Monday, December 31, 2012

Bad TV: Angela Anaconda (1999)

What hath South Park wrought?

Trey Parker & Matt Stone's idea of animation is to use paper cutouts. They can produce an episode virtually days before it's scheduled to air. Unfortunately, that magic formula didn't quite extend to another cable cartoon.

Angela Anaconda, which bowed on the then-Fox Family (now ABC Family) channel in 1999, and spent some time on Fox as well, was meant to be an answer to Recess, which was airing on ABC & Disney Channel at the time and very popular. Well, it would've actually worked if the producers opted for full CGI animation or line animation instead of paper cutouts that just didn't translate well on screen. Thankfully, its broadcast run was mercifully short.

Here's a sample episode:



The less said about this show, the better.

Rating: D.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturtainment: Heckle & Jeckle wish you a "Sappy New Year" (1961)

Heckle & Jeckle underwent a bit of a transformation once Terrytoons began producing shorts with television more in mind than theatres. Compare this offering, "Sappy New Year", for example, to the classic shorts of the early years, and you'll see what I mean.

By the way, voice actor Roy Halee's name should look familiar to music fans. There was a record producer by that same name who worked with Simon & Garfunkel a few years after this toon came out.

Uploaded by Brett Fletcher:



Jeckle was always the sensible one of the team, wasn't he?

Rating: B.

On DVD: DC Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures (1967)

In 2007, Warner Home Video issued a compilation of the six rotating backup features from the Aquaman half of the Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Some of those shorts have previously been featured here in the Archives, but let's take a closer look:

The Atom: At the time, the Tiny Titan (Pat Harrington, Jr., who was also working on Journey to the Center of the Earth for Filmation & The Inspector for DePatie-Freleng), was starring in his own DC book, alongside Hawkman, if memory serves me correctly. In fact, each of the six features were being published by DC, which was the criteria for making it to television. Professor Ray Palmer was accompanied by two other eggheads (voiced by narrator Ted Knight) in each of his three shorts, and as Atom had to fend off bizarre alien invaders and the usual selfish, power hungry despots. DC writer George Kashdan wrote all three episodes.

The Flash: Police scientist Barry Allen (Cliff Owens) had similar menaces to deal with, one of which was an alien counterpart of himself, Blue Bolt (Knight). Kid Flash (Tommy Kirk) joined Flash to battle Blue Bolt and Professor Krang.

The Teen Titans: Kid Flash was joined by Aqualad (Jerry Dexter), Wonder Girl (Julie Bennett), & Speedy (Harrington), with the team's real leader, Robin, in absentia (20th Century Fox had the rights, of course, to Batman & Robin at the time), and thus we didn't get the full team. Best of their three was the last one, "Operation Rescue".

Green Lantern: We screened all three of the Emerald Gladiator's shorts a year and a half ago, around the time the live-action feature film with Ryan Reynolds hit theatres. Hal Jordan (Gerald Mohr, Fantastic Four) was aided not by his Alaskan-born aide from the comics, Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku, but rather a Venusian immigrant named Kyro (Paul Frees). No rational explanation was ever given for the switch. Frees also voiced the Guardians and some of the villains, taking some of the burden off Knight, who otherwise seemed to have a monopoly on the bad guys.

Hawkman: Thanagarian-born Carter Hall (or, Katar Hol)(Gilbert Mack) had the most alterations made to his series. For one, he was working without wife Shiera, aka Hawkgirl, who'd make her television debut 10 years later. He was given a set of multi-purpose, talon-shaped gauntlets and a hawk sidekick, Skreel, instead. His lab partner, Prof. Forbes (Knight) apparently was privy to Hall's dual identity, as Carter changed right in front of him in two of the shorts.

Justice League of America: Even though Aquaman (Marvin Miller) was advertised as part of the team, he didn't appear in any of the three shorts. Instead, Hawkman, Atom, Flash, & Green Lantern were joined by the star of the other half of the show, Superman (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth). As noted, Batman was missing, but so was Wonder Woman, whose rights were also held by Fox at that time, and it would be five years before Filmation would get to use the Amazing Amazon.

Today, these 7 minute shorts would be stretched to three times the length in order to get on the air, allowing for plot expansion and continuity, something that was not in vogue back in those days. The DVD also includes a documentary feature on Filmation co-founder (and sometime voice actor) Lou Scheimer that is worth viewing.

