Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Teenage Toons: High School USA (2013)

Fox recently announced the termination of its Saturday late night cartoon block, with plans to move what they have left into the primetime block. Good luck with that. They may need to slip Seth McFarlane a few C-notes to cede some space.

Anyway, one of the network's 1st entries was High School USA, which has 0 to do with a movie of the same name from a few years back, but, as you will see in the trailer, this satire is designed in the image of the Archie cartoons from the 60's & 70's, but with more mature content that wouldn't even get past the censors on Sunday nights.

I had posted the first episode, "Bullies", but it was taken down by YouTube. I have to have a Hulu account to get it back on here, so we'll go with the trailer. I caution that there is some mature content, uncensored, on this video:




Would [adult swim] take a chance? Considering the creative personnel came from there, maybe.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman & Robin demonstrate the Heimlich Maneuver (1980?)

Here's an early 80's health tip from Super Friends, in which Batman (Olan Soule) & Robin (Casey Kasem) demonstrate the Heimlich Maneuver.




Enough said.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Toonfomercial: Pollution in space? (1973)

Here's a rarely seen PSA spun from the animated Star Trek, produced by Filmation & Paramount for the Ad Council. Voices of George Takei, Leonard Nimoy, & William Shatner.




I can't even remember if I'd seen this the first time around.

From Comics to Toons: The Maxx (MTV Oddities, 1995)

MTV's Oddities was supposed to be an anthology series that featured two concurrent serials. However, the final product wasn't how it was drawn up in the blueprint.

Writer-artist Sam Kieth's The Maxx became the 3rd Image comics series to be adapted for television, after Savage Dragon (USA Network) & WildC.A.T.S. (CBS), all within a single year's time (1994-5). Like the others, it wasn't as successful on the air as opposed to the printed page. Also, it aired in primetime, around 10 (ET), due largely to its mature subject matter. The psychological drama would've been too intense for younger viewers anyway.

No one's ever been able to explain why The Maxx wasn't ready when Oddities launched. Maybe Kieth wanted the half hour all to himself. He was, after all, given an executive producer's credit, along with MTV's Abby Terkuhle. Maybe it was just the process of transcribing Kieth's printed artwork into animated form for television. Oddities' other feature, The Head, wasn't quite as dark, a diametric opposite of Maxx, which would have formed a perfect karmic balance had the two features aired together, as originally planned.

Let's take a look at the intro to The Maxx:




Overall, Image would have 1 more series make it to television, and that was Spawn, which landed on HBO for three short seasons (1995-7). The Maxx faded from shelves well after the MTV series ended, and the cartoon is available on DVD in case you're interested in scoping it out from the beginning.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Toon Sports: Hot Wheels: The Dragon's Tooth Peak Race (1969)

Dandydeal provides us with a full episode of 1969's Hot Wheels, complete with commercials.

In "The Dragon's Tooth Peak Race", the Hot Wheels racing team competes for a $5,000 first prize, which would net them a special engine for a drag racer. Dexter Carter (Casey Kasem) has other ideas. Casey also voices a movie director in the 2nd episode in this program.

At the end of the show, there's a PSA for the American Cancer Society, similar to the one that was done for Skyhawks (and that one had to be taken down when it was deleted by YouTube). Before the closing credits, there's an animated ad for Shasta cola, narrated by actor Tom Bosley.

Enjoy the show.




Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: The Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical Mystery Trip (1973)

Believe it or else, the ABC Afterschool Special did spawn a spin-off.

The Time For Timer interstitals began after the microscopic fellow made his debut in 1973's The Incredible, Idelible, Magical, Physical Mystery Trip, and a sequel less than a year later, The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head.

You might say the Farrelly brothers used this as inspiration for their movie, "Osmosis Jones", which in turn led to a Saturday spin-off of its own, Ozzy & Drix, several years later. On this Mystery Trip, Timer (Len Maxwell, ex-Batfink) leads a pair of youngsters on a guided tour of their uncle. In the live-action portion, Hal Smith (Davey & Goliath, ex-The Andy Griffith Show) plays Uncle Carl, while Kim Richards (ex-Nanny & The Professor) plays his niece. However, they used other actors when the kids turned animated. Don't ask. Let's scope it out.




