Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Return of The Saturday Morning Revamp

I originally posted this last year. I re-present it here for newer readers who may have interest in what kind of stuff goes through my head at 3 in the morning. Enjoy!

It has long been a television tradition to take a hit prime-time series and adapt it into a Saturday morning cartoon series or animated special. Through the years, I've been fascinated by this concept and have finally compiled a list of these shows. Note: I've left out shows based on comic book superheroes (BATMAN, SUPERMAN, etc.) and comic strip adventures (TARZAN) since they were based on the original source material and not the primetime TV shows. Also, shows based on films that were also TV shows (like PLANET OF THE APES for instance) and primetime animated specials based on shows THE NANNY, THE CONEHEADS and RHODA will be examined at a future date. (Though I already covered THE NANNY here.)After appearing on an an episode of CBS's NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, originally based on the Charles Addams one-panel cartoon, had two runs as animated series, the first aired on NBC from 1973-75, and in 1992 a revival aired on ABC, though this was spun-off from the theatrical film version. Inerestingly, Jackie Coogan and Ted Cassiday reprised their prime-roles of Fester and Lurch on the original version (where Jodie Foster voiced Pugsley!), while John Astin returned to voice Gomez for 1990s series! I'm
NBC's wise-cracking alien sitcom ALF, had two animated shows, ALF (1987-89) and ALF TALES (1988-90). The second series retold classic fairy tales, kinda like SHREK from outer space.THE BIONIC SIX (1987) This syndicated had nothing to do with Steve Austin or Jamie Somers other than it's title. Jennifer Darling, who played Peggy Callahan (Mr. Goldman's assistant) on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN voiced a villainess named  Madame-O. Imagine how cool a real Bionic cartoon show would have been!
THE BRADY KIDS - ABC (1972-74) The classic example of the primetime-to-Saturday morning format. Here the kids appear (unexplained) sans parents and Alice–but with the assistance of two pandas named Ping and Pong and a magical mynah bird named Marlon! The original cast recreated their roles-for at least the first season. Wonder Woman and Superman made guest appearances. The pilot originally aired on the amazing ABC weekly anthology series THE SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE.THE COMPLETELY MENTAL MISADVENTURES OF ED GRIMLEY - Canadian comedian Martin Short brought his SCTV and SNL character to this NBC daytime show. (1988-89). Even Count Floyd was featured!
DENNIS THE MENACE (Syndicated/CBS 1985-88) Based on Hank Ketchum's comic strip as well as the classic 1960s TV series. Dennis later was featured in a string of theatrical and TV-movies. Crabby Margaret was surely a stand-out.THE DUKES (CBS 1983) The Hazzards brought their white-trash clan to Saturday mornings via this short-lived Hanna-Barbera effort. I was never a fan of either version of this show. In  fact, I don't think I ever sat through an entire episode of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD. Now, BJ AND THE BEAR was another story!EMERGENCY + FOUR - NBC's primetime hit came to Saturday mornings. Gage and Desoto took in four kids to help them save cats and put out fires. (1973-76) Unfortunately Julie London's fabulously sexy Nurse Dixie McCall was left out. Darn, she would have made a great transition to animation!
FONZ & THE HAPPY DAYS GANG - ABC's hit 1950s era becomes a time-travel adventure featuring the new character named Cupcake! Featuring the voices of Henry Winkler, Ron Howard and Donny Most. What, no Anson Williams???(1980-82). I think I was too old to watch most bad cartoons at this point. Thankfully.