TheJusticeLeaguers provides us with the Justice League episode, "Bad Day at Black Mountain":



As has been widely noted, a printing error resulted in Hanna-Barbera's Birdman appearing on the contents screen on disc 1, in place of Hawkman. Yes, the Solar Sentinel arrived the same year, but had no connection to the DC heroes then.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spiderversary: The Power of Dr. Octopus (1967)

I'm sure you all know by now what's been happening in the Spider-Man comic books. Peter Parker is dead, at least for the next year or whenever Marvel is pressured into bringing him back. Otto Octavius, aka Dr. Octopus, occupies the webhead's body in a protracted tale of redemption for a classic villain, who swapped bodies with Parker, as Octavius' own body had been ravaged by cancer. It's not the best of ideas, but then, Marvel hasn't exactly been brimming with really good ones in recent months. All they're interested in, really, is how much publicity, good or bad, they can generate with their shock value plots.

So, let's take a journey back to a simpler, happier time. 1967, to be exact, when Spider-Man first dealt on television with "The Power of Dr. Octopus".




I give Marvel less than 6 months before they push the panic button.

Rating: B.

Monday, December 24, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday: SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (1993)

One component of the last incarnation of the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (though to be fair, the umbrella title was not really being used at the time), and, clearly, its most popular, was SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron. Posited as Hanna-Barbera's answer to the runaway success known as Batman: The Animated Series over on Fox, SWAT Kats aired in syndication and on Superstation TBS, the latter twice every Sunday for 2 seasons. There should've been a third, but there are conflicting stories about why the show was cancelled.

Jake & Chance are two police department maintenance men, former officers demoted all the way down to the lower rungs because of departmental violations. This demotion actually works in their favor, as when danger threatens, the grease monkeys become the high-tech heroes Razor & T-Bone, the SWAT Kats. Revered by the public, especially bubble brained Mayor Manx, and reviled as vigilantes by their former boss, Commander Ferral (Gary Owens), the Kats sally forth to save Megakat City from threats such as the mystic Pastmaster, the villain in the series opener. Manx's assistant, Callie Briggs, also is the informant for the Kats, perhaps unaware that T-Bone harbors a crush on her. Razor (Barry Gordon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) is the more level headed one, while T-Bone is often prone to recklessness.

In season 2, Ferral's daughter, Felina, joined the Enforcers, but also became an ally of the Kats, and some fans have envisioned her being romantically involved with Razor. With the series soon to mark its 20th anniversary, there are rumors of a revival, so some fan questions could be answered.

Here's the intro:



Reruns currently are airing on Boomerang on a nightly basis, so fans can catch up on what they've missed.

Rating: A.

Looney TV: Animaniacs (1993)

Animaniacs wasn't meant to be just for kids. Fox & Warner Bros., discovering that the demographics for Tiny Toon Adventures included parents and young adults as well as kids, created something that would take them to the next level in the next generation of Looney Tunes.

Dot, Wakko, & Yakko Warner were housed in the WB studio water tower, but otherwise freely roamed the grounds like everyone else. In fact, the trio were the touchstone for a lot of silly happenings. Unfortunately, no one ever considered a crossover between Animaniacs & Tiny Toons, which would've been ratings gold.

The series ran for five seasons and ended with a feature film, "Wakko's Wish", which is making the rounds this month. Lioncereals uploaded this sample compilation, built around a parody of another Fox franchise of the period, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Reruns will air on The Hub beginning next week.



Unlike Tiny Toons, Animaniacs merited a monthly comic book from DC. If you thought the Warners' sendup of the Power Rangers was wack, and it was, it's better than the ill-conceived comic book story that had the trio parodying the Wonder Twins (I guess Wakko was supposed to be Gleek?), which lacked imagination and common sense. They might as well have parodied the 80's pop trio, the Thompson Twins, and that would've made more sense......!

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Seasin's Greetinks (1933)

Ahoy! Here's a Popeye classic from the Fleischers for the holiday season.

This is the colorized version of 1933's "Seasin's Greetinks", in which Popeye gives Olive some ice skates for Christmas, so of course, the gangly Olive finds herself clumsily trying to maintain her balance on the ice. The background music sounds more appropriate for square dance music if ya ask me.



Rating: B-.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: A complete episode of the All-New Super Friends Hour (1977)

For a while now, I've been pulling up individual episodes from The All-New Super Friends Hour, but the one thing that would be even better is a full-length episode, sans commercials, of course, and including all the features, including the health & safety tips, magic tricks, puzzles, etc..

