Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday Funnies: Secret Squirrel meets Scirocco Mole (1993)

In 1993, Hanna-Barbera brought back Secret Squirrel as the backup feature of 2 Stupid Dogs. In fact, the Dogs make a cameo appearance, along with Yogi Bear, when Super Secret Secret Squirrel (Jim Cummings, mimicing Mel Blanc), is on a talk show to discuss Morocco Mole's twin brother, Scirocco.......

Oh, you didn't know Morocco had a brother? Well, at least we can give the writers credit for expanding on the family tree.

No rating, as I never saw this episode.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Saturtainment: Snagglepuss in Major Operation (1960)

Snagglepuss, believe it or else, had a nemesis, and his name was Major Minor, not to be confused with the Klondike Kat character of the same name who came along a couple of years later.

The Major is a hunter, and, understandably, wants Snag (Daws Butler) for his trophy wall. Scope out "Major Operation":

Major Minor would return, but when Snag resurfaced as a member of Yogi's Gang, Minor wasn't among the likely choices for villains.

My memory is hazy about seeing this one in syndication back in the day, so we'll hold off on the rating.

You Know The Voice: Janet Waldo on The Lucy Show (1962)

Episodes of The Lucy Show have become available on YouTube, and if memory serves, they have been on Hulu of late. Anyway, we told you before that cartoon grand dame Janet Waldo had made a guest appearance on the show, and here it is, from the 1st season (1962). She plays Marge, the newlywed sister of Lucy Carmichael (Lucille Ball), who visits Lucy after her first spat with her husband..........

Janet has long since been bestowed iconic status, and now you know why, having worked with not only Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera, but also Lucy, and Andy Griffith, among others. At 90, she's still going strong.......

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Lancelot Link goes out to sea, and works on Thanksgiving (1970)

Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp has been added to Hulu's already ginormous roster of shows. Now, if they could just get a few more missing Saturday morning shows from my childhood, we'd be all set..........

Anyway, in "Landlubber Lance", Link (Dayton Allen) goes undercover aboard the Dragon Woman's Chinese junk. Our second case has Lance working on Thanksgiving Day. I wonder what chimps would eat on Thanksgiving, anyway...............

Yes, it was a hour-long show at first, but the Warner Bros. cartoons that were inserted into the show to pad it out were removed when it came time to syndicate the series, and WB wasn't interested in buying the rights to Lancelot Link.

No rating. I have no memory of seeing this episode the first time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Personal Favorites: Stalker From The Stars (Thundarr The Barbarian, 1980)

Thundarr The Barbarian faces a very odd foe in the episode, "Stalker From The Stars".

A spider-like space vampire lands on 40th century Earth, and begins capturing human prey to take back home for food. One of his victims is Princess Ariel, and for Thundarr (Robert Ridgely) and a flu-ridden Ookla (Henry Corden), that makes it personal.

Unfortunately, the complete episode is not available. The poster compiled the following 5 minute excerpt, emphasizing Ariel's capture and subsequent rescue.

The quirk in the script is obvious in the final part. Earlier, the Stalker had webbed up Ariel's hands to block her magic, but she seemingly has magic powers throughout her body. One simple kick frees her hands. Later, after being completely coccooned, Ariel is able to get herself out by making the coccoon disappear, when Thundarr wasn't able to penetrate the alien webbing to save an elderly man. The easy excuse is that the Stalker caught Ookla's cold, which weakened the strength of his webbing as the story went on.

Rating: A.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another look: The New Adventures of Batman (1977)

We have discussed The New Adventures of Batman in the past, but after acquiring a DVD of the complete series last week at Walmart, I thought it might be time to take a closer look.

As we've noted, the series cycled though in reruns on CBS until 1980, when it moved to NBC for one last cycle. The fact that rival Hanna-Barbera held a license of their own for the DC characters, one that would be renewed a few months after New Adventures launched, precluded Filmation from moving forward with a 2nd season.

