Saturday, June 30, 2012

From Primetime to Daytime: The Rebel (1959)

The Rebel leads off Me-TV's Saturday Western block, airing at 11 am (ET), with 2 back-to-back episodes of the 1959-61 series co-created by & starring Nick Adams.

Adams plays Johnny Yuma, a Confederate soldier who now wanders the countryside. It isn't that he's looking for trouble. Like most Western heroes of the period, trouble comes looking for him, instead. The Me-TV prints are lacking the show's theme song, sung by country legend Johnny Cash. Instead, the instrumental theme heard over the closing titles in the following video also play during the open. The reason Cash's version isn't heard is because of copyright issues.

Rebel was one of those rare non-game shows produced by the iconic team of Mark Goodson & Bill Todman (their other Western, Branded, follows Rebel). Let's take a look at this sample:



Adams passed away in 1968, 7 years after the conclusion of Rebel. I am not sure who would have the rights to do a revival in the here and now, but it's easy to assume that Adams was taken from us too soon.

Rating: B+.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Undercover Elephant (1977)

Easily the worst segment of C. B. Bears, Undercover Elephant had to be the last word in oxymorons.

Stop and think about it for a second. How can an elephant go undercover? You can't hide the fact that it's big, burly, and not exactly fleet afoot. Outfitting our hero in a jacket five sizes too small with a matching hat and a domino mask of a different color than the rest of the outfit doesn't help. Likewise, the gags in the following episode, "Baron Von Rippemoff", fall flat. It gives slapstick a bad name.



Hanna-Barbera owned the 8:00 (ET) hour in 1977, with C. B. Bears, Super Friends, & Skatebirds all on the schedule. And I know a certain blue-skinned monkey who was better at pratfalls than Undercover Elephant.........

Rating: D.

If Me-TV was serious about their children's lineup, now's the time to make a move.

I reported yesterday over at The Land of Whatever that Retro is leaving my market after the end of business early Sunday. What that does for fans of classic children's programming is it leaves a gaping hole that isn't going to be filled any time soon.

Since the spring, Me-TV & Retro had shared some of the Filmation properties now owned by Classic Media, such as He-Man & The Masters of the Universe. The problem I had was the Me-TV's lineup starts at the unholy hour of 5 am (ET), which is where The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo has been slotted. Green Screen Adventures, which fulfills the FCC E/I requirements, fills 2 hours from 8-10 (ET), but Me-TV doesn't want to move their toon block further down into the morning daypart because they don't want to break up their Western block that starts at 11 (ET) with Nick Adams' The Rebel. After tomorrow, Me-TV has the classic cartoon landscape all to themselves in my area, aside of course from Boomerang, and their Saturday block, particularly Wacky Races & Perils of Penelope Pitstop, could stand a major overhaul. Considering the management at Boomerang, that right now is wishful thinking.

If I'm a programmer at Me-TV, I have to think about making changes to address an audience that is right on the verge of being under-served. Having Rebel trade places with Batman, for example, would be a step in the right direction.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Super Force (1990)

In the late 80's & early 90's, live-action action series were making a bit of a comeback on Saturday mornings, albeit in syndication instead of airing on the networks.

Super Force, however, wasn't really meant for kids, even though it was marketed by Viacom as a lunch-hour entry, coupled with Superboy, which we've previously reviewed.

Ken Olandt played an astronaut returning to Earth in the year 2020, only to discover that his brother, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty, and the police weren't exactly moving quick enough to avenge their brother in arms, if you get my drift. Next thing you know, our hero is given a super suit with some gadgets, and sets out to avenge his brother's death, and carry on the crusade against crime in all forms.

Super Force launched with a 2-hour TV-movie that was later broken down into a four-part serial as part of the series. Unfortunately, it lasted just two seasons, as ratings dropped in year 2. Showho uploaded the first half of the episode, "Of Human Bondage". 60's icon Patrick Macnee (ex-The Avengers) is the off-camera announcer, and also played millionaire E. B. Hungerford, who was killed off early, and then an AI computer that had Hungerford's likeness and conscience. Macnee had returned to American television a few years prior in the short-lived primetime series, Gavilan, co-starring with the late Robert Urich, and his last known series gig was as part of an ensemble with Hulk Hogan in Thunder in Paradise nearly 15 years later.......