Well, this should do the trick. This is split into 4 parts, with the additional features included.

"The Marsh Monster": Superman, Batman, & Robin vs. a fake monster that would've had an easier time befuddling Scooby-Doo.



"The Runaways": The Wonder Twins track a pair of wayward boys who've decided to leave home a little, ah, prematurely.



"Will the World Collide?": A rogue scientist makes a deal with aliens, putting Earth on a collision course with destruction, unless the Super Friends can do something about it.



"Time Rescue": Superman teams with Hawkman & Hawkgirl to rescue a scientist who flung himself 2000 years into the future, a world inspired by "Star Wars".



Grab some popcorn and hot chocolate, and enjoy the show.

Rating: B.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Mighty Mouse (1979)

Mighty Mouse returned to television in 1979, as Filmation acquired the license to adapt Terrytoons' iconic hero, along with Heckle & Jeckle, in an all-new series, airing on CBS, which had been the home to the Terrytoons' icons from 1955-67.

Versatile character actor Alan Oppenheimer, who was relatively new to voice acting, spoke for both Mighty Mouse and his arch-enemy, Oil Can Harry. That same season, Oppenheimer voiced another comics icon, the vile Ming the Merciless, in another Filmation adaptation, Flash Gordon, for NBC. One of his co-stars was another relative newcomer, Diane Pershing, who'd debuted at Filmation a year earlier, working on the Freedom Force segment of Tarzan & The Super 7, lent her voice to Pearl Pureheart, for all intents & purposes an analogue for Lois Lane, as Mighty Mouse was one for Superman.

In "Snow Mouse", Pearl is a figure skater competing in a sort-of Olympic competition at a ski lodge. Harry tries to take as many shortcuts as possible, but is presented here as a bumbling buffoon, and can't be taken seriously as a villain, any more than he was in the original shorts back in the day. And he even has a sidekick, who's more of an impediment than a help. What fun!

"Snow Mouse" was uploaded by FilmationArchive:



One season was ordered, and cycled through two seasons, with the series moving to a lunch-hour death slot in season 2. Why did it fail? Well, it was on opposite the World's Greatest Super Friends over on ABC. Game, set, & match.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Summertime Blues (1968)

Blue Cheer's only major chart hit was a remake of Eddie Cochran's classic "Summertime Blues", which brought them to American Bandstand in February 1968.



Yeah, I know, Winter's right around the corner, but I couldn't resist.......

Monday, December 17, 2012

Celebrity Toons: Super Dave: Daredevil For Hire (1992)

Sometimes, you have to take the good with the bad.

1992, of course, brought us the award-winning Batman: The Animated Series, but Fox also had one of the worst of the freshman class that season in Super Dave: Daredevil For Hire.

Super Dave Osborne (Bob Einstein) had previously appeared on the John Byner Comedy Hour and Bizarre (also hosted by Byner) before landing his own series, which had aired on Showtime. Some genius at Fox and/or DIC thought he'd make a great cartoon star. When you consider, however, that Super Dave was the (intentionally) worst stuntman on the planet, that doesn't really bode well for a cartoon, since the joke loses its flavor very quickly.

As a result, Daredevil For Hire was cancelled after 1 season of 13 episodes. Super Dave would return with a primetime special---live action, of course---in 1994, also for Fox, but hasn't landed a TV gig here in the US since.

Here's the open:



Rating: D.

Countdown to Christmas: The Cool, Cruel Christmas Caper (1968)

Here's a  Christmas themed Batman adventure as the Dynamic Duo battle Mr. Freeze.



I think this was the only one of the DC heroes to merit a Christmas episode at Filmation. Go figure.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday Morning Ringside: UWF Wrestling (1985)

In the mid-80's, wrestler-turned-promoter Bill Watts decided to carve out his own piece of the national television pie. Regrettably, it wasn't meant to last.

Watts' Mid-South Wrestling promotion underwent a name change to the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF), and landed a syndication deal that put the UWF almost on the same level with the National Wrestling Alliance (which they were affiliated with at first) and the then-World Wrestling Federation. However, before it was all said & done, as they say in the trade, Watts lost a number of talents, as Junkyard Dog, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, and the One Man Gang would eventually move up north to work for Vince McMahon. The Fabulous Freebirds called the UWF one of their bases, this after a brief cup of coffee with the then-WWF that died practically stillborn, but are better known for longer runs with Georgia Championship Wrestling and World Class. Announcer Jim Ross would later work for WCW and WWF/E. Michael Hayes, the lone surviving Freebird, is also now with WWE in a creative capacity.

