Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remembering the toon days of my youth

When I was young, and this was well before NBC's Today had competition in the morning hours, mind you, I can recall watching cartoons for a little bit before leaving for school, and then, as I got older, with the advent of cable, catch a few toons after school before the parents got home from work. Yeah, those days are gone, as these days, local stations don't run cartoons during weekdays anymore, unless they're daring enough to program reruns of current primetime shows like Family Guy or The Simpsons or the former Fox series King of the Hill before 6 pm local time. If you want to start your day or come home after school for your toon fix, you've got to have cable or own a satellite dish. What I want to do is take you back to the halcyon days of the 70's and get a handle on what it was like.

For me, since I had to be out of the house and off to school before Captain Kangaroo came on, I'd try to catch some of the syndicated toons that then-CBS (now ABC) affiliate WTEN ran ahead of the Captain. That meant a steady diet of Looney Tunes. At one point, WTEN even tried running The Porky Pig Show on weekdays as part of its Looney Tunes package. Bugs Bunny and friends alternated with Popeye, and either way, these shorts would run six days a week, filling a half hour on Saturdays meant for a CBS cartoon series that the station decided not to run. See, I missed the era when Three Stooges films aired on the channel. I missed out on Ted Knight, who'd later become an Emmy winning actor, as local host "Windy" Knight before he went to Hollywood. Hey, what can ya do?

After school, WAST (now WNYT) was the place to be in the late 70's, as they were the local home for Battle of the Planets. Before that, WAST & WRGB each took turns carrying reruns of the live-action Batman. WRGB, the current CBS affiliate, also had something called the Laugh-a-Lot Club, and their idea of an opening was one of those mechanical teeth sitting on a table somewhere, running amok. Meh. WAST, at one point in the early 70's, experimented with morning programming, and I can recall repeats of Fury, starring a pre-Mission: Impossible Peter Graves, airing around 8.

It's just too bad the local library got rid of its microfilm machines recently, otherwise, I could pull a few TV listings from the past and begin to piece everything together. Just as unfortunate is the fact that WTEN's 5 minute newscast for kids, The Good Ship News, and its successor, Young People's News, aren't available on video via YouTube. These mini-newscasts provided the bridge to Captain Kangaroo, and, when WTEN shifted to being an ABC affiliate, it would move up an hour to lead into Good Morning, America.

Now, what was it like for you when you were a kid?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Totally Spies! (2001)

What if the iconic 70's series, Charlie's Angels, was set in high school? That is essentially the premise behind the French-produced, anime-influenced Totally Spies!, which first reached American audiences on ABC Family in 2001, and then shifted over to Cartoon Network, and finally, to Kabillion (check local listings).

Clover, Samantha, & Alex are three high school students based in Beverly Hills who are also secret agents. The series is clearly a satire on spy shows and movies in general, with a high school bent. The success of this show might be what prompted CN to commission the 2003 Teen Titans series to be done in an Americanized anime style that was almost totally (pun intended) similar to this show. While the Spies have their fans, the format was replicated and truncated by Disney with a singular high school super sleuth. Kim Possible, and we all know who'd win a fan poll between the two shows, don't we?

Anyway, here's part 1 of "The Fugitives", in which the girls have been secretly cloned, and their copies are committing bank robberies.......



Marathon, the show's producer, reports that a 6th season is on order for next year. Like, how much further can they go? Well, don't ya think it's all about proving to be better than Kim Possible? Highly unlikely.

Rating: B-.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Saturtainment: Ewoks (1985)

The "Star Wars" franchise produced not one, but two animated series in the mid-80's. Ewoks was fortunate to have earned a second season, with the last first-run episode airing in December 1986. As with sister series Droids, Ewoks was produced by Canada's Nelvana studios, marking the beginning of a considerable association with American networks. The studio would later co-produce Beetlejuice, also for ABC.

