Tagged: Hanna Barbera

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The Tweeks review Gobots and Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos!

Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos

This week The Tweeks review two new DVDs from the Warner Archives Collection: Hanna-Barbera’s Challenge of the Gobots! and Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos: The Complete Series. So the question is: are these classic re-releases just for children of the 80’s or do the Tweeks feel that it’s still something kids now will want to watch as well? There’s maybe even a little history lesson about the difference between Transformers & Gobots!

Professor Elemental dishes on his “Phineas and Ferb” cameo

If you’re a fan of the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb, like I know I am, you may have recognized the performer of the song for latest episode “Steampunx”.  It was chap-hop impresario himself, Professor Elemental, taking his gentlemanly beats to a new and young audience.  By way of the electric-type wireless, yr. obt. svt. was able to sit the Professor down for a virtual cup of tea and a few questions about his foray into animated entertainment. (more…)

REVIEW: “The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley” is as fun as fun can be, I must say.

God bless the deranged maniacs at the Warner Archives and their desire to not let anything be forgotten.  As part of their exponentially-growing manufacture on demand DVD program, they’ve added to their already impressive list of animated releases with a 2-disc release of Hanna-Barbera’s The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley.

Martin Short has had a wide and varied career in comedy, and inamongst appearing on SCTV, Saturday Night Live and his film career, he created a character named Ed Grimley.  Formed from equal parts of sight gags from his SCTV days and a voice he used to do to annoy his wife, Ed caught on with America during Short’s SNL run.  When NBC and Hanna-Barbera looked for a way to compete with CBS’ Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, the hyperkinetic Mr. Grimley was tailor-made.

Featuring a mini-reunion of the SCTV gang, the series features Martin in the titular (a word you want to hear more often, and so seldom do) role, with Andrea Martin and Catherine O’Hara, with Joe Flaherty reprising his SCTV creation Count Floyd.  Jonathan Winters rounded out the crew, adding in his comedy genius.

The comparison to Pee-Wee is easy to make on the surface, but at its base, Ed’s show was a surreal take on a sitcom, as opposed to the kids show parody of Mr. Herman.  Ed has no desire to find adventures; he’s more than happy practicing his triangle and enjoying the company of his neighbors at the palatial Freebus Arms.  But adventure seeks him out, and before you can say “Uncle Balfour’s favorite Mantovani record” he’s running n a horse race or getting a new identity after testifying in a robbery trial or being whisked to Kansas via a hurricane.

Ed Grimley was one of the last shows made at Hanna-Barbera before their purchase by Turner, and was one of its last truly original works.  With character work and story direction by Scott Shaw! the show had a unique voice that stood above the sadly dying world of Saturday Morning cartoons.  It’s popped back up on Cartoon Network on occasion, but thanks to Warner Archives, fans can get their triangle on whenever they please.

The 2-disc set is available from The Warner Brothers Shop.

REVIEW: Sealab 2020

“This is the year two thousand and twenty. The place is the Challenger Sea Mount, the top of an underwater mountain, a complex beneath the sea. Two hundred and fifty men, women and children live here. Each of them, a scientist pioneer. For this is our last frontier, a hostile environment which may hold the key to tomorrow. Each day, these oceanauts meet new challenges as they build their city beneath the sea. This is Sealab 2020.”

Hanna-Barbera had to change with the times and as the 1970s dawned, kids and adults alike were tuning into the difficulties planet Earth was facing. Ecology and Earth Day were on everyone’s lips. At the same time, parents’ groups were insisting Saturday morning cartoon shows do more than shill cereal and have characters hit one another.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/8nGS0UbmGD8[/youtube] (more…)

REVIEW: Shazzan The Complete Series

Growing up in the 1960s, I first heard “Shazam” from the lips of Gomer Pyle, USMC and only later learned it had something to do with a defunct character, Captain Marvel. When I then saw ads in the comics for a Saturday morning series called Shazzan, I was confused, thinking it was somehow connected. Nope, the CBS series created by the great Alex Toth and produced by Hanna-Barbera and had the following narration:

