Monday, August 21, 2017

Getting Schooled: Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel (1972)

Shamus Culhane came up with a winning series of educational shorts, the Wonderful Stories of Professor Kitzel, which ran in syndication beginning in 1972, at first commissioned by Bristol-Myers for their short-lived Pals vitamins, which would sponsor the short pieces. After 4 years, Worldvision took over distribution. Until today, I hadn't seen any of these shorts, and over 100 of them were produced over 4 years (1972-6). I believe that after that, Culhane moved on to the series that I'm trying to find, the Spirit of Independence, which I did see.

Anyway, the professor (Paul Soles, ex-Spider-Man, Rocket Robin Hood) intros a bio on "John Cabot".



Rating: A.

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. Japoteurs (1942)

Today, the US & Japan are allies, and Japan is also one of the biggest exporters of electtonics and automobiles on the planet.

More than 70 years ago, during World War II, that wasn't the case. "Japoteurs' might not be seen on television anymore, but it illustrates how Japan had been one of our enemies. Superman has his hands full in this one.



Simple and effective. Not only that, but the Japanese saboteur wasn't given much to say anyway to avoid stereotyping.

Rating: A.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Toon Sports: The Umpire Strikes Back (The All-New Popeye Hour, 1980)

Popeye has to rally his baseball team from a 49-0 deficit in his last at-bat, but Bluto has other ideas.

1980's "The Umpire Strikes Back" isn't exactly a reboot of the Fleischers' "The Twisker Pitcher", but judge for yourselves.



Back to the drawing board, Bluto.

Rating: B.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Toon Rock: Yellow Submarine (1968)

The Beatles' coda in animation was the 1968 feature film, "Yellow Submarine", coinciding with the album of the same name. Released after their ABC series had ended production after three seasons, the Fab 4 still didn't lend their voices to their newly redesigned animated selves. A new set of actors were hired on, although Lance Percival, who voiced Ringo Starr & Paul McCartney in the series, played a different character this time around, in order to differentiate this from the series in other ways.

The animation wasn't really by legendary pop-art master Peter Max, but certainly seems to be influenced by him.

Here's the title track:



The Beatles appear in live-action form at the end of the movie in a short cameo. They'd release one more film, based on the album, "Let it Be". After that, Ringo would go on to a modestly successful solo career in acting, and Paul would wait a few years before releasing "Give My Regards to Broad Street", which was heavily panned by critics.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Daytime Heroes: He-Man in The Cat & The Spider (1983)

He-Man (John Erwin) has to clean up some serious kitty litter when one of Skeletor's aides steals a statue that Adam and the Royal Archeologist had brought back from the temple of the cat people. Also, we find that Kitrina of the Cat People has a serious crush.....on Battlecat. Go figure. Here's "The Cat & The Spider":



You'd think Mattel would have marked He-Man's 35th anniversary with a new line of action figures (He-Man debuted in 1982, with the cartoon following a year later), but insofar as I know, that hasn't happened. Maybe they'll wait until 2022.

Rating: A-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Bound To Lose (1982)

Jerry "The King" Lawler was a disc jockey in his hometown of Memphis before turning to professional wrestling. Every now and again, Lawler would, like his 80's nemesis, Jimmy Hart, put out a record, and in the early 80's, Lawler even made some music videos for the local promotion. We've previously shown his anti-Hart clip, "Wimpbusters" (to the tune of, of course, "Ghostbusters"), but let's turn back the clock a couple of years to 1982 and "Bound to Lose", which also turns up on a VHS compilation of Lawler matches that came out a few years later.



Too bad Jerry didn't take his musical talents national, to, like, American Bandstand, or sing on Late Night With David Letterman......

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rein-Toon-Ation: Gadget Boy & Heather (1995)

In 1995, the History Channel took another chance on the Inspector Gadget franchise, this time with a juvenile version of the cyborg sleuth.

Gadget Boy & Heather was a total departure from the original Gadget, as Heather (Tara Strong, then going by her maiden name, Charendoff) was in her early to mid 20's. Gadget Boy himself had the body designed like a grade schooler (I'd guess 1st or 2nd grader), but with the mind of a veteran detective. Don Adams voiced Gadget Boy in the first season, while all the other male characters were performed by impressionist Maurice LaMarche (Pinky & the Brain, etc.). Instead of Dr. Claw, the big bad in the series was a masked woman known as Spydra, who had 4 extra arms, but whose true face was never seen. The idea was that anyone that saw her supposedly disfigured face would turn to stone, a la Medusa, out of shock in this case.

Viewers had to wait 18 months, from the point where the first season ended, to the start of the 2nd season, which saw a change in format to Gadget Boy's Adventures in History, which saw Gadget Boy & Heather travel through time. LaMarche took over as Gadget Boy. Unfortunately, the format change also resulted in the series' cancellation.

Let's take you back to the 1st season opener, "Raiders of the Lost Mummies":



Just wasn't the same, and the magic wasn't there.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: My Old School (1973)

Now, you and I know the kiddo's will be headed back to school after Labor Day, and some colleges will be starting in the next week or two. Why don't we take a trip back in time to 1973, and Steely Dan's "My Old School", with Donald Fagen on lead vocal & piano, from American Bandstand. Bear in mind that this clip is prefaced with host Dick Clark queuing it up in a primetime retrospective of the series, probably in the late 70's or early 80's.



While the musicians were plugged in, that was for appearance's sake, as, more often than not, they usually mimed on the air back in those days.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Toons After Dark: Huddles & friends consider life after football (1970)

From Where's Huddles:

When Huddles (Cliff Norton) and friends find themselves in an all night car wash, it gives them some ideas about finding work after football.

However, snafu erupts when Bubba (Mel Blanc) is trapped in a mailbox, forcing Huddles to stall the mailman (Blanc again). Here's "Get That Letter Back":



With the NFL having started preseason games, and the CFL season in Canada in full swing, with college & high school games to follow starting in 2 1/2 weeks, maybe someone should take a flier on Huddles.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Houndcats in The Misbehavin' Raven Mission (1972)

The Houndcats are on the trail of an art thief and his gang. Here's "The Misbehavin' Raven Mission".



The Raven's true identity was just too easy, especially if you followed primetime crime dramas moreso than the cartoons that tried to emulate them.

This may have been the only cartoon credit for film star Aldo Ray, who might've been near the end of his career at this point.

Rating: B.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tooniversary: The Blue Racer (1972)

The Blue Racer was a spin-off from Tijuana Toads when his first short, "Hiss & Hers", bowed in July 1972. However, unlike the Toads, the Racer never appeared on television, although a snake that bore a resemblance to him appeared in a 1978 Pink Panther short that did air on TV.

While Bob Holt had voiced the Racer in his first appearance, 1971's  "A Snake in the Gracias", Larry D. Mann takes over beginning with "Hiss & Hers". Here, the Racer is a henpecked husband with three kids, but still runs afoul of a Japanese beetle (Tom Holland, not to be confused with the current "Spider-Man" star, though Wikipedia certainly is), who also appeared in "Gracias".

What they were looking to do at DePatie-Freleng was clone the successful Daffy Duck series of shorts with Speedy Gonzales, although Racer, while another speedster, isn't quite as clever.



Part of the reason these shorts aren't airing anywhere these days is because of the stereotyped voice given to the beetle, who does sound like Holland's mimicing Dick Tracy's old aide, Joe Jitsu.

17 shorts were produced between 1972-4, after which DFE replaced the Racer with the Dogfather, whom we'll meet another day.

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Manta & Moray in The Freedom Fighters (1978)

From Tarzan & The Super 7:

Manta & Moray discover a pair of dolphins are breaking some whales and other sea creatures from captivity, unaware that those creatures are being studied and cared for by the humans.

Here's "The Freedom Fighters":



Joan Van Ark (Moray) would pick up a live-action gig soon after (Knots Landing), and since only 7 episodes were recorded, moved her cartoon gig to DePatie Freleng for the short-lived Spider-Woman the next season. Joe Stern (Manta) may not have had any other voice jobs after this was cancelled.

Also, some of the swimming scenes, either in tandem or Manta alone, look like they were redrawn from---who else?---Aquaman.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Air: DuckTales (2017)

Donald Duck leaves his nephews--Huey, Dewey, & Louie---in the care of his estranged Uncle Scrooge while he goes on a job interview that he'll soon regret. That's just the beginning of the adventure as Disney marks the 30th anniversary of DuckTales by rebooting the series so that Scrooge (David Tennant, ex-Jessica Jones, Doctor Who) meets his nephews for the first time.

You see, Donald (Tony Anselmo) and Scrooge haven't spoken in a decade, so Huey (Danny Pudi, ex-Powerless), Dewey (Ben Schwartz), and Louie (Bobby Moynihan, ex-Saturday Night Live) have never met their other uncle. The family reunion comes sooner than planned, however, thanks to a traffic jam trapping them on the road.

Once at McDuck Mansion, the boys meet Webigail (Webby) Vanderquack (Kate Micucci, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo), whose design is radically different from the original series, and who is under the care of her grandmother, Mrs. Beakly. A few mishaps lead to the release of several odd creatures that are quickly recaptured by Scrooge and his chauffeur/pilot, Launchpad McQuack (Beck Bennett, Saturday Night Live).

