Friday, May 31, 2013

Saturtainment: The Cattanooga Cats go A Ghosting A Go-Go (1969)

We have served up a couple of Cattanooga Cats musical numbers in the past, but now their adventures are up on YouTube.

Things to consider: Groovy (Casey Kasem, who was also heard on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You, Skyhawks, & Hot Wheels, all in the same season) always speaks in rhyme. Country (Bill Calloway) is the group's leader. Scoots (Jim Begg) is the resident chicken, and Kitty Jo (Julie Bennett) is just cute. In this story, the Cats run afoul of a ghost in "A Ghosting A Go-Go".

Edit: 11/4/15: Unfortunately, the video has been deleted due to copyright issues.

Worth noting: 9 years later, Casey Kasem & Bill Calloway would be reteamed when Calloway replaced Norm Alden as the voice of Aquaman on Challenge of the Super Friends.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Stop, Look, & Listen (1970)

Fayt Linegod serves up a Josie & The Pussycats track, "Stop, Look, & Listen". The footage is the chase scene from the episode, "X Marks The Spot":

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sunday Funnies: ABC's promo for their Sunday morning mini-block (1965)

Once upon a time, ABC & CBS used to air reruns on Sunday mornings of cancelled children's shows. ABC, though, mixed in some original programming co-produced through the network's news department. We've previously covered Discovery, Make A Wish, Kids Are People, Too, & Animals, Animals, Animals. What about their animated fare, though?

Well, unlike CBS, which just ran an hour's worth and let the affiliates decide where to place the shows, either before or after the network's block of religious-themed programming (i.e. Lamp Unto My Feet), ABC actually cared about their Sunday package. Then again, they had animated programming at night (The Flintstones & Jonny Quest) at the time. Tvp33 presents this clip, taken from the TV Party website.



Unfortunately, as I was growing up, the local affiliate was losing interest and we were lucky to actually see Discovery. Bullwinkle would eventually move to Saturdays to end its ABC run.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: PicturePages (1978)

PicturePages began as a segment on Captain Kangaroo in 1978, with the Captain himself (Bob Keeshan) drawing some pictures for the young ones. In this regard, it might've been a spiritual successor to Jack Barry's Winky Dink & You, except that there weren't any animated adventures that went along with it. After a couple of years, Keeshan handed the magic marker and drawing board over to Bill Cosby (Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids), who remained the host of the segment until Kangaroo ended its run.

By the end of the 80's, PicturePages had moved to Nickelodeon, where it became a component of the network's Pinwheel anthology package. However, Pinwheel ended production in 1989, and so, PicturePages came to an end.

Following is a sample video, which was taken from a broadcast on Nick:



Rating: A.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You Know the Voice: Olan Soule directs the Mayberry Community Choir (1962)

Long before being cast as the voice of Batman in 1968, Olan Soule had racked up an impressive resume, with credits including Captain Midnight, Dennis the Menace, Dragnet, and, in this clip, The Andy Griffith Show, in which he plays the harried director of Mayberry's community choir, which includes Andy himself, deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), and Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors). The plot in this tale was Gomer tricking Barney into joining the choir. The usual chaos ensues.


Rein-Toon-Ation: The New Fred & Barney Show (1979)

The New Fred & Barney Show relaunched the Flintstones franchise when it was added to NBC's Saturday morning lineup in the winter of 1979 as a mid-season replacement. Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm were ret-conned back into toddlers, which, as we've speculated here before, was because advertisers with whom Hanna-Barbera had licensing deals (Post, Miles Laboratories) preferred the preschool incarnations of the characters, and so, the teenage adventures were excised pro tempore.

However, as we have also noted, long time fans of the franchise protested the de-aging of Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, and when the series eventually evolved into the 2nd incarnation of the Flintstone Comedy Show (1980-2), the kids were reverted to teenagers, but this time put forth with Dino and their friends as a stone age mock up of Scooby-Doo, since NBC was unable to acquire that franchise a few years earlier. Suffice to say, the Flintstones bade farewell to NBC in 1982, and eventually went back to their original network, ABC, for a series of periodic primetime specials that continued Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm's story, even though the Alphabet Network had already aired The Flintstones & the Little Big League before The New Fred & Barney Show landed at NBC.