“Inside a cave off the coast of Maine, Chuck (Jerry Dexter) and Nancy (Janet Waldo) find a mysterious chest containing the halves of a strange ring. When joined, the ring forms the word “Shazzan!” and with this magical command, they are transported back to the fabled land of the Arabian Nights. Here they meet their Genie, Shazzan (Barney Phillips). Shazzan presents them with Kaboobie (Don Messick), a magical flying camel. Shazzan will serve them whenever they call, but he cannot return them home until they deliver the ring to its rightful owner. And thus begins their incredible journey.”

Adding an extra “ho” to the Jolly Green Giant’s “ho ho ho”, the 60-foot tall Shazzan was a jovial genie, calling the kids “little masters” and never tired at saving them with regularity. The series ran from September 9, 1967 and ended on Saturday, September 6, 1969 and featured two escapades per thirty minutes and achieved just enough popularity to be repeated as part of countless series in the 1970s and 1980s before finding a home on cable. The complete 36 episode series has been collected for the first time thanks to the tireless folk at Warner Archive.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYMeVDMi_tk[/youtube] (more…)

Janet Waldo the Ageless Teen Reviews her Career

For some, age defines you. You are either young or old. For others, age is a number and you remain your youthful, exuberant self.  Then there are the ageless wonders, among them actress Janet Waldo. Generations of people have grown up with Janet’s work even though her name may not be a familiar one. The 87 year old actress sounds as vibrant as she did when she first wowed audiences on radio with Meet Corliss Archer.

Today, she is best known as Judy Jetson or Penelope Pitstop, but she has portrayed countless characters of all ages in a rich career that includes stage, screen, television and tons of animation. After high school in Seattle, Waldo, a distant relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was performing in local theater when she won an award presented to her by fellow alum Bing Crosby, who was accompanied by a latent scout. She left for Los Angeles where she appeared in several films before beginning her radio career.

She did numerous roles in comedies and dramas before CBS cast her in Meet Corliss Archer, a teenage sitcom series designed to compete with A Date with Judy. She played the part from 1943 until it ended its radio run in 1956. By then she was married and turned down the part for television in order to raise Lucy and Jonathan with her playwright husband Robert Edwin Lee (Inherit the Wind).

When Waldo resumed her career, she wound up doing some television work, such as the recurring character Emmy Lou on The Ozzie & Harriet Show, commercials and the then-new field of television animation. She was cast as teenage Judy Jetson in Hanna-Barbera’s The Jetsons and has voiced the character exclusively ever since (the one exception being having her recorded voice replaced by pop star Tiffany for the 1990 movie).

During the 1960s, Waldo could be heard on all three networks and in multiple roles from Granny Sweet and Anastasia on Secret Squirrel to Penelope Pitstop (first seen in Wacky Races), and of course, Judy. (more…)

REVIEW: Rockin’ with Judy Jetson

Hanna-Barbera was clearly running out of steam in the later 1980s as their style of animation and storytelling was no longer in synch with its young viewers. As a result, they did an awful lot of recycling of concepts including the two season-long Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 which took Yogi Bear, the Flintstones and the Jetsons and told longer, and not necessarily better, stories in ten stories. The ten telefilms ran during the 1987-1989 seasons and since then have been in rotation on cable’s Boomerang channel with Warner Archive slowly releasing them to eager fans who can’t get enough of these properties. Their last release from this series was The Flintstones Meet the Jetsons.