The series opener, "Woo-oo", is being replayed continuously until midnight (ET) tonight, while new episodes resume in a hour-long block starting September 23, as this version will be weekly instead of a daily series. Keep an ear open for a reference to Launchpad's other series, Darkwing Duck, and I can tell you that Disney's Batman send-up will meet Donald and the gang this season.

Here's the intro. Felicia Barton sings the iconic title song.



The animation isn't quite as fluid as the original series, but I think that if this clicks, it'll get better with time. Nice opening story, but I'm not digging that we have to wait 6 weeks for the next episode.

Rating: B+.

Toonfomercial: The introduction of Glade (1956)

S. C. Johnson & Co., makers of Raid bug sprays and other products, introduced Glade Air Fresheners in 1956. Like Raid, the company utilized a mix of live action & animation in their introductory ad, narrated by Michael Rye.



The animation is not as flashy as the Raid spots, and the company had hired animation legend Tex Avery to direct the Raid ads.

Toon Rock: Why Should I Worry? (1988)

From "Oliver & Company":

This should've been a Top 40 hit, but it wasn't.

Disney's "Oliver & Company" is a modern day retelling--using dogs, cats, and rats, as well as humans---of Dickens' Oliver Twist. Oliver (Joey Lawrence, currently in Melissa & Joey) is a cat, and (Artful) Dodger is one of the dogs working for Fagin (Dom DeLuise).

In this scene, Dodger (Billy Joel) is trying to shake Oliver off his trail, leading to "Why Should I Worry?", co-written by Dan Hartman.



The film's voice cast also includes Bette Midler, Richard Mulligan (Empty Nest), Cheech Marin, Taurean Blaque (Hill Street Blues), and Roscoe Lee Browne. We may be doing a full review down the road.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Toons After Dark: The 2000 Year Old Man (1975)

In 1961, Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner began a series of comedy albums that told the story of The 2000 Year Old Man. Brooks played the title role, interviewed by Reiner.

Someone convinced Brooks & Reiner that this would make a good animated special. This aired in January 1975 on CBS, and I think it was never rerun.

This would serve as Reiner's first cartoon work since Linus the Lionhearted a decade earlier. As for Brooks, who was in the midst of a very successful movie career, this was the start of a television comeback (he co-created Get Smart, among other accomplishments), which continued that fall with the short-lived When Things Were Rotten. However, it'd be more than 30 years before Brooks would do an animated series for television again, adapting his film, Spaceballs, into a short-lived series.

From the sound of things, this might have been a direct adaptation from one of the albums, judging from the laugh track.



Color me unimpressed.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hoppity Hooper in Hair Tonic (1960)

Don't let the year above fool you, peeps. This is the pilot episode of Hoppity Hooper, four years before the series was finally picked up by ABC.

"Hair Tonic" establishes the basics on our protagonists, although Waldo Wigglesworth (Hans Conreid), a very sly fox, is actually a con man, aided by his simple-minded, bugle-playing assistant, Fillmore (Alan Reed). The two meet up with Hoppity (Chris Allen) in the frog's home while on the run from the police.

As we've previously discussed, when the series was picked up, Reed had moved on to The Flintstones (and his Fillmore does have a bit of Fred Flintstone to him, doesn't he?), so Bill Scott (Bullwinkle) took over as Fillmore. Waldo passes himself off as Hoppity's "long lost uncle" in order to gain Hoppity's confidence.....



Scott, of course, had plenty of time on his hands, as The Bullwinkle Show had ended, and Bullwinkle was only being used for commercials, as we showed yesterday. Unfortunately, there hasn't been as much of a call for Hoppity to return, unlike Bullwinkle, Peabody & Sherman, and Dudley Do-Right, to name a few.

Rating: B.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Toon Rock: (How to be a) Millionaire (1984)

England's ABC scored their last American hit in 1984 with "(How To Be A) Millionaire", off the CD, "How To Be a Zillionaire". Don't know the animation house responsible for this video, but it's definitely different from the animated clips made a few years later for Elton John ("Club at the End of the Street") and Rod Stewart ("Motown Song").




Toonfomercial: Bullwinkle bowls for Cheerios (1965)

Bullwinkle (Bill Scott) continued to shill for Cheerios well after his series had ended production. I guess Jay Ward figured, as long as his company was commissioned to produce ads for Quaker Oats, a rival to General Mills, why not continue to crank out some work for Cheerios, using Bullwinkle?

Here, Bullwinkle tries to bowl and shill at the same time.



Paul Frees is the narrator. I don't get how he and others could mispronounce "protein" back then. Here, it is pronounced, "pro-tee-en", but I've always said it as "pro-teen". Go figure.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sunday Funnies: Dudley Do-Right in Trading Places (1963)

Dudley Do-Right was added to Rocky & His Friends beginning with the 3rd season (1961-2). Only 5 shorts were produced that year, but the number would start to increase with each successive year. In 1969, Dudley was spun off into his own Sunday morning series, as the franchise had returned to ABC after finishing its initial run on NBC.

"Trading Places" closed Dudley's 3rd season as part of Rocky & His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show. In it, Dudley (Bill Scott) swaps jobs with Nell Fenwick (June Foray), but Nell's father, Inspector Fenwick (Paul Frees) tries discouraging Nell, even after she's captured Snidely Whiplash (Hans Conreid).



Nell never even bothered getting fitted for a uniform, probably because, as we'd see, her father wouldn't have allowed it. That flaw hurt the humor in this story.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Saturtainment: I've Got Ants in My Plans (1969)

In 1969's "I've Got Ants in My Plans", we are introduced to a 2nd Aardvark, this one being green. Charlie Ant (John Byner) really has his work cut out for him this time.



The Green Aardvark would return in "Odd Ant Out" a year later, and we've previously screened that one. Pretty much the same thing, but with a different plot.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Southern Nights (1977)

It's been a while since we showcased something from The Midnight Special, but I couldn't resist this time. From 1977, here's Glen Campbell, with a cover of Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights":



In memory of Campbell, who passed away today at 81.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: The Wonder Twins in Shark (1977)

Last night, SyFy premiered the latest in the "Sharknado" series. The well's going to run dry on that real soon, since there's a finite number of ideas for that "franchise".

Meanwhile, let's turn the clock back 40 years and scope out this Wonder Twins short, as Zan & Jayna have to help two boys avoid a "Shark".



That had to be one of the biggest sharks ever. I think what happened is that what was originally meant to be a great white shark may have mistakenly started as a whale, and then the artists realized their mistake, but too late to redesign the predator.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Roland & Rattfink (1968)

DePatie-Freleng tried to expand their line of comedy shorts beyond The Pink Panther, Ant & The Aardvark, & The Inspector, at the end of the 60's. However, Roland & Rattfink, a human-centric riff on the adversarial conflicts of, say, Tom & Jerry or even the Panther himself and the Little Man, didn't really catch on, with 17 shorts produced between December 1968 and April 1971.

For all but one of these shorts, the vocal effects were performed by Len Weinrib. In "Hurts & Flowers", which carries a 1968 copyright but was released in February 1969, Rattfink tries to spoil Roland's good times, which pacifist Roland always responds with a simple daisy.



Roland & Rattfink, according to at least Wikipedia, had appeared on one of the Panther's NBC shows, but I cannot confirm that, as I don't recall seeing these two on TV. This was DFE's way of reaching out to the huppie culture of the period, which unfortunately, based on the low output, tuned them out.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: The Inspector in Plastered in Paris (1966)

I've heard of wild goose chases, but this one's a real trip.

The Inspector (Pat Harrington) and Deux-Deux (Harrington) take a radio call from the Commissioner (Paul Frees) to catch an elusive crook named X. Wait for the twist ending to "Plastered in Paris".



Considering how the Inspector made the Commissioner look foolish so often, I guess this was a little bit of payback.

Rating: B.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturtainment: Misterjaw in Aloha Hah Hah (1976)

Just to prove that pirates are people, too, Misterjaw goes after a 2-man pirate crew in "Aloha Hah Hah".



This literally is a 2-man show, as Arte Johnson & Arnold Stang double up as the pirates.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Simon (1978)

Milton Bradley got into the electronic game business in 1978 with Simon, in which players had to follow the instructions via flashing lights on the game board.

Nearly 40 years later, Simon has been rebooted and the line expanded by Hasbro, which acquired Milton Bradley in the 80's. Nothing, though, beats the original ad campaign, with a poem recited by horror legend Vincent Price.



Price also shilled for two other Milton Bradley games, Hangman & Stay Alive, both of which I played. Simon? Not so much. In England, the same commercial played with a British actor reciting the same poem.

Tooniversary: An episode of Baggy Pants & The Nitwits (1977)

Baggy Pants, the feline Charlie Chaplin-wannabe, is finally on YouTube.

An enterprising poster mixed and matched episodes of 1977's Baggy Pants & The Nitwits, the last original series that DePatie-Freleng sold to NBC. I say mixed & matched because a quick check of the episode guide reveals that the two shorts you're about to see were not originally presented together.

There are bumpers, but no closing credits.

"Baggy Pants & Forgetful Freddy": What DFE was hoping for was not only a homage to Chaplin, but another pantomime cat in the tradition of The Pink Panther, who was in his final season at NBC. Here, Baggy gets mixed up with a wealthy gentleman who becomes angry when a bell rings.

