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Sep 212016
 

Although I’m not hugely into The Brady Bunch, I found the animated series The Brady Kids: The Complete Animated Series (1972-1973) rather interesting. It’s about the adventures of the Brady siblings, Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan, and Cindy. Whether it’s about traveling back in time to ancient Greece or encountering superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, the adventures are more magical than the sitcom.

The original actors who played the six children on The Brady Bunch (Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb, and Susan Olsen) voice their characters on this show. However, Mr. and Mrs. Brady along with Alice the housekeeper do not appear.

What are also different are the story lines being more watered down. For example, the often mentioned jealously Jan has over Marcia’s popularity is never an issue. You can really tell it’s a kids show that way.

Many of the mishaps that occur are often caused by Marlon the talking mynah bird. He is a wizard who can cast spells but they often go wrong.

Other animal characters include Ping and Pong the pandas. They can speak also, but only in gibberish. I’m sure that it was meant to sound like Chinese since panda bears are from China.

Then there’s Mop Top the dog. I can’t help but think that he has a very striking resemblance to Hotdog from the old Archie cartoons.

Image result for the archie show

Speaking of the old Archie cartoons, the animation style is very much the same. I can especially tell during the musical numbers. The repetitive movements the Brady Kids make when they perform are just like in The Archie Show and Archie’s Funhouse. It’s really quite interesting if you think about it.

There are a few other human characters created for this show, like reoccurring antagonist Chuck White. He’s very self-absorbed and tends to cheat and sabotage others on many occasions. Chuck also acts macho, but the sound of his voice, as well as his mannerisms, remind me of Yogi Bear.

The other characters are Fleetwood, who is easygoing, and Babs a pretty redhead who likes Greg. Oddly, Greg doesn’t feel the same way about her.

I enjoyed this series, mainly for its catchy songs and similarity to The Archie Show. Now if I were to compare The Brady Kids to The Brady Bunch, I would always prefer the animated version because it’s so much easier to follow.

Jan 282012
 

Classic cartoons from the old days always had memorable theme songs, some of which could be found on soundtrack albums if there were any. In the mid 90s, there was a very rare mixture on an album called Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, which features the different theme songs in a more extended and updated manner and performed by “modern” bands and artists.

Some of those classic songs include the themes from Scooby-Doo Where Are You, Josie and the Pussycats, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, PopeyeHong Kong Phooey, and Spiderman (60s version). A different artist or band like Matthew Sweet, Liz Phair, The Ramones, The Butthole Surfers, Juliana Hatfield, and others perform them.

Not all of the tracks are theme songs though. There are also songs from different shows that were hits back in the day like Sugar Sugar from The Archie Show, Epp Opp Ork Ah-Ah from The Jetsons, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy from Ren and Stimpy, and Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine in from The Flintstones. All of which were only featured once in certain episodes. Does anyone still remember any of these songs?

There are even theme songs from shows I had never even heard of before like The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Groovie Ghoulies, Gigantor, and H.R. Pufnstuf. Luckily, the inside cover has information on each show, which made them more familiar to me and made me curious to see what these shows are like, if I can find them either on DVD, Netflix, or the Boomerang Channel.

Along with the info, there’s also a bit of commentary from the bands and artists about their take on these songs as well as their favorite cartoons growing up. It must be a real pleasure to participate in an album like this.

In addition to the album, there was also a straight-to-video feature about Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits. On a beautiful sunny day, Drew Barrymore and her friends have fun watching music videos from all of the different songs and provide their own cute and funny commentary. (It doesn’t include the theme from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids for some reason.)

To add to the fun, the group also gets a package that contains things like breakfast cereal, candy necklaces, and silly string in spray cans. That’s just the kind of stuff that represents innocent times. You won’t find a special like this on MTV and I have no doubt that only hardcore Drew Barrymore fans would remember it.

This album is unique with its modern twist on old favorites. Once I do find any of the old shows, after listening to this CD, I now observe the theme songs to see how they are different in comparison.

Sep 022011
 

From the creators of the Archies comics is the all-girl rock band called Josie and the Pussycats, who also hail from the town of Riverdale. I can remember when this was a cartoon series from the early 70s that went along the lines of Scooby-Doo. In other words, a group of meddling kids always stumble into mysteries that they try to solve themselves.