Now, let's talk about the show.

Alan Reed, the original voice of Fred Flintstone, had passed away, so Henry Corden, the understudy and previously the singing voice of Fred, stepped into the role. John Stephenson, long the voice of Fred's boss, Mr. Slate, and numerous other characters, serves as announcer, something he was used to, but not at H-B. Stephenson, you see, was the off-camera narrator at the end of Dragnet during its second run (1967) before being replaced by Art Gilmore. Otherwise, the only other thing that was new, besides the revamped theme, was the presence of title cards for each episode, something that the earlier series didn't have.

Unfortunately, NBC had to tinker with the show. Season 2 saw a format change, with the Flintstones now joined by the solo adventures of the Fantastic Four's Thing, now rebooted as a shape-shifting teenager, whose more familiar alter ego appears only when Benjy Grimm brings together a pair of rings. As bad as it sounds. With The New Shmoo, adapted from Al Capp's L'il Abner strip, failing, someone decided that stitching it into Fred & Barney Meet The Thing might save it, expanding the latter to 90 minutes. That proved to be a disaster. To make good to fans, NBC experimented with a return to primetime for The Flintstones, marking the series' 20th anniversary, but that didn't work, either.

Scope out the episode, "Bedrock Rocks", in which Fred & Barney must impersonate musicians to fulfill Mrs. Slate's birthday wish.



In this writer's opinion, it might've worked better if they left Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm as teens, getting ready for college, instead of catering to Madison Avenue's interests. It might've helped the series succeed without all the tinkering.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Toonfomercial: This is what landed Linus the Lionhearted his own show (1963)

General Foods' Post division was a sponsor of King Leonardo & His Short Subjects, and, as a result, viewers were introduced to Linus the Lionhearted (Sheldon Leonard) well before his series premiered in 1964. Following is one of the first ads, from 1963:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: At The Hospital (1972)

Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids serve up a gentle reminder that going to the hospital isn't as scary as you'd think if you're a kid. "At The Hospital" recaps an episode in which Russell is reluctant to go to the hospital to have his tonsils taken out. Of course, 41 years later, there might still be a generation or two of children who are (understandably) scared of hospitals. Maybe this helps.

Uploaded by hidinginthebushes:

Saturday School: Timer's recipe for "Sunshine on a Stick" (1970's)

Timer is back with a radical recipe for what amounts to a home made popsicle. I don't have the exact year this was produced, but now would be a good time to learn how to create "Sunshine on a Stick". Uploaded by Tracy80sgirl:



Disney would be well served to put Time for Timer on DVD. Period.

Rating: A.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rein-Toon-Ation: Scooby-Doo meets the Addams Family (1972)

Six years after their first live-action series ended, The Addams Family returned, guest-starring on The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

The episode, "Wednesday is Missing", was a back-door pilot for the Addamses' next series, the first of two animated incarnations that would bow the next year, albeit on NBC instead of CBS. John Astin reprises as Gomez, but would be replaced by Len Weinrib the following year. Never fear, when the series was revived in 1992, Astin was brought back as Gomez. Carolyn Jones, Ted Cassidy, & Jackie Coogan also returned for this one.



I don't know why NBC got the animated Addams Family, which we reviewed a ways back. It's just one of those things.

Rating: B+.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Peter Potamus vs. a giant (Fe Fi Fo Fun, 1964)

Peter Potamus and his sidekick, So-So, run afoul of an angry giant who thinks Peter is Jack, as in, Jack & The Beanstalk, the result of Peter & So-So looking for land to escape a lightning storm, in "Fe Fi Fo Fun". Could a giant stand up to Peter's Hippo Hurricane Holler? Well, let's find out.......

Edit: 4/21/15: "Fe Fi Fo Fun" has been deleted by YouTube due to copyright issues.

Nearly 40 years later, Peter was reduced to a one-joke supporting character on Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law. Maxmercury reminds us what that joke is........



Such disrespect makes it impossible for WB to utilize Peter as he was meant to be, especially with his 50th anniversary next year. Maybe teaming him with Scooby-Doo in something other than a fever dream might help.........

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Birdman meets Birdgirl (1967)

Birdman seemingly meets his match when a mad scientist gives a young woman mechanical wings (similar to the ones worn by Birdboy) and a strength formula to create Birdgirl.



