Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bruno Sammartino (1935-2018)

This is a shocker.

Word just came over the wire of the passing of WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino at age 82.

Born in a small town in Italy in 1935, Bruno emigrated to the US, and found his fame with the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation as a 2-time World champion, his last reign ending at the hands of Superstar Billy Graham in 1977. Bruno rarely competed on television, and when he did, it was usually, and understandably, a main event.

Sammartino initially retired in 1981, then made a brief comeback to fight alongside his son, David, in the mid-80's, before swapping his tights & boots for an announcer's blazer. However, he had a falling out with Vince McMahon during the late 80's over the direction of the company, and some thought he'd never return. That is, until he was inducted into the Hall of Fame just a few short years ago. Sammartino's last appearance on WWE-TV was to induct his former protege and nemesis, Larry Zbyszko, into the Hall in 2015.

From 1974, here's Bruno, in a non-title match with another future Hall of Famer, Mr. Fuji, managed by the Grand Wizard of Wrestling (Ernie Roth).

Today, you wouldn't see a match end in a pinfall after a mere back body drop. That's too simple for today's promoters, McMahon included.

Rest in peace, Bruno.

Daytime Heroes: Mighty Mouse in Swiss Cheese Family Robinson (1947)

Johann Wyss' classic tale was loosely adapted by Terrytoons as a vehicle for Mighty Mouse in 1947. You'll notice, though, that some parts of "Swiss Cheese Family Robinson" have been edited for content. Keep an eye for some sudden jump cuts near the end.

Typical fare.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Literary Toons: Swiss Family Robinson (1973)

From CBS' Famous Classic Tales, via Air Programs International of Australia, comes an adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson, the first of two animated versions of the classic tale, both arriving relatively around the same time, as Rankin-Bass produced a truncated version for their Festival of Family Classics.

As we know, there would be two live-action adaptations, one in Canada, the other here in the US, the next two years. I'm sure most of you know that Lost in Space, then & now, was a loose adaptation of the tale.

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: Mister Rogers on Sesame Street (1981)

Now, this is how you do a season finale.

As Sesame Street wrapped its 12th season in 1981, PBS, I'd imagine, arranged for Fred Rogers to make a guest appearance, interacting mostly with Big Bird (Carroll Spinney). Following is a compilation of segments from the episode, followed by the closing credits.

I am not sure if Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) ever arranged a crossover between Street and the original Electric Company during the latter's run (1971-7), but it would've been great if they did.

What do you think?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Toon Rock: I am The Very Model of a Cartoon Individual (Animaniacs, 1993)

Animaniacs turns 25 this year. Hard to believe, I know, but Warner Bros. Animation was rolling back then. Anyway, in the first season episode, "HMS Yakko", Yakko Warner (Rob Paulsen) takes the time to take a Gilbert & Sullivan piece from "The Pirates of Penzance" and turn it on its ear.....

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Toonfomercial: Remember Banana Wackies? (1965)

Now, here's a cereal that was a 1-hit wonder.

General Mills introduced Banana Wackies in 1965. Jay Ward's studio was responsible for the ads, so I'm guessing June Foray & Daws Butler are the voices heard here......

Unfortunately, the Wackies were knocked from the shelves after just a year. I never heard of them until seeing ads appear on YouTube recently.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

On DVD: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)

Several years ago, DC began publishing a new generation of "imaginary stories" under the heading, Elseworlds, placing familiar characters in different chronological settings.

One of these efforts was a 1-shot graphic novel, Gotham by Gaslight, by Brian Augustyn & Mike Mignola. It suggested that Batman existed in 19th century Gotham City, during the Victorian era, or, more specifically, during the time of Jack the Ripper, who was a serial killer in England in those days.

What Augustyn & Mignola imagined was, what if Jack were in Gotham instead of London? Therein lies the basis for a loose adaptation of the book in a DTV released earlier this year.

The movie doesn't follow the book step by step, word for word, scene for scene. Instead, it adds new characters, some of whom are analogues for familiar names in the Bat-mythos. Bruce Timm serves as co-executive producer on what was the pentultimate project for long time producer Alan Burnett, who retired after the release of "Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay", the trailer of which is included with "Gaslight".

Bruce Greenwood, who voiced Batman on Young Justice (and presumably will return when the series does), has the honors here. Veteran actress Tara Strong applies a variant on her Harley Quinn voice for an old crone, Marlene. Anthony Stewart Head (ex-Buffy The Vampire Slayer) is heard as Alfred.

Here's a trailer:

I never really bought into the Batman Elseworlds all that much, largely because they were mostly variations on the same general theme. Just shuffle the deck, change the setting, characters, etc., but otherwise it's routine. The movie is a 77 minute thrill ride with a shocking, surprise reveal.

Rating: A.