Ewoks was posited as ABC's answer to NBC's Smurfs, which was entering its 5th season. The Ewoks series was set on the planet Endor, and there were no crossovers with Droids, save for a two part story in the series' comic book counterparts at Marvel.

Techguy4u uploaded this open:



Sorry to say, I never saw the show, so I can't rate it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Good Day For a Parade (1968)

With parades all across the nation this weekend to mark Memorial Day, why not serve up the Banana Splits' "Good Day For a Parade"?

[Adult Swim] babyfies The Herculoids (2002)

When I posted an [adult swim] babyfication of the Galaxy Trio a while back, regular correspondent Magicdog clued me in to the fact that those jabronis did the same thing to another 1967 series, The Herculoids. Well, here it is. I maintain that [as] needs to be held accountable for this glaring lack of respect. From 2002, here's "Beware the Dweed".



Rating (as if you couldn't guess): F.

Rein-Toon-ation: Toxic Crusaders (1991)

It was a popular trend in the 80's and early 90's to cash in on other popular trends by licensing them out for cartoons and/or other merchandise. Such was the case with the Toxic Crusaders, spun off from the "Toxic Avenger" movie series and licensed to Fox and producer Fred Wolf (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), who managed just 1 season in 1991.

In order to sell "Toxie" to younger audiences, the mutant hero had to be cleaned up for broadcast television, and that included giving his ever-present mop sentience. I never saw the show, so I can't rate it, but here's the open.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Piggsburg Pigs (1990)

As we've documented before, Alvin & the Chipmunks moved from NBC to Fox, and changed animation houses, as the Bagdasarian family took the show from Ruby-Spears and moved it to DIC, additionally changing the title to Chipmunks Go To The Movies for a final season. As it turns out, Ruby-Spears made up for the loss by developing a series of their own for Fox, in conjunction with veteran producer Fred Silverman, who at one time was programming head at ABC, CBS, & NBC, and oversaw the Saturday morning lineups at the latter two networks during this period. By the end of the 80's, however, Silverman had developed his own production company, which had been quite successful.

Piggsburg Pigs, however, was Silverman's first animated series since the early 80's, and, by all accounts, appears to have been his last. Billed as a comedy series, there were adventure elements as well, as the titular swine often solved mysteries, but found time to unwind doing normal things like playing baseball.

Regrettably, the series lasted just one season, 13 episodes in all. I never saw the show, so I can't rate it, but we'll leave you with the opening, which has a pretty cool theme song........


Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Galaxy Trio vs. "Revolt of the Robots" (1967)

Galaxy Trio was the backup feature to Birdman during his one and only season in 1967. Regretfully, the team's classic adventures fell into the hands of the idiots at [adult swim] a few years back, and we showed you a "babyfied" clip of the Trio some time ago.

However, if you'll pardon the advertising attached to this clip, taken from a Galaxy Trio fan channel on YouTube, we have the first episode, "Revolt of the Robots". Ted Cassidy (ex-Addams Family) is the voice of Meteor Man, with Don Messick as Vapor Man and other supporting characters.



Could the Trio be brought back today? Under the right conditions, yes. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network & [adult swim] just don't see the prospects. Their loss, as usual.

Rating: B.

Daytime Heroes: Dinosaucers (1987)

Between 1986-87, DIC entered into an agreement with Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television) to produce some animated series. We've previously reviewed The Real Ghostbusters and The Karate Kid, and now it's time for the last of the DIC-Sony entries, Dinosaucers.

Dinosaucers sprang from the mind of filmmaker Michael Uslan ("Swamp Thing"), who served as an executive producer with business partner Ben Melniker. Uslan & Melniker would, of course, go on to have a major hand in developing "Batman" & "Batman Returns" with director Tim Burton, and then return to DIC to bring an animated Swamp Thing to the air.