Birdgirl, from the sound of it, was voiced by Virginia Eiler (Gravity Girl). 25 years later, [adult swim] brought her back on Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, recast as the daughter of Phil Ken Sebben (Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report). Here is Judy Ken Sebben, aka Birdgirl, trying to help Peter Potamus with an exercise.



If that was an attempt at making Birdgirl seem remotely relevant, it didn't work.

The Birdman episode merits a B.

Tooniversary: Pixie & Dixie and Mr.Jinks (1958)

Pixie & Dixie and Mr. Jinks was a backup feature on The Huckleberry Hound Show, as well as a variant on the Tom & Jerry series that Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera created nearly 20 years earlier for MGM. Only in this case, there are two mice who try to act civily with Jinks, only to be chased. Occasionally, the trio will team together against a common enemy.

Now, let's take a look at a sample episode, "Meece Missiles":



Too bad Jinks never starred in a solo story.

Rating: B-.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Galaxy Trio visits a "sleeping planet" (1967)

YouCantHoldMeDown presents an exciting Galaxy Trio adventure that should keep you on the edge of your seat, unless you want to settle down on "The Sleeping Planet":



Rating: B.

Looney TV: Hare Brush (1955)

For once, Elmer Fudd gets the best of Bugs Bunny. How? By going nuts, that's how. Scope out "Hare Brush", from 1955.



Woodsjimmy56, who posted the above, chose to tape it with a cameraphone off a Cartoon Network broadcast. For now, that's all I can do.

Sounds like Elmer's making with a tax dodge and sticking Bugs with the rap. Oh, the irony.

Rating: A.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Animated World of DC Comics: Uncle Mxyzptlk (?) (1984)

An accidental dose of red kryptonite turns Superman (Danny Dark) into a child, leaving him prey for Mr. Mxyzptlk (Frank Welker) in this short feature from Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show. Blame this one on writer Kimmer McDonald for giving the Wonder Twins amnesia regarding the various colored variations of kryptonite, six years after they'd first been acquainted with Red K.



I wouldn't have minded at all if Jayna got to quote Oliver Hardy's oft-used catchphrase. She could've told brother Zan, "Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into.". Or it could've gone the other way around.

Rating: B-.

Friday, May 17, 2013

From Primetime to Daytime: The Tomorrow People (1973)

England's Thames Television is best known for having introduced risque comedian Benny Hill to American audiences in the mid 1970's. Hill's self titled sketch comedy series was part of a program exchange initiated between Thames and WOR of New York, which also included the crime dramas Special Branch & The Sweeney, and the sitcom, Father, Dear Father, among others.

What you may not know is that Thames also introduced America to a science fiction series that will be making a comeback this fall.

The Tomorrow People first premiered in England in 1973, arriving in the US a few years later with the introduction of the cable network Nickelodeon. The concept centered on some youths with extraordinary powers, not quite unlike the popular American comics franchise, X-Men. The series lasted six years, and, if memory serves, when Nickelodeon launched, it was around the time the first series came to an end. The Rage TV uploaded the open to the original version:



In 1992, nearly 20 years after he'd created the series, Roger Price relaunched Tomorrow People, this time producing it himself through an independent studio, and this time in conjunction with Nickelodeon. Condenetwork uploaded a sample:






As the series marks its 40th anniversary this year, The Tomorrow People are returning one more time, this time in primetime, and this time on a broadcast network. The CW announced Thursday that they had acquired the rights to Tomorrow to air this fall, Wednesday nights, in back of the returning Arrow. However, what the CW failed to mention was the fact that this is not a completely original series. They've successfully rebooted other shows, such as Beauty & The Beast, but their ignorance here will be answered by fans of Tomorrow between now & September, you can be sure of that. I'd not be surprised if Nickelodeon, meanwhile, dusts off the earlier series to air on Nick or TeenNick this summer.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs......Superman? (1966)

One advantage that Filmation's New Adventures of Superman had over the live-action series of the 50's was its use of Superman's Rogues Gallery, particularly Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and today's subject, the Toyman.

