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Nov 262013
 

Now who remembers this old classic? Wake, Rattle and Roll (1990-1992) is about a young man named Sam Baxter (RJ Williams) and his robot DECKS having misadventures in a basement that’s filled with high-tech gadgets that are highly imaginative.

Some of these gadgets include a dumbwaiter that works like a roller coaster shute, a transporter that summons people, and a living library that brings characters from a book to life. The inventor of these contraptions, including DECKS, is Sam’s grandfather Lester Quirk (Avery Schriber). He often travels around the world, but always keeps in contact.

Another major contraption is the Debbie Detector. Debbie (Terri Ivens) is Sam’s older sister and the detector is a transmission device to her bedroom. Debbie is a mean girl, but deep down she does care about her brother. One thing I don’t understand is what Debbie is speaking into on the other end of the transmission because we never see her bedroom.

The main person who joins Sam and DECKS on their misadventures is Sam’s good friend KC (Ebonie Smith), who is very helpful on occasion.

Each episode has two cartoons DECKS shows on his TV in his chest. The first is Fender Bender 500, which is an “updated” take on Wacky Races. Classic Hanna Barbera characters have races all over the world in creatively designed trucks that require two riders.

They include Yogi and Boo-Boo in the Jellystone Jammer (#1) and Huckleberry Hound and Snagglepuss in the Half Dog Half Cat Half-Track (#2). Man that’s a mouthful.

There’s also Magilla Gorilla and Wally Gator in the Swamp Stomper (#3) and Top Cat and Choo-Choo in the Alley Cat (#4). On a personal note, this cartoon is how I first learned about Top Cat.

Here are some more likely team-ups. Quickdraw McGraw and Baba Looey in the Texas Twister (#5), Pixie and Dixie in the Cheddar Shredder (#6), Auggie Doggie and Doggie Daddy in the Lucky Trucky (#7), and Winsome Witch and Lucky the cat in the Sonic Broom (#13).

Then there’s the cheating Dick Dastardly and Muttley in the Dirty Truckster (#00). It’s no surprise since they always used to cheat in Wacky Races. You just never know who is gonna win.

The second cartoon is Monster Tails. In a castle that’s always raining and snowing outside, resides animal versions of the classic horror monsters having misadventures with their human guardian Igor Jr. There’s Frankenmutt, Catula, Mumfrey, and Dr. Veenie who becomes Mr. Snyde whenever he sneezes. I think these names speak for themselves. The only exception is Elsa. She’s resembles the Bride of Frankenstein, but also has a bit of talking parrot in her.

This was a good show that was very well made. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t last and it would be nice to find it on DVD as well.

Mar 092012
 

Hanna Barbera Productions has produced many different cartoon shows over the years. Laff-A-Lympics (1977-1978) provides an opportunity to bring these various characters together in a weekly sport competition with creatively unorthodox events, while traveling around the world.

Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf from The Catanooga Cats Show are the commentators.

The athletes are split into three teams. Team #1 is the Yogi Yahooeys with Yogi Bear as captain. They are all animal characters from The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Yogi Bear Show, and Quick Draw McGraw, along with Grape Ape.

Team #2 is the Scooby Doobies with Scooby Doo as captain. This group is all mystery solver characters from The Scooby Doo Show, Dynomutt the Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and Speed Buggy, along with Hong Kong Phooey and Babu from Jeannie.

And team #3 is the Really Rottens. Other than team captain Mumbly, who has a striking resemblance to Muttley, these characters are all brand new to the Hanna Barbera franchise. Some of which are highly similar, like the Creepleys who are much like the Gruesomes from The Flintstones and Dread Baron who resembles Dick Dastardly.

On occasion, other characters make guest appearances. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble come by to demonstrate an event and Jabberjaw makes appearances as a guest referee, particularly for the water events. Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.

As the three teams compete for the Laff-A-Lympics gold medal, the Rottens always look for ways to cheat while the Yogis and Scoobys work hard to earn the prize fairly. Sometimes the Rottens lose points for cheating, but only when they get caught. I’m surprised that it doesn’t happen often.

I don’t know how they select which athletes to do which events, but the creativity he or she provides makes them exciting to watch. It’s kind of like picturing these characters as video game heroes.

The scoring system is always the same, 25 points for first place, 15 points for second, and 10 points for third. On rare occasions, there’s a 50-point bonus included for the really difficult events. Unfortunately, none of the teams have ever won it. It can be overwhelming if you think about it.

Each episode features six events, three in one country and three in another. Yet there’s no mention of the transportation used to get to these places so efficiently. It makes me wonder what these athletes do to party while they travel.

I enjoyed this series for its mixture of characters and exciting competition. Even though the Rottens never learn about cheating, it’s good to know that the Yogis and Scoobys are good sports toward one another.

May 132011
 

Not too long ago, my sister and I went to the Kennedy Space Center for the first time and it had some real interesting exhibits throughout. Obviously, real space travel is nothing like how it’s featured in pop culture. However, it did make me think of some pop culture references that made space travel appear more exciting and adventurous. Of course if your spacecraft was like the Winnebago on Spaceballs, it’s the only way to fly. Anyway, here are my top five favorite space traveling references from whatever the source.