Dinosaucers borrows its basic plot from Transformers in that the warring factions of Dinosaucers and Tyrannos came from another planet, Reptilon. In the course of its only season, we would see the Tyrannos repeatedly foiled one way or another. In other words, standard superhero fare. A toy line was planned, but scrapped when the series was cancelled.

My own belief is that Dinosaucers was packaged together with Real Ghostbusters when the latter series added a daily, syndicated run while beginning its 2nd season on ABC. It's a shame that some audiences just couldn't get into the show, despite the kick-ass theme song composed by Haim Saban & Shuki Levy.

Madkid99 uploaded the open:



The series was last seen on cable a number of years back. Sony has the rights, but hasn't been able to place it anywhere. Maybe the series was a wee bit ahead of its time. 5 years after the show was cancelled, Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" was adapted into a feature film, and became a blockbuster. Makes ya wonder.......

Rating: A.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sunday Funnies: Wonderama (1956)

It is perhaps the longest running weekend children's show produced for a specific market. It's also a pity that it was cancelled before it's time.

Wonderama, which at one time aired 6 days a week, was the center of WNEW (now WNYW)'s Sunday morning programming block from its launch in 1956 until it was cancelled in 1977. There was a brief revival in the early 80's, but it was in the form of a magazine show not quite unlike, say, for example, Big Blue Marble, and not the variety extravaganza most people remember.

Al Hodge (Captain Video) was the show's first host, and among his successors was local favorite Sandy Becker, who had his own show, also on channel 5, and went on to do some voice acting in cartoons. Sonny Fox succeeded Becker, and after leaving channel 5, hosted the Saturday morning show, Way Out Games, which was a dud for CBS in 1976. Bob McAllister was the last host, at the helm for the final 10 years.

According to a Wikipedia entry on the show, McAllister was upset that the station saw fit to run an ad for a violent Charles Bronson movie ("The Mechanic") one day, and supposedly started asking people to stop watching the show. However, appearing on another channel 5 show after Wonderama's demise, McAllister said he didn't know why the show was dropped. Perhaps in his case ignorance was meant to be bliss--ABC hired him to host Kids Are People, Too, which debuted in the fall of '77, but didn't last anywhere near as long as Wonderama.

There was a time when the show also aired on Saturdays, which was my first exposure. I did see some Sunday episodes near the end of the run, but not the following clip, in which McAllister sings one of the show's signature songs, "Good News", while special guest star Paul Lynde (Hollywood Squares, Bewitched) sat in the audience. This clip comes from 1973..........



Rating: A-.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Laugh, Laugh (1965)

As The Flintstones' primetime run was nearing its end, ABC arranged for a crossover of a sort with Shindig!, resulting in series host Jimmy O'Neil and the Beau Brummels appearing on The Flintstones during the 1965-6 season, which would be the final season for both Shindig! and The Flintstones.

As a result, here's the Beau Brummel(stones), performing "Laugh, Laugh". Don Messick, the do-everything supporting player, is the Shindigrock! announcer.

Daytime Heroes: Silverhawks (1986)

Buoyed by the success of Thundercats a year earlier, Rankin-Bass and Lorimar-Telepictures (now part of Warner Bros.) served up another weekday entry in 1986, Silverhawks. Set in the far future, this series chronicles the adventures of a team of cyborg warriors fighting the forces of Mon-Star, a galactic tyrant. The idea of humans grafted into robotic suits wasn't new, though. Marvel Comics used this to explain Rom: Spaceknight's origins a few years earlier, after acquiring a license for the character from Parker Brothers (now part of Hasbro). Coincidentally, Marvel would also obtain a license for a comic book version of Silverhawks, but, like the TV show, it lasted just one year.

Which begs to ask why the show failed in the first place. In my home district, one channel had all the key syndicated series (i.e. Silverhawks, Thundercats) airing together either in the morning or afternoon. In other cities, Silverhawks was likely being slotted opposite something like Ghostbusters, which bowed the same year. Sure, the 'Hawks had a kid-centric team member in Copper Kidd, who was being used to teach moral lessons at the end of each episode, tutored by Col. Bluegrass. By then, I think, kids were starting to be turned off by the constant end-of-show lessons that permeated most daytime cartoons, but not all.