"Rustle Hustle": The Nitwits---Tyrone & Gladys (Arte Johnson & Ruth Buzzi) head West to catch some cattle rustlers. I don't think enough kids got the idea that this was a parody of superheroes, and back then, the Saturday schedule was front-loaded with them, as this series aired around lunch time.



The open and the first few minutes of the Baggy Pants short are replayed to fill time. Don't ask.

Rating: B-.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman in Prehistoric Panic (1980)

Captain Caveman (Mel Blanc) gets to return home to the Stone Age, if but for a short time, in 1980's "Prehistoric Panic". You might think that this could've ended up being a sort-of backdoor pilot, since Cavey would return home again and move to Bedrock later that year.

One other thing. ABC brought back Captain Caveman & The Teen Angels as a mid-season replacement series in March 1980, replacing the cancelled Spider-Woman. To make room, Scooby & Scrappy-Doo was moved to 11 (ET), with Cavey airing at 11:30. The 3rd and final season for the Captain in modern times was a mix of 16 new episodes and reruns from the 1977-9 run. However, the network decided to end the series after three seasons, and, had this been the finale, instead of the 4th episode of the season, maybe this would've had a different, more appropriate ending.



The Flintstone Comedy Show was rebooted on NBC that November, and ran for 2 seasons, and, as we've previously documented, Cavey would return as a backup feature to The Flintstone Kids, but with no continuity between any of the series.

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: Rocky & Bullwinkle shill for Taco Bell (1993)

For a period of about a year (1992-3), Rocky & Bullwinkle were licensed for use in commercials for Taco Bell. In each case, the iconic duo thwarted hamburgers hustlers Boris Badenov & Natasha Fatale.

Seeing as how Bill Scott & Paul Frees (Bullwinkle & Boris, respectively) passed away in the 80's, I don't know who's filling in for them here, working with June Foray.



Hamburgers being boring? Seeing as how I enjoy both hamburgers & tacos, I disagree.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summertainment: Tijuana Toads in Never on Thirsty (1970)

Every summer, it rains more in the East than it does in the West. While they suffer with droughts and wildfires in California, Arizona, and Washington, the rain hangs around the East coast like a bad neighbor that won't go away.

For the Tijuana Toads, it certainly appears as though they're going through one of those dry spells. Toro & Pancho, though, have to deal with a watchdog that looks to be smarter than he looks. "Never on Thirsty" borrows that trope from other cartoons, and some incidental music from Ant & The Aardvark.



Six years later, the Toads made their television debut, added to the expanded Pink Panther show on NBC, and rechristened the Texas Toads to avoid stereotyping, which killed the vibe.

Rating: B--.

June Foray Memorial Week: June on Green Acres (1967)

From season 3 of Green Acres:

June Foray guest stars as a Mexican immigrant recruited by Oliver Douglas (Eddie Albert) to operate Hooterville's telephone switchboard. At this point in the series, Oliver, a lawyer by trade, had acquired the town phone company. Chaos follows, of course.



Eddie Albert would later get into voice work himself, as would Pat Buttram (Haney) and Eva Gabor (Lisa). Gabor & Buttram were reunited at Disney in "The Rescuers", and Buttram also worked on "The Aristocats" (with Eva's sister, Zsa Zsa) and "Robin Hood", among other projects.

Ignore the label in the video. The poster mixed up episode titles to confuse the copyright police.

I have no memory of seeing this episode in syndication back in the day, so, no rating.

From Comics to Toons: It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969)

The Peanuts gang heads off to summer camp for the first time in 1969's It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. At the time, the specials were airing on CBS on a seemingly annual basis, and the pace would pick up during the 70's.

Charlie (Peter Robbins, ex-Blondie) and Peppermint Patty captain the teams in a lopsided battle of the sexes. The boys reflect Charlie's personality, as they can't seem to get out of their own way, while the girls prove to be more organized and superior in every event. Imagine having these kids in a Battle of the Network Stars-type competition.

The complete episode is not available. Instead, here's a compilation of clips, culminating in the infamous wrist wrestling match between Lucy and the Masked Marvel (Snoopy, of course).



Some wiseguy on Wikipedia made an editing goof, trying to claim that Chuck Jones and DePatie-Freleng had something to do with this when they clearly didn't. Probably transposed the information from The Cat in the Hat.

Rating: B.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tooniversary: The Crystal Brawl (1957)

Popeye poses as a swami to get even with Bluto in 1957's "The Crystal Brawl". The short recycles footage from two previous entries, "Alpine For You" and "Quick on the Vigor":



Paramount's cartoon division had gotten into a familiar formula by this point, as some reaction shots look similar to, say for example, reaction shots in Casper cartoons.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Famous Firsts: The 1st episodes of Underdog (1964), Commander McBragg (1963), & Go Go Gophers (1966)


Underdog's adventures usually were in the form of 4-part serials, which, in syndication, stretched across two episodes. For a period in the late 60's & early 70's, NBC would put the serials together to air them in one sitting.

The first three shorts, however, are done-in-ones that illustrate that while he is dedicated to his mission, Underdog (Wally Cox) leaves a path of destruction in his wake. Lord knows how many phone booths were destroyed when Shoeshine Boy had to change to Underdog. Anyway, those three stand-alone shorts--"Safe Waif", "March of the Monsters", and "Simon Says"--are all here, plus the debut of the Go Go Gophers ("Moon Zoom") and Commander McBragg ("Over The Falls").



We would see better from the Gophers, and McBragg got repetitive in a hurry, to the point where the joke gets lost. Underdog is back in comics, as American Mythology Press obtained a license earlier this year. The others? Not so much.

Some sources don't have "Moon Zoom" as the Gophers' 1st episode. The copyright is 1962, but they didn't debut until 4 years later. Hmmmm.

Rating: B.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tooniversary: The first episode of Kid Power (1972)

Normally, I'd do the "famous firsts" on the first of the month, like tomorrow. However, I couldn't let this pass or wait until tomorrow. Rest assured, there will be a famous first episode tomorrow, just the same.

Anyway, Morrie Turner's Wee Pals was adapted for television by Arthur Rankin, Jr. & Jules Bass as Kid Power for ABC in 1972, so the series marks its 45th anniversary this year. Long time Rankin-Bass standby Paul Frees (who also worked for just about everybody) heads a voice cast that includes a pair of 2nd generation actors in April Winchell (Paul's daughter), who voices Connie, and Jay Silverheels, Jr. (Rocky). While April continued on, and still works to this day, young Mr. Silverheels wasn't heard from much again.

In the opener, the Rainbow Club tries to raise money for baseball uniforms.



It was supposed to be ABC's answer to Bill Cosby's Fat Albert over on CBS. However, Kid Power was shunted off to Sundays the next season, then cancelled. Funny thing. Kid Power aired first, but folks preferred Cosby back then. While Turner passed away a few years back, Wee Pals is still going strong. It's another one of those strips I remember reading as a kid that isn't around in my area anymore.

Rating: B.

You Know The Voice: Arthur Q. Bryan (1940's)

In addition to his work as Elmer Fudd until his passing in 1959, Arthur Q. Bryan had forged a career in radio (Fibber McGee & Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, Richard Diamond, etc.) and even made a few shorts.

In "The Golfer's Lament", Arthur sings about the game while trying to get off a tee shot.



The song is actually a poem set to music. Can't get a handle on the exact year this came out, though.

Toon Legends: Rocky & His Friends, aka The Bullwinkle Show (1959)

Today, we start a week-long salute to the grand dame of voice actresses, June Foray, who passed away last week at 99. What better way to start than with the show that made her an icon.

Rocky & His Friends, otherwise known as The Bullwinkle Show, launched in November 1959 on ABC, then moved to NBC and into a Sunday night berth for its final three seasons (1961-4). Reruns ultimately alternated between the two networks until the early 80's before moving to cable.

What you might not know is that the show was originally intended with a different purpose, in that Rocky (Foray) & Bullwinkle (Bill Scott) were part of a group of forest animals running a television station. Nearly 40 years later, the Muppets tried a similar approach, except that between two networks, ABC & Disney Channel, Muppets Tonight was not as successful as The Muppet Show or Rocky, and even occupied the Sunday 7 pm (ET) berth when it aired on ABC. Go figure. As it is, I find it hard to believe they wanted this to be a variety show. With backup features such as Fractured Fairy Tales and Peabody's Improbable History, it wouldn't classify as a variety show.

Digression over. Co-creator Alex Anderson, who'd worked with Jay Ward on Crusader Rabbit, was unwilling to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles, so that's how Scott entered the picture. Writers Allan Burns & Chris Hayward might be even more known for their work writing live action shows, including Get Smart and, in Burns' case, The Duck Factory, a short-lived NBC sitcom we've screened here previously.

During the NBC years, a Bullwinkle puppet, voiced by Scott, served as MC, going so far as biting the hand that fed it, lampooning Disney's Wonderful World of Color, which aired in back of Bullwinkle on Sundays. One stunt led to a lot of complaints from parents after Bullwinkle suggested that children pull the tuning knobs of their television sets to ensure they'd watch the show the following week. Kinda like Soupy Sales' infamous New Year's Eve gag with money that also got him in trouble in New York.

My earliest memory of the series is the Saturday morning reruns on ABC in the early 70's. At the time, the show aired around noon, before it became a death slot for cartoons. Rocky was the smarter one, of course, with Bullwinkle being a little slow on the uptake. Thing was, for all the times they clashed with spies Boris Badenov (Paul Frees) and Natasha Fatale (Foray), they never had any fights. Maybe that's why they kept it around after anti-violence regulations were put in place at the end of the 60's, forcing adventure shows off the air for a time.