THE GARY COLEMAN SHOW (NBC 1982-83) Not based on DIFF'RENT STROKES, but on a TV-movie called THE KID WITH THE BROKEN HALO - in which Gary Coleman dies-and becomes an angel. Creepy.GIDGET MAKES THE WRONG CONNECTION (ABC, 1972) was a SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE from Hanna-Barbera based on the girl surfer series of films and TV series starring Sally Field. Moondoggie still looks pretty dreamy even in cartoon form.GILLIGAN'S ISLAND returned to TV twice in animated form. First on ABC from 1974-77 as THE NEW ADVENTURES OF GILLIGAN and then on CBS from 1982-83 as GILLIGAN'S PLANET. In the first series, Gilligan had a pet monkey named Snubby and on the second show he had a pet alien named Bumper. Filmation, you guys were just sick.THE HARDY BOYS - After two MICKEY MOUSE CLUB serials in the 1950s and a failed CBS primetime pilot, ABC and Filmation brought the boy detectives to Saturday mornings from 1969-71. this time out they had a rock band. A fun ABC live-action primetime series followed in 1977-79 and a Canadian syndicated series ran in 1995. The Cartoon Network's VENTURE BROS. was surely inspired by this show.The beautiful genie named JEANNIE came to CBS in 1973-75 without her supporting cast. Instead of Tony the astronaut, her "master" this time around was a teen teen surfer named Corry (voiced by Mark Hamill). And her friend Babu was such a giant queen! ("Yapple Dapple!")
LASSIE'S RESCUE RANGERS (ABC 1973-75) followed the new adventures of the canine film and TV star. The pilot aired on THE SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE. Poor Lassie. Skip this and watch the recent film version. It's a tear-jerker.
LAVERNE & SHIRLEY IN THE ARMY came to ABC daytime in 1981-82 transforming into LAVERNE & SHIRLEY WITH THE FONZ in 1982-83 and THE MORK AND MINDY/LAVERNE & SHIRLEY/FONZ HOUR in 1982-83. Cindy Williams left this series too. Who can blame her?LOST IN SPACE returned to the airwaves via ABC in 1973 via SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE. Dr. Smith was back, but the Robinsons were a completely different family! Not to be confused by the Space Family Robinson comic book or the futuristic Disney cgi animated film MEET THE ROBINSONS . So little space, so many Robinsons.M*U*S*H was a canine-themed parody of M*A*S*H from the minds of Filmation. It aired as part of the sadly overlooked satiric  show UNCLE CROC'S BLOCK starring the late, great Charles Nelson Rielly. It ran on ABC 1975-76.
MINI-MUNSTERS was another SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE on ABC 1974. Only Grandpa Al Lewis returned. From the title it sounds like they were younger versions of the misunderstood TV family–but the screencap does not indicate that.MUPPET BABIES (CBS, 1984-92) was the hit show that started the trend of infantilizing existing characters. This was followed by FLINTSTONE KIDS, A PUP NAMED SCOOBY-DOO and a slew of other annoyingly bad ideas that populated Saturday mornings throughout the 1980s and 90s.MY FAVORITE MARTIANS ran on CBS 1973-75 with a totally different cast, but the same basic premise of the prime-time hit. I could not fin any actual artwork from this Filmation series. Instead, a fun cover of the Gold Key comic book series.
Juliet Mills, Richard Long and Kim Richards lent their voices to two SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIEs -NANNY & THE PROFESSOR (1972) and NANNY & THE PROFESSOR AND THE PHANTOM OF THE CIRCUS (1973). Phoebe Figalilly is an awesome character! Maybe the two shows will be included when the primetime show is finally released on dvd!THE ODDBALL COUPLE brought Felix and Oscar to kids TV-transformed into a cat and dog: Spiffy and Fleabag. This ran on ABC on 1975-77, after THE ODD COUPLE had ended its five-year run.THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY 2220 AD (CBS 1974-75) took the musical family into space - and Shirley Partridge was renamed Connie!!! It's like THE JETSONS if George died and Jane started a rock band.IT'S PUNKY BREWSTER (NBC 1985-89) Before her breast-reduction surgery, Soleil-Moon Frye and her friends shared animated adventures!STAR TREK (NBC 1973-75) Considered by many to be the all-time best animated series based on a prime-time show. (If not the all-time best animated series!) This effort was intelligent and featured the best Filmation animation ever. A true labor of love.TABITHA AND ADAM AND THE CLOWN FAMILY (ABC, 1972) The BEWITCHED kids are now magical teens and their parents are nowhere to be found in this SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE. This, of course led to the wickedly awful TABITHA prime-time series.And finally we have THAT GIRL IN WONDERLAND (ABC, 1973) - Yet another SATURDAY SUPERSTAR MOVIE. Marlo Thomas dreams her way into various fairy tales in this ambitious Rankin-Bass production. This I'd really love to see again! Well - that's all I have. If there's any you recall, that i haven't touched on, just let me know! A special thanks to all the fine folks out there whose images I've borrowed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Before blu-ray, dvd, vhs, laser disc and betamax there was...

