Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday Funnies: Ultraforce (1995)

Malibu Comics was an independent publisher trying to make an inroad in the comics industry in the early 90's, along with sister company Aircel. Unfortunately, the imprint was discontinued 2 years after it had been acquired by Marvel, which, presumably, bought the company in order to get the rights to Lowell Cunningham's Men In Black, more than anything else.

The beginning of the end for Malibu came with a promotion known as "Black September" in the fall of 1994. At Marvel's insistence, a former member of the Avengers & Defenders, the Black Knight, was added to Ultraforce, Malibu's answer to the Avengers, but didn't appear in the short-lived 1995 Ultraforce animated series, produced by DIC & Bohbot for syndication. The series instead was set prior to "Black September", but lasted just 13 episodes, and was widely panned.

The open reminds viewers of X-Men, copying its distinctive opening sequence with the use of character logos, and that series had been on the air for 3 years. The comparison works unfavorably against Ultraforce from that point. If you don't believe me, judge for yourself with the series opener, "Prime Time".

I could see why people weren't too thrilled. I read a few of the books myself back in the day, and was not impressed. By this point, DIC was coasting. And it should be noted that one of the producers was one Brian A. Miller, who would later move on to Cartoon Network.

Rating: C-.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The embarrassment of Johnny Bravo (The Sensitive Male, 1997)

Johnny Bravo (Jeff Bennett) doesn't have clue one when it comes to women. That was the point behind his show, which stretched out 4 seasons across 7 years due to creative changes, among other things.

In "The Sensitive Male", Johnny, predictably, is rebuffed by a young woman, in her early 20's, I think. Dumber than a bag of hammers as usual, Johnny thinks she wants him anyway, but when a middle aged man (special guest star Jack Sheldon) appears, bearing flowers and acknowledging his own shyness, the girl give him her phone number. Of course, that makes Johnny jealous. As if he thinks all women are his domain (and they're not).

To think that, in the course of the series, the only woman that actually wanted to be Johnny's friend was his little neighbor, schoolgirl-Girl Scout Susie (Mae Whitman). Considering that he's dated a werewolf and an antelope, I'd say series creator Van Partible missed the boat by not asking for a guest appearance by a certain Wonder Twin........

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits: Fireworks (1976)

In honor of America's 239th birthday, we present another America Rock treat from Schoolhouse Rock. "Fireworks", written by Lynn Ahrens and sung by Grady Tate, premiered in March 1976.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: A complete episode of Super 6 (1966)

Just for kicks, I went and ordered the complete Super 6 on DVD a week ago. Came in yesterday. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and needed a break, so I'll finish it up this weekend.

Anyway, as I had suspected, Wikipedia's entry on the series needs a bit of a clean-up job. Actress Pat Carroll was credited for a male role as Super Chief, but upon closer inspection, Super Chief, the dispatcher, was actually voiced by Paul Frees, who played a good number of characters on the show,  including 2/3 of the Brothers Matzoriley. Percival, Granite Man's pigeon sidekick, was actually voiced by Daws Butler, not the otherwise obscure Lyn Johnson as Wikipedia claimed. Butler simply recycled his Elroy Jetson/Augie Doggie voice for the part, and was the 3rd head of the Matzoriley brothers.

Onward, then, to episode 2, first broadcast on Sept. 17, 1966. This is the only other episode currently available in its entirety on YouTube. We'll have to see if any other shorts, aside from the Brothers Matzoriley piece we posted a ways back, are out there loose.

Super Bwoing proves once again why he's considered an "apprentice" when he mistakes a ventriloquist dummy for a missing child in "Easy Kid Stuff". Then, the Matzoriley boys are Canadian Mounties trying to chase down "Dirty Pierre" (Frees, of course). Finally, Granite Man debuts battling Dr. Sabbo Teur in "Cement Mixup".

Funny thing. Super Scuba debuts in a bumper skit in week 3, and has his first adventure in week 4. He's a self-absorbed hero more at home under the ocean with his secretary/girlfriend, Bubbles the Mermaid (June Foray), and voiced by a pre-Laugh-In Arte Johnson, or so Wikipedia claims. If so, Arte's trying to do a fair Dean Martin mimic, and doing a decent job. I'd suspect that Arte actually was Captain Zammo (nee Whammo, who had his name changed when the Wham-O toy company raised a stink over copyrights), given the character's German roots.

If someone could help verify who did what, we can get this cleaned up in time for the series' 50th anniversary next year. For what it's worth, Friz Freleng and his writers rehashed as many old gags from the Looney Tunes library as they could. In fact, veterans like Hawley Pratt, Robert McKimson, and Norm McCabe were some of the directors. McCabe would also move on to Filmation to try some dramatic work. Pratt began a long association with DePatie-Freleng with this series.

Rating: B-.

Summertainment: Popeye in Beach Peach (1950)

This weekend, folks will be hitting the beaches just as much as they'll be looking for someplace to watch the fireworks go off on Saturday night (or, for that matter, tonight and Sunday, too). So, it makes sense to join Popeye in 1950's "Beach Peach":

So, Popeye gets a blond bully instead of Bluto for a change. Otherwise, same old story, same ending.

Rating: B.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Saturday School: The Shot Heard 'Round The World (Schoolhouse Rock!, 1976)

As America celebrated its 200th birthday in 1976, the folks behind Schoolhouse Rock added America Rock to the rotation. From March 1976, Bob Dorough wrote and sang "The Shot Heard 'Round The World".

The US turns 239 on Saturday. Ready to party?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Game Time: Q*Bert (Saturday Supercade, 1983)

Time to return to the Saturday Supercade. It's been a long time since we scoped things out here, so let's check out the debut adventure of Q*Bert in "Disc Derby Fiasco":

All Ruby-Spears did was copy what Hanna-Barbera did a year earlier with Pac-Man, and create an entire community for Q*Bert's adventures. Nice idea, but who remembers this now?

No rating.