Friday, March 31, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Frankenstein, Jr. meets a UFO (Unidentified Fiendish Object)(1966)

Frankenstein, Jr. (Ted Cassidy) and Buzz Conroy (Dick Beals) square off with alien warlord Zargon and his robot warrior, Destructo. Here's "UFO: Unidentified Fiendish Object":



Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Superstar Barbie (1976)

Barbie is in the spotlight again in this edition of Retro Toy Chest.

The year is 1976. Mattel decides to upgrade their iconic fashion figure with Superstar Barbie. This version would only last through the end of the decade, but there were accessories galore.

Actress Judy Strangis (Electra Woman & DynaGirl, ex-Room 222, Wheelie & the Chopper Bunch) did the promos at least for the first year.



Now, who's cuter? Barbie or Judy?

Two years later, one accessory in the line was Superstar Barbie Fashion Face, which enabled young women to try outfitting Barbie from the neck up. Tammy Lauren (Who's Watching the Kids?) appears in the ad. Michael Bell (Super Friends) is the announcer.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Toons After Dark: Mystery Solvers Club State Finals (Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, 2011)

An ailing Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) dreams of pairing Mystery Incorporated with 70's Hanna-Barbera stars Speed Buggy, Jabberjaw, and Jonathan Muddlemore, aka The Funky Phantom. Scooby's illness nearly prevents the gang from taking part in a tournament of mystery solving, as if there was really anything of the sort.....



The problem I had with this episode was the deconstruction of Muddlemore, repackaged as an out-of-work actor, and completely debunking the concept of the 1971 Funky Phantom series. Muddlemore had previously appeared on Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, and was treated slightly better than this. All this did was ensure that Funky Phantom could never be successfully revived. Jabber & Speedy really weren't given much to do, and if producer Mitch Watson actually had a clue, this could've been best served as a two-parter, instead of a done-in-one atrocity. Either that, or swap out Muddlemore in favor of either Hong Kong Phooey or Inch High, Private Eye, who were never considered for use in the series.

Rating: C--.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looney TV: Remember Tweety's Global Patrol? (1992)

Tweety teaches recycling in this 1992 PSA, presented under the heading, Tweety's Global Patrol. Did they really need another excuse to make Sylvester a fall guy?



This spot had to be in heavy rotation for at least two years. The YouTube poster recalls seeing this in 1994, but the copyright date, barely visible, tells us its actual point of origin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saturday Morning Ringside: Wrestle Maniacs (What's New Scooby-Doo, 2005)

I had this one up before, but it got taken down due to copyright issues. Not so this time.

From What's New Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Inc. gang get in the ring to solve a mystery in "Wrestle Maniacs". If only they knew that more than a decade later, they'd be breaking bread with the promotion they're parodying here, the WWE:



I don't think this was even considered when they wrote the two WWE-Scooby movies over the last three years.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Green River (1969)

Here's a black & white clip from American Bandstand, going back to when VH1 had rerun rights. Dick Clark introduces, then interviews, Creedence Clearwater Revival. In between is a performance of their #1 hit, "Green River":




Monday, March 27, 2017

Tooniversary: Letterman stops a traffic jam (1972)

The Adventures of Letterman turns 45 this year. Let's turn back the clock to a time when our hero had to stop a magically created traffic jam, all because Spellbinder (Zero Mostel) turned a family's car into a jar for his own amusement. Here's "A Jarring Experience".



Sixty shorts were produced over the course of five seasons (seasons 2-6 of The Electric Company). Much like, say for example, Scooby-Doo, Letterman fell into a pattern that was almost never broken.

Rating: B.

Animated World of DC Comics: Batman vs. Simon the Pieman, round 2 (1968)

Batman has his hands full when Simon the Pieman (Ted Knight) returns, bent on stealing some Turkish coins, for starters. Unfortunately, this would be Simon's last appearance, as when Filmation gained a new license for DC in the mid-70's, they created new villains for The New Adventures of Batman, despite the fact that by the time that series launched in February 1977, the original 1968 cartoons were in syndication. Here's "A Perfidious Pieman is Simon".



