Monday, April 30, 2012

Saturtainment; Magilla Gorilla (1964)

"We've got a gorilla for sale......."

So began the theme to The Magilla Gorilla Show when it launched in 1964 as part of a 1 hour block, coupled with Peter Potamus. While Peter traveled the world and time in search of adventure, Magilla (Allan Melvin) was being displayed in the front window of Mr. Peebles' Pet Shop, but every time it seemed as though Peebles (Howard Morris) was able to make a sale, Magilla would always return for one reason or another.

Because of this, Magilla doubled as Peebles' only employee, doing odd jobs while waiting for a new home. It seemed as though little Ogee (Jean VanderPyl, The Flintstones) was the one who wanted Magilla the most, as evidenced by her frequent appearances. Magilla even posed as Ogee's favorite TV hero, the Purple Mask, in one episode.

Previously, we had posted the song, "Making With The Magilla", but now, here's the theme song that everyone knows virtually by heart. The closing, I believe, is the syndicated version that I remember when the reruns aired on WPIX back in the 70's. Bear in mind that the audio track is out of sync and is a bit ahead of the video.



Rating: B.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

You Know the Voice: Meet the "real" Archie (1968)

You know, pilgrims, I just couldn't pass this one up. Rather than an animated clip from The Archie Show, why not meet the man who was the singing voice for Archie Andrews back in the day?

Ron Dante is better known these days as a producer and session sidekick to Barry Manilow, but in the 60's, he created a number of novelty bands, including the Detergents, who parodied the Shangri-La's' "Leader of the Pack" with "Leader of the Laundromat", before being tapped by Don Kirshner in 1968 to be the lead vocalist for the Archies. In this clip, taken from an airing on VH1 Classic way before they adopted their current logo, Dante resorts to multiple exposures of himself, playing all the instruments (apparently Andy Kim, Toni Wine, and whomever else was in the studio with him back in '68 wasn't available) to perform "Sugar, Sugar", the Archies' signature #1 hit.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Sally Sargent (1968)

After Mighty Mouse & the Mighty Heroes was cancelled in 1967, Terrytoons was unable to sell another series to CBS or anywhere else. Oh, Heckle & Jeckle would later return in rerun form as a mid-season replacement on NBC in the early 70's before settling into syndication, as would Deputy Dawg, but the studio was pretty much done.

Undaunted, producer Bill Weiss forged ahead, and continued to move away from the funny animal characters that were Terrytoons' trademark. Capitalizing on the spy boom of the period, Weiss, aided by animators Fred Calvert and Iwao Takamoto, among others, tried selling a pilot featuring teenage secret agent Sally Sargent.

With Ralph Bakshi having left Terrytoons (he was working on Spider-Man at the time), the end result was a decidedly un-Terrytoons look that more closely resembled Hanna-Barbera's adventure output of the period, especially considering Takamoto was working there at the time, too. Gary Owens (Space Ghost, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) narrates and doubles as agent Blake Jameson. Janet Waldo voices Sally, and I believe her boyfriend's voice belongs to Tim Matheson (Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, Young Samson). Cartoon historian and expert Jerry Beck, through Cartoon Brew, uploaded Sally Sargent to YouTube:





Nearly 35 years later, there would be a female secret agent appearing on Saturday mornings---Kim Possible. I don't think Kim would've gotten very far if her creators hadn't been aware of the existence of Sally Sargent.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Looney TV: The Porky Pig Show (1964)

It was not enough that ABC had moved The Bugs Bunny Show to Saturday mornings after 2 seasons in primetime. In 1964, Porky Pig was spun off into his own series, which lasted three seasons, then went into syndication. I first encountered this series while it was in an edited form in syndication. By that, of course, I mean that the bumpers were not always included in the broadcast when it aired on WTEN during the 70's, leading into Captain Kangaroo.

Hal Seeger, who would give ABC Milton The Monster the next year, produced the open & close for the show. Longtime Paramount-Famous Studios musical director Winston Sharples was the show's musical director, although Barbara Crampton composed the series' theme song.

