Friday, March 23, 2018

Daytime Heroes: Gargoyles (1994)

While Disney satirized Batman with Darkwing Duck, they also tried to emulate the toon noir style that had been popularized by Batman: The Animated Series with a fantasy-crime drama that deserved a better fate.

Gargoyles started with a 5 episode miniseries in 1994. In all, 13 episodes were produced for the first season, and 52 more in season 2 for an industry standard 65 episode order for syndicated weekday programming.

Keith David ("They Live") headed an all star cast as Goliath, the leader of what would become known as the Manhattan Clan, a group of gargoyles brought to life at night after being transported from their ancestral home in Scotland.

We previously had discussed the series' 3rd & final season, when it went to a weekly format and shifted to ABC, where it was sub-titled, The Goliath Chronicles, after its main protagonist. Network meddling, particularly the need to adhere to FCC guidelines as it relates to Saturday programming (moral messages, etc.), led to the series demise. Repeats of the first two seasons continued, as memory serves, and when ABC pulled the plug, Disney put the whole shebang in the vaults.

The supporting cast had a strong Star Trek flavor, starting with Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as corrupt businessman David Xanatos, who starts as an enemy of the Gargoyles, their answer to Superman's nemesis, Lex Luthor. Somewhere along the way, probably after Xanatos got married and started a family, he turned into an ally of the Gargoyles. Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, & Michael Dorn (Next Generation), Kate Mulgrew (later of Star Trek: Voyager), and Nichelle Nichols (the original Trek) were also heard, as were Ed Asner (who also worked on Batman & Spider-Man for Fox) and Bill Fagerbakke (Coach).

The episode, "Deadly Force", comes from season 1, and was subsequently banned from future broadcasts. The easily impressionable Broadway (Fagerbakke) makes a near fatal mistake....

As I noted before, I didn't watch much of the 3rd season, but it's largely been condemned for catering to network suits. There is an episode in season 2 where detective Eliza Maza briefly becomes a Gargoyle herself, confused about the state of her budding relationship with Goliath.

Rating: A.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

From Out of the Recycling Bin: Fred Flintstone & Friends (1977)

Hanna-Barbera, spurred by the success WPIX in New York was having with a checkerboard Fun World weekday block (previously reviewed) that put some of their less successful series in a nice package decided to do the same themselves with Fred Flintstone & Friends, which aired in the Big Apple not on WPIX, but WNEW (now WNYW) weekday mornings.

Unfortunately, the intro we know is not available. There is a slightly altered one on YouTube, but that's not of use to us. We do know the lineup, though, and each of the component series have also been reviewed previously.

For starters, there would be Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm (1971), with Sally Struthers (All in The Family) as Pebbles, and Jay North (ex-Dennis The Menace, Here Comes The Grump, Maya) as Bamm-Bamm.

For what it's worth, comedienne Mitzi McCall was cast as Penny, who looked like she could've been a distant relative of Bamm-Bamm's adoptive mother, Betty Rubble.

From the freshman class of 1974, we have Partridge Family 2200 A. D., which lost Susan Dey (Laurie) after just 2 weeks, replaced by Sherry Alberoni (Super Friends, ex- Josie & The Pussycats, Mickey Mouse Club). Danny Bonaduce, Brian Forster, and Suzanne Crough had previously been, along with Dey, on Goober & The Ghost Chasers.

Well, here's the Partridges:

And Goober:

Rounding out the rotation were two more series from the class of 1973. First, there's Yogi's Gang:

And, then, there's Jeannie, which isn't really a prequel to I Dream of Jeannie, though Sony currently owns the rights. Impressionist Julie McWhirter voices Jeannie, whose master in this series is teenager Cory Anders (Mark Hamill, who also sings the title song).

Each series' episodes were split into two parts to fit the half hour format. This was also the last series in which Alan Reed was the voice of Fred Flintstone, who served as the series host, before his passing. It's widely believed that Henry Corden officially took over with a Flintstone holiday special three months after the anthology block launched.

Unfortunately, Fred Flintstone & Friends didn't have any extra staying power than its components, as it lasted about a year or two in this form before the component series were all consigned to limbo for a few years. Watching this gave me a chance---finally---to see the shows that had been blacked out in the home market initially (i.e. Jeannie) due to affiliate disinterest.

Rating: B+.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tooniversary: The Arabian Knights find a Spy in their midst (1968)

The Arabian Knights are part of the class of 1968, turning 50 this year. So, let's go back to ancient Baghdad, as Turhan (Jay North, ex-Dennis The Menace) and his team discover one of their number's been replaced by a spy who has the same powers as Bez.....

Rating: A-.

Toon Rock: Yabba-Dabba-Dabba-Dabba-Doo (1961)

The Flintstones began its sophomore season in 1961 in grand style. Legendary composer Hoagy Carmichael guest stars when Fred (Alan Reed) and Barney (Daws Butler, subbing for the then-injured Mel Blanc) get mixed up with a con artist in a plagiarism scheme involving one of Carmichael's most famous songs, "Stardust".

Near the end of the show, the Flintstones & Rubbles and Carmichael are in the audience for a stone age version of another ABC series, The Lawrence Welk Show (I believe this might have also been Butler doing his best Welk mimic, though I could be wrong), when Carmichael is called up to the stage. Henry Corden provides Fred's singing voice as the cast joins Carmichael for "Yabba-Dabba-Dabba-Dabba-Doo":

This clip has been used for promotional purposes on Cartoon Network/Boomerang in recent years. Too bad no one thought of releasing a soundtrack album covering the entire series (1960-6) and all the musical guests (i.e. Carmichael, Ann-Margaret, James Darren).

Monday, March 19, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dynomutt vs. Red Vulture (1976)

Dynomutt (Frank Welker) and Blue Falcon (Gary Owens) take to the skies to capture the Red Vulture (John Stephenson). I guess the color adjective is meant to ensure Marvel Comics, which would eventually give Dyno his comics debut a year or so later, didn't file a lawsuit over copyrights, what with the Vulture being one of Spider-Man's foes.....

This is significant because in May, Dyno teams with DC's Super Sons when Blue Falcon goes rogue, and the Red Vulture may be responsible. Somehow, I see this as oil, water, and jelly coming together.....

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Toonfomercial: Donald Duck meets the Cheerios Kid (1955)

I have to imagine this next item aired during Mickey Mouse Club episodes on weekdays as well as during Heckle & Jeckle and other Saturday morning shows.

Donald Duck (Clarence Nash) needs help from the Cheerios Kid (Dick Beals) when Donald ignores his nephews' warning as he swims into shark infested waters.

Don't know how many of these were made. There's at least one more on YouTube.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Fangface vs. Ironmask (1979)

Fangface turns 40 this year. However, this time around, we've got a 2nd season offering also including Fangpuss.

The werewolves and their human friends end up in colonial times to thwart a modern-day pirate, Ironmask (John Stephenson), who intends to loot the past. Hmmm, that sounds familiar....

The time machine has a familiar look, because the producers recycled a design for a similar device used on The Scooby-Doo Show a couple of years prior. Of course, Joe Ruby & Ken Spears created both Fangface & Scooby-Doo.

Bart Braverman (later of Vega$) & Frank Welker modeled the characterizations of Puggsy & Sherman "Fangs" Fangsworth after Leo Gorcey & Huntz Hall of the Bowery Boys, which would explain why Fangs comes off as being dumber than a bag of hammers, though I think the language mangling was exclusive to Fangs & Puggsy.

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Looney TV: Wearing of The Grin (1950-1)

Begorrah! 'Tis St. Patrick's Day, so why not take a trip to the Emerald Isle, Ireland, of course, with Porky Pig in Chuck Jones' "Wearing of The Grin".

This was one of the first shorts where Eugene Poddany, who worked with Jones on quite a few Tom & Jerry shorts and some specials for MGM, composed the score, here, as you can see, working with Milt Franklyn. Unfortunately, Poddany didn't last long at WB.

Rating: A.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey vs. Goldfisher & Green Thumb (1974)

Hiiiiiii-yaaaaaaaa! Hong Kong Phooey (Scatman Crothers) returns to battle two more offbeat crooks, Goldfisher & Green Thumb, while, as Penrod Pooch, trying out new inventions, which only serve to irritate Sgt. Flint (Joe E. Ross, ex-Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch).....

Fresh off his DC Comics debut in Scooby-Doo Team-Up, Phooey moves into the DC Universe in a 1-shot special, coming at the end of May, in which he teams with no less than Black Lightning (who will be rocking his original look). Denys Cowan is drawing this one. We'll talk more about that over at The Land of Whatever this weekend.

Episode rating: B.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Getting Schooled: Fifteen, aka Hillside (1991)

John Binkley had an idea for a teen soap opera. No, nothing like the current Riverdale, which aspires to be a post-modern hybrid of Peyton Place, Twin Peaks, & Saved by The Bell. In fact, Fifteen, known by the alternate title, Hillside, after the show's high school setting, in Canada, was safe and non-toxic entertainment for teenagers. I would guess middle school age and up.