One thing bugs me. How did Simon/Mother Goose know the Mayor would send Barbara to pay a visit?

Rating: B-.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Looney TV: Naughty Neighbors (1939-92)

The Hatfields & McCoys' famous feud is skewered in Bob Clampett's 1939 Porky Pig opus, "Naughty Neighbors". Here, the Hatfields have been rechristened the Martins, with Petunia (an uncredited Bernice Hansen) and Porky as the leaders of the families.

Unfortunately, the original black & white version is unavailable, so all we have is a 1992 colorized print, as shown on Cartoon Network (the colorized version first aired on Nickelodeon). The music you hear at the start is performed by the Sons of the Pioneers.



If you look close, you might catch Daffy Duck making a cameo appearance, just because.

Rating: B.

Retro Toy Chest: Living Barbie (1970)

Barbie has been one of Mattel's biggest franchises, her look & style evolving over the course of time.

In 1970, Mattel experimented with a "living" Barbie doll whose movements are meant to approximate that of real young women. Actress Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch) stars in this ad.



Maureen had been doing Barbie ads for Mattel before signing on for Brady Bunch. Gee, y'think maybe this is where they found her?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Toonfomercial: Remember Johnny Smoke? (1960's)

The American Heart Association didn't intend to scare kids away from smoking with this next spot, but the message was as clear as it could be.

The AHA and the Ad Council chose a Western theme because there were so many Westerns on television at the time. That said, it would've made sense to have a star of any TV Western, be it Lorne Greene (Bonanza) or James Arness (Gunsmoke) or even Richard Boone (Have Gun..Will Travel). Instead, a then-unknown Broadway star, soon to become a Hollywood icon, was chosen to narrate this ad.

James Earl Jones tells the tale of Johnny Smoke:



Personal note: my late father began smoking in his teens, but never tried to convince me to follow his lead. He knew I'd seen all of those anti-smoking ads. Also, I'd seen a few older kids lighting up while I was in grade school. Not my scene.

Saturtainment: An episode of the Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show (1974)

There is at least one episode of The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show available on YouTube, and here it is. However, it isn't a first-run episode. A network promo narrated by Danny Dark (Super Friends) plugs the 1975-6 season, with the addition of Far Out Space Nuts, Ghost Busters, & Isis. The Hudsons were moved to Sundays for the '75-76 season, which would end the series' run.

Keep an eye open for announcer-series regular Peter Cullen. If you've ever wondered what the future voice of Optimus Prime and other classic 80's characters actually looked like back in the day, well.....! Also, if you wonder why NBC & ESPN have used the "coaches' clicker" so much, it's actually a gimmick that began with Andy Williams' primetime show back in the day, which, like the Hudsons' shows (primetime and daytime) were produced by Chris Bearde.



To think that this series came about because the network wanted to keep the Hudsons around after their summer 1974 series had run its course, having ended 10 days before Razzle Dazzle premiered.

Rating: B.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Celebrity Toons: Scooby-Doo meets Sonny & Cher (1972)

We've noted that some of the celebrities who appeared on The New Scooby-Doo Movies were on the CBS roster, including Dick Van Dyke, Tim Conway, Sandy Duncan, and our next guests, Sonny & Cher, who had a comedy-variety show on the network.

Of course, it should be noted that in season 2, the series also helped establish a pair of studio stablemates who bowed in 1973, Jeannie & Speed Buggy, in much the same way that Space Ghost introduced Hanna-Barbera & CBS' 1967 freshman class.

Right now, let's check out Sonny & Cher joining Mystery, Inc. to solve "The Secret of Shark Island".



Standard, and by this point, cliched.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Toon Legends: Tom & Jerry meet Robin Ho-Ho (1975)

Tom & Jerry are in Sherwood Forest, hoping to join the Merry Men, but this Robin Hood, or, more specifically, "Robin Ho-Ho", is more interested in teaching his troops how to laugh heartily.

This comes 17 years after "Robin Hoodwinked", which was the inspiration for this short.