I think it's easy to see that Viacom made a mistake marketing this show as a daytime entry. It belonged in primetime instead, and I think viewers realized this during the second and final season.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Thin Line Between Love & Hate (1972)

To be honest with you, pilgrims, when I first heard the song, "Thin Line Between Love & Hate", it wasn't the Persuaders, whom we'll see in a moment, but rather, the Pretenders, off their 1983 album, "Learning to Crawl". I didn't even know about the earlier version until I ran across one of those Time-Life infomercials the other week.

While Pretenders vocalist Chrissie Hynde put her own spin on "Thin Line", let's go back 11 years before to 1972, and the Persuaders' appearance on Soul Train, introduced, of course, by the late Don Cornelius.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Looney TV: A wandering gecko passes through a familiar desert (2012)

GEICO's gecko lizard mascot is on a cross-country trek, and the latest spot has him somewhere in the American Southwest (Arizona, maybe?), where he meets---separately---the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. It's beginning to seem like GEICO has a deal where they'll use classic WB characters once a year. In 2010, it was Elmer Fudd. Last year, Foghorn Leghorn & Henery Hawk. Maybe next year, Daffy Duck?

Anyway, this cute bit comes from LooneyTunesFanatic:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. Evil From Krypton, a Creature From The Dump, and Aircraft Terror (1981)

Here's a Super Friends short piece, which basically is a case of writers being stuck for an original menace, and tried to improvise one. Thankfully, this "Creature From The Dump" wasn't the inspiration for the "Toxic Avenger".

Edit, 11/29/15: We now have a complete episode, as we've also got "Evil From Krypton" and "Aircraft Terror", the latter also stars the Wonder Twins and Batman & Robin.



Ignore the poster's label on the video. That might've been to keep the copyright police away.

Maybe next time, the local junkyard should be kept under lock & key. The airport, too.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rein-Toon-ation: The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (1996)

Cartoon Network began breaking new ground in 1996. Their World Premiere Toons anthology (later renamed, The What A Cartoon! Show) bore its first fruit with the debut of Dexter's Laboratory, which was farmed out to sister network TBS. Meanwhile, the network also decided to take a chance on reviving a classic hero from the 60's, and welcomed back Jonny Quest.

Reruns of the original series must've brought some big ratings numbers, else CN would never have commissioned The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, which anchored the network's then-new Toonami afternoon-early evening drive block. On one hand, the idea was to upgrade Jonny and his friends to bring them up to speed with the latest technology, and that included introducing them to the internet. Another big surprise was the fact that Jonny and his best buddy Hadji had been---gasp!---allowed to age. They were now teenagers!

Not only that, but they weren't alone anymore. The producers added Jessie Bannon, daughter of family bodyguard Roger "Race" Bannon, to create the potential for romantic tension between Jessie and either Jonny or even Hadji. That was despite the fact that Jonny wasn't exactly interested in Jessie to begin with. Jessie, for the uninitiated, had been introduced a few years prior in a made-for-cable movie.

Unfortunately, a lot of longtime fans were put out by the fact that Jonny & Hadji had reached puberty in the first place. Well, you can't have everything. However, halfway through the season, the producers had to overhaul the cast, if you could believe it. Don Messick, the voice of Bandit, the family dog, and Dr. Benton Quest (succeeded John Stephenson after a few episodes of the original series), was not asked back, and two actors more well known for movies and primetime tried to fill the void. They tried first with George Segal (Just Shoot Me), then replaced him with John DeLancie (ex-Star Trek: The Next Generation), who seemed to be more of a fit. Game show whiz kid J. D. Roth (more recently the host-producer of Endurance) was initially cast as Jonny, then was let go. Film star Robert Patrick ("Terminator 2: Judgment Day") was brought in as Race, after Granville Van Dusen, who inherited the role from a retiring Mike Road in the 1985 series, left. Problem was, Patrick didn't quite fit.

Here's the intro:



Even though one season's worth of episodes were produced, CN played it into the ground for 3 years, during which time it also went into general syndication for a year. Now, it languishes in CN's vaults. Some genius thought a live-action movie starring Zak Efron ("High School Musical") as Jonny might be a blockbuster, but it never got past the talking stage. Thank God for small favors.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Toon Rock: The Brady Kids (1972)

There are two schools of thought on The Brady Bunch, which anchored ABC's Friday night lineup for 5 seasons (1969-74), and became a cottage industry in and of itself. One side of the argument was that it was a breezy, family-friendly sitcom that became a cult favorite, leading to it being revived in a pair of feature films. The other is that it is considered by some as one of the worst sitcoms of all time, for no other reason than the facts already stated, and that certain of later generations just don't understand its appeal.

