Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Daytime Heroes: Code Lyoko (2003)

If you've wondered why the French studio, Moonscoop, has been very busy obtaining American properties such as Sabrina, chalk it up to the success they enjoyed after importing Code Lyoko to the US.

Code Lyoko debuted in 2003, airing in the US on Cartoon Network as part of its Miguzi block. In all, the series ran for 4 years, with a finite ending that not many of us have seen here.

The story is built around 5 teenagers, later 6, who fight in the virtual world of Lyoko against a rogue artificial intelligence, XANA, which has gained control of Lyoko. For a good part of the run, one of the kids, Aleita, was in Lyoko full-time, but eventually returned to the real world. In the last episodes I remember seeing, I think they were trying to build a relationship between Aleita & Jeremy, the team leader.

Today, Kabillion has the rights to the series, but on some cable systems is only available as a On Demand service. Right now, let's take you back to the series opener, courtesy of Hulu:

Rating: B+.

Animated World of DC Comics: Chase Me (2003)

You've heard about this one, I'm sure.

Batman pursues Catwoman through the streets of Gotham City in "Chase Me", a featurette which accompanied the DTV, "Mystery of the Batwoman". There is no dialogue. Instead, there is a jazz soundtrack composed by Lolita Ritmanis.

The only downside is that this was based on the 1997 revamps of the Bat-toon cast when Batman shifted from Fox to WB. Catwoman looked much better in her grey costume (1992-7), in this writer's opinion.  If she wanted to steal something significant from Batman, she should've settled on the one thing that matters. His heart.

Rating: A-.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Toon Legends: The Mouse of Tomorrow (1942)

Mighty Mouse wasn't always using that name. Initially, Paul Terry had christened him Super Mouse, as he was always meant to be a parody of Superman. However, in 1944, after 2 years of shorts, Terry learned that Timely Comics (now Marvel) already had a copyrighted character named Super Mouse, forcing the name change. Subsequent reissues of the 1942-4 shorts included new title cards and dubbed over narration.

Here, then, is the short that started it all. "The Mouse of Tomorrow". Castle Films got their hands on a negative of the original, and it is a collector's dream. The narrator, it appears, would be radio (and later TV) announcer Ken Roberts:

Primitive, yes, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Rating: B-.

Toonfomercial: Bugs Bunny for Holiday Inn (1989)

Holiday Inn hotels sought to help honor Bugs Bunny on his 50th anniversary, so they asked Warner Bros. if they could use Bugs and any other Looney Tunes character for a promotion.

The end result is the following commercial, in which Elmer Fudd is aided by a Holiday Inn doorman (John Larroquette, Night Court), but you know how this ends the minute Elmer appears.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

On The Air: NFL Rush Zone (2012)

While the NFL is pushing its "Play 60" initiative for youngsters, they also sanctioned an animated series currently airing on Nicktoons.

NFL Rush Zone is in its 3rd season, airing on Sunday mornings, with replays during the week, including Saturday mornings, and for those who want action and adventure, well, where've you been?

It all started with a young boy named Ish in season 1, tasked to protect the shards of some sort of core device. The shards are hidden in all 31 NFL stadiums (32 teams, I know, but remember, the Jets & Giants share a stadium). Ish was given his own team of Guardians, and, subsequently, each succeeding season has had subtitles added. For example, Season 3 is subtitled, Guardians Unleashed. NFL players & coaches, including Jets coach Rex Ryan, Houston Texans star JJ Watt, and the ever-present Peyton Manning, have contributed to the series.

Why Nickelodeon isn't repurposing Rush Zone on Nick itself, I don't know. Their mistake, as usual.

Right now, here's the intro for the current season:

There's also been a comic book version of the series, and this year, Panini included the Rusherz as part of their NFL Sticker Collection, which is available at Target, Dollar Tree, and some hobby shops.

Rating: A.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Toons After Dark: Home Movies (1999)

UPN's loss ultimately became a boon for [adult swim].

Home Movies lasted barely more than a month on UPN in 1999, as the network had little patience when it came to ratings, especially for animated series. 2 years later, Cartoon Network acquired the show, and ran the complete 1st season on [adult swim]. The ratings got better, and 3 additional seasons were produced between 2001-4.

Whereas the first season was produced using the Squigglevision process created for Comedy Central's Dr. Katz, Occupational Therapist, and the ABC Saturday morning series, Science Court, the series changed animation houses for season 2 and switched to flash animation, which improved the quality of the show. Comic Paula Poundstone (Science Court) didn't return when production resumed for season 1, and the only other familiar name in the cast has become famous in his own right, H. Jon Benjamin (Archer, Bob's Burgers).

Here's the series opener, courtesy of Hulu:

Rating: C.

Rein-Toon-Ation: Police Academy (1988)

The success of the Police Academy movie series gave rise to an animated daily series that lasted 1 year (1988-9). Perhaps the reason it failed to catch on might be that Ruby-Spears & Warner Bros. couldn't convince the movie cast (i.e. Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow, et al) to contribute to the cartoon, which was set between the 4th & 5th films in the series. Aside from veterans Howard Morris & Frank Welker, the cast for the cartoon was made up largely of unknowns. Ironically, Winslow got his start in cartoons (Space Stars) 7 years earlier, and would've had the easiest job reprising as Larvell Jones.

Today, the series sits in WB's vaults after having been released on DVD, and at no time do I recall it airing on either Cartoon Network or Boomerang. To help refresh your memory, here's the opener:

Rating: C.