As Fifteen, the series aired on Nickelodeon, but was originally ticketed for the Disney Channel, but the Mouse House wasn't interested. Their loss, it seems. Four seasons, totaling 65 episodes, aired between 1991-3, and introduced viewers to future film star Ryan Reynolds (Billy).

The Peter Rodgers Organization, which has acquired popular primetime shows of the 50's & 60's, such as The Rifleman & I Spy, also acquired Fifteen, making it available on their YouTube channel.

Curiously, Wikipedia's Hillside page says CBS owns the show. Hmmm.........

No rating.

Scooby-Doo returns to primetime for one night only

With the NCAA basketball tournaments underway, CW is putting their Thursday & Friday schedules on hold for 2 weeks. That said, when Supernatural returns March 29, it'll have its most famous guest star yet. Scooby-Doo.


Supernatural, in its 13th season, has done animation before, but it was a while ago. As far as casting goes, so far, only Matthew Lilliard (Shaggy) is confirmed. The rest of the crew (Frank Welker, Kate Micucci, Grey Griffin), though, haven't been confirmed. We'll know for sure in 2 weeks, but this promo for the episode should tie you over until then.

We'll have a full review when the episode airs.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Muppets in high school? (Will Rogers Institute PSA, 2006)

During 2005-6, the Muppets appeared in a series of PSA's for the Will Rogers Institute. These spots were shown at AMC Theatres across the country, meaning they didn't get played in theatres in the home district.

In this piece, Ms. Piggy, Gonzo, & Fozzie hassle a teenage girl with reminders about school functions and so on, and she writes notes on her arm so she can remember. Now, of course, that's wrong, because she should've had a note pad. Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives, ex-Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) appears at the end, along with Kermit, and Statler & Waldorf.

There would be more spots, featuring Wayne Brady, Tommy Lee Jones, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I'll see if I can find those for future use. Since this involves teens, I'd think this could've gotten some play on network or syndicated television, too.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Rein-Toon-Ation: Lassie (2013)

Forty years after Lassie's Rescue Rangers, Lassie, after two live-action follow-ups to her original TV series, returned to animation, this time in a Canadian produced series.

As far as I know, YouTube and maybe other online streaming services are the only way to see this show here in the US, unless Universal Kids has picked up the series. NBC-Universal-Comcast owns the rights to the Lassie franchise now, so maybe it's there.

Anyway, one huge difference between this show and Rescue Rangers is the fact that Lassie and the other dogs, and, we must assume, other animatls, can talk. Like, you knew that was inevitable, didn't you?

Otherwise, it's the same old Lassie, under the care of another human family, and caring for them in return. Here's a sample episode, "Gold Rush!":

Keep an eye for this if Universal Kids did pick it up, or it could be available on your cable system's On Demand channel.

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice: Kathy Najimy (1981)

Before she even dreamed of movie stardom, much less television, Kathy Najimy, best known for King of The Hill, was a game show contestant.

In 1981, Kathy acted team captain for her brood on Family Feud, so of course she gets a buss from daytime TV's kissing bandit, series host Richard Dawson. Let's see if Kathy and her family won the big bucks.....

Hey, ya gotta start somewhere.

Shillin' with the Peanuts kids: Pigpen for Regina vacuum cleaners (1994)

The messiest member of the Peanuts gang, Pigpen, went solo for a 1994 ad for Regina vacuum cleaners. At least now we get a better look at him without all that dirt & grime.....

Probably the only kid, real or fictional, that "respects" dirt. Oh, please.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A message from Captain Kangaroo that's still relevant today (1983)

Throughout his run, Captain Kangaroo was all about teaching children, whether it was through reading books, having guests discussing fire & home safety, or, during the 80's, exercise with Slim Goodbody (we'll see him down the road if I can find some videos).

In 1983, the Captain (Bob Keeshan) cut this PSA about healthy breakfasts....

This, I think, was one of several regional PSA's produced. The same message would air across the country, but for education offices in each state.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Tooniversary: Lassie and the Rescue Rangers try to head off a Tidal Wave (1973)

Lassie's Rescue Rangers turns 45 this year. The series marked Ted Knight's return to Filmation after a four year absence (production on the DC cartoons ended after the 1968-9 season), during which time, of course, he landed his Emmy winning role as news anchor Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

As Ben Turner, Sr., the leader of the Forest Force, the human half of the Rescue Rangers, Knight uses his natural speaking voice, as he did as Ted. You might say, though, that this was a role he actually would've been happy with, since it was a rare dramatic part.

Most sources credit Filmation's grand dame of voices, Jane Webb, as Laura, Ben, Sr.'s wife, with co-producer Lou Scheimer's daughter, Erika, as daughter Susan. I think it may be the other way around, since Susan, while modeled after Marcia Brady (whom Erika was now playing on The Brady Kids), sounded like there was a bit of Webb's Betty Cooper/Barbara Gordon/Erica Lane voice. Erika's brother, Lane, and Keith Sutherland, who also joined the Brady Kids cast, are also heard here.

Also, listen to some of the incidental background music. It's also used on Star Trek and Brady Kids, and would be recycled for Tarzan and The New Adventures of Batman.

"Tidal Wave" was the next to last episode of the series, premiering 11 days before Christmas in December 1973. The Turners, with Lassie, Toothless (a mountain lion), and Musty (a skunk), head for Florida to help with emergency evacuation.

Bear in mind, too, that NBC had spun off a similar series based on their own hit series, Emergency!, the same year, and had the same lifespan as Rescue Rangers.

Rating: A.

Family Toons: The Proud Family throws a Party (2002)

From season 1 of The Proud Family:

Penny (Kyla Pratt, ex-One on One) is bummed when some of her closest friends choose a more popular party over hers, despite the best efforts of her parents (Paula Jai Parker & Tommy Davidson) to cheer her up. Music legend Lou Rawls guest stars as himself in "The Party".

I caution that when Lou sings his mid-70's hit, "You'll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine)", the music is sped up to avoid the copyright police.

Now, don't ya think Disney should try to consider bringing this show back, mostly so Penny can be considered an urban Princess?

Rating: A-.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Toon Rock: Particle Man (1990-1)

From season 1 of Tiny Toon Adventures:

They Might Be Giants' "Particle Man" never had a formal music video made to accompany it when it was released on TMBG's 1990 CD, "Flood". WB & Amblin Entertainment filled the void with this comic romp. Hamton lip-syncs John Linnell's vocals while Plucky Duck plays the role of "Particle Man".

Yep, Da Crusher makes an appearance. Another TMBG hit, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", also was converted into a TTA music video with Hamton & Plucky, and we'll show that one, a parody of "The Maltese Falcon", another day.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Tell Me Something Good (1974)

Time to bring some funk to prep for the weekend. From 1974 and Soul Train, here's Rufus, with lead singer Chaka Khan, and their monster hit, "Tell Me Something Good":

"Tell Me Something Good" peaked at #3 on the Billboard pop chart, and hit the top of Cashbox's chart.

For those of you who only remember Chaka from her big hair days in the 80's, this was her biggest hit to date prior to 1984's "I Feel For You".

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Toons After Dark: The Fantastic Funnies (1980)

In May 1980, CBS and producer-animator Bill Melendez served up a hour-long primetime special, The Fantastic Funnies, not to be confused with Filmation's ill-fated 1978 series for NBC, The Fabulous Funnies, although footage from that series was used in this special.

Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati) serves as host, and even gets animated for a brief segment at the top of the show, as Melendez transforms her into a figure closely resembling Daisy Mae from Li'l Abner. The hour includes interviews with creators such as Charles Schulz, Morrie Turner, Brad Anderson, Mort Walker, and Mell Lazarus.

The Fabulous Funnies footage includes a long banned bit with Tumbleweeds, and part of a Broom-Hilda short with the voices of June Foray and Lou Scheimer. Garfield makes his debut, leading to the series of specials, then Garfield & Friends. However, Scott Beach is the voice of Garfield here, instead of his better known portrayers, Lorenzo Music and Frank Welker.

The wackiest bit is a WKRP skit with Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) paying homage to NYC mayor Fiorello LaGuardia by reading the funnies during a newspaper strike in Cincinnati. Hesseman even tries doing a Gary Owens mimic for a brief bit.


This aired right around the end of season 2 of WKRP, but the footage didn't come from an existing episode, in case anyone wonders. The first Broadway incarnation of "Annie" was still going strong, with Keene Curtis (ex-The Magician), later the narrator of Space Stars, appearing as Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks to do a duet with Annie (Patricia Patts).

Sadly, CBS never saw fit to repeat this show, and should've, even if some of the material dated itself rather quickly.

Rating: A.

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell (1968)

We've seen before that ventriloquist Paul Winchell could do drama. He guest starred in a 1968 episode of The Virginian. Here, he plays Jingo, a friend of the Virginian (James Drury). In this excerpt, we'll see Paul around the 3 1/2 minute mark.