Here's the open & close:



Rating: B.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DVR alert!: Me-TV enters the Saturday Morning wars!

Me-TV,  Ivan Shreve's favorite channel of the moment, next to Encore Westerns (if you follow Ivan's blog, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, you'll understand), entered the Saturday morning wars earlier this month, but you'd have to either be an extremely early riser, or set your DVR's so you can catch up when you do wake up.

You see, Me-TV has programmed a 3-hour block from 5-8 am (ET), ahead of their Green Screen Adventures block, which, oh, by the way, has been trimmed from 3 hours down to 2 (now 8-10 am on Saturdays & Sundays), while they've added two more shows, the titles of which escape me at the moment, to fulfill the FCC E/I requirements. Here's the "dawn patrol" portion of the lineup, as of 4/7/12. All times Eastern:

5 am: Gumby. A full half hour, as opposed to the time-fillers airing on Retro in between programs.
5:30: The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo. Magoo (Jim Backus, Gilligan's Island) is cast as an actor starring in theatre productions of literary classics.
6: He-Man & The Masters of the Universe. Two back-to-back episodes of the original series.
7: She-Ra: Princess of Power. Ditto. Retro airs single episodes of She-Ra & He-Man---in that order, mind---from 10-11 (ET).

I get that Me-TV is unwilling to push back the start of their Western block, and they really have little choice as it relates to He-Man & She-Ra, to avoid competing directly with Retro. The FCC regulations further hamstring them, although it seems Retro doesn't have that problem, as the only E/I-eligible programs in their Saturday morning block happen to be their bookends: Fat Albert & Lassie. It isn't helping that Retro has edited out the moral messages at the end of most of the Filmation programs, but maybe Me-TV is leaving them intact in their prints of He-Man & She-Ra. I don't know for sure.

Classic Media, which holds the rights to the majority of the Filmation library, is reaping the benefits, as their product is also airing on Qubo (check local listings), which does have its own channel, as opposed to programming NBC's current lineup, although that's soon going to change from what I've read. Now, if they could just find a home for the Lone Ranger, we'll be all set.......!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Literary Toons: What-a-Mess (1990)

British comic Frank Muir created the children's book series, What-a-Mess, which first hit the air in England in 1990, and then was licensed by DIC in 1995, when it aired on ABC. Muir himself served as narrator for the series, lending his voice to a sheepdog. Regrettably, What-a-Mess lasted one season apiece in England & the US, and the situation was worse here, as ABC buried the show at 12 Noon (ET), where it was prone to frequent pre-emptions for college football, or, in the summer, the British Open golf tournament. Not only that, but in those days, affiliates still had the option of blacking out the show in favor of syndicated programming, which is what the affiliate in  my market did, ensuring the series' demise.

Here's the open to the ABC/DIC version, uploaded by kimsy520:




Well, I never saw the show, so I can't rate it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Game Time: Saturday Supercade (1983)

The early 80's have been referred to as the Golden Age of video arcade games, and, indeed, they popped up like pimples, starting with Pac-Man, who made his television debut in 1982 (previously reviewed). The very next year, Ruby-Spears, which had been dealing exclusively with ABC until then, made their first sales to NBC (Alvin & the Chipmunks & Mr. T) and CBS, which acquired Saturday Supercade, an anthology series featuring several video games adapted for television.

Sad to say, but the only segment of the series that has gotten any airplay anywhere since the series was cancelled in 1985 has been the 2nd season entry, Space Ace, whose hero tends to shift back to his wimpy alter-ego at the most inopportune times. Ace's adventures have been used on Boomerang in recent years as time filler. Rights issues may be holding back the rest of the components from being shown.

Tbomb02 uploaded the following video, which collects the open, along with individual intro bumpers:



One of the biggest surprises was the casting of comedy icon Soupy Sales as Donkey Kong. Like, whodathunk? In future posts, we'll collect as many of the features as possible, so you can judge for yourselves. As for the show itself.......