Here's the open that everyone remembers:



As a result of buying Lorimar-Telepictures and having the rights to a large chunk of the Rankin-Bass library, WB owns the rights. Seeing as how Thundercats was revived last year, I'd not be surprised if they decided to bring back Silverhawks down the road......

Rating: A.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Daytime Heroes: Heathcliff & The Catillac Cats (1984)

In 1984, DIC acquired the license to use George Gately's Heathcliff. Coincidentally, 'Cliff's original ABC series was revived in reruns as part of the Plastic Man syndicated package we reviewed the other day. As with his 2 year stint with Ruby-Spears, 'Cliff couldn't carry the load alone, so the producers created an entirely new series for backup.

The Catillac Cats, alternately known as Cats & Company, was said backup feature. Hector, Wordsworth, & Mongo also shared adventures with Heathcliff, but the orange mischief maker never met the other two members of the Catillac Cats---Riff Raff, and his girlfriend, Cleo, although they managed to sneak in a Riff Raff cameo in a Heathcliff cartoon.

The Cats had distinct personalities. Mongo, like his namesake in the movie, "Blazing Saddles", was about as sharp as a broken toothpick, but ridiculously strong. Wordsworth was a poet, always speaking in rhyme. Hector was the de facto leader in Riff's absence. These cats loved to have fun. Like most couples, Riff & Cleo had their issues, especially with infidelity, though they always smoothed things over.

"Iron Cats" comes across as a snobs vs. slobs story, albeit as a parody of the 1980 movie, "Caddyshack", but this has nothing to do with golf.

I should point out that the creative personnel included John Kricfalusi, later the creator of Ren & Stimpy, and Chuck Lorre, better known now for his sitcom creations, including The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Like, who knew? Also, voice actor Stanley Jones, in a dual role as Hector and Wordsworth, voiced Lex Luthor on Challenge of the Super Friends and in subsequent follow-up series.

Meanwhile, Heathcliff (Mel Blanc) takes a trip to "Meow Meow Island":



Rating: A.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday School: Aqua Kids (2000)

Aqua Kids, which has been on the air since 2000, has been under the radar for most of its 12 year run. The series finally found a home in my district, airing on the CW affiliate, this season.

Here's a sample clip, courtesy of the series' YouTube channel:



I think part of the reason it's been under the radar is that while its intent is to educate children, specifically preschool & elementary school students, it is currently airing on 128 stations, plus the Kids & Teens Network, which isn't readily available. I've seen a few clips, and I would encourage parents to do their part to get their children interested, as this would go a long way toward developing career goals.

Rating: A.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On The Air: Ultimate Spider-Man (2012)

I'm going to be as frank as I can.

Ultimate Spider-Man, airing twice every Sunday on DisneyXD, isn't the best animated incarnation of the wall-crawler. This is despite the creative pedigree involved. Spidey's co-creator, Stan Lee, is an executive producer and has a supporting role as a janitor on the show. Producer Eric Radomski and creative consultant Paul Dini are better known for their work on DC's universe of heroes. The Man of Action studio, which boasts talents like Duncan Fegredo and Steven T. Seagle, created Ben 10 & Generator Rex for Cartoon Network.

So where does it go wrong?

How about the fact that aside from some great artwork----and, oh, by the way, that's an improvement over the anime-inspired Spectacular Spider-Man from 2008---the visuals have a tendency to get too busy. Too many unnecessary bells & whistles to illustrate the overly expository narrative of the webhead himself (Drake Bell, ex-Drake & Josh). If you don't believe me, well, try this sample:




I get that the show is aimed at a younger audience. As I said, it airs twice (at least) on Sundays, in the morning, and in primetime, so that adults who don't catch it in the morning can watch. One of the show's producers is comics & television veteran Jeph Loeb, who has worked on shows like Lost & Heroes the last few years, and, according to frequent correspondent Magicdog, is aiming to replace the current Avengers series with one that will correspond to Ultimate Spider-Man. Has Loeb ever heard the phrase, if it isn't broken, don't fix it? Apparently not.

