Monday, August 4, 2014

Hee Haw: 1969-1992, Part Nineteen...

Hello all!! It's been awhile since I've posted a blog about Hee Haw. A big reason for that is because there hasn't been many clips uploaded on YouTube that have inspired me to post a blog...there's been nothing too obscure that's surfaced until now. Since my last blog post about the program I'm no longer receiving RFD-TV. The economy's caused us to downgrade our cable service and so we had to get rid of some of the packages that have additional costs and RFD-TV was part of a premium channel package. Hopefully, at some point, we'll add on the extra expense but for the time being it's not part of our cable line-up.

Enough about that...the main reason for this blog entry has to do with an episode of Hee Haw from September 1989!! In fact, it's the first episode of the 1989-1990 season. A fan of Barbara Mandrell has it on their YouTube channel and being a fan of the program I decided to share it with you all.

Barbara Mandrell, the Gatlin Brothers, T. Graham Brown, and soap opera star Jim DePaiva are the guests. At the time Jim and cast member Misty Rowe were husband and wife (the 2 married in 1986 and divorced in 1995).

The Kornfield segment isn't the same as it used to be. In times past they'd deliver 3 or 4 one-liner jokes in succession with a banjo playing in the background. On the later episodes they'd insert one single Kornfield joke at various times throughout the episode and it didn't include the banjo music in the background. As you'll see in the opening credits they paired the large cast in the introductions. This had become standard procedure in the mid '80s to shorten (?) the length of the cast member introduction. In this particular episode Roni Stoneman is paired with Gailard Sartain in the intro (instead of being paired off with Gordie Tapp...he's paired off with Lulu Roman). Also, Roy didn't wear the traditional bibs and overalls like some of the other cast members continued to do. He still continued to dress unmistakeably 'country' with the blue jeans, t-shirts, and the fashionable large belt buckle...but the hayseed look had disappeared. In one scene you'll see him in a black suit and a tie.

It's almost like the program was taking baby steps (intentionally or accidentally) into becoming the overhaul that surfaced in January 1992 where the Kornfield was gone and everybody dressed in the modern-country fashions instead of the traditional hillbilly attire. The 1989-1990 and 1990-1991 seasons are the final ones where the cast had the hillbilly look and feel (although you can tell from this episode that the 'feel' was fading but it still had a visual presence).

The audio is good and Gary Beatty (the one time voice of TNN) is doing the cast introductions. The video doesn't include the closing credits, though. There's a Tornado watch alert that appears on the lower left hand side of the screen during the first 24 minutes of the program. The time length of the episode is a little more than 45 minutes. The program ran 1 hour, including commercial breaks. 14-15 minutes of ad time for both local and national products and information sounds about right...so I'm assuming this to be a complete episode.  

And now, from September 16, 1989...ENJOY...


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Another John Stephenson video clip...

I'm often on the look for video of voice actor, John Stephenson, and once I come across something I share it. I came across this YouTube video clip the other day...in several of his biographies it makes mention that he hosted an early outdoors series titled Bold Journey. I don't know why I never thought to look up videos of the series until recently but I came across several episodes but only one, so far, did I come across featuring John Stephenson as host and here it is...



Some of the film/audio at the beginning jumps around a little...but it's watchable. John appears on camera introducing that episode's guest and then he appears again near the end after the guest is finished describing his nature film.

I post this because of John's largely obscure early career on TV. He appeared on many episodic television programs of the '50s and '60s...often in dramatic anthology programs and occasionally on sitcoms...but it's often impossible to find the specific episodes of television programs that he actually appeared on. Sometimes one will pop up on-line. If you've seen any of the late '60s episodes of Dragnet, you'll hear John Stephenson's voice often reading the results of the trial.