This came five years before his previously showcased appearance on Circle of Fear, but I get the feeling that, with the resume he put together, doing both comedies and dramas, Paul by all rights should've merited some Emmy consideration, not just for his work hosting children's shows.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Toons After Dark: Blondie & Dagwood (1987)

If you thought Defenders of The Earth was the extent of Marvel's business deal with Hearst Entertainment & King Features, you were wrong.

Marvel also obtained a license to adapt Chic Young's long running comic strip, Blondie, into an animated special. Blondie & Dagwood aired on CBS in 1987, nearly 20 years after the last live-action Blondie series aired on the same network.

The selling point was the casting of Loni Anderson (ex-WKRP in Cincinnati) as Blondie, with Frank Welker (Muppet Babies, Real Ghostbusters, Smurfs, etc.) as Dagwood. As often happens, J. C. Dithers (Alan Oppenheimer) fires Dagwood, forcing Blondie to find a job of her own.....

The supporting cast also includes Ike Eisenmann (ex-The Fantastic Journey) as Alexander.

There would be a follow-up special, also for CBS, and we'll have that up another day.

Rating: B-.

Daytime Heroes: Deputy Dawg meets Herman the Hermit (1962)

One thing that Deputy Dawg had in common with Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), other than both being based in the South, was they had trouble with hermits who were being forced out of their homes. It's DD's turn in "Herman The Hermit":

Normally, Vincent Van Gopher would grab onto Muskie's tail. This time, he uses DD's tail as a guide. Someone should've gotten him a pair of glasses.....

Rating: B.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dynomutt vs. Shadowman (1977)

Originally presented on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, this Dynomutt adventure is the series finale, as the canine cyborg (Frank Welker) and Blue Falcon (Gary Owens) go after Shadowman (John Stephenson).

Only 4 new Dynomutt episodes were produced, all in 2-part format to fit Laff-a-Lympics' 2 hour window, resulting in a grand total of 20 episodes produced over the 2 seasons (1976-8).

It's just too bad that H-B & ABC never considered a crossover that would've had the Falcon & Dyno meeting the Super Friends, but, then again, I felt the same way about them not having Scooby-Doo team with the Justice Leaguers.

Rating: B.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Celebrity Toons: Fonzie goes West again! (Fonz & The Happy Days Gang, 1980)

Fonz & The Happy Days Gang are out in the Old West, thanks to some bumbling from Richie (Ron Howard). All he wants to do is observe aboard the time machine, but hits the wrong lever when he shows Fonzie (Henry Winkler) what they're doing.

Complicating matters is the fact that there's an outlaw who bears a passing resemblance to Da Fonz, but is an outlaw. Naturally, it gets predictable from there. Sounds like Henry Corden (The Flintstone Comedy Show) as the outlaw in question, Big Jake (who likely gets his name from a John Wayne movie), rather than having Winkler essay a dual role, in "Westward Whoa!":

We've talked before about how Filmation was copying character designs from one show to another (i.e. The Archie Show to The Brady Kids). Hanna-Barbera did the same thing here. Some of the designs, especially in the way the gang walks, look like they may have been lifted from, say for example, Super Friends. For example, substitute Cupcake (Didi Conn) for Jayna, and you get the idea.

Some might argue the designs could go all the way back to Scooby-Doo and/or Josie & The Pussycats, for all we know.

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

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

Frustrated over a D grade in a print shop class, two boys decide to take revenge well after hours. Not if the Wonder Twins----and a twist of fate----have anything to say about it. Here's "Vandals":

Bill Woodson is not only the narrator, but voices the principal as well. I think if they remade this today, it'd be a longer story with more of a plot.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: Olan Soule (1961)

Howdy, pardners. Seems that Olan Soule feller got around Hollywood pretty good in the 60's. Folks saw him on Dennis The Menace, The Andy Griffith Show, Dragnet, and even in a 2-part Batman before he was cast in the first animated series for the Caped Crusader. Back in '61 he got to work with no less a Hollywood legend than Henry Fonda in an episode of The Deputy.

Ok, let me get out of character. Olan plays a traveling dentist who gets shanghaied in his own hotel room by a couple of outlaws, one of whom wants to spring his wacky bro out of the slammer before a hanging.

Co-creators Roland Kibbee and Norman Lear went on to bigger things (i.e. It Takes a Thief, All In The Family, etc.), albeit separately, after The Deputy was sent off to boot hill.

Family Toons: The Partridge Family (2200 AD) meets Cousin Sunspot (1974)

Let's take a trip to 2200 to visit the rebooted Partridge Family.

The Partridges greet their cousin Sunspot (guest star Allan Melvin, recycling his Punkin' Puss/Drooper voice from the 60's), who wants to join their act. Of course, chaos erupts.....

I think this, along with guest appearances on Hong Kong Phooey that same season, marked Melvin's return to H-B. He had an opening on his schedule with the Brady Bunch having ended, even though he had a recurring gig on All in The Family by this point.

Seems Partridge Family 2200 AD was a troubled production from the get-go. Susan Dey lasted just 2 episodes before Sherry Alberoni (Super Friends, ex-Josie & The Pussycats, Mickey Mouse Club) was called in to take her place as Laurie. Reportedly, Shirley Jones was never told by her agent about this series, but would she have taken the project? Then-husband Marty Ingels had done some work for H-B a few years earlier. Chuck McLendon had the thankless task of filling in for David Cassidy as Keith, and was never heard from again. As for the rest of the kids, at least they kept the character designs from the previous season's Goober & the Ghost Chasers. For what it's worth (not much), Danny Bonaduce landed one of his first more grown-up roles, showing a growth spurt, about a year or so later, guesting on Shazam!, also for CBS.

Rating: C.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Toon Legends: Mighty Mouse vs. The Electronic Mouse Trap (1946)

Mighty Mouse continues his never-ending battle against hungry cats in 1946's "The Electronic Mouse Trap". This is a print issued for syndication, if not also CBS. Anyway, a feline scientist develops a fire breathing mouse catcher, but this is as hokey as it gets.

Dare I say it? Cheesy to the max.

Rating: B-.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Rare Treats: A lost Flintstones pilot (1959-60)

Some of you may be aware that The Flintstones could've easily been The Flagstones, but for a twist of fate that I still haven't been able to discern.

Anyway, this 95 second demo reel was produced for network executives and advertisers. Jean VanderPyl (Wilma) is the only regular heard in the pilot. Daws Butler voiced both Fred & Barney, and, as you probably know, filled in for Mel Blanc for a few episodes during the early years. June Foray is Betty, whose look would ultimately change......

Now, that's what I call a rough cut. The scene would eventually be used in the episode, "The Swimming Pool".

Rating: B-.

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman in He Who Swipes The Ice, Goes To The Cooler (1968)

Here in the Northeast, we're getting plastered with snow, less than three weeks before spring. What better time, then, for a look back at Batman's chilly nemesis, Mr. Freeze.

Freeze resorts to kidnapping a visiting dignitary (Casey Kasem) for ransom in "He Who Swipes The Ice, Goes To The Cooler":

Anyone care to guess who was trying to mimic Humphrey Bogart as one of Freeze's henchmen?

Rating: A-.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Famous Firsts: Deputy Dawg in Space Varmint (1960-2)

Our Famous First for March features Deputy Dawg.

Let's bear in mind that when DD (Dayton Allen) made his TV debut in 1962, some of the shorts, including our next item, "Space Varmint", had a copyright date at least two years prior. Something that whomever was compiling information for Wikipedia didn't catch.

Anyway, "Space Varmint" may or may not have been a forerunner to the later Astronut, who was spun off from Deputy Dawg a while later.

Silly, harmless fun.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You Know The Voice: Paul Winchell (1966)

From the final season of The Dick Van Dyke Show:

Paul Winchell guest stars as a ventriloquist named Claude Wilbur, whose puppet, Jellybean, is one of the hottest acts on television. Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and his staff inquire about a job opening after they panic over the prospect of being dismissed from the Alan Brady Show per a network memo that Rob finds in the trash.

Paul appears around the 11-12 minute mark in "Talk To The Snail":

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Toons You Might've Missed: Dingbat in Sour Grapes (1950)

After debuting as a supporting character in the Gandy Goose shorts, Dingbat, meant to be Terrytoons' answer to Tweety, was given a series of his own. His antagonist was Sylvester the Fox (Dayton Allen), who spoke almost exactly like his feline namesake, though Allen made a point of not trying to mimic Mel Blanc.

However, most of us grew up not seeing Dingbat or Gandy, as syndication in the 70's meant a steady diet of Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, & Deputy Dawg, with a side order of Hector Heathcote. As a result, we're probably seeing this next item, "Sour Grapes", released in December 1950, for the first time.

Rating: B-.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Saturday School: Fat Albert in Spare The Rod (1979)

After producing four seasons of first run episodes over the first seven years (1972-9), Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids went back into production as The New Fat Albert Show, adding the show-within-a-show, The Brown Hornet, which gave the gang an object lesson to use during the rest of the show.

