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-.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Toon Legends: Popeye in Jeep Tale (1960)

One familiar trope of Jack Kinney's run producing and directing Popeye was having Swee'pea (Mae Questel) coax Popeye (Jack Mercer) into telling some stories.

One such case is "Jeep Tale", in which Beatrix Potter's Tale of Peter Rabbit is sent up, with Eugene the Jeep subbing for Peter Rabbit.



Predictable fluff.

Rating: A-.

Game Time: Captain Kangaroo on What's My Line? (1974)

Goodson-Todman figured that kids were watching the syndicated What's My Line? with their parents if they weren't in school, or, in summer reruns, playing in the yard. To that end, Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) was brought on as a mystery guest in this 1974 episode helmed by Larry Blyden.



Good stuff.

Rating: A.

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Thing Meets The Clunk (1979)

The Thing (Joe Baker) finds himself having to corral a runaway robot whose programming isn't quite as complete as his creator had intended. Professor Quimby (Paul Winchell) may be absent-minded, but good natured. His creation, though, is a work in progress. Here's "The Thing Meets The Clunk":



It was never really implied that Kelly (Noelle North) was Benjy Grimm's girlfriend in this series, although she and her scientist father (John Stephenson) were the only ones who were privy to Benjy's dual identity.

Rating: B--.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summertainment: Monkees at the Movies (1967)

From season 1 of The Monkees:

The guys are chillin' on the beach when they're recruited by a director (Jerry Lester) to be extras for a beach movie starring Frankie Catalina (Bobby Sherman). However, Catalina's success has gone to his head, so the Monkees decide to chop his ego down to size.

Here's "Monkees at the Movies":



The version of "Valleri" heard here was the original studio track, not the eventual hit single.

Bobby Sherman, of course, would stick with Screen Gems for 2 series of his own, Here Come The Brides and Getting Together, while forging his own career on the charts.

Rating: B.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. the Prankster (Triple Play, 1988)

Superman (Beau Weaver) has to save the National Pastime when the Prankster (guest star Howard Morris) teleports a baseball stadium and the two teams playing in the World Series to a remote island as part of an elaborate revenge plot. Here's "Triple Play":



If Jimmy Olsen's voice sounds familiar, it belongs to Mark Taylor, who was Firestorm on Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show & Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. Same basic vocal pattern.

While the World Series is still 3 months away, I figured, why wait?

Rating: A-.

Getting Schooled (again): The New Mickey Mouse Club (1977)

By 1976, the original Mickey Mouse Club was back in syndication. I remember this well because while it aired on the same station that carried it when it aired on ABC (1955-9), it was also airing on cable, and the cable company blacked out the feed from WNEW in New York much of the time, subbing in a text-only news feed from Reuters, which was available at the time.

In January 1977, Disney decided to reopen the Mickey Mouse Club, with a brand-new, culturally diverse cast, a disco reworking of the classic theme song, and, instead of new serials, simply split up pre-existing movies into multi-part, week-long serials. They had already re-edited some movies into two-parters for NBC's Wonderful World of Disney on Sundays to create inventory.

Unfortunately, The New Mickey Mouse Club had just 26 weeks (130 daily episodes) of original material before Disney ended production, but reruns would continue for 2 more years. Why? It wasn't airing in as many markets as reruns of the original series. The format was essentially the same, with a different theme each day of the week, but this was a case where Disney had sabotaged itself. Viewers preferred the reruns and cherished the  memories of childhood favorites like Annette Funnicello, who by 1977 was now shilling for Skippy peanut butter.

The cast was largely forgotten except for two. Lisa Whelchel and Julie Piekarski would later resurface on The Facts of Life, only for Piekarski to leave early in the series' run.

Here's a sample clip:



The most successful incarnation of the Mickey Mouse Club was still to come, leaving its biggest impact on the world of pop music. We'll talk about that another day.

No rating.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tooniversary: Voyage to the Inner World (Space Sentinels, 1977)

Space Sentinels turns 40 this year. To mark the occasion, let's take a look back with the episode, "Voyage to the Inner World".



I have no memory of seeing this one. No rating.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: The Mickey Mouse Club (1955)

In the 50's, ABC may perhaps have been the only network that programmed shows for children & teenagers on weekday afternoons. For the teeny-boppers, there was, of course, American Bandstand, which would later move to Saturday afternoons and continue into the 80's.

For the younger kiddo's, there was the equally legendary Mickey Mouse Club, which, like Bandstand did at the time, ran 5 days a week. Had ABC and/or Disney thought of it, maybe a 6th day, Saturday, would've been added. Had that happened, maybe the series could've gone past 4 seasons.

Host Jimmie Dodd basically was an adult supervisor for the Mouseketeers, whose roster included such future stars as Don Grady (later of My Three Sons), Annette Funicello, Sherry Alberoni (later better known for her voice work, i.e. Super Friends & Josie & the Pussycats), and Bobby Burgess (The Lawrence Welk Show). Each day had a specific day, such, as, for example, "Guest Star Day", from whence we get the following clip, which features actor-singer Cliff Edwards, aka Ukelele Ike, aka the original voice of Jiminy Cricket.



17 years after the series ended, Disney re-released it in syndication, so that parents could share their experiences with their kids. That led to the first reincarnation of the series, which we'll discuss another day. Likewise, the last and most successful incarnation will be addressed down the road.

Rating: A.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. Raven (Menace of the White Dwarf, 1973)

Time to take a trip back to 1973 with the Super Friends.

A white dwarf, manipulated by a vengeful alien named Raven (Casey Kasem in a dual role), begins stealing various objects, and relocating them, including a two-seat bicycle belonging to Marvin (Frank Welker). Superman (Danny Dark) sent Raven to prison some years earlier, and now knows Raven is looking for revenge......

Here's "Menace of the White Dwarf":



This Raven, of course, was a 1-shot villain who never appeared in the comics, and won't be confused with the later, female Raven of the Teen Titans. Dark doubles as the judge who sentenced Raven to prison.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Nutter Butter Man? (1970s?)

Nabisco introduced Nutter Butter peanut butter sandwich cookies in 1969. That might actually have been when this next animated commercial first appeared.......



I think the Nutter Butter man is supposed to be Nabisco's answer to Willy Wonka, but don't hold me to that. Too bad he's not around anymore, although the cookies still are.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Literary Toons: Cyrano (1974)

From season 2 of the ABC Afterschool Special:

Cyrano is a loose adaptation of the life of Cyrano de Bergerac (Jose Ferrer). I'm sure you know the story from various live-action and animated adaptations, including Mr. Magoo's take on it nearly a full decade earlier. A then-unknown Joan Van Ark co-stars as Roxanne.

Unfortunately, all that is available now is this trailer, meant to promote a VHS release.



1988 was the year this was released on VHS. Hanna-Barbera produced this one, one of a half-dozen entries during this season, most of them in live-action form.

No rating. I have no memory of seeing this one.

Summertainment: Come On In! The Water's Pink (1968)

The Pink Panther heads off to the beach, where he makes a monkey out of a muscle-head. Here's "Come On In! The Water's Pink":



I think we've seen some of the same gags in some Road Runner cartoons (you know which ones I mean). Still, good fun for a summer afternoon.

Rating: A.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dino Boy in Danger River (1966)

I've heard of shooting the rapids, but this is ridiculous.

Dino Boy and Ugg try to take a native back to his village,  but must navigate "Danger River":



Now, that's an obstacle course.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: The Pizza Head Show (1993)

In the early 90's, Pizza Hut sought to attract younger customers, particularly tweens and teens. The gimmick they hit on turned out to be a radical revamp of an old Saturday Night Live skit.

The Pizza Head Show was a series of ads for Pizza Hut that ran from 1993-7, from Mr. Bill creator Walter Williams. Shoot, Pizza Head even sounds like Mr. Bill. Sixteen commercials, mostly for promotional giveaways, were produced over the course of four years. It so happens that an enterprising YouTube poster collected them all.



I think now you know where the creators of Uncle Grandpa got the idea for that sentient slice of pizza.......

Rating: B-.

From Comics to Toons: Spider-Man in The Vulture Has Landed (1981)

From Spider-Man's 1981 solo series:

The Vulture (Don Messick) begins kidnapping scientists. When Peter Parker inexplicably loses his clothes, he borrows an outfit from his friend, Harry Osborn, the son, of course, of Norman Osborn (Green Goblin). However, Vulture mistakes Peter for Harry and kidnaps Peter, which may turn out to be a big mistake.......



The original Vulture, Adrian Toomes, didn't appear in the 1967-70 series, so this would be his TV debut. Oh, there was a Vulture in 1967, but it was the 2nd one, Blackie Drago.