My family didn't have a projector, but I often dreamed that we did. Imagine watching Woody Woodpecker cartoons, EXPO '67 or CLEOPATRA on your living room wall? What a thrill to create the movie-going experience in your very own home. I recall neighbors having a 8mm set-up and watching some Betty Boop cartoons in their garage. Now that was living! The closest I ever got to that was when my parents bought me a View-Master projector and I invited friends over to watch stills from THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and KING KONG (these were both preceded by Disney shorts in the true tradition of the cinema). Nowadays with our big-screen TVs and instant access to all sorts of media, we can watch basically anything we want 24/7 from ALIENS to ZARDOZ, but doesn't it make you long for the days when the movie-watching experience was a special occasion?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


In celebration of CAPTAIN EO's return to Disneyland, here's my THIRD posting of my controversial review of CAPTAIN EO, the movie.Now that the smoked has cleared. I think it's safe to rerun this controversial review of CAPTAIN EO from 2008. In light of news from last summer, I've decided to dust it off, clean it up just a bit and respond to some of my critics. It's not often that one gets an opportunity to review a theme park attraction movie, especially one that's over 20 years old and no longer used because of its star's reputation for being an alleged pedophile, so when given the chance to see CAPTAIN EO (1985, directed by Francis Ford Coppola!!!) again - I practically moonwalked!This ambitious (to say the least) short was filmed in 3-D and had George Lucas attached as a writer/producer. Not the cool George Lucas of STAR WARS, but the cheesy George Lucas responsible for such dreck as the Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks. Also, I might add that this Francis Ford Coppola is not the class act "A List" director responsible for the GODFATHER saga, but the evil madman who foisted his daughter Sofia upon an unsuspecting world. One wonders if Coppola and Lucas signed a pact with the devil (aka Michael Eisner) to make this mess.This $30 million movie (Imagine what I could do with that money!!!) tells the story of Captain EO (played by a pre-skin bleached Michael Jackson) and his "ragtag" crew (basically the Banana Splits from Saturday mornings past) traveling in his space craft, which I'll call MLSTR-1, on some sort of a mission from a hologram named Commander Bog (played by Dick Shawn, who later died on stage the next year during a performance of his one-man show), that I believe (from what I could decipher) to deliver a something to a evil queen (this is Disney after all - there HAS to be an evil queen and an innocent princess) named "the Supreme Leader" - played by the fabulous Angelica Huston in H.G. Giger meets KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN make-up -that's funny I always thought Diana Ross was the Supreme leader!We first meet Captain EO and his Sid & Marty Krofft-inspired crew, consisting of a dumb, bumbling Dumbo-like creature named "Hooter", an annoying flying "bug" which I think is named Fuzzball (was WEBSTER not available?), a thing with two heads, a robot called Major Domo (?) with a small robot named Minor Domo, who plugs himself into the back of the larger robot. No comment. They soon fly past a giant space rock that looks like Michael's old nose, that explodes, reportedly causing the audience to scream with delight. I don't recall since 3-D movies give me migraines and I usually don't wear the plastic eye disease-spreading glasses that they hand out.
Once they arrive on Planet Huston, they encounter Angelica, who lives in a place that looks like a dirty, flithy warehouse, decorated with scrap metal and disconnected wires. She is the only cool thing in this entire 17-minute opus, and she orders her storm troopers to take them captive - and she sentences them to be tortured. IF ONLY, because I'm already in pain from watching this, and I don't like to suffer alone!

Princess EO tells the Queen that he sees the hidden "beauty" within her - all she needs is some good plastic surgery and that he has a gift to help unleash it. Then the first "music video" portion of the evening begins, but clumsy Hooter trips into EO and breaks his instrument, stopping the music. I was almost expecting EO's hair to catch on fire!

Before the grande bitch's guards can capture EO, Hooter fixes the problem (damn you Hooter!!!) and there's a blast of music, which gives EO super human powers - transforming the storm troopers into Solid Gold dancers.
Then a THRILLER-like dance number begins, followed by a dreadful song, "We Are Here to Change the World" - during which he uses his powers and magical rainbow tee-shirt to transform the Queen into a "beautiful woman" and her planet is transformed into an OZ-like paradise. Then we are "treated" to another crappy song called "Another Part of Me" which I think may have referred to Michael's allegedly polka-dotted penis.

And then it's over. Thankfully. I have to say –with all respects to the recently departed megastar–I have never owned a single Michael Jackson record, 8-track tape or cd EVER ("We are the World" doesn't count, does it?) -and this little film exemplifies why. In my book, I never found "the man in the mirror" to be a genius that most people did. I'm sorry.

As a kid, I did enjoy the JACKSON 5IVE cartoon series, and really loved little Janet as child-abuse victim Penny on GOOD TIMES (nothing says "good times" better than the imprint of a clothes iron burned into your flesh), but that's as far as my Jackson tolerance goes.

I guess I'll never understand how and why people are drawn to such marginally talented "pop stars" - well then again this is the same planet where AMERICAN IDOL and DANCING WITH THE STARS are the top 2 shows on TV. Give me the GONG SHOW any day. Oh, sorry - what was I reviewing? Oh yeah, CAPTAIN EO. It sucks, but not in "the good way". 2 outta 10.

Okay - that was my initial post (with a few minor edits). Here's the comments I received:

TEDDY writes: you're right, Captain Eo blows, I never did like Mickey Jackson either.

DOUG responds: Thanks Teddy.

JUSTIN writes: You can call E.O crap, but to say Michael Jackson isn't talented? What are you smoking? The man single-gloved handedly revolutionized the music business and every male pop and R&B artist that has followed after him has taken a note of two from his book; the same way female pop-stars follow Janet's career book as well (save for the SB wardrobe malfunction. Michael Jackson not talented.... indeed this is the first time i've ever read someone dismiss the man's talent.