In "Spare The Rod", Fat Albert (Bill Cosby) becomes concerned when a classmate has bruises on her arms, which leads to the suspicion that her mother or father has been abusing her.

Only three seasons were produced during this period (1979-82) before going back to reruns for the rest of the CBS run, 24 episodes total. New episodes didn't resume until the series entered syndication in 1984.

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Machine Gun (1974)

From Soul Train:

The Commodores released their debut album in 1974. Ye scribe didn't become familiar with them until a few years later, when they released hits like "Sail On" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)". Here, though, was their debut, the title instrumental from "Machine Gun":

Sunday, February 25, 2018

On The Air: Inspector Gadget (2015)

More than 30 years after his debut, Inspector Gadget is back on the job.

Canada's DHX Media has revived the series, which marks the return of the cyborg detective for the first time since the passing of his original portrayer, Don Adams. Ivan Sherry does his best mimic of Adams, but, as you'll see, it's the same old Gadget, although his nemesis Dr. Claw isn't quite as evil as he once was, and Claw now has a nephew, Talon, who secretly is interested in Gadget's niece, Penny, who now officially is her uncle's partner.

The series finally has an American home, as it's currently airing on Universal Kids (formerly Sprout). The 4th (current) season began this winter.

Curiously, while virtually all of the roles were recast, the most glaring change is that Frank Welker, the original Dr. Claw, wasn't invited back. Neither was Cree Summer, as Tara Strong takes over as Penny. Also, Derek McGrath (ex-My Secret Identity) is on board as the new voice of Chief Quimby.

In this episode, Dr. Claw & Talon steal all of Metro City's water, but have different ideas about using it.

Contrary to the original 1983-6 series, this version follows the current trend with two 15 minute installments for each half hour. Some episodes, like the one above, could stand to go the full half hour to make the plot a little more palatable.

Rating: C.

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Mouse in The Racket Buster (1949)

Now, here's a rarity. A Mighty Mouse cartoon that features Pearl Pureheart, but not their mutual nemesis, Oil Can Harry. Instead, you have some gangster cats (their leader is a stereotype Edward G. Robinson mimic) who try to rub out Mighty Mouse, gangster style. Of course, you know how this will go.

Here's "The Racket Buster":

By this point in the series, they were alternating between standard fare such as this and the operatic bits where you'd find Pearl & Harry. We'll have one of the opera shorts down the line.

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: A Circle of Blue (1968)

Thanks to catching up with The Archie Show via syndicated reruns on cable in the late 70's, I was able to pick my favorite Archies songs, and here's one of them. The two-part harmony of Archie & Reggie (singing voices by Ron Dante & Andy Kim) fuels "A Circle of Blue".

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto in Hunter & Hunted (1966)

From season 1 of the first animated Lone Ranger series:

Tonto (Shepard Menken) takes action when a trio of hunters begin killing buffalo along the prairie. The video quality of "Hunter & Hunted" isn't the best, but it's all we can find.

Standard, predictable fare.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits (?): With My Baby Tonight (1995)

By 1995, Milli Vanilli had become a music industry punchline. Of course, that didn't stop the perpetually behind the curve Vince McMahon from coming up with a similar gimmick in the then World Wrestling Federation.

Second generation wrestler Jeff Jarrett had been with the company less than two years when he tried to pass himself off as a country singer. Being that he lived close to Nashville in real life certainly helped. Anyway, let's take you back in time 23 years to when Jarrett tried to sell the idea that he had actually recorded "With My Baby Tonight":

It turned out that Jarrett's sidekick, The Roadie (Brian James) was the one who actually recorded the song, but it would be a year before the scam was finally exposed. In between, James & Jarrett left the WWF, but would eventually return separately. "With My Baby Tonight" became James' theme song, but insofar as I know, it never charted.

Today, Jarrett is getting set to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. James is the head writer for Smackdown, and better known as 1/2 of the New Age Outlaws, 6-time tag team champions. But, think back to 1995. McMahon convinced the country band Sawyer Brown to let Jarrett play with them at a PPV event. By then, though, Jarrett's one-man Milli Vanilli wanna-be act was dying.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tooniversary: Mighty Mouse & The Magician (1948)

Now, here's a Mighty Mouse short I have no memory of seeing on cable back in the 70's.

In "Mighty Mouse & The Magician", our hero leaves his base on the moon to rescue the village mice once again after an aspiring magician's act goes awry thanks to some hungry cats.

Y'know, for a while, I thought the magician was actually Mighty Mouse in disguise. Then again, it wouldn't have made the finish so predictable, would it?

Rating: B.

Celebrity Toons: The Brady Kids in Who Was That Dog? (1972)

Since Filmation employed the same writers for most of their comedy programs, it stands to figure that plots would be recycled from one show to another.

Evidence of this would be in this episode of The Brady Kids. The siblings enter Marlon, Mop Top, and Ping & Pong, the twin pandas, in a pet show. Mop Top (a sub for Tiger, the sibs' pet on Brady Bunch) falls for a poodle, and she looks like she was related to a similar dog from The Archie Show.  You'll recall that Sabrina had entered her familiar, Salem, in a pet show a couple of years earlier, and Jughead had done the same with Hot Dog prior to that.

Closing the show is a cover of "Me & You & a Dog Named Boo", but for some reason, the producers shortened the title, thinking no one would recognize Lobo's biggest hit record.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Saturtainment: The Tale of The Lunar Locusts (Are You Afraid of The Dark?, 2000)

It's way past time we checked back with the Midnight Society from Are You Afraid of The Dark?, and once again, the entry is from the series' final season.

Olympic figure skater Tara Lipinski, now an analyst for NBC, made her acting debut in the episode, "The Tale of The Lunar Locusts", co-starring Aaron Ashmore (later of Smallville).

Not sure if Tara did any more acting before turning to broadcasting, but the potential was there.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Where Are You Going, Little Ghoul? (1970-1)

You might've noticed that the music composed for The Groovie Goolies and Will The Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down? was credited to a couple of gentlemen named Ed Fournier & Richard Delvy. These two men were also the singing voices for not only the Goolies, but also the other pre-fab toon bands featured on the show, including the Mummies & the Puppies (Mamas & the Papas parody), who are showcased here, performing "Where Are You Going, Little Ghoul?". One of these men, or Richard "Daddy Dewdrop" Monda, is subbing for Larry Storch as Drac in this clip, as the skit has Drac hassling Missy of the Mummies & the Puppies.

Too bad none of this stuff is on CD.

Daytime Heroes: He-Man in The Taking of Grayskull (1983)

Take a trip with us to Eternia, and join He-Man on another adventure.

Castle Grayskull has been taking from its moorings and sent to another dimension by Skeletor, who hopes to finally uncover the Castle's secrets for his own gains. As if that'll ever happen. Plus, Orko worries that everyone's forgotten his birthday. Well, you know how that trope plays out. Here's "The Taking of Grayskull":

Rating: B.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Toon Sports: Laff-a-Lympics in Switzerland (1977)

As this year's Winter Olympics in South Korea nears the halfway point, it's time to take a look at an episode of Laff-a-Lympics. Not only is Don Messick the voice of Scooby-Doo, he doubles as the show's announcer. This installment takes Scooby and frends (as well as enemies) to Switzerland and Japan.

The open is from the 2 hour version, instead of the 1/2-hour syndicated version, in case anyone wonders.

Rating: B-.

Toon Legends: Spider-Man meets Miss Trubble (1967)

A book shop owner wants to write a column on Greek mythology for the Daily Bugle, but is repeatedly rebuffed by J. Jonah Jameson. However, Miss Trubble is using figures from Greek myth to steal some artifacts. Well, at least that's the plan, except for the intervention of Spider-Man.....!

Here's "Here Comes Trubble":

Should've seen that ending coming, since it's a variant on a standard plot used elsewhere.....

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

From Comics to Toons: The Fantastic Four vs. Klaw (1967)

Ulysses Klaue, aka "Klaw", can be seen in "Black Panther", now in theatres. But let's go back 51 years to when he menaced the Fantastic Four......

Adding the plural to the episode title was a bit of a misnomer. Standard fare.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Appointment in Crime Alley (1992)

The producers of Batman: The Animated Series not only made great use of the Dark Knight's legendary rogues gallery, but also created some new villains. While Harley Quinn ultimately crossed over into DC Comics, the villain of our next piece, "Appointment in Crime Alley", didn't.

Roland Daggett was this show's answer to the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot of Lex Luthor, posited as a wealthy businessman who was secretly involved in a number of shady dealings. Here, Daggett decides to use arson for hire to justify the gentrification of a section of Gotham City, with no regard for the people in the area, particularly Dr. Leslie Tompkins (Diana Muldaur), who happens to be close friends with a certain millionaire.....

Comics veteran Gerry Conway has also done some live-action television writing (i.e. Law & Order, The Father Dowling Mysteries), and is still active today.