For the sequel, another Len (Weinrib, that is) took over the role of Timer. Better singer, I'll grant, and the role would be his for the remainder of Timer's appearances. Maxwell, meanwhile, dropped out of sight, or so it seemed, save maybe for some commercial work, until MTV hired him for Celebrity Deathmatch in the 90's. Maxwell acquits himself well as a singer, too, as you can tell.

Aside from the opening & closing to the 1st season of The Pink Panther Show (1969), DePatie-Freleng didn't do much for live-action, and this would be the end of their live-action output. The sequel, which they also did, was fully animated.

Rating: B.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

From Comics to Toons: Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo (When Monsters Meet, 1982)

As they did a year earlier with the series premiere of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, Marvel Comics chose to adapt an episode of their house-produced Incredible Hulk series into a 1-shot comic book. Unfortunately, the book is an edited adaptation.

"When Monsters Meet" pits Hulk (Bob Holt) against a modern day descendant of Quasimodo. The subplot has Betty Ross playing secret agent to meet with the French Minister of Finance, unwittingly walking into Quasimodo's trap, and that has Bruce Banner (Michael Bell) worried. Well,  you know what happens........



I read the book, watched the show. Most unimpressed.

Rating: C+.

Tooniversary: Peppa Pig (2004)

England's Peppa Pig made her debut 10 years ago, and emigrated to the US about a year or so later on Cartoon Network, which really didn't know what to do with her. Gee, there's a shock for you, but then, the network didn't really put a lot of promotion into their short-lived Tickle U morning block, which also featured Gerald McBoing-Boing and Krypto the Superdog, both of which have previously been reviewed. Currently, Peppa makes her American home on Nick Jr.(check your listings).

Four seasons have been produced over the course of 7 years (2004-11), and the animation looks as though Peppa and her family came from the pages of a children's book, though I have yet to verify if this is the case.

So what has been the problem? For one thing, it's been difficult for any of the cable networks to make hay with a foreign-produced cartoon. Nick, for one, was looking for something to complement their hit series, Dora the Explorer, and while Peppa Pig hasn't been quite as popular here as her countryman, Fireman Sam, for example, the fact that the series has stayed in production for as long as it did should say something.

Here's the open:



Parents, your kids will love this.

Rating: A.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Toon Legends: Ruff & Reddy (1957)

History tells us that Ruff & Reddy was Hanna-Barbera's 1st series after breaking away from MGM. The dog & cat combo appeared in primetime on NBC for 3 seasons (1957-60), and the serialized format of their adventures was duplicated by Jay Ward, not once but twice (Rocky & His Friends & Hoppity Hooper), and others, such as Cambria (Space Angel & Clutch Cargo).

Ruff (Don Messick, who also narrated) was the cat, and Reddy (Daws Butler, using the same voice he'd use for Huckleberry Hound) was a bulldog. Somehow, I had envisioned Reddy having a stronger, tougher voice, but what did I know?

My first exposure to Ruff & Reddy was a brief---and I do mean, brief---cable run in the late 80's-early 90's, well before the introduction of Cartoon Network. Most unenlightened types might think Ruff & Reddy was a rip-off of Rocky & His Friends, due largely to the serial format, but the truth is, Ruff & Reddy came first by 2 full years.

The fact that CN & Boomerang have repeatedly ignored the series should tell you something about the lack of interest in H-B's storied history at those networks. Their loss, as usual.

Here's the opener, "Planet Pirates":



No rating. I didn't see enough of these shorts back in the day to form a credible opinion.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Toon Rock: (I Love You But) I Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool (1963)

A while back, we presented a clip from Ann-Margret's appearance on The Flintstones, when she sang a lullaby to Pebbles.

This time, here's the show-stopping number that closed the episode. "(I Love You But) I Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool" starts with Ann going solo, but after a pause to say goodbye to Pebbles, who's watching at home with her mother, Wilma, Ann gets Fred & Barney to join her. Henry Corden took over for Alan Reed to do the singing, but Mel Blanc needs no one to take his place and let Barney croon......




Swingin', man. I'm keeping a watch out for "The Rock Vegas Story", in which Barney and Betty (Bea Benaderet) perform a duet of "When You're Smiling". If/when someone puts it on YouTube, we'll get it here.