Anyway, you might not have seen this intro:



Now, here's the Bullwinkle into we all know:



Amazingly, Bill Scott chose not to be credited as an actor, just as a writer-producer. Talk about being modest and humble. Narrator William Conrad added the same duties on The Fugitive when that series premiered in Rocky's final season (1963).

Could Rocky & Bullwinkle make a comeback today? Well, the closest we've gotten was an appearance in a GEICO ad a couple of years back, but no one's rushing to get them back on TV, even after the modest success of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, first in theatres, then on Netflix. After all, Rocky & Bullwinkle, along with Dudley Do-Right, flopped at the box office in feature film form.

Rating: A.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Plastic Man vs. Dogmaster (1979)

It's a popular trope in science fiction, especially in relation to comic books, that chimps are often used in scientific experiments. Plastic Man (Michael Bell) is called on to locate a chimp that has a top secret formula locked into his brain, while "Dogmaster" seeks to claim the chimp and the formula for his power-mad schemes.



By this point in the series, they'd already settled into a lame formula in the lead feature, but this was actually better because it didn't adhere to said formula.

Rating: B-.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Looney TV: The Case of the Missing Hare (1942)

Bugs Bunny swaps out his usual hole in the ground for a tree in Chuck Jones' 1942 farce, "The Case of the Missing Hare". That's really the least of the issues here. A traveling magician, Ala Bahma, plays a cruel trick on Bugs, and, of course, you know that means war!




I wonder if this wasn't a veiled shot at a certain southern state......

Rating: B-.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: The Preamble (America Rock, 1976)

In 1976, Schoolhouse Rock added a new component, America Rock, to mark the bicentennial, which had come & gone in July.

Lynn Ahrens wrote and sings "The Preamble", a short piece about the first part of the Constitution. Something a certain President needs to be reminded of. Every day.



If you looked real close, you'd see Lynn's name, along with producers George Newall and Tom Yohe, on the ballot. Cute inside joke, no? Yes, "The Preamble" comes off as a folk song, but it still resonates today. If only someone could "rick-roll" the White House........

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Kix Cow? (1968)

General Mills has had mascots for a number of their cereals through the years. Cheerios has had the Kid and Sue on and off, and Buzz Bee has been touting Honey Nut Cheerios since their inception. Of course, we can't forget Lucky the leprechaun, the Trix Rabbit, and the titular fiends of the monster cereals (Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Franken Berry). But, did you know that Kix had a mascot once?

The Kix Cow was a short-lived gimmick who appeared in 2 ads circa 1968. Actor Frank Nelson (ex-The Jack Benny Program) is the voice of the cow, who is kind of a bully....



I think we can see why the Cow quickly was cut.

June Foray (1917-2017)

For millions of television viewers, spanning 7 decades, this hurts.

June Foray, the grand dame of cartoon voices, passed away Wednesday, just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday. To try to list all of her accomplishments would probably take a month or so.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see if Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or any other cabler will do a tribute in her honor. Over the next few days, we're going to do our own tribute, with a week long celebration starting on Monday, July 31. For now, we're going to start the ball rolling with one of June's rare "face acting" jobs, when she appeared as herself on the short-lived NBC series, The Duck Factory. Keep an eye open, too, not only for series co-star Don Messick, but also June's partner-in-mirth, Bill Scott, also making a rare appearance before the cameras, in the episode, "The Annies". June appears around the 15 1/2 minute mark.



Rest in peace, June.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Krypto, K-9 Detective (1967)

In order to catch a dog-napping ring, Superboy sends Krypto out on an undercover assignment. Superboy (Bob Hastings) had asked, "How low can you go?" when he learns of the dog-nappers. Well, the answer to that would be, crooks will do anything to get rich quick.

Here's "Krypto: K-9 Detective":



Rating: B. Today, this same story would be expanded for story depth.

Game Time: "Superman" meets the creator of Dick Tracy (To Tell The Truth, 1965)

In the fall of 1965, Chester Gould's legendary detective, Dick Tracy, became a grandfather when his adopted son, Junior, and his wife, Moon Maid, had their first child. To mark the occasion, Gould agreed to appear on the evening edition of To Tell The Truth on October 4. Host Bud Collyer, a year away from reprising the voice of Superman, moderates the panel's questioning of Gould and two "imposters".



Two years later, 20th Century Fox and producer William Dozier tried to bring Tracy back to television after a short-lived animated series. Their pilot flopped, signalling the end of Dozier's time at Fox after Batman was cancelled. Tracy would return as part of Archie's TV Funnies in 1971.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Toon Rock: Yakko's World (Animaniacs, 1993)

A while back, we served up a choice musical number from Animaniacs in which Wakko (Jess Harnell) recited the 50 states in song, to the beat of "Turkey in the Straw". Well, brother Yakko (Rob Paulsen) did it first, in just the 2nd episode of the series, with "Yakko's World", in which Yakko recites every country in the world.....



Now, who said this wasn't educational?

You Know The Voice: Norman Alden (1967)

Six years before he was cast to voice Aquaman on Super Friends, character actor Norman Alden made his Saturday morning (actually, afternoon) debut, appearing on American Bandstand in the fall of 1967 to promote Rango, alongside co-stars Tim Conway & Guy Marks. Scope!



ABC must've had high hopes for Rango, such that the show's theme song, performed by the inimitable Frankie Laine, had been used for a Rate-a-Record segment. Unfortunately, Rango was sent off to Boot Hill before the season was over.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Batfink vs. Big Ears Ernie (1966)

Just to prove that his rogues gallery wasn't entirely composed of Hugo A-Go-Go, Batfink takes on "Big Ears Ernie", whose enlarged ears are his best defense against the law-----but just wait and see how Batfink spoils that strategy.



Oh, I'm just begging someone to revive this series, with longer stories.

Rating: B-.

Retro Toy Chest: Play 'n' Make (1970's)

Once upon a time, Kenner had a huge hit with their Easy Bake Oven. Hasbro, which later bought out Kenner, felt they needed to cut in on that action, and developed Play 'n' Make, a mini kitchen set that came out no later than 1977. The exact year it debuted remains uncertain, although it's possible 1977 was the only year it came out. Funny thing, though. Until today, I'd never seen ads for the product, and didn't know it existed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

On DVD: Justice League Dark (2017)

Warner Bros. visits a dark corner of the DC Universe in the direct-to-video feature, "Justice League Dark". Based on the defunct series of the same name, Batman (Jason O'Mara) investigates when a number of civilians are involved in some unusual incidents, mostly because the aggressors see their victims as demons.

In order to fight this supernatural menace, the Dark Knight finds himself briefly possessed by Deadman (Nick Turturro, ex-NYPD Blue), who convinces Batman to recruit John Constantine (Matt Ryan), and, in turn, Zatanna  (Camilla Luddington), who has had relationships with both Batman & Constantine in the past.

The villain is the sorcerer Destiny. No, not a revamp of a former DC horror host, but rather a reboot of a classic Justice League villain, Dr. Destiny. Destiny manipulates and eventually controls Constantine's friend, Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies, ex-Constantine) in a quest to regain a specific artifact that would make him akin to a god.

The supporting cast includes Marvel-Netflix regular Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman and Jerry O'Connell (ex-Sliders, Crossing Jordan, etc.) as Superman.

Here's a trailer:



As you can see, there are some genuinely funny bits mixed into the action. There are also some shocking surprises. The movie races along at a speedy 76 minutes, par for the course for a DCAU movie. Not really all that thrilled, however, with the use of Swamp Thing in this, as opposed to how he is used on Justice League Action, but, then, that's six of one and half a dozen of another, and, we'll leave it at that. Then again, I wasn't digging the Shiwan Khan look to Felix Faust, either, as that just doesn't look right on him.

They really need to concentrate on giving Zatanna a solo movie of her own. Just sayin'.

Rating: B+.

From Primetime to Daytime: Buffalo Bill, Jr. (1955)

Buffalo Bill, Jr. was a 1-year wonder that came from Gene Autry's Flying 'A' stable, and perhaps a big reason why it didn't last more than 42 episodes wouldn't be the fault of the show's cast, but rather the very large glut of Westerns on the air at the time, and that wouldn't diminish until the mid-60's. By that time, ABC had exhumed the formerly syndicated series to fill its Saturday morning block.

Dick Jones (ex-Our Gang, The Range Rider, Annie Oakley, among a number of credits) toplined as Buffalo Bill, Jr., although for the life of me I can't discern if this Bill was in fact directly related to "Buffalo" Bill Cody in real life. Jones also did his own stunts on the show.

Unfortunately, I never saw the show, so I can't rate it. This would be the kind of Western that deserves a home on cable today, though.

Right now, let's scope out the episode, "First Posse".



I wonder why Bill's sister was named "Calamity". Implying perhaps a reference to Calamity Jane?

Anyway, what some of you might not know is that Dick Jones was also the voice of "Pinocchio" in Disney's 1940 animated feature.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturtainment: Muttley becomes a stuntman (1969)

Magnificent Muttley sees himself as a "Movie Stuntman" in this short-short episode. Director Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) tries to sabotage Muttley's efforts, but......