Bear in mind, pilgrims, that the Toyman who was a member of Luthor's Legion of Doom 12 years later was the 2nd man to use that name, but by the time Challenge of the Super Friends hit the air, Jack Nimball was already killed off in the books by the original Toyman, Winslow Schott. The late 80's and forward hasn't been kind to Schott, recast by modern day scribes as a child molester/serial killer who still had the same toy gimmick.

Anyway, here's Schott, sending a robot duplicate of the Man of Steel to frame Supes for a few petty crimes.



Predictable fluff, that's all it really was.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Tom & Jerry in "The Tuba Tooter" (1932)

Now we're really going back in time.

Long before a certain cat & mouse became cinematic icons in the 40's, there existed another Tom & Jerry. These two were designed in the style of Bud Fisher's comic strip, Mutt & Jeff, in that you had one tall fellow (Tom) and one small one (Jerry). The Van Beuren studio produced a short series of black & white shorts with these two, and I think it's easy to see why they became so obscure so quickly. Skreenplay1 brings us "The Tuba Tooter":



Little known facts: Before going to MGM, Joe Barbera worked as an artist at Van Bueren on this series. Now, ya don't suppose he copped the Tom & Jerry label for his cat & mouse team from this, do you?

Also, there was a 3rd Tom & Jerry, except that these two were folk singers who dropped the pseudonyms rather quickly and became famous under their own names-----Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel. Hmmmmm. Again, it makes ya wonder where they got the idea for Tom & Jerry in the first place.......

Rating: C-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Magic Mongo (1977)

For season 2 of the Krofft Supershow, veteran voice actor (and sometimes producer/writer) Len Weinrib stepped in front of the cameras to essay the title role as Magic Mongo, which would've been the worst part of the show, except that they kept season 1's worst, Wonderbug, around to continue to pollute the joint.

The premise borrows from I Dream of Jeannie, except that Mongo winds up a fish out of water with a group of teens. He means well, but his magic is clumsy and awkward. One of the teens is played by Helaine Lembeck (ex-Welcome Back, Kotter), sister to Kaptain Kool himself (Michael Lembeck). Father Harvey was a producer on the show, which explains the extended nepotism.

Viewers, though, saw right through the obvious Jeannie rip-off, coming 4 years after Hanna-Barbera & CBS had tried to reboot the latter series with the genie as a teenager herself (and that failed, despite having Mark Hamill starring and singing the theme song). Some things are just better off left alone.

Here's the open:



Rating: D.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Know The Voice: Did Charlie Brown & Lucy have "foster parents"? (1968)

Actors Peter Robbins & Pamelyn Ferdin had demonstrated chemistry as the original voices for Charlie Brown & Lucy Van Pelt in the Peanuts specials. To that end, CBS prevailed upon the producers of the 1968 adaptation of Chic Young's legendary comic strip, Blondie, to cast the two as the pre-teen versions of Blondie & Dagwood's children, Alexander & Cookie. Suffice to say, aside from the quick hook given to Blondie, which went half a season on its 2nd go-round, 11 years after the first series with movie & radio star Arthur Lake reprising as Dagwood, Pamelyn had the better, lasting live-action career (i.e. Lassie, Curiosity Shop), while Robbins was hardly heard from again after his Peanuts run ended.

Of course, it goes without saying that Robbins has been in the news lately, but for the wrong (legal) reasons, and that's all I have to say about that. Frank Pilato uploaded the open to Blondie.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tooniversary: Scooby-Doo meets Mama Cass Elliott (1973)

Season 2 of The New Scooby-Doo Movies reached its pentultimate episode with a guest appearance by singer Mama Cass Elliott, formerly of the Mamas & the Papas. Like other celebrities, Mama Cass was placed as a business owner on this show. In this case, she could've been forgiven for being like a kid in a candy store, since she owned "The Haunted Candy Factory".



Sadly, this was one of Ms. Elliott's last performances, and she didn't sing on this show. Mama Cass passed away not long after this show first aired, if memory serves me correctly.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Toonerville Trolley (1936)

We continue our review of the DVD, Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Van Beuren Studio, with a look at the first of three shorts based on Fontaine Fox's strip, Toonerville Trolley, a single panel strip that could've/would've/should've been more successful than it was.

The essential elements are there, with the Skipper, not to be confused with Alan Hale, Jr.'s character on Gilligan's Island 30 years later, aided by Powerful Katrinka, whose girth belies her superhuman strength.