Tooniversary: The Amazing Bunjee Venture (1984)

From  the ABC Weekend Special:

The Amazing Bunjee Venture was the first cartoon Hanna-Barbera's Australian division made for ABC, after working exclusively with CBS in previous years. Two kids take an unexpected test run in their father's time machine, which brings Bunjee (Frank Welker) to the then-present. Based on a children's book by Sam McMurtry.

Capt. O. G. Readmore (Welker again) is our host, with special guest co-host Bowzer (Jon Bauman, returning to his Sha Na Na persona, as he was on a break from his two game shows, The Pop 'N' Rocker Game & The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour). Luckily, Bowzer is kept in small doses.........

Here's part 1:



As time went on, the animated entries were getting fewer & further between, as some live-action stories were moved from the Afterschool Special as its format was changed. We'll be looking at that down the road.

No rating.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Super Chicken in One of Our States is Missing (1967)

Time for another Super Chicken adventure.

This time, the Poultry Powerhouse is looking for a missing..........state. An old classmate of Henry Cabot Henhouse III has decided to steal his home state of Rhode Island for ransom. I've heard of nutty ideas, but this takes the cake.




If you can find the humor in this exercise, give yourself a gold star.

Rating: C.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Teen Force (1981)

I've been waiting to do this one for a long time.

Teen Force was part of NBC's 1981-2 series, Space Stars, and while they got the rub from working with Space Ghost & The Herculoids in some crossover episodes, they've been lost in the mists of time since the series was cancelled.

Just who made up the Teen Force, anyway?

Electra was a telepath, and of the three core members made the most crossovers with Space Ghost and his wards. The writers tried to at least tease a relationship between Electra and Jace, but that went nowhere. On the other hand, Kid Comet was dating Jace's twin sister, Jan. Moleculad, then, was the odd man out in terms of relationships.

As their names imply, Comet & Moleculad also had specific powers. Comet often transformed into a literal comet when he accelerated, and Moleculad, well, I think you could figure it out as you watch the episode, "Death Ray":

Edit, 8/5/16: The video is unavailable at this time.

Let us not forget the Astromites, the twin dwarves who spoke entirely in gibberish. If I'm not mistaken, that gibberish was done by one man-----Michael Winslow, better known for his later work in the "Police Academy" movies. Small wonder, then, that Winslow was billed as the human sound effect machine.

Uglor, the villain, was a sort-of analogue for Jack Kirby's seminal Darkseid, who would make his TV debut just 3 years later, but, unfortunately, he was about as scary as a dead lizard. Yeah, that bad.

For some reason, these cartoons have been ignored by Cartoon Network & Boomerang in recent years, locked away in WB's vaults. Their loss, as usual.

Rating: B.

From Comics to Toons: The Boondocks (2005)

It is, without question, [adult swim]'s answer to South Park. It is controversial by design---but better animated than most of [as]' roster.

Aaron McGruder created The Boondocks while in college, and after the strip appeared in a college newspaper, then the now-defunct The Source, a nationally published hip-hop magazine, McGruder put the series in newspapers. In 2005, he transitioned to television, landing the adventures of Huey & Riley Freeman and their grandfather, Robert, on [adult swim]. Tonight, after a lengthy hiatus, the series begins its final season.

McGruder, however, is no longer associated with the cartoon. He's working on a new project for [as], which should be ready to go, probably before the end of the year.

The Boondocks has always been built around Huey & Riley (both voiced by actress Regina King), serving as avatars for McGruder's viewpoints on society in general, especially as it relates to African Americans. John Witherspoon (ex-The Wayans Brothers) voices Grandpa Robert. I'd like to post an episode here, but because of language and other concerns, we'll settle for the intro:




While filmmaker-turned-network executive Reginald Hudlin was credited as an executive producer, he actually left the show before it hit the air to take the President's job at BET. Go figure.

Rating: B.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Game Time: Yu-Gi-Oh (1998)

Around the time that Pokemon was making an inroad here in the US, another Japanese series was wrapping up its first run, but would follow Pokemon to the US in due course.

Yu-Gi-Oh made its American debut on Kids' WB! in 2001, and, like Pokemon, was imported by 4Kids Entertainment to the US. The series became a mainstay of WB/CW's Saturday lineup for a number of years, but has bounced around of late. Currently, rights are split between the CW, which has it back as part of the Vortexx block, and Nicktoons, which has the earlier series. The current incarnation, Yu-Gi-Oh Zezal, is airing on CW.