Rating: B.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Skyhawks in Dog Fight (1969)

It's been a while since we checked in with the Wilson family of Skyhawks.

In "Dog Fight", Steve (Casey Kasem) is the victim of sabotage when business rival Buck Devlin's aides rig his plane.



Devlin might've been able to talk his way out of trouble, but today, I doubt he could get away with it with any consistency.

Rating: B.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Toonfomercial: Kellogg's tries reinventing Milton the Toaster (1996)

Nearly 30 years after creating Milton the Toaster as a mascot for Pop-Tarts, Kellogg's came up with a new model, whose eyes are inside the toaster, and whose mouth is one of the slots. Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin) voices the new, nameless toaster.



El flopp-o, as this toaster's attitude was the pits.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Toon Legends: Doctor Pink (1978-9)

The Pink Panther takes a job at a hospital as a humble, but of course bumbling, janitor, yet he dreams of being "Doctor Pink". The copyright says 1978, but it didn't come out until a year later, and likely aired on ABC.



The Walter Mitty-esque daydreams have been a common ream for the Panther over the years. If you've seen one variant, you've seen them all.

Rating: B.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures (2013)

Pac-Man returned to action in 2013's Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures, currently airing as part of Sinclair Broadcasting's Kids Click package.

The series initially aired on DisneyXD here in the US, and concurrently in Japan, which got one extra season out of the series, in addition to some holiday themed episodes that didn't air here, although they could, since the series is also streaming on Netflix.

The biggest difference between this series and the game on which it's based is the premise that the ghosts are secretly pals with ol' Pac, including Pinky, a female ghost with a crush on Pac-Man. Instead of being on what seemed to be Earth in the 1982 ABC series, Pac-Man and pals are on their own world, far more surreal and bizarre thanks to CGI tech.

Let's just give you a tease with the first half of the series opener.



Ghostly Adventures was seemingly dropped by DisneyXD in 2015, but no formal announcement of cancellation was ever made. As noted, it's now on Kids Click, which is experiencing some growing pains in its first few days on the air.

Rating: B+.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey in The Penthouse Burglaries and the Batty Bank Mob (1974)

It's past time we checked back in with Hong Kong Phooey.

This time, Phooey (Scatman Crothers) tangles with an ape trained for second story work in "The Penthouse Burglaries", and "The Batty Bank Mob", a clever gang of crooks who use an assortment of mechanical accessories to pull their jobs. All the while, Phooey, as Penrod Pooch, is tasked with painting the station house. Good luck with that.



Ratiing: B.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Gettin' To Know Me (1979-80)

Back in the day, PBS affiliates filled the hours when the kiddo's were at school with an assortment of educational programs aimed at pre-schoolers. The lengths of these programs varied, but the vast majority of these shows have, unfortunately, been lost to the mists of time.

To be totally honest, I didn't even know about this next item, Gettin' To Know Me, which, while it was developed with African-American audiences in mind, is actually meant for everyone. That said, I cannot fairly rate this show, so we will forego the rating, and jump right into a sample episode:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

War of the Aardvarks (Odd Ant Out, 1970)

Here's a rare Ant & the Aardvark in which the ant isn't being chased. Well, technically.

You see, Charlie Ant (John Byner) doesn't show up until the very end, while the Blue Aardvark (Byner) duels with a green one over a can of---wait for it---chocolate covered ants. Some of the gags were boosted from the Road Runner playbook, for obvious reasons.

Here's "Odd Ant Out":



Don't know who Byner was impersonating as the Green Aardvark, in case anyone asks.

Rating: A.

Famous Firsts: Jeannie in Surf's Up (1973)

Our Famous First this month features Jeannie.

As we have previously documented, the series launched three years after NBC's I Dream of Jeannie had ended its run. With the blessing of Screen Gems, Hanna-Barbera rebooted, and transformed Jeannie (Julie McWhirter) into a jealous redhead who had eyes only for her new master, Cory Anders (Mark Hamill), and wouldn't let Cory near any other girl.

In "Surf's Up", Jeannie bulls her way into teaming with Cory for a mixed surfing competition. Jeannie in a bikini? Priceless.



Four years later, H-B had intended to bring Jeannie back for Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, but Columbia said no. Only Jeannie's apprentice, Babu (Joe Besser), joined the Scooby-Doobies, and once that series ended after 2 seasons, that would be the end of Babu. Besser ended his run at H-B around the same time, having worked on Yogi's Space Race as well.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Toonfomercial: Froot Loops debuts (1963)

Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal turns 55 next year. So does, it seems, Toucan Sam, who made one of his first appearances in this next entry. While most people think of Toucan as having a British accent (Paul Frees and Maurice LaMarche have done mimics of Ronald Colman to create Sam's distinctive voice), that wasn't always the case.

As you'll hear, Toucan Sam was originally as American as apple pie, thanks to---who else?---Mel Blanc.



Of course, Blanc had a long standing association with another major player of the day, General Foods, since the Looney Tunes crew shilled for Tang and Kool-Aid, and, later, Post launched the Pebbles line of cereals, still endorsed to this day by Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble. Not sure if Mel did any other spots for Kellogg's while doing other Hanna-Barbera characters.

Saturtainment: Super Scary Saturday (1987)

Back in the day, Superstation TBS had everything you'd want. The Atlanta Braves were billed as "America's Team" (with apologies to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys), reruns of old classic series, and tons of movies.

While the Braves and NWA/WCW wrestling drove the station on the weekends, TBS did come up with a novel idea for movies on Saturday afternoons. Problem was, it lasted just 2 years.

Super Scary Saturday was a throwback to the monster movies of yore as they were screened in the Northeast and other parts of the country. Al Lewis reprised his role as Grandpa from The Munsters (which TBS had the rights to at the time) as host. He even brought along Igor the bat as a sidekick. This was, I think, right around the time The Munsters Today would launch in syndication, and, well, Howard Morton was no Al Lewis as Grandpa, let's put it that way.

There would be crossovers with World Championship Wrestling, as selected NWA talents, including the Freebirds' Michael Hayes and Midnight Express manager Jim Cornette, would debate the battle royal between, say for example, King Kong and Godzilla. Those segments would be over in the TBS Arena, while Lewis taped his bits in a separate studio.

Here, Grandpa opens the show, and we eventually get to a promo for the day's feature, "Godzilla".



Escapist fun, that's all it is. Too bad no one has thought about making something like this a weekly thing again. El Rey has their monster movie double features on Fridays, but they're not normally the vintage kind, more contemporary films fill the bill instead.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Hawkman enters the 23rd Dimension (1967)

Hawkman encounters a pair of pranksters from Jupiter. They don't want him spoiling their fun, so the Winged Avenger gets sent to "The Twenty-Third Dimension".



You could see the ending coming, couldn't you?

Rating: B.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Tall Tales & Legends (1985)

Shelley Duvall followed up her first Showtime series, Faerie Tale Theatre, with Tall Tales & Legends, another series aimed at young audiences.

Only 9 episodes were produced between 1985-7, and reruns ultimately surfaced on the Disney Channel. Duvall would follow up with 1989's Nightmare Classics, which turned out to be the end of her run at Showtime, as only 4 of 6 scheduled episodes were made & broadcast.

From 1987, here's an adaptation of the tale of "John Henry". Broadway star Samm-Art Williams ("Big River") wrote the script. The program stars Danny Glover ("Lethal Weapon"), Tom Hulce ("Amadeus"), Lynn Whitfield ("Sounder"), and Lou Rawls. Gospel legend Andrae Crouch directs the chorus.



No rating.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Cheetos Mouse? (1971)

Before Chester Cheetah became Cheetos' spokescat in the late 80's-early 90's, Cheetos used a different animated endorser-----a mouse.

The Cheetos Mouse debuted in 1971, voiced by Allen Swift. However, the mouse was gone by the end of the decade. Don't ask.

In this spot, our rodent friend takes up flying a plane.....



The hyphen in Cheetos was removed back in 1998. The logo design and trade dress are similar to Fritos corn chips of the period.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

From Comics to Toons: A full episode of Heathcliff (1984)

Heathcliff (Mel Blanc) has to contend with a movie star for Sonja's affections in "Heathcliff's Middle Name". Then, the Catillac Cats' need for milk leads them to a genie granting them their needs in "Wishful Thinking":



It shouldn't surprise anyone that Heathcliff would discover that his Hollywood rival wasn't all he was cracked up to be. Meanwhile, the Catillac Cats aren't quite as fun without Cleo. Just sayin'.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Case of the Dreadful Dolls (Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, 1984)

The writers of Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show cribbed an idea that had actually been borne over at Marvel in this next entry.