I was SO digging Jerry's innovative improvisation of shooting an arrow. Robin hoped to trick Tom, but that didn't work. Hmmm, I wonder why......

Rating: B.

Toonfomercial: The Flintstones for Shriners Hospitals (1980's)

The Shriners Hospitals not only contracted with Warner Bros. for a series of PSA's featuring Looney Tunes characters, but also Hanna-Barbera for The Flintstones.

First up: Fred (Henry Corden) appears on television to make an appeal for the Shriners:



Today, you'd get in trouble for using the word "crippled". "Disabled" would be more appropriate.

Next, Fred schools Dino on one particular Shriners patient:



Not exactly sure when these were initially broadcast.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Looney TV: Tweety teaches safety (1982)

We've previously presented PSA's sponsored by Shriners' Hospitals featuring Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck. Tweety works the same room in this short spot.



Ignore the date the poster put up on his video. The copyright date of 1982 is correct.

You Know The Voice(s): Cliff Norton & Louise Williams (1977)

Aside from 1970's Where's Huddles?, Cliff Norton is better known as a character actor in films & television. In 1977, Norton was part of an ensemble cast for an unsold pilot showcasing Andy Kaufman. Unfortunately, as documented over at The Land of Whatever, Stick Around was passed over by all three networks at the time (NBC, ABC, CBS).

Kaufman plays an android aide to Vance (Fred McCarren). Norton is a neighbor who had been cryogenically frozen until "two weeks ago", as the story goes. Norton could easily be mistaken for fellow character actor Harold Gould due to his similar facials.

Around the 20-21 minute mark, scope the platinum haired hottie looking to buy Andy away from Vance and his wife, Elaine, when Vance decides he's had enough of Andy's bumbling. Louise "Liberty" Williams had been working on Bustin' Loose prior to this pilot. Of course, good fortune would come her way later in the year, thanks to a certain Saturday morning franchise.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Mayhem of the Music Meister (2009)

From Batman: The Brave & The Bold:

In one of the campiest episodes of the series, a new villain, the Music Meister (Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother) surfaces with plans for world domination. His powers, though, cause not only Aquaman (John DiMaggio), Black Canary, Green Arrow, & the Batman (Diedrich Bader) to sing, but villains he's hired himself, in this case Black Manta, Grodd, and Clock King.

In truth, Green Arrow (James Arnold Taylor) is fortunate not to actually sing. He'd probably never hear the end of it. Anyway, "Mayhem of the Music Meister" is considered one of the more popular episodes of the series. We previously featured the track, "Drives Us Bats", so now, with the Music Meister being brought to life in tonight's episode of The Flash by Glee alumnus and avowed comics fan Darren Criss, let's take you back to the debut of the Music Meister.



We all know Green Arrow & Black Canary have been an on-again, off-again item in the comics, and this episode helps set that table, though I'm not so sure about Dinah ever crushing on Batman........

No rating.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Toon Sports: Coach Pebbles (?) (Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, 1971)

With the World Baseball Classic winding down, and the regular season two weeks away, it's also appropriate that we find, on this first day of spring, a baseball themed episode of Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm.

When Fred (Alan Reed) develops laryngitis right before a big game, Pebbles (Sally Struthers, All in the Family) steps in to coach his pee-wee team.



A few years later, Hanna-Barbera did a ret-con by putting Pebbles (now voiced by Pamela Anderson) and Bamm-Bamm in the "Little Big League" in their first primetime special. 

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. the Attack of the Killer Bees (1977)

I don't know exactly how many movies were made involving killer bees in the 70's, but the Super Friends were caught up in this particular trend. Aquaman (Norman Alden) and Samurai must deal with a deadly swarm in "Attack of the Killer Bees". Yeah, I know, original it ain't.



I can't recall exactly, but it wouldn't have been any more than a coincidence if General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios was one of the sponsors when this was first aired in November 1977.........

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Johnny B Goode (1973)

The legendary Chuck Berry revived one of his signature hits, "Johnny B. Goode", in a 1973 appearance on Soul Train. Like, dig it!



In memory of Berry, who passed away at 90.

