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.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Scooby & Scrappy Doo meet Sherlock Holmes (The Night Ghoul of Wonderworld, 1979)

In a send-up of ABC's Fantasy Island, Velma (Pat Stevens) gets to fulfill her fantasy of working with the legendary Sherlock Holmes when the Mystery Inc. team heads to London to battle "The Night Ghoul of Wonderworld". Super Friends narrator Bill Woodson is heard as a fellow traveler, and Michael Rye as a London bobby (police officer).

Scooby & Scrappy-Doo thought this would be easier, convinced that the first Ghoul they encountered was a robot, but it's never that easy. Before the season was over, another actress, Marla Frumkin, replaced Pat Stevens as Velma.

Rating: B.

Friday, May 5, 2017

On The Air: Guardians of the Galaxy (2015)

Marvel & DisneyXD needed to keep fans interested in the Guardians of the Galaxy in between movies ("Vol. 2" opened last night), and so the Guardians were added to DXD's Marvel Universe block, replacing Hulk & the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. Suffice it to say, it may be an improvement over the show it replaced, but that ain't saying much.

If Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, has a familiar lilt to his voice, that's because it belongs to Will Friedle (ex-Batman Beyond, Kim Possible, Thundercats, Boy Meets World), who's trying to bridge the gap between Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond) & Ron Stoppable (Kim Possible) in trying to create the right tone for Quill. Here, Peter's less of a jerk than he was in the first film, but then, he's still not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Hmmm, who does that sound like??

The series began its second season in March, just in time to promote "Vol. 2", which will be reviewed over at The Land of Whatever this weekend. In this clip, we find the Guardians battling the Man-Thing. Go figure.

As with the movie, Rocket is the only one who can translate Groot, who remains an adult in this series as opposed to "Vol. 2". Rocket, oh, by the way, just finished a stint appearing in the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip, another means of calling attention to the pending film.

Rating: B--.

Cinco de Mayo: The Astroduck (1965)

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we present Speedy Gonzales (naturally) and Daffy Duck in 1965's "The Astroduck". There's a reason for the title, but you'll have to watch and see what it is.

Now, don't you think Daffy would've figured out by now that no matter what he tries, he can't win?

Rating: A.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman & Superman in Warpland (1983)

Here's a Super Friends rarity. An episode featuring Batman, minus Robin.

In the comics, Batman & Superman were known as the World's Finest Heroes, having headlined the original World's Finest book for many years. In 1983's "Warpland", the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel are pulled into another dimension, one where their counterparts are all animals.

I'd like to think Hanna-Barbera & DC were testing the waters for possibly adapting another DC property, Captain Carrot, for television, by trying out characters like Super Frog. Needless to say, Captain Carrot never made it to television at that time.

The image of Superman as an eagle references the Metropolis Marvel's never ending battle for "truth, justice, & the American way", don't you think?

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Allen Jenkins (1966)

After Top Cat ended its network run in 1962, Allen Jenkins (Officer Dibble) went back to work as a character actor. He turns up in an episode of Honey West as a security guard for a client of Honey (Anne Francis), who's on the trail of a modern day Robin Hood (Edd Byrnes, ex-77 Sunset Strip). Allen's scenes bookend the episode, and plays the guard the same way he played Dibble, easily befuddled by Honey and her aide, Sam (John Ericson).

From Comics to Toons: The Archies pull a Disappearing Act (1968)

From The Archie Show:

Reggie (John Erwin), envious because he's the least versatile of the gang, plots to eliminate the rest of the gang from the school talent show in "Disappearing Act".

Bonus: Joramma20 added a lesson on the letter J with Jughead (Howard Morris) that was actually produced a year later for Sesame Street, and has already been shown here.

Reggie would pull more lame stunts, and fail, during the course of the series.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tooniversary: Scooby-Doo vs. the Ghost of the Red Baron (1972)

In Scooby-Doo's 2nd meeting with the Three Stooges, the gang tries to solve the mystery of "The Ghost of the Red Baron".

Admittedly, Daws Butler didn't do a perfect mimic of Curly, instead recycling voice patterns of some of his more generic characters, like Quisp, for example.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy in The Jinxed Circus (1966)

Superboy (Bob Hastings) joins the circus---sort of. Actually, the Boy of Steel and Krypto try to solve the mystery of "The Jinxed Circus".

The trope of the crooked former business partner seeking revenge would be used time and again. You'd think they would figure out that they might be better served opening their own competing business.

Rating: A-.

On The Air: Ben 10 (2005)

The reason the original Ben 10 is labeled as "On The Air" is because the chumps at Cartoon Network decided to reboot the series last year, a clear case of fixing something that wasn't broken.

Ben 10 had been a profitable franchise for CN, such that the network decided they needed to make live-action movies spun from the series. You have to remember that this was around the time that now-deposed executive "Stupid" Stuart Snyder was in charge, and thought live-action would function as well on CN as it has on rivals Nickelodeon & Disney Channel. What a maroon!

Digression over.

The basics: 10 year old Ben Tennyson finds what he thinks is a fancy watch. What it really is, though, is the Omnitrix, which allows him to access the powers and abilities of 10 alien beings, hence the show's title, Ben 10. The Man of Action studio, which includes writers Joe Kelly & Steven T. Seagle, developed the series, but I am not entirely sure if they've been lured back to CN for the current series, which launched in October.

Ben 10 spawned three sequel series, all of which will be covered in due course. We would also see that Ben's cousin, Gwen, would discover that she herself is not only a sorceress in training, but half-alien as well.

Following is the intro:

The back & forth sniping between the cousins you can dismiss as being natural, the closest thing to sibling rivalry this show has. However, the bickering would give way to the formation of natural teamwork and bonding between Ben & Gwen, almost as if they should've been brother & sister instead of cousins. I haven't seen the new version yet, but that will also be addressed in due time.

Rating for the original Ben 10: A-.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Famous First Episodes: Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines (1969)

Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines, as you know, was one of two spin-offs from Wacky Races (Perils of Penelope Pitstop being the other), out of three freshman series Hanna-Barbera sold to CBS in 1969.

Being that it's the 1st of the month, our Famous First Episode is the series premiere of Dastardly & Muttley.  The Vulture Squadron makes its debut in "Fur Out Furlough". Then, after the debut of Wing Dings segment, Magnificent Muttley is "Muttley on the Bounty", but Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) isn't exactly Captain Queeg. The finale is "Sappy Birthday". Someone's birthday is about to be spoiled.....

Rating: B-.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

From Comics to Toons: The Fantastic Four meet The Impossible Man (1978)

From 1978's Fantastic Four comes the team's first televised encounter with the shape-changing "Impossible Man". Frank Welker (H.E.R.B.I.E.) doubles as the Impossible Man.

Rating: B.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Atom Ant vs. Fancy Finger Finnegan (Gem-A-Go-Go, 1965)

Atom Ant battles the infamous jewel thief, Fancy Finger Finnegan, in the episode, "Gem-A-Go-Go". Study Finnegan's voice patterns. Sounds like it might be Daws Butler doing a cross-impersonation of Edward G. Robinson and maybe Don Adams, whose Get Smart, was also on NBC at the time.