Rating: A+.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Time To Change (1972)

It's been talked about previously that Filmation simply reused old animation from The Archie Show for The Brady Kids. It's easy to tell, although there's one extra kid to account for (Cindy). They even recycled some footage of Hot Dog, using the Bradys' made-for-TV pet, Mop Top (on The Brady Bunch, they also had a dog, Tiger).

From the series premiere, the first half of "Jungle Bungle", here's "Time to Change":

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Looney TV: Mel Blanc, The Man of 1,000 Voices (2007)

Included on a volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series is a hour-plus long biography on the life & career of the man most closely associated with the Looney Tunes franchise, the incomparable Mel Blanc. Maurice LaMarche narrates.

Mel Blanc, The Man of 1,000 Voices is a delightful insight into an American icon. Yes, it focuses mostly on his Looney Tunes work (after all, it's a WB release), but it is also a celebration and appreciation of a fabulous talent who made us laugh for nearly 50 years. Not sure if it's been released by itself, but if it isn't, it should be.

Rating: A+.

Saturtainment: Remember Willie Survive? (1982)

Greengrass Productions produced a number of new PSA features for ABC in the early 80's, none of which lasted very long.

Willie Survive bowed in September 1982, but his quick interstitals were gone by the next season. Not much information can be had on this series. In this sample short, Willie gets scared by a neighborhood cat, and misses the bus home. Fortunately, he's got the smarts to go to plan B......

By this point, ABC was looking for something to complement Schoolhouse Rock, but nothing seemed to stick.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tooniversary: Spider-Man in Home (1968)

By season 2 of Spider-Man, Ralph Bakshi had moved over from Terrytoons to take over the series. In "Home", the wall crawler meets an alien race with powers similar to his own.

The producers went el cheapo, recycling and reusing footage throughout seasons 2 & 3, more so than in season 1. Evidence of this is in this episode, as the scenes in the Coffee Shoppe were reused multiple times.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Garden of Doom (1980)

The Wonder Twins need help from Wonder Woman in trying to stop mutated plant life in "Garden of Doom".

At least they got the comedy out of the way early, though if he could actually talk, Gleek could explain how he could succeed in painting when the Twins could not paint accurate portraits of each other. In Gleek's case, his imagination went to work, inserting himself as the Mona Gleek. Jayna may be right about Zan needing a refresher course, though her own skills need work, too. I don't mind the abstract angle she was inadvertently creating, but I'll bet there were some boys who wouldn't mind using her as a still life model.......!

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Literary Toons: Last of the Mohicans (1975)

Local author James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans was adapted for television for the first time in nearly 20 years, and the first in animated form, for CBS' Famous Classic Tales, airing on Thanksgiving Day (November 27), 1975.

Hanna-Barbera's Australian division, later to adopt the name Southern Star, produced this one, and the music & cast have a familiar H-B bent. The cast includes Mike Road (Valley of the Dinosaurs) as Natty Bumppo, aka Hawkeye. Kristina Holland (ex-Funky Phantom), Frank Welker, John Stephenson, Casey Kasem, and John Doucette round out the cast. The fact that they threw in a dog tells us this was a looser adaptation of the novel.

The episode was broken down into 6 parts for the English language version. The only complete video is in Spanish. For now, we'll give you the first portion.

Given the anti-violence rules cast upon children's programming during this era, it's a wonder they did as much as they could with the guns and other weapons.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Philadelphia Freedom (1975)

Elton John is retiring from touring, after nearly 50 years of recording. One of his biggest hits was 1975's "Philadelphia Freedom", one of his last hits for MCA before launching the Rocket Records label a year later.

As Elton explains to Don Cornelius on Soul Train, "Freedom" is a homage to not only the city's legendary R & B scene, but also World Team Tennis pioneer Billie Jean King and the Philadelphia Freedoms, for whom the song is named.

As if you couldn't tell, Elton sang live, backed by the pre-recorded backing vocal & instrumental tracks.

Toons You Might've Missed: Johnny Appleseed (1948)

Disney's Melody Time series of shorts presented a mini-biography of American pioneer John Chapman, aka "Johnny Appleseed", in 1948. Actor-singer Dennis Day (The Jack Benny Program) performs most of the voices. Whomever wrote the entry for Wikipedia tried to claim that Dallas McKennon, and not Day, voiced Johnny's Angel, when it's clear in the open that Day performs at least three roles.

If it isn't Day as the narrator, one must assume, then, that this was McKennon's role. Judge for yourselves.

To think that Day had perfected the comic persona of being a naive simpleton while working with Jack Benny, and it carried over when he gained his own radio series.

Rating: A.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry in Pecos Pest (1955)

"Pecos Pest" was the last Tom & Jerry short produced by Fred Quimby at MGM before Quimby retired. Unfortunately, he went out on a down note.

Jerry's Uncle Pecos (Shug Fisher) hits town shortly after Jerry receives a telegram. Poor Tom loses his whiskers whenever Pecos breaks a guitar string. Oh, the pain.....

The joke became redundant the 3rd time around.

Rating: B--.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. Saboteurs (1967)

From season 2 of The New Adventures of Superman:

Greedy "Saboteurs" decide to pollute the Metropolis Harbor with radioactive waste, in the hope that with the city evacuated, they can loot it dry. Yeah, like that'll happen.....


Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Somebody Likes You (1970)

What would Valentine's week be without the Archies? From 1970's Archie's Funhouse, here's "Somebody Likes You".

Have to get this in. In another example of his ignorance of source material, Riverdale producer-head writer/Archie Comics Creative Director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa decided to use "Jingle Jangle", the Archies' follow-up to "Sugar, Sugar", as the name of a recreational drug on his show. I get the guy's point of view is warped, but this is blasphemy of the worst kind.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Valentoons: Hare Splitter (1948)

Bugs Bunny does a little accessorizing in 1948's "Hare Splitter". You'll see what I mean when Bugs courts an attractive female, at the same time having to thwart the efforts of his next door neighbor........

Of course, you know it'd be more than 60 years before Bugs was in another serious relationship.......!

Rating: A.

Friday, February 9, 2018

On The Air: Dreamworks' Dragons (2012)

The success of 2010's "How To Train Your Dragon" led Dreamworks Animation to develop a weekly animated series that served as a bridge between "Dragon" and its sequel, which was released in 2014.

Dreamworks' Dragons has gone by a number of subtitles in the course of its run (2012-present), starting with Riders of Berk. The lush computer animation makes it stand out in the overcrowded cable cartoon landscape.

Originally, Dragons aired on Cartoon Network, which relinquished the rights to the series when Dreamworks forged a deal with Netflix. The streaming service took over the series in 2015. Reruns currently air on Universal Kids (check your listings).

Here's a sample clip:

I personally think CN gave up on the show due to its obsessive-compulsive need to spam Teen Titans Go! into the ground. What do you guys think?

Rating: A.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

On The Air: Beat The Clock (2018)

An old favorite is back, this time geared for families.

Beat The Clock is the latest Goodson-Todman classic resurrected by Fremantle Media, which is preparing one of their own properties, American Idol, to relaunch on ABC next month. Paul Costabile is the new host of Clock, which launched on Universal Kids (formerly Sprout) on Tuesday. Currently, it airs weeknights at 7:30 pm (ET), but don't rely on the program guide on your cable system, as it seems UK snuck Clock onto the schedule at the last minute.

It's the same game your parents, and likely also your grandparents, will remember dating back nearly 70 years, and it's the first reincarnation of the franchise in 15 years (last aired on Pax, now Ion, in 2002-3). What drew NBC-Universal-Comcast's attention? Well, they tried a variant on the franchise a few years back with Minute To Win It, which lasted a couple of years before being shipped off to GSN. The diff between this Clock and its forebears is that now children get to play the game. That tells us UK is positing itself to challenge Disney Channel and Nickelodeon for ratings supremacy. (Cartoon Network? Fuhgeddaboutit!).

Here's a teaser.

Eat your heart out, Nickelodeon!

Rating: A.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Saturtainment: Not Just News (1993)

Insofar as I knew, Not Just News didn't air in the home district during its 2 year run (1993-5). This was a syndicated magazine show taped in front of a live audience of children. Steve Doocy was host, head writer, and producer.

Rather than use a professional announcer, a young volunteer has the honors each week. In this sample episode, we'll see a piece on voice acting with commentary from Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons), among others.

Not enough time was given, as this could've been a teaching tool, which is what Stuart Pankin was angling for when he was interviewed. Today, Pankin (ex-Dinosaurs, Not Neccessarily The News) is doing infomercials. Kevin Clash (ex-Dinosaurs, Sesame Street) saw his career come to an end in disgrace a few years back.

Rating: A.

Looney TV: All This And Rabbit Stew (1941)

Every so often, Bugs Bunny would be matched with a hunter not named Elmer Fudd. 1941's "All This And Rabbit Stew" is one of those cases.

