Thursday, July 31, 2014

Looney TV: The Honeymousers (1956)

Over at The Land of Whatever, we took a look at Jackie Gleason's seminal sitcom, The Honeymooners. Now, it's time to scope out Warner Bros.' send-up of the series.

Director Robert McKimson produced 3 shorts starring The Honeymousers between 1956-60. These might be the rarest of WB cartoons if in fact Mel Blanc had little or nothing to do with them. The familiar characters have been rebooted as mice, with the Kramdens becoming the Crumdens, and the Nortons, the Mortons. Daws Butler spoke for both Ralph Crumden and Ned Morton, while June Foray voiced Alice. In the final short, "Mice Follies", Foray was unavailable, likely due to a scheduling conflict (Rocky & His Friends was in production at the time), so Ginny Tyler was cast as Alice and Trixie, but not credited.

Unfortunately, none of the three are available in complete form on YouTube, and so all we can do is give you the climatic moments from "The Honeymousers":




I realize that there's only so much you can do with mice imitating such iconic characters, and McKimson realized that, too, which is why he stopped at three.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Animated World of DC Comics: Super Friends vs. The Mind Maidens (1977)

Talk about women's lib gone way wrong!

In this Super Friends adventure, the team is betrayed by Wonder Woman (Shannon Farnon) and Jayna (Louise "Liberty" Williams), who have been subjugated by Medulla, leader of "The Mind Maidens", bent on---wait for it---taking control of the world by making all men disappear.

Unfortunately, the entire episode is not available. What I can tell you is that it takes some quick thinking from Superman to foil Medulla's plot. The sight of Jayna dematerializing her brother, Zan, is just too much for words. Fortunately, that scene is not included in this clip:




Between Medulla and Hawkman's enemy, the Gentleman Ghost, this was as close as the team got to facing super-powered enemies during this season, but of course, that would soon change.

Rating: B.

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Klondike Kat (1963)

Klondike Kat, which started off as a backup feature for Tennessee Tuxedo, then was repackaged in syndication with Underdog, was a parody of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. Klondike (Mort Marshall) was always tracking down Savoir Faire (Sandy Becker), a Quebecois mouse (hey, it was set in Canada, don'tcha know), who was stealing whatever wasn't nailed down. Problem was, it was a 1-trick pony that got ridden into the ground.

It seemed as though Total Television was content with just having Klondike arrest Savoir in every episode, rather than find other miscreants for him to track down. As I said, this was meant to be a parody, but the joke got old real quick.

Worse, each short, including intro, lasted barely 5 minutes. Today, cable networks waste as much as 5:00 on repetitive commercials while editing classic toons to death. A revival now would require Klondike needing to find other, more dangerous crooks, and using his wits.

Here's a sample, courtesy of Toon O Rama:




Ratiing: B-.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Are you ready for a Mike Tyson cartoon?

Part of what built [adult swim] over the first 13 years of its existence has been a penchant of mocking the works of Hanna-Barbera, usually with zero respect.

Enter Mike Tyson.

The former boxing champion is doing everything but box these days. He's been on Broadway, made movies ("The Hangover"), and even went into the WWE Hall of Fame. Now, he's treading ground previously trod by other celebrities such as Chuck Norris, Rick Moranis, Gary Coleman, and Mr. T. He's now a cartoon hero.

[adult swim] is banking on the man once known as the "baddest man on the planet" to get viewers tuning in to his self titled comedy adventure series, due to debut in the fall. The Mike Tyson Mysteries is, of course, a parody of 70's Hanna-Barbera, although a case can be made for Mr. T's NBC cartoon, produced by Ruby-Spears, which lasted 3 seasons (1983-6), being a target due to the use of a van. Tyson's support team is, to be honest, eclectic. Ani-Mike's face tattoo now has mystical powers, he's got an Asian-American daughter, and has a ghost and a talking pigeon for sidekicks. Said pigeon has the voice of Norm McDonald (ex-Saturday Night Live), and is meant to be the comedy relief. Because it's on [adult swim], there will be coarse language, which is bleeped in the following video, which was previewed at the San Diego Comic Convention last week:





And here I figured the pigeon was making this a satire of another 70's icon, Baretta. What is not yet known is the length of each episode. Will it be 15 minutes, which is the norm for [as]? Or is it 30 minutes? We'll know for sure in a few weeks when the series debuts.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Garfield Show (2008)

He's baaaaaaaack!