Too big for the local police? Any excuse to have Atom embarrass an ordinary human thief.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Shepard Menken (1949)

Shepard Menken's resume covers mostly his work in cartoons & movies. However, he did log in some time doing other television as well.

You're about to meet the man behind Clyde Crashcup and a few other notable characters in the 60's, including the Lone Ranger's sidekick, Tonto. Menken guest stars in an episode of the forgotten early television crime drama, The Cases of Eddie Drake. You'll see Shep appear for the first time around the 10 minute mark or so.

Menken, who passed away in 1999, invested his money wisely, it seems. In 1963, he founded Malibu Films, which specialized in educational films for schools. Menken's subsequent work on Lone Ranger, as well as The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, it would appear, helped keep the company going. He also was the announcer for Western Airlines ads back in the day.

Quisp & Quake have a mutual interest (1965)

Quaker was a sponsor of a number of primetime shows in the 60's, particularly ABC's Bewitched, which was in its 2nd season when Quaker introduced Quisp & Quake to their line of breakfast cereals. You've already seen the first all-animated commercial, but this time Quake (William Conrad) and Quisp (Daws Butler) are formally introduced by Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery. Bear in mind that reruns of Bewitched would join the ABC Saturday morning block a few years later.

Friday, April 28, 2017

From Comics to Toons: It Came From the Sewers (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 2000)

The Archie's Weird Mysteries episode, "It Came From The Sewers", takes its cues from the horror movie, "Alligator". In this case, the reptile actually is Jughead's pet, which got lost and went into the Riverdale sewer system, where it ran across some toxic chemicals, and, well......

At least no one was killed.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Frankenstein, Jr. vs. the Incredible Aqua-Monsters (1966)

Frankenstein, Jr. (Ted Cassidy) & Buzz Conroy (Dick Beals) battle Dr. Hook and his "Incredible Aqua-Monsters".

Don Messick is the narrator and the general.

I have to remind you guys to check out DC's Future Quest, the final issue of which will be arriving soon. In it, Buzz & Frankie's origin is finally revealed, but with a twist. We never met Buzz's mom in the 1966 series, but she's in the book, instead of Buzz's father, Professor Ted Conroy, who, according to series writer Jeff Parker, was killed off. I think what Parker was going for was a different perspective for Buzz by switching parental units. In case you haven't checked out the book, H-B's 60's heroes are coming together against a common threat, as F. E. A. R., the H-B answer to Hydra, if ya will, have recruited the services of Jonny Quest's arch-nemesis, Dr. Zin, and Race Bannon's ex-girlfriend and frenemy, Jezebel Jade. 

Rating for "The Incredible Aqua-Monsters": B.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tooniversary: Tonto vs. Queen Bee (1967)

From season 2 of The Lone Ranger cartoon:

Tonto goes it alone to end "The Reign of the Queen Bee". Some question as to the actress voicing Queen Bee. A comment thread on YouTube suggests June Foray. I'd otherwise suspect Agnes Moorhead (Bewitched), who had appeared in two episodes as Black Widow. If anyone knows for sure, feel free to contribute.

Forgive the video quality.

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Bugs & Daffy shill for Tang (1960)

Bugs Bunny is working the carnival, looking to give away some Tang. Naturally, Daffy Duck just has to have some any way he can get it.

The clip, as you can tell from the sponsor tag, is from the primetime Bugs Bunny Show. Dick Tufeld is the show announcer.

One of the rare times that Daffy actually got one over on Bugs.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tooniversary: The Spooky Fog of Juneberry (The New Scooby-Doo Movies, 1972)

Four weeks after "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner", Don Knotts returns to The New Scooby-Doo Movies. This time, Don is closer to his most famous alter ego of Deputy Barney Fife (The Andy Griffith Show) as he helps Scooby and the gang solve the mystery of "The Spooky Fog of Juneberry".

It's just too bad Hanna-Barbera couldn't convince Andy Griffith himself to do the show, and he wasn't the only A-list star that passed up the opportunity. Today, The Andy Griffith Show does air on weekends depending on where you live, as well as weekday syndication and cable. Knotts, of course, had cut his teeth in toons with "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" a few years prior to his two meetings with Scooby.

Rating: B.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Schooled: Time Out (1979)

Time Out was a series of PSA's produced by NBC Sports (!) during the 1979-80 season. I at first thought these were used on Saturday mornings, and maybe they were, but these seem to have been more prevalent during, of course, sports programming.

With summer a couple of months away, Kim Richards, at the time appearing on Hello, Larry, helps explain what a lifeguard does.

The poster on YouTube got the date wrong, as the copyright, albeit somewhat fuzzy, shows this is from 1980.

I don't know how many of these were made, but they are hard to find.

Rating: A.

Rare Treats: Duffy's Dozen (1971)

Hanna-Barbera had attempted to get back into primetime well before the short-lived Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour made a cameo appearance on NBC in the late 70's. Unfortunately, their family-centric cartoon, Duffy's Dozen, never got past the pilot stage.

The clip opens with Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera, appearing in sketch form on the screen while the execs do the talking, making their pitch. 12 adopted children and a sheepdog create a very big family for the parents (Janet Waldo & John Stephenson). Duffy's Dozen didn't sell, but Hanna-Barbera, undaunted, went with a big family the next year, by adapting the adventures of a certain Hawaiian detective. Yep, subtract two kids, turn the sheepdog into a smaller breed, subtract the mother, and you have The Amazing Chan & the Chan Clan.

Casey Kasem not only voices one of the boys, Alan, but is also the park ranger and the end-of-pitch announcer.

I think you can see why this didn't work out.

Rating: B--.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: The Wonder Twins & Wonder Woman in Cycle Gang (1981)

A young boy & his grandfather run afoul of a "Cycle Gang" in this Super Friends short from 1981. Seems the Highway Angels didn't like the station wagon "kicking dust in their faces" as it passed by. Then again, the grandfather didn't see the bikers. The Wonder Twins & Wonder Woman have to step in to resolve the issue.

As it seemed to happen in almost every Wonder Twins short, Michael Bell (Zan/Gleek) adds an extra role or two, in this case, there's no mistaking him trying to do a younger boy's voice as Bobby. Not sure about any others.

Hanna-Barbera, DC, & ABC must've caught some flak for the Twins' 1977 shorts, which, as one correspondent here noted a ways back, amounted to glorified PSA's, hence adding one of the veteran heroes for the later episodes, usually Wonder Woman or Batman & Robin. Too bad the Highway Angels weren't brought back.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Getting Schooled: The Kingdom of Could Be You (1973)

From the same folks who created The Most Important Person comes The Kingdom of Could be You, which, like Most Important Person, aired initially on Captain Kangaroo (1973-6) before moving into syndication.

However, this happens to be my first look at Kingdom, as, understandably, I was in school while Kangaroo was on, and didn't see it in syndication. Insofar as I know, it didn't air on WPIX, WSBK, or WNEW. 'PIX was the NYC home to Most Important Person.

Let's take a look at the opener:

Short, amusing, and in need of a return to the air.

Rating: A.

