives guys the infamous 5:00 Shadow. Unfortunately, Procter & Gamble, Gillette's parent company, has discontinued this brand of blades.

Chex Cereals: Ruth Buzzi (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) is credited as the singing housewife in this spot, which may be from the 60's or early 70's.

2 spots for Utica Club, including a hysterical bit with a matador and a bull sharing a round of the suds. Jackson Beck is heard as the bull.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Malibu U (1967)

Here's a teen-centric ABC variety show that Dick Clark had nothing to do with.

Malibu U. was geared toward fans of Clark's American Bandstand and its related series, such as Where The Action Is, but lasted just 7 weeks in the summer of 1967. The problem? ABC placed it on Friday nights, rather than on Saturday mornings, where it could've been used to greater effect.

Actor-singer Rick Nelson (ex-The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet) served as host to an eclectic lineup of musical acts and assorted guest stars. Choreographer Bob Banas' dance troupe included a future sci-fi icon in Erin Gray (later of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century & Silver Spoons.

Now, I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. This episode features the 5th Dimension, Freddy Cannon and John Astin (ex-The Addams Family), billed as "The One Man Comedy Team", this after subbing for Frank Gorshin as the Riddler on Batman during the 1966-7 season.

Wikipedia's entry claims, incorrectly, that Four Star had a hand in the series, when it's clear that they didn't. They tried a variety show a couple of years earlier, the syndicated Hollywood A Go-Go, which was a failure.

Teenage Toons: To Thing Or Not To Thing (1979)

After our last Thing entry, regular correspondent Goldstar noted that there was a reason why the self-proclaimed idol of millions (Joe Baker) used a ring to switch from teenager Benjy Grimm (Wayne Morton) and back again.

"To Thing Or Not To Thing" offers some insight. By some unknown means, Ben was de-aged into a teenager, and stripped of his strength, which he could only access with the use of the two-part Thing Ring---which vanishes in the course of this particular fable.

After being advised by Professor Harkness (John Stephenson) to stay in the lab for 8 hours after an experiment meant to restore his adult self to full-time status, Benjy is goaded into going on a ski trip with snooty Ronald Radford (John Erwin). Chaos follows, of course.

Kelly had to hold back the tears, but that would be the first hint that there were signs of affection toward Benjy. The full origin in this continuity was never established, it would appear.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Toonfomercial: A summer break message from ABC Afterschool Special (1973)

After ABC's Afterschool Special wrapped its first season, the network ran this ad, mostly during primetime, during the summer of 1973 to promote the fact that the anthology series would return that fall.

Of course, the underlying reason I'm doing this is to have something that uses the series' original, synthesizer driven theme song.....

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis in Fool's Dare (1975)

It's been a while since we scoped The Secrets of Isis.

Student Cindy Lee (Joanna Pang) takes a dare to enter a junkyard, and encounters a gang of car thieves who'd earlier stolen a car belonging to Andrea Thomas (Joanna Cameron), aka Isis. Typical Filmation live-action fare of the period.

Albert Reed (Principal Barnes) had previously appeared on Chase, then took up a career in law enforcement of his own, working as a security guard. Who'dathunk?

Rating: A-.