A rare case where Zilly (Don Messick, also the voice of Muttley) is in the mix, in this case as a cameraman. It's just unfortunate that these shorts were way too short, but when you consider they also had the Wing Dings gags to fill out the half hour of Dastardly & Muttley......

By the way, Dick & Muttley will return to DC Comics in September in an all new series.

"Movie Stuntman" gets an A.

Toon Legends: Popeye in Childhood Daze (1960)

When Professor O. G. Whatashnozzle creates a machine that can send a chicken back into the egg, Brutus (Jackson Beck) decides to use it on Popeye (Jack Mercer) so he can have Olive (Mae Questel) all to himself. Here's "Childhood Daze", produced by Larry Harmon, and directed by Paul Fennell.



Kind of odd seeing Popeye (and later, Brutus) with adult faces on infant bodies. I guess the Professor has to go back to the drawing board.

As previously noted, Harmon employed some future talents from Filmation, including Hal Sutherland, Erv Kaplan, and musical director Gordon Zahler, who later worked as a music supervisor not just for Filmation, but also for Ivan Tors.

Rating: C.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Oscar Mayer jingle? (1965)

Today, Oscar Mayer is part of the ever growing conglomerate that is now known as Kraft Heinz. Yeah, mergers are a thing again. I guess they did away with anti-monopoly laws, but never made it public. Digressing. Anyway, back in 1965, this next ad made its debut, and would resurface in the 90's when Nick at Nite's TV Land debuted and began running "retromercials".



Too bad this hasn't been updated for the here & now.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Toonfomercials: The Jack Davis collection (1960's-85)

Artist Jack Davis is best known for his work on Mad Magazine and about a bazillion covers of TV Guide way back in the day, plus some advertising.

Starting back in the mid-60's somewhere, Davis' art was brought to life in a series of ads for a number of sponsors. The following block features:

McCracken Apple Chips (1985): Frito-Lay tried out this particular brand, using an apple-headed detective and his girl Friday. Gary Owens is the announcer at the end of the clip.

Gillette Trac II razor blades (1971): Jackson Beck narrates this one, in which a wicked Shadow gives guys the infamous 5:00 Shadow. Unfortunately, Procter & Gamble, Gillette's parent company, has discontinued this brand of blades.

Chex Cereals: Ruth Buzzi (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) is credited as the singing housewife in this spot, which may be from the 60's or early 70's.

2 spots for Utica Club, including a hysterical bit with a matador and a bull sharing a round of the suds. Jackson Beck is heard as the bull.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Malibu U (1967)

Here's a teen-centric ABC variety show that Dick Clark had nothing to do with.

Malibu U. was geared toward fans of Clark's American Bandstand and its related series, such as Where The Action Is, but lasted just 7 weeks in the summer of 1967. The problem? ABC placed it on Friday nights, rather than on Saturday mornings, where it could've been used to greater effect.

Actor-singer Rick Nelson (ex-The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet) served as host to an eclectic lineup of musical acts and assorted guest stars. Choreographer Bob Banas' dance troupe included a future sci-fi icon in Erin Gray (later of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century & Silver Spoons.

Now, I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. This episode features the 5th Dimension, Freddy Cannon and John Astin (ex-The Addams Family), billed as "The One Man Comedy Team", this after subbing for Frank Gorshin as the Riddler on Batman during the 1966-7 season.




Wikipedia's entry claims, incorrectly, that Four Star had a hand in the series, when it's clear that they didn't. They tried a variety show a couple of years earlier, the syndicated Hollywood A Go-Go, which was a failure.

Teenage Toons: To Thing Or Not To Thing (1979)

After our last Thing entry, regular correspondent Goldstar noted that there was a reason why the self-proclaimed idol of millions (Joe Baker) used a ring to switch from teenager Benjy Grimm (Wayne Morton) and back again.

"To Thing Or Not To Thing" offers some insight. By some unknown means, Ben was de-aged into a teenager, and stripped of his strength, which he could only access with the use of the two-part Thing Ring---which vanishes in the course of this particular fable.

After being advised by Professor Harkness (John Stephenson) to stay in the lab for 8 hours after an experiment meant to restore his adult self to full-time status, Benjy is goaded into going on a ski trip with snooty Ronald Radford (John Erwin). Chaos follows, of course.



Kelly had to hold back the tears, but that would be the first hint that there were signs of affection toward Benjy. The full origin in this continuity was never established, it would appear.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Toonfomercial: A summer break message from ABC Afterschool Special (1973)

After ABC's Afterschool Special wrapped its first season, the network ran this ad, mostly during primetime, during the summer of 1973 to promote the fact that the anthology series would return that fall.

Of course, the underlying reason I'm doing this is to have something that uses the series' original, synthesizer driven theme song.....

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Isis in Fool's Dare (1975)

It's been a while since we scoped The Secrets of Isis.

Student Cindy Lee (Joanna Pang) takes a dare to enter a junkyard, and encounters a gang of car thieves who'd earlier stolen a car belonging to Andrea Thomas (Joanna Cameron), aka Isis. Typical Filmation live-action fare of the period.



Albert Reed (Principal Barnes) had previously appeared on Chase, then took up a career in law enforcement of his own, working as a security guard. Who'dathunk?

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Toon Legends: Popeye in Jeep Tale (1960)

One familiar trope of Jack Kinney's run producing and directing Popeye was having Swee'pea (Mae Questel) coax Popeye (Jack Mercer) into telling some stories.

One such case is "Jeep Tale", in which Beatrix Potter's Tale of Peter Rabbit is sent up, with Eugene the Jeep subbing for Peter Rabbit.



Predictable fluff.

Rating: A-.

Game Time: Captain Kangaroo on What's My Line? (1974)

Goodson-Todman figured that kids were watching the syndicated What's My Line? with their parents if they weren't in school, or, in summer reruns, playing in the yard. To that end, Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) was brought on as a mystery guest in this 1974 episode helmed by Larry Blyden.



Good stuff.

Rating: A.

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Thing Meets The Clunk (1979)

The Thing (Joe Baker) finds himself having to corral a runaway robot whose programming isn't quite as complete as his creator had intended. Professor Quimby (Paul Winchell) may be absent-minded, but good natured. His creation, though, is a work in progress. Here's "The Thing Meets The Clunk":



It was never really implied that Kelly (Noelle North) was Benjy Grimm's girlfriend in this series, although she and her scientist father (John Stephenson) were the only ones who were privy to Benjy's dual identity.

Rating: B--.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summertainment: Monkees at the Movies (1967)

From season 1 of The Monkees:

The guys are chillin' on the beach when they're recruited by a director (Jerry Lester) to be extras for a beach movie starring Frankie Catalina (Bobby Sherman). However, Catalina's success has gone to his head, so the Monkees decide to chop his ego down to size.

Here's "Monkees at the Movies":



The version of "Valleri" heard here was the original studio track, not the eventual hit single.

Bobby Sherman, of course, would stick with Screen Gems for 2 series of his own, Here Come The Brides and Getting Together, while forging his own career on the charts.

Rating: B.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman vs. the Prankster (Triple Play, 1988)

Superman (Beau Weaver) has to save the National Pastime when the Prankster (guest star Howard Morris) teleports a baseball stadium and the two teams playing in the World Series to a remote island as part of an elaborate revenge plot. Here's "Triple Play":



If Jimmy Olsen's voice sounds familiar, it belongs to Mark Taylor, who was Firestorm on Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show & Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. Same basic vocal pattern.

While the World Series is still 3 months away, I figured, why wait?

Rating: A-.

Getting Schooled (again): The New Mickey Mouse Club (1977)

By 1976, the original Mickey Mouse Club was back in syndication. I remember this well because while it aired on the same station that carried it when it aired on ABC (1955-9), it was also airing on cable, and the cable company blacked out the feed from WNEW in New York much of the time, subbing in a text-only news feed from Reuters, which was available at the time.

In January 1977, Disney decided to reopen the Mickey Mouse Club, with a brand-new, culturally diverse cast, a disco reworking of the classic theme song, and, instead of new serials, simply split up pre-existing movies into multi-part, week-long serials. They had already re-edited some movies into two-parters for NBC's Wonderful World of Disney on Sundays to create inventory.

Unfortunately, The New Mickey Mouse Club had just 26 weeks (130 daily episodes) of original material before Disney ended production, but reruns would continue for 2 more years. Why? It wasn't airing in as many markets as reruns of the original series. The format was essentially the same, with a different theme each day of the week, but this was a case where Disney had sabotaged itself. Viewers preferred the reruns and cherished the  memories of childhood favorites like Annette Funnicello, who by 1977 was now shilling for Skippy peanut butter.

The cast was largely forgotten except for two. Lisa Whelchel and Julie Piekarski would later resurface on The Facts of Life, only for Piekarski to leave early in the series' run.

Here's a sample clip:



The most successful incarnation of the Mickey Mouse Club was still to come, leaving its biggest impact on the world of pop music. We'll talk about that another day.

No rating.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tooniversary: Voyage to the Inner World (Space Sentinels, 1977)

Space Sentinels turns 40 this year. To mark the occasion, let's take a look back with the episode, "Voyage to the Inner World".



I have no memory of seeing this one. No rating.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: The Mickey Mouse Club (1955)

In the 50's, ABC may perhaps have been the only network that programmed shows for children & teenagers on weekday afternoons. For the teeny-boppers, there was, of course, American Bandstand, which would later move to Saturday afternoons and continue into the 80's.