When the series arrived in America, 4Kids began not with the 1998 series that launched the franchise, but rather with the 2000 relaunch, otherwise known in its native Japan as Duel Monsters. Don't ask. It could be that 4Kids couldn't get the rights to the 1998 series. Like Pokemon and other imports, there have been succeeding series to continue the franchise.

From Hulu comes the Duel Monsters opener, which, as noted, made its US debut in 2001.




 I don't play collectible card games, including the one inspired by this show. I've found myself bored watching Yu-Gi-Oh, maybe because it's just too talky for my taste.

Rating: C.

Rare Treats: Fol-De-Rol (1972)

I've been dying to do this next item for what seems like forever.

Sid & Marty Krofft's 2nd project for ABC, after Lidsville, was Fol-De-Rol, a primetime special that aired in February 1972. I will admit that in watching the video, it was the first time I'd actually seen some footage. As a 9 year old back then, I'd gone to bed that night, had trouble sleeping, and could hear the television in another part of the house, so my folks had this on for a bit, looking for something. I know this because I distinctly remember hearing the voice of no less than Howard Cosell during the show, and hearing part of the theme song.

Anyway, the show, noted by Vinnie Rattolle as an unsold pilot, is set at a Medevial fair, and the segments are such that a number of actors, including Mickey Rooney and Billy Barty, are playing multiple parts. Rick Nelson plays a wandering minstrel. Ann Sothern is the Queen, and you have an ensemble doing a variation on Three Dog Night's hit, "Joy To The World", with new lyrics written for the show. Len Weinrib & Joan Gerber provide the voices for the puppets and other characters. Seeing Mickey Rooney as an executioner having issues with his son is hilarious all by itself.

Anyway, the Krofft logo was not included on the print, but I've got one burning question. What in the hizell is the "Krofft Look"?




Apparently, viewers seemed to agree with network suits that the Kroffts were a wee bit out of their depth with this one, but it would be 4 years before they'd try a variety show-style format again......!

Rating: B-.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Looney TV: Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-Citement (1980)

Daffy Duck was starring in his own Saturday morning series on NBC in 1980, but I am not so sure the "Peacock Network" landed his Easter special, which was perhaps the last cartoon issued by DePatie-Freleng, in conjunction of course with Warner Bros., before being bought out by Marvel.

Daffy is joined by Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester, and Speedy Gonzales, among others, in this primetime treat. In the fall, Speedy would earn co-star status when Daffy's NBC series was renewed for a 2nd season.......




Unfortunately, Daffy is in his selfish-greedy mode from the 50's & 60's. It'd be a long time before he'd be his old manic self. The framing sequences were borrowed from "Duck Amuck", as if you didn't know, but unlike that classic short, the artist's identity isn't revealed. Hmmmm. Maybe this was on NBC after all. Had it been on CBS, don't ya think Bugs would've been wielding the brush again?

Rating: C.


Rare Treats: The Emperor's New Clothes (The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye, 1972)

If Sammy Davis, Jr. hadn't recorded "The Candy Man" for the movie, "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory", chances are Danny Kaye would have. Trust me. Other than Bill Cosby or maybe Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), I can't think of anyone else that did more for kids than Kaye, who was an ambassador for UNICEF by the time this next item hit the air.

Nearly a year after Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Kaye made his 2nd--and last--special for Rankin-Bass and ABC. The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye was one of those rare entries from R-B that mixed live-action with animation. The studio had made some live-action movies, true, but they hadn't gone the hybrid route before full bore. Sure, there were live-action clips interspersed with some of their specials (i.e. The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town), but this was more than your average R-B primetime special.

The balance of the show is an adaptation, done in Animagic, of Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes. If memory serves, however, R-B would do a fully animated version a year or so later for their syndicated Festival of Family Classics series. Kaye, who starred in a live-action biography of Andersen some years earlier, essays the role of Marmaduke, a con artist who creates some......very interesting wardrobe for the Emperor (Cyril Ritchard). Kaye appears in live-action form in bracketing segments to help move the story along, still in character.