Saturtainment: Rockumentary, Saved by The Bell style (1991)

Saved by The Bell spoofs pop culture as well as MTV's Rockumentary series (profiled in The Land of Whatever earlier this week) in this season 3 episode. Radio & cartoon legend and former NBC studio announcer Casey Kasem makes his 2nd appearance as himself, this time serving as narrator/guest host, and as the show goes along, takes on a Rod Serling vibe........

The opening theme was slowed down to add time and avoid the copyright police. Meh, whatever.

There is a stand-alone clip of "Friends Forever" on YouTube, so we'll showcase that another time. Conspicious by her absence was Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie), which is curious in and of itself.

Worth noting: In season 4, NBC finally aired some earlier episodes that had been held back for reasons known only to the network, which made things a little bit strange in screwing up what continuity the series had. The episodes set at the Malibu Shores resort with Ernie Sabella (Perfect Strangers) and Leah Remini (later of The King of Queens) were part of season 3 as well. By that point, NBC was double-running Bell for a full hour every Saturday, which continued through the New Class era (1993-2000).

Rating: A. One of the better episodes of the series.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Winsome Witch in the Hansel & Gretel Case (1965)

It's way past time we caught up with Winsome Witch, so let's take a trip into her enchanted forest and meet a couple of kids who try to pass themselves off as a famous pair of literary siblings in "The Hansel & Gretel Case". I think this was one of Dick Beals' first jobs for Hanna-Barbera, although I could be wrong.

Rating: B.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Toonfomercial: Popeye shills for Chunky Soup (1999)

Wal, blow me down!

Popeye swaps his trusty spinach for a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup for this ad, produced in 1999, with Scott Innes as the voice of the comic strip icon.

Well, let's see. Popeye has shilled for oatmeal, soup, orange drink, video games, and other products, but have you ever seen him actually do a spinach commercial, after all these years? Hmmmm, wellllll....

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Literary Toons: Clifford, the Big Red Dog (2000)

Writer-artist Norman Bridwell's Clifford, the Big Red Dog, was brought to television by Scholastic Productions and independent producer Mike Young in 2000. The series lasted 2 seasons, spread out over 3 years (2000-03), followed by a prequel series, Clifford's Puppy Years.

Clifford (John Ritter) is the family pet of the Howards, and more specifically, is owned by Emily Elizabeth Howard. When not with the family, Clifford is on various misadventures with his canine friends. Ritter's passing in 2003 may have been what put an end to the series, although Scholastic & PBS could've arranged for the British cast to take over if needed. Yes, they had a separate cast for British broadcasts of the series. I just don't get it.

"Welcome to Birdwell Island" explains how the Howards moved from the city to the island.

It does look like a form of flash animation, doesn't it? Taking the original character designs that Bridwell created and transferring them onto a computer to animate them was meant to be the hook for the kids that were reading the original books.

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice: Louise Williams (1982)

Let's try this one again.

Seems every time I post this particular episode of Three's Company, it ultimately gets pulled due to copyright infringement issues. Hopefully, this won't happen again for a while.

Anyway, in "Critic's Choice", Jack (John Ritter) has to impress a food critic (Jay Garner, ex-Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), but at the same time, this primo gig puts Jack in a compromising position as it relates to a date with a stewardess (Louise Williams).......

It does sound like Louise used a little of her Jayna voice with this role, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tooniversary: The Herculoids vs. Destroyer Ants (1967)

Aside from Atom Ant, who preceded the Herculoids by 2 years, ants were largely regarded as menaces. In the case of the Herculoids, they had to battle an army of three-eyed "Destroyer Ants".

The only other exception that presented ants in a positive light came a year later in a Micro Ventures short. Today, this episode would be a little bit longer with additional expository dialogue to try to explain the motivations of the ants.

Rating: B.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Celebrity Toons: The Enterprise encounters a Practical Joker (Star Trek, 1974)

Passing through an energy cloud has a strange effect on the USS Enterprise. The computer (voice by Majel Barrett) begins playing pranks on the crew, which has to also deal with the Romulans.

From season 2 of the animated Star Trek, here's "Practical Joker", or at least 5 minutes of it, courtesy of CBS,which owns the rights.

Star Trek: The Animated Series airs Sunday nights with 2 back-to-back episodes to kick off Heroes & Icons' block of all six Trek series (the 5 live action series run Sunday-Friday from 8 pm-1 am ET). Check your cable system to see if you have H & I.

Rating: A.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tooniversary: A Family Circus Easter (1982)

Bil Keane's long-running comic strip, The Family Circus, was adapted for television one final time with an Easter special in 1982. The strip continues today, with Jeff Keane as writer-artist, carrying on the family tradition.

There will be no rating for this one, as I'd never seen it prior to today. Keep an ear open for jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie as the voice of the Easter Bunny.

Happy Easter, everyone. We'll see you on Monday.

Saturtainment: Remember Saturday Morning Fever? (1978)

ABC had Funshine Saturday (1973-8) and All-Star Saturday (1978-9). CBS had various umbrella titles for their Saturday blocks in the 60's & 70's, but not on a consistent basis. In 1978, NBC contracted with the folks behind Schoolhouse Rock and the short-lived Metric Marvels to produce a series of quick bits, used to segue into each of their programs for that season's Saturday Morning Fever block. Unfortunately, the disco theme went over like a pair of cement jeans. That's how bad things were at NBC back then.....

It didn't help that all the characters used the same generic disco moves. Not much thought was put into this at all. Nearly 40 years later, it still looks bad.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looney TV: We, The Animals-Squeak! (1941)

Bob Clampett's 1941 Porky Pig entry, "We, The Animals-Squeak!" is a parody of a popular radio show of the period, We, The People. Porky (Mel Blanc) introduces us to Kansas City Kitty (Sara Berner), an Irish house cat, who spins a yarn about rescuing her son from gangster mice. Watch for the twist ending.

I must've seen this a dozen times back in the day on cable. Couldn't get enough.

Rating: A.

Tooniversary: Sonny the cuckoo bird turns 55!

Sonny, the cuckoo bird mascot of General Mills' Cocoa Puffs cereal, turns 55 this year. Following is Sonny's debut ad, even though at the time he didn't have a name. Actor-comedian Chuck McCann, known at the time as a kids' show host in New York, is the voice of Sonny here.

For the last few years, Larry Kenney (ex-Thundercats) has been the voice of Sonny, while McCann eventually returned to voice Gramps when the latter character resurfaced in 2010. And, yes, Sonny still goes cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, at 55.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Popeye & the Polite Dragon (1960)

Popeye (Jack Mercer) spins a yarn for Swee'pea (Mae Questel) about a most unusual creature from back in his great, great grandfather's time in "Popeye & the Polite Dragon":

Sounds to me like a knock-off of The Reluctant Dragon, don't you think?

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: John Erwin (1974)

John Erwin spent most of his voice acting career at Filmation, but he also did some commercials, too. Rare, though, is the time when he appeared in front of the camera.

John stepped in front of the camera with a group of kids, including a then-unknown Gary Coleman, a few years before Diff'rent Strokes made Coleman an icon, for a Valentine's Day ad for Hallmark. Yeah, Valentine's Day was two years ago, but why wait 'til it comes around again to share this rarity?

