Sunday, December 5, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY SATURDAY MORNING

As my Christmas gift (or Holiday gift if the concept of Christmas does not apply in your configuration) to everyone, lurker and subscriber alike, who enjoys this blog, December's entry I decided will be the closest thing to a time machine that I can create here.

"Set the Way Back Machine, Sherman, to 1967" Mr. Peabody might of told his boy Sherman, if he was trying to help contribute to this December blog entry. Because we are going back to a typical Saturday from that year.

We are going to our living rooms more than forty years ago, getting a bowl of cereal and in PJs still warm from bed, sitting down to tune into CBS and 1966-67 Saturday Morning Cartoon Line up.

With the help of YouTube, Boomerang, Cartoon Network and even some old VHS tapes, I have attempted to reconstruct a Saturday morning on CBS, back when I was a wee lad -- and anxiously looked forward to all the action -- but especially JONNY QUEST, already a favorite from three years earlier during it's primetime debut in 1964.

Saturday mornings on CBS, you had to wait till right after lunch at 12:30 for the Quest party's adventures. And if you were anything like me, you just hoped and prayed it would be a monster episode or a robot spider.

I would like to point out that we are using a lot of clips here from cartoons of the 60's -- and most are available on Warner Home Video, and other distributors, some even on iTunes.

So consider these as advertisements for you to go get more of them through paying channels, if the spirit moves you. All of the files I have posted are in m4v format -- which is supposed to be cross-platform.

I play them on my Quicktime Player or my faithful VLC Player - which I heartily recommend whether you are on a Mac (as I am) or PC.

As we go down the line-up, some of you may not recognize some of these shows, or if you saw them on Boomerang or Cartoon Network, wondered where they came from, or what their origin was.

Well, with the exception of THE ROAD RUNNER SHOW and THE ADVENTURES OF JONNY QUEST -- the creation of these cartoons were for broadcast on Saturday Mornings on CBS!

Don't forget: links are provided for each show for you to download much higher quality versions of these Main Titles, and in some cases some episodes. Enjoy!

CAPTAIN KANGAROO

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8:00 to 9:00 am Well, the sun is up and so are we. We started the morning with the Captain. By the time I was nine or ten, and Saturday Mornings had started to become filled with action cartoons, the Captain, I recall was something patiently waited through, for the real fun to begin.

I was over the "kid stuff" -- who wouldn't be at the old age of ten?

But who from my generation, could forget the Captain, Mr. Greenjeans, Mr. Moose -- and all those ping pong balls?

FRANKENSTEIN JR. and THE IMPOSSIBLES

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9:00 to 9:30 am The stroke of nine brought us our first Hanna-Barbera toon of the morning. A sort of spoof of both superheroes -- and of rock bands. While this cartoon made its debut a year earlier, it returned for the 67 season, though it is unclear if these were repeats or new episodes.

Back in the day (this day anyway) the guys at Hanna-Barbera often took monsters and made them kid friendly, starting here with FRANKENSTEIN. (Maybe taking a page from MILTON THE MONSTER - if Milton predates FRANKY Jr.)


I was surprised to learn that while they made 36 seven minute episodes of THE IMPOSSIBLES, and 18 FRANKENSTEIN JR. episodes (also seven minutes each). To make up the half hour, there were two IMPOSSIBLES episodes, with a Franky Jr. cartoon in the middle.

The Jonny Quest connections to FRANKENSTIEN JR. are many, starting with of course with the generous use of Hoyt Curtin's Quest music. But the voice talents are a Jonny Quest roll call.

Buzz's dad, Professor Conroy is John Stephenson (The original Dr. Benton Quest) and in the episode posted below, the narrator is none other than Vic Perrin (Dr. Zin and also of OUTER LIMITS fame)

Artist Bill Wray's totally cool take on Franky Jr., The Impossibles and what looks like Secret Squirrel trying to keep ahead of the stampede.

If you'd like to download an entire episode of FRANKENSTIEN JR. to watch, I have posted the following:

Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles Main Title (as seen above):

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/1qqvbd

An episode of FRANKENSTIEN JR. entitled THE SPYDER MAN:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/ew222b

And an episode of THE IMPOSSIBLES "The Wretched Dr. Stretch" :

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/7i816x

THE HERCULOIDS

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9:30 to 10:00 am Well the corn flakes are soggy by now -- but who cares? The good stuff starts now! The action stuff. And at the starting gate at 9:30 was THE HERCULOIDS. A family of humans (or at least humanoids) and their mighty arsenal of creatures that make up the family pets, as they protect their planet from constant invaders and foes.

The magic of Alex Toth (rhymes with 'both') really starts to emerge here -- and Alex might well turn out to be the true author of our Hanna-Barbera action cartoon memories, as we will see in show after show.