Rating: B-.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. "The 50 Foot Woman" (1977)

"Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" was a B-movie that became a cult classic in the late 50's. Some 20 years later, Hanna-Barbera took that concept and put a new spin on it.

In this short from The All-New Super Friends Hour, we are introduced to Dr. Amy Zonn, who has developed a serum she thinks will make women equal to men in terms of strength & power. Typical of the period, in that she is a misguided scientist whose ideas are being cast in the wrong direction, as Wonder Woman, Batman, & Robin will discover.



Of course, the heroes would have to contend with another giantess a year later, with Giganta as a member of the Legion of Doom.......

Rating: B.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: ABC (1970)

Less than two years before they would gain a berth of their own on ABC's Saturday morning schedule, the Jackson 5ive appeared on American Bandstand to perform their first hit, "ABC". Oh, the irony of it all.

This clip also is on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, in tribute to host-executive producer Dick Clark, who passed away earlier today at 82. He joins Michael Jackson in the concert hall in the sky.



EDIT: 1/13/14: I had to change the video because the original clip was deleted by YouTube. Not quite as Clark-centric, but, well, you get the idea....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Daytime Heroes: Challenge of the GoBots (1984)

Robots were big in animation in the mid-80's. The trend started with the American introduction of Voltron, but then exploded in short order. Everyone knows that The Transformers, borne out of a Japanese toy line, became the 2nd Hasbro property to be adapted to television by Marvel & Sunbow, and, of course, has become a cottage industry all by itself. However, there existed another toy line that today could be construed as virtual kissin' cousins to the Autobots & Decepticons!

Like the Transformers, Tonka's GoBots were supposedly from another planet, bringing a long-standing grudge to Earth. The Guardians & Renegades, however, had one big advantage. Both groups were originally humanoid in nature, and were transmuted into cyborg robots when their homeworld experienced a cataclysmic event. Shortly after The Transformers debuted, Hanna-Barbera & Tonka introduced viewers to Challenge of the GoBots, starting with a miniseries that aired in syndication. The ongoing series followed a year later, but lasted just 2 seasons, with a feature film, "Battle of the Rock Lords", released in 1986.

Here's the intro:




In recent years, Hasbro has bought out a number of former rivals, including Tonka, becoming the biggest toy manufacturer on the planet. In addition, I believe Hasbro holds the rights to the GoBots cartoons, as opposed to Cartoon Network, which would explain in a nutshell why the series doesn't air on Boomerang, which could certainly use some freshening of their schedule.

The theme music kicks major butt, as opposed to Transformers, but the close of the open is a copy of Challenge of the Super Friends from just 6 years earlier. Today, it's more likely that the GoBots & Transformers would share the same universe, but so far, Hasbro hasn't given this any consideration.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Pro Wrestling USA (1984)

In 1984, Vince McMahon had taken the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) and turned it into a national phenomenon, spearheaded by champion Hulk Hogan. The other two major promotions of the period, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) & the American Wrestling Association (AWA) joined forces to create a joint effort known as Pro Wrestling USA, which landed a national syndicated television deal in the fall. Jack Reynolds, who had a cup of coffee working for McMahon about a year or so prior, served as host. The talent was comprised mostly of NWA talent that most of us were already familiar with thanks to SuperStation (W)TBS' Saturday night broadcasts.

Pro Wrestling USA, however, wasn't fated to last very long, and was gone in less than 2 years. For cable viewers in my district, the series aired on WPIX in New York (WOR was home to McMahon's weekly programs), and was a welcome distraction from the usual animated fare of the time.

Monsoon Classic offers up a match between Ric Flair, at the time the NWA champion, and Mike Davis.



Contrary to what you might believe, I didn't watch every week. I had other things going on at the time, so I missed a lot of this. The production values could've used a little work, though......

Rating: B-.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: I'll Be Around (1972)

One of the greatest soul hits of the 1970's was The Spinners' "I'll Be Around", released in 1972. Fantastic vocals, backed by a fabulous instrumental melody. Here's the Spinners, from a 1972 episode of Soul Train, uploaded by sunnysidup82.