Here's a sample episode:



I have no doubt the UWF aired on Saturdays in some cities, mostly in the South, but most of the network carried the action on Sunday mornings or evenings (or both, as was the case with the affiliate in my area, which was an independent then, and now is a CW affiliate). Another promoter, Herb Abrams, revived the UWF name in the 90's and landed a deal with ESPN, but met the same fate as Watts' version.

Rating: B.

Friday, December 14, 2012

From Primetime to Daytime: The Green Hornet (1966)

I previously reviewed this entry on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, nearly 2 years ago, right around the time of the feature film with Seth Rogen & Jay Chou. Now, The Green Hornet has found a new cable home-----Me-TV!

Don't ask me how it happened, though I'm sure Me-TV's #1 fan, Ivan Shreve, probably has all the details. Anyway, Me-TV decided to break up its pre-dawn cartoon block on Saturdays, cancelling The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo & Gumby, and moving He-Man & The Masters of the Universe and its spin-off, She-Ra, Princess of Power, to the unholy hour of 5 am (ET). As we noted last week, this was to make room for Green Hornet and the British-produced Invisible Man, the latter of which we reviewed previously.

You all know the story with the Hornet. Producer William Dozier (Batman) decided to do a 180 degree turn and produce a serious crime drama, adapting the Hornet for television, and having him cross over onto Batman for a 2-part adventure that became the stuff of legend all by itself. Van Williams (ex-Surfside Six), who'd earn his Saturday cred nearly a decade later starring in Westwind, played media mogul Britt Reid, aka the Green Hornet, with martial arts icon Bruce Lee as Kato. I actually had a VHS tape compilation that put more emphasis on Lee (for obvious reasons) a number of years back, but it didn't do the show justice.

Dozier is only heard in the open and only narrated when there was a two part story, which was rare in itself. Unfortunately, because it was played straight, and airing on a different night (Fridays), the series lasted just one season. KillBillReference uploaded the open:



How could you go wrong with a killer theme performed by Al Hirt? Apparently, the Hornet's fans from his radio days didn't trust Dozier and voted with their remotes.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Air: Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot (2012)

The Care Bears are back in an all-new series, subtitled, Welcome to Care-a-Lot, currently airing Saturday & Sunday mornings on The Hub. The series is in CGI, and looks mighty good in comparison to the original series from the 80's, when the Bears first hit the scene. The Hub's YouTube channel provides a preview......



If you're of a certain age that recalls the original cartoons, you can teach your kids about the Care Bears by watching right along with them.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From Comics to Toons: The Legend of Prince Valiant (1991)

Hal Foster's long-running comic strip, Prince Valiant, had been the subject of a feature film a number of years back, with future TV icon Robert Wagner (best known for It Takes a Thief and, in later years, the Austin Powers movie series) in the title role. However, for some reason, no one wanted to take a chance on adapting the strip into an animated series, despite the fact that other strips had made the plunge successfully.

Hearst Entertainment decided to do something about it, and produced The Legend of Prince Valiant for the then-Family Channel (now ABC Family) in 1991. The series lasted three years, airing in primetime first, with reruns on Saturday mornings. The series remained as true to the strip as it could be, with Valiant (Robby Benson) striving to join King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. Presently, the series is out on DVD, but reruns are not available on cable. Go figure.

Following is a sample season 2 episode.



I regret that the poster left the show open off. It happens.

Rating: B.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Powers Team vs. "The Seeds of Doom" (1985)

Let's go back to the series premiere of Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians for our next entry.

"The Seeds of Doom" marks the addition of Cyborg of the New Teen Titans as the newest member of the newly rechristened Super Powers Team (and there was never any on-air explanation for the name change, as this was mandated by Kenner Toys moreso than by ABC and/or Hanna-Barbera). With plans for a Teen Titans cartoon having died in development, it was decided to have Cyborg (Ernie Hudson, "Ghostbusters") join Titan teammate Robin (Casey Kasem), who in the comics had adopted the new alias of Nightwing a year earlier, although he instead struck up a friendship with Firestorm (Mark L. Taylor). Lex Luthor (Stan Jones) makes what I believe is his last appearance for 3 years.

I will grant the quality of animation had come down in this final season, which might be one reason why ABC decided to retire the Super Friends/Super Powers Team franchise after 13 seasons.



