Saturday, October 25, 2014

Toon Legends: Scooby-Doo vs. the Diabolical Disc Demon (1978)

It's been a while since we showcased Scooby-Doo, so why don't we take a trip back to 1978, when Mystery, Inc. (though not going by that appellation at the time) took on the case of "The Diabolical Disc Demon". As memory serves, the episode title card was edited off some syndicated prints, aside from this one.....

Yes, the villain is modeled after KISS bassist/vocalist and later actor-reality show star Gene Simmons, whose costume predictably lent itself to be copied like this. KISS, it should be noted, made a live-action movie for Hanna-Barbera around the same time that you'd be hard pressed to find today.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Saturday School: Two Rabbits Too Many (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, 1970-1)

Emmanuel Mateer, Jr. brings us another episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch from the Filmation years.

Well-meaning Sabrina (Jane Webb) tries again to pep up downtrodden Jughead (Howard Morris), but her success spell has an unexpected side effect. Jughead starts behaving like a rabbit, just in time for Riverdale High to be audited. Uh-oh.

Study the image of Sabrina's cousin, Ambrose (Morris). In both the current Secrets of a Teenage Witch series, and the just-launched Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book, Ambrose has been de-aged into a warlock around Sabrina's age or older, and not the comedy relief he was presented to us as back in the day. I prefer the adult Ambrose myself. What about you?

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spooktober: When Halloween Was Forever (The Real Ghostbusters, 1986)

From season 1 of The Real Ghostbusters:

Pre-Halloween jobs are getting harder for the Ghostbusters. Could there be some major supernatural threat behind this? J. Michael Straczynski, before he earned sci-fi credentials with Babylon 5, cut his teeth writing for cartoons like The Real Ghostbusters and the original He-Man & The Masters of the Universe. "When Halloween Was Forever" allows him to demonstrate a flair for comedy, as well.

I think I can see why Lorenzo Music was replaced as Peter after 1 season. It wasn't because he left to do Garfield & Friends, but the fact that he has one basic voice, which gets tweaked a tad depending on the character. And Ray (Frank Welker) sounds more like a grown-up Fred Jones, doesn't he?

Rating: A-.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Literary Toons: The Get Along Gang (1984)

The Get Along Gang marks its 30th anniversary this year. American Greetings introduced the characters through their subsidiary, Those Characters From Cleveland, and managed to land a television deal. Twice.

The pilot episode was produced by Canada's Nelvana Studios for Nickelodeon, presumably in the first half of 1984. Former Lovin' Spoonful frontman John Sebastian, who'd previously scored some specials for Nelvana, recorded the theme song. However, by the time the fall schedule was announced, the series had switched animation houses to DIC, and was picked up by CBS. That also meant that some of the voice actors were changed. For example, Charles Haid (Hill Street Blues), the original voice of Montgomery Moose, was replaced by a considerably younger actor with a little more cartoon experience in Sparky Marcus (ex-Richie Rich, The Bad News Bears).

Unfortunately, only 1 season was produced at DIC, and CBS kept it around until 1986. Here's the intro to the CBS/DIC version:

No rating.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Spooktober: The Last Halloween (1991)

To be honest with you, I wouldn't have known this even existed, were it not for a review that appeared over at Twin Factor the other day.

The Last Halloween, if I'm not mistaken, will go down in history as the last live-action television special produced by Hanna-Barbera. The last live-action series, Wake, Rattle, & Roll, had bowed a year earlier. Co-authored and directed by Savage Steve Holland, who'd later bring us Eek! The Cat and some other goodies, Last Halloween might as well have been alternately titled, "Mars Needs Candy", because four bizarre beings from Mars arrive on Earth searching for something called "coobi", or, in our language, candy. As was noted at Twin Factor, M & M/Mars, now known simply as Mars, Inc., was the primary sponsor, which is why this has such a sweet plot. Sweet in terms of candy, that is.

Co-executive producer William Hanna serves as narrator, which itself is a rarity. The cast includes Rhea Perlman (Cheers), Eugene Roche, whose extensive resume includes Kojak, The Corner Bar, Soap, All In The Family, & Magnum, P. I., and Richard Moll (Night Court), as a Lurch-like chauffeur/assistant to the main villain, played by Perlman. Two kids team with the four Martians (voiced by Frank Welker, Don Messick, and singer-songwriter Paul Williams) to save the town's candy factory from being closed, thanks to the villain's experiments involving bugs. Eeeew. That does sound a little on the gross side.

I never saw this when it first aired, so there won't be a rating. We'll just serve this up, just for kicks, especially with Halloween less than 2 weeks away.

Unfortunately, Warner Bros. is holding this in the vaults, as I don't think this was ever released on DVD.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Toonfomercial: Remember this Kellogg's ad campaign? (1976)

In the summer of 1976, CBS experimented by adding a primetime edition of their recently revived Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show, albeit in a half hour format, as opposed to the hour-long, later 90 minute, Saturday show. A couple of quick snippets from a Tuesday night airing bracket this next subject.

In our bicentennial year, Kellogg's embarked on an ad campaign spotlighting famous Americans, such as Ben Franklin & Thomas Edison under the umbrella, "Yes, we can!". The incomparable Casey Kasem narrates.

Yes, this spot also aired on Saturday mornings. I'm not sure if anyone kept the empty boxes after nearly 40 years............

Friday, October 17, 2014

Saturtainment: The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley (1994)

Not long after Full House had come to an end, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen returned, this time in a series of DTV mysteries that later migrated to the Family Channel (now ABC Family).

The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley was a comedy-musical-mystery series that was meant for the little ones. The videos were readily available at the usual places, but today, are collecting dust somewhere, like the twins' later series. Fam, for that matter, gave up on the series after about a year, likely due to 1) low ratings and 2) Olsen fatigue hadn't dissipated yet.

Warner Video On Demand's YouTube channel provides a sample clip:

Rating: B.