Monday, August 21, 2017

Getting Schooled: Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel (1972)

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

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



Rating: A.

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

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

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



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

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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

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

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



Back to the drawing board, Bluto.

Rating: B.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Toon Rock: Yellow Submarine (1968)

The Beatles' coda in animation was the 1968 feature film, "Yellow Submarine", coinciding with the album of the same name. Released after their ABC series had ended production after three seasons, the Fab 4 still didn't lend their voices to their newly redesigned animated selves. A new set of actors were hired on, although Lance Percival, who voiced Ringo Starr & Paul McCartney in the series, played a different character this time around, in order to differentiate this from the series in other ways.

The animation wasn't really by legendary pop-art master Peter Max, but certainly seems to be influenced by him.

Here's the title track:



The Beatles appear in live-action form at the end of the movie in a short cameo. They'd release one more film, based on the album, "Let it Be". After that, Ringo would go on to a modestly successful solo career in acting, and Paul would wait a few years before releasing "Give My Regards to Broad Street", which was heavily panned by critics.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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

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



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

Rating: A-.

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

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



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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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



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

Rating: C.