During season 3, Greg, Marcia, Jan, Peter, Bobby, & Cindy (Barry Williams, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, & Susan Olsen) formed a vocal group to help raise some money. One of the songs used in that episode, "It's a Sunshine Day", became an instant classic, and somehow, someone at ABC convinced creator-producer Sherwood Schwartz (ex-Gilligan's Island) that it might be a good idea to spin the kids off into their own series.

The Brady Kids, then, was licensed out to Filmation, which co-produced the series with Schwartz's Redwood Productions & Paramount, and debuted in September 1972, and holds the distinction of launching a second series the same day. That is to say, the first episode of Brady Kids was also the first installment of the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, and would later be rebroadcast as a 2-part Brady Kids episode later in the season. As a result, viewers got 90 minutes worth of Brady in one day, which at the time was unprecedented.

After the first season, half the cast left in a dispute over money (what else?), forcing producer Lou Scheimer to have two of his kids, Erica & Lane, fill in, though the musical numbers were held over from the previous season. Not surprisingly, the series was cancelled after 2 seasons, and Schwartz & Filmation replaced the Brady Kids with The New Adventures of Gilligan.

Perhaps the most notable thing in the series' brief history was that it helped build the foundation for ABC's keystone toon franchise of the 70's & 80's, the Super Friends, as Superman & Wonder Woman guest-starred in separate episodes. The Superman episode, "Cindy's Super Friend", isn't available on YouTube, however, and the fact that the use of the two Justice Leaguers, whose rights---of course--belong to WB, coupled with CBS-Paramount's lack of interest in releasing the series on DVD, may preclude it from ever seeing the light of day again, even with the series marking its 40th anniversary this year.

The real highlight of the series was the musical numbers, usually introduced by Marlin, a mynah bird/sorcerer (Larry Storch, ex-F-Troop), and run at the end of each episode, a la Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids, which also launched in 1972, and was a more successful series. Windsorbear uploaded "I Believe In You", and it sounds like Maureen McCormick is on lead vocals....





Tres cheesy, no?

Rating: C.

Rein-Toon-ation: TaleSpin (1990)

Disney's TaleSpin is loosely based on certain characters from Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, which Disney adapted into an animated musical in 1967. This time, Baloo is a pilot who now must answer to his new boss, Rebecca Cunningham (Sally Struthers, ex-All In The Family, Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm), who purchased Baloo's business after he'd defaulted on it due to some excessive debts.

Baloo's sidekick, Kit Cloudkicker, is a bit of a rebel, but also pretty adept at cloud surfing, and his retractable air glider has found its way into other cartoons since TaleSpin ended its run. Like, you don't suppose it was the inspiration for the much larger glider Static used on his show?

Shere Khan is rebooted here as a businessman, but the other villains of Jungle Book, like Kaa, for example, didn't make the transition into this series. Louie, on the other hand, did, as he now owns a small club that's also one of Baloo's hangouts.

Bottom line is, TaleSpin had a little bit of everything. Baloo became a father figure to Kit, who in turn is a big brother to Rebecca's daughter, Molly. All that was needed was for Baloo & Rebecca to become a serious couple (which they didn't) to finish the surrogate family.

Here's the open.



These days, Disney can't be bothered to bring this out of the vaults and put it in a more prominent slot on DisneyXD or Disney Channel. Their loss.

Rating: B.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Literary Toons: Festival of Family Classics (1972)

Rankin-Bass returned to syndication 40 years ago with a series that aired in the bridge before network primetime shows between 1972-76.

Festival of Family Classics, sponsored by Burger Chef restaurants, was R-B's answer to Famous Classic Tales series that was airing periodically on CBS around the same time, but in a more condensed, half-hour format. 20 episodes in all were produced, mining some of the same ground as their rivals. For example, Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was adapted for both series, while other stories, such as Puss 'N' Boots, were licensed solely to R-B.

This much I remember. The series aired in my area on the local CBS affiliate of the period, usually on a Thursday night. Wikipedia's entry on the series states that it has aired on Teletoon Retro in Canada, and supposedly on Boomerang, too. However, it wasn't on Da Boom here in the US, I assure you.

Anyway, here's the open, accompanied by a sample of the adaptation of Lewis Carroll's well-known, and oft-adapted, classic, Alice in Wonderland.