Rating: D.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Gloria (1982)

From the archives of American Bandstand comes "Gloria", an English language reworking of a 1979 Italian song, and the breakout hit for singer-songwriter Laura Branigan, who would score a few more top 40 hits before fading from the charts. In fact, one of her hits, "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You", later became a hit all over again for Michael Bolton.

Latiz Trullo uploaded this clip, taken from a VH1 repeat of Bandstand.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Toon Rock: The California Raisins Show (1989)

Claymation master Will Vinton created the soul singing California Raisins in a series of spots in the mid-80's. The commercials became huge hits, such that Vinton was approached about making a series based on the sentient fruits. In 1989, CBS aired a primetime special, which led to a short-lived Saturday morning series, followed by a 2nd primetime special. The commercials, if memory serves, continued unabated during this period.

Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, the group that also brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to television, also for CBS, produced The California Raisins Show. Unforgiven486 uploaded the open to YouTube:



Unfortunately, the open is all that's available of the show, as there are no episode clips to be had, otherwise, I think we'd be adding to our Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits feature.

Rating: None. Never saw the show.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

You Know The Voice: Marvin Miller (1959)

Saturday morning fans will know Marvin Miller as the original voice of Aquaman all the way back in 1967, but his career goes further than that.

Miller, who would later sign on with the Kroffts, mostly for voice work, had his lone headlining gig in The Millionaire, which was last seen in syndication in the late 70's & early 80's. I remember seeing it on WWOR in New York as filler after Mets games. The inestimable Paul Frees, heard but not seen, is the titular character, John Beresford Tipton, and Miller plays Michael Anthony, the courier assigned to deliver Tipton's $1,000,000 checks to unsuspecting strangers. Too bad philanthropy doesn't go very far in this day and age. While Miller's voice doesn't have the tempo we'd hear in later years, either as Aquaman or narrating the intro to Bigfoot & Wildboy, at least we have a face to go with the voice..........

Animated World of DC Comics: Aquaman vs. The Brain & The Satanic Saturnians (1967)

It's been a while since I've posted an Aquaman cartoon, so why don't we take a swim down memory lane with the King of the Seas (Marvin Miller, ex-The Millionaire) as he battles the Brain and his sonic brainwashing machine, which, as you'll see, leads to a brief scrum with Aqualad (Jerry Dexter).

"The Brain, The Brave, and The Bold" could've stood a sequel, but Brain (narrator Ted Knight) was a 1-shot villain, as were most of the foes in the series. Black Manta and Fisherman did come from the comics, and, as only one season of episodes was produced, it'd be a few years before we'd see Manta again. Fisherman? Not so much.

Edit: 6/29/14: The original video was deleted because the poster lost his account. In its place, we have a near complete half-hour.  In addition to "The Brain, the Brave, & the Bold", we also present "The Satanic Saturnians", fish-like creatures trying to turn Earth into more of a water-based planet. Like that's going to happen:



Rating: B.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

From Out of The Recycling Bin: The Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show (1984)

Ruby-Spears struck a deal with independent syndicator Arlington Television in 1984 to package some of their earlier shows in a weekday anthology series, and it happens that it was the last of its kind.

The Plastic Man Comedy Adventure Show not only combined elements from both seasons of Plas' ABC run, but added Heathcliff, Marmaduke, Dingbat & the Creeps, & Goldie Gold and Action Jack, the latter trio having all bombed out on ABC. Heathcliff would also appear in a brand new syndicated series for DIC that got more mileage than this collection did.