Now, let's take a ride on the Trolley:



Rating: B.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Toon Legends: Felix the Cat meets King Cole (1936)

Felix The Cat made his debut during the silent movie era. One of his first talking pictures was part of Van Beuren's Rainbow Parade series of shorts, now available on DVD. In these stories, much like his earlier and later works, Felix would encounter an assortment of characters. In this case, a certain nursery rhyme monarch in "Bold King Cole". Uploaded by AnimationStation:



Most of us may only know Felix from his TV days in the 60's and the 1990's Twisted Tales series, but it's only half the story.......

Rating: A.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Game Time: Way Out Games (1976)

In the wake of the success of ABC's Almost Anything Goes, the network ordered a Saturday morning version for kids, hosted by comedy legend Soupy Sales. CBS, on the other hand, wanted their piece of the action, too.

Way Out Games, like its competitor, lasted just one season. The CBS affiliate at the time in my district opted to carry the show at an earlier time (7:30 AM ET) than advertised in order to clear the lunch hour block for syndicated programming, and, assuming this was a trend in a lot of cities, that contributed to the show's quick demise. Sonny Fox (ex-Wonderama) was tapped as the series host, and it would be the last time Fox would appear in front of the cameras, as he took an executive's job with one of the networks soon after. The series was produced by game show moguls Jack Barry & Dan Enright (Break The Bank, The Joker's Wild), marking Barry's return to Saturday morning television, as he'd hosted Winky Dink & You and Juvenile Jury in the past. Gilmore Box uploaded this hard to find open:



The fact that the show was earmarked for the lunch hour block was a bad sign, as it could've benefited more from airing in an earlier time slot nationally, not just in certain regions.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On DVD: Daredevil Vs. Spider-Man

Here's one for the caveat emptor file.

In between the DVD release of 2002's "Spider-Man" and the theatrical debut of "Daredevil", Disney issued a DVD compilation taken from the 1994-98 Spider-Man series that aired on Fox. However, the first mistake was putting emphasis on someone who was only in half of the episodes used, that being Daredevil.

"Daredevil vs. Spider-Man" collects 4 episodes from season 3's serial, "Sins of the Fathers", in which Peter Parker (Christopher Daniel Barnes, "The Brady Bunch Movie") is framed by Richard Fisk, son of industrialist Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, for stealing government secrets. Fisk needed a fall guy, but, in hindsight, he picked the wrong guy. DD & Spidey clash briefly, but then unite upon realizing the Fisks intend to eliminate them both. DD only appears in 2 chapters, and after that, two more parts of the arc are shown, presumably the last two, featuring Tombstone.

Also included is a 1995 episode of Fantastic Four, part of which was posted earlier, and a 1968 Spider-Man episode with Kingpin, produced and directed by Ralph Bakshi. Another mistake is that the year given for "King Pinned" was 1966, which of course was not the case.

Here's a sample of the episode, "The Man Without Fear":



Being a Disney release, there are teasers & trailers for the following movies: "Pirates of the Caribbean", taken from the Disney Channel.

"Inspector Gadget 2", with French Stewart in for Matthew Broderick as the cyborg sleuth.

"Atlantis: Milo's Return".

"Treasure Planet".

"Bionicle".

Disney would be better served to reissue "Sins of the Fathers" as a stand-alone DVD set, so fans can see the whole story. The haste to cash in on "Spider-Man"'s success actually serves as a detriment to the DVD in hindsight.

Rating: C.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Fantastic Four (1994)

Marvel Comics' "First Family", the Fantastic Four, returned to television in 1994 as 1/2 of the Marvel Action Hour, coupled with Iron Man, and with both segments introduced by co-creator Stan Lee, at least in the first season.

Beau Weaver (ex-Superman) was cast as Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic. Ageless wonder Chuck McCann voiced the Thing, and, in season 1, Brian Austin Green, then on Beverly Hills 90210, not only was the voice of "Human Torch" Johnny Storm, but reportedly also recorded the show's theme song. However, Green was replaced in season 2 by newcomer Quinton Flynn. New World, which at the time was Marvel's parent company, cancelled the series after 2 seasons, but, inevitably, the FF would later return.