The Dollmaker (Frank Welker) is a rip-off of the Puppet Master, who bedeviled the Fantastic Four back in the day. DC had their version, too, the Puppeteer, who was a 1-shot menace vs. the Teen Titans before being seemingly killed off in the early 80's. Anyway, Dollmaker uses some magic clay, a la Philip "Puppet Master" Masters, to control the actions of our heroes.

Here's "The Case of the Dreadful Dolls":



Should've merited the entire half-hour, in this writer's view.

Rating: B-.

Monday, June 26, 2017

On The Air: Ben 10 (2016)

In this age where studio suits are obsessed with reinventing franchises just because they can, Cartoon Network took another detour into stupidity by rebooting one of their more successful franchises of the last decade.

Ben 10 went back to the beginning a year ago, when the current series bowed overseas. It finally arrived on American screens back in April, but trying to compress what worked so well in a full-length half-hour format for nearly 10 years and 4 series overall doesn't work. The feeling I get is that some of the plots to the current series would work better under the original format.

Translated, if it ain't broken, you don't fix it. But the morons at CN did, anyway.

Ben Tennyson (Tara Strong) is back to being 10 years old, as is cousin Gwen. We had watched them grow up and mature, to the point where devoted fans probably were hoping Gwen, who'd begun a relationship with enemy-turned-ally Kevin Levin during the Alien Force series, would continue on that path, and Ben would eventually find his own true love.

So why a reboot? With this, I don't know.

In "Need For Speed", a group of baddies decide to race to Yellowstone National Park, searching for a hidden treasure. Ben has designs on that treasure, too......



I'd rather watch the original series, thanks.

Rating: C.

Remember Milton the Toaster? (1970)

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts have been around since the mid-60's, at least. In 1970, the company decided the pastry treat needed an animated spokesman, just like some of their cereals.

Enter, then, Milton the Toaster. Character actor William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show, Dobie Gillis) landed the plum gig. At the time, Schallert was also one of the studio announcers for ABC. Scope out Milton's debut:



More than 25 years later, Kellogg's tried out the talking toaster gimmick again. This time, though, it was a nameless appliance, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin, ex-Saturday Night Live). We'll get something from that era up another time.

Parents, get your DVR's ready: Kids Click is coming!

Kids Click is the name of a new children's programming block from Sinclair Broadcasting which will launch July 1 on This TV (no longer available on Spectrum Cable; check your cable listings) and a number of syndicated channels and/or Sinclair owned stations.

That's the good news. The bad? For Sinclair affiliates, some of the shows are being scheduled for pre-dawn hours due to scheduling conflicts. Here at home, WCWN, the CW affiliate, will align Kids Click as follows:

Weekdays (effective July 3, all times ET):

4:30: Sonic X (has previously aired on Fox & CW)
5 am: Max Steel.
5:30: Angry Birds
6 am: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir
8 am: Rocket Monkeys
8:30: Super 4

Saturdays (effective July 1):

5 am: Sonic X
5:30: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures (previously on DisneyXD; broadcast debut).
6 am: Scary Larry
6:30: Pink Panther & Pals  (previously on Cartoon Network; broadcast debut).
Noon: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures

Sundays (effective July 2):

7 am: Robocop-Alpha Commando
7:30: Sonic X
8 am & 9:30: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures
8:30: Scary Larry
9 am: Pink Panther & Pals

Your local station and/or This may vary. Some of these shows have previously been reviewed here, and those that haven't will eventually turn up down the road.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy in The Beast That Went Berserk (1966)

A noble scientist (Ted Knight, who also narrated) develops a serum that enables an elephant to grow in size, but a little too large for its own good. Superboy (Bob Hastings) has to stop "The Beast That Went Berserk". "Berserk" is misspelled on the title card.



The predictable trope about the rogue assistant was kept off camera to save time, it seems, but would come into play in later variations on the same theme.

Rating: B+.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny's Kool-Aid A-Go-Go (1966)

At the time this ad first aired, The Bugs Bunny Show had long since moved to daytime on ABC. General Foods, at the time the makers of Kool-Aid, sponsored the show. I think General Foods and WB had ended their partnership by the end of the decade.

Anyway, in 1966, Bugs (Mel Blanc) is shilling from a place called the Kool-Aid A-Go-Go, and sings "Doin' The Kool" as the kids dance.



Too bad this wasn't released as a novelty single----or was it?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman in Double Dribble Riddle (1977)

Captain Caveman (Mel Blanc) and the Teen Angels have to solve a "Double Dribble Riddle" when a basketball team disappears, team bus & all, en route to a game. Seems an unscrupulous businessman wants to buy the team by any means necessary.



How many variations on this plot did we see during the 70's alone? Way too many.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 23, 2017

On The Air: Cyberchase (2002)

Cyberchase is one of PBS' longest-running animated series, with the first 10 seasons spread out over a 13 year period (2002-15). Season 11 is set to air later this year.

The plot: Three Earth kids are transported into another dimension to help Motherboard thwart the machinations of Hacker (Christopher Lloyd, ex-Taxi, "Back To The Future"). Gilbert Gottfried (ex-Aladdin, Saturday Night Live) co-stars as Digit and his kid brother, Widget, a pair of cyborg birds that are Motherboard's aides.

To tell you the truth, I had this up before, but it got taken down when YouTube dumped it due to copyright issues. Hopefully, this won't be the case this time. I thought the series had actually ended a while ago, but nowadays, the production time on some cartoons takes longer than it did back in the day.

Let's look at a more recent sample:



The series was originally produced by Canada's Nelvana Studios, which has since turned over the show to an American studio. Don't ask why.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman in War of the Bee Battalion (1967)

An age old trope plays into this next offering, from season 2 of The New Adventures of Superman.

Supes (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth) has to deal with a pair of common, garden variety crooks who force a scientist to use his experimental formula to enlarge a hive of common bees to keep the Man of Steel distracted while the thieves loot Metropolis. Oh, if it only were that simple......



As you can see, the serum wears off after a while. Today, this same story would be extended, since this ends so quickly.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Toonformercial: The Pink Panther shills for Owens-Corning (1979)

It's been nearly 40 years since The Pink Panther was licensed to Owens-Corning Fiberglas to promote their insulation products.

In this spot, Inspector Clouseau joins the Panther. John Bartholomew Tucker is the voice-over announcer.



I have no clue who voiced Clouseau in these spots.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tooniversary: Spider-Man in Diet of Destruction (1967)

Spider-Man tangles with a metal eating monster that seemingly can't be stopped. The odd thing is that this monster doesn't have a human controlling it. No rhyme or reason to this "Diet of Destruction":



Rating: B.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Toons After Dark: Alice in Wonderland (Or, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1966)

A few years after Disney had released their own adaptation, Hanna-Barbera took a stab at Lewis Carroll's classic tale, but opted for an all-star musical.

Alice in Wonderland (Or, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?) aired on ABC, and has rarely been rerun in 51 years since. The story moves forward to present-day, as you'd expect. Alice (Janet Waldo) enters Wonderland through a very unusual portal---her TV, thanks to her dog, Fluff (Don Messick, of course).

The late comedian Bill Dana wrote the adaptation, which turned the Mad Hatter into a woman (gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, who passed away weeks before the show aired), and turned the Cheshire Cat into a hep cat with the voice of---who else?---Sammy Davis, Jr. (Billed as simply Sammy Davis). Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble (Alan Reed & Mel Blanc) are reincarnated as a two-headed caterpillar. You get the idea, I think. For what it's worth, Henry Corden took over as Fred when he had to sing.

When it was decided to release this on record, a number of cast changes were made, partially due to contractual conflicts. For example, Davis was signed to Reprise, along with Rat Pack pals Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra, so Scatman Crothers took over as the Cheshire Cat on the album. Veteran H-B scribe Charles Shows adapted Dana's adaptation. I can only imagine.

I never got to see this in its entirety, if at all, so there's no rating. In memory of Dana, who passed away over the weekend, we present this as a public service.


Getting Schooled: The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head (1974)

Timer, now voiced by Len Weinrib, returns to the ABC Afterschool Special in "The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head", first shown in May 1974.

This time, the episode is all animated (another DePatie-Freleng production, don'tcha know), as Timer leads two kids through the title character's cranium.

Unfortunately, the complete episode is not available on YouTube. We'll settle for this sample clip.



As we know, Timer would get his own series of interstitals that aired on Saturdays for the next couple of decades, but his two Afterschool Specials haven't seen the light of day since their last broadcasts. You might say, that Time For Timer was the first Saturday morning series DFE would sell to ABC, but they'd only be able to sell three more after that (The Oddball Couple, The New Pink Panther Show, & Spider-Woman, all between 1975-9).