Insofar as I know, the series is not yet available on DVD, due probably to rights issues over the stories included in the series.

Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. The Men From A. P. E. (1966)

Meet the Allied Perpetrators of Evil (A. P. E.): The Warlock, a made-for-TV villain; Lex Luthor, the team founder and leader; The Toyman (Winslow Schott), the last guy you want to buy toys from for your kids; The Prankster, who looks nothing like his original appearance in the comics (Oswald Loomis, you see, had a gap tooth and is stout), as he looks more like a British thug who is out of place in Metropolis. The goal, of course, is to eliminate Superman. Good luck with that, gentlemen.

A. P. E. would have two go-rounds as a unit, and this is the first one.



Typical fare of the period. Not on board with the pseudo-European accent given to Luthor, as he was as American as apple pie. Moldy apple pie, that is.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sunday Funnies: Paw Paws (1985)

Paw Paws was one of the original components of the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera anthology package, launching in 1985. Formatted similarly to studio stablemates Smurfs and Biskitts, the Paw Paw bears live within their own little forest community, tucked away from the outside world.

Obviously, H-B didn't learn anything from the past. Where they had previously copied the successful formulas that made The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo iconic hits, now they tried to mine the vein that made Smurfs a worldwide phenomenon. Just like the Biskitts, however, the Paw Paws lasted just one season, despite a veteran voice cast that included Ruth Buzzi (ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), Scatman Crothers (ex-Hong Kong Phooey, Chico & The Man), and studio stalwarts like Frank Welker & Jerry Dexter.

Here's the open:



Of course, there also existed at the time another group of bears who were pretty popular thanks to some greeting cards----the Care Bears. That would do a lot to explain the Paw Paws' failure.

I barely remember seeing the show, but from what I did see, this was worthy of a second season---if it were on a network.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Saturtainment: Precious Pupp (1965)

Precious Pupp, one of the two backup features behind Atom Ant, presented a mangy, layabout mongrel dog who somehow manages to foil any challenge that comes his way. Don Messick provided the sound effects for Precious, including an all-too-familiar-by-now laugh that Messick later transferred to Muttley (Wacky Races, 1968). Janet Waldo spoke for Precious' owner, Granny Sweet, who got around on a motor scooter, staying active at her advanced age.

Muttley16 uploaded this bumper:



It's just too bad that Hanna-Barbera never saw fit to bring Precious back in later years, although I suspect strongly that Goober might be of the same scraggly breed......!

Rating: B.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Saturtainment: Dink the Little Dinosaur (1989)

Dinosaurs were gradually becoming big business in the late 80's and early 90's. Previously, we've reviewed the adventure series, Dinosaucers, so now let's move the clock forward 2 years and consider Ruby-Spears' Dink the Little Dinosaur.

Dink led off CBS' Saturday morning lineup during its 2 year run (1989-91), and added teaching segments for kids in season 2, which might've contributed to the series' cancellation, given the seeming apathy toward educational segments embedded in Saturday shows at this point. After 5 days of moral lessons, kids just didn't want to be subjected to a 6th.

Regrettably, the series is not yet available on DVD, though at the rate WB is going in digging shows out of the archives, maybe it'll be out soon. I also regret that I never saw the show, so I can't rate it, but I'll leave you with the open.

Daytime Heroes: The Centurions (1986)

The Centurions started as a 5-part miniseries, then graduated into a full-fledged daily series in short order. Based on a toy line, which was a trend du jour back then, Centurions captured the imagination of many a fan, but, sadly, not enough to warrant a second season.

What I wanted to do was post the show open, with narration by Bill Woodson (ex-Super Friends), but those clips' embedding codes have been disabled. Instead, let's check out this sample clip, posted by ToonBarn to YouTube:



The series was last seen on Boomerang, but now languishes in the vaults as the current administration no longer feels comfortable with a lot of 80's cartoons. Their loss, as usual.

Need I also add that the creative personnel on the show included some comics heavyweights in Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, and Doug Wildey? Oh, of course I should. I just did.

Rating: B.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rein-toon-ation: The Flintstone Comedy Show (1980)

Hanna-Barbera marked the 20th anniversary of The Flintstones by rebooting Fred & Barney Meet The Thing & The Shmoo (which was the show's title by the end of the 1979-80 season) into a revival of 1973's Flintstone Comedy Show, which was, in turn, a reboot of the Flintstone Comedy Hour the year prior.