Now, let's take a trip to The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye:




Kaye's performance of Marmaduke recalls another of his films, "The Court Jester", and, yes, he gets the girl in that one, too.

Rating: B.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman turns 75 (2013)

After showcasing a brand spankin' new Batman shortie that debuted on Cartoon Network to mark the Dark Knight's 75th anniversary, in the best interests of equal time, we are serving up Superman's 75th anniversary short, which bowed at Comic Con International in San Diego last summer, and, to my knowledge, hasn't aired on television, but should've. Then again, it's CN we're dealing with here.

Bruce Timm teamed with "Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder to take a panoramic view of the Man of Steel's visual evolution through the ages, even dealing with some comics events, including a temporary death (1993-4), being split into two people (Superman Blue & Red), and, well......!




7 levels of awesome, no?

Rating: A.

Literary Toons: The First Easter Rabbit (1976)

Rankin-Bass served up a loose adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit, but retro-fitted it to link up with the "universe" they'd created for their Christmas specials, when it should've been allowed to stand alone.

The First Easter Rabbit, then, comes across as just another treacly R-B holiday cartoon. Debuting on NBC in 1976, with subsequent repeats airing on CBS, it's virtually been lost to the mists of time. Something tells me it didn't do so well in the ratings, such that NBC gave it up, and then, CBS did, too.

Burl Ives narrates, with a supporting cast including vets Bob McFadden, Paul Frees, & Don Messick, plus Stan Freberg and Robert Morse. In fact, this would be the beginning of Morse's association with R-B, which would last up through 1979's Jack Frost.



If it were redone today, it'd be expanded to an hour to better interpret the plot.

Rating: C.

Toonfomercial: Smokey Bear---before his TV show (I think)(1960's?)

I am not sure of the animation house that made this next item, but it sure wasn't Rankin-Bass, which obtained a license in 1969 to bring Smokey Bear to television. The ad is shown in black & white, which to me suggests it may have been made well before 1969. Paul Frees narrates, and Jackson Weaver is the voice of Smokey.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Toons After Dark: CBS Cartoon Theatre (1956)

While Mighty Mouse Playhouse was a vital part of CBS' Saturday morning lineup for 12 seasons (1955-67; the final season saw a title change to Mighty Mouse & the Mighty Heroes), the network felt they had room at night for some of the other Terrytoons characters.

CBS Cartoon Theatre was the showcase for the likes of Dinky Duck, Gandy Goose, Little Roquefort, and, in the leadoff spot in this episode, Heckle & Jeckle, who would graduate to a Saturday berth themselves a few years later. Dick Van Dyke made his CBS debut hosting this series, just a few short years before his iconic, self-titled sitcom. Terrytoons produced the animation for the segments in which Heckle & Jeckle and others interacted with Dick, who also performs a rudimentary magic trick to set up the Dinky Duck short.

The title cards were edited off in order to fit four cartoons into a half-hour show. This proved rather unwieldy, of course, which is why you would only get 3 shorts in a half-hour in later years.

Of the four in this episode, I've only seen "Down South" with Heckle & Jeckle, a twisted take on the classic tale of  Little Red Riding Hood, but the talking magpies are at their best here. Too bad this is in black & white.......




The cartoons are available in individual DVD's, or at least Heckle & Jeckle are.

Rating: B.

Saturday School: Tennesse Tuxedo & His Tales (1963)

Tennessee Tuxedo (Don Adams) might be considered the prototype for Hanna-Barbera's 1971 series, Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch! in that both shows are set in a city zoo, and the title protagonist(s) always leaves in an effort to better himself, but always ends up back in the zoo anyway.

Tennessee, a penguin, and his walrus sidekick, Chumley, get into one scrape after another, often involving a human antagonist, gangster Rocky Maninoff (Jackson Beck impersonating Humphrey Bogart), who figures into the series opener, "Mixed Up Mechanics". The closing tag comes from Jay Ward's Fractured Fairy Tales, due largely to the fact that in syndication, the Ward and Total Television shows were mixed together, which didn't make all that much sense at the time.

When Tennessee & Chumley visit Phineas J. Whoopee (Larry Storch), they're learning things right along with the viewers at home, which makes this show qualify for the E/I certification from the FCC if someone ever thinks of reviving the series.