For the younger kiddo's, there was the equally legendary Mickey Mouse Club, which, like Bandstand did at the time, ran 5 days a week. Had ABC and/or Disney thought of it, maybe a 6th day, Saturday, would've been added. Had that happened, maybe the series could've gone past 4 seasons.

Host Jimmie Dodd basically was an adult supervisor for the Mouseketeers, whose roster included such future stars as Don Grady (later of My Three Sons), Annette Funicello, Sherry Alberoni (later better known for her voice work, i.e. Super Friends & Josie & the Pussycats), and Bobby Burgess (The Lawrence Welk Show). Each day had a specific day, such, as, for example, "Guest Star Day", from whence we get the following clip, which features actor-singer Cliff Edwards, aka Ukelele Ike, aka the original voice of Jiminy Cricket.



17 years after the series ended, Disney re-released it in syndication, so that parents could share their experiences with their kids. That led to the first reincarnation of the series, which we'll discuss another day. Likewise, the last and most successful incarnation will be addressed down the road.

Rating: A.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. Raven (Menace of the White Dwarf, 1973)

Time to take a trip back to 1973 with the Super Friends.

A white dwarf, manipulated by a vengeful alien named Raven (Casey Kasem in a dual role), begins stealing various objects, and relocating them, including a two-seat bicycle belonging to Marvin (Frank Welker). Superman (Danny Dark) sent Raven to prison some years earlier, and now knows Raven is looking for revenge......

Here's "Menace of the White Dwarf":



This Raven, of course, was a 1-shot villain who never appeared in the comics, and won't be confused with the later, female Raven of the Teen Titans. Dark doubles as the judge who sentenced Raven to prison.

Rating: B-.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Nutter Butter Man? (1970s?)

Nabisco introduced Nutter Butter peanut butter sandwich cookies in 1969. That might actually have been when this next animated commercial first appeared.......



I think the Nutter Butter man is supposed to be Nabisco's answer to Willy Wonka, but don't hold me to that. Too bad he's not around anymore, although the cookies still are.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Literary Toons: Cyrano (1974)

From season 2 of the ABC Afterschool Special:

Cyrano is a loose adaptation of the life of Cyrano de Bergerac (Jose Ferrer). I'm sure you know the story from various live-action and animated adaptations, including Mr. Magoo's take on it nearly a full decade earlier. A then-unknown Joan Van Ark co-stars as Roxanne.

Unfortunately, all that is available now is this trailer, meant to promote a VHS release.



1988 was the year this was released on VHS. Hanna-Barbera produced this one, one of a half-dozen entries during this season, most of them in live-action form.

No rating. I have no memory of seeing this one.

Summertainment: Come On In! The Water's Pink (1968)

The Pink Panther heads off to the beach, where he makes a monkey out of a muscle-head. Here's "Come On In! The Water's Pink":



I think we've seen some of the same gags in some Road Runner cartoons (you know which ones I mean). Still, good fun for a summer afternoon.

Rating: A.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Dino Boy in Danger River (1966)

I've heard of shooting the rapids, but this is ridiculous.

Dino Boy and Ugg try to take a native back to his village,  but must navigate "Danger River":



Now, that's an obstacle course.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: The Pizza Head Show (1993)

In the early 90's, Pizza Hut sought to attract younger customers, particularly tweens and teens. The gimmick they hit on turned out to be a radical revamp of an old Saturday Night Live skit.

The Pizza Head Show was a series of ads for Pizza Hut that ran from 1993-7, from Mr. Bill creator Walter Williams. Shoot, Pizza Head even sounds like Mr. Bill. Sixteen commercials, mostly for promotional giveaways, were produced over the course of four years. It so happens that an enterprising YouTube poster collected them all.



I think now you know where the creators of Uncle Grandpa got the idea for that sentient slice of pizza.......

Rating: B-.

From Comics to Toons: Spider-Man in The Vulture Has Landed (1981)

From Spider-Man's 1981 solo series:

The Vulture (Don Messick) begins kidnapping scientists. When Peter Parker inexplicably loses his clothes, he borrows an outfit from his friend, Harry Osborn, the son, of course, of Norman Osborn (Green Goblin). However, Vulture mistakes Peter for Harry and kidnaps Peter, which may turn out to be a big mistake.......



The original Vulture, Adrian Toomes, didn't appear in the 1967-70 series, so this would be his TV debut. Oh, there was a Vulture in 1967, but it was the 2nd one, Blackie Drago.

Rating: B.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Skyhawks in Dog Fight (1969)

It's been a while since we checked in with the Wilson family of Skyhawks.

In "Dog Fight", Steve (Casey Kasem) is the victim of sabotage when business rival Buck Devlin's aides rig his plane.



Devlin might've been able to talk his way out of trouble, but today, I doubt he could get away with it with any consistency.

Rating: B.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Toonfomercial: Kellogg's tries reinventing Milton the Toaster (1996)

Nearly 30 years after creating Milton the Toaster as a mascot for Pop-Tarts, Kellogg's came up with a new model, whose eyes are inside the toaster, and whose mouth is one of the slots. Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin) voices the new, nameless toaster.



El flopp-o, as this toaster's attitude was the pits.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Toon Legends: Doctor Pink (1978-9)

The Pink Panther takes a job at a hospital as a humble, but of course bumbling, janitor, yet he dreams of being "Doctor Pink". The copyright says 1978, but it didn't come out until a year later, and likely aired on ABC.



The Walter Mitty-esque daydreams have been a common ream for the Panther over the years. If you've seen one variant, you've seen them all.

Rating: B.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures (2013)

Pac-Man returned to action in 2013's Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures, currently airing as part of Sinclair Broadcasting's Kids Click package.

The series initially aired on DisneyXD here in the US, and concurrently in Japan, which got one extra season out of the series, in addition to some holiday themed episodes that didn't air here, although they could, since the series is also streaming on Netflix.

The biggest difference between this series and the game on which it's based is the premise that the ghosts are secretly pals with ol' Pac, including Pinky, a female ghost with a crush on Pac-Man. Instead of being on what seemed to be Earth in the 1982 ABC series, Pac-Man and pals are on their own world, far more surreal and bizarre thanks to CGI tech.

Let's just give you a tease with the first half of the series opener.



Ghostly Adventures was seemingly dropped by DisneyXD in 2015, but no formal announcement of cancellation was ever made. As noted, it's now on Kids Click, which is experiencing some growing pains in its first few days on the air.

Rating: B+.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey in The Penthouse Burglaries and the Batty Bank Mob (1974)

It's past time we checked back in with Hong Kong Phooey.

This time, Phooey (Scatman Crothers) tangles with an ape trained for second story work in "The Penthouse Burglaries", and "The Batty Bank Mob", a clever gang of crooks who use an assortment of mechanical accessories to pull their jobs. All the while, Phooey, as Penrod Pooch, is tasked with painting the station house. Good luck with that.



Ratiing: B.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Gettin' To Know Me (1979-80)

Back in the day, PBS affiliates filled the hours when the kiddo's were at school with an assortment of educational programs aimed at pre-schoolers. The lengths of these programs varied, but the vast majority of these shows have, unfortunately, been lost to the mists of time.

To be totally honest, I didn't even know about this next item, Gettin' To Know Me, which, while it was developed with African-American audiences in mind, is actually meant for everyone. That said, I cannot fairly rate this show, so we will forego the rating, and jump right into a sample episode:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

War of the Aardvarks (Odd Ant Out, 1970)

Here's a rare Ant & the Aardvark in which the ant isn't being chased. Well, technically.

You see, Charlie Ant (John Byner) doesn't show up until the very end, while the Blue Aardvark (Byner) duels with a green one over a can of---wait for it---chocolate covered ants. Some of the gags were boosted from the Road Runner playbook, for obvious reasons.

Here's "Odd Ant Out":



Don't know who Byner was impersonating as the Green Aardvark, in case anyone asks.

Rating: A.

Famous Firsts: Jeannie in Surf's Up (1973)

Our Famous First this month features Jeannie.

As we have previously documented, the series launched three years after NBC's I Dream of Jeannie had ended its run. With the blessing of Screen Gems, Hanna-Barbera rebooted, and transformed Jeannie (Julie McWhirter) into a jealous redhead who had eyes only for her new master, Cory Anders (Mark Hamill), and wouldn't let Cory near any other girl.

In "Surf's Up", Jeannie bulls her way into teaming with Cory for a mixed surfing competition. Jeannie in a bikini? Priceless.



Four years later, H-B had intended to bring Jeannie back for Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, but Columbia said no. Only Jeannie's apprentice, Babu (Joe Besser), joined the Scooby-Doobies, and once that series ended after 2 seasons, that would be the end of Babu. Besser ended his run at H-B around the same time, having worked on Yogi's Space Race as well.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Toonfomercial: Froot Loops debuts (1963)

Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal turns 55 next year. So does, it seems, Toucan Sam, who made one of his first appearances in this next entry. While most people think of Toucan as having a British accent (Paul Frees and Maurice LaMarche have done mimics of Ronald Colman to create Sam's distinctive voice), that wasn't always the case.

As you'll hear, Toucan Sam was originally as American as apple pie, thanks to---who else?---Mel Blanc.