#5) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope: One of the most exciting scenes is when Luke Skywalker and the rebel forces fly to the Death Star for a full-scale assault followed by the classic trench run. The Star Tours ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios used to feature the same trench run along with a crystal meteor shower. I look forward to the new Star Tours ride that’s coming real soon.

 #4) The Adventures of Mark Twain: Even though the vehicle that’s featured is an airship and not a rocket ship, the climax had an exciting chase into space to catch up to Halley’s comet. Before reaching it, Mark Twain and the crew must dodge meteors and head into the comet’s channel. It goes to show that comets are so much bigger up close.

#3) Raiden Trad (SNES): In this video game, you fly an aircraft on Earth to fight an enemy from another world. All that’s featured is enemy vehicles to blast. Then in the later levels, the aircraft goes into outer space, where you blast more enemy vehicles and astroids everywhere. It surprised me at first, but remained exciting as before.

#2) Gradius 3 (SNES): Here’s another classic video game about flying through space and blasting various enemies. What really stands out is the soundtrack, which makes it more adventurous. Here’s a clip I found on YouTube to provide an example.

#1) The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera Ride: Back when this classic ride was at Universal Studios theme park, there was an exciting story behind it that makes it one of my most favorites. We all ride a spaceship with Yogi Bear as the pilot and Boo-Boo as co-pilot, chasing down Dick Dastardly and Muttley through the world of Hanna Barbera to rescue Elroy Jetson from their clutches. To keep it simple though, the ride only goes through the top three franchises, The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, and The Jetsons. Although Jimmy Neutron has replaced the ride, it still keeps the exciting space chase in check.

Mar 072011
 

Dogs are well known as man’s best friend. To some heroes, they also make great sidekicks. On the other hand, there are even dogs that make great heroes themselves, unlikely or not. There were so many good ones, it was difficult to narrow down. Here they are, my top 20 favorite canines in pop culture. I guess you could call them top dogs.

#20) Astro from The Jetsons: When Elroy found this dog he was labeled as a puppy, even though he is the same size as George when standing upright. Astro can also speak English, sort of. He’s very close with Elroy and loves to slurp George. “Now cut that out!”

#19) Max from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 version): This is the Grinch’s companion, actually his only companion. As loyal as Max is to the Grinch, he’s not exactly a sinister sidekick. Max only does what he’s told out of fear. Why else would the Grinch make Max a reindeer? Poor little fella.

#18) Rude Dog from Rude Dog and the Dweebs: I can remember back when this character was part of a popular line of T-shirts. Then he had his own cartoon series about living with seven other dogs, who are a bunch of dweebs. Rude Dog tries to teach them how to be better dogs. In addition to his wisecracks, Rude Dog is a good leader to guide the dweebs in the right direction. It’s not easy, but somebody’s got to do it.

#17) Mr. Peabody from The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show: Now here’s an intelligent canine. He can think his way out of any situation with his boy Sherman. It’s unknown how Peabody became such a brilliant dog, but he is one of a kind, leaving his mark through history.

#16) Santa’s Little Helper from The Simpsons: This greyhound with a long name used to run in the dog track, but was booted out for always coming in last place. Now he’s the Simpson family dog. He’s well loved, but highly unintelligent. Santa’s Little Helper fits in perfectly.

#15) Ren from Ren and Stimpy: He is the straight half of this duo. Ren constantly has to put up with Stimpy’s antics, which drives him up the wall. However, when Ren sees an opportunity to get rich based on what comes from Stimpy, like hairballs being more valuable than gold, he always jumps at the chance. Don’t get me wrong though. Ren can be as gross as Stimpy sometimes, but at least he’s more sensible.

#14) Muttley from Dastardly and Muttley: He is the loyal companion of Dick Dastardly, but tends to be a bungler. However, Muttley has the ability to fly by using his tail like a mini helicopter. It’s very helpful when Dastardly falls out of his plane time and time again while chasing that darn carrier pigeon. Muttley always expects medals for his heroic deeds, even before actually earning them. He’s also comedic with that wheezing laugh he’s best known for, which is still classic.

#13) Ravage from Transformers (80s version): This Decepticon is a robotic attack dog, who can transform into one of Soundwave’s cassette tapes. Ravage is fearsome with his sharp claws and teeth, but is more dangerous than any other attack dog because of the missiles in his arsenal. This brings “Beware of Dog” to a whole new level.

#12) Snoopy from Peanuts: We all remember this classic beagle. Unlike other dogs, Snoopy likes to lay on top of his doghouse flat on his back. He’s also imaginative and likes to party. Of course, Snoopy’s antics can drive Charlie Brown crazy. However, he’s hilarious when he kisses Lucy. She hates dog germs… a lot.

#11) Odie from Garfield and Friends: Jon Arbuckle doesn’t just own a cat, he owns a dog too. Odie is a good pal to Garfield, despite how Garfield treats him sometimes. Odie isn’t bright and doesn’t speak like the other dogs and cats, but is very enthusiastic. I wonder, if Odie could talk, what would he sound like?

I’ll have to stop here for now, but there are still more dog stars to come. Check my blog in Part 2, where I’ll be talking about my top ten.