Monday, November 28, 2011

Classic Cartoons on DVD...

Over the course of the last several months quite a few Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the '60s and '70s have finally saw their release on DVD. The only catch is the discs are DVD-R's but I'm pretty sure the discs will play in any brand name DVD player. I've got some DVD-R discs that play in my DVD player and so I feel confident that there will be no problems.

I haven't placed an order for any of the collections, yet. I'm waiting on the holiday season to pass and then place my order(s) in the new year. However, I may slip in an order next month for one of the collections as an early Christmas present for myself. The collections are for sale at various on-line stores. Amazon is where I purchase things and so that's where the following links will take you...

The Herculoids: This series features the adventures Zandor, Tara, and Dorno who battle a different enemy in each episode. They're aided by Igoo, Tundra, Zok, Gloop, and Gleep. Mike Road and Don Messick provided a bulk of the voices.

Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles: This series deals with a kid named Buzz and a flying robot patterned after the Frankenstein monster. The second segment stars a rock band that doubles as a crime fighting trio. Fluid Man, Multi-Man, and Coil Man each have distinct powers and in many of the episodes there's spoofs of pop culture. Ted Cassidy voices Frankenstein Jr. while Dick Beals voices Buzz. Don Messick, Paul Frees, and Hal Smith voice Multi-Man, Fluid Man, and Coil Man respectively.

Moby Dick and The Mighty Mightor: This series deals with the whale, Moby Dick, acting as a guardian/protector of two kids. Along side this trio is the kid's pet seal, named Scooby! Typically the kids get into trouble and the seal acts as a messenger of sorts...escaping the latest trap and getting Moby to come to the kid's rescue. The Mighty Mightor segments are a lot like another series, Young Samson, although in this series the teenager named Tor uses a club to turn into his alter-ego, Mighty Mightor. In Young Samson the teenager clings his two gold bracelets together.

Jabberjaw: This series from Hanna-Barbera came along during the mid '70s. The previous collections all originate in the mid and late '60s. Unlike the emphasis on realistic science fiction and adventure in the mid '60s cartoons, Jabberjaw is light and patterned after the mystery solving format. Jabberjaw was a shark, who had a voice like Curly from The Three Stooges, and he played drums and doubled as the mascot for the show's teenage rock band, The Neptunes. This group consists of leader, Biff, easily annoyed Shelley, scatterbrained Bubbles, and cowardly Clamhead. Although it's often referred to as a Scooby-Doo clone given the teenage mystery solving format it has much more in common with Josie and the Pussycats. Shelley has similar facial expressions with Alexandra but Clamhead could pass as Shaggy's long-lost brother.

Speed Buggy: In this series we see the adventures of three teenagers and their talking race car, Speed Buggy. The teens this time around are named Mark, Debbie, and Tinker. Michael Bell, a frequent voice on cartoons, is the voice of Mark while face actress Arlene Golonka is Debbie. Phil Luther, Jr. does the voice of Tinker while Mel Blanc is Speed Buggy. In later years Tinker would be voiced by Frank Welker (Laff-a-Lympics, specifically).

Those are just 6 of the DVD releases that have come up for sale during the last several months focusing on classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. One of the long-time voice actors at the studio, John Stephenson, can be heard in many of those programs. He was typically cast as villains, policemen, scientists, and sometimes he'd do vocal effects, too. He had a varied career in radio and TV drama as well...I found this clip on You Tube the other day and it's John Stephenson acting in a daytime soap called Morning Star in 1966. John's natural voice will immediately be recognizable to Hanna-Barbera cartoon fans because he used his natural voice a lot in addition to doing celebrity impressions. In the soap he plays the part of Stan Manning and he has a substantial role in this particular episode, too. His scene starts at the 6 minute, 2 second mark:

Monday, November 21, 2011

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

In this particular Hee-Haw blog entry I'm focusing on an upcoming salute to the series that'll air in January 2012 on RFD-TV. The special is titled Salute to the the moment I have no idea the running time of the special. I can't wait to see'll feature recent interviews with a lot of the surviving cast-members of the show and I imagine there will be a lot of remembrances and memorials/tributes given to those who've passed away.

Before anyone can say "Great...but I don't get RFD-TV!!!" the great news is there's going to be a mammoth DVD collection which will feature the program that airs in January 2012 in addition to footage that didn't make it on the air. The DVD collection will cost a person a little more than $80.00 but it'll be well worth it not only for the interviews and memories but for it's historical value in the years to come.

Information about the DVD collection, which contains 5 discs in all, can be found by clicking the RFD-TV link. 4 discs will be housed in a standard DVD case while the 5th disc called Backstage will be housed in a separate case. You'll see the look and design and the price after you click the above link.

The reruns of the show that air on RFD-TV, in a lot of ways, is responsible for this reunion. Word of mouth and social media have created awareness for the reruns and in a lot of cases the program was discovered by younger audiences, too, who weren't even born when Hee-Haw aired it's last episode in 1992.

The program originally aired on CBS-TV for 2 and a half seasons, 1969-1971, and in syndication for 22 more seasons, 1971-1992. When the show ceased production of new episodes in 1992, at the end of it's 24th season, the program returned later that year as Hee-Haw Silver to commemorate it's 25 seasons on the air. That program was a retrospective series airing flashbacks of older episodes which ran through 1993...concluding it's 25 year run.

I find it thrilling that the program still has such a strong fan-base...but it's not surprising. Practically anything associated with Hee-Haw has turned a profit or helped networks increase their ratings. In the '90s The Nashville Network aired reruns of the show for nearly 5 years straight starting in 1993...months after Hee-Haw Silver concluded it's syndicated run.

One example of it's profitability being the series of Time Life DVD collections spread out over a period of several years. Those DVD's, I think, filled the void left when The Nashville Network abruptly stopped airing the reruns and the DVD releases increased the demand for more episodes. I say the DVD successes eventually led to the program's rerun debut on the RFD-TV network in 2008...where it's been airing ever since. The network is currently airing the 1972-1973 season.

Once again...the reunion of Hee-Haw will air in January 2012 and the DVD counterpart is available for pre-order at the web-link I posted up in the third paragraph.