Of course, Darkseid would return, as we'll see down the line......

Rating: B.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

From Primetime to Daytime: The Invisible Man (1958)

H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man has been adapted for the screen on a number of occasions, including a small handful of television series.

The first of these was produced by ITC and distributed here in the US by Official Films, which sold the series to CBS for American broadcast in 1958. The gimmick was that the actor who essayed the voice of the title hero was left uncredited on purpose. In fact, in one glaring difference between the book and this series, the title character's name was changed to Peter Brady, and a number of actors were credited as voicing the character after the series had ended.

The Invisible Man lasted two seasons of 13 episodes apiece, and is back on American screens, thanks to Me-TV, which has quietly added the series to its Saturday morning lineup, airing 2 back-to-back episodes at 7 am (ET). I don't know exactly when this started, but it had to be fairly recently, and enough of a stealth addition, despite the fact it has been used as filler in primetime on Sundays, catching viewers off guard who are expecting cartoons at that hour.

Tonightonthetelly uploaded the episode, "The Rocket".



The later incarnations of this series, both US & UK, have been better, doubtlessly.

Rating: C.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Saturday School: Watch Mr. Wizard (1951)

One of the earliest superstars of Saturday morning television was Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard. Herbert enjoyed a remarkable 14 year run with Watch Mr. Wizard, airing on NBC from 1951-65, teaching two generations of children about science, something that today would be frowned upon in an era where kids are more interested in video games in whatever forum is available, be it on computer or on their XBox or other game console.

Since the show was based in New York, the inestimable Don Pardo, still chugging along on Saturday Night Live, is the announcer, but isn't heard in this sample episode:



Herbert would return for one more season, again on NBC, in 1971, with a Canadian produced series, titled simply, Mr. Wizard. I think I might have seen at least one episode of that, since it was airing around lunch time. Finally, there was one more revival, with Nickelodeon's Mr. Wizard's World in the 80's. This version tended to air more on weekdays than on Saturdays, and as such, I did happen to catch a few bits here and there. I was but a toddler at the end of the original series' run, but my rating applies to it as well as its later incarnations.

Rating: A.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Literary Toons: Madeline (1993)

Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline had previously appeared in a series of shorts produced by UPA in the 50's, before William Snyder's Rembrandt Films took over the franchise a few years later. Those early shorts have been lost to the mists of time, but eventually, the little redhead made her way to Saturday morning television.

Initially, Madeline had appeared on, of all places, HBO, in 1989, where DIC had sold the series after a pilot special, both of which were narrated by actor Christopher Plummer. In 1993, DIC  brought the show to the then-Family Channel (now ABC Family), with a new slate of episodes. 2 years later, the series shifted again, this time to ABC, under the handle, The New Adventures of Madeline. However, this change proved to be a big mistake, as ABC cancelled the series after 7 out of the 13 episodes aired. Disney moved the show to Disney Channel, which played all 13 New Adventures episodes in 1997.

I remember reading a reprinting of the first book, in which Madeline needed her appendix removed. The irony was, I was in a hospital at the time, at age 7, and I was getting my tonsils taken out. Serendipity, anyone? I digress.

DhxjuniorTV  uploaded the episode, "Madeline & the New House":



I didn't see the show, but, as I note, I read at least one book, and I can recommend the show for today's generation of young viewers.

Rating: A-.

Spiderversary: Mission: Save The Guardstar (1983)

Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends introduced a brand-new character in the season 3 episode, "Mission: Save The Guardstar", but unlike Firestar (Kathy Garver), who made the transition to comics, Lightwave didn't, and that's despite the fact that she was posited as the half-sister of Bobby Drake, aka Iceman (Frank Welker), which would have of course meant eventually joining the X-Men had she moved to the printed page. Unfortunately, Lightwave was never heard from again after this 1-shot tale.



Rating: B.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On DVD: The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo (1975)

Canadian producers Jean Mathieson & Al Guest attempted to reimagine Jules Verne's Captain Nemo as a heroic character, but the 5:00 shorts that aired on Captain Kangaroo in the US and Popcorn & Friends in the UK didn't last very long.

The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo bowed in 1975, and would, I believe, be a recurring feature on Kangaroo, at least, for the remainder of the 70's. Captain Mark Nemo (Len Carlson) piloted a smaller version of the Nautilus, aided by a pair of young assistants, Robbie & Chris (both voiced by Billie Richards), who served the same purpose here as Wendy & Marvin did on Super Friends over on ABC, acting as an analogue for the children watching at home as they learned about undersea life and its dangers. The episodes fly by, such that if you blinked, it was over.