Celebrity Toons: Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner? (1972)

Don Knotts appeared in 2 episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies during the 1st season. Here, he channels fellow comedy icon Jerry Lewis as he adopts a variety of disguises, confusing Scooby and the gang, in "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner?":



Don would return in "The Spooky Fog of Juneberry", paying homage to his most famous character, Barney Fife.

Rating: B.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sinbad, Jr. & the Sun Wizard (1965)

Yesterday, we presented one of Hanna-Barbera's Sinbad, Jr. shorts. This time, we'll go to original producer Sam Singer's catalogue, as Sinbad (Dallas McKennon, Daniel Boone) takes on "The Sun Wizard":



Once American International gave Singer the boot, that pretty much spelled the end of his producing career.

Rating: A-.

Toons After Dark: The Magic Shillelah (The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1968)

Begorrah! Top o' the evenin' to ye! 'Tis St. Patrick's Day, after all.

To mark the occasion, let us travel back in time. The year is 1968. The setting is the series premiere of The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck, Tom Sawyer, and fair Becky Thatcher have gotten themselves lost in a myriad of alternate dimensions while eluding Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy). Och, what do we have here? Some leprechauns have espied Becky, napping and unaware of "The Magic Shillelah". Dennis Day is among the guest voices heard in this tale.



'Tis a sorrowful pity the journey was not ended before public eyes. That is to say, the series was cancelled a'fore it could reach its proper conclusion. Perhaps another day, someone can adapt these humble efforts to expand upon Mark Twain's original concepts.......

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Daytime Heroes: Sinbad, Jr. & His Magic Belt (1965)

A ways back, we served up a Sinbad, Jr. short that was produced by Sam Singer and Trans-Lux. Well, as we documented, American International wasn't happy with the product, so they turned the animation over to Hanna-Barbera. With that came a casting change, as Dallas McKennon (Daniel Boone), who had previously worked for Singer on Courageous Cat five years earlier, was cut loose in favor of Tim Matheson (Jonny Quest) and Mel Blanc (The Flintstones, Secret Squirrel, etc.).

In "Mad, Mad Movies", Sinbad is roped into making a movie for a desperate director (Blanc, using his Cosmo Spacely voice from The Jetsons), looking for a new star. This was a ream that would be used with other characters at other studios over and over again through the years. Matheson would stick with his mature voice for later roles (Space Ghost, Samson & Goliath) the next two seasons.



Typical of the period.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Goldie Gold in Night of the Crystal Skull (1981)

Time to check in with the "world's richest girl", Goldie Gold (Judy Strangis, ex-Electra Woman & DynaGirl) and Action Jack, in the series premiere, "Night of the Crystal Skull". No, this wasn't the inspiration for an Indiana Jones movie more than 20 years later, although the series came a couple of months after "Raiders of the Lost Ark"......



You can tell the influence of comics icon Jack Kirby in some of the character designs. Kirby had gone to work for Ruby-Spears a year earlier on Thundarr the Barbarian, and worked with writer Steve Gerber, who also created Goldie & Thundarr, on Destroyer Duck for Eclipse Comics. Kirby would remain with Ruby-Spears for much of the 80's, as he also had a hand in shows like Rambo and Centurians.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tooniversary: The Lone Ranger vs. The Rainmaker (1967)

From season 2 of The Lone Ranger's 1st CBS animated series (1966-9):

The Ranger (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) battle a blackmailer who thinks he can control the weather with machines. Paul Winchell guest stars as "The Rainmaker":



Predictable, but worth the trip.

Rating: A-.

You Know The Voice: John Stephenson (1957)

John Stephenson appeared in three episodes of Perry Mason during the course of the first three seasons.

In season 1's "The Case of the Runaway Corpse", John plays Ed Davenport, who is scheming to have his wife killed, but.......



Robert Burns was right. The best laid plans of mice and men do go astray.........

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: Alaskan Peril (1977)

While we're experiencing a late season blizzard in the northeast, let's scope out a Super Friends adventure from 1977.