If you're familiar or a fan at all of a certain cartoon franchise it's impossible to separate that voice from many, many, many Scooby-Doo cartoons (1969-1991). I often cite that series first but he had been providing voices for Hanna-Barbera since at least 1960...that's the year The Flintstones debuted...and John Stephenson voiced Mr. Slate and other authority figures. In the middle part of the '60s he became one of the regular voice artists in the Hanna-Barbera circle providing vocals for authority figures and villains. His natural speaking voice, as you hear in the video clip, is heard often in those cartoons but he would also elevate it into a higher or lower tone (depending on the character's personality) for various other characters. Very seldom did he have 2 characters speaking to one another...unless the vocalizations happened to be drastically different from one another...given the distinction of his natural voice sprinkling through his characterizations.

Most often his characters were interchangeable given their authoritative demeanor.

In one series for Hanna-Barbera in the mid '60s spotlighting characters by the name of Breezly Bruin and Sneezly Seal, Stephenson provided the voice of additional characters but his main role happened to be that of Col. Fusby...always fussing about Breezly's mayhem and rule breaking at a military camp. Howard Morris voiced the Bruin and Mel Blanc, in a cold in the nose vocal, played the Seal. In another series, Squiddly Diddly, Stephenson voiced the perpetually put upon Chief Winchley of the tourist attraction, Bubble Land, and Paul Frees provided the voice of the starring character. One of John Stephenson's truly vicious, evil, snarling, and amoral characters happened to be Captain Leech in the cartoon series, The Adventures of Gulliver. He not only had the distinction of voicing the evil Captain Leech but the scatterbrained King Pomp. There are several episodes of that series on YouTube.

In another series, Arabian Knights, John provided the voice of the comical genie, Fariek, and the evil Bakaar. That animated series is also on YouTube. I'm embedding this one, specifically, due to John Stephenson having some pretty hefty vocal work in this particular episode.

You'll also hear the vocals of Jay North, Sherry Lewis, Henry Corden, Frank Gerstie, Don Messick, and Paul Frees...



Later on, in various Scooby-Doo episodes, John Stephenson demonstrated his skilled mimicry of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Joe Flynn. Still later he did impressions of Paul Lynde (Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics) in the role of co-host, Mildew Wolf. Lynde had originated the vocal performance in an earlier cartoon series (a segment called "It's the Wolf!!" on the Cattanooga Cats series) but he didn't return for the Laff-a-Lympics series. In the same Laff-a-Lympics series, Stephenson did a Jimmy Durante impression...becoming the new voice of Doggy Daddy (a character that Hanna-Barbera originally produced in the early '60s and voiced by Doug Young). Around the same point in time (mid '70s), Stephenson began voicing numerous villains and secondary characters in the Dynomutt, Dog Wonder series. One such villain, The Blimp, allowed Stephenson to do a vocal impression of Alfred Hitchcock.

I hope you all continue to enjoy the marvelous work of the elusive legend, John Stephenson!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guiding Light: 1937-2009...Part 10

I don't know how long these classic Guiding Light clips are going to remain on-line...but for now they're available on YouTube. The first clip is an episode from March 4, 1953 and it includes commercials...but these aren't your ordinary 10 or 20 second commercials which are commonplace today...these happen to be longer and much more detailed commercials and there's only one commercial spot per break. This means that there isn't half a dozen or so commercials flashing up on the screen.

For those not familiar with early television or, particularly, traditional daytime drama, these episodes are going to be a bit of a novelty due to the limited physical acting and the dramatic line readings. The episode centers around the Kathy Roberts Grant court trial...she's on trial for murder...



This episode, featuring James Lipton as Dick Grant, is from April 9, 1953...



This is the era of the soap that featured the step-daughter/step-mother rivalry of Kathy and Meta. In those early years Meta Bauer was married to Joe Roberts (Kathy's father). Prior to this, Meta had been married to a man named Ted White. He later turned up dead and, of course, Meta was the prime suspect of murder...and after a lengthy murder trial there was never an outcome. The judge declared the entire thing a mistrial given the unethical behavior and apparent personal vendetta against Meta by the prosecutor.