Magicshadowsinc. uploaded the series opener:



EastWest has released at least a couple of volumes on DVD, easily acquired at the local dollar store. You may want to have some books on oceanography handy after your kids watch the videos.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saturtainment: Misterjaw (1976)

The success of the 1975 movie, "Jaws", led to a pair of animated sharks hitting television a year later. Hanna-Barbera welcomed back writers-producers Joe Ruby & Ken Spears, who created Jabberjaw for ABC. DePatie-Freleng, which bade farewell to Ruby & Spears after the failure of Return to the Planet of the Apes, had their own talking shark in Misterjaw, incorporated into the expanding Pink Panther program on NBC.

While Jabberjaw had the personality of Rodney Dangerfield crossed with Curly Howard (and voiced by Frank Welker doing a Curly mimic), Misterjaw was more of a menace, at least to one Harry Halibut, but otherwise was on the harmless side, swimming through the oceans with Catfish by his side. Occasionally, Misterjaw would pop out of the water to scare some humans for the predictably cheap laughs, or he'd be on the run from Fearless Freddy, the Shark Hunter.

Arte Johnson (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), who'd been on the DFE payroll since 1966's Super Six, voiced Misterjaw. Arnold Stang (ex-Top Cat) was Catfish, with Paul Winchell as Freddy, who doesn't figure into the following block of quick bumpers, including a cameo by one of Arte's Laugh-In characters, Tyrone, who'd later get his own series! Forgive the fact that the Texas (nee Tijuana) Toads are included in this block as well.



At least Misterjaw had something Jabber wanted but never got. Respect.

Rating: B.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tooniversary: Yogi's Ark Lark (1972)

From the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie is a backdoor pilot for the following year's Yogi's Gang.

Yogi's Ark Lark brings Yogi Bear and Boo Boo together with some of their fellow Hanna-Barbera funny animal stars, such as Huckleberry Hound, Squiddly Diddly, Magilla Gorilla, Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Top Cat, and more. In a modern day, environmentally-charged spin on the Biblical story of Noah's Ark, Yogi and pals team with Captain Noah to raise awareness of the then-prevalent issues of littering and pollution, issues that would be explored again 20 years later on Captain Planet. While Yogi (Daws Butler) had a rep for being a thief, he wasn't a litterbug.

The idea behind Ark Lark was to bring back Yogi, Huck, et al, and introduce them to a new generation of viewers. Their classic shorts would soon return in syndication as a by-product of this film and the subsequent Yogi's Gang, even though the series lasted just 1 season. As we've noted previously in reviewing Gang, the series would later return, with episodes chopped up into two parts---and in this particular case, four, as it was rerun on Gang as a two-part story---in order to fit an additional segment or two into Fred Flintstone & Friends.

Despite the cancellation, interest in Yogi and his growing supporting cast was such that Yogi, Huck, Snagglepuss, and others would resurface again and again in later years, including the mid-80's series, Yogi's Treasure Hunt, which recast Top Cat (Arnold Stang) in more of a leadership role that was never really explained.



Rating: B.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday School: VeggieTales (2006)

When NBC shifted gears with their Saturday morning lineup, from Discovery Kids (now The Hub) to Qubo, in 2006, they acquired the Christian-themed video series, VeggieTales, which was, sadly, placed near the bottom of the lineup. Still, the series hung on for four seasons before being cashiered out in 2010.

VeggieTales began as a direct-to-video (DTV) series in 1993, and the popularity of the CGI toons led NBC suits to believe that this was a marketable entity for their struggling Saturday block. Well, it would've, if the network left it alone. Reportedly, references to God were deleted from network broadcasts, which raised the ire of the busybodies of the Parents Television Council. While the PTC understands that NBC and its censors want to remain neutral regarding religion, they felt offended, as did the creators of VeggieTales, by the editing, which they obviously felt was unnecessary. Currently, Trinity Broadcasting holds the cable rights to the series.

While I have not seen any of the cartoons, nor the feature film spinoffs, I do recognize the value of these cartoons for the target audience. You can imagine that the VeggieTales have been used in Sunday Schools across the country, too.

Let's check out a sample episode, "Lyle, the Kindly Viking":



Rating: A.