This week, from Warner Archive, comes the release of Rockin’ with Judy Jetson, a Jetsons’ film that puts the focus squarely on the teen daughter, who is usually overshadowed by the rest of the cast. That alone would make the 92-minute film interesting  but it is another effort that clearly shows its writers didn’t know how to expand from the thirty minute confines to something longer.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sdS1vOaDcc&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

Check out the official synopsis:

Despite father George’s disapproval, Judy Jetson is totally into Sky Rocker, the biggest intergalactic rock star around. When the teen icon announces a surprise concert, Judy writes a super awesome song and sends it to him. And – oops – the song is accidentally switched with an evil magic message from music-hating witch Felonia Funk. Bummer for Judy! Then Felonia goes one diabolical step further: she kidnaps Sky Rocker. What a buzz kill – but don’t freak out yet! Judy and her friends – along with brother Elroy, family dog Astro and music-loving aliens named Zoomies – set out to save Sky themselves. Is Judy Jetson the coolest Space Age teenage cartoon star ever?

Mistaken identity, switched songs, intergalactic evil queens, all manner of things so unlike the futuristic sitcom which was based on the family comedies that were so prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s. The closest to an evil witch was Endora on Bewitched. Anyway, the story is pretty dumb from beginning to end despite it being a showcase for Janet Waldo, who had been Judy Jetson’s voice since the series debuted in 1962. Writers Charles M. Howell IV and Kevin Hopps could have done better with the characters. Director Paul Sommer at least tried to make it contemporary with rock video montages and some quicker than usual edits.

The song Sky Rocket turned into a hit, credited to Judy but not written by her, is the memorable nonsense known as “Gleep Gorp”. While a bit of a catchy tune, it has become a YouTube hit for those who grew up on the show but was written similar to the bubble gum pop of the 1960s, not the music the intended audience was more familiar with. The feature boasts six songs, most of which are the same two repeated by different singers.

The vocal cast is a welcome, familiar addition as Waldo is joined by the original team of George O’Hanlon, Penny Singleton, Daws Butler, Don Messick, Jean Vander Pyl, and Mel Blanc. New voices include comedian Ruth Buzzi as Felonia with the rest being fairly non-descript.

Another missed opportunity, this one is only for those with a real sense of nostalgia for ‘80s H-B material.

 

Review: ‘The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones’

On the one hand, you have to wonder what took so long for Hanna-Barbera to get around to having their two most famous franchises meet. On the other, maybe they should have waited for inspiration. Today, Warner Archive is releasing The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones and the 96 minutes went by at a glacial pace.

This 1987 television production features just about every significant character from both shows with the possible exception of the Great Gazoo. The simple premise has Elroy building a time machine for a class project and the hilarity begins when the entire Jetson family is accidentally transported to the past.

By the time the story ends, both families have had a chance to experience how the other half lives with parallel issues of both bread-winners having their jobs on the line. In the future, Spacely Sprockets has been on a losing streak with Mr., Spacely believing George Jetson was responsible for industrial espionage. Meantime, Mr. Slate is fighting to keep from losing his company to arch rival Turk Tarpit.

Writers Don Nelson and Arthur Alsberg should have spent some time watching reruns of It’s About Time, the 1960s sitcom about astronauts accidentally catapulted back to the days of the caveman. The “fish out of water” motif would have been more interesting to watch than the ease with which the two families adjusted to their alien surroundings. Instead, they pad out the script with an odd subplot showing George earning fabulous wealth thanks to a flying demonstration. He and Jane then essentially buy up Bedrock and the plot goes nowhere and ends with a thud.

Everyone has a moment to shine or be the butt of the joke, with Mr. Spacely particularly stupid as he sees Fred in the Jetson apartment and somehow concludes its his employee in disguise. Jane, Wilma, and Betty prove to be the sensible ones while the men folk remain idealistic fools. The one character to experience some real drama is Judy, who falls for rock star Iggy Sandstone (whose band plays an original song clearly patterned after “Monster Mash”), and is conflicted about whether to stay with him or return home. Even Dino and Astro get their moments as the two animals see one another more as rivals than friends.

I’m not sure what message is being sent by having Rosie, the beloved robot servant, repeatedly wind up saving the day.