Actor-comic Taylor Marks brought Plas to life to serve as host. Part of the schtick required using old clips from the original series to insert dialogue from The Chief (Melendy Britt) where needed. Marks' voice was similar to that of John Erwin's portrayal of Reggie Mantle in the Archie cartoons years earlier, nowhere near Michael Bell's characterization of Plas, and evidence was clearly there to see and hear when a Plastic Man cartoon aired. Marks' Plas was more self-centered than before, although the character has been humbled considerably in the comics since.

TheManofPlastic uploaded a sample video.



Unfortunately, this weekday anthology lasted just 1 season, while Heathcliff managed to last at least 2 or 3 with his new show.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Wonderbug (1976)

Wonderbug was the only regular feature, aside from Kaptain Kool & the Kongs, to appear on The Krofft Supershow throughout its 2-season run (1976-78). Seems to me, given the production values, that some folks might've still been getting the sleep out of their eyes when this video-enhanced trick car came into view.

Schlepcar was just that, a junk heap that a trio of teens rescued from a junkyard. One of them found a horn that they thought would look cool as part of the remodeling process. It was more than that. It enabled the wreck to become Wonderbug, which, unlike its animated counterpart, Speed Buggy, didn't talk. Maybe it's just as well.

One of the three human leads, John Anthony Bailey, caught the attention of the producers after a guest appearance on Happy Days, but hasn't gotten much since. Oh, by the way, only one season's worth of Wonderbug was produced, and replayed ad nauseum. Like, they ditched Electra Woman & Dynagirl in favor of a four-wheeled trick machine? Yep. The Kroffts have paid for that mistake ever since.

Just to spice things up, baseball pitcher Don Sutton, then with the Dodgers, guest-starred as himself in one episode. Not sure that he'd keep that on his resume today.

I know we've shown the open before, when we reviewed Supershow, but, here it is again.



Rating: C.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Daytime Heroes: Inspector Gadget (1983)

1983 brought a new player into the animation landscape. DIC was founded by Jean Chalopin & Andy Heyward, who served as the executive producers for virtually all of the studio's output in the early years. Chalopin would leave before the decade was over, though, leaving Heyward to run the show. Until it was purchased by Canada's Cookie Jar Entertainment a while back, DIC had a pretty decent track record, although you probably couldn't tell by some of their product in the final years.

One of the studio's first series was Inspector Gadget, a weekday comedy adventure series that tried to cross James Bond with not one, but two TV shows: The Six Million Dollar Man, because of Gadget's cyborg parts, and Get Smart, because of its star, Maxwell Smart himself, Don Adams, who was no stranger to toons, having been the voice of Tennessee Tuxedo in the 60's.

You had to feel sorry for Gadget's boss, Chief Quimby, who was routinely caught in explosions whenever the top secret message he gave Gadget self-destructed on him after Gadget leaves to undertake his mission. However, to cover for Gadget's shortcomings, his niece, Penny (Cree Summer), and her dog, Brain, found most of the clues, leaving Gadget to ultimately take the credit for the bust, even though he stumbled into it.

The series lasted three seasons, and has since spawned two cable sequels, Inspector Gadget's Field Trip, which was produced for the History Channel, with Gadget again voiced by Don Adams and appearing against a live-action backdrop. The other was the animated Gadget Boy & Heather, which was actually a prequel, with Adams voicing a younger Gadget. Eventually, I'll get to both of those. One sounds worse than you think.

Anyway, 5020maine uploaded the familiar opening, acquired via Retrojunk's website.



Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Avengers Assemble!: Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010)

Yesterday, I attempted to reprint a review I published in The Land of Whatever back in November 2010 of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the 2nd animated series featuring Marvel's answer to DC's Justice League. Unfortunately, it didn't come out so well, so I took it down earlier today and resolved to start from scratch (the original review is still available, though).