DOUG responds: Well, just because someone inspires others to adapt certain aspects of their style doesn't really have anything to do with talent. It has to do with packaging and marketing - which, in the 1980s, was something that the Jackson camp was able to do extremely well. I just don't find his music or the music that it inspired very appealing - the same for his sister. Sorry. Justin - if I was smoking something I might have enjoyed EO more. Maybe next time?

ANONYMOUS writes: Wow, I agree with Justin, Michael jackson has had such a major influence in pop culture and the artists of today, i.e. Usher, Ne-yo, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, just to name a few. They all credit him as one of their inspirations. I'm not concerned with someone's appearance and quirkiness, as much as God-Given talent. you don't have to like the movie,'s from the 80's and was at Disney, but don't discount the kind of talent Michael Jackson has!

DOUG responds: Usher, Ne-yo, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake. 4 prime examples of why music sucks today. Thank you for proving my point.

PAT writes: Pop music is in it's worst shape ever thanks to "influences" like Michael Jackson. Calling "performers" like Usher, Ne-yo, Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake "artists" just shows how far down the talent scale we've slid. They are all pretty crappy if you ask me, though I wouldn't mind seeing them naked. ;) Give me Tom Jones any day!

DOUG responds: I love you Pat. Tom Jones is the true king of pop.

LANCE writes: I too would like to see Justin Timberlake naked. Michael Jackson, not so much...

DOUG responds: I concur, Lance.

SEMI PERMANENT writes: Semi Permanent and medical micro pigmentation safely and expertly applied by fully qualified technicians with Royal College of Nursing approved training and British Association of Skin Camouflage certification. Clinics throughout England. Professional, sound advice. Excellent aftercare.

DOUG responds: That is hysterical. This officially ends our trip down memory lane. Rest in peace, Captain Eo.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

THE DOUGLAS MICHAEL SHOW with Michael Taylor Gray

Doug: In PRETTY, the outrageous new hit web series from creator Steve Silverman and Velvet Candy Entertainment, Michael Taylor Gray plays Royce, the assistant director of the Miss Star Eyes Pageant.
Royce is one bullet away from taking over from Ms. Parker Kensington Parker. Have you ever had a boss like Parker?
Michael Taylor Gray: Yes, my first pimp, Roscoe at the Chicken Ranch in Amarillo was a real task master. Demanding, over-bearing and freaky kinky. I still can't drink coke from a bottle to this day.

D: I'm not gonna ask. So, if Royce ran his own pageant, how different would things be?
MTG: There'd be a helluva a lot more glitter and a boy band on the pageant stage. More one-on-one sessions with pageant dads, more jazz hands & spirit fingers and a retractable roof. (I look my best in natural light.)

D: Love it! Did you base your performance on anyone you know?
MTG: Royce is a combination of Steve Silverman, Brian Boitano and Rip Taylor. Hold the mayo.

D: That's hysterical...and probably true. When you're not being Royce, you're usually doing stage work, do you have a favorite role?
MTG: Yes I do! The "Emcee" from CABARET... a role I played 300 years ago my freshman year in college. I'd love to play that role again now that I have so much more life experience than when I was 19. And by life experience, I mean sex, drugs and church camp.
D: Isn't Church Camp just sex, drugs plus Jesus? If you could play any sitcom character (from all of TV history), who would it be and why?
MTG: It would totally be "Bernice" from Designing Women. What sheer joy to have the freedom to play a character who has absolutely no filter between her brain and her mouth. I had the pleasure of meeting Alice Ghostly several years before she passed away ('cause meeting people after they die sucks). She's a classic.

D: Yes - Alice had such great timing and an amazing career. Who are your other comedy heroes?
MTG: Oh my...let's see...Shields &Yarnell, The Mandrell Sisters, Flip Wilson...

D: Cool. Variety shows have been a major influence on me as well.
MTG: ...and also Ruth Buzzi, Marla Gibbs, Pamela Anderson, George W. Bush, Emmanuel Lewis and Christopher Hewitt ("Mr. Belvedere").

D: What a crew! Bush...really? I don't wanna know. After PRETTY, what's up next for you?

MTG: A massage with a Hollywood Happy Ending.
D: That sounds like a great idea to me! Speaking of happy endings, I've been working out for over fifteen years and my arms are like noodles. What's your secret?

MTG: Paprika.

D: Julia Child wouldn't have said it better! Well, thank you, Mr. Taylor Gray for taking time to chat with me. You're so PRETTY.
MTG: I certainly feel PRETTY! Watch Episode's my big debut!

D: We will certainly be keeping our eyes on Royce!