Saturday School: Space Academy (1977)

Filmation takes us to the 38th century with 1977's Space Academy, which had but one season of episodes on CBS before giving way to Jason of Star Command the next season.

If you've ever imagined a school being the entirety of a planet, well, this is it. Jonathan Harris (ex-Lost In Space), who'd kept busy with a guest appearance on Ark II a year earlier, ended his association with Filmation after production concluded on the series, citing issues with----what else?---money. Harris, though, was at the front of a talented ensemble that also included another TV veteran, Pamelyn Ferdin (ex-Curiosity Shop), whose last face acting gig before Academy was acting opposite Paul Lynde on his self-titled ABC sitcom. Other than that, she'd kept busy doing voice work, mostly for Hanna-Barbera (i.e. The Roman Holidays). Brian Tochi might be better known for having worked with Clint Eastwood a few years later in "The Dead Pool", and Ty Henderson moved to voice acting the following year, working on the Superstretch & Microwoman segment of Tarzan & the Super 7.

Moonbubba1999 uploaded the series opener, "The Survivors Of Zalon". Harris provides the introductory narrative.



Space Academy replaced Ark II on the schedule, but ran into the same problems. Specifically, a poor timeslot and tough competition in terms of ratings, airing opposite The Krofft Supershow, which was in its 2nd & final season. It's a pity, as this show may've been ahead of its time.

Rating: B.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Young Justice (2010)

I originally reviewed Young Justice on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, back in January 2011, when the series began a weekly run on Cartoon Network. New episodes have finally started airing as part of the DC Nation package on Saturday mornings, coupled with Green Lantern.

Let's bring you up to speed. Young Justice is comprised of Kid Flash, Robin (founding members in the comics of the Teen Titans), Superboy, Aqualad (a new version created for the show, not the original), and Ms. Martian (who was created for a later comics incarnation of the Titans), and later joined by Artemis, not to be confused with the blonde Amazon who took over as the star of Wonder Woman's mag in the 90's. This Artemis is posited as a sub for Arrowette, who was part of the comic book Young Justice a few years ago. The producers thought Artemis was a cooler name. As the first 13 episodes closed, the writers had paired Superboy, a clone sprung from Cadmus' labs, with Ms. Martian (Danica McKellar, ex-The Wonder Years), and there is also a minor attraction between Artemis & Kid Flash, though I don't think that's meant to last.

Following is a sample clip from the series opener, "Independence Day":



Naturally, DC has launched a comic based on the show, as they do for all of their animated series. The only question that remains is how long WB will continue to produce Justice for CN.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning Ringside: Championship Wrestling From Georgia (1984)

Vince McMahon's national expansion of the then-World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in 1984 included buying away a primo Saturday night berth on SuperStation TBS that for years had belonged to Jim Crockett Promotions for Georgia Championship Wrestling. I have to tell you, I was stunned one night that summer, flipping on TBS, expecting to see GCW (the forerunner to WCW), but finding reruns of McMahon's programming instead.

Before the year was over, veteran wrestler Ole Anderson took it upon himself to counter McMahon by mounting a new version of GCW, under the name, Championship Wrestling From Georgia, which aired around 8:05 am (ET), as memory serves. Hall of Fame announcer Gordon Solie was at the microphone, often accompanied early on by Anderson. Less than a year in, McMahon gave up the Saturday night berth on TBS, and the morning show faded away, leaving the rebooted World Championship Wrestling in its place, and it would remain a Saturday night institution on TBS until 2001, when WCW folded, absorbed by McMahon.

Here's a sample clip, featuring some well known faces, including Jerry "The King" Lawler.



Once Ted Turner, then the owner of TBS, bought WCW, he expanded its television programming for a while, including a new Saturday morning show.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Wizards of Waverly Place (2007)

Oh, did Disney blow it by not including Wizards of Waverly Place on ABC's Saturday morning schedule. That's So Raven was on its last legs, yet Disney decided to keep it on ABC until last year, effectively freezing the ABC Kids block, if you will.