Launching a few months after the release of "Iron Man 2", Avengers improves upon Saban's ill-advised mishandling of the franchise for Fox 11 years earlier. That may be because the animation was entrusted to Phil Roman and his production company, Film Roman, which also produced series as diverse as Bobby's World & Garfield & Friends during the 80's & 90's. The series also is a harbinger for the movie that is currently out, as Hawkeye joins the team during the first season. However, Black Widow is not a member, though one must imagine she will eventually be a part of the team as the series progresses, to coincide with the movie. Missing from the movie is the Black Panther. Oh, well, can't have everything.

For reasons only they know, DisneyXD delayed the second season so that it could coincide with the launch of Ultimate Spider-Man, so they could have their own 1-hour action block in answer to DC Nation over on Cartoon Network. The difference is that these shows air twice on Sundays. Once in the morning, and again in primetime. CN doesn't have the schedule space anymore, thanks to the expansion of [adult swim], to allow DC Nation primetime space. Their loss.

If you  miss episodes, don't worry. Your cable provider may have them On Demand for a while.

Here's the intro:



Rating: A.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Game Time: Celebrity Bowling (1971)

Back in the day, bowling was a very popular weekend activity, moreso than it is today, I would guess. To illustrate this point, in addition to ABC's Pro Bowlers Tour during the 70's, viewers were treated to a syndicated series that often aired either in competition with the pros or served as a lead-in, depending on where the show aired in a particular area.

Celebrity Bowling premiered in 1971, hosted by actor Jed Allan, who had previously appeared on Lassie for a time, but most folks might remember him more for his run on the daytime soap, Days of Our Lives. Two teams of celebrities would play a single game in best-ball format. This served to prove that the stars were ordinary folks like you & me when it came to playing the game. Following is a portion of a 1975 episode that featured pop icon Frankie Avalon and Kate Jackson (The Rookies). Uploaded by donimogr:



Rating: A.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Avengers Assemble!: Iron Man (1966)

Let's go back to the worst animated superhero series of all time, the Marvel Superheroes Show for a visit with Iron Man as we continue our run-up to the live-action "Avengers" movie, which opens tomorrow nationwide, but has already been a huge success overseas (Don't ask).

Canadian actor John Vernon, better known to toon fans of today's generation for his work on Batman: The Animated Series and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, was the voice of ol' Shellhead. Most folks, of course, might remember Vernon better for "National Lampoon's Animal House" and its TV spinoff, Delta House, but, believe it or else, Iron Man represents some of his earliest American television work.

Radarr uploaded a sample episode, complete with the goofy theme music......



Iron Man, of course, would fare better the 2nd time around, as part of the syndicated Marvel Action Hour in 1994. Our "Avengers Assemble!" series continues throughout the month, so inevitably, we'll get to that incarnation of Iron Man.

Rating: C-.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Avengers Assemble!: The Incredible Hulk (1996)

The Incredible Hulk returned to television in 1996, this time in a Sunday morning series airing on UPN. The series lasted two seasons, and the second put more emphasis on the She-Hulk, aka Bruce Banner's cousin, Jennifer Walters.

A bit about Jennifer before we continue. She was introduced in 1980 in her own series, without so much as a backdoor pilot in cousin Bruce's own book. By the time she made it to television in the 1982 Incredible Hulk series, she already had been established as one of the hottest heroines in comics. By the mid-90's, she'd grown pretty comfortable in her emerald skin, such that she was locked into it, rather than change back to her mousy self. Jen was a lawyer by trade, and according to the comics, it was ol' Brucie that gave her a transfusion of his gamma-irradiated blood, which led to Jennifer becoming She-Hulk. She's logged time with both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, just like Hulk himself.

TheGammaBomb uploaded the first half of the season 2 episode, "Down Memory Lane". For what it's worth, Lou Ferrigno, the first live-action Incredible Hulk, voices the jade giant, while Neal McDonough was the voice of Bruce Banner.



Rating: B.