Then in 2001 came Josie and the Pussycats the movie, which is an updated story on how it all began. A trio of struggling musicians, Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Tara Reid), and Valerie (Rosario Dawson) have dreams to make it to the big time. Soon after the popular boy band Dojour mysteriously disappears, the Pussycats get discovered by Wyatt (Alan Cumming), the top band producer for Mega Records. Now that’s peculiar because no band ever gets discovered that fast. It appears unrealistic, but too good to pass up.

The Pussycats also consist of manager Alexander (Paulo Costanzo), his sister Alexandra (Missi Pyle), and Josie’s boyfriend Alan M (Gabriel Mann), who is a separate musician. It’s strange that Alexandra comes along. What does she even do for this group, besides obsess over Alan? All Alexandra could say was, “I’m here because I was in the comic book.”

Even with all of the overnight success, Josie has doubts as if it was all too good to be true. It’s soon revealed that Fiona (Parker Posey), the head of Mega Records, is a mastermind behind a criminal brainwashing plot. Subliminal messages are hidden in rock and pop music to control the minds of teenagers to buy things due to fads and trend changes. If the musicians themselves ever become suspicious, it’s easy to cover up, mostly by plane crashes. It all makes perfect sense since many musicians really have died in plane crashes. Maybe not for that particular reason, but still.

Unaware of Fiona’s plan, the Pussycats have problems of their own. No, it’s not with the paparazzi. It’s with the studio making Josie the up front member, instead of the three girls as equals. That ends up testing the band’s friendship. Valerie is the first to notice, mostly because Wyatt keeps forgetting about her. Melody isn’t very bright, but she gets some bad vibes as well.

Soon, Valerie and Melody are summoned to be on TRL, which turns out to be a trap with Carson Daly himself trying to kill them. This was around the time when Carson Daly was engaged to Tara Reid. That’s why he and Melody have such an intimate conversation during the struggle.

After escaping, Valerie and Melody find that Josie has become a diva, which breaks up the band. As it turns out, she was being brainwashed by some other subliminal messages. Josie soon finds out about it, but gets captured along with Melody and Valerie. The three of them all make up and fight their way out. Those Pussycats can really kick butt. Where’d they learn to do that?

This movie totally rocks. The new songs are good for the modern day. I’m just a little surprised that it wasn’t really Rachael Leigh Cook singing, or was it?

On a side note, here’s my philosophy. A band is like a cake. First you have your bottom layers (the drums and bass), then a top layer (the rhythm and lead guitars), and the icing on top (the singer). Now on any cake, the icing is what sticks out the most. However, without the bottom layers all you get is icing by itself, which doesn’t make a very good cake. Every part of the cake is equally important. It’s the same principle with every member of a band. That’s what makes it work.

Mar 092011
 

Welcome back. So far, I have listed some great canines in pop culture. Whatever the breed, they are capable of many great things from comedy to nobility. Now let’s resume my list of favorite dogs with the top ten.

#10) Pluto from Classic Disney cartoons: He is one of Mickey’s main companions and tends to find trouble. Pluto is comedic while dealing with pests like clams, seagulls, and the chipmunks Chip and Dale. Because Pluto has a planet for a name, it became a trend that people believed dogs actually live on the planet Pluto. Would you believe I used to think that the distant planet was a home for celebrity dogs, which you could visit, like a Hollywood tour?

#9) Cooler from Pound Puppies: This noble dog is the leader of the Pound Puppies, who has escaped the pound and was recaptured more times than any other stray dog. According to the original Pound Puppies animated special from 1985, it was mentioned to be a record of 762 escapes. “It’s a nasty habit. I’m trying to quit.” Although Cooler is a smooth talking goofball, he is always dedicated to helping other dogs get adopted.

Special Note: I still have a Cooler doll, which is also a cassette tape player. Its mouth moves as it tells a story. Isn’t that unique?

#8) Big Dog and Little Dog from 2 Stupid Dogs (A Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the 90s): These stray dogs are hilarious, due to the fact that they are, well… stupid. The Little Dog is hyperactive and the Big Dog is more calm and slow witted. These two may be nameless, but they are well known for their fast paced humor and quests for food everywhere they go.

#7) Sprocket from Fraggle Rock: This dog lives with his owner Doc in an old workshop, which the Fraggles call “Outer Space”. Sprocket is the main threat Gobo must face when he picks up his Uncle Matt’s postcards from the wastebasket. However, Sprocket is a good dog. He wouldn’t hurt anyone.