"Rabbit Stew" hasn't seen the light of day on television much since it was booted off Cartoon Network by its parent, Time-Warner, in 2001 due to the use of the African-American hunter (Danny Webb) as a stereotype modeled after Stepin Fechit. However, it is available online as it is in the public domain.

I remember seeing this back in the 70's, but back then, no one was that concerned about political correctness.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Valentoons: My Funny Valentines (Recess, 1999)

Let's pay a visit to the Recess kids.

T. J. (Andrew Lawrence, ex-Brotherly Love) doesn't like Valentine's Day. However, he's encouraged by a local shopkeeper to create his own Valentines. Unfortunately, his idea of humor doesn't go over so well.......

T. J. may be the only kid, real or fictional, who didn't like Valentine's Day, in the history of the world.

Rating: B-.

Toon Rock: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (1973)

From The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour:

The conclusion of one of the sketches leads to this animated video, set to the beat of Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". That's the good news. The bad? Sonny & Cher's interpretation left a lot to be desired. Especially Cher's half of the vocals.

Another poster on YouTube subbed in Croce's original recording with this same cartoon, but once I found the actual source, I opted to try this out.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Toons After Dark: Hey, Hey, Hey! It's Fat Albert! (1969)

Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids could've easily been an NBC cartoon.

Three years before the series began, Bill Cosby had returned to NBC with his first self-titled sitcom. The Bill Cosby Show ran for 2 seasons, and boasted theme music by no less than Quincy Jones. Part of the deal allowed for Cosby, who'd won Emmy awards for I Spy, to do a series of specials for NBC as well.

One of those specials was the animated Hey, Hey, Hey! It's Fat Albert!, which premiered in November 1969. Animator Ken Mundie had also been responsible for the artwork used on CBS' Wild, Wild West, and, as you'll see in this short sample, his style didn't mesh with Cosby's vision:

Unfortunately, the rest of the show is lost as of now. We know the rest of the story, of course. NBC could've taken this to series, but didn't, believing that the educational themes that Cosby stressed wouldn't work. Oh, how wrong they were! CBS & Filmation took a chance in 1972, and hit the jackpot. Of course, that year, there was also a package deal, as Cosby was given a variety show, which was his first failure.

No rating.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Toon Sports: Droopy in The Chump Champ (1950)

This isn't exactly a decathalon, but Droopy (voiced by Don Messick) challenges for the right to be named King of Sports in "The Chump Champ". Watch for the twist ending, as only Tex Avery could conjure it.

You think maybe Droopy knew about the Queen of Sports, and willingly signed a fake confession?

Rating: A.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Papa Was a Rollin' Stone (1972)

Mere months after it had been originally recorded by the Undisputed Truth, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" was re-recorded by Motown stablemates The Temptations, which led to an appearance on Soul Train. Notice how the familiar Soul Train logo was taken down, and the Temps' name appeared in the same font in its place. Must've been a practice of the day.

In memory of singer Dennis Edwards, who has passed away.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Saturtainment: Heckle & Jeckle meet Quacula (1979)

While Heckle & Jeckle never met Terrytoons stablemate Mighty Mouse, they did meet Filmation's vampire duck, Quacula, in a one-shot crossover.

"Where There's a Will" has Heckle & Jeckle (Frank Welker voices both) learning they've inherited their uncle's mansion, which happens to be home to Quacula (Welker). Let the fun begin!

Part of the reason this is labeled as "very rare" by the poster is because animator Scott Shaw filed suit against Filmation alleging copyright infringement, as he'd created a similar vampire duck for Star*Reach around the same time that Quacula was in production. As a result, "Where There's a Will" and all 16 Quacula shorts are largely out of circulation.

Rating: B+.

Daytime Heroes: He-Man meets the Wizard of Stone Mountain (1983)

He-Man has to come to the aid of Teela when an old flame of hers decides he has to have her for himself to make up for an earlier rejection. Here's "The Wizard of Stone Mountain", co-written by Paul Dini.

Clever twist at the end, as fans know Teela had been pining for He-Man all along, but they were strung along when she left with the slow-witted Ram-Man.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Saturtainment: The first episode of the Jackson 5ive (1971)

Our Famous First this month, being that it's Black History Month, features The Jackson 5ive.

"It All Started With....." offers a fictional account of how the Jackson brothers (Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Jermaine, Tito) landed their first record deal. Paul Frees is not only the announcer, but voices several supporting characters.

As previously noted, the Jacksons didn't voice their animated counterparts, Rankin-Bass would correct that mistake the next year with The Osmonds.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Teenage Toons: Fat Albert in Fish Out of Water (1972)

Hey, hey, hey! Summer is still a few months away, but let's go back to the 1st season of Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids as Bill Cosby relates the tale of the gang's first trip to summer camp.

"Fish Out of Water" originally aired in 1972. This print comes from a syndicated reissue circa 1984. The most obvious diff being that Cosby filmed a new intro as the theme plays. Also, the closing theme is instrumental only, instead of replaying the vocals from the open.

Yes, the show was retitled, The Adventures of Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids for syndication. The final season ran concurrently with the 1st season of The Cosby Show. No matter what you think about Cosby now, back in the day he was hailed as a beloved entertainer and educator.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Cisco Kid (1973)

From The Midnight Special:

War, one of the prominent funk bands of the 70's, pays homage to O Henry's classic hero with 1973's "Cisco Kid". Scope!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Animated World of DC Comics: The Super Friends take a Journey Through Inner Space (1978)

Inspired by the original novel version of Fantastic Voyage, the Super Friends take a "Journey Through Inner Space" when Aquaman (Bill Calloway, ex-Love, American Style) is mutated into a prehistoric shark-like creature.

The implication here is that the King of the Seven Seas evolved from such fish. Bollocks to that, it's just a lame plot contrivance. Most of the cast also play additional characters.

Yes, this was weak due to the plot contrivance, but it also set the stage for the literary-inspired World's Greatest Super Friends the next season.

Rating: C.

You Know The Voice: Dave Willock (1962)

Dave Willock might not be a household name, but to toon fans, he's best known as the race announcer/narrator of the original Wacky Races, and, four years later, Gus Holiday on The Roman Holidays.

But, before that, Willock did commercials like this next item for the now-defunct Chun King brand of manufactured Chinese food. Director Stan Freberg appears at the beginning with Jesse White. Willock turns up around the 40 second mark.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Literary Toons: Moby Dick (1975)

From Famous Classic Tales:

Australia's Air Programs International presented the lone new episode of Famous Classic Tales for the 1974-5 season on New Year's Day 1975 with a slightly loose adaptation of Herman Melville's classic, Moby Dick. I think CBS scheduled this in between their coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade (which they at the time shared with NBC) and the Cotton Bowl, then a New Year's Day tradition for the network.

Melville's tale mixed the Bible with other literary classics, such as the works of William Shakespeare. Follow along, and you'll see what I mean.

I think the ancillary characters at the start of the show were meant to set the stage, rather than go with Ishmael's narration from the start. For good or bad is up to you.

Rating: B.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Young Robin Hood (1991)

In 1991, Hanna-Barbera joined forces with Canada's Cinar to create Young Robin Hood as a new component of the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera Sunday block. The series was a mid-season replacement, launching on New Year's Day, and was the latest in H-B's continuing line of series rebooting established characters as younger versions (i.e. The Flintstone Kids). That trend would end later in 1991 with Yo, Yogi! being sold to NBC.

The story here is that Robin is left to fend for himself while his father, the Earl of Huntington, is off on a crusade with King Richard the Lionhearted. Otherwise, it's the familiar tale of Robin and his Merry Men evading the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John, presented here as a spoiled child, at every turn. Marion, Robin's girlfriend, serves as a spy for her honey, thwarting the attempts of Gilbert of Gisbourne (instead of Guy in the traditional stories) to win her hand.

After the series ended, Cinar & H-B would not be doing business again.

In the series opener, Robin and friends deal with "The Wild Boar of Sherwood".

Standard H-B adventure fare of the period, but with an all-Canadian voice cast.

Rating: B.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tooniversary: Beetle Bailey in V For Visitors (1963)

It's Visitor's Day at Camp Swampy, so Beetle Bailey (Howard Morris) brings his then-girlfriend, Bunny, to the camp. Bunny, in turn, brings her father, who served in WWI. No wonder General Halftrack (Morris) is nervous in "V For Visitors".

Yes, that's Allan Melvin as Bunny's dad, as well as Sgt. Snorkel AND Otto.

In memory of series creator Mort Walker, who has passed away at 94.

Rating: B.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Literary Toons: The Adventures of Sinbad (1979)

CBS' Famous Classic Tales produced just 29 episodes over the course of 10 seasons (1970-80), the last of which rolled out in time for Thanksgiving of 1979.

Air Programs International produced the final episode, an adaptation of The Adventures of Sinbad.

As it turned out, Hanna-Barbera, through their newly acquired Australian studio, only made a handful of cartoons for the series.

No rating. Didn't see this the first time.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Toon Legends: Goofy in How To Be a Detective (1952)

Goofy turns the detective business upside down in 1952's "How To Be a Detective", which isn't so much a teaching tool, but a parody of the genre.