Batman & Robin join forces with Apache Chief to take on an abominable snowman in "Alaskan Peril". Plus, Wonder Woman teaches crafts.



The basic design of the snowman was later recycled and recolored, methinks, for "Bigfoot", three years later.

Rating: B.

Toons You Might've Missed: Gaston le Crayon (1957)

Terrytoons had hired Gene Deitch away from UPA to produce a new generation of characters for the studio in the 50's. While Deitch and William Snyder were hailed or reviled, depending on who you talk to, for their work on MGM's Tom & Jerry or King Features' Popeye & Krazy Kat in the 60's, Deitch couldn't make anything stick at Terrytoons.

Take, for example, Gaston le Crayon, a French painter who appeared in 5 shorts between 1957-59. Today, he'd be considered a walking stereotype because of his accent, his chosen profession (How many cinematic art instructors have you seen that weren't French?), or even his short stature. Allen Swift (The Howdy Doody Show), who'd later work with Deitch on the Tom & Jerry shorts, provides all the voices in what was the final cartoon in the series, "Gaston's Mama Lisa", in which Gaston latches on to a stolen copy of a certain da Vinci painting......



No rating. This is the first time I've seen any of these shorts.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rare Treats: A game show by Filmation? (The Origins Game, 1982)

You know that Filmation contributed to SFM's Holiday Network in the 70's. In turn, that syndicated series recycled a lot of movies that had aired a few years earlier in the MGM-produced Off to See The Wizard for ABC. But did you know that Filmation tried to get into the game show business?

It's true. Filmation & SFM collaborated on an unsold pilot, The Origins Game, which was recorded in February 1982. Co-created by co-executive producer Norm Prescott and Arnold Shapiro (better known for the later CBS series, Rescue 911), The Origins Game ended up as another line in the resume of game show icon Bob Eubanks (The Newlywed Game).

Unfortunately, there is no information available on the show, other than the following excerpt. Jim Korkis was a contestant on the show, and the video was posted by animation expert Jerry Beck, whose Cartoon Research webpage is the video's point of origin.



Korkis wrote a blog piece of his own on his experience playing and winning The Origins Game. He's also appeared on other games, such as Family Feud.

Let's remember, friends, that Filmation became the 2nd studio to flirt with getting into the game show business. Hanna-Barbera, you'll recall, had contracted with Heatter-Quigley for the original Wacky Races, which was supposed to be half-cartoon, half-game show, but the game part never came off. Saban would break the ice with I'm Telling a few years later.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Looney TV: Baby Buggy Bunny (1954)

When is an innocent little baby not so innocent? When he's really a 35 year old man, vertically challenged, and a bank robber to boot. Meet Baby Face Finster, Bugs Bunny's latest opponent, in "Baby Buggy Bunny", Chuck Jones' delightfully silly farce from December 1954.



Sure, it took a while for Bugs to figure out what was up, but when he did.....!

Rating: A-.

Retro Toy Chest: GI Joe & the Secret of the Mummy's Tomb (1973)

Before GI Joe became a code name for a covert government strike force in the 80's, Hasbro marketed the original Joe with the Adventure Team in a series of play sets and an advertising campaign to match.

1973's Secret of the Mummy's Tomb was also released as a book & record set, produced by Peter Pan Records. Former Filmation writer Ken Sobol (Fantastic Voyage) wrote the script, while the artwork made it look like the artist may have been one of the anonymous artists from Dell or Gold Key.

Right now, scope out the commercial, and see if this doesn't bring back some memories.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

From Comics to Toons: The Hulk Destroys Bruce Banner (1982)

I know what you're thinking. At the time, Bruce Banner was the alter-ego of The Incredible Hulk. Currently, that only applies to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since Banner was killed off in the comics several months ago (for however long that'll last). In 1982, Marvel Productions, perhaps unaware that this would be the series finale, as well as the season finale, decided to make it seem like Banner had died. Scope out "The Hulk Destroys Bruce Banner":



I never saw this episode, so there's no rating.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Toon Sports: Tom & Jerry's Wacky World of Sports (1975)

Tom & Jerry compete against each other in a decathalon in this 1975 short, "The Wacky World of Sports". If I'm not mistaken, given how Tom is doing his best Dick Dastardly impersonation in trying to play some dirty tricks on Jerry, I think this was a remake of a Droopy short for MGM more than 20 years earlier.