#6) Rush from Mega Man: This robotic dog is Mega Man’s canine companion and transportation. Rush can easily transform into any kind of small vehicle, which only needs battery biscuits for fuel. He can be clumsy at times, but is a devoted sidekick. Rush is the perfect type of dog for anyone who has to travel a lot. Just make sure you travel light.

#5) Rowlf from The Muppet Show: Dog acts have always been popular, but this dog is a very talented performer. Rowlf is a top-notch piano player. He can play in any key and to warm up, he chases cars. Rowlf is also a comedic actor, best known for his reoccurring character Dr. Bob. It’s too bad Rowlf hasn’t played that role in a long time, but his piano playing is always reliable.

#4) Hotdog from The Archie Show: He is Jughead’s dog, who always joins the Archie gang in their misadventures. Hotdog doesn’t speak, but provides hilarious commentary while observing each situation, usually with one-liners. Don’t you just love it?

#3) Brain from Inspector Gadget: Here’s an intelligent dog, who is very helpful, even more than Gadget realizes. Brain is a master of disguise and always keeps Gadget out of trouble under Penny’s direction. He even has a radio in his collar to keep Penny informed. Brain must be very devoted to his owners because he always has to do most of the fieldwork.

#2) Dudley Puppy from T.U.F.F. Puppy: He is one of the newest Nick Toons and one of the most hilarious. Dudley has many features of other dogs combined, which include the fleet feet of a greyhound, the nose of a bloodhound, and the brave heart of a German Shepherd. However, the silliest things easily distract him. For instance, Dudley took out three criminals when his only ambition was to chase down his chew toy. That’s how he first fell into the spy business. Even though Dudley isn’t very bright, he always comes through when the chips are down.

#1) Scooby-Doo from Scooby-Doo: Yes, it’s the comedic mystery solving Great Dane himself. Over the years, Scooby has been on many spooky adventures, but is always scared easily. Like Garfield, he has a huge appetite for people food. Scooby isn’t exactly the brightest member of Mystery Inc., but always manages to get the job done, even if he has to be bribed with Scooby Snax.

In addition to Scooby’s success, he was once a team captain on the Laff-A Lympics. I guess running around at all of those spooky places paid off. That’s all part of what makes Scooby-Doo a long time favorite.

Nov 242010
 

This group of teens from the town of Riverdale have been around for a long time both in the comics and on TV. Their first series The Archie Show: The Complete Series (1968-1969) has popular redhead Archie along with Betty the sweet blonde, Veronica the spoiled but kind brunette, Reggie the practical joker, Jughead the wacky teen who loves hamburgers and wears a purple crown hat, and others having comedic adventures in Riverdale. Even Jughead’s dog Hotdog provides some of his own commentary at times. Too bad no one can really hear him speak.

Each episode also features a new dance, some of which are named after an Archie character, as well as a new song that they perform. This kind of pop music may be before my time, but I still find it entertaining.

The music become so popular, the next year the series went in a different direction with Archie’s Funhouse: Complete Series (1970-1971). The entire Archie gang returns in a variety show with skits, one-liners, and three songs per episode, with Archie as the emcee.

The audience is a real group of children that watches the Archie gang perform their material on stage at a theater. I still think that some of the gags are funny, some more than others. It starts with all sorts of different gags, then when it’s time for the giant jukebox; the one-liners are only limited to music jokes between songs. It’s like Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In at a younger level, which was very well done.

In 1974, the Archies had adventures based on American History in a series called U.S. of Archie (1974-1976). It’s real educational when the issues are related to the present. Who’d have thought that the whole Archie gang had ancestors from so many different time periods?

I first heard about the Archies on the Saturday morning cartoon series The New Archies (1987-1988). The only major differences between this and The Archie Show are that the characters appear younger and they don’t perform any songs.

 

The most recent Archie series that I recall was Archie’s Weird Mysteries (1999-2000). This show was much more adventure mystery than funny, I prefer funny. Archie has always been the leadership figure of the group, but here he’s more inquisitive about searching for supernatural things to write about for the school newspaper, which is good for Buffy fans.

One thing each version of the Archies franchise is known for is the love triangle between Archie, Betty, and Veronica. Archie always thinks it’s his lucky day when he finds both girls wanting to see him, but when is he ever going to choose a steady girlfriend?

The Archies are a great franchise. In fact, I was a teenager when I first saw The Archie Show and Archie’s Funhouse on syndication. Like Power Rangers, I could see this as a possible teen series as well. The only real difference here is that the Archie gang are all cartoon characters, which means they never age. So that makes how many years these teens have been in the 11th grade?