Of course, Blanc had a long standing association with another major player of the day, General Foods, since the Looney Tunes crew shilled for Tang and Kool-Aid, and, later, Post launched the Pebbles line of cereals, still endorsed to this day by Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble. Not sure if Mel did any other spots for Kellogg's while doing other Hanna-Barbera characters.

Saturtainment: Super Scary Saturday (1987)

Back in the day, Superstation TBS had everything you'd want. The Atlanta Braves were billed as "America's Team" (with apologies to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys), reruns of old classic series, and tons of movies.

While the Braves and NWA/WCW wrestling drove the station on the weekends, TBS did come up with a novel idea for movies on Saturday afternoons. Problem was, it lasted just 2 years.

Super Scary Saturday was a throwback to the monster movies of yore as they were screened in the Northeast and other parts of the country. Al Lewis reprised his role as Grandpa from The Munsters (which TBS had the rights to at the time) as host. He even brought along Igor the bat as a sidekick. This was, I think, right around the time The Munsters Today would launch in syndication, and, well, Howard Morton was no Al Lewis as Grandpa, let's put it that way.

There would be crossovers with World Championship Wrestling, as selected NWA talents, including the Freebirds' Michael Hayes and Midnight Express manager Jim Cornette, would debate the battle royal between, say for example, King Kong and Godzilla. Those segments would be over in the TBS Arena, while Lewis taped his bits in a separate studio.

Here, Grandpa opens the show, and we eventually get to a promo for the day's feature, "Godzilla".



Escapist fun, that's all it is. Too bad no one has thought about making something like this a weekly thing again. El Rey has their monster movie double features on Fridays, but they're not normally the vintage kind, more contemporary films fill the bill instead.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Hawkman enters the 23rd Dimension (1967)

Hawkman encounters a pair of pranksters from Jupiter. They don't want him spoiling their fun, so the Winged Avenger gets sent to "The Twenty-Third Dimension".



You could see the ending coming, couldn't you?

Rating: B.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Tall Tales & Legends (1985)

Shelley Duvall followed up her first Showtime series, Faerie Tale Theatre, with Tall Tales & Legends, another series aimed at young audiences.

Only 9 episodes were produced between 1985-7, and reruns ultimately surfaced on the Disney Channel. Duvall would follow up with 1989's Nightmare Classics, which turned out to be the end of her run at Showtime, as only 4 of 6 scheduled episodes were made & broadcast.

From 1987, here's an adaptation of the tale of "John Henry". Broadway star Samm-Art Williams ("Big River") wrote the script. The program stars Danny Glover ("Lethal Weapon"), Tom Hulce ("Amadeus"), Lynn Whitfield ("Sounder"), and Lou Rawls. Gospel legend Andrae Crouch directs the chorus.



No rating.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember the Cheetos Mouse? (1971)

Before Chester Cheetah became Cheetos' spokescat in the late 80's-early 90's, Cheetos used a different animated endorser-----a mouse.

The Cheetos Mouse debuted in 1971, voiced by Allen Swift. However, the mouse was gone by the end of the decade. Don't ask.

In this spot, our rodent friend takes up flying a plane.....



The hyphen in Cheetos was removed back in 1998. The logo design and trade dress are similar to Fritos corn chips of the period.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

From Comics to Toons: A full episode of Heathcliff (1984)

Heathcliff (Mel Blanc) has to contend with a movie star for Sonja's affections in "Heathcliff's Middle Name". Then, the Catillac Cats' need for milk leads them to a genie granting them their needs in "Wishful Thinking":



It shouldn't surprise anyone that Heathcliff would discover that his Hollywood rival wasn't all he was cracked up to be. Meanwhile, the Catillac Cats aren't quite as fun without Cleo. Just sayin'.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: The Case of the Dreadful Dolls (Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, 1984)

The writers of Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show cribbed an idea that had actually been borne over at Marvel in this next entry.

The Dollmaker (Frank Welker) is a rip-off of the Puppet Master, who bedeviled the Fantastic Four back in the day. DC had their version, too, the Puppeteer, who was a 1-shot menace vs. the Teen Titans before being seemingly killed off in the early 80's. Anyway, Dollmaker uses some magic clay, a la Philip "Puppet Master" Masters, to control the actions of our heroes.

Here's "The Case of the Dreadful Dolls":



Should've merited the entire half-hour, in this writer's view.

Rating: B-.

Monday, June 26, 2017

On The Air: Ben 10 (2016)

In this age where studio suits are obsessed with reinventing franchises just because they can, Cartoon Network took another detour into stupidity by rebooting one of their more successful franchises of the last decade.

Ben 10 went back to the beginning a year ago, when the current series bowed overseas. It finally arrived on American screens back in April, but trying to compress what worked so well in a full-length half-hour format for nearly 10 years and 4 series overall doesn't work. The feeling I get is that some of the plots to the current series would work better under the original format.

Translated, if it ain't broken, you don't fix it. But the morons at CN did, anyway.

Ben Tennyson (Tara Strong) is back to being 10 years old, as is cousin Gwen. We had watched them grow up and mature, to the point where devoted fans probably were hoping Gwen, who'd begun a relationship with enemy-turned-ally Kevin Levin during the Alien Force series, would continue on that path, and Ben would eventually find his own true love.

So why a reboot? With this, I don't know.

In "Need For Speed", a group of baddies decide to race to Yellowstone National Park, searching for a hidden treasure. Ben has designs on that treasure, too......



I'd rather watch the original series, thanks.

Rating: C.

Remember Milton the Toaster? (1970)

Kellogg's Pop-Tarts have been around since the mid-60's, at least. In 1970, the company decided the pastry treat needed an animated spokesman, just like some of their cereals.

Enter, then, Milton the Toaster. Character actor William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show, Dobie Gillis) landed the plum gig. At the time, Schallert was also one of the studio announcers for ABC. Scope out Milton's debut:



More than 25 years later, Kellogg's tried out the talking toaster gimmick again. This time, though, it was a nameless appliance, voiced by Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin, ex-Saturday Night Live). We'll get something from that era up another time.

Parents, get your DVR's ready: Kids Click is coming!

Kids Click is the name of a new children's programming block from Sinclair Broadcasting which will launch July 1 on This TV (no longer available on Spectrum Cable; check your cable listings) and a number of syndicated channels and/or Sinclair owned stations.

That's the good news. The bad? For Sinclair affiliates, some of the shows are being scheduled for pre-dawn hours due to scheduling conflicts. Here at home, WCWN, the CW affiliate, will align Kids Click as follows:

Weekdays (effective July 3, all times ET):

4:30: Sonic X (has previously aired on Fox & CW)
5 am: Max Steel.
5:30: Angry Birds
6 am: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir
8 am: Rocket Monkeys
8:30: Super 4

Saturdays (effective July 1):

5 am: Sonic X
5:30: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures (previously on DisneyXD; broadcast debut).
6 am: Scary Larry
6:30: Pink Panther & Pals  (previously on Cartoon Network; broadcast debut).
Noon: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures

Sundays (effective July 2):

7 am: Robocop-Alpha Commando
7:30: Sonic X
8 am & 9:30: Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures
8:30: Scary Larry
9 am: Pink Panther & Pals

Your local station and/or This may vary. Some of these shows have previously been reviewed here, and those that haven't will eventually turn up down the road.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superboy in The Beast That Went Berserk (1966)

A noble scientist (Ted Knight, who also narrated) develops a serum that enables an elephant to grow in size, but a little too large for its own good. Superboy (Bob Hastings) has to stop "The Beast That Went Berserk". "Berserk" is misspelled on the title card.



The predictable trope about the rogue assistant was kept off camera to save time, it seems, but would come into play in later variations on the same theme.

Rating: B+.

Looney TV: Bugs Bunny's Kool-Aid A-Go-Go (1966)

At the time this ad first aired, The Bugs Bunny Show had long since moved to daytime on ABC. General Foods, at the time the makers of Kool-Aid, sponsored the show. I think General Foods and WB had ended their partnership by the end of the decade.

Anyway, in 1966, Bugs (Mel Blanc) is shilling from a place called the Kool-Aid A-Go-Go, and sings "Doin' The Kool" as the kids dance.



Too bad this wasn't released as a novelty single----or was it?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Captain Caveman in Double Dribble Riddle (1977)

Captain Caveman (Mel Blanc) and the Teen Angels have to solve a "Double Dribble Riddle" when a basketball team disappears, team bus & all, en route to a game. Seems an unscrupulous businessman wants to buy the team by any means necessary.



How many variations on this plot did we see during the 70's alone? Way too many.

Rating: B.

Friday, June 23, 2017

On The Air: Cyberchase (2002)

Cyberchase is one of PBS' longest-running animated series, with the first 10 seasons spread out over a 13 year period (2002-15). Season 11 is set to air later this year.

The plot: Three Earth kids are transported into another dimension to help Motherboard thwart the machinations of Hacker (Christopher Lloyd, ex-Taxi, "Back To The Future"). Gilbert Gottfried (ex-Aladdin, Saturday Night Live) co-stars as Digit and his kid brother, Widget, a pair of cyborg birds that are Motherboard's aides.

To tell you the truth, I had this up before, but it got taken down when YouTube dumped it due to copyright issues. Hopefully, this won't be the case this time. I thought the series had actually ended a while ago, but nowadays, the production time on some cartoons takes longer than it did back in the day.

