Monday, September 1, 2014

Toon Legends: Pink Panther in Pink Blueprint (1966)

Three years before he hit NBC, the Pink Panther was appearing in theatres in shorts that would later air on Saturday mornings. Hence, the "Official Pink Panther" channel on YouTube offers up 1966's "Pink Blueprint", complete with the theatrical open & closing cards. The subtle laugh track you hear was, I think, added for television broadcast.

William Lava conducted the orchestra utilizing Henry Mancini's iconic theme music. Lava had taken over as musical director at Warner Bros.' animation division before it was shuttered in the mid-60's. Otherwise, he's better known for the themes from F-Troop.

Rating: A.

Getting Schooled: Sweet Valley High (1994)

Teenage drama was popular in primetime during the 90's (i.e. Beverly Hills 90210), so Haim Saban figured, why not try this in daytime?

Saban had already gained a foothold with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on Fox, which, for American audiences, mixed in some high school drama with the footage imported from Japan. His next move was to adapt Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High series of teen paperback novels as a daily series. Granted, in some cities, it'd air opposite the Rangers, or would be a lead-in if the channel was a Fox affiliate. In all, Sweet Valley High ran for four seasons, the last an all-rerun year airing on UPN.

I wasn't the target audience, so I never saw the show and won't rate it. Never read the books, either. We'll leave you with the show open:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Looney TV: Duck Dodgers in the 241/2th Century (1952)

Chuck Jones came up with a novel parody of the sci-fi hero, Buck Rogers, by casting Daffy Duck as "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century" in a righteously hilarious classic short, released in 1952.

Dodgers is summoned to locate Planet X, and, in turn, retrieve some iludium phosdex (a shaving cream atom---don't ask). Ah, but the Martians have other ideas. You know how this goes.

51 years later, after a sequel had been released, Dodgers would return, this time in a TV series for Cartoon Network, which lasted two seasons, and boasted a theme song performed by Tom Jones and the Flaming Lips (!). Too bad CN and Boomerang can't be bothered to dust the show off again just for kicks and giggles. For now.

Rating: A.

Daytime Heroes: Extreme Dinosaurs (1997)

Earlier this week, we discussed DIC/Bohbot's mid-90's series, Street Sharks. After that series ended its 3 year run, it cleared the way for a spin-off borne during its final season.

Extreme Dinosaurs wasn't DIC's 1st attempt at sentient dinos, of course, as this came a decade after Dinosaucers. The other common link between the two shows was that you had two groups from another world at war on Earth. The Raptors want to reconfigure our world to resemble theirs. The Dino Vengers, as our heroes were known initially, intend to prevent that from happening.

I didn't see much of this in its original run, so there won't be a rating. To tie you over, here's an episode that uses an age old trope cribbed from a 50's sci-fi classic. Time for "The Incredible Shrinking Dinosaurs":

Saturday, August 30, 2014

From Comics to Toons: Seven Little Superheroes (1981)

From Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends:

One of Spider-Man's oldest foes, the Chameleon, surfaces to create confusion and chaos, laying a trap for the Spider-Friends and special guests Shanna, Dr. Strange, Captain America, & the Sub-Mariner in a loose adaptation of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. Here's "Seven Little Superheroes":

Ya know, pilgrims, I have 0 memory of seeing this episode, so there ain't a rating to be had.

It Should've Been on a Saturday: Encyclopedia Brown (1989)

As a kid, I read Donald J. Sobel's Encyclopedia Brown series of paperbacks, usually on loan from the public library. Just couldn't get enough of the brilliant pre-teen son of a suburban police chief who, much like Sherlock Holmes, didn't need too many clues to solve cases.

So imagine my surprise when I'd read in the late 80's that the series was being adapted for television. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was being produced for HBO instead of the broadcast networks.


How could the broadcast networks pass on this? Here was a kid who was on a par with the inestimable Holmes as a crime solver par excellence, and his adventures are airing on H-freakin'-BO? sad to say, after the series ran its course, it simply faded away. Virtually the entire series was released on VHS, but hasn't seen a DVD release, and the 25th anniversary of the series is next year.

Series director "Savage" Steve Holland had previously worked on Fox's New Adventures of Beans Baxter (see, I knew he'd done something for primetime), and would later develop Eek! The Cat for the network (previously reviewed). He's worked with Nickelodeon on some of their current series in recent years, but it's been a while since he's actually done anything that's really gotten any buzz.

To give you some idea, let's visit the fictional city of Idaville for "The Case of the Burgled Baseball Cards", with guest stars Edy Williams & G. Gordon Liddy.

Today, the books are still being published, even though Sobel passed away some years back. Personally, I'd let Encyclopedia and his partner-in-peril, Sally Kimball, grow up and fall in love, and.......!

No rating, obviously.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Literary Toons: Oliver & The Artful Dodger (1972)

Shogun1231 presents a 2-part installment of ABC's Saturday Superstar Movie, which, admittedly, I've wanted to see for a long time.

"Oliver & The Artful Dodger" is a loose adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. While Dickens had cast Jack Dawkins, alias the Artful Dodger (Michael Bell, in his first job for Hanna-Barbera) as a pickpocket with a heart of gold, this version sees Dodger and his friends in a more benevolent light, rescuing a little girl from the workhouse.

I must confess I haven't seen this at all, and it was only released on VHS in the 80's, but has not yet merited a DVD release, more than 40 years after its premiere. All I know about the story is a song from its most famous adaptation, the musical, "Oliver!". "Consider Yourself" was played in music class when I was in 6th grade.

Anyway, grab some popcorn, a smoothie, and enjoy the show:

No rating.