Call Me Stormy

Finding righteous currents in turbulent times

Archive for the category “Saturday Matinees”

The Power Pirate

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Filmation studios got its start making TV cartoons featuring DC comic book superheroes, as covered here last week. But it was the ’60s, and the damned hippies were winning the Culture War, so the face-punching, hero vs villain cartoons were being pushed off TV. Filmation would continue to thrive with ARCHIE, SABRINA, FAT ALBERT, STAR TREK and other licensed characters. (Previously featured on this channel.) But it was Hanna-Barbera who would pick-up the JUSTICE LEAGUE license and run with it.

Their secret? Cut the superhero element to roughly half-strength by pouring in a big dose of SCOOBY-DOO, including Meddling Kids and semi-anthropomorphic dog.

Many call Shaggy, Velma, and Scoo… er… I mean Marvin, Wendy, and Wonder Dog “useless”, since they lack superpowers, tech, or special skills. But they’re the ones who tended to solve the cases, while the spandex grownups were running around reacting to events. Often, they stop the (not particularly villainous) antagonists by explaining the error of their ways.

A common complaint about superhero teams is that top heroes have to be “nerfed”… When you have a godlike being like Superman, who routinely saves the world in solo adventures, why would he need a team? They hadn’t quite figured out how to nerf the characters effectively in this first episode, though. We’re repeatedly reminded that the Batmobile is about the slowest means of transport on the show. And with ersatz Mystery Inc. solving the cases, Bats comes off even more useless than Aquaman… Who, for his part, gets caught by giant sea anemone as soon as he tries to swim in the ocean. (Dammit, Arthur! You had one job!!!)

From September 1973. The first episode of the first iteration of SUPER FRIENDS. More from the OldHorseman.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Razör breaks down the oft-ignored Comic Book origins of the Heroes in a Half-Shell! More from RazorFist.

Peril In The Surface World

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Three of the five characters starring in the MARVEL SUPER-HEROES wheel show were shiny, new, Silver-Age adventurers who’d just debuted in print a few years before. Saturday before last, we covered one of the Golden Age players in the rotation with CAPTAIN AMERICA. Today we’ll look at an even older superguy. NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER, who dates back to 1939, around the same time as BATMAN.

Namor, predates rival DC Comics’ AQUAMAN by over a year, but each character seems to have influenced the other over the decades of publication. Namor, however, has been more consistently depicted as a borderline antihero, while Aquaman has been everything from that through a generic good-guy nerfed for ’70s network kid shows.

Apologies for the eccentricities of this ‘print’. It was surprisingly difficult to dig-up a copy of this particular segment. But I didn’t want to stop short of finishing the set. From 1966. More from the OldHorseman.


Captain America

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

The week before last, we covered IRON MAN. Third in our series on the MARVEL SUPER HEROES wheel show that hit TV in the wake of the company’s super-guy renaissance after HULK and THOR. But not all the featured stars were newbies. Some dated back to the pre-Marvel “Timely” era.

Well before the US entered WWII, comic books were literally draping heroes in the Stars ‘n’ Stripes to fight the Nips and Krauts. CAPTAIN AMERICA wasn’t the first of these, but he became the best-known. A 4-F, 90-pound weakling who got ‘roided-up with an experimental Super Soldier Serum, put on a costume, and wielded an invulnerable shield that thought it was some kind of boomerang.

In keeping with the established norms of 1940s masked adventurers, Cap had a teen sidekick (rather lazily named “Bucky” in and out of costume) and a secret identity to preserve. The latter seemed particularly pointless, as Steve Rogers served only to annoy his sergeant as a clumsy Army private.

Cap was featured in a 1944 Republic serial… Sort of. It appears the script was written for an entirely different character (some speculation as to which) and they just stuck the Captain America name and costume on the lead at the last minute.

Like SPIDER-MAN, Hulk, and DR. STRANGE, there was an attempt to bring an updated version of Cap to live-action TV in the ’70s. This resulted in two TV movies, but no series.

He got a notoriously bad live-action feature film in the early ’90s, which was mercifully forgotten when he was introduced into the blockbuster MCU AVENGERS franchise ten years ago.

Like all the Marvel Super Heroes ‘toons, Captain America is pretty much lifted directly from the comics. This episode from 1941’s CAPTAIN AMERICA #1, which introduced Cap, Bucky, and archenemy Red Skull. More from the OldHorseman.



Trapped By Loki

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

A couple weeks ago we covered the not-so-jolly green giant’s animated debut. But he wasn’t alone. Marvel’s other popular superguys were part of the wheel show. Including fellow Avenger, Thor.

I suppose you can only have just so many comic book heroes get their powers by alien origin, Mystical Eastern training, science accidents, or super-tech before it dawns on writers to say “Screw it! Let’s just recruit mythical gods!”