Rating: B.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Toonfomercial: Pinocchio shills for AMC (1955)

Before it was absorbed by Chrysler some 20-odd years ago, American Motors Corporation (AMC) made a bid to make the Big 3 automakers (Ford, Chrysler, General Motors) into a Big 4. The best way to do that, you see, was to engage in some inventive advertising. That is to say, they made licensing deals with Disney to use some of their characters in commercials, and this included characters that Disney held licenses on themselves, such as the characters from "Song of the South" and, in this next ad, Pinocchio.

Because more than a decade had passed since the initial release of "Pinocchio" in theatres, Dickie Jones, who had voiced the title character, wasn't available. Actor-singer Cliff Edwards not only reprised as Jiminy Cricket, but voiced Geppetto as well. Pinocchio's voice in this case is by the reigning grand dame of voice actors, June Foray.



Down the line, we'll see ads with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, plus "Song of the South".

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Waldo Kitty as Catman (1975)

While I've never been able to figure out when or how Filmation gained another license for Batman, this episode of The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty may have been a precursor of things to come.

Waldo (Howard Morris) imagines himself as Catman, while trying to figure out how to rescue Felicia (Jane Webb) from Tyrone, the neighborhood bulldog (Allan Melvin).



Melvin would recycle Tyrone's voice three years later for Bluto on The All-New Popeye Hour. I think what hurt this show in the long term was that it was on too early in the morning for most kids.

Rating: B--.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From Primetime to Daytime: The Flintstones in The Rock Vegas Story (1962)

From Season 2 of The Flintstones:

The Flintstones & Rubbles are vacationing in Rock Vegas, but when they find they are lacking cash to pay for their hotel, they have to work off the bill, and, oh, do they ever.

Scope out Betty & Barney's musical number near the end of the show, as Barney (Mel Blanc) does a little scattin' on "When You're Smilin'". Don't ask why Betty dyed her hair platinum blonde. I don't remember why.



I'd seen this a handful of times in syndication in the 70's, as I don't recall seeing this when NBC had rerun rights.

Rating: B-.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Toons After Dark: Turner Classic Birdman, or, Busy Day For Birdman (2005)

In a rare case of cross-network synergy, Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne "hosts" an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law. Osborne's intro was taped at TCM studios in Atlanta. Meanwhile, the idiots at Williams Street Productions cobbled together selected clips of episodes of the 1967 Birdman series, redubbed with the current cast (i.e. Gary Cole, Stephen Colbert) and reanimated using Flash animation.

The idea is not only to mock the original Birdman, which [adult swim] had been doing all along, but to try to link the two series together, when they really don't have anything more in common than the lead character, and try to explain why he gave up crime-fighting and took a "regular" job.

In memory of Osborne, who passed away at 84.



I tried watching this On Demand one afternoon. They tried using the same re-animation techniques that had worked so well for them on Sealab 2021, which was one thing. Having Gary Cole try to imitate the original voice of Birdman, Keith Andes, and fail, was torture. Oh, by the way, Stephen Colbert not only voiced Falcon 7, the model for Phil Ken Sebben, but Reducto, as well.

Luckily, the "real" Birdman is back, as he's a player in DC Comics' Future Quest, which, unfortunately, ends next month.

Rating: C.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Tonto vs. the Avenger (1968)

This, it would appear, was the last solo adventure for Tonto (Shep Menken) from the 1966-8 Lone Ranger series. This time, Tonto battles "The Avenger" (Marvin Miller), the son of a Sioux chief seeking revenge for perceived wrongs.