PublicDomain25 uploaded "Mixed Up Mechanics":



To think Tennessee turned 50 last year, and few bothered to notice.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Animated World of DC Comics: Strange Days (2014)

Batman turns 75 this year, but hasn't aged a day over 30.

To mark the occasion, DC & WB brought back Bruce Timm to produce a nearly 3 minute short film. "Strange Days", which revisits one of the Dark Knight's earliest battles with mad Dr. Hugo Strange.




Oh, doesn't that just whet your appetite?

Rating: A+.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Toonfomercial: Since when do birds & coyotes drive? (1968)

The folks at Chrysler must have been big fans of the Road Runner, such that they named a Plymouth car after him in 1968.

The Plymouth Road Runner was only out for a relatively short time, just a few years, but WB commissioned either Format Films or DePatie-Freleng to produce the animated half of this commercial to introduce the car.


Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Lone Ranger vs. The Ghost Riders (1966)

Format Films' adaptation of The Lone Ranger didn't have the best animation, though some of the writers and artists also worked for some of the other studios around the same time. Sketch artist Sherman Labby, for example, is more closely associated with Filmation.

You'll forgive the fact that the voice tracks are a wee bit off in this episode, "The Ghost Riders". The poster included the open, narrated by Marvin Miller, and most of the closing credits, which strangely cut off as the music continues to play. I digress. In "The Ghost Riders", the Ranger (Michael Rye) and Tonto expose one of the oldest scams known to man, as outlaws pose as ghosts to commit robberies and murders. Some might say that it's unfortunate that this scam became somewhat trivialized as it was the common, overused gimmick on Scooby-Doo when that series launched 3 years later.


\

Today, this same story would be lengthened to expand the plot, making it more challenging to find the crooks.

Rating: B.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! (2004)

Disney imported Japan's Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! to the US in 2004, where it aired on Toon Disney (now Disney XD) & ABC Family. 4 13 episode "seasons" over 2 years was all we'd get, as the show was cancelled after a season 4 finale ended in a cliffhanger.

The show is set on the planet Shuggazoom, home to the Hyperforce team, consisting of a group of robot monkeys and one lone human, Chiro, who is being trained by the monkeys to eventually become the defender of the planet. And here all along, in what few episodes I'd seen, I thought the show was set on Earth, particularly, of course, in Japan. Naaaaaah.

There were people hoping the series would flip over to ABC to fill a need, but it never happened. ABC opted instead to use another import, W.I.T.C.H., to replace the popular Kim Possible. Neither series met the FCC E/I standards, although a case could be made that Super Robot Team could have qualified. Being denied a "promotion", if you will, would prove costly.

Following is the episode, "Depths of Fear":




Today, either the rights have lapsed, or Disney's just sitting on the show.

Rating: B.

Toon Sports: Mutant League (1994)

The only memory I have of Mutant League, which was an adaptation of a popular video game of the early 90's, is that it might've aired on USA Network, but I didn't otherwise see it in syndication. Information on the series, regrettably, is similarly scarce, as the series approaches its 20th anniversary in July.

Obviously, there's no rating, but maybe the intro will refresh some memories..........


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturtainment: Muggsy (1976)

NBC had a string of live-action failures as well as animated ones in the mid-70's. While Land of the Lost lasted three seasons, and Run, Joe, Run got two, everything else seemed to be one and done.

The network had tried out an anthology series that was more educational than entertaining, called GO!, styled more in the vein of CBS' You Are There, but in 1976, what was originally titled GO!-City, as demonstrated in a bumper you'll see in the following video, was renamed Muggsy, after the title character, a teenage girl who, with her brother as her only family/support, wanders through the city, and gets into all kinds of trouble.

Sure enough, Muggsy was a bomb, and that was because the network placed it in the lunch hour death zone, where few shows seem to succeed. CBS had gotten lucky with Fat Albert, which deserved an earlier time slot through its 12 seasons, but never got it.

70'sKidVid uploaded the open & close. As you'll see, the network itself produced the series, seeing as how the trio of Bill D'Angelo, R. S. Allen, & Harvey Bullock had given them nothing but failures other than the aforementioned Run, Joe, Run. If the singer's voice sounds familiar, it should. It's David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat, & Tears.




No rating. Never saw the show.

Celebrity Toons: Jackie Chan Adventures (2000)

Martial arts icon Jackie Chan landed an unlikely role in 2000----cartoon star.