I do miss Alan Reed as Fred’s voice but Henry Corden does a fine job and it’s nice to have George O’Hearn, Jean Vader Pyl, Mel Blanc, Daws, Butler, and Don Messick back in their familiar places. The only voice that sounds off is Julie McWhirter’s Betty.

The video transfer is more than acceptable and this is for H-B afficianados.

 

 

On the one hand, you have to wonder what took so long for Hanna-Barbera to get around to having their two most famous franchises meet. On the other, maybe they should have waited for inspiration. Today, Warner Archive is releasing The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones and the 96 minutes went by at a glacial pace.

This 1987 television production features just about every significant character from both shows with the possible exception of the Great Gazoo. The simple premise has Elroy building a time machine for a class project and the hilarity begins when the entire Jetson family is accidentally transported to the past.

By the time the story ends, both families have had a chance to experience how the other half lives with parallel issues of both bread-winners having their jobs on the line. In the future, Spacely Sprockets has been on a losing streak with Mr., Spacely believing George Jetson was responsible for industrial espionage. Meantime, Mr. Slate is fighting to keep from losing his company to arch rival Turk Tarpit.

Writers Don Nelson and Arthur Alsberg should have spent some time watching reruns of It’s About Time, the 1960s sitcom about astronauts accidentally catapulted back to the days of the caveman. The “fish out of water” motif would have been more interesting to watch than the ease with which the two families adjusted to their alien surroundings. Instead, they pad out the script with an odd subplot showing George earning fabulous wealth thanks to a flying demonstration. He and Jane then essentially buy up Bedrock and the plot goes nowhere and ends with a thud.

Everyone has a moment to shine or be the butt of the joke, with Mr. Spacely particularly stupid as he sees Fred in the Jetson apartment and somehow concludes its his employee in disguise. Jane, Wilma, and Betty prove to be the sensible ones while the men folk remain idealistic fools. The one character to experience some real drama is Judy, who falls for rock star Iggy Sandstone (whose band plays an original song clearly patterned after “Monster Mash”), and is conflicted about whether to stay with him or return home. Even Dino and Astro get their moments as the two animals see one another more as rivals than friends.

 

I’m not sure what message is being sent by having Rosie, the beloved robot servant, repeatedly wind up saving the day.

 

I do miss Alan Reed as Fred’s voice but Henry Corden does a fine job and it’s nice to have George O’Hearn, Jean Vader Pyl, Mel Blanc, Daws, Butler, and Don Messick back in their familiar places. The only voice that sounds off is Julie McWhirter’s Betty.

 

The video transfer is more than acceptable and this is for H-B afficianados.

21 year old Zac Efron to play 11 year old Jonny Quest

21 year old Zac Efron to play 11 year old Jonny Quest

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that High School Musical star Zac Efron has been signed to play Jonny Quest in a live-action feature film. The movie, written by Dan Mazeau, is said to be a terrific young Indiana Jones style adventure. Mazeau was recently named one of the 10 screenwriters to watch by Variety.

Also looking to join the cast as a brawny Race Bannon is Dwayne Johnson.

The 21 year old Efron is about a decade too old for the character, based on the Hanna Barbera series form the ‘60s. He’s taking on the title part to distance himself from teen musical roles and establish himself as a leading player so for him it s a canny move.

“I’m more dismayed by news that folks at Warner Bros. are thinking of jettisoning the name Jonny Quest altogether,” Geoff Boucher wrote. “Why? I hear the thinking is that the vintage animation roots of Quest will somehow pair it in the public mind with Speed Racer, which was a major Warners pile-up as blockbuster films go, considering the investment, expectations and critical reception. I’m not surprised because, well, unnuanced thinking in Hollywood is commonplace, and instead of spending the time needed to judge individual properties by their own merits, lots of decision-makers act like my grandmother at the racetrack.”