Garfield, Jim Davis' comic strip feline, returned to series television in The Garfield Show, which launched in 2008. There is talk that the series is still in production, but it's been at a snail's pace. Currently, Cartoon Network has farmed the show out to sister network Boomerang, which has the series running weekday afternoons and Sunday mornings (check listings).

As opposed to earlier animated incarnations, the use of computer animation allows the producers to enable Garfield, Nermal, and other cats to actually talk. Getting Odie, the dumbest dog on the planet, to actually say anything other than a bark, hasn't been tried yet. Anyway, Frank Welker, predictably, takes over the role of Garfield, mimicking the late Lorenzo Music, the original voice of Garfield for so many years. After two feature films and a couple of DTV's, it seems that Garfield has reasserted his iconic status. And you wonder why that other orange cat, Heathcliff, hasn't gotten another TV gig since DIC booted him light years ago?

Anyway, here's a sample clip illustrating just how Garfield and Nermal can't get along.




And you thought cats couldn't be that vain? Shame on you.

Rating: B.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

From Primetime to Daytime: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1994)

This also appears on my other blog, The Land of Whatever:
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The most successful graduate of Universal's ambitious Action Pack movie anthology series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys transitioned into a 1 hour weekly series in January 1995. The series would last six seasons total, though the final season consisted of just six episodes.

Hercules (Kevin Sorbo), the son of a mortal woman and the Greek god Zeus, traveled with a number of companions, most notably Iaolus (Michael Hurst), who was initially killed off at the start of season 5, only to have an evil god take over his body before it was driven out by Hercules. Some episodes had Hercules meeting other heroes of myth, including Jason, in his travels. After a couple of appearances in season 1, Xena, Warrior Princess was spun off into her own equally successful series.

For some reason, some episodes in seasons 4 & 5 took the most extreme of tangents, as the producers took a light-hearted look at themselves, the idea being to either use past clips, or, in one instance, just to give Hercules a little, ah, vacation. Actor Bruce Campbell (Autolycus) directed at least one of these episodes, as well as a few others during the series. Campbell would also appear on Xena, and then landed his first headlining series in the short-lived Jack of All Trades.

In some cities, Hercules would air premiere episodes in primetime, then repeat them a week later in a much earlier time frame, usually between 1 & 3 pm (ET), giving fans additional chances to catch up. In all one episode could air as much as three times in the course of a week, since the series would replay on a Sunday morning after a Saturday evening premiere.

From season 3, here's "Doomsday":






The poster got the title wrong or mixed up.

Two feature film versions of "Hercules" this year haven't exactly been blockbusters, and Kevin Sorbo reportedly was a bit miffed that he wasn't even asked to make an appearance in the current film, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, which I believe finished behind "Lucy" this week.

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys gets a B.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

You Know The Voice: Mike Road on Bewitched (1967)

To millions of cartoon fans, Mike Road will be remembered as the voice behind Roger "Race" Bannon on Jonny Quest, Ug from Dino Boy, and Zandor, the leader of The Herculoids. Some of us remember seeing him as the pitchman for Fireman's Fund insurance during the 70's.

However, Road also did a few "face acting" jobs, such as the one we're showcasing today.

From season 3 of Bewitched is the conclusion of a 2-part story in which Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne) pulls Benjamin Franklin (guest star Fredd Wayne) into the 20th century. Mike plays district attorney Chuck Hawkins. How he could not have been cast in a similar role in any number of crime dramas back in the day is a mystery unto itself.

We'll start with a long missing opening tag that summarizes the first part of the story, as narrated by Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery):




And, now, we move on to the episode proper:







It does appear as though we're missing some of the episode. Just the same, tell me what you think.