Jackie Chan Adventures, which spent 5 seasons on Kids' WB!, recast the actor as an Asian Indiana Jones-type. Chan didn't voice his animated alter-ego, instead appearing in a live-action skit or Q & A segment at the end of each episode. In the cartoons, he was given a niece, Jade, and both gleaned wisdom and advice from their Uncle (that's all he went by). Mysticism, among other things, was the central theme throughout the series. Toward the end, Jade was introduced to her time-travelling adult self (special guest star Lucy Liu), which meant the series had jumped the shark. Didn't help that Kids' WB! would pull the series for weeks at a time because they had too many series and not enough room for them all.

Here's the series opener, "The Dark Hand":




Sony owns the series, and currently, keeps it in its vaults. Their loss.

Rating: B.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reinventing Devlin: Possible or Impossible?

Looking back at Hanna-Barbera's freshman class of 1974, part of the reason some of these shows failed was that the studio wasn't aiming for the funny bone, but rather, the brain. Drama was the order of the day.

Devlin was one of those shows. You had a stunt cyclist, presumed to be in his early or mid 20's, working for a carnival, with his brother & sister as a support team. Not much mention of parents, so assume the trio were orphaned. The carnival boss is like a father figure.

Where did it go wrong? Not enough promotion. Granted, drama was big in 1974. So was live-action, as all 3 networks were experimenting, and H-B supplied ABC with one---Korg: 70,000 B. C., which had the misfortune of airing directly opposite NBC's Land of the Lost & CBS' Shazam!.

Back to Devlin. Along with These Are The Days, H-B was aiming to bring families together in front of the tube. While Days was inspired by CBS' The Waltons, Devlin drew inspiration from the real-life exploits of Evel Knievel, who'd made a few appearances on ABC's long-running Wide World of Sports. However, ABC blew it, big time. When it came to programming Saturday mornings back then, program directors weren't exactly brain surgeons, and never have been.

So could Devlin be redone today? I wouldn't even try pitching it to Cartoon Network at all. It wouldn't even be a cartoon this time.

Given the popularity of "action sports" (formerly known as extreme sports), Devlin could be rebooted so that he's not a stunt cyclist, but rather on a pro "action sports" tour, and, yes, this would dove-tail with the similarly rebooted Wheelie & The Chopper Bunch that we talked about before. See how easy that is?

To refresh your memories, here's the open to Devlin:




What do you think?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On The Air: The Tom & Jerry Show (2014)

It would be easy to say that Tom & Jerry are back, but then, they never left.

In the six years since Tom & Jerry Tales was cancelled by the CW, there've been at least a couple of DTV movies to tie fans over. Cartoon Network breaks the drought with The Tom & Jerry Show, which bowed earlier today, and if you missed it, either there'll be reruns through the weekend, or it'll be available on demand from your cable provider, take your pick.

Warner Bros. & Renegade Animation sought to recapture the spirit of the classics from the 40's, but the animation seems a little less fluid than had been expected. Spike, minus son Tyke, factors into the first tale, "Spike Gets Skooled", in which Tom tricks his owners into blaming Spike for a mess he (& Jerry) created. In the 2nd tale, Tom & Jerry are in a witch's cabin, where Tom uses a cauldron for a bathtub, and attaches Jerry to a stick to create a makeshift brush. Silliness follows.

Here's the intro:



You have to hope the writing is a little better as we move along.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Troy Tempest and the crew of Stingray (1964)

Gerry Anderson's Stingray marks its 50th anniversary this year. However, it's been so long since the series has been seen on American screens, one wonders if anyone actually remembers it.

Set in the year 2065, Stingray is the name of a superboat operated by Troy Tempest and his assistant, Phones. Many of the 39 episodes dealt with repeated threats from under the sea by King Titan. There's also romance in the air, as Tempest is in the midst of a love triangle with Atlanta, the daughter of General Storm, and Marina, a slave he'd rescued from Titan. Marina can't speak, but there must've been something that made her attractive to Tempest.

Here's the intro:



I barely remember seeing this series, if at all. To be fair, we'll do without a rating.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Teenage Toons: The Archies go Way Out West and run a Marathon (1968)

Here's another episode of The Archie Show from Dailymotion.