NBC gave this 90 minutes, and to say that Fred (Henry Corden) & Barney (Mel Blanc) were all over the place would be an overstatement. They got 2 segments, and so did their wives, Wilma (Jean VanderPyl) & Betty (Gay Autterson), who would appear in the Captain Caveman segment from time to time.

You see, to justify the Shmoo being part of the show, he was inexplicably paired with Fred & Barney in the Bedrock Cops segment. That this lasted two seasons, given such oddities, would be a minor miracle.

Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm were now solving mysteries, a la Scooby-Doo, although Dino wasn't exactly in Scooby's class. Dino, though, also got 2 segments, as he co-starred in a series of shorts with Cavemouse, a character created by toon legend Tex Avery. Rounding things out were The Frankenstones, who had two kids of their own, Atrocia (Zelda Rubenstein, later of "Poltergeist" fame) & Freaky (Paul Reubens, before he created Pee-Wee Herman). Ruta Lee (ex-High Rollers) & Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game) voiced the parents, and, if memory serves, Reilly was the 2nd actor to play Frank Frankenstone, with John Stephenson the first in a TV movie.

WREYTube uploaded the open:



They tried to capture the spirit of the original series, and recycled the series for 2 more years of reruns after initial cancellation. Good luck, though, trying to find them on Boomerang and/or Cartoon Network. The series languishes in the vaults.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Space Ghost vs. "Space Spectre" (1981)

NBC, thinking they had a potential winner, had commissioned a new set of Space Ghost cartoons from Hanna-Barbera as part of the 1981 Space Stars series. I guess the thinking was they had gotten some positive numbers from combining reruns of the original series with Frankenstein, Jr. a few years earlier, but waited too long to pull the trigger. When they did, Space Stars was part of an action-packed lineup that also included Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends & Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!. Of the three adventure shows, only Spidey was retained the following season. Go figure.

Here, then, is an offering from 1981, as Space Ghost (Gary Owens) meets his doppleganger from a parallel universe, Space Spectre. The mistake in the casting was not having Owens double up and voice Spectre as well as Space Ghost. Instead, Spectre's voice is that of John Stephenson, who also voices a galactic patrolman in pursuit of the villain. Minute mistakes like that, apparently, proved to be costly.......

Edit: 7/14/14: The video has been deleted. The only other copy available has a Spanish overdub, which we can't use.

As noted, Jan & Jace's confusion would've worked better had Owens voiced Space Spectre.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

You Know The Voice: Louise Williams (1983)

A while back, I posted an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in which Louise "Liberty" Williams had guested well before she began her voice-over career. This time, her short-lived 1983 ABC sitcom, Baby Makes Five, is at the center of this network promo, narrated by the late, inestimable Ernie Anderson, who was a staff announcer for ABC for many years. Louise had the same kind of luck with Baby as she did with Bustin' Loose and 13 Queens Boulevard in the 70's. That is to say, none at all, as Baby, a spring replacement series, was cancelled, and Louise went back to work on Super Friends for 2 more seasons.

Co-star Peter Scolari was in between Bosom Buddies (w/future Oscar winner Tom Hanks) and Newhart when he landed the Baby gig. Unfortunately, the promo is all we have on this show, which was largely ignored in the spring of 1983. Scolari, oh, by the way, would later re-team with Hanks when the two worked on the animated film, "The Polar Express" in 2005. Just had to get that in there.

Edit: 2/21/14: The video was deleted by YouTube due to copyright issues.

On The Air: Green Screen Adventures (2007)

A few years ago, before he became the host of The Price Is Right, Drew Carey attempted to replicate the success of the improvisation-driven Whose Line Is It Anyway? with a show built around the use of a green screen, which allows for the performers to still be on stage while a background appears behind them. Unfortunately, it was airing on the CW network, and failed to get through its one and only season.

In 2007, WCIU in Chicago launched Green Screen Adventures, which encourages viewers to submit story ideas for the cast to perform using the green screen. The show went into syndication, and has aired on cable in recent years, currently airing weekends from 8-10 am (ET) on Me-TV. Tehgary uploaded this sample from the series opener:



The idea is to encourage not only kids, but adults as well, to tap into their creative juices. I am not entirely certain, since I don't follow the show, if it's still in production, but if it isn't, it's a lost opportunity, and that's a shame.