No rating.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Popeye's Junior Headache (1960)

Since Popeye is a sort of father figure to Swee'pea, as well as Olive's niece, Deezil, we'll close our Father's Day salute with "Popeye's Junior Headache", which apparently introduced Deezil. Seems Popeye's been burning the midnight oil, and......!



And you thought Popeye had trouble with his own nephews......

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: Schoolboy Father (ABC Afterschool Special, 1980)

It's Father's Day. To mark the occasion, we're bringing out an ABC Afterschool Special from 1980 that addresses the issue of teenage pregnancy and subsequent parenting.

In "Schoolboy Father", Rob Lowe stars as a teen father who decides to raise his newborn over the objections of his girlfriend (Dana Plato, Diff'rent Strokes), who wants to give up the child for adoption. Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life) co-stars.

Producer Martin Tahse made a ton of these teen dramas for the Afterschool Special as well as the Saturday Weekend Special, but hasn't been heard from since ABC discontinued both anthologies.



No rating.

Toonformercial: Tinker Bell for Peter Pan peanut butter (1950's)

Don't know exactly when this next ad bowed, likely during some Disney programming on ABC, but back in those days, Tinker Bell didn't talk all that much. That leaves it for the future voice of Winnie the Pooh, Sterling Holloway, to narrate this spot for Peter Pan peanut butter.



Awww, Tink is soooooooooo cute. One wonders why she was silent in the first place (not so now). Maybe they were afraid of the inevitable coupling of Tinker & Peter (which Steven Spielberg envisioned in 1991's "Hook").

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Looney TV: I Am Slamacus (Loonatics Unleashed, 2006)

From season 2 of Loonatics Unleashed:

Slam Tasmanian is recruited by a humanoid analogue for Pepe LePew, who happens to be running an underground fight club. Danger Duck decides to be Slam's manager, with predictable results. It all starts when the Loonatics try to retrieve some prehistoric creatures from a retro zoo, who've escaped. Pierre Le Pew (Maurice LaMarche) has eyes for Lexi Bunny, who doesn't return the affection (what a shock).

Here's "I Am Slamacus":



While funk legend Bootsy Collins sang the theme song for season 2. He didn't write it. Musical director Thomas Chase Jones did, so blame him if you think it was lousy. It's actually the 2nd worst theme song revision in toon history. The all-time champ came more than a decade earlier, with Fred Schneider's horrid rap theme to The New Adventures of Captain Planet.

Rating: A.

Retro Toy Chest: Electronic Detective (1979)

After spending most of the 70's as a pitchman for Aurora's Skittle line of games, 60's icon Don Adams (Get Smart, Tennessee Tuxedo) landed an endorsement deal with Ideal to shill for Electronic Detective, which sought to siphon off some of the market for Milton Bradley's Simon or other electronic games of the period. The deal was such that Adams' picture was on the game box.

As you can see in this ad, Adams was actually still trading off Smart, as he only thinks he's solved the case. Joey Forman, who'd appeared on Smart as a Charlie Chan parody, Harry Hoo, and did a lot of TV in the 60's & 70's, co-stars.



Had I known about this game when it came out in 1979, I would've badgered the parents to put it under the Christmas tree. After flopping a few years earlier in The Partners, Adams would return to cartoons and gumshoes as Inspector Gadget four years after this was released.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Atom Ant in Super Blooper (1965)

Atom Ant is just as much a fan of other heroes as you or I would be. This much is gleaned in our next episode.

In "Super Blooper", Atom helps an actor (Allan Melvin) who plays Atom's hero, Super Guy, when the actor comes to town on a promo tour, and has to impress some kids. Atom's only too happy to help.....



I think by this point in the series, Don Messick had taken over as the voice of Atom, replacing Howard Morris. Don't know why.

Anyway, they don't do these kind of promotions anymore, since too much information is out in the public purview.

Rating: B.

Daytime Heroes: Sgt. Thursday of Sesame Street (1973)

One of the coolest things about Sesame Street that will attract viewers of all ages is their clever parody sketches.

Take for example this 1973 offering. Can't say for sure if this is from season 4 or 5. Anyway, Dragnet gets the parody treatement, as we're introduced to Sgt. Thursday (Jerry Nelson), who's searching for the letter W, but, as we'll see, it's not as easy as you'd think......



We get the joke.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman gets a soap bottle (1963)

Well, it's not really just the Man of Steel,  but also Tennessee Tuxedo (Don Adams) in this spot for the Soaky soap bottles, made by Colgate-Palmolive. Dick Beals is the voice of the Soaky Kid. By the way, that's not Bud Collyer (To Tell The Truth) as Superman. I think this might've been Everett Sloane instead.

Bad TV: 3 Dog Band (2009-10)

In 2009, Cartoon Network sought to recapture lightning in a bottle, if you will, by opening the Cartoonstitute as a new forum for creators to introduce new works. Two current CN series, Regular Show & Uncle Grandpa, came out of the Cartoonstitute, and there are various reasons why the others never made it.

3 Dog Band was one of those runts of the litter, so to speak. Created by Paul Rudish, who'd directed episodes of Dexter's Laboratory and the original Powerpuff Girls, this band literally is comprised of three dogs, all of different breeds and musical interests, as well as nationalities.



I know all about the struggles some bands go through to make it big. I've been friends with a small number of local musicians, and I've seen some professional highs & lows. What these pooches go through exaggerates those struggles a wee bit too much. Not only that, but when you have a character named Slime who loses his shape at inopportune moments, that's another joke that goes a little off the page.

Let me just sum up my feelings on this one. Meh.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Toon Legends: Mr. Magoo in Thin Skinned Divers (1960)

Mr. Magoo (Jim Backus) thinks he's going to a college reunion when he gets in truth an advertisement for a sale. Chaos ensues, of course, in "Thin Skinned Divers":



Seems Magoo is making a comeback, with news of a new set of shorts being released this year. However, the classic look is gone, and Magoo will be given an unwitting arch nemesis he doesn't realize he's offended. Can you say, epic fail?

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: A different kind of Write Bros. (1973)

Also on The Land of Whatever:

I've never had a camera crew in a classroom, but this would've been a riot, if not also looking like it was filmed on the set of, say, Room 222. Johnny Brown, then on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and later on Good Times, shills for Paper Mate's Write Bros. pens, which bowed in 1973.



Sad to say, but Room 222 had ended production by '73, if memory serves.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. the Pied Piper of Space (1978)

A set of UFO's arrive on Earth, and thousands of children----and the Wonder Twins----end up hypnotized by some strange music. The Super Friends must follow the trail to a distant planet to confront "The Pied Piper of Space":



So let's get this straight. A child prodigy from an alien world decides that since his parents exiled him, he needs to take Earth children away from their families? Hokey, convoluted, but also a twist ending that viewers really didn't see coming until the very end.

Rating: B+.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Toon Sports: Boulevardier From The Bronx (1936)

Isadore "Friz" Freleng skewered one of the most popular pitchers of the 30's, Dizzy Dean, turning him into a literally cocky barnstormer in 1936's "Boulevardier From The Bronx".



I remember seeing this back in the day, but only now do I get a better appreciation of the visual gags. 

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: The Adventures of Pete & Pete (1993)

Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Pete & Pete actually began as a series of short interstitals in 1989. After a handful of specials, it was allowed to graduate to a full fledged series in 1993, and ran for 3 seasons (1993-6).

The titular characters happen to be brothers with the same name. Their mom has a metal plate in her head that can pick up & broadcast radio programs, among other things. In all, it is a surreal world that the Petes and their family live in.

Co-star Michelle Trachtenberg would later resurface on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and, if memory serves, it was Nickelodeon's movie division that gave Michelle her first feature film, "Harriet The Spy".

The rock group Polaris, a spin-off of Miracle Legion, perform the theme song.

Not really my cup of tea, so I didn't watch much, hence no rating.

Here's the intro:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Toons After Dark: Mission Hill (1999)

One of the things WB tried to do was develop some animated series of their own to counterprogram Fox's The Simpsons & King of the Hill. However, despite bringing in two former producers from the former, the network ended up laying an egg.

Mission Hill lasted just 1 season (1999-2000), and not even a rerun cycle on [adult swim] could revive viewer interest, in contrast to [as] reviving interest in Fox's Futurama & Family Guy, the latter of which is still on the air today.

Perhaps the biggest reason why Mission failed was because it was airing on the same night as the Fox toons. Scheduling it on another night might've at least extended its lifespan, but we'll never know for sure.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. Instead, this sample is a public service.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Beware the Gray Ghost (1992)

In the early 70's, Batman met pulp legend The Shadow, which served as a back-door pilot for the latter's 1st DC series. 20 years later, the producers of Batman: The Animated Series created a character that was a cross between the two legends.