This ad reportedly aired during a Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast on NBC. Today, the Hallmark Hall of Fame lives on, airing on Hallmark Channel. I wonder if they could be persuaded to pull older commercials out of the vaults........

Toons After Dark: Easter Is.... (1970-4)

This was previously reviewed at The Land of Whatever some time back, so I thought I'd share it here:

While the copyright says 1970 in barely legible print at the end of the show, most sources claim it was actually released in 1974. Anyway, this is one of three specials produced by Lutheran Television and featuring a young boy, Benji, and his dog, Waldo. The voice cast includes Les Tremayne and, in a rare role at the time, Darla Hood (ex-Our Gang/The Little Rascals). I don't recall seeing too much of this as a youth, but here it is.

Rating: None. As I said, I barely remember seeing it, if at all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Herculoids in Return of the Ancients (1981)

From Space Stars:

The last descendants of a lost civilization arrive on Quasar, bent on avenging the destruction of their race, but The Herculoids have other ideas. Here's "Return of the Ancients":

Typical of the period, including incidental music from Super Friends, which was also used on Godzilla and, of all places, Fonz & the Happy Days Gang. I kid you not about that last one.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Allan Melvin (1969)

Allan Melvin was one of the busiest actors in Hollywood in the 60's. In addition to frequent guest appearances on The Andy Griffith Show & The Dick Van Dyke Show, Allan spent a few years at Hanna-Barbera, where his body of work included Magilla Gorilla, The Banana Splits, The Adventures of Gulliver, and guest star gigs on other shows, including Atom Ant.

In 1969, just before being signed for The Brady Bunch, Melvin was shilling for Liquid Plumr, which at the time was relatively new, and will reach its 50th anniversary in a couple of years.

Not sure how long he maintained this gig or how many commercials he made, but this was tailor-made for him as an everyman.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in Day of the Dragon (1966)

The Lone Ranger (Michael Rye) is called on to protect a small town from a marauding pair of outlaws piloting a metal monster in "Day of the Dragon":

This particular trope would be used in other cartoons through the years, and just as effectively, too.

Rating: A-.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Ways I Love You (1970)

From Pterixa and Archie's Funhouse comes "The Ways I Love You", prefaced with a quick joke bit with Betty & Veronica flanking Archie (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone):

Veronica's jealous pout would actually be a portent of things to come.

Today, in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's twisted alternate reality series, Afterlife With Archie, Archie had finally gotten down on bended knee and popped the question. Problem is, whenever the series returns (because it's interminably slow due to the author's Hollywood commitments), both Betty & Veronica have been killed off.

Meanwhile, over on Riverdale, they've teased Betty and......Jughead? OY!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

From Comics To Toons: How did the Spider-Friends come together? (Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, 1983)

Back in the 70's & 80's, if an animated series was renewed for a second season, the order would drop from 13 to 8 episodes, as was the case with, for example, Thundarr The Barbarian. Not so with Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. Only three new episodes were produced for the 2nd season, covering each hero's origin.

For the 3rd & final season, there would be 8 episodes, for a final total of 24. Included was "The Origin of the Spider-Friends", in which narrator Stan Lee explained how Spidey, Firestar, & Iceman came together as a team, and how Angelica Jones (Kathy Garver) & Bobby Drake (Frank Welker) joined Peter Parker at Empire State University.

If J. Jonah Jameson's voice sounds familiar, it belongs to Super Friends narrator Bill Woodson, who was quite the busy fellow back then.

In fact, in addition to Welker & Woodson, at least three other Super Friends cast members also were guests on Amazing Friends, as Michael Bell, Bill Calloway, & Stan Jones were all heard during the course of the series.

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saturday Morning Ringside: Scooby-Doo takes up wrestling for the first time (A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, 1990)

From A Pup Named Scooby-Doo:

The Scooby-Doo Detective Agency takes on a case of an attempted hostile takeover of their hometown wrestling promotion. If the episode title, "Wrestle Maniacs", looks familiar, it was used more than a decade later on What's New Scooby-Doo, as we've previously discussed.

Some tropes in this series, such as Shaggy & Scooby's childhood heroes, Commander Cool & Mellow Mutt, didn't carry over to What's New, although, of course, they would become well acquainted with superheroes later on in life, as seen in The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

And, for you comics fans, I don't think anyone would ever have considered that this show's cast has two generations of animated Robins (Casey Kasem & Scott Menville). Like, who would've ever known?

No rating.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Toon Sports: Porky's Baseball Broadcast (1940)

Porky Pig (Mel Blanc) tries his hand at play-by-play in Friz Freleng's 1940 romp, "Porky's Baseball Broadcast". The gags come flying at a fast pace, and, compared to the iceberg pacing of today's baseball games most of the time, you'd be left dizzy....

Maybe Porky should've taken broadcasting lessons from Jimmy Stewart.......

Rating: A.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy has a Devil of a Time (1966)

Superboy (Bob Hastings) cons a pair of small-time crooks into thinking his Halloween party disguise is the real thing in "A Devil of a Time":

This wouldn't work in today's climate.

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: Swamp Thing (1990)

After 2 feature films in the early 80's, DC Comics' Swamp Thing made the transition to television in 1990 when producers Michael Uslan & Ben Melniker, hot off the success of Tim Burton's "Batman" a year earlier, put together a deal with MTE, a lesser known arm of MCA, and with DIC, which had experimented with live-action programs for children, to bring the character to life once more.

Only Dick Durock, who essayed the title role, returned from the two movies, with Swamp Thing more eloquent than he'd been presented in the comics up to that point. The series represented a blending of elements, if you will. Scottish writer Alan Moore had rebooted Swamp Thing a few years earlier as a plant elemental, but there were also concepts based on his original origin, as conceived by Len Wein and the late Berni Wrightson in the 70's. The series lasted three seasons on USA, and the series now airs Saturday afternoons on Heroes & Icons (check listings) with back-to-back episodes at 12 noon (ET).

There are no complete episodes available. As we did when we first reviewed the series over at The Land of Whatever, we'll give you the intro, this from season 2.

Between seasons 1 & 2, an animated miniseries, produced by DIC, aired first on Fox, then on NBC as part of Chip & Pepper's Cartoon Madness, with Len Carlson taking over for Durock as Swamp Thing.

Rating: B+.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Mayhem (Wishkid, 1991)

Macaulay Culkin's short lived animated series, Wishkid, may have lasted just 1 season, but it appealed to the kids in all of us. Particularly those with Walter Mitty-esque fantasies.

Take the episode, "Captain Mayhem", for example.

James Thurber would've been proud. Unfortunately, viewers were tuning this show out, leading to NBC ditching animation for a while.

No rating.

Toonfomercial: The introduction of Life cereal (1961)

Quaker Oats added Life to their line of breakfast cereals in 1961. I have to guess that Jay Ward was commissioned to produce the animated introductory ad, narrated by----who else?----Paul Frees.