When the Ranger & Tonto returned to CBS in 1980 for another 2 year hitch, Tonto didn't get any solo adventures. If the series were to be revived today, maybe he does, and gets treated with more respect than had been shown in a certain abomination of a movie nearly 4 years ago.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Saturday School: Motormouse & Autocat in Skill School (1969)

This next Motormouse & Autocat short recycles an old Tom & Jerry short, the title of which escapes me at the moment. Anyway, Autocat (Marty Ingels) is trying to teach his nephew, the unimaginatively named Autokitty (Daws Butler, using his Lambsy/Elroy Jetson/Augie Doggie voice) how to catch mice. Unfortunately for Autocat, Motormouse befriends Autokitty. The usual chaos follows, including some flashbacks.

Here's "Skill School":



Predictable.

Rating: B.

From Primetime to Daytime: Rose Marie moves in with the Monkees! (1967)

The Monkees are faced with eviction from theirshared apartment, and the landlord, Mr. Babbitt (Henry Corden) isn't waiting around for them to clean house. Instead, a middle-aged woman, Millie, who carries a parrot and a stuffed dog for company, moves in. You might notice she's a bit, ah, eccentric. Rose Marie, fresh from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and newly settled into The Hollywood Squares, guest stars in "Monkee Mother":



As we'll see, Millie and the boys find a common ground. Rose would play a number of different characters during the series' two season run, and Corden would return periodically, as well. Oh, by the way, this is also a You Know The Voice double-play (Corden & Micky Dolenz), plus the added bonus that Rose Marie would later land a gig at Hanna-Barbera, as she guest-starred on Yogi's Gang 6 1/2 years later as the shape-changing Lotta Litter. Right now, I'm  not entirely sure if Corden & Dolenz worked together on a project at H-B. As we know, Micky worked on 4 series for the studio between 1971-7 (Funky Phantom, Butch Cassidy, Devlin, Wonder Wheels). Digression over.

Rating: A-. I remember seeing this in syndication back in the 70's and during the show's MTV run in the 80's.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rare Treats: A Where's Huddles pilot (1970)

Mark Christiansen has blessed us with this rarest of rare treats.

As we know, Where's Huddles? was a summer replacement series that Hanna-Barbera produced for CBS in 1970. Here, we have a pilot using storyboard sketches by Jerry Eisenberg, Willie Ito, & Iwao Takamoto. There are some cast changes in contrast to the final product that bowed in July 1970. For example, while the male leads remain the same, with Cliff Norton as Ed Huddles and Mel Blanc as his next door neighbor/teammate, Bubba McCoy, their wives, Marge & Penny, are played by other actresses, most notably Nancy Kulp (The Beverly Hillbillies) as Penny McCoy. When Huddles went to series, Kulp, entering the final season of Hillbillies, was replaced by Marie Wilson, with Jean VanderPyl (ex-The Flintstones) taking over as Marge Huddles. Paul Lynde (Hollywood Squares, Bewitched) is, of course, Claude Pertwee.

Trouble ensues when Claude leaves for a few days, expecting his neighbors to honor his request to keep his new car spotless. Unfortunately, Bubba decides to do his impression of a dog fetching a stick.......



With the change in actresses for Penny came a change in character design, as Penny became a blonde, reflecting the switch from Kulp to Wilson. This way, it was easier to tell the women apart. Allan Melvin (Banana Splits, Brady Bunch) is heard as well.

Rating: B-.

Daytime Heroes: The CBS Children's Mystery Theatre (1980)

In a continuing effort to emulate ABC's award-winning Afterschool Special, CBS tried out a series of periodic mysteries for kids, aimed mostly at teenagers.

Unfortunately, the CBS Children's Mystery Theatre, to my knowledge, didn't play in my home market. The local affiliate opted for syndicated programming instead. Only 5 episodes were produced over the course of three seasons (1980-3), which illustrates the struggles between divisions of the network's programming department.

This is strictly for your perusal, so there won't be a rating. Right now, let's take a look at 1981's "The Haunting of Harrington House", starring Dominique Dunne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Edie Adams, and sitcom vets Vito Scotti and Phil Leeds.