 Rating: A.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

You Know the Voice: Alan Reed (1968)

Alan Reed is best remembered as the original voice of Fred Flintstone, but he'd also logged some time doing "face acting", working on live-action projects. After The Flintstones' original run ended in 1966, Reed took advantage of his lack of recognizance with viewers to pursue some "face acting" jobs. One of these landed him on The Beverly Hillbillies in the episode, "The Rass'lin Clampetts", which first aired in January 1968. Here, Reed plays a wrestling promoter dealing with a spike in television ratings after a relative novice----Granny (Irene Ryan)----becomes an overnight sensation. Hey, this would be the sort of scenario that Fred Flintstone would fit into, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Skip To My Lou, a la Bugs Bunny (1950)

I've been waiting a long time to post this one. Until tonight, every time I wanted to pull this classic piece from 1950's "Hillbilly Hare", embedding was disabled per the request of the posters on YouTube who uploaded this hilarious sequence. Well, the ironically monickered "Mickey Mouse" didn't mind having the embedding codes used, so it's finally here.

In "Hillbilly Hare", Bugs Bunny is in the Ozark mountains, running afoul of the Martin brothers, Curt (Mel Blanc) & Pumpkinhead (John T. Smith, uncredited). It all leads to Bugs donning a transparent disguise as a backwoods maiden inviting the brothers for an impromptu square dance. "Skip To My Lou", a traditional square dance number, plays on the jukebox (John T. Smith is heard here), until Bugs sheds his disguise, dons a hat, and takes up the fiddle himself. You can guess the rest.

When "Hillbilly" aired on ABC, it was edited to pieces due to the violent nature of the square dance sequence. Not so on Cartoon Network and elsewhere (Thank God!). Parents groups don't understand slapstick comedy anymore.

In the early 90's, more than 40 years after "Hillbilly" was made, a local band in my area created their own version, parodying Madonna's "Vogue" rap with references to country stars such as Ricky Skaggs, while mixing in some square dance, though not specifically "Skip To My Lou". The crowds ate it up, and it quickly became a popular request.

The lyrics are printed on screen, mostly for the benefit of karaoke fans. Enjoy.


Sunday Funnies: Justice Friends (1996)

The Justice Friends was one of two alternating backup features in support of Dexter's Laboratory (Dial M For Monkey was the other), but didn't last very long. Methinks that certain sensitive types at Marvel might've had something to do with the feature's shorter-than-expected lifespan.

I suggest Marvel, rather than Hanna-Barbera's corporate sibling, DC, because the trio of heroes in this sitcom, Krunk, Val Hallen, and Major Glory, correspond to Hulk, Thor, & Captain America, respectively, although DC did create a General Glory character for their late 80's reincarnation of the Justice League. As such, it's safe to suggest that this was a cross-parody of Marvel's Avengers and the then-white hot primetime sitcom, Friends (which was a WB property, anyway). Rare was the time when these guys actually fought someone. Could you picture Genndy Tartatovsky trying to reboot the Super Friends the same way, and getting denied? I think that might've been the case, but I can't prove it.

[As it is, some enterprising soul has dubbed over some Super Friends toons using material from Friends, but it is not worth discussing any further than that, since it amounts to blasphemy rather than parody.]

Smashlilman uploaded the open:



The quibble I had was in the development, or lack thereof, of Val Hallen. I get the heavy metal rocker riff, but most metalheads aren't surfer dudes, at least the last I checked. Seems to me that this concept should've been pitched---or, maybe, it was---to Mad Magazine first. It sounds better on paper.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Looney TV: Taz-Mania (1991)

The Tasmanian Devil had been a foil/adversary for Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck, albeit separately, since his debut, but someone at Warner Bros. saw some value in making him the star of his own show.

Now, the guy really can't speak all that well, which actually makes him the exception rather than the rule, as would be revealed in the 1991 series, Taz-Mania, which alternated between Saturdays & weekday afternoons on Fox, sometimes airing 6 days a week. The producers gave Taz a more domestic look, complete with parents and siblings, and a supporting cast that could've gone somewhere---if only Fox kept the show in a stable timeslot!

Two seasons' worth of episodes were produced, and broadcast over four years (1991-95). Hey, it's better than what was done to him last year on The Looney Tunes Show, when Bugs & Daffy mistook him for a watchdog and took him in as a pet. Makes you wonder who's loonier, the characters or the jabronies writing the show!