His incredible designs are responsible for most of the memorable cavalcade of sci-fi and action stars at old HB. And I will devote an entire blog to him, when the time comes when my Alex Toth experts have contributed enough that I feel like the blog could do him justice.

ALEX TOTH

Again, THE HERCULOIDS borrows much of Hoyt Curtin's action cues from Quest, (however the Herculoids theme and underscore were not written by Hoyt) and Zandor, the head of the family is voiced by none other our own Race Bannon -- Mike Road.

If you want a copy of the opening above (narrated by Mike Road) download it here:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/ea7bx3

If you want to see a full episode, THE MUTOIDS, download it here:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/jui4d1

SHAZZAN

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10:00 to 10:30 am It's time to put our magic rings together and summon our giant genie: SHAZZAN! Another Alex Toth creation for Hanna-Barbera.

Busy character actor Barney Phillips (below) is the big booming voice of the genie Shazzan.
Don Messick clearly does the voice of Kabooie, the flying camel, as you will soon find out if you play the episode included here -- the camel's utterings are 100 percent SCOOBY DOO.


To download a version of the Main Title as seen above:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/b361dg


To download a full episode "The Lord of the Shadows" :

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/vk8uow


SPACE GHOST

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10:30 - 11:00 am
Probably the most recognizable and popular of all of Alex Toth's superhero creations for Hanna-Barbera's Saturday Mornings, is SPACE GHOST.

Voiced by Laugh-In's GARY OWENS, Space Ghost roams the galaxy in an amazingly cool ship, with a couple of young siblings, JAN and JACE, and their monkey mascot BLIP.

The series features the voice of post-Quest and now pubescent Tim Matheson as JACE. Sounds like he's pushing the testosterone a bit in his performance as JACE -- maybe to sound more heroic, or in an attempt to sound less like Jonny.

While tons and tons of Quest cues are used again in this series, the rousing main theme, was not by Hoyt Curtin. In fact, it's darn hard to find out who wrote what for SPACE GHOST or any of the other rousing adventure themes that graced THE HERCULOIDS, MIGHTY MIGHTOR etc.

The music supervisor credited at the end of these action toons is TED NICHOLS. If Hoyt's "Musical Supervision" Title should have more accurately been "Music Composed and Conducted by" -- then should we assume that Ted Nichols is the composer of THE MIGHTY MIGHTOR, SPACE GHOST and MOBY DICK? THE HERCULOIDS?

Can anyone shed some light on this subject for us?

Anyone know? Someone had taken over for Hoyt Curtin by then as "Music Supervisor" who I am assuming was the composer of the music.

Hoyt started with Bill and Joe at the beginning of the partnership in 1957 with RUFF and READY and continued through the JETSONS, TOP CAT, JONNY QUEST and the FLINTSTONES .

But Hoyt seems to have been absent from Hanna-Barbera during the superhero craze of mid 60s animation -- though you'd never know it since the niney-plus action cues he wrote for Quest would be used in every action series HB produced right up into 1968 for their live action series THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN.

I remember watching that show -- for the express purpose of waiting for a Quest cue. Seriously, that's the kind of Quest-ite (read Quest nerd) I was, even back in 1968 at the age of ten.

A rare model sheet for SPACE GHOST - sans mask. So here's what SPACE GHOST looks like when he's not wearing that cool cowl. Alex Toth, as brilliant an artist who ever lived, clearly wanted the animators who would draw SPACE GHOST, to think of him as a man first and a cowled (face mostly hidden) superhero second.

SPACE GHOST followed the Hanna-Barbera action template of three seven minute cartoons to make up the half hour. Bracketing they called it, since for instance for The Space Ghost show, you saw two Space Ghost cartoons bracketing one episode of DINO BOY in THE LOST VALLEY.

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Mike Road provided the voice of UGH, or is it UG, the caveman -- and each episode is almost wall to wall Quest cues. In fact in the episode provided here, for the "lizard hounds", it looks like Ashida's dragons from JONNY QUEST were simply traced over.

There is something about the simplicity of the Dino Boy show that I like. It's mostly action, Quest music and dinosaurs -- what boy could ask for anything more?

If you would like to download the SPACE GHOST Main Title as seen above:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/d93dat

And if you would like to have a complete seven-minute episode of SPACE GHOST, here is "The Heat Thing", which if memory serves me correctly, was the first Space Ghost episode ever shown:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/4daal1

To download the DINO BOY intro:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/cehg5v

And to download a DINO BOY episode "The Terrible Chase" :

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/edf2o9

Again, you can buy a lot of these terrific series on DVD now, and SPACE GHOST AND DINO BOY is one of them. They are on Warner Home DVD. And I recommend them. It's so great to see these shows restored and looking handsome.