Polly is essentially a modern day clone of Nancy Drew, don't you think?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Animated World of DC Comics: World Beneath The Ice (1978)

From Challenge of the Super Friends:

Before we discuss our next subject, I need to address an issue that has not been corrected by the criminally unreliable Wikipedia. Whomever wrote the entry for the Challenge season has the order of each week's episodes backwards. The episodes with the Legion of Doom were in the 2nd half of the show, not the first half, as Wikipedia insists. The fact that each hour-long episode was split into two parts for syndication isn't helping matters at all, but rather creates confusion for fans.

That all having been said, our next story, "World Beneath The Ice", is a sort-of retelling of the previous season's "Invasion of The Earthors", substituting the North Pole for the earth's core for the setting. In any event, a race of people living under the ice approve of a plan to freeze the surface world as a form of misguided vengeance for oil drilling in the North Pole. Tohrahma (guest star Henry Corden) leads his crew in capturing American & Russian ships. You know the rest of the drill.



Clever use of the H-B acronym for the orchestra, don't you think?

Rating: B.

Getting Schooled: Ding Dong School (1952)

What started as a regional program for pre-schoolers in Chicago turned into a national phenomenon in due course. Ding Dong School was one of the first hit shows created for children.

Miss Frances (Frances Horwich) was the teacher and the television audience were her students. The series began, as noted, as a local program based out of Chicago before being picked up by NBC. However, the first run lasted about 4 years or so before returning for a syndicated run in 1959, which lasted relatively around the same length of time.

Let's take a look at a sample episode from 1955, courtesy of Internet Archive:



I guess now we know where Elvis Presley got the idea for peanut butter & banana sandwiches becoming his favorite delicacy, according to legend, at the end of his career.

Could Ding Dong School exist today? Not under its old title, certainly.

Rating: B.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Toon Sports: The Tumbleweed 500 (Fender Bender 500, 1990)

The Fender Bender 500 hits the heart of Texas in "The Tumbleweed 500". Since we're 4 days removed from the Daytona 500, how about taking a time trip back to this reincarnation of Wacky Races. I think there were some issues between Hanna-Barbera and Merrill Heatter over Wacky Races even up to this point, although Dick Dastardly & Muttley had long since returned to the fold, and were in a familiar position in this series. After the opening to Wake, Rattle, & Roll, we'll turn it over to Shadoe Stevens for the call.



No rating.

Getting Schooled: The Day After Tomorrow (1975)

It was a rare case of a Gerry Anderson production premiering in the US before it bowed in the UK.

The Day After Tomorrow made its debut as an episode of NBC's after-school anthology series, Special Treat, in December 1975, then aired in the UK on BBC 11 months later. Nick Tate (Space: 1999) and Brian Blessed star, with Ed Bishop (ex-UFO) narrating:



Insofar as I know, this has not been rerun in the US in recent memory.

Rating: None. Didn't see it the first time.

Sunday Funnies: Dexter meets Dynomutt (1998)

From Dexter's Laboratory:

Genndy Tartatovsky must've been a big Dynomutt fan. Either that, or, after parodying the 60's anime icon, Speed Racer, it was decided that Hanna-Barbera's bionic canine would attempt a comeback, and this episode was meant to be a back-door pilot for a spin-off series. Gary Owens & Frank Welker reprise as Blue Falcon & Dynomutt, respectively, in "Dyno-Might":

After that, it's a biography of Dexter's life, told as an opera, or, in this case, a "Labretto":



Rating: B.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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

It's the first of the month, and that means another first episode. This time, it's The Lone Ranger in his first animated adventure for CBS from 1966.

The Masked Man (Michael Rye) and Tonto (Shep Menken) match wits with a wily, wealthy, but bored villain known simply as "The Trickster", not to be confused with a more colorful villain associated with DC Comics' Flash.



You'll forgive the video quality. Cartoon Jam had to have gotten this off a VHS tape.

Additional research has revealed that Universal had commissioned Format Films and the British Halas & Bachelor studios to develop this series, with permission from then-rights holder Jack Wrather. Confusion over current rights would explain why there hasn't been a DVD release more than 50 years after its launch.

Rating: B.