The Norse god of thunder was well suited for the gig, and had already been used in DC comics back in the ’50s. Marvel’s version traded in the traditional red beard for a clean-shaven fellow with blonde locks, but kept the mythical backstory for the most part.

Still, superheroes of the era had to have a wimpy alter ego and some sort of weakness. In this case, the awesome immortal’s other self was a lame (literally) Dr. Donald Blake. Not only did Thor have to live as Blake when not saving the day, but he would involuntarily revert into that mortal form whenever Thor was separated from his signature war hammer for over sixty seconds!

Of course, he also got an ersatz Lois Lame (figuratively). We’ll not go into what has happened with her in our current, godforsaken, woke era!

Several attempts at live-action TV series starring Marvel characters were made in the 1970s. But Thor didn’t get a shot then. The only one of the bunch who really made it was the HULK. TV movie follow-ups to his series beginning in the late 1980s were used as tryouts for other Marvel characters, starting with Thor. Like the Hulk, he was considerably different from his four-color print incarnation. Unlike Ol’ Greenskin, his TV version didn’t succeed and was never heard from again.

He has, however, been a smashing success in the current MCU live-action blockbuster movies. But his on-screen career started with these humble, barely animated adventures. Lifted pretty much directly from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY comics, and produced by what was left of the old Paramount unit that did the theatrical POPEYE shorts, as well as some of the King Features TV output.

From 1966. More from The OldHorseman.

Everything’s Ducky

Hey kids (of all ages), it’s Saturday Morning Cartoon time again!

Our last Saturday Morning entry featured the work of Howard Morris. Most recognizable as Ernest T. Bass from the live-action ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW (previously seen on this channel), but also the voice of many cartoon characters including Jughead from the ARCHIES (also on this channel) and ATOM ANT.

Another recurring troublemaker for Andy and Barney was Allan Melvin, best known as Sam the Butcher from the live-action BRADY BUNCH (animated spin-off previously featured on this channel). He was also seen on damned-near every TV show from the ’50s through the ’80s, as well as doing a boat-load of cartoon character voices.

These two Mayberry misfits were bound to cross paths in the world of animation voice-overs. They did so most famously on MAGILLA GORILLA for Hanna-Barbera. But first they did our entry for today!

As covered here previously, POPEYE THE SAILOR was a long-running, highly popular series of theatrical shorts for Paramount Studios in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. But they didn’t own the character. King Features Syndicate, who published the THIMBLE THEATRE newspaper comic strip where he first appeared, did. When his pictures were syndicated to television and became a hit all over again, King Features wanted a piece of that action. Paramount had relinquished its license, so KFS was able to produce (through an assortment of sub-contractors) a couple hundred shorts specifically for TV between 1960 and ’63. While inferior to the theatricals, these went over well-enough for KFS to try making more ‘toons based on their comic strip properties.

BEETLE BAILEY’s newspaper comic started out with him as a college kid in 1950, but he got the bright idea to drop-out and join the Army in 1951, where he’s been a perpetually loafing, humorously incompetent Private ever since. Somehow he never got sent to Korea or Vietnam, but Camp Swampy was dangerous enough, between his own ineptitude and the savage beatings inflicted upon him by Sgt Snorkel.

Beetle was one of three print properties developed for the animated KING FEATURES TRILOGY for TV distribution starting in 1963. More from the OldHorseman.


Judge Dredd Gets SJW’ed

Having already ruined GI Joe, now the social justice warriors at the inept IDW Publishing are putting the screws to the Judge Dredd comics. IDW stands for Idea and Design Works. We’ll give you an idea, bubbs! Jump into a bucket of ice! More from our commentator, Smile Titans.

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Fatal Transformation

Welcome to the Chapter Fifteen, the concluding chapter from Manhunt of Mystery Island, our current Saturday Matinee serial. Claire Forrest plane continues to rise, leaving Lance Reardon desperate to locate the power transmitter controlling its flight.

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Power Dive to Doom

Welcome to Chapter Fourteen from Manhunt of Mystery Island, our current Saturday Matinee serial. In this chapter, our hero Lance Reardon rescues Claire Forrest from a mountain cabin and they pool their forces in an attempt to capture Captain Mephisto. Enjoy and return next Saturday for the Fifteen, and concluding chapter in this serial: Fatal Transformation. 

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Bridge to Eternity

Welcome to Chapter Thirteen from Manhunt of Mystery Island, our current Saturday Matinee serial. In this chapter, Lance Reardon battles desperately with Captain Mephisto’s men, who have lured him into a volcanic cave. Enjoy and return next Saturday for Chapter Fourteen: Power Dive to Doom.



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