Friday, August 28, 2015

On DVD: Tom & Jerry: Spy Quest (2015)

"There's a right way and a wrong way."----Oliver Hardy.

3 months ago, Jonny Quest made his DC Comics debut, appearing in an issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up. Nice idea, but poorly executed, as writer Sholly Fisch stuck to the same basic formula he's used for Scooby, inserting the Quest team into a generic Scooby story. It just didn't work.

A month later, Warner Home Video issued "Tom & Jerry: Spy Quest", in which the cat & the mouse are the ones being inserted, but there's a reason for that, as the viewer sees while the film progresses.

It begins with Tom & Jerry on a beach in Florida, enjoying some sun, or at least trying to. Jerry takes advantage of his small size having some speed to go with it, as he runs over to a tube of sunscreen left unattended, steps on it, and runs back to catch the gel as it lands on him. Not exactly Speedy Gonzales, but you get the idea. Tom literally throws some shade on Jerry, and the usual slapstick begins. Spike & Tyke make a cameo appearance, but before long, Tyke's role of barking Tom into a frenzy is given over to Bandit, which sets off a chain of events that put the main plot into motion.

Predictably, the villain is the Quest team's ancient foe, Dr. Zin (James Hong), whose henchmen are cats wearing robot suits. Something you don't usually see, but Zin got the memo, apparently. Either way, he's after Dr. Quest's latest device, which is meant to help mankind. Jerry, seeing how Tom reacts to Bandit's barking, uses it as a secret weapon, which flummoxes Zin. Oh, this is delicious fun.

Just as predictably, Benton Quest is captured, along with Race Bannon, forcing Jonny & Hadji, along with Tom, Jerry, & Bandit, to come to the rescue. Along the way, they run into Race's ex-girlfriend, Jezebel Jade (Tia Carrere), who's doing a cabaret act between mercenary jobs. Her assistant? None other than Droopy (Joe Alaskey)! They get to do a musical number together, which was just so cool. Well, we all know Da Droopster is a chick magnet......!

The following trailer also accompanies the previously reviewed "Looney Tunes: Rabbit Run":

Nice touch, too, bringing back the original voice of Jonny, Tim Matheson, to play the President, although the design skews closer to John F. Kennedy, who of course had been assassinated 10 months before Jonny Quest premiered on ABC. I wonder if someone at WB animation has/had an issue with the current President, since none of the fictional Chief Executives in recent DTV's have been analogues for President Obama.

All I can really say, though, is the door is open for Tom & Jerry to meet Scooby-Doo and friends, or other Hanna-Barbera characters down the line. Sales on this DVD, however, will dictate whether or not that happens.

Rating: A.

An idea unused-----yet

Earlier, I had suggested that maybe Hanna-Barbera, and, up to this point, Warner Bros./Cartoon Network, had missed the boat on what would've been a perfect primetime venue for Scooby-Doo, something that could still be done, in this writer's opinion.

Some years ago, CN presented the Fancy Anvil Awards, which was just an excuse to create some sort of honor for Scooby, whom network programmers were obsessing over at the time, using classic reruns to fill every available open space on the schedule, a practice currently being used for the dreck known as Teen Titans Go!, because the programming department doesn't know any better. Prior to that, Scooby's only primetime special for ABC, Scooby Goes Hollywood, was the real impetus for Scooby & Scrappy-Doo going to a more slapstick comedy format beginning in season 2, a fact that Scrappy's legion of haters haven't wrapped their collective head around yet. Scooby & Shaggy were being used in a bite-the-hand-that-feeds-us showcase parodying a number of ABC series.

Now, you would think, given the ratings, that ABC would've asked for a 2nd Scooby primetime special, but nothing came of it, and it would be 23 years before the WB served up a pair of half hour primetime episodes that easily fit into What's New Scooby-Doo. This short-sightedness could be explained away as the network's reluctance to offend a number of major stars, particularly those who were regularly partying, if you will, with Dean Martin on his Celebrity Roasts. See where I'm going with this?

Given the interaction Scooby had with various celebrities during the New Scooby-Doo Movies series (1972-4), and later on What's New, a special roast of Scooby would not and should not be out of the question. WB has the resources to make this happen. The dais would be filled with the likes of former major league ballplayer Mike Piazza (who guested on What's New while with the Mets), Dick Van Dyke, Cher, John Astin (ex-The Addams Family), Tim Conway, and various other H-B/WB stars in a mix of live-action & CGI animation. As an inside nod to the fans, cast members such as Frank Welker would also be included.

But, here we are, after 46 years of Scooby's adventures, and the roast hasn't happened, even though Comedy Central now does an annual roast that would be ripe for parody. Most internet fans are prepared to hate on the forthcoming Be Cool, Scooby-Doo, ticketed for Boomerang, because of some ill-advised character designs, but why couldn't WB commission a roast in the interim, especially in between DTV's? Is Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes that much of a clueless putz?

What do you guys think?

You Know the Voice: Frank Welker (1978)

It's too bad they never roasted Scooby-Doo. Then again, there's still time for that.

Anyway, Frank Welker made a rare appearance in front of the camera when he was invited to appear on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast when they honored George Burns in 1978. Frank shows up around the 45 minute mark to do a mimic of Walter Cronkite, referencing Burns' hit movie, "Oh God!".

You'd think they'd have done a roast of Scooby by now, but no one at Hanna-Barbera or WB or their various network partners ever gave it much thought. Hmmmmm. It would make a pretty good DTV down the line, don't you think?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Saturtainment: Little Clowns of Happytown (1987)

By the late 80's, ABC was beginning to lean more on DIC for new product, especially to complement The Real Ghostbusters, which was in its 2nd season. Enter The Little Clowns of Happytown.

While there are those who claim they are afraid of or hate clowns for whatever reason, the Happy Clowns are just that. Happy, ready to put smiles on kids' faces.

Unfortunately, most viewers voted with their remotes. ABC was losing steam in the ratings, as their only ratings hits were the Ghostbusters and the Bugs Bunny-Tweety Show, which was also in its 2nd season. The clowns didn't generate enough ratings, and were gone by the end of the season.

Here's the open:

No rating.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Toonfomercial: How would an ant and a grasshopper save money? (1977)

You don't hear much about savings bonds anymore, but it was still something to consider in the 70's.

This 1977 cartoon ad takes the tale of the grasshopper and the ant, and tweaks it to serve as a cautionary tale about the Payroll Savings Plan. Paul Frees (who else?) narrates.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Godzilla vs. the Stone Creatures (1978)

It's been a while since we've seen Godzilla. Cartoon Network/Boomerang's sitting on the tapes of the 1978 series when they could dust them off to fill space on Da Boom's schedule, were it not for the insistence of network suits to shove CN's Amazing World of Gumball and Teen Titans GO! onto the Boomerschedule, where neither belongs.

Anyway, seems ol' 'Zilla (Ted Cassidy) was a globetrotter in this series, as "Attack of the Stone Creatures" finds him and the crew of the Calico in Egypt.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summertainment: To Beach His Own (It's The Wolf, 1969)

Mildew Wolf (Paul Lynde, Hollywood Squares, Bewitched) and his never ending quest to capture and devour Lambsy (Daws Butler) lead to some hijinks in the sand. Just wait 'til you see what kind of punishment Bristol Hound (Allan Melvin, The Brady Bunch) cooks up for Mildew in "To Beach His Own":

Daws Butler used his Augie Doggie voice for Lambsy, which wasn't too far off from Elroy Jetson to begin with. Mildew's disguises were a little too transparent to the viewer, but Lambsy was supposed to represent the younger, more vulnerable set.

Rating: B.