Wizards' main selling point was star Selena Gomez, who also sang the show's theme song. Alex Russo (Gomez) and her brothers are being trained to become wizards, with one of them destined to be the family wizard. The fact that lessons were being taught on this show suggest that it could've qualified for the FCC's E/I guidelines, but for whatever lame reason, ABC was never given this show.

Here is the intro:



Rating: B-.

Toonfomercial: Superheroes on public transportation?! (2000?)

I don't know exactly when this ad first appeared, but this was one of two such ads that parodied the then-common practice of excessive use of expository dialogue. Cartoon Network was able to bring back Shannon Farnon to voice Wonder Woman, with ageless wonder Michael Bell as Zan, whose sister Jayna is conspicuous by her absence. Birdman, Blue Falcon, and Zandor (The Herculoids) round out the party. These five would also be placed in a movie theatre.

Now, as I wrote when reviewing Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, the writers were trying to suggest Zan had a crush on the Amazing Amazon. Too bad they could not have them alone for one of these spots. Then again..........



Some people find this funny. I'm not one of them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On The Air: Green Lantern (2011-12)

The live-action feature film didn't really move comics fans as well as it should've. However, Green Lantern finally gets to star in his own animated series, a CGI entry from Warner Bros. Animation, airing on Cartoon Network as part of its mid-morning DC Nation hour on Saturdays.

Green Lantern launched with a primetime sneak peek before beginning a series run, the same formula that CN employed with Young Justice, which airs in back of Green Lantern these days. The only other CGI series on the CN roster presently is Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and due in a few months will be Beware The Batman, which wouldn't be a surprise if it also is part of DC Nation.

So far, the series is set in space, so there is zero room for Hal Jordan (Josh Keaton, ex-Spectacular Spider-Man) to head back home to Earth. Hey, it's early.

Following is a preview video from the network:



A little history lesson. Kilowog was introduced in the 80's. The Red Lanterns were a more recent creation of writer Geoff Johns, who was a writer-producer on last year's movie. DC felt that it was necessary to keep the Red Lanterns around as they relaunched the DC Universe last fall, and I suspect it was more as a favor to Johns than anything else. The expansions he's made with GL's supporting cast still have room to grow with long-time fans and readers, but the inclusion in the series may have been the ultimate goal all along, I don't know. What I do know is that this is the best presentation of GL to date.

Rating: A.

Saturday School: In a Minute (1990's)

In A Minute was a series of micro-features included on the USA Cartoon Express, a daily anthology collection of reruns that aired in the early evening on weekdays and Saturdays and also on Sunday mornings. Following is a piece from toward the end of the Express' run......



In A Minute was basically USA's answer to long running features on the broadcast networks like In The News and Schoolhouse Rock, which, of course, were exclusively on Saturdays. Too bad this has long since been discontinued, because it could still serve a function today.

Rating: A.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Teenage Toons: Horseland (2006)

There aren't that many cartoons out there geared for girls. Currently, there are only a small handful, including new shows starring 80's toy favorites My Little Pony & Strawberry Shortcake on The Hub, and this one, Horseland, back for its 2nd go-round on CBS after having split time between syndication & This TV following its first CBS run.

Yes, there are some young boys in the cast of Horseland, but the plots are more about the girls and their horses. The basic idea behind this DIC entry is to try to introduce kids to equestrian competitions, since most folks are more familiar with horse racing than show horses.

Horselandluvur (DUH!) uploaded the first portion of the series opener, "You Can't Judge a Girl by Her Limo":



Too bad these kids never made it to an Olympic equestrian event........

Rating: B-.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Saturtainment: Barrier Reef (1971)

Back in the 1970's, NBC was struggling to find hit shows to complement the lone ratings grabber in the lineup, that of course being The Pink Panther. So, in 1971, the network acquired an Australian produced adventure series, Barrier Reef. However, there wasn't much promotion put into this show, as it was buried near the bottom of the lineup, where all the live-action shows went on NBC back then. Needless to say, it was cancelled after 1 season. 70'skidvid uploaded the open & close of the program:



I don't recall seeing this show much, if at all, so I cannot give a fair rating. Suffice it to say, it hasn't seen the light of day on American television in the 40 years that have passed since it left NBC.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Saturtainment: The Abbott & Costello Show (1952)

A while back, we took a look at the animated adventures of Abbott & Costello. Now, we turn our attention to the real thing, as their live-action sitcom did, in fact, spend some time on Saturday mornings, albeit in repeats, on CBS in 1953, while the 2nd season aired in syndication.