Veronica (Jane Webb) introduces "The Marathon", in which Reggie (John Erwin), Archie (Dallas McKennon), & Jughead (Howard Morris) enter the long road race with a trophy as the prize. With the Boston Marathon right around the corner, I thought this would be appropriate fare. The second tale is "Way Out West", which has the gang at a dude ranch owned by Mr. Lodge.



I have no memory of seeing this. No rating.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy's Super Dilemma (1966)

DC Comics writer Leo Dorfman wrote many of Superboy's adventures back in the 60's, and thus also wrote a number of the Teen of Steel's TV shorts as well.

In "Superboy's Super Dilemma", Superboy (Bob Hastings) is given a serum by Professor Potter (Ted Knight, who also narrated) that is meant to make him immune to Kryptonite, but the befuddled scientist mixed a plant growth formula with the serum, causing Superboy to grow to gigantic proportions.

It might work better on the printed page, to tell you the truth.




What I find befuddling is how Superboy couldn't figure out for himself the cause of his sudden spurt. The viewers, I'm sure, had it figured out in mere seconds.

Rating: C.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

You Know The Voice: Larry Kenney (1977)

Eight years before he was cast as the voice of Lion-O on the original Thundercats, Larry Kenney was a radio DJ in New York, and was hired by WOR-TV to host their version of Bowling For Dollars. The show didn't last long (Boo! Hiss!!), largely because it was airing opposite local news and syndicated programming in the Big Apple.

My folks and I would watch the show regularly, and with good reason. My parents were league bowlers, and I would join them a few years later.

Now, let's scope the action.




This episode comes complete with local commercials, including some stores that ain't around anymore. Oh, the memories!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Prince Planet (1965)

Of the Japanese anime that were imported to the US in the mid-60's, Prince Planet might not be on the tips of people's tongues today, largely because the series lasted just one calendar year. 52 weeks, that's all.

The series launched in Japan in June 1965, and aired without repeats for one solid year, with the finale airing at the end of May 1966. Four months later, the series was imported to the US by American International Pictures, and would appear in syndication in some cities into the mid-70's before fading away for good. Part of the reason for the series' ultimate failure was the heavy amount of violence, and the fact that Prince Planet actually killed his enemies, something that fans of the current CW series, Arrow, may appreciate.

I never saw the show, but I was able to pull up the first episode via Hulu. Enjoy.


Remember CBS' 1965-6 Saturday lineup?

Let's take a step back in time to 1965 for a commercial promotiing CBS' Saturday morning lineup, with a heavy emphasis on comedy:



Don't you just love how this was made to sound like a police APB (All Points Bulletin)?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Supreme Girl (Archie's Weird Mysteries, 2000)

The producers of Archie's Weird Mysteries offered up a homage to the publisher's heroic legacy in an episode that saw Supreme Girl chase nemesis Dr. Arachnid into the "real world" of Riverdale, USA. She finds Archie to be cute, which only complicates things, don't ya think?




Never saw this episode, so there is no rating.

From Comics to Toons: The X-Men's network TV debut (1983)

From Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends comes the network television debut of the X-Men.

Firestar (Kathy Garver, ex-Family Affair) has a rough go of it in the X-Men's Danger Room, prompting Spider-Man to give it a shot, with encouragement from one of the team's founding members--and current partner to the webhead--Iceman (Frank Welker). Naturally, chaos follows.



Rating: B- (this was previously reviewed, which I forgot).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Toon Legends: Heckle & Jeckle in Taming the Cat (1948)

For April Fool's Day, Heckle & Jeckle are "A Couple of Songbirds Today", as the song goes, in "Taming The Cat", from 1948.

A canary has fallen victim to a nasty housecat, who then puts up a "Songbirds Wanted" sign, attracting Heckle & Jeckle. One plays the piano, while the other mimics Jimmy Durante in performing "A Couple of Songbirds Today". Ned Sparks speaks for both Heckle & Jeckle, and also does the singing, one must assume.

Uploaded by Pat Hawkins to YouTube:




It's a shame the boys are locked in Viacom's vaults now. You'd think Nickelodeon would bring them back, but noooooo. The magpies would make today's celebration of stupidity (i.e. Fairly Oddparents) look weaker than it is.

Rating: A.