Ok, level with me. You didn't see that swerve coming, did you now?

Rating: A.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Getting Schooled: Birthday House (1963)

Paul Tripp is best known for 2 things. First, he was the host of Mr. I. Magination, which ran for 3 years on CBS (1949-52) as one of the earliest children's television programs. Then, one of his books, The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, was adapted into a 1966 Italian-produced feature film that was often re-issued to theatres in the 70's. He also composed "Tubby the Tuba", which became one of his signature works.

In between, Tripp hosted a few regional kids' shows, the last of which was 1963's Birthday House, which ran for four seasons (1963-7) on WNBC in New York, and was syndicated briefly at the end of the run. I never even saw it in syndication, so there isn't going to be a rating.

Anyway, I could guess that Birthday House was meant to be WNBC's answer to, say for example, Romper Room. The one constant to Tripp's productions, from Mr. I. Magination to Birthday House, would be his wife, Ruth (billed as Ruth Enders), and while we may not see her in this sample clip provided by Gilmore Box, I'm going to guess that we'll hear her. That is, that might be her as the wandering sneeze.....

Daytime Heroes: Laurel & Hardy in Suspect in Custody (1966)

Laurel & Hardy (Jim MacGeorge & Larry Harmon) are cops assigned to tail an alien robot in "Suspect in Custody". Said robot looks like a Univac reject from The Jetsons, don't you think?

Predictable chaos, and an even more predictable ending.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Saturtainment: Three Stooges in Squareheads of the Round Table (1947-8)

The Three Stooges are in the medevial era in "Squareheads of the Round Table", released in March 1948. Moe, Larry, & Shemp have to help a lovestruck blacksmith win his true love, who has been promised to the evil Black Prince.

I believe that was a form of a mandolin that Moe is playing opposite Larry's violin and Shemp's squeezebox (an early accordion).

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: Casper teaches about safety (1960)

Casper teaches about safety in this ad, which doesn't use traditional animation per se, but rather using still pictures. Taken from Matty's Funday Funnies.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Daytime Heroes: Captain Video & His Video Rangers (1949)

It is Ed Norton's favorite show, as revealed in the series premiere of The Honeymooners. By that point, Captain Video & His Video Rangers had to have been in syndication after six seasons on DuMont. In the early days of television, a small budget wasn't the deterrent to success that it would be now. A small bag of used shoestrings would be equal to DuMont's production budget for Captain Video.

Richard Coogan was the first Captain, but the one everyone remembers, Al Hodge, came from radio's Green Hornet in 1951 to take over for the final four years. The one constant was the Video Ranger (Don Hastings), ever faithful, and always available.

Of course, Captain Video was well before my time, and out of syndication by the end of the 60's, if not sooner. Hence, no rating. We'll leave you with an intro from the Hodge era, when it was sponsored by Post cereals.

Don Hastings would later latch onto another long-running series, joining the cast of As The World Turns. Captain Video was the extent of his involvement in children's programming, unlike brother Bob, who returned to toons in the 90's (Batman) after a lengthy stint on General Hospital.

Toonfomercial: Mr. Magoo shills for NutraSweet (1994)

Five years after Jim Backus had passed on, Mr. Magoo was brought back to life, licensed to the folks who make NutraSweet to promote their product. Have no clue who's doing the voice here.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Toons You Might've Missed: Goopy Geer (1932)

Goopy Geer didn't have a long career at Warner Bros. as part of the Merrie Melodies roster. In his initial, self-titled outing from April 1932, Goopy is starring in a nightclub act.

After Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising left for MGM, WB didn't make much use of Goopy. I think we can see why.

Rating: C.

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger in Spectre of Death (1968)

"Spectre of Death" was one of the last Lone Ranger cartoons produced for CBS during the series' 1966-8 run. The Masked Man (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) pursue Sutro Helm (Menken in a dual role), thought dead when an attempted jailbreak resulted in the explosion of the jailhouse.

Rating: B.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Play That Funky Music (1976)

Wild Cherry may have only had one big hit, but they've gotten quite a bit of mileage out of 1976's "Play That Funky Music". Helen Reddy introduces the band in this clip from The Midnight Special:

So, they're from Steubenville, Ohio. Its most famous citizen happens to be iconic entertainer Dean Martin, who obviously never taught these guys anything about staying power on the charts.....

Getting Schooled: Lamb Chop's Play Along (1992)

Emmy & Peabody Award winner Shari Lewis returned to television in 1992 with PBS' Lamb Chop's Play Along. The ventriloquist, who launched her career 40 years earlier on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, entertained children with this weekday series for 5 seasons (1992-7).

In a way, Shari & PBS were meant for each other. Shari's family-friendly act, with puppets Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, Charlie Horse, et al, had been a staple of variety shows for many years, and so it seemed so right that she would be right at home on the same network that is also home to Sesame Street.

So why just 5 seasons? I'm not sure, but Shari would return with one more series, Charlie Horse's Music Pizza, before her passing. Daughter Mallory has inherited Lamb Chop and the rest of the gang, and, who knows, maybe they'll be back someday.

Leave us not forget that Shari was also the voice of Princess Nida of the Arabian Knights (Banana Splits, 1968-70), among her many acting credits.

Here's a sample episode.

Aw, wasn't she a doll?

No rating. It was on when I was at work during the day, so I never saw the show.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Toon Rock: Mambo #5, Bob The Builder style (2001-2)

In 1999, Lou Bega scored a 1-hit wonder with a remake of Perez Prado's "Mambo #5". Bega's still trading off that song today.

A couple of years later, the producers of the British children's show, Bob The Builder, which has been seen here in the US on PBS & Nickelodeon, decided to retool the lyrics (pun intended), substituting the names of the women in the lyrics for various tools.

So let's scope out a construction worker's boppin' anthem.....

Yes, I found this hysterical. We'll have a full review on Bob The Builder and some other modern British toons another day. Anyway, this "Mambo" hit #1 in England, and also found the top 10 in Ireland & Australia.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger in Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist (1967)

The "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Scientist" in question in this Lone Ranger solo adventure is Tiny Tom (Dick Beals, Frankenstein, Jr.), trying again to eliminate the Masked Man (Michael Rye).

I think that might've been the last appearance of Tiny Tom, so we don't know if he ever kept his promise to go straight.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tooniversary: A complete episode of The Archie Show (1968)

On September 14, 1968, after a live-action pilot had failed to sell a few years earlier, Archie and his friends finally made their television debut on CBS, beginning an 8 year run (the final season, reruns of US Of Archie) were moved to Sundays, and blacked out in my home market).

This episode of The Archie Show appears to be a rerun compilation. First up, Archie, Reggie, & Jughead go surfing for first prize while Betty & Veronica find that the local lifeguard ain't exactly living up to his job description.

Then, Dilton Doiley converts his mother's washing machine into a computer, with the predictable results.

Ignore the poster's label. Online sources report that "The Computer" premiered in November, and "Surf Board" may have been part of a September episode.

Rating: B.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Toon Sports: The Great Cold Rush Race (Wacky Races, 1968)

Like, the Wacky Races heads to the Great White North, eh? As the Northeast is caught in a cold spell, it figures we can revisit this particular trek to Canada in "The Great Cold Rush Race".

The original Wacky Races turns 50 in September, but you know Cartoon Network/Boomerang won't acknowledge it.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Little Bit O'Soul (1968)

The Music Explosion were a 1-hit wonder in the winter of 1967-8 with "Little Bit O'Soul", which landed them on American Bandstand in February 1968. This video has the show intro, with voiceover by Charlie O'Donnell, a short intro by Dick Clark, and then, "Little Bit O'Soul" and the requisite interview.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Toon Rock: Harlem Shuffle (1986)

The Rolling Stones' cover of Bob & Earl's "Harlem Shuffle" peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in 1986. Part of the reason for that was the video, which garnered heavy, and I do mean heavy, airplay on MTV. Directed by Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi, the animation used here was also the same brand of artistic abstraction used the following year on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, then perfected by Kricfalusi with Ren & Stimpy 4 years after that.

Unbelievably, Bakshi directed the live-action portion, which I think was a first, as Kricfalusi handled the animation direction.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Three Stooges in Fling in the Ring (1955)

The Three Stooges get back into the fight game in 1955's "Fling in the Ring", a remake of Shemp's 1st vehicle with the team, "Fright Night", eight years earlier.

The boys are trainers for Chopper Kane (Dick Wessel), but they also work for a mobster named Big Mike, who wants Kane to throw the fight. Chaos, of course, follows.

It's been said that "Fright Night" was Shemp's favorite. This might've been his 2nd favorite because of it.

Stunt double Joe Palma, used in this film for the actor playing Big Mike in certain scenes, would later double for Shemp when they remade some more of the earlier shorts after Shemp's passing.