Jess Harnell sings the theme song, and if the Australian accent he uses sounds familiar, it should. He would later create a speaking voice to go with it for one of the Warner Brothers on Animaniacs.



It's too bad the show is sitting in the vaults somewhere. What fun.

Rating: B.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Boogie Fever (1975)

The disco era began somewhere around 1975, and ended around 1980. Soul Train was right in the middle of it all from start to finish. One of the earliest disco hits was "Boogie Fever", by the Sylvers, and Discokween uploaded this Soul Train performance clip........

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Superboy (1988)

Fans of DC's Superman franchise got double the pleasure in 1988. Not only did the Man of Steel return to CBS with a solo animated series that we've reviewed here in the past, but we also got a brand new series, set more in modern times, of Superboy. 27 years after a failed pilot from Adventures of Superman producer Whitney Ellsworth, the Boy of Steel finally landed his own series. Suffice it to say, it outlasted Ruby-Spears' Superman, lasting 4 seasons.

John Haymes Newton was cast first as Superboy, aka Clark Kent, but left after the first season due to either creative differences, money, or both. Gerard Christopher stepped in beginning with season 2, and it was, dare I say it, up, up, and away from there. DC, of course, adapted the series into a comic book that lasted about a year or two.

Here's the first season open:



And, here's one from season 2, Gerard Christopher's 1st season:



The series came from the same folks who masterminded the four "Superman" movies with Christopher Reeve, but, due likely to litigation issues involving the estates of co-creators Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster, it hasn't been seen since it ended in 1992. Once those issues are finally settled, I'd not be surprised to find it materializing somewhere, like, say, maybe, The Hub?

No rating: I didn't watch the show.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rein-Toon-Ation: Hong Kong Phooey (2001)

A few years ago, Cartoon Network commissioned a series of online shorts featuring a number of cartoon stars of the past. Hong Kong Phooey returned, buffer and tougher than ever, and with new powers, in this untitled short, uploaded by cozeminus. No dialogue, just a lot of ass-whooping, something HKP could not do in the original 1974 series. No Spot, no Sgt. Flint, no Rosemary, just Penrod Pooch, that file cabinet, and some overconfident foes.




In a word, panrific! Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Flash tries "To Catch a Blue Bolt" (1967)

The title of this Filmation short says it all. Uploaded by TheFlashoflight:



Rating: B.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Saturday School: Adventures in Odyssey (1991)

Spun off from a long running radio show of the same name, Adventures in Odyssey is a 17-episode video series that is currently running in reruns on Daystar & PBS Kids Sprout (check local listings). I happened across the show while channel surfing this morning, and decided to check it out.

A little backstory. Odyssey, as noted, started as a radio series produced by the evangelical group Focus on the Family, which is still running today, and features a standout voice cast including some familiar talents such as Jess Harnell (ex-Animaniacs, etc.), Townsend Coleman (The Tick, Pro-Stars), and, in the early years, Walker Edmiston, better known for his work with the Kroffts in the 70's, and Hal Smith (Davey & Goliath, The Andy Griffith Show).

Here's a sample clip:



The above clip only scratches the surface of the series, and, sadly, there were no clips of the episode I watched today, which sent Eugene (one of the main characters) & Dylan (created for the video series) into the Old West. Hey, you can't have everything.

Rating: A.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Literary Toons: Aesop & Son (1959)

Originally introduced as one of several backup features on Rocky & His Friends (aka The Bullwinkle Show), Aesop & Son took the classic fables of Aesop and turned them upside down, as only Jay Ward and his staff could. Film star Charles Ruggles, who didn't get screen credit, voiced Aesop, whilst his son was played by Daws Butler.

Bullwinklecanada uploaded this sample short:



If you want the real story, as it was originally written, you might have to go to the library to find any books on Aesop.

Rating: C.

Looney TV: From A To Z-Z-Z-Z (1953)

Chuck Jones created a different kind of character in this 1953 Merrie Melodies short.

"From A To Z-Z-Z-Z" was inspired by James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which had been adapted as a feature film starring Danny Kaye, and is being remade for release down the line with Ben Stiller. Ralph Phillips (Dick Beals, uncredited) is a grade school daydreamer whose fantasies include being a prize fighter and General MacArthur. Phillips would return in a sequel about a year later.

This short is dedicated to the memory of Dick Beals, who passed away on Tuesday at 85. Rest in peace, Dick.




Rating: A.