MOBY DICK and the MIGHTY MIGHTOR

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11:00 - 11:30 am Two of the strangest HB concepts, but the people there new what boys liked: and one of them was clearly dinosaurs. "How about a super-hero who lives in dinosaur days?" I can hear the pitch session going when THE MIGHTY MIGHTOR was first suggested.

Alex Toth again shows his incredible eye and design skills, evidenced above by the simple but powerful lines that make up the hero of this stone-age adventure show.

The mighty voice of Mightor was actor Paul Stewart. (CITIZEN KANE, TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH to name just a few of this prolific actor's credits) Mightor had a bit of a British or Welsh accent, I noticed. Every prehistoric hero should have an element of class while they're wrestling T-Rexes.

Here is the backstory intro for MOBY DICK:

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Below is a cool end title to MOBY DICK and MIGHTY MIGHTOR. It reminds me how many times as kids we must've seen the words PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY WILLIAM HANNA and JOSEPH BARBERA.

Though I am certain that the output was so great at that point, they probably directed very few if ANY of the shows they took directing credit on. It would have been humanly impossible. Maybe "directing" in TV animation, meant something different back then.

I do know the mere sight of those names in the end title of any cartoon, even THE FLINSTONES or THE JETSONS made my heart skip a joyous beat when I was a youngster.

Oh heck, what am I playing coy for? Those names still do the same thing to me today! Here is the end title to MOBY DICK and THE MIGHTY MIGHTOR:

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If you want to download Moby Dick and The Mighty Mightor Main Title (and intro to Mighty Mightor) as shown above:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/bwllg0

If you would like to see an episode of THE MIGHTY MIGHTOR, here is "The Tree Pygmies":

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/m1n52d

For the backstory and intro to MOBY DICK as seen above:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/jly38s


For a full episode of MOBY DICK "The Crab Creatures":

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/qalg7i


And if you would like to download the end titles for the show as seen above:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/vmck7c


THE SUPERMAN/AQUAMAN HOUR OF ADVENTURE

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11:30 -12:30 pm The next hour was full of superheroes not from the Hanna-Barbera stable, but Marvel Comics and Filmmation, fleshed out by lots of Superman cartoons that were recycled from an earlier Saturday morning Superman cartoon that ran a half hour.

The entire Justice League of America was featured in this hour, but I can't recall if the hour showcased short episodes of all of these heroes. I want to say there was always a couple of Aqua man segments and then some Superman segments within the hour and then one of the Justice League.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Great piece of trivia for these Superman cartoons -- the voice of Superman here is Bud Collier, who did the voice of Superman on the radio for years and years. This was the voice of Superman our parents grew up with.




To download the series Main Title as seen above:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/blmddg

And to see an entire Superman cartoon "The Neolithic Nightmare" :

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/eczstq



JONNY QUEST
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12:30 - 1:00 pm Continuing its journey from prime time to an indelible and long running slot on Saturday mornings (first on CBS and then on NBC) Here comes JONNY QUEST -- finally! Right around lunch time.

There is an intrinsic tribute to the creators of this show here, namely Quest never felt too old, too dated or anything not to be repeated or be included in a Saturday cartoon line up -- it was just too cool. Read: too well done.

In fact, even with all the other adventure shows on every Saturday morning, on different planets and a menagerie of monsters, I was always the most excited and anticipated with the greatest verve, whatever Jonny Quest episode would play that Saturday. (Secretly always hoping for the one with the abominable snowman -- it seemed to play so rarely)

How many times can one kid see those twenty-six episodes?

The main title above may not have been the main title CBS ran in '67, but I can't seem to find that one anywhere. It was perhaps trimmed for gunplay -- not sure. Anyone who does know what the titles looked like back then -- please chime in.

Looking at a Quest episode -- or even the main title -- and you will be reminded that the animation or artwork in Saturday morning shows don't resemble THE FLINSTONES, THE JETSONS or JONNY QUEST, for quality. Remember, those were all primetime animation shows -- and boasted some of the biggest per episode budgets in television history at the time.

A Saturday morning show, like SPACE GHOST or any of the others, probably had half that budget -- or even less for these half hour shows, so you're going to see even less animation and creatures and monsters and things that were simple in design as to enable the animators to work faster.


To download the traditional JONNY QUEST Main Title:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/p7ob6f

To download the full episode THE INVISIBLE MONSTER from Jonny Quest:

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/go0mrb



THE LONE RANGER

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1:00 to 1:30 Late runner in the afternoon -- if it wasn't bumped by a golf tournament or other sports program, was this atmostpheric animated take on the West's most famous hero.




If memory serves -- and it may not -- The Lone Ranger animated series of 1980 was voiced by William Conrad (you might remember him from the TV show JAKE AND THE FAT MAN) whose wonderful voice graced many, many classic radio shows (including THE LONE RANGER) if I am not mistaken -- as well as lending his voice talents to a myriad of Jay Ward's wonderful and zany cartoons. Including BULLWINKLE and gang.