TV's original Dark Knight, Adam West, guest stars as actor Simon Trent, who, in this continuity brought young Bruce Wayne's childhood hero to life in "Beware The Gray Ghost". Kevin Conroy (Batman) doubles as Thomas Wayne in the flashback segments.



Dedicated to the memory of Adam West, who has passed away at 88. We'll have something over at The Land of Whatever.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Herculoids in The Thunderbolt (1981)

From Space Stars:

The Herculoids find a friend turned foe when Saiju, a lizard like being not unlike Zok, except that Saiju cannot fly, devours some lightning rocks uncovered during an earthquake on Quasar. Here's "The Thunderbolt":



Unfortunately, Saiju wasn't seen again, as they could've added him to the Herculoids in a pinch.

The abrupt rewinds in the story were simply tape defects, it would appear.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 9, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Casper vs. the Greedy Giants (1963)

"The Greedy Giants" was the first episode of The New Casper Cartoon Show in 1963. Legendary Shamus Culhane handled the animation for this one, directed by Seymour Knietel. In it, Casper (Norma MacMillan) helps a weeping willow grow by locating a special potion. To gain the potion, Casper has to solve a riddle. If the ogre's voice sounds familiar, it belongs to Bradley Bolke, who used a similar voice for Chumley on Tennessee Tuxedo.



This set the tone for the series, as Casper was more heroic than in his theatrical shorts, which were mixed in with 26 made-for-TV shorts. That alone would explain how the series lasted as long as it did. The "Giants" in the title were the older trees, and they were really little more than doubting Thomases who didn't believe Casper would solve the ogre's riddle. This also was a rare case of Casper remolding his body to disguise himself.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Spider-Man & Sub-Mariner team up (1981)

Spider-Man gets a visit from Sub-Mariner in this episode from his 1981 solo series.

Namor (Vic Perrin) is concerned when his cousin, Namorita (B. J. Ward) falls ill after encountering some pollution dumped by the Kingpin. Naturally, Namor turns his wrath toward the surface, but not before leaving Namorita in the care of Dr. Donald Blake (Jack Angel), the alter-ego at the time of Thor.

Meanwhile, Kingpin is hosting a summit meeting involving old rivals Hammerhead (William Boyett, ex-Adam-12, but virtually unrecognizable in applying a Brooklyn accent) and Silvermane (Paul Winchell, who also voices one of Kingpin's henchmen). Bill Woodson is heard not only as J. Jonah Jameson, but also Dr. Everett, Kingpin's personal scientist du jour.

Here's "Wrath of the Sub-Mariner":



Marvel missed a golden opportunity to give Namor his own series after this, as this could've been a back-door pilot, especially considering 'Nita was flirting with Dr. Blake. Since this series lasted just 1 season (as opposed to Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, which bowed the same year, getting 3), maybe Marvel decided against it. Their loss.

Rating: A-.

Summertainment: Doug becomes a Hamburger Boy, and deals with Shock Therapy (1993)

From season 3 of Doug's run on Nickelodeon:

Doug visits Mr. Bone in the hospital, and the assistant principal ends up revisiting his own childhood when he gets Doug's skateboard in "Doug's Shock Therapy". Then, Doug gets a summer job in "Doug is Hamburger Boy".

The intros are sped up, but otherwise, the audio is at proper speed & pitch.



No rating.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Mr. T cereal? (1984)

In the mid-80's, life was good for Mr. T. The former Chicago bouncer had not one, but two hit series on the air, as The A-Team was joined by a Saturday morning cartoon that had T as a gymnastics coach and amateur detective. The animated Mr. T was in its 2nd season when the star and Ruby-Spears agreed to a licensing deal with Quaker for breakfast cereal.



I think the artwork on the cereal box also came from Ruby-Spears, but don't hold me to it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey vs. the Voltage Villain & The Giggler (1974)

On his Bloggy Thing earlier today, Tony Isabella discussed a little known 1974 film, "Black Belt Jones", which starred Jim Kelly and........Scatman Crothers. Seems ol' Scatman was cast as a sensei of a sort, and maybe this is what led to his landing the lead as Hong Kong Phooey.

Anyway, HKP has his hands full with the "Voltage Villain" (Don Messick) and "The Giggler" (Frank Welker, who'd recycle the Giggler voice for one version of the Toyman 4 years later on Challenge of the Super Friends).



The subplot tying the two shorts together has Sgt. Flint (Joe E. Ross) attempting to create some models out of toothpicks, but of course it's bound to fail.

Rating: B.

Sunday Funnies: Donald Trump gets pwned by the Manning brothers (2009)

Seven years before being elected President, Donald Trump was pimping himself out for just about anything, including a ridiculous cookie commercial.

Nabisco's Oreo cookie brand was running a series of spots that had Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Peyton & Eli Manning in something called the Oreo Double Stuf Racing League. They'd beaten Venus & Serena Williams (who'd likely spank the brothers on the tennis court), and now turned their attention to Trump, who spared his sons the embarrassment by calling on comedian Darrell Hammond (Saturday Night Live) to play his, ah, clone.

Watch the future President get pwned, as the kids say.....


Monday, June 5, 2017

Looney TV: Cheese Chasers (1950-1)

Hubie & Bertie aren't as well known as the rest of Chuck Jones' creations for Warner Bros., but over the course of 8 years (1943-51), they had their fair share of amusing adventures.

The finale, "Cheese Chasers", sees Hubie (Mel Blanc) and Bertie (Stan Freberg) looking to end it all after overindulging on cheese one night, touching off a chain reaction.......



Of course, Hubie & Bertie would eventually return, but it'd be a long time before they did.

Rating: B.

Alphabetic Toons: This lesson isn't that E-asy (1969)

From the first season of Sesame Street:

A man (Casey Kasem) can't hang on to the letter 'e', and with good reason....



Between these shorts, plus working for Hanna-Barbera and Ken Snyder's Pantomime Pictures (Skyhawks & Hot Wheels), I think you can see how Casey gained the financial leverage to launch American Top 40 a year later.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Willy the Hillbilly? (1966)

Mountain Dew has been part of the Pepsi family since 1964. In 1966, Pepsi decided it was time for the product's mascot, Willy the Hillbilly, to appear in television ads for the soft drink. Country-bluegrass singer Grandpa Jones, three years before Hee Haw made him an icon, is the voice of Willy.



The ad campaign lasted just three years, but Willy returned a few years back-----in a video game.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Alphabetic Toons: Joe & the Junebug (Sesame Street, 1969)

Two boys see the letter 'j' and think it's a fish hook. Heh, there's a story with that, but no fries.

Gary Owens (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop) is the "voice of God" that sets up the story of "Joe & the Junebug".



Simple and effective.

Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Shamon U (1973)

The Super Friends try to convince a well-meaning scientist, Dr. Shamon (Norman Alden in a dual role) that his experiments are having an adverse effect in the immediate vicinity of his lab on Mystery Mountain, if not also the rest of Earth.

The real absurdity is Marvin (Frank Welker), wearing his home-made "costume" everywhere he goes. Like, other street clothes would be nice for a picnic, dude.



Since Wonder Woman (Shannon Farnon) plays a vital role in the resolution of this case, with "Wonder Woman" opening this weekend, I thought we'd offer this episode up.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Spiderversary: Spider-Man vs. Mysterio (1967)

Spider-Man takes on one of his more challenging foes in Mysterio, the master of illusion and, in this episode, disguise, in an adaptation of Mysterio's debut appearance.

"The Menace of Mysterio" adapts an issue of the original Amazing Spider-Man book from 1964, right down to framing the web-head for the robbery of a museum.



Canadian actor Paul Soles took his cues from Bud Collyer's portrayal of Superman, adopting a more heroic timbre when Peter Parker changed to Spider-Man. Later actors haven't followed suit.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: Remember Donutz cereal? (1980)

General Mills began the 80's by introducing a brand new cereal that trumpeted its arrival with a retro-doo-wop beat.

Donutz cereal didn't last long, a couple of years tops, but in a way, the company rebooted the product when they expanded the Cheerios line further a few years later. In my mind, Chocolate Cheerios is really Chocolate Donutz repackaged , as the "donuts" looked more like cocoa coated Cheerios in the first place.

Now, scope out this sample ad:



And the chocolate variation:



Yes, I tried it. How do you think I know they were "cousins", if ya will, of Cheerios back then?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Famous Firsts: The premiere of George of the Jungle (1967)

Here we are again, first of the month, and our "Famous First" this month is George of the Jungle. Last week, we served up the pilot for George. The pilots for the two supporting features, Tom Slick and Super Chicken, are still to come.

"The Malady Lingers On" (a play on "The Melody Lingers On"): George (Bill Scott) learns that his pet elephant, Shep, is sick, but the doctor isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the drawer.