Let's look at a more recent sample:



The series was originally produced by Canada's Nelvana Studios, which has since turned over the show to an American studio. Don't ask why.

Rating: B.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman in War of the Bee Battalion (1967)

An age old trope plays into this next offering, from season 2 of The New Adventures of Superman.

Supes (Bud Collyer, To Tell The Truth) has to deal with a pair of common, garden variety crooks who force a scientist to use his experimental formula to enlarge a hive of common bees to keep the Man of Steel distracted while the thieves loot Metropolis. Oh, if it only were that simple......



As you can see, the serum wears off after a while. Today, this same story would be extended, since this ends so quickly.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Toonformercial: The Pink Panther shills for Owens-Corning (1979)

It's been nearly 40 years since The Pink Panther was licensed to Owens-Corning Fiberglas to promote their insulation products.

In this spot, Inspector Clouseau joins the Panther. John Bartholomew Tucker is the voice-over announcer.



I have no clue who voiced Clouseau in these spots.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tooniversary: Spider-Man in Diet of Destruction (1967)

Spider-Man tangles with a metal eating monster that seemingly can't be stopped. The odd thing is that this monster doesn't have a human controlling it. No rhyme or reason to this "Diet of Destruction":



Rating: B.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Toons After Dark: Alice in Wonderland (Or, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1966)

A few years after Disney had released their own adaptation, Hanna-Barbera took a stab at Lewis Carroll's classic tale, but opted for an all-star musical.

Alice in Wonderland (Or, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?) aired on ABC, and has rarely been rerun in 51 years since. The story moves forward to present-day, as you'd expect. Alice (Janet Waldo) enters Wonderland through a very unusual portal---her TV, thanks to her dog, Fluff (Don Messick, of course).

The late comedian Bill Dana wrote the adaptation, which turned the Mad Hatter into a woman (gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, who passed away weeks before the show aired), and turned the Cheshire Cat into a hep cat with the voice of---who else?---Sammy Davis, Jr. (Billed as simply Sammy Davis). Fred Flintstone & Barney Rubble (Alan Reed & Mel Blanc) are reincarnated as a two-headed caterpillar. You get the idea, I think. For what it's worth, Henry Corden took over as Fred when he had to sing.

When it was decided to release this on record, a number of cast changes were made, partially due to contractual conflicts. For example, Davis was signed to Reprise, along with Rat Pack pals Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra, so Scatman Crothers took over as the Cheshire Cat on the album. Veteran H-B scribe Charles Shows adapted Dana's adaptation. I can only imagine.

I never got to see this in its entirety, if at all, so there's no rating. In memory of Dana, who passed away over the weekend, we present this as a public service.


Getting Schooled: The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head (1974)

Timer, now voiced by Len Weinrib, returns to the ABC Afterschool Special in "The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head", first shown in May 1974.

This time, the episode is all animated (another DePatie-Freleng production, don'tcha know), as Timer leads two kids through the title character's cranium.

Unfortunately, the complete episode is not available on YouTube. We'll settle for this sample clip.



As we know, Timer would get his own series of interstitals that aired on Saturdays for the next couple of decades, but his two Afterschool Specials haven't seen the light of day since their last broadcasts. You might say, that Time For Timer was the first Saturday morning series DFE would sell to ABC, but they'd only be able to sell three more after that (The Oddball Couple, The New Pink Panther Show, & Spider-Woman, all between 1975-9).

No rating.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

From Comics to Toons: Popeye's Junior Headache (1960)

Since Popeye is a sort of father figure to Swee'pea, as well as Olive's niece, Deezil, we'll close our Father's Day salute with "Popeye's Junior Headache", which apparently introduced Deezil. Seems Popeye's been burning the midnight oil, and......!



And you thought Popeye had trouble with his own nephews......

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: Schoolboy Father (ABC Afterschool Special, 1980)

It's Father's Day. To mark the occasion, we're bringing out an ABC Afterschool Special from 1980 that addresses the issue of teenage pregnancy and subsequent parenting.

In "Schoolboy Father", Rob Lowe stars as a teen father who decides to raise his newborn over the objections of his girlfriend (Dana Plato, Diff'rent Strokes), who wants to give up the child for adoption. Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life) co-stars.

Producer Martin Tahse made a ton of these teen dramas for the Afterschool Special as well as the Saturday Weekend Special, but hasn't been heard from since ABC discontinued both anthologies.



No rating.

Toonformercial: Tinker Bell for Peter Pan peanut butter (1950's)

Don't know exactly when this next ad bowed, likely during some Disney programming on ABC, but back in those days, Tinker Bell didn't talk all that much. That leaves it for the future voice of Winnie the Pooh, Sterling Holloway, to narrate this spot for Peter Pan peanut butter.



Awww, Tink is soooooooooo cute. One wonders why she was silent in the first place (not so now). Maybe they were afraid of the inevitable coupling of Tinker & Peter (which Steven Spielberg envisioned in 1991's "Hook").

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Looney TV: I Am Slamacus (Loonatics Unleashed, 2006)

From season 2 of Loonatics Unleashed:

Slam Tasmanian is recruited by a humanoid analogue for Pepe LePew, who happens to be running an underground fight club. Danger Duck decides to be Slam's manager, with predictable results. It all starts when the Loonatics try to retrieve some prehistoric creatures from a retro zoo, who've escaped. Pierre Le Pew (Maurice LaMarche) has eyes for Lexi Bunny, who doesn't return the affection (what a shock).

Here's "I Am Slamacus":



While funk legend Bootsy Collins sang the theme song for season 2. He didn't write it. Musical director Thomas Chase Jones did, so blame him if you think it was lousy. It's actually the 2nd worst theme song revision in toon history. The all-time champ came more than a decade earlier, with Fred Schneider's horrid rap theme to The New Adventures of Captain Planet.

Rating: A.

Retro Toy Chest: Electronic Detective (1979)

After spending most of the 70's as a pitchman for Aurora's Skittle line of games, 60's icon Don Adams (Get Smart, Tennessee Tuxedo) landed an endorsement deal with Ideal to shill for Electronic Detective, which sought to siphon off some of the market for Milton Bradley's Simon or other electronic games of the period. The deal was such that Adams' picture was on the game box.

As you can see in this ad, Adams was actually still trading off Smart, as he only thinks he's solved the case. Joey Forman, who'd appeared on Smart as a Charlie Chan parody, Harry Hoo, and did a lot of TV in the 60's & 70's, co-stars.



Had I known about this game when it came out in 1979, I would've badgered the parents to put it under the Christmas tree. After flopping a few years earlier in The Partners, Adams would return to cartoons and gumshoes as Inspector Gadget four years after this was released.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Atom Ant in Super Blooper (1965)

Atom Ant is just as much a fan of other heroes as you or I would be. This much is gleaned in our next episode.

In "Super Blooper", Atom helps an actor (Allan Melvin) who plays Atom's hero, Super Guy, when the actor comes to town on a promo tour, and has to impress some kids. Atom's only too happy to help.....



I think by this point in the series, Don Messick had taken over as the voice of Atom, replacing Howard Morris. Don't know why.

Anyway, they don't do these kind of promotions anymore, since too much information is out in the public purview.

Rating: B.

Daytime Heroes: Sgt. Thursday of Sesame Street (1973)

One of the coolest things about Sesame Street that will attract viewers of all ages is their clever parody sketches.

Take for example this 1973 offering. Can't say for sure if this is from season 4 or 5. Anyway, Dragnet gets the parody treatement, as we're introduced to Sgt. Thursday (Jerry Nelson), who's searching for the letter W, but, as we'll see, it's not as easy as you'd think......



We get the joke.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman gets a soap bottle (1963)

Well, it's not really just the Man of Steel,  but also Tennessee Tuxedo (Don Adams) in this spot for the Soaky soap bottles, made by Colgate-Palmolive. Dick Beals is the voice of the Soaky Kid. By the way, that's not Bud Collyer (To Tell The Truth) as Superman. I think this might've been Everett Sloane instead.

Bad TV: 3 Dog Band (2009-10)

In 2009, Cartoon Network sought to recapture lightning in a bottle, if you will, by opening the Cartoonstitute as a new forum for creators to introduce new works. Two current CN series, Regular Show & Uncle Grandpa, came out of the Cartoonstitute, and there are various reasons why the others never made it.

3 Dog Band was one of those runts of the litter, so to speak. Created by Paul Rudish, who'd directed episodes of Dexter's Laboratory and the original Powerpuff Girls, this band literally is comprised of three dogs, all of different breeds and musical interests, as well as nationalities.



I know all about the struggles some bands go through to make it big. I've been friends with a small number of local musicians, and I've seen some professional highs & lows. What these pooches go through exaggerates those struggles a wee bit too much. Not only that, but when you have a character named Slime who loses his shape at inopportune moments, that's another joke that goes a little off the page.

Let me just sum up my feelings on this one. Meh.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Toon Legends: Mr. Magoo in Thin Skinned Divers (1960)

Mr. Magoo (Jim Backus) thinks he's going to a college reunion when he gets in truth an advertisement for a sale. Chaos ensues, of course, in "Thin Skinned Divers":



Seems Magoo is making a comeback, with news of a new set of shorts being released this year. However, the classic look is gone, and Magoo will be given an unwitting arch nemesis he doesn't realize he's offended. Can you say, epic fail?

Rating: B.