These LONE RANGER toons had a style and look to them that I remember quite well, because the art was so unique. The Lone Ranger again became an animated series in 1980, and there was even a Lone Ranger cartoon made in the 1930s, made for theaters. Back when theaters offered you an A picture, a B picture, news reels and a cartoon.

No I'm not that old -- I just remember hearing of that strange time in America, when the movie house was king, somewhere after radio and before TV.

To download a copy of the Main Title as seen above (sorry about the sound, couldn't find a better version) :

http://www.sendspace.com/pro/36mcpq

THE ROAD RUNNER SHOW
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1:30 -2:00 pm To top off the morning, the giant library of Warner Bros. cartoons, specifically the Road Runner cartoons -- many of them Chuck Jones classics -- ended the Saturday with a half hour of Warner Brothers brilliance.

A year or two later, the Warner library would expand to the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, (see below) but back in 67 it was just MEEP-MEEP and look out ACME supply company.

Well that's our CBS Cartoon Line up. In fact, below see the Check-list featured in various comic books the summer of '67, just to make sure you wouldn't miss any of the CBS shows.


Many of the toons, say Herculoids, Space Ghost and a handful of others, actually made their Saturday debut, a year earlier in 1966, and then were either rerun in the 67 season or had new episodes created.

Also, if some of your favorite Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning memories are absent here, remember that this was only the CBS line up for 1967.

Over at ABC that year Hanna-Barbera's version of Marvel Comics' FANTASTIC FOUR made its debut.

While over at NBC in '67, Saturday morning saw the debut of Hanna-Barbera's BIRDMAN and THE GALAXY TRIO.

If that wasn't enough, the boys also produced the series SAMSON and GOLIATH for syndication, with the great and all powerful father of JONNY QUEST, Doug Wildey at the design helm again, and voicing young Samson -- who else, but again Tim Matheson.

Wow! Can you say Hanna-Barbera was THE major producer of TV adventure animation?

A BIG AND BUSY YEAR FOR BILL AND JOE

In the non-action universe, '67 also saw Hanna-Barbera produce the syndicated ABBOTT and COSTELLO cartoons. Where Bud Abbott did his own voice.

As well as an Emmy-winning hour special which they produced with Gene Kelly (who starred and also directed) The show was part live-action, part animated. It was a telling of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK.

Bill and Joe had worked with Gene Kelly at MGM, when the boys, then in MGM's animation unit, produced a very cool sequence where Gene Kelly danced with one half of the TOM AND JERRY team -- an animated Jerry the Mouse.

It was for one of MGM's big musicals. (An Oscar was bestowed upon Hanna and Barbera for their work on that film)

'67 was also the year that YOGI and FRIENDS entered syndication, where the roll call of Hanna-Barbera's animal stables were set loose on local stations.

In closing, I maintain that at the forefront of the superhero craze of these Saturday toons is of JONNY QUEST -- two short years after QUEST's solo season on ABC primetime, 1966 came along -- and look out: the superheroes started bursting out of the Hanna-Barbera studios.

I think it's safe to say that '66-'67 were the true years of adventure animation on Saturdays.

Eventually the action shows would be traded in for slighter, more comedic fare like WACKY RACES, THE PERILS OF PENELOPE PITSTOP, THE SMURFS and SCOOBY DOO. And I can understand why I lost interest in Saturdays eventually -- much of it was because I had my own car, my own hormones and my interests started to go elsewhere.

But even now as I start to see silver hair in my sideburns, I have never lost interest in the original JONNY QUEST.

Well, that's it for this Holiday blog. Hope it brings back some pleasant memories of the stuff that got poured into our little brains back in those hazy 60s.

Blogs planned in the new year, time permitting as always, are blogs on HOYT CURTIN, DOUG WILDEY, ALEX TOTH and other Quest luminaries. I encourage you all again to chime in, contribute, do whatever you like to add to the accuracy, longevity and fun this blog is meant to be.

It is in effect, some kind of time machine, I realized putting this particular entry together. Because to pay homage to JONNY QUEST you really do have to go back to 1964 (probably in production in the year 1963 for a '64 broadcast) and see what you can find about the origin and process that created this terrific show.

If you celebrate the Holidays, I hope they are happy ones for you -- and that the new year will be filled with promise and good things.

For now, so long from the Island of Misfit Toys -- er I mean Palm Key -- and here's hoping Santa and his Reindeer have the airspace they need when they make their swoop over Palm Key - heaven forbid, the Para Power Ray Gun is out for a test -- its only meant to disable flying objects but not affect the living, so I guess Rudolph would survive.

My stocking is ready and waiting for lost of vintage Hanna-Barbera goodies! Happy Holidays to all around the world!

Chris