"Monster Rally": Tom Slick (Scott) enters Prince Monte Carloff's rally. This wouldn't be the last time we'd see monsters at a road race.....

"One of Our States is Missing": An old college classmate of Henry Cabot Henhouse (Scott, recycling his Mr. Peabody voice) steals the entire state of Rhode Island. He's figuring, it's the smallest state, who'd miss it? Super Chicken tries to recover the entire state.



It's said that Paul Frees' voice for Ape is modeled after actor Ronald Colman. A similar voice had been used for Inspector Fenwick (Dudley Do-Right), among others. Scott recycled his Dudley voice for Tom Slick.

Rating: B.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: The Darkseid Deception (1985)

Darkseid (Frank Welker) is still pursuing Wonder Woman (now voiced by B. J. Ward, Voltron, etc.), and goes so far as to impersonate the Amazon's true love, Steve Trevor (guest star Darryl Hickman), after turning Trevor into an ape. For the rest of the Super Powers Team, the real issue in "The Darkseid Deception" is figuring out what else the lord of Apokolips is after. The opening & closing are deleted.



Rating: B+.

You Know The Voice: Fernando Escandon (1980)

Before he was hired to be the voice of El Dorado on Super Friends in the early 80's, Fernando Escandon was the spokesman for Frito Lay's Tostitos tortilla chips.

Now, you have a face to match the voice.



In case you wonder, the chef in this ad became pretty famous, too. Rene Enriquez landed a supporting role on NBC's Hill Street Blues, roughly around the same time Escandon turned to cartoons. Oh, by the way, that's Michael Bell as the announcer at the end of the ad. There's no mistaking that voice. Subsequent Tostitos ads would have veteran actor William Schallert doing the voice-over.

Escandon would remain the spokesman for Tostitos for a number of years, and a few years in, did a series of spots that inserted him into some classic TV shows, including The Lone Ranger, The Addams Family, Mr. Ed, and the original Dragnet. We'll have those up soon.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Snuffy's Turf Luck (1961)

Snuffy Smith has to rely on best bud Barney Google to save his home when Snuffy gambles it away, and the appropriately named Jerky Jockey intends to foreclose. Ah, but he hadn't reckoned without Barney and Spark Plug.

Here's "Snuffy's Turf Luck":



Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Manic Monday & If She Knew What She Wants (1986)

American Bandstand was nearing the end of its ABC run in May 1986 when the Bangles appeared on the show to promote their 2nd CD, "Different Light". "Manic Monday", the Prince-penned 1st single, had been up & down the charts by the time the band appeared on the show on Mother's Day weekend. "If She Knew What She Wants", a cover of a Jules Shear track recorded a year earlier, was the current single at the time.

Now, scope out this video. The obligatory Dick Clark interview is sandwiched in between songs.



Bassist Michael Steele has since left the group, leaving just sexy lead singer Susanna Hoffs and the Peterson sisters. I've said for years that if Archie Comics could have licensed Josie & the Pussycats for a late 80's revival, the Bangles would've easily fit in to provide the singing voices.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Celebrity Toons: Fonz & the Happy Days Gang become the Arabian Knights (1980)

Ayyyyyyyyy!!! Boy, did Hanna-Barbera blow a golden opportunity with this episode of Fonz & the Happy Days Gang!

In "Arabian Knights", Fonzie (Henry Winkler), Richie (Ron Howard), Ralph (Donny Most), Cupcake (Didi Conn), and Mr. Cool (Frank Welker) end up in Old Testament-era Babylon to help King Nebuchadnezzar II save the kingdom from a rival ruler.

Welker also uses his Fred Jones voice from Scooby-Doo as our announcer, coming out of the first commercial break. The open, narrated by Wolfman Jack (The Midnight Special) has been edited off.



Here's what I mean when I say H-B blew a golden opportunity. What with the use of incidental music from Super Friends being occasionally used here and on other H-B action shows of the period (i.e. Godzilla), it would've been a nice idea to bring some closure to one of the studio's 1960's series by using either the original Arabian Knights (from Banana Splits) and/or Shazzan and his time-tossed charges. Granted, Chuck & Nancy would be returned to 1967, as opposed to 1957, but ya never know.

Rating: B.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Sh-h-h-h-h-h-h! (1955)

Legendary cartoon icon Fred "Tex" Avery finished his career at Universal, working for Walter Lantz. His final effort recycled a plot idea from one of his Droopy shorts at MGM, but this time, in "Sh-h-h-h-h-h!", Avery's protagonist, Mr. Twiddle, quits the jazz band he's playing with when his nerves get fried from excessive noise.



It didn't quite have the zip of Avery's earlier works, but it would be 25 years before Avery would return, this time at Hanna-Barbera, as he was partially responsible for the Dino & Cavemouse segment of the Flintstone Comedy Hour (2nd series) and created Kwicky Koala as his final coda.

Rating: B-.

On The Air: P. J. Masks (2015)

In 2002, Disney introduced Teamo Supremo as their initial answer to Cartoon Network's popular Powerpuff Girls. Teamo, however, didn't last, despite the fact that it had a more diverse cast (2 boys, 1 girl) of protagonists. The kids of Teamo Supremo were at least a couple of grades up from the Powerpuffs.

13 years later, Disney acquired P. J. Masks, a CGI series developed in France and England. Like Teamo Supremo, the team consists of two boys & one girl, but the gimmick here is that their pajamas magically convert into their costumes when danger threatens. It's been established that Catboy, Gekko, & Owlette are all 6 years of age, which would mean they're in the first grade. Of course, CN rebooted the Powerpuffs last year, and brought them forward to about the 2nd or 3rd grade, but to an indifferent audience. Y'think maybe that was because of P. J. Masks?

Unlike the Powerpuffs or Teamo Supremo, the kids of P. J. Masks don't answer to adult authority figures, and the vehicles they use are there strictly as product placement to induce parents to buy the toys for their kiddo's. As if a real 6 year old could drive a car or use a hang glider in real life......

Now, you'll have to wait until next year for new episodes, as Disney is cycling the first 52 shorts (26 half-hours in all) ad infinitum until a new batch is ready. Let's take a look at a sample episode:



The first season "finale" aired in February, which tells us there is a great deal of lead time between when the episodes are completed in Europe and brought to Disney Junior/Disney Channel here in the US, as it took roughly 18 months to complete the first season.

Rating: A.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rare Treats: The pilot for George of the Jungle (1967)

George of the Jungle marks his 50th anniversary this year. A heretofore unseen pilot episode has recently been uncovered, which offers a couple of subtle differences.

First, Hans Conreid is the narrator, instead of Paul Frees. Second, George's mate, Ursula (June Foray), is named Jane, just like Tarzan's wife, in the pilot. Third, George (Bill Scott) is even more of an imbecile than we'd subsequently see. Not only that, but Ape (Frees) is a little more gullible.

Finally, the villains of the piece may not have been seen during the series proper, specifically, a greedy hunter (Frees, impersonating Humphrey Bogart) and his sidekick (Foray). The plot surrounds the fact that Shep, George's pet elephant, trumpets in E-Flat, as opposed to other elephants doing so in F-Sharp, as Conreid explains in the narrative. And, yeah, the iconic theme song is nowhere to be found. Sheldon Allman & Stan Worth would later write the famous theme.



The pilots for the back-up features, Super Chicken & Tom Slick, will be up soon.

Rating: B-.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Alphabetic Toons: A lesson on impoliteness (Sesame Street, 1969?)

Here's a simple teaching tool from the early years of Sesame Street. A man (Gary Owens, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Perils of Penelope Pitstop, etc.) holds up an image of the letter "i", only to be heckled by an unseen party.....



This wouldn't play the same way nearly 50 years later, unfortunately.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tooniversary: Deputy Dawg's Nephew (1962)

Deputy Dawg's lookalike nephew shows up, and chaos ensues when Ty Coon & Muskie think that the Deputy has shrunk because of drinking too much of their homemade blackberry juice concoction.

Here's "Deputy Dawg's Nephew":



All it is, really is a variation on an old gag used elsewhere. Not quite as effective in a shorter time frame.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): If My Friends Could See Me Now (1978)

In the spring of 1978, Linda Clifford had released a disco version of "If My Friends Could See Me Now", originally recorded 12 years earlier for the Broadway production of "Sweet Charity" by Gwen Verdon, with Shirley MacLaine doing so in the film version a few years later.

While it's likely that Clifford would turn up on, say, Soul Train, to perform & promote the record, which peaked just below the Top 40 on the pop chart, actress Melissa Gilbert (Little House on the Prairie) performed a cover version on American Bandstand. The sad part is that this wasn't released as a single for the then-teen star (Melissa was 14 at the time).