A few years later, Quaker went for a more cerebral approach with "The Great Life Debate", a series of ads that featured Paul Winchell "debating" Jerry Mahoney and 50's exercise instructor Debbie Drake with a young gymnast. The Winchell spot has previously been covered.

Of course, the most famous ad campaign introduced America to "Mikey" in the 70's.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tooniversary: The Chiller Diller Movie Thriller (The Scooby-Doo Show, 1977)

When Scooby-Doo moved to ABC in 1976, Hanna-Barbera began expanding the family by adding two cousins. Scooby-Dum (Daws Butler) was inspired, in a fashion, by Edgar Bergen's Mortimer Snerd. And, then, there is Scooby-Dee.

As you might guess, Scooby-Dee (Janet Waldo) was a play on actress Sandra Dee, but only made one appearance, in 1977's "The Chiller Diller Movie Thriller", in which Dee is making a movie while being stalked by the phony ghost of the week.

You've heard the expression, "kissin' cousins", right? Seems Scooby-Doo-&-Dum tend to forget that Dee is kinfolk, too......

Rating: B.

Looney TV: Discover The World With Bugs Bunny (1991)

To be perfectly honest, I hadn't seen any of the following PSA's when they first aired. I'm guessing that after ABC re-acquired the rights to Bugs Bunny in the mid-80's, they sought to find a way to use Bugs to teach the young viewers.

1991's Discover The World With Bugs Bunny is a series of short interstital PSA's encouraging kids to hit the local libraries, either at school or the public library, to learn about history and geography, among other things.

Since this was one of the first new projects involving Bugs since the passing of Mel Blanc, Greg Burson took over as Bugs for this series.

Too bad Cartoon Network/Boomerang can't be bothered to exhume this.

Rating: A.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Celebrity Toons: The first episode of The Gary Coleman Show (1982)

Our famous first episode this month comes from the first episode of The Gary Coleman Show.

For those that didn't know the format, Andy LeBeau (Coleman), apprentice guardian angel, had two adventures in each half-hour episode. Andy's antics frustrated his supervisor, Angelica (Jennifer Darling, ex-The Six Million Dollar Man/The Bionic Woman). Hanna-Barbera and NBC, seeing how the shorts format had come back into style in recent years, opted for 2 10-11 minute "shorts" in each episode of both this series and its other freshman entry, Shirt Tales, which managed to be renewed for a second season. Viewers, it seemed, tired of Andy rather quickly, and were content with seeing Coleman weekly on Diff'rent Strokes.

Now, let's check out "Fouled Up Fossils":

It's too bad Andy only had one mortal outfit to wear on the show. It might've helped if his halo could change the colors of his clothes once in a while.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Potato Head Kids (1986)

Potato Head Kids was a component of the 1986 anthology series, My Little Pony 'n' Friends, along with the Glo Friends & Moondreamers. Perhaps Hasbro over-reached a tad, along with Sunbow & Marvel Productions, by expanding on the Mr. Potato Head franchise. In effect, they created their own modern day version of Hanna-Barbera's Flintstone Kids, which premiered the same year, and had some of the same actors working on both shows (i.e. Kenneth Mars).

Since I was working during the day, I never watched the show, and I'm only looking at this for the first time. Check out the episode, "Potatolympics":

Marvel/Sunbow also did a Mr. Potato Head series, but this was taking the idea a step too far.

Rating: C.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Frankenstein, Jr. meets a UFO (Unidentified Fiendish Object)(1966)

Frankenstein, Jr. (Ted Cassidy) and Buzz Conroy (Dick Beals) square off with alien warlord Zargon and his robot warrior, Destructo. Here's "UFO: Unidentified Fiendish Object":

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Superstar Barbie (1976)

Barbie is in the spotlight again in this edition of Retro Toy Chest.

The year is 1976. Mattel decides to upgrade their iconic fashion figure with Superstar Barbie. This version would only last through the end of the decade, but there were accessories galore.

Actress Judy Strangis (Electra Woman & DynaGirl, ex-Room 222, Wheelie & the Chopper Bunch) did the promos at least for the first year.

Now, who's cuter? Barbie or Judy?

Two years later, one accessory in the line was Superstar Barbie Fashion Face, which enabled young women to try outfitting Barbie from the neck up. Tammy Lauren (Who's Watching the Kids?) appears in the ad. Michael Bell (Super Friends) is the announcer.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Toons After Dark: Mystery Solvers Club State Finals (Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, 2011)

An ailing Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) dreams of pairing Mystery Incorporated with 70's Hanna-Barbera stars Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, and Jonathan Muddlemore, aka The Funky Phantom. Scooby's illness nearly prevents the gang from taking part in a tournament of mystery solving, as if there was really anything of the sort.....

The problem I had with this episode was the deconstruction of Muddlemore, repackaged as an out-of-work actor, and completely debunking the concept of the 1971 Funky Phantom series. Muddlemore had previously appeared on Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, and was treated slightly better than this. All this did was ensure that Funky Phantom could never be successfully revived. Jabber & Speedy really weren't given much to do, and if producer Mitch Watson actually had a clue, this could've been best served as a two-parter, instead of a done-in-one atrocity. Either that, or swap out Muddlemore in favor of either Hong Kong Phooey or Inch High, Private Eye, who were never considered for use in the series.

Rating: C--.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looney TV: Remember Tweety's Global Patrol? (1992)

Tweety teaches recycling in this 1992 PSA, presented under the heading, Tweety's Global Patrol. Did they really need another excuse to make Sylvester a fall guy?

This spot had to be in heavy rotation for at least two years. The YouTube poster recalls seeing this in 1994, but the copyright date, barely visible, tells us its actual point of origin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saturday Morning Ringside: Wrestle Maniacs (What's New Scooby-Doo, 2005)

I had this one up before, but it got taken down due to copyright issues. Not so this time.

From What's New Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Inc. gang get in the ring to solve a mystery in "Wrestle Maniacs". If only they knew that more than a decade later, they'd be breaking bread with the promotion they're parodying here, the WWE:

I don't think this was even considered when they wrote the two WWE-Scooby movies over the last three years.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Green River (1969)

Here's a black & white clip from American Bandstand, going back to when VH1 had rerun rights. Dick Clark introduces, then interviews, Creedence Clearwater Revival. In between is a performance of their #1 hit, "Green River":

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tooniversary: Letterman stops a traffic jam (1972)

The Adventures of Letterman turns 45 this year. Let's turn back the clock to a time when our hero had to stop a magically created traffic jam, all because Spellbinder (Zero Mostel) turned a family's car into a jar for his own amusement. Here's "A Jarring Experience".

Sixty shorts were produced over the course of five seasons (seasons 2-6 of The Electric Company). Much like, say for example, Scooby-Doo, Letterman fell into a pattern that was almost never broken.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. Simon the Pieman, round 2 (1968)

Batman has his hands full when Simon the Pieman (Ted Knight) returns, bent on stealing some Turkish coins, for starters. Unfortunately, this would be Simon's last appearance, as when Filmation gained a new license for DC in the mid-70's, they created new villains for The New Adventures of Batman, despite the fact that by the time that series launched in February 1977, the original 1968 cartoons were in syndication. Here's "A Perfidious Pieman is Simon".

