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Archive for the tag “OldHorseman”

Big Mouse/Magnet Man

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

Giving the SUPER FRIENDS a break, it seems we’ve already covered the shows that ran against the WORLD’S GREATEST- incarnation of the series. Let’s look at what followed it then…

PLASTIC MAN was a superhero introduced by Quality Comic in 1941, later assimilated into DC Comics. He actually made a brief appearance in the first HB Super Friends incarnation (the Wendy, Marvin, Wonderdog version) as a sort of reserve JLA member. Half a dozen years later, he became the central figure in a two-hour cartoon block produced not by HB, but their proteges at Ruby-Spears.

Among the most obscure (and lame) components of this mega-block was MIGHTY MAN AND YUKK. I half-suspect they wanted to make a new MIGHTY MOUSE series, only to find out CBS already was. So they made their diminutive protagonist human.

We get a bit of a BLUE FALCON / DYNOMUTT vibe going, as Mighty Man is “assisted” by a bumbling, semi-anthropomorphic dog called Yukk. Rather than an assortment of malfunctioning bionics, Yukk’s superpower is being so catastrophically ugly that his face can drive people to insanity and shatter inanimate objects. Thus he is obliged to wear a miniature dog house like a cowl most of the time.

This one was mercifully forgotten when Plas’ show got trimmed-down the following year and Ruby-Spears moved-on to better fare including THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN. From Sept. 1979. More from the OldHorseman.




Universe Of Evil

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

Hanna-Barbera’s take on the Justice League of America were kinda’ phoning it in by the end of the Disco Decade. Although the WORLD’S GREATEST SUPERFRIENDS had a full hour time slot (albeit as the 8AM curtain-jerker), only eight half-hour episodes were made for the series. The rest was recycled from earlier Super Friends shows.

I picked this one because it features a concept that has been recurring since the DC Multiverse was established in the early 1960s, and which has been beaten like the proverbial deceased equine in recent years… Alternate versions of our superheroes — including Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman — who are, in fact, villains. From October 1979. More from the Old Horseman.




Saturday Morning Champ

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

So, giving the SUPER FRIENDS a break, what was on the other channel during CHALLENGE OF THE-?

Same thing that had been on, in one form or another, since 1962. And a couple years in Prime Time before that. And which would be on network TV into the 21st Century, before going to cable, and most recently to broadcast digital subchannel MeTV.

THE BUGS BUNNY SHOW is like a slasher movie star. No matter how badly the censors mutilated the classic WB ‘toons, they still drew an audience. The wabbit headlined the First String collection of theatrical shorts, with Porky and others getting their own shows at times, featuring the strong Second String, while the lesser entries of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies got syndicated for your local afternoon kiddie shows. Eventually, the second string shows merged with Bugs’… By 1978, we had the BUGS BUNNY / ROAD RUNNER SHOW that ran 90 minutes.

Our sample today isn’t that long. But it does spare you the commercials and is free of the killjoy censorship of ’70s TV! Featuring a collection of three Merrie Melodies shorts, including the Chuck Jones 1955 masterpiece, One Froggy Evening. More from the OldHorseman.




Wanted: The Super Friends

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

As we covered in recent weeks, the DC comic book superheroes came to TV animation in the ’60s, being the project that got Filmation off the ground. In 1973, Hanna-Barbera took over (mostly) and softened the superhero elements to try and satisfy the killjoy TV censorship groups by adding a big dollop of SCOOBY-DOO elements to create the SUPER FRIENDS series.

In 1977, they dropped the meddling Earth kids and their dog (who were surprisingly useful despite lack of superpowers) and replaced them with Vulcan-looking space teenagers and their blue monkey (who managed to be frequently useless despite having formidable superpowers) for the ALL-NEW SUPER FRIENDS HOUR. Covered that one while on the subject of hot Jungle Girls several weeks back. It’s how we got onto this tangent.

The following year, we got CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS. This incarnation brought the show much closer to comics than the earlier HB takes had been, with more action, references to alter-egos, back-stories, and actual bad guys. The first half of each show resembled the previous series’ segments. The second half featured the conflict between a larger Justice League roster and the Legion of Doom; a group of comic book villains organized by Lex Luthor and including Cheetah (with razor-sharp claws), Braniac (whose mind-games are deadly), Scarecrow (who is… uh… made of straw?), and Solomon Grundy (who wants pants too)!

During its network run, the whole program ran under the “Challenge of the Super Friends” title. For a while, the show was expanded to 90 minutes by folding-in material from the previous “All-New Super Friends Hour.” Later, for syndicated reruns, the first-half segments (which didn’t feature the LoD) were run with the 1977 series opening, while the LoD second-half segments retained the “Challenge” opening. From Sept. 1978. More from the OldHorseman.




Force Phantom

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

Last week, we wandered into the realm of Hanna-Barbera’s SUPER FRIENDS. The various series in that franchise were a bit of a departure for HB, featuring characters owned by DC Comics. The studio’s closest competition in TV cartoons, Filmation, was more into licensed properties. In fact, they had pretty much made their start doing DC superheroes themselves.

Filmation’s 1960s DC superhero cartoons featured the JUSTICE LEAGUE, TEEN TITANS, with all their members, villains, and associated characters. They were produced in association with DC editorial, so they closely resembled the comic books. This would ultimately be the downfall of the shows, as the rock ’em, sock ’em action was decried by killjoy busybodies who were already wrecking TV in the late ’60s. (This is why the ’70s Super Friends series are so laughably neutered that actual super-villains weren’t even included in the first few iterations.)

As one might expect, Filmation’s DC superhero ‘toons started at the top, with SUPERMAN himself. Here seen in his first made-for-TV short from 1966. More from the OldHorseman.