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Looney TV: Shishkabugs (1962)

Yosemite Sam is a chef for a finicky king (modeled after Charles Loughton), who wants a specific meal. Enter Bugs Bunny as the main ingredient. Enter chaos in "Shishkabugs":



Poor Sam. For once, you have to sympathize with him. The plot, however, is similar to an earlier piece, set in Hollywood, but with Elmer Fudd as the browbeaten chef. We'll have that another day.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Invasion of the Fearians (Challenge of the Super Friends, 1978)

From Challenge of the Super Friends:

Captain Cold somehow makes contact with the planet Venus and a bizarre race of three headed beings agree to aid the Legion of Doom. Ah, but the Legion should know that there really isn't as much honor among thieves outside of Earth as there is on it.

Here's "Invasion of the Fearians":



You know what they say about a man's grasp exceeding his reach? The Legion has learned and forgotten that lesson more times than anyone cares to count.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Ivanhoe (1958)

I know what you're thinking.

You don't remember ever seeing Ivanhoe. I know I didn't. However, it was a British-American co-production, produced in England for what would become ITC, and distributed here in the US by Screen Gems, and was meant to air here as well as in the UK.

Ivanhoe, the first TV series to adapt Sir Walter Scott's classic tale (there've been two others since), lasted just 1 season of 39 episodes. Star Roger Moore returned to Hollywood to make movies before returning to the UK in 1962 to begin work on The Saint, and, of course, we know the rest of his story, don't we?

ATV, the forerunner to ITC, was doing a series of shows aimed at younger viewers that doubled as teaching tools regarding legendary heroes such as Robin Hood in the 50's, before moving on to science fiction (Gerry Anderson's super-marionation line) and, for adults, spies and variety shows in the 60's and early 70's.

In memory of Moore, who passed away at 89, here's the episode, "Counterfeit":



No rating.

Getting Schooled: Blackboard Jumble (1957)

After Tex Avery left MGM, William Hanna & Joseph Barbera were tasked with producing some Droopy entries. Michael Lah, who would go on to work for H-B, directed "Blackboard Jumble", a parody of the movie, "Blackboard Jungle".

Droopy only speaks when his title card appears at the start. Otherwise, there are a trio of clones who don't speak, leaving the beatnik wolf (Daws Butler) to carry the action by himself. The wolf takes over a 1 room schoolhouse when another teacher (Butler) flees, having been driven insane by the Droopy triplets. Some gags were recycled from "Three Little Pups", among other previous efforts.



You'd think this would've been a backdoor pilot to spin the wolf off into his own series, but nope.

Rating: A-.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Super President in The Great Vegetable Disintegrator (1967)

Super President, regarded as one of the worst cartoons of all time, regardless of genre, turns 50 this year. In "The Great Vegetable Disintegrator", Super President (Paul Frees) must rescue his aide, Jerry Sayles (Shep Menken, The Lone Ranger) from Professor DeCordo (Frees again), who wants the money the government has allocated for a space project.



Still can't figure why DeCordo and his aide have green skin. No one ever said they were really aliens, did they?

Rating: B-.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Looney TV: Sylvester in Tree For Two (1952)

Sylvester actually plays a supporting role in our next entry. He's a fall guy--or fall cat, in this case---for newcomers Spike & Chester (Mel Blanc & Stan Freberg) in "Tree For Two".

Lost amidst the chaos is an escaped panther hiding out in the same area where Sylvester is. Egged on by Chester, Spike goes after Sylvester, but gets taken down by the panther. It's kind of like Syl's encounters with Hippety Hopper, only worse.



This short aired earlier this morning on Boomerang. Spike & Chester would only appear in one more short, only with Spike obtaining a British accent and being rechristened Alfie. WB was trying to create new stars at this point, such as Hippety, Spike & Chester, and Dodsworth, whom we'll see in a future entry.

Rating: B.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Toonfomercial: Woody Woodpecker shills for Rice Krispies (1967)

When Woody Woodpecker made his network debut in 1957, Kellogg's was his sponsor for ABC. However, the series was cancelled after 1 year, and Walter Lantz & Universal opted for a syndication deal that lasted for several years before Woody returned to Saturday morning television.

In 1967, Kellogg's called on Woody again, this time to do a brand new spot for Rice Krispies, which Woody (Grace Stafford Lantz) had sung the praises of 10 years earlier. This time, Woody teaches a valuable lesson to nephew Knothead (June Foray) in out-conning Buzz Buzzard (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone).



Five years later, as Lantz's studio was closing down, Kellogg's asked for Woody again, this time for Sugar Pops (now Corn Pops). We'll serve that one up another time.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Toons After Dark: Where's Huddles? On stage! (The Offensives, 1970)

When a rival team's lineman moonlights as a musician, Ed Huddles (Cliff Norton) & Bubba McCoy (Mel Blanc) dust off their own act, much to the consternation of their wives (Jean VanderPyl & Marie Wilson) and Claude Pertwee (Paul Lynde), whose cousin is the rival player's agent.

Here's episode 4 of Where's Huddles?, "The Offensives". The episode card was edited off.



Funny that Claude should name check Ted Mack, whose show was running on CBS at the time.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: George S. Irving (1978)

Our next "You Know the Voice" subject is probably not quite as well known as many of his peers, but has chalked up quite the resume regardless.

George S. Irving made his fame on Broadway before being hired by Total Television in the 60's. His TTV credits include Go Go Gophers and, of course, narrating Underdog. After TTV folded, Irving landed the role of his career as the Heat Miser in Rankin-Bass' The Year Without a Santa Claus. He'd return for the sequel in 2008.

Irving passed away last year at 94, but what you might not know is that he also did some commercials that put him in front of the camera. His film & TV resume is rather small otherwise, particularly a guest shot on All in the Family and a supporting role in the short-lived The Dumplings.

In 1978, Irving was cast as a salesman who tried to get customers to try cheaper razor blades over Gillette's Trac II brand.



Irving also shilled for White Owl cigars, and maybe other sponsors, too. I'll have to take a closer look. At least some of you now have a face to match his voice.

Daytime Heroes: Diver Dan (1960)

Diver Dan was not your normal weekday afternoon entry.

A mix of puppets and 2 actors composed this series, produced for syndication and distributed by England's ITC Entertainment. Diver Dan (Frank Freda) roamed the sea in search of adventure. If it was being teased that Minerva, the mermaid, was meant to be Dan's love interest, she certainly seemed as though she wanted to play hard to get.

Allen Swift narrated and voiced virtually all of the puppets. Producer Louis Kellman might be better known for his work with NFL Films, rather than this short-lived series. I must confess that I had not seen this before today. I guess now you know why they didn't try this type of show again.

The first four episodes are blocked together in the following clip:



Swift was the most experienced performer on the show, but there wasn't much he could do to save this from being consigned to oblivion, as this was off the air by the time I was ready to watch television as a toddler.

Rating: C--.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends embark on a Journey Into Blackness (1981)

In this Super Friends short, Superman, Batman, & Samurai must rescue the earth from the pull of a black hole. Here's "Journey Into Blackness".



Today, this same cartoon would take up a full half-hour, which would illustrate the improvements in storytelling for animation.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Black, Kloke, & Dagga (1967)

Now, here's an unsold pilot that didn't come from any of the known animation studios in the 60's.

Black, Kloke, & Dagga was a spy spoof that sprang from the mind of actor-comic Morey Amsterdam (ex-The Dick Van Dyke Show), who had done some voice work for UPA earlier in the 60's (i.e. "Gay Purr-ee" w/Judy Garland and Robert Goulet). The animators for this pilot weren't credited (JKL Productions was Amsterdam's production company; the name has been co-opted by another party in more recent times for reality television), but certainly had a familiar look, as if it was from either Rankin-Bass or Jay Ward.

Amsterdam voices Dagga, the smaller of the two spies. His partner, Kloke, tall and simple minded, is played by Stan Irwin (The Abbott & Costello Cartoon Show). Zsa Zsa Gabor voices the villain, Madame Black.



Many thanks to Mike Kazaleh for unearthing this lost toon. Kazaleh posted this to YouTube about a year or so ago.

Amsterdam would later try again as a producer, this time involved with Four Star's short-lived revival of Can You Top This?, just three years later. He's clearly mocking the fading Man From U.N.C.L.E. with Kloke, given the setting. He'd have been better served getting help from Jay Ward with this one. The spirit is there, but the script is weak.

Rating: B--.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Toons You Might've Missed: Cauliflower Cabby (1964-6?)

Cauliflower Cabby was another Total Television pilot that wasn't made into a series. As with Gene Hattree, Cabby was inserted into the Underdog syndicated package, which is how he finally made it to air.