One thing bugs me. How did Simon/Mother Goose know the Mayor would send Barbara to pay a visit?

Rating: B-.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Looney TV: Naughty Neighbors (1939-92)

The Hatfields & McCoys' famous feud is skewered in Bob Clampett's 1939 Porky Pig opus, "Naughty Neighbors". Here, the Hatfields have been rechristened the Martins, with Petunia (an uncredited Bernice Hansen) and Porky as the leaders of the families.

Unfortunately, the original black & white version is unavailable, so all we have is a 1992 colorized print, as shown on Cartoon Network (the colorized version first aired on Nickelodeon). The music you hear at the start is performed by the Sons of the Pioneers.

If you look close, you might catch Daffy Duck making a cameo appearance, just because.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Living Barbie (1970)

Barbie has been one of Mattel's biggest franchises, her look & style evolving over the course of time.

In 1970, Mattel experimented with a "living" Barbie doll whose movements are meant to approximate that of real young women. Actress Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch) stars in this ad.

Maureen had been doing Barbie ads for Mattel before signing on for Brady Bunch. Gee, y'think maybe this is where they found her?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Johnny Smoke? (1960's)

The American Heart Association didn't intend to scare kids away from smoking with this next spot, but the message was as clear as it could be.

The AHA and the Ad Council chose a Western theme because there were so many Westerns on television at the time. That said, it would've made sense to have a star of any TV Western, be it Lorne Greene (Bonanza) or James Arness (Gunsmoke) or even Richard Boone (Have Gun..Will Travel). Instead, a then-unknown Broadway star, soon to become a Hollywood icon, was chosen to narrate this ad.

James Earl Jones tells the tale of Johnny Smoke:

Personal note: my late father began smoking in his teens, but never tried to convince me to follow his lead. He knew I'd seen all of those anti-smoking ads. Also, I'd seen a few older kids lighting up while I was in grade school. Not my scene.

Saturtainment: An episode of the Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show (1974)

There is at least one episode of The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show available on YouTube, and here it is. However, it isn't a first-run episode. A network promo narrated by Danny Dark (Super Friends) plugs the 1975-6 season, with the addition of Far Out Space Nuts, Ghost Busters, & Isis. The Hudsons were moved to Sundays for the '75-76 season, which would end the series' run.

Keep an eye open for announcer-series regular Peter Cullen. If you've ever wondered what the future voice of Optimus Prime and other classic 80's characters actually looked like back in the day, well.....! Also, if you wonder why NBC & ESPN have used the "coaches' clicker" so much, it's actually a gimmick that began with Andy Williams' primetime show back in the day, which, like the Hudsons' shows (primetime and daytime) were produced by Chris Bearde.

To think that this series came about because the network wanted to keep the Hudsons around after their summer 1974 series had run its course, having ended 10 days before Razzle Dazzle premiered.

Rating: B.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Celebrity Toons: Scooby-Doo meets Sonny & Cher (1972)

We've noted that some of the celebrities who appeared on The New Scooby-Doo Movies were on the CBS roster, including Dick Van Dyke, Tim Conway, Sandy Duncan, and our next guests, Sonny & Cher, who had a comedy-variety show on the network.

Of course, it should be noted that in season 2, the series also helped establish a pair of studio stablemates who bowed in 1973, Jeannie & Speed Buggy, in much the same way that Space Ghost introduced Hanna-Barbera & CBS' 1967 freshman class.

Right now, let's check out Sonny & Cher joining Mystery, Inc. to solve "The Secret of Shark Island".

Standard, and by this point, cliched.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry meet Robin Ho-Ho (1975)

Tom & Jerry are in Sherwood Forest, hoping to join the Merry Men, but this Robin Hood, or, more specifically, "Robin Ho-Ho", is more interested in teaching his troops how to laugh heartily.

This comes 17 years after "Robin Hoodwinked", which was the inspiration for this short.

I was SO digging Jerry's innovative improvisation of shooting an arrow. Robin hoped to trick Tom, but that didn't work. Hmmm, I wonder why......

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: The Flintstones for Shriners Hospitals (1980's)

The Shriners Hospitals not only contracted with Warner Bros. for a series of PSA's featuring Looney Tunes characters, but also Hanna-Barbera for The Flintstones.

First up: Fred (Henry Corden) appears on television to make an appeal for the Shriners:

Today, you'd get in trouble for using the word "crippled". "Disabled" would be more appropriate.

Next, Fred schools Dino on one particular Shriners patient:

Not exactly sure when these were initially broadcast.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Looney TV: Tweety teaches safety (1982)

We've previously presented PSA's sponsored by Shriners' Hospitals featuring Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck. Tweety works the same room in this short spot.

Ignore the date the poster put up on his video. The copyright date of 1982 is correct.

You Know The Voice(s): Cliff Norton & Louise Williams (1977)

Aside from 1970's Where's Huddles?, Cliff Norton is better known as a character actor in films & television. In 1977, Norton was part of an ensemble cast for an unsold pilot showcasing Andy Kaufman. Unfortunately, as documented over at The Land of Whatever, Stick Around was passed over by all three networks at the time (NBC, ABC, CBS).

Kaufman plays an android aide to Vance (Fred McCarren). Norton is a neighbor who had been cryogenically frozen until "two weeks ago", as the story goes. Norton could easily be mistaken for fellow character actor Harold Gould due to his similar facials.

Around the 20-21 minute mark, scope the platinum haired hottie looking to buy Andy away from Vance and his wife, Elaine, when Vance decides he's had enough of Andy's bumbling. Louise "Liberty" Williams had been working on Bustin' Loose prior to this pilot. Of course, good fortune would come her way later in the year, thanks to a certain Saturday morning franchise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Mayhem of the Music Meister (2009)

From Batman: The Brave & The Bold:

In one of the campiest episodes of the series, a new villain, the Music Meister (Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother) surfaces with plans for world domination. His powers, though, cause not only Aquaman (John DiMaggio), Black Canary, Green Arrow, & the Batman (Diedrich Bader) to sing, but villains he's hired himself, in this case Black Manta, Grodd, and Clock King.

In truth, Green Arrow (James Arnold Taylor) is fortunate not to actually sing. He'd probably never hear the end of it. Anyway, "Mayhem of the Music Meister" is considered one of the more popular episodes of the series. We previously featured the track, "Drives Us Bats", so now, with the Music Meister being brought to life in tonight's episode of The Flash by Glee alumnus and avowed comics fan Darren Criss, let's take you back to the debut of the Music Meister.

We all know Green Arrow & Black Canary have been an on-again, off-again item in the comics, and this episode helps set that table, though I'm not so sure about Dinah ever crushing on Batman........

No rating.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Toon Sports: Coach Pebbles (?) (Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, 1971)

With the World Baseball Classic winding down, and the regular season two weeks away, it's also appropriate that we find, on this first day of spring, a baseball themed episode of Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm.

When Fred (Alan Reed) develops laryngitis right before a big game, Pebbles (Sally Struthers, All in the Family) steps in to coach his pee-wee team.