There were a number of changes:

1. Villains: Even though he was included in the open, the Riddler wasn't used, as he'd been acquired, along with Scarecrow, by H-B, and would return in Challenge of the Super Friends the next year. Made-for-TV foes from the 1968 series, Simon the Pieman & The Judge, were not brought back. Instead, new villains were developed in the form of Sweet Tooth, Prof. Bubbles, Electro (not to be confused with the Marvel villain of the same name), and the Moonman.

2. Character designs: The only cosmetic changes were on three characters. For starters, Police Commissioner James Gordon was given the same look he had in the comics, with silver hair and a mustache, as opposed to being clean shaven & brown haired 9 years earlier. Robin's costume tunic had been color-reversed to avoid confusion with the Super Friends model. Catwoman traded in her green turtleneck jumpsuit for a brown leotard & tights, and her hair color changed from black to brown as well. The Princess of Plunder got the worst of the deal.

3. Casting: The big selling point, of course, was the return of Adam West & Burt Ward as Batman & Robin. Filmation needed to recast the leads with Olan Soule & Casey Kasem now at H-B. The studio's leading lady, Jane Webb, however, was not brought back to reprise as Batgirl & Catwoman. Instead, a relative newcomer, Melendy Britt, stepped in, as Webb was being phased out. Webb's last Filmation job was the Archie-Sabrina Hour for NBC in the fall of '77. Also, with Ted Knight wrapping up The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and seemingly retired from toons (his last Filmation work was Lassie's Rescue Rangers), veteran writer-actor Len Weinrib took over the roles of Gordon, Joker, Mr. Freeze, & Penguin, in addition to various subordinates and the new villains. His Sweet Tooth voice, for example, was a riff on Paul Lynde, and, as noted before, his Moonman might have been partially inspired by Casey Kasem, but not all the way. Co-executive producer Lou Scheimer went uncredited as the Bat-Computer, various incidental characters, and Bat-Mite, the 5th Dimensional imp whose attempts at aiding the Masked Manhunters were disasters waiting to happen, counter-balanced by his crush on Batgirl. Weinrib voiced the villain Zarbor, who came from Bat-Mite's world, and appeared in the final 3 episodes. Scheimer would recycle and modify his Bat-Mite voice for Orko (He-Man & The Masters of the Universe) just 5 years later.

In addition, in keeping with the comics of the day, Batgirl's dual ID of Barbara Gordon was known to the Dynamic Duo, and otherwise, Barbara was now an assistant district attorney, in contrast to the books, where she had been elected to Congress, a role she'd have until the early 80's. Also, as noted, while Bat-Mite carried a torch for her, in the books, Batgirl had to deal with Robin developing a similar crush that would lead to an on-again, off-again romance. Shoot, they'd even discussed marriage at one point. Bat-Mite couldn't be that lucky, even if he tried.

Some of the incidental music, composed by Ray Ellis (under the dual pseudonyms of Yvette Blais & Jeff Michael, which Ellis used at Filmation throughout the 70's), was lifted from live-action shows such as Shazam!. Like, couldn't they afford new music?

To refresh your memories, here's the open & close:

Rating: A.

Friday, November 21, 2014

From Comics to Toons: Mad (2010)

We previously covered our next subject over in The Land of Whatever a ways back, but now it's time to revisit Mad.

Following in the footsteps of the [adult swim] line of original series, Mad was set up as a 15 minute series, chock full of rapid fire sketches, some of which were familiar to readers of the long running magazine. In some respects, it's a more kid-friendly companion to Robot Chicken, but the only other common link between the two is that Chicken co-creator Seth Green contributed voice work to both shows. There were the occasional guest stars, including Gilbert Gottfried (ex-Aladdin, Saturday Night Live, Cyberchase) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash, Saved by the Bell, etc.).

Mad always poked fun at DC Comics heroes, moreso in recent years since the publisher is handling distribution for the series, and as such, there were some DC parody skits, including positing Batman on Family Feud. Sooner or later, we'll get around to posting that and other DC bits. For now, scope out a sample episode.

The mix of animation styles, coupled with the breakneck speed of the skits, would've worked better had Mad been posited as a 30 minute show, instead of 15 minutes. Production ended last year, likely due to declining ratings.

Rating: C.