Arnold Stang narrated and was the voice of Cabby and his alter-ego, "The Champion". Cabby tricked out his hack to effect the change from mild mannered to heroic. I think part of the reason it didn't sell was because unlike the rest of TTV's output, Cauliflower Cabby had an all-human cast, yet was formatted similarly to Underdog. Judge for yourselves, peeps.



Too similar to Underdog, and lacking charisma.

Rating: C.

Saturtainment: Snagglepuss in Major Operation (1960)

Snagglepuss (Daws Butler) is in the zoo, but Major Minor (Don Messick) needs to capture the pink lion to keep his membership in an exclusive club. Here's "Major Operation":




I'm sure you have heard that DC intends to reboot Snag. I guess their idea is that the phrase, "happy & gay", needs to be taken rather literally, if you get the drift.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Gene Hattree (1964-6?)

Total Television was looking for another hit series. Somewhere in between Underdog and The Beagles, TTV had tried at least three pilots, two of which would later be integrated into the Underdog syndication package in the 70's. Suffice to say, after Beagles was cancelled by CBS after 1 season, that was the end of TTV.

Gene Hattree was a parody of all those singing cowboy westerns, wrapped in a six minute package. Hattree himself (Sandy Becker) was a send-up of Gene Autry, except that he couldn't really sing that well. Becker used a voice similar to that of Sgt. Okey Homa (Go Go Gophers), and didn't really appreciate his deputy, Rabbit Foot (Herb Nelson), trying to help, since Rabbit's efforts ended up in failure, in true slapstick fashion.

In "The Trap", Hattree goes after Tortilla Fats (Jackson Beck) and his henchmen.



Like, you could see the ending coming a mile away, once Rabbit set up the 2nd trap.

Rating: C.

From Primetime to Daytime: Mr. Peabody & Sherman in Royal Mounted Police (1960?)

We haven't done an installment of Peabody's Improbable History in a long time, so it's off to the WABAC machine with Peabody (Bill Scott) and Sherman (Walter Tetley) to Canada, circa 1869 to prevent the dissolution of the "Royal Mounted Police".



If Paul Frees' voice as Constable Willey sounds familiar, it was because it was the same voice used for Inspector Fenwick in Dudley Do-Right and, later on, the Chief in Secret Squirrel.

Rating: B+.

Toonfomercial: Remember Little Miss Sunbeam? (1954)

Sunbeam bread has been around seemingly forever. In the home district, it was, for a number of years, associated with Freihofer's, but that was before Quality Bakers of America ended their association with Freihofer's, which is now part of Bimbo Bakeries, and is under the same umbrella with Entemann's, Wonder Bread, and Hostess pastries.

However, until today, I'd never seen any ads featuring Little Miss Sunbeam, whose image remains on Sunbeam wrappers. Captain Bijou takes us back to 1954 with this animated spot.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy vs. the Terrible Trio (1967)

Superboy (Bob Hastings) teaches some young bullies a lesson in humility. In truth, the "Terrible Trio" is a misnomer for a title, although they were christened as such by Lana Lang (Janet Waldo)----at the end of the story.



Roy, Vince, & Steve had to learn the hard way, as most bullies often do, that just because you're bigger doesn't make you better.

Rating: A.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Personal Favorites: The Ant & The Aardvark (1968-9)

One of the back-up features to The Pink Panther Show during its NBC run (1969-78) was The Ant & The Aardvark, which, when you think about it, was a variant on MGM's Tom & Jerry franchise.

Impressionist John Byner based the voices of the title characters on mimics of Dean Martin (Ant) and Jackie Mason (Aardvark). For years, I had assumed the Aardvark's voice was modeled after Joey Bishop instead of Mason, but what did I know? Musical director Doug Goodwin assembled a swinging jazz combo that included the likes of Shelly Manne (Daktari, Jambo), among others, that created a terrific mood.

The first installment carries a 1968 copyright.



With the laugh track added, one must guess that this was culled from an NBC broadcast. Still, it is howlingly funny.

Rating: A+.

Daytime Heroes: Space Angel in Incident of the Loud Planet (1962)

I initially posted this Space Angel serial over at The Land of Whatever when I reviewed the DVD release a few years back. Just had to replace said video after the original copy had been deleted.

Anyway, Scott McCloud and his crew investigate "The Incident of the Loud Planet":



As bad as it sounds.

Rating: D.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Getting Schooled: It's Dental Flossophy, Charlie Brown (1975)

Here's a Peanuts cartoon that I don't think has ever aired on television.

Instead, It's Dental Flossophy, Charlie Brown was shown in schools as a teaching tool for elementary school students, produced in 1975. Here, Lucy schools Charlie---as well as an eavesdropping Snoopy & Woodstock---on dental hygeine.



Unfortunately, Snoopy couldn't leave well enough alone and stole Lucy's floss to create a nest for Woodstock. He always seemed to do Lucy wrong no matter what.

Rating: A.

Tooniversary: Lippy the Lion in Watermelon Felon (1962)

Part of the reason Lippy The Lion was never heard from again after his 1962 series ended was because Daws Butler recycled the voice for Peter Potamus, and Peter lasted at least two seasons on his own.

Anyway, thought I'd share that little nugget before Lippy and his sidekick, Hardy Har Har (Mel Blanc) set out to score some free food in "Watermelon Felon":



I think the trick was you couldn't use Lippy & Peter in the same cartoon, as I don't think Lippy ever appeared on Yogi's Gang, and, as we all know, Peter did.

Rating: B.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Popeye in The Mark of Zero (1960)

Popeye imagines himself as a parody of Johnston McCulley's legendary swashbuckler, Zorro, in 1960's "The Mark of Zero". In this short, we're introduced to Olive's lookalike cousin, Deezil (also voiced by Mae Questel), to whom Popeye spins the tale of Zero.



Yes, the poster tacked on samples of other shorts to fill the time. The story, of course, followed a familiar formula, but give them credit for trying something different for a change.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Secret Origins of the Super Friends (Challenge of the Super Friends, 1978)

Lex Luthor (Stan Jones) plots to erase Superman, Wonder Woman, & Green Lantern from existence by going back in time and rewriting their, ah, origins, if ya will. Problem is, as you'll see in "Secret Origins of the Super Friends", even though Superman (Danny Dark) is erased pro tempore, Bizarro, the imperfect duplicate of the Man of Steel, isn't. That mistake kinda kills the vibe, don't ya think?



Comics historians know that Bizarro World wasn't created until well after Bizarro himself had been established as a recurring nemesis of Superman, since it was Luthor who'd created Bizarro in the first place. Logically, once Superman is erased from the timeline, Bizarro should've been gone as well, only to return when the timeline was restored.

That particular flaw hurts the story big time.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Toon Legends: Scooby-Doo's 1st meeting with the Harlem Globetrotters (1972)

The Harlem Globetrotters make the first of three appearances on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, the first two of which came within a month of each other in the first season. Overall, those three appearances would come in the space of a six episode stretch. Here's "The Ghostly Creep From The Deep":



The familiar formula would play out for both teams in each of the three episodes. The middle episode, "The Loch Ness Mess", is coming soon.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Toon Sports: The Sheik-to-Sheik 500 (1990)

The Fender Bender 500 series moves to the Middle East for "The Sheik-to-Sheik 500" (a play on cheek-to-cheek, don'tcha know). Huckleberry Hound quotes Aesop, though he credits his mother, and Dick Dastardly tries out a flying carpet, with disastrous results. Shadoe Stevens is your race announcer.



Poor Dick. So close, yet so far. Some of the gags, I think, were in fact recycled from Wacky Races.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: John Stephenson, soap star (1966)

Toward the end of Hanna-Barbera's affiiliation with Screen Gems (now Sony Pictures Television), John Stephenson (The Flintstones, etc.) was cast in the NBC soap opera, Morning Star, which ran from 1965-6. The series lasted less than a full year, and was one of three soaps produced by Screen Gems during that period. The only one remaining is, of course, Days of Our Lives. Morning Star, Days of Our Lives, & Paradise Bay were all from the same creative team, Ted & Betty Corday.

It's a pity, really, that Stephenson didn't land another soap gig after this. He could've fit right in anywhere else, but, as we've seen, he did some more primetime gigs after Morning Star signed off, and Screen Gems brought him back to guest on Temperatures Rising a few years later.

Here's a sample, from May 1966. I believe long time QM announcer Hank Simms has those chores here.



More on Morning Star at The Land of Whatever.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Looney TV: Porky's Garden (1937)

Porky Pig, with a county fair looming on the horizon, decides to try a little horticulture, with chaotic results, in Tex Avery's "Porky's Garden":



It would be a while before Porky adopted the streamlined look we all know and love, and did the outro himself. Must've gone to the same diet specialist as Elmer Fudd.

Rating: B.