A few years later, Hanna-Barbera did a ret-con by putting Pebbles (now voiced by Pamela Anderson) and Bamm-Bamm in the "Little Big League" in their first primetime special. 

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. the Attack of the Killer Bees (1977)

I don't know exactly how many movies were made involving killer bees in the 70's, but the Super Friends were caught up in this particular trend. Aquaman (Norman Alden) and Samurai must deal with a deadly swarm in "Attack of the Killer Bees". Yeah, I know, original it ain't.

I can't recall exactly, but it wouldn't have been any more than a coincidence if General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios was one of the sponsors when this was first aired in November 1977.........

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Johnny B Goode (1973)

The legendary Chuck Berry revived one of his signature hits, "Johnny B. Goode", in a 1973 appearance on Soul Train. Like, dig it!

In memory of Berry, who passed away at 90.

Celebrity Toons: Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner? (1972)

Don Knotts appeared in 2 episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies during the 1st season. Here, he channels fellow comedy icon Jerry Lewis as he adopts a variety of disguises, confusing Scooby and the gang, in "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner?":

Don would return in "The Spooky Fog of Juneberry", paying homage to his most famous character, Barney Fife.

Rating: B.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sinbad, Jr. & the Sun Wizard (1965)

Yesterday, we presented one of Hanna-Barbera's Sinbad, Jr. shorts. This time, we'll go to original producer Sam Singer's catalogue, as Sinbad (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone) takes on "The Sun Wizard":

Once American International gave Singer the boot, that pretty much spelled the end of his producing career.

Rating: A-.

Toons After Dark: The Magic Shillelah (The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1968)

Begorrah! Top o' the evenin' to ye! 'Tis St. Patrick's Day, after all.

To mark the occasion, let us travel back in time. The year is 1968. The setting is the series premiere of The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck, Tom Sawyer, and fair Becky Thatcher have gotten themselves lost in a myriad of alternate dimensions while eluding Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy). Och, what do we have here? Some leprechauns have espied Becky, napping and unaware of "The Magic Shillelah". Dennis Day is among the guest voices heard in this tale.

'Tis a sorrowful pity the journey was not ended before public eyes. That is to say, the series was cancelled a'fore it could reach its proper conclusion. Perhaps another day, someone can adapt these humble efforts to expand upon Mark Twain's original concepts.......

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sinbad, Jr. & His Magic Belt (1965)

A ways back, we served up a Sinbad, Jr. short that was produced by Sam Singer and Trans-Lux. Well, as we documented, American International wasn't happy with the product, so they turned the animation over to Hanna-Barbera. With that came a casting change, as Dallas McKennon (Daniel Boone), who had previously worked for Singer on Courageous Cat five years earlier, was cut loose in favor of Tim Matheson (Jonny Quest) and Mel Blanc (The Flintstones, Secret Squirrel, etc.).

In "Mad, Mad Movies", Sinbad is roped into making a movie for a desperate director (Blanc, using his Cosmo Spacely voice from The Jetsons), looking for a new star. This was a ream that would be used with other characters at other studios over and over again through the years. Matheson would stick with his mature voice for later roles (Space Ghost, Samson & Goliath) the next two seasons.

Typical of the period.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Goldie Gold in Night of the Crystal Skull (1981)

Time to check in with the "world's richest girl", Goldie Gold (Judy Strangis, ex-Electra Woman & DynaGirl) and Action Jack, in the series premiere, "Night of the Crystal Skull". No, this wasn't the inspiration for an Indiana Jones movie more than 20 years later, although the series came a couple of months after "Raiders of the Lost Ark"......

You can tell the influence of comics icon Jack Kirby in some of the character designs. Kirby had gone to work for Ruby-Spears a year earlier on Thundarr the Barbarian, and worked with writer Steve Gerber, who also created Goldie & Thundarr, on Destroyer Duck for Eclipse Comics. Kirby would remain with Ruby-Spears for much of the 80's, as he also had a hand in shows like Rambo and Centurians.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger vs. The Rainmaker (1967)

From season 2 of The Lone Ranger's 1st CBS animated series (1966-9):

The Ranger (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) battle a blackmailer who thinks he can control the weather with machines. Paul Winchell guest stars as "The Rainmaker":

Predictable, but worth the trip.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: John Stephenson (1957)

John Stephenson appeared in three episodes of Perry Mason during the course of the first three seasons.

In season 1's "The Case of the Runaway Corpse", John plays Ed Davenport, who is scheming to have his wife killed, but.......

Robert Burns was right. The best laid plans of mice and men do go astray.........

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Alaskan Peril (1977)

While we're experiencing a late season blizzard in the northeast, let's scope out a Super Friends adventure from 1977.

Batman & Robin join forces with Apache Chief to take on an abominable snowman in "Alaskan Peril". Plus, Wonder Woman teaches crafts.

The basic design of the snowman was later recycled and recolored, methinks, for "Bigfoot", three years later.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Gaston le Crayon (1957)

Terrytoons had hired Gene Deitch away from UPA to produce a new generation of characters for the studio in the 50's. While Deitch and William Snyder were hailed or reviled, depending on who you talk to, for their work on MGM's Tom & Jerry or King Features' Popeye & Krazy Kat in the 60's, Deitch couldn't make anything stick at Terrytoons.

Take, for example, Gaston le Crayon, a French painter who appeared in 5 shorts between 1957-59. Today, he'd be considered a walking stereotype because of his accent, his chosen profession (How many cinematic art instructors have you seen that weren't French?), or even his short stature. Allen Swift (The Howdy Doody Show), who'd later work with Deitch on the Tom & Jerry shorts, provides all the voices in what was the final cartoon in the series, "Gaston's Mama Lisa", in which Gaston latches on to a stolen copy of a certain da Vinci painting......

No rating. This is the first time I've seen any of these shorts.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rare Treats: A game show by Filmation? (The Origins Game, 1982)

You know that Filmation contributed to SFM's Holiday Network in the 70's. In turn, that syndicated series recycled a lot of movies that had aired a few years earlier in the MGM-produced Off to See The Wizard for ABC. But did you know that Filmation tried to get into the game show business?

It's true. Filmation & SFM collaborated on an unsold pilot, The Origins Game, which was recorded in February 1982. Co-created by co-executive producer Norm Prescott and Arnold Shapiro (better known for the later CBS series, Rescue 911), The Origins Game ended up as another line in the resume of game show icon Bob Eubanks (The Newlywed Game).

Unfortunately, there is no information available on the show, other than the following excerpt. Jim Korkis was a contestant on the show, and the video was posted by animation expert Jerry Beck, whose Cartoon Research webpage is the video's point of origin.

Korkis wrote a blog piece of his own on his experience playing and winning The Origins Game. He's also appeared on other games, such as Family Feud.

Let's remember, friends, that Filmation became the 2nd studio to flirt with getting into the game show business. Hanna-Barbera, you'll recall, had contracted with Heatter-Quigley for the original Wacky Races, which was supposed to be half-cartoon, half-game show, but the game part never came off. Saban would break the ice with I'm Telling a few years later.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Looney TV: Baby Buggy Bunny (1954)

When is an innocent little baby not so innocent? When he's really a 35 year old man, vertically challenged, and a bank robber to boot. Meet Baby Face Finster, Bugs Bunny's latest opponent, in "Baby Buggy Bunny", Chuck Jones' delightfully silly farce from December 1954.