MarvelKid1990 uploaded a sample from the season 2 premiere, "And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them", guest-starring Daredevil (Bill Smitrovich). This episode was included on a DVD compilation involving Daredevil & Spider-Man a few years later:



To me, ending the series at 2 seasons was a mistake, as they could've gone further. As it happened, the last FF series, produced in Europe and shown on Cartoon Network a while back, was reportedly almost as bad as the 1978 series. Oh, well.

Rating: B.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tooniversary: Scooby-Doo meets Josie & The Pussycats (1973)

I had long wondered how Josie & The Pussycats could manage to join forces with Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. team on a case when they were traveling through space on their own show. Well, the answer is that this adventure took place during season 2 of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, which proved that the band did manage to come home, but we don't know if this actually took place before or after their space trip.

"The Haunted Showboat" has the two groups trying to stop some counterfeiters. Plenty of work for Casey Kasem (Shaggy & Alex Cabot), who also voices one of the villains, and Don Messick (Scooby & Sebastian), as per usual.



Again, the animation and slower pace drag this one down. Both groups have seen better times.

Rating: B-.

Animated World of DC Comics: Aquaman vs. The Ice Dragon & The Deadly Drillers (1967)

Time to scope out  Aquaman in "The Ice Dragon". Now, you'd think dragons wouldn't live undersea, but leave it author Bob Haney to create one that did. Note, too, that some of the incidental music was also used in the Teen Titans segments, which also featured Aqualad (Jerry Dexter). Also on tap, "The Deadly Drillers":



Rating: B.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Morning Ringside: International Championship Wrestling

International Championship Wrestling, a Northeastern based independent promotion, managed to gain some brief national exposure in the early 90's. Where, you might ask? On the channel which would later become CNBC. Go figure.

ICW, later rechristened International World Class Championship Wrestling during a brief union with the Texas promotion, was run by the Savoldi family, and, at first, "Jumping" Joe was the star of the promotion. Father Angelo was the promoter. In case you wonder, a 3rd Savoldi, Mario, was employed as a referee with the then-World Wrestling Federation during the 70's, and would resurface here. It was here that "Mr. USA" Tony Atlas would win his only World title---albeit as a heel. It was here that some of us got our first exposure to the "Human Suplex Machine", Taz, then known as the Tazmaniac, and Tommy Dreamer, then known as T. D. Madison. However, CNBC, or FNN at the time, dropped the promotion after a short time.

Matto11101 uploaded this sample package, with the late Tony Rumble on color commentary, a poor man's Jesse Ventura wannabe.



Rating: C+.

Friday, May 3, 2013

What WB & Cartoon Network need to do to save DC Nation

If you have frequented the Animation Revelation & ToonZone message boards, you're probably familiar with the divisive debates surrounding Cartoon Network's newest entries for their DC Nation block, Teen Titans GO!  (already reviewed) and Beware the Batman (due next month, depending on who you talk to). What is lost in the arguments is the fact that DC Nation's 1 hour format doesn't lend itself to long-term growth, and that was already made evident with the cancellations of Young Justice & Green Lantern, which still roils some folks to this day.

Job 1 for Cartoon Network is to finally do right by their corporate sibling and expand the block. Titans is airing twice a week to maximize exposure and interest, and the same may hold true for Beware the Batman when that series debuts. However, one hour on Saturday mornings ain't cutting ice with some people. CN has, in fact, engendered distrust with viewers because of their mistreatment of certain shows, not just DC Nation.

Since CN is more interested in comedy programming nowadays---it's supposedly cheaper to produce, but I'll believe it when I see it----that opens the door for DC to dust off some of their dormant comedy properties. To wit:

Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew: Introduced as a funny animal sendup of the Justice League of America in the early 80's, the Captain (a rabbit, don't ya know) and his team would be a perfect fit for the block.

Sugar & Spike: I firmly believe Nickelodeon's wildly popular 90's series, Rugrats, wouldn't have made it to air if its creators hadn't read Sheldon Mayer's series about a pair of toddlers, which lasted into the early 70's before being cancelled.

Angel & The Ape: Detective Angel O'Day and her partner, Sam Simeon, recently returned to active duty in DC's recently concluded Joe Kubert Presents miniseries. The late artist didn't create the characters, but they must've been favorites of his, and writer-artist Brian Buniak captured the manic spirit of the original 60's series perfectly.