 

Birth Of A New Hero

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

Last week’s Saturday upload was 1978’s FREEDOM FORCE, a short-lived Filmation superhero ‘toon that included Super Samurai, whom I described as a “less sci-fi version of Ultraman”.

Now, the name Ultraman has been used in DC comic books for various alternate universe, bad guy counterparts to Superman. It was also used in self-reference by a teenager with superpowers in the late ’80s sitcom MY SECRET IDENTITY. But I wasn’t writing about those guys…

You see, back in the ’60s and early ’70s, Japan sent us a show featuring a giant super-dude doing battle with leftovers from Godzilla’s movies. ULTRAMAN was a live-action program, done with the titular hero in a silver and red wetsuit judo-fighting rubber-suit monsters in the midst of miniature buildings while the Science Patrol flew around in toy planes on strings with small pyrotechnics in them… We freakin’ loved it!!!

Nippn Sunrise, now known as Sunrise, handled the animation. Ultraman spawned a whole franchise of follow-ups, including cartoons! Today we have a classic bit of Japanimation (from before everyone got uppity and rechristened it ‘anime’) introducing a new incarnation in 2D. From 1979. More from the OldHorseman.




Dragon Riders

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

A few weeks ago I featured the YOUNG SENTINELS / SPACE SENTINELS, one of Filmation’s rare ventures not involving licensed properties. That show was a single season and mostly forgotten, but one of its characters was recycled the next year in the FREEDOM FORCE, which was broadcast in 1978 as part of the TARZAN AND THE SUPER 7 cartoon block. The oddly Nordic-looking version of the Greek demigod Hercules returned, now riding Pegasus, the winged horse.

Now, why Hercules, who possessed the ability to fly under his own power with the Sentinels, needed a winged horse here is a good question. But Pegasus has always been too popular an image to be confined to the lesser-known hero Bellerophon, his original rider. So he’s been associated with bigger stars like Perseus. (Who didn’t need a winged horse either, since he had the ability to fly thanks to talaria he wore.) Strange paring him with Herc though, as one of the strongman’s legendary labors involved killing Pegasus’ nephew!

Filling out the team were generic versions of public domain characters Merlin and Sindbad… Along with “Super Samurai”, who was sort of a less sci-fi version of ULTRAMAN, a Japanese guy who could transform into what appeared to be living, giant samurai armor.

Probably the biggest “star” of this little group was ISIS, an animated version of the super-heroine from Filmation’s 1975 live-action, Saturday Morning show, originally shared with SHAZAM. The animated Isis would pop into Filmation’s HERO HIGH a few years later… By which time the mere five episodes of Freedom Force would already be slipping into oblivion. More from the OldHorseman.




The Frickert Fracas

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

Not long ago, my weekday upload for grownups was an episode of WAIT TILL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME featuring an appearance by Jonathan Winters. Like Don Adams and Phyllis Diller, Winters had also guest starred on Hanna-Barbera’s top Saturday Morning ‘toon… But, in his case, he also brought along the same Granny Maude Frickert character to both shows.

SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU? (Basically ersatz DOBIE GILLIS characters crossed with the old I LOVE A MYSTERY radio show plus a semi-anthropomorphic dog thrown-in for good measure.) was a big hit for the studio in 1969. Not only did it get a second production season, which was kinda’ rare for Saturday Morning Cartoons, but is spawned a slew of follow-up series, one-shot video features, and even big-budget live-action movie adaptations.

Scooby and the gang also became the go-to template for many of HB’s ‘toons through the ’70s, as YOGI BEAR had been for the ’60s. Just rename the Meddling Kids, and swap-out the dog for a semi-anthropomorphic car, phantom, cat, shark, or even a goofier-looking dog, and there’s your new show. Heck, even the Justice League got a pair of Meddling Kids and their dog when HB took over the superheroes’ license with SUPER FRIENDS.

Scooby’s second program, the NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES, had the mystery adventures extended to an hour-long, and featured guest stars. And what a mixed-bad that lot was! Sometimes real people, like Cass Elliot, Davy Jones, or Jerry Reed, voiced by their real-world selves. Sometimes fictional characters, like Batman, the Addams Family, or the cast of other HB Scooby-esque cartoons. Sometimes a splitting of the difference, with the onscreen personas of real people voiced by impersonators, as with the THREE STOOGES and LAUREL AND HARDY due to the originals being retired or dead. From September, 1972. More from the OldHorseman.




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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.




 

Morpheus: The Sinister Sentinel

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

It’s pretty well-known that the ’90s live-action MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS series adapted most of its designs and tons of stock footage from the Japanese SUPER SENTAI franchise. But I may have stumbled upon the source for the non-Japanese elements…

A multiracial group of kids granted superpowers and directed by an alien intelligence in the form of a giant, bald, holographic floating head assisted by a dwarf-sized comic relief robot. Sounds a bit familiar, right? Only the YOUNG SENTINELS did it sixteen years before the Power Rangers.

One of only a handful of Filmation productions not based on licensed properties, the Sentinels were already on the air when STAR WARS hit popular culture like an anvil dropped on a coyote’s brain-case. So, to emphasize the sci-fi nature of the series, it was re-named SPACE SENTINELS partway through its run. But that run wasn’t particularly long. Thirteen episodes, which is about par for the 1970s Saturday Morning game. It takes more than superpowers to beat both MR. MAGOO and SCOOBY-DOO, who were in the same time slot with new programs.

But the oddly Nordic “Hercules” from this show would be incorporated into Filmation’s even shorter-lived superhero offering the next year. From September 1977. More from the OldHorseman.




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