Sure, it took a while for Bugs to figure out what was up, but when he did.....!

Rating: A-.

Retro Toy Chest: GI Joe & the Secret of the Mummy's Tomb (1973)

Before GI Joe became a code name for a covert government strike force in the 80's, Hasbro marketed the original Joe with the Adventure Team in a series of play sets and an advertising campaign to match.

1973's Secret of the Mummy's Tomb was also released as a book & record set, produced by Peter Pan Records. Former Filmation writer Ken Sobol (Fantastic Voyage) wrote the script, while the artwork made it look like the artist may have been one of the anonymous artists from Dell or Gold Key.

Right now, scope out the commercial, and see if this doesn't bring back some memories.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

From Comics to Toons: The Hulk Destroys Bruce Banner (1982)

I know what you're thinking. At the time, Bruce Banner was the alter-ego of The Incredible Hulk. Currently, that only applies to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since Banner was killed off in the comics several months ago (for however long that'll last). In 1982, Marvel Productions, perhaps unaware that this would be the series finale, as well as the season finale, decided to make it seem like Banner had died. Scope out "The Hulk Destroys Bruce Banner":

I never saw this episode, so there's no rating.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Toon Sports: Tom & Jerry's Wacky World of Sports (1975)

Tom & Jerry compete against each other in a decathalon in this 1975 short, "The Wacky World of Sports". If I'm not mistaken, given how Tom is doing his best Dick Dastardly impersonation in trying to play some dirty tricks on Jerry, I think this was a remake of a Droopy short for MGM more than 20 years earlier.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Toonfomercial: Pinocchio shills for AMC (1955)

Before it was absorbed by Chrysler some 20-odd years ago, American Motors Corporation (AMC) made a bid to make the Big 3 automakers (Ford, Chrysler, General Motors) into a Big 4. The best way to do that, you see, was to engage in some inventive advertising. That is to say, they made licensing deals with Disney to use some of their characters in commercials, and this included characters that Disney held licenses on themselves, such as the characters from "Song of the South" and, in this next ad, Pinocchio.

Because more than a decade had passed since the initial release of "Pinocchio" in theatres, Dickie Jones, who had voiced the title character, wasn't available. Actor-singer Cliff Edwards not only reprised as Jiminy Cricket, but voiced Geppetto as well. Pinocchio's voice in this case is by the reigning grand dame of voice actors, June Foray.

Down the line, we'll see ads with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, plus "Song of the South".

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

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

While I've never been able to figure out when or how Filmation gained another license for Batman, this episode of The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty may have been a precursor of things to come.

Waldo (Howard Morris) imagines himself as Catman, while trying to figure out how to rescue Felicia (Jane Webb) from Tyrone, the neighborhood bulldog (Allan Melvin).

Melvin would recycle Tyrone's voice three years later for Bluto on The All-New Popeye Hour. I think what hurt this show in the long term was that it was on too early in the morning for most kids.

Rating: B--.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: The Flintstones in The Rock Vegas Story (1962)

From Season 2 of The Flintstones:

The Flintstones & Rubbles are vacationing in Rock Vegas, but when they find they are lacking cash to pay for their hotel, they have to work off the bill, and, oh, do they ever.

Scope out Betty & Barney's musical number near the end of the show, as Barney (Mel Blanc) does a little scattin' on "When You're Smilin'". Don't ask why Betty dyed her hair platinum blonde. I don't remember why.

I'd seen this a handful of times in syndication in the 70's, as I don't recall seeing this when NBC had rerun rights.

Rating: B-.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Toons After Dark: Turner Classic Birdman, or, Busy Day For Birdman (2005)

In a rare case of cross-network synergy, Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne "hosts" an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law. Osborne's intro was taped at TCM studios in Atlanta. Meanwhile, the idiots at Williams Street Productions cobbled together selected clips of episodes of the 1967 Birdman series, redubbed with the current cast (i.e. Gary Cole, Stephen Colbert) and reanimated using Flash animation.

The idea is not only to mock the original Birdman, which [adult swim] had been doing all along, but to try to link the two series together, when they really don't have anything more in common than the lead character, and try to explain why he gave up crime-fighting and took a "regular" job.

In memory of Osborne, who passed away at 84.

I tried watching this On Demand one afternoon. They tried using the same re-animation techniques that had worked so well for them on Sealab 2021, which was one thing. Having Gary Cole try to imitate the original voice of Birdman, Keith Andes, and fail, was torture. Oh, by the way, Stephen Colbert not only voiced Falcon 7, the model for Phil Ken Sebben, but Reducto, as well.

Luckily, the "real" Birdman is back, as he's a player in DC Comics' Future Quest, which, unfortunately, ends next month.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto vs. the Avenger (1968)

This, it would appear, was the last solo adventure for Tonto (Shep Menken) from the 1966-8 Lone Ranger series. This time, Tonto battles "The Avenger" (Marvin Miller), the son of a Sioux chief seeking revenge for perceived wrongs.

When the Ranger & Tonto returned to CBS in 1980 for another 2 year hitch, Tonto didn't get any solo adventures. If the series were to be revived today, maybe he does, and gets treated with more respect than had been shown in a certain abomination of a movie nearly 4 years ago.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Saturday School: Motormouse & Autocat in Skill School (1969)

This next Motormouse & Autocat short recycles an old Tom & Jerry short, the title of which escapes me at the moment. Anyway, Autocat (Marty Ingels) is trying to teach his nephew, the unimaginatively named Autokitty (Daws Butler, using his Lambsy/Elroy Jetson/Augie Doggie voice) how to catch mice. Unfortunately for Autocat, Motormouse befriends Autokitty. The usual chaos follows, including some flashbacks.

Here's "Skill School":


Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: Rose Marie moves in with the Monkees! (1967)

The Monkees are faced with eviction from theirshared apartment, and the landlord, Mr. Babbitt (Henry Corden) isn't waiting around for them to clean house. Instead, a middle-aged woman, Millie, who carries a parrot and a stuffed dog for company, moves in. You might notice she's a bit, ah, eccentric. Rose Marie, fresh from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and newly settled into The Hollywood Squares, guest stars in "Monkee Mother":

As we'll see, Millie and the boys find a common ground. Rose would play a number of different characters during the series' two season run, and Corden would return periodically, as well. Oh, by the way, this is also a You Know The Voice double-play (Corden & Micky Dolenz), plus the added bonus that Rose Marie would later land a gig at Hanna-Barbera, as she guest-starred on Yogi's Gang 6 1/2 years later as the shape-changing Lotta Litter. Right now, I'm  not entirely sure if Corden & Dolenz worked together on a project at H-B. As we know, Micky worked on 4 series for the studio between 1971-7 (Funky Phantom, Butch Cassidy, Devlin, Wonder Wheels). Digression over.

Rating: A-. I remember seeing this in syndication back in the 70's and during the show's MTV run in the 80's.