The Inferior Five: The late Edward Nelson Bridwell created this comic super-team in the 60's, with Dumb Bunny later ret-conned into being Angel's sister in a 1990's Angel & The Ape miniseries. The 60's were rife with bumbling, campy heroes as it was (Mighty Heroes, Super Six), and it would be a fitting tribute to those halcyon days to have the I-5 finally appear on TV.

Failing that, well, there's always a certain franchise marking its 40th anniversary this year.......

Super Friends: Yeah, you read that right, effendi. DC revived the series a few years back, much, much lighter in tone than the original TV series, and it led, in turn, to a series of children's storybooks and coloring books, something the original series didn't have. CN had a series of Super Best Friends Forever last year, but that featured Supergirl and Batgirl, among others. We'll eventually review that, of course, but a revival of the classic Super Friends, but done more along the lines of what Keith Giffen, J. Marc DeMatteis, & Kevin Maguire accomplished with their late 80's Justice League reboot (heavy on comedy, which is what CN wants) would be a real attention grabber.

Lest we forget, fans are clamoring for a new Superman animated series, cognizant of the fact that it's predicated on the success of "Man of Steel", opening next month. If it's a huge hit, a new Supertoon is virtually a lock. Since CN would be reluctant to go all the way in restarting their Justice League cartoon, reviving Super Friends would be an absolute option, maintaining the spirit of the original 1973 series, which now would deserve the FCC's E/I designation, in this writer's opinion.

There's also a persistent call for Wonder Woman to finally get her own solo series, but considering all the trouble that's precluded a feature film and reviving the Amazing Amazon's 1970's live-action series, this is a tough one just to get on the drawing board. It'll happen someday, but in this writer's opinion, it ain't gonna be on CN. This is one WB property that would likely land elsewhere, unless CN gets rid of its current administration.

If CN insists on keeping DC Nation confined to 1 hour----a stupid idea if there ever was one----then the block is doomed. It's that simple. DC has the source material at hand. All WB & CN need to do is utilize it to the best of their capability. In terms of marketing their product, DC is behind Marvel by a country mile. Now's the time to catch up.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dino Boy vs. Giant Ants (1966)

Dino Boy in the Lost Valley, to use the segment's full title, is an example of an idea that never really reached full fruition.

Dino Boy (Johnny Carson, not to be confused with the late night host by the same name)'s story was never concluded, as only one season's worth of episodes was produced. Which is a shame, when you consider that 8 years later, Hanna-Barbera mounted Valley of the Dinosaurs, an animated series similar in tone to the Kroffts' Land of the Lost on NBC, but what if the Butlers weren't lost in time? What if the Valley was somewhere in present time, similar to the live-action movie, "The Valley of Gwangi"? That would've opened the door to the return of Dino Boy, since Valley aired on the same network (CBS) where this episode, "Giant Ants", first appeared.



Considering that the Butlers never made it home, either, well, put the pieces together, and you have the potential for a movie that might also include Jonny Quest, to tie it all together in one tidy package. Of course, since WB hasn't got a clue.......!

Rating: B.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Toons After Dark: The Critic (1994)

The Critic aspired to be a sendup of Hollywood movies in general, while at the same time offering a look at the private life of an atypical movie critic, one Jay Sherman (Jon Lovitz, ex-Saturday Night Live). Unfortunately, as ABC & Fox both found out, viewers had already decided that primetime cartoons only were worth watching one specific night of the week, and Critic didn't air on that night.

Critic sprang from the minds of a couple of writers-producers of The Simpsons, and, so it made sense to have Sherman appear on the Fox series, presumably after his show moved over for season 2. I cannot recall if Fox placed it on Sundays or on another night. Had they paired the two toons together, maybe Critic lasts a little bit longer. Instead, it went for 2 seasons on broadcast television.

A few years ago, the series was revived as an internet-only entity, one of the first of its kind. However, only a small handful of episodes, running anywhere from 3-5 minutes each, were produced. Meanwhile, the earlier episodes resurfaced on cable, airing on Comedy Central and Reelz. How Cartoon Network has resisted picking up this show for [adult swim] to this point is a mystery unto itself.

Now, let's take a look back at the series opener:



Rating: B-.