My first exposure to this series was when WPIX in NYC aired the show on Sundays ahead of the team's feature films, which held a regular slot at lunch time (11:30-1) for years. Abbott & Costello, in fact, would be replaced periodically by F-Troop reruns once the two seasons of episodes cycled through.

The basic concept was that there weren't always storylines. The series served as an outlet for Bud Abbott & Lou Costello's famous routines, such as "Who's On First?", which were inerwoven into the fabric of the show. The episode presented here, "Killer's Wife", features boxer Max Baer as the "Killer" in the title. Of course, you know that Max's son, Max, Jr., became better known as an actor (Beverly Hillbillies) in the 60's and 70's. You can just imagine the torture Baer intends to put Bud & Lou through.........



Joe Besser, formerly with The Three Stooges, was a series regular during the first season, but he was like a round peg that didn't fit in a square, if you get my drift. He was more of a distraction than an asset to the series.

Rating: B+.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Daytime Heroes: Voltron, Defender of the Universe (1984)

As Battle of the Planets faded into memory in the early 80's, Japan provided American audiences with brand new anime adventures. On the one hand, you had Star Blazers, which we'll review somewhere down the road. On the other, a relatively new name in American cartoons, World Events Productions, entered the fray by acquiring a license to import to America Voltron, Defender of the Universe.

Voltron made its American debut in 1984, and its serial format gave kids something of an alternative to the soap operas their mothers were watching at the time. Granted, the success of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" prompted one soap, General Hospital, to venture into action-adventure territory around this time, which might have drawn teenagers, not just girls but boys, mind you, away from toons. Diesalbboy uploaded the first season open, featuring the Voltron that most of us are very familiar with:



After the first story arc ended, a 2nd Voltron emerged, this time using vehicles instead of robot lions, and I think eventually the two teams would meet and team up.

Currently, there is a new incarnation of the franchise, but it airs on Nicktoons, which is not as readily available as its sister networks, Nickelodeon or TeenNick.

Rating: A.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

It Should've Been on a Saturday (Morning): Bad News Bears (1977)

Following a wildly successful feature film, Paramount decided to turn the Bad News Bears into a sitcom, but it didn't last very long. Despite the mature themes, I felt it could've gotten wider exposure in a then-live-action-heavy CBS Saturday morning lineup, instead of airing in primetime, as it did during its all-too-short run.

TV vet Jack Warden (ex-N. Y. P. D.) stepped in for Walter Matthau as Little League manager Morris Buttermaker, but let's consider the youngsters on the Bears roster.

We'll start with Tricia Cast, who stepped into Tatum O'Neal's spikes as ace hurler Amanda Wurlitzer. Today's audience might know her from her soap opera work (Young & The Restless, if my memory is correct), and the last I knew, she hadn't done any more primetime.

Meeno Peluce landed two more primetime gigs. Paramount brought him back for the short-lived ABC series, Best of the West, but after that ended, he switched studios, and networks, co-starring opposite Jon-Erik Hexum on NBC's Voyagers!. Yep, that also lasted one season, and was last seen on RTV about a year ago.

Sparky Marcus was the clipboard-toting backup catcher, but toon audiences might recognize his voice as that of Richie Rich during the Harvey Comics icon's ABC run in the early 80's.

Christoff St. John also went to soap operas as an adult, and I believe he also ended up on Young & The Restless.

Perhaps the most famous alumni of the TV Bears would be Corey Feldman, whose film resume includes "The Lost Boys".

If anyone can fill in the rest of the blanks, I'd appreciate it. Anyway, here's "Here Comes The Coach":



Rating: B.