Rating: B.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Game Time: When college football really was event TV

Today, watching college football on several different channels can leave one viewer dizzy and on the verge of falling asleep too soon. That's the end result of the expansion of cable, to the point where there are links between broadcast & cable networks via corporate ownership (i.e. ESPN/ABC as a unit of Disney), flooding the airwaves and fans' senses almost to the point of desensitization.

It wasn't always thus. In the pre-cable era, and even in cable's infancy, ABC, in particular, subscribed to the concept of having a Game of the Week, kind of like Major League Baseball. That's what made watching college football so special back in the day. After the unification of ESPN & ABC under the Disney umbrella some 20-odd years ago, the idea has been to heavily push the top 25 ranked teams, and over-promote each year's Heisman candidates from the start of the season.

Take a trip back in time with me to 1973 and a classic rivalry between Los Angeles rivals USC & UCLA.

Uploader Stephen Barnett's video wasn't perfect. After all, it's nearly 45 years old.

Posted in memory of play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson, who passed away today at 89.

Toons You Might've Missed: Howdy Doody & His Magic Hat (1953)

At the peak of his popularity, Howdy Doody was set up to star in an animated cartoon for UPA. However, the finished product displeased creator Buffalo Bob Smith to the point where Smith ordered the original negatives destroyed.

"Howdy Doody & His Magic Hat" marked the American debut of writer-director Gene Deitch, better known here for his treatments of Popeye & Tom & Jerry in collaboration with William Snyder. Deitch also worked on some Krazy Kat shorts while working for King Features.

It's easy to see why Smith hated this, as you're about to find out for yourselves. Uploaded by Toontracker.

It does look like an art school project come to life, doesn't it? It was considered lost until discovered at the Library of Congress in 2009.

Rating: D.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Toons You Might've Missed: Krazy Kat in Seeing Stars (1932)

George Herriman always intended Krazy Kat to be gender neutral, neither male nor female.

However, most of us are acquainted with the feminine characterization of Krazy in the 60's, thanks to King Features' syndicated cartoons. Thus, it will strike you as odd to see Krazy as a male cat in an earlier itineration.

Dating back to the silent film era, Krazy had been a fixture in theatrical shorts, though the rights were passed from one studio to another until settling at Columbia in the late 20's. In 1932's "Seeing Stars", Krazy is a nightclub entertainer, playing the piano to a house that includes a number of Hollywood stars of the era, including Laurel & Hardy and the Marx Brothers.

It ain't the same without Ignatz or Officer Pupp, let me tell you. I kind of prefer Krazy as a love-struck female, even if she has to repeat English class......

Rating: B-.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Three Stooges in Who Done It? (1949)

Once again, the Three Stooges are detectives, this time trying to rescue their missing client, in "Who Done It?". Director Edward Bernds had originally intended this for Curly, but the latter's stroke put a kibosh on those plans, and another, lesser known team at Columbia had first crack. Supporting players Emil Sitka, Dudley Dickerson, and Christine McIntyre appeared in the earlier version. Seven years later, this would be remade as "For Crimin' Out Loud", Shemp's final go-round.

I've seen this at least a dozen times over the years. Entertaining, even though you can see the end coming a mile away.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Just What I Needed (1978)

Our first Midnight Special entry of the year takes us back to 1978. Country singer Larry Gatlin is the host du jour, and introduces the first hit record for The Cars, "Just What I Needed", with Benjamin Orr on lead vocals.

How this series was never syndicated after its NBC run, I'll never know.

Animated World of DC Comics: Wonder Twins in Dangerous Prank (1977)

The Wonder Twins hit the slopes to help a young woman trapped after a "Dangerous Prank" goes awry. Michael Bell & Louise "Liberty" Williams double as two of the teenagers.

About the ping-pong game. Depending on what rules you use, since Zan was leading, 5-0, vs. Gleek, in some places that's a shutout. I should know. I went through that myself in school, often on the wrong end. Apparently, the artists couldn't be bothered to have Gleek use a stool, since you're not supposed to be standing on the table to play, even with that elastic tail......

Rating: B.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

You Know The Voice: Jim MacGeorge (1980)

Jim MacGeorge's cartoon credits are many, though some of you might not realize it. Jim began working for Hanna-Barbera after they forged a deal with Larry Harmon to bring Laurel & Hardy to animated life in 1966 (MacGeorge voiced Hardy in the cartoons, but otherwise impersonated Laurel in front of the cameras), then reprised when Laurel & Hardy met Scooby-Doo a few years later. His other credits include Mighty Orbots, Bionic Six, Clue Club, and Kwicky Koala.

In 1980, MacGeorge & Chuck McCann (ex-Far Out Space Nuts) began doing a series of commercials for Anco windshield wiper blades.....

Well, there's another nice mess they got into.....

Toon Legends: Mighty Mouse meets the Mighty Heroes at last (1987)

From season 1 of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures:

The Mighty Heroes had retired from crime fighting and opened an accounting agency. However, business has been next to non-existent. When Mighty Mouse comes in looking for assistance in solving a numbers related case, he recruits the aged heroes to help him foil Big Murray, whose scheme was a little bigger than he bargained for in "Heroes & Zeroes".

Then, in "Stress For Success", a restless Mighty Mouse seeks therapy.

Ralph Bakshi not only brought back his creations, the Mighty Heroes, but also a few other Terrytoons favorites, such as Deputy Dawg and Heckle & Jeckle, for guest appearances during the series. In addition to John Kricfalusi, the staff also included comics writer Doug Moench and future WB writer-producer Tom Minton. I think you can clearly see how Kricfalusi was able to develop Ren & Stimpy, based on his work here.

Rating: B.

Monday, January 8, 2018

From Comics to Toons: Krazy Kat in Quickest Brick in the West (1963)

The spotlight isn't so much on Krazy Kat, but, rather, on a daydreaming Ignatz Mouse (Paul Frees), who envisions himself as the "Quickest Brick in the West".

Frees also voices Offissa Pup, don'tcha know.

Rating: B.

On The Air: Wacky Races (2017)

Just in time for its 50th anniversary this fall, Wacky Races has finally been revived. That's the good news. The bad news is, you have to subscribe to Boomerang's streaming service here, or have access overseas in order to see it.

Not everyone is back, though, in the wake of DC's short-lived Wacky Raceland series that rebooted Professor Pat Pending as an African-American, and Sgt. Blast of the Army Surplus Special as a woman, as the writer didn't realize there already was a female Sgt. Blast (from Private Olive Oyl on 1981's Popeye & Olive Show). The Ant Hill Mob aren't regulars this time, but they do make an appearance in the new series.

The familiar racers include Peter Perfect (Diedrich Bader, ex-Batman: The Brave & The Bold), & The Gruesome Twosome, who've been given individual names. Tiny is the Monster, and Bela (spelled with 2 l's on this series) is, of course, a vampire and a homage to Bela Lugosi. Dick Dastardly & Muttley are still a team, but also act independently of each other. Peter Woodward replaces Jim Cummings as Dastardly, and it's Tom Kenny, not Frank Welker, replicating the late Don Messick's famous laugh for Muttley.

Additionally, Penelope Pitstop now has a fraternal twin sister, Pandora, both voiced by Nicole Parker (ex-MadTV). Your race commentator comes off as a parody of Al Roker from The Today Show, and voiced by Christopher Judge (ex-Stargate SG-1). Yes, we can see Brick Churchman on this show.

The new Wacky Races is part competition, part soap opera, as we delve into the private lives of the racers, albeit in a completely different continuity than Wacky Raceland. It also fits the 15 minute format that Boomerang and Cartoon Network favor these days.

Unfortunately, full episodes are not available on YouTube. Instead, we have an edited sample.

Oh, doesn't Penelope look SO hot?

Hoyt Curtin's original theme has been co-opted as the opening theme for the new show, and often plays in the background during competition. I am begging Chumptoon Network to put this on the schedule and stop jamming Teen Titans Go! down the viewers' throats.

Rating: A.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Teenage Toons: The Thing and the Captain's Ghost (1979)

The Thing plays ghost buster when the Yancy St. Gang pretends to haunt an old riverboat. Talk about your transparent plots. Here's "The Thing and the Captain's Ghost".

It's this kind of slapstick silliness that prompted Hanna-Barbera, at the request of ABC, to reformat Scooby & Scrappy Doo the next year, once they realized a phony ghost story could be told in half the time.

One of the better entries in the series.

Rating: B.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Getting Schooled: Newton's Apple (1983)

PBS, it seems, has always had a fascination with science. After all, Nova is one of their longest running primetime shows. For 15 years (1983-98), Newton's Apple was the daytime equivalent.

Often shown as an after-school entry, Newton's Apple helped fulfill one of the remaining scholastic curriculums that hadn't been addressed on PBS. Sesame Street has been an entry-level program for preschoolers learning numbers and the alphabet. The Electric Company, in its original incarnation, was elementary school level English class with theatrics.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. One wishes, though, that PBS would bring it back on the air, with reruns airing on their PBS Kids channel. Here's the intro: