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May 252016
 

Welcome back. Some of the other books on tape based on TV shows of the 80s only had a single story. For instance, here’s one about The Popples in The Magic Shoe. In case you were wondering, this version from the 80s is much different from the new series on Netflix.

Another good one is about Pound Puppies in Pet Project. Yes, it’s another series that has a current version that’s nothing like the original.

Here’s an interesting item. A character called Barney the Book Bear hosted this story. I had no idea who that was until I saw his picture right inside the back cover.

Now that we’ve made it through the storybooks, it’s time to go over the songbooks. That’s right. Some music albums had books to follow along with lyrics and cool pictures to go with it.

First we have Fraggle Rock Sing Along Book, Volume 1. Basically it only contains a few songs from the series. I don’t know if there were other volumes since this is a very unique one.

However, there were other Fraggle Rock albums like the 3 CD set Fraggle Rock: The Fraggle Rockin’ Collection. But looking at the old book with these cool pictures sure brings me back.

The only other classic music book on tape I have is Sing Along Favorites performed by Bob McGrath. We all know him as Bob from Sesame Street, but this is not a Sesame Street album. It contains basic kids songs like If You’re Happy and You Know it, When the Saints Go Marching in, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, The Hokey Pokey, etc.

This album was made in 1986, but I’ve heard that Bob McGrath has a new album, which contains most of these same songs with some new ones and is available on CD. Whether you listen to this one or the other that nostalgic feeling is still the same.

Finding these books on tape again brings back some great memories despite that most of this material is not likely to make it to CD. It just goes to show how big those 80s cartoons were.

Apr 022013
 

Shortly after Fraggle Rock ended, the franchise continued with a Saturday morning cartoon series called Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series (1987-1988). The adventures of Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Red, and Boober continue, but this show does not continue where the original series left off.

One major difference is that there is no story line with Doc and Sprocket that’s separate. They are featured, but only when Gobo goes to “Outer Space” or when the Pipe Bangers summon water to refill the pond. Also, Doc never shows his face. I never understood that.

The Fraggles continue to break into song on occasion, but this time it’s songs that have been featured on the original series already. It’s nice to know that the Fraggles reuse old classic songs for once.

What really makes this version stand out is the excitement the Fraggles have on their adventures, especially when going up against the Gorgs. It’s so much more thrilling.

Fraggles love their radishes, but this series reveals that they hate banooni berries. It’s hilarious when the Fraggles show how much they hate them. If you so much as mention banooni berries to a Fraggle, their faces turn blue, then they gag and go crazy.

Sometimes during a scene, a Fraggle that’s a walk-on character quickly collects worms that are in the area and none of the other Fraggles notice. What’s the whole purpose of having that thrown in?

I would also like to show that I have some early Fraggle Rock dolls and action figures, which came later on. Does anyone remember these?

This series is definitely a classic. I heard that a Fraggle Rock movie is coming soon. It would be interesting to see how that will turn out.

May 112011
 

Here was a series I remember enjoying as much as The Muppet Show known as Fraggle Rock (1982-1986). The Fraggles are a peaceful race of small creatures much like the Smurfs, who live in underground caves. The main ones are Gobo the explorer, Red the arrogant swimmer, Mokey the artistic poet, Wembley the nervous indecisive Fraggle, and Boober who enjoys doing laundry and only sees the down side to everything.

The series focuses on several different worlds at once. The underground caves where the Fraggles live, the Gorg family’s farm, and the human world that’s known to the Fraggles as “Outer Space”, which is actually the workshop of Doc (Gerry Parks) the inventor and his dog Sprocket.

They’re all separate, but connected. For example, the Fraggles’ main swimming hole is where the Gorgs get their water. To refill that hole, Doc has to turn on the water boiler, but he only does that to stop the clanking the Pipe Bangers are doing. None of the worlds know about the other two. That’s why the Pipe Bangers are like wizards to the other Fraggles. It sounds strange, but whatever works, eh?

One of main things I remember most about the Fraggles is their appetite for radishes. They sneak into the Gorgs’ garden to get them and the Doozers, who are an even smaller race of beings that live seperately from the Fraggles, make their constructions out of crystallized ground radish. So if any radishes are missing from your garden, or from your refrigerator, it’s possible that those Fraggles could have been sneaking them. You never know.

The Fraggles also enjoy sweet water, which is some kind of pink liquid found in the caves. It could be expired cranberry juice for all I know.

It’s amazing how the Fraggles, Doozers, and Gorgs can break into song so easily. There are at least two new songs per episode. I don’t know how they come up with all those lyrics so fast. They must know Wayne Brady.

One of my most favorite characters is Wembley. He may be indecisive, but he’s very likable. Red is another favorite. She’s a pretty fraggle, despite her arrogance. And what I used to wonder about Boober was about his eyes. We never see them because his hair always covers them. So how does Boober see? Probably the same way Kermit can hear without ears, is my best guess.

Other interesting characters include Cantus and the minstrels who come and visit the Rock on magical occasions, the Trash Heap who is always open to give advice along with her assistants Philo and Gunge, and Convincing John with his trio of singing showgirls.

There are also a bunch of other creatures in the underground caves that make the show more of a fantasy adventure series. Gobo’s Uncle Matt sends postcards about his adventures in “Outer Space”. Red never likes to hear them, but they do help the Fraggles with difficult situations. The adventures come from many different angles, even if it doesn’t always appear so.

Overall, Fraggle Rock is a real classic. Only one question remains. When is Doc ever gonna patch up that hole? It’s not exactly hard to notice. Sprocket will tell ya.

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.

Dec 232009
 

Merry Christmas, everyone. Guess what today is. That’s right. It’s Christmas Eve’s Eve. I know it’s not a common term, but we all look forward to the night of the 24th. So why not the 23rd too. It’s also a good time to tie up all of the loose ends that you can so you can enjoy the Christmas holiday, stress free. Here are the top 12 Christmas specials that I enjoy while preparing for it.

#12) A Garfield Christmas Special: After Garfield has a blissful Christmas dream, Jon takes him and Odie to his parents’ farm for the holidays. Garfield is against it at first, but he warms up to Jon’s grandmother very well as the whole family prepares for Christmas. Even Odie gets creative when he secretly builds a gift for Garfield out of a small block of wood, a plunger handle, a fork, and some string. Perfect for a cat, next to gift bows.

#11) The Simpsons Christmas Special (1989): In the pilot episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, Bart gets a tattoo, which causes money problems for the holidays. Homer works at the mall as a Santa Claus than looks for a Christmas miracle… at the dog track. There were several other Christmas episodes, but they weren’t nearly as good as this one. It’s a good Christmas special for those who enjoy classic Simpsons, but personally I much prefer the Halloween specials. They’re so much more creative when spoofing other horror films.

Miser Brothers

#10) The Year Without a Santa Claus: In this special, Santa is ill and won’t be able to take his yearly sleigh ride. And what’s worse, he’s left under the impression that no one believes in Santa Claus anymore. Mrs. Claus sets out to prove him wrong by sending two elves, Jingle and Jangle Bells, to look for Christmas spirit. Only to wind up in South Town where it never snows. Of course the real icons on this special are the Miser Brothers. Snow Miser has the power to freeze the world and Heat Miser has the power to heat everything up. Who’d have thought that their mother was none other than Mother Nature herself? How creative. The Miser Brothers also have catchy songs about them. “They’re too much.”

 
 
 

 #9) Santa Claus is Coming to Town: This is a great story about how Santa Claus grew up and became the jolly old icon we all know and love. Santa was a baby who was adopted by a family of toy making elves called the Kringles. They named him Kris. While trying to give toys to the children in Somber Town, where toys are declared illegal and dangerous, Kris has to be sneaky to get them to the children. He goes down chimneys at night while leaping from rooftop to rooftop, like a ninja. Then puts the toys in stockings and changes his name to Santa Claus. Santa’s kindness spreads quickly. He even manages to change the wicked Winter Warlock by giving him a toy. Winter becomes a helpful ally by showing Santa how to check on the children in order to see if they were naughty or nice. As well as making the reindeer fly with magic feed corn. The orders piled up too fast, so the deliveries had to be limited to once a year. Christmas couldn’t have been a better choice.

#8) He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special: Those of us who have grown up on these 80s icons would surely remember this one. At the royal palace on Eternia, The Eternians and Etherians prepare for Adam and Adora’s birthday, which happens to be around Christmas. However, no one has ever heard of Christmas before. That all changes when Orko accidentally ends up on Earth and rescues two lost children from an avalanche. Soon they all return to Eternia. After the children explain about Christmas, King Randor and Queen Marlena decide to combine both celebrations at the palace. How wonderful is that. Even Skeletor gets into the Christmas spirit as Hordak tries to attack the children. It’s totally against his principles. Thank goodness Christmas only comes once a year.

#7) South Park: Mr. Hanky’s Christmas: South Park had several Christmas episodes, but this is my most favorite because it was only Christmas carols performed by the South Park characters and hosted by Mr. Hanky. ‘Tis the season for creativity. “Isn’t that swell?” Who’d have thought that Santa listens to Duran Duran. I must admit. The idea of a living piece of poop is disturbing, but Mr. Hanky sure is a festive little guy.

Olive the Other Reindeer

#6) Olive the Other Reindeer: The Simpsons creator Matt Groening teams up with Drew Barrymore to produce this unique animated special based on the children’s book. I say unique because the animation style is similar to Paper Mario. Olive (voice of Drew Barrymore) is not like other dogs. After hearing that Santa is short one reindeer and can’t make his flight, Olive feels that she is a reindeer and heads to the North Pole. At least she has Christmas spirit. A Postman tries to stop Olive so he can avoid the extra loads of mail. His efforts are hilarious when Martini the penguin (voice of Joe Pantoliano) defeats him with pens, paper airplanes, and a Jack in the box. What a wuss. It’s a cute musical adventure. I’ll tell ya. Drew Barrymore has a great singing voice.

#5) A Muppet Family Christmas (1987): The Muppets spend Christmas with Fozzie’s mother at her farmhouse. Only to find Doc and Sprocket (Fraggle Rock) there also. Doc (Gerry Parks) is angry at first, but he soon warms up to the Muppets and their craziness. Eventually the Muppet characters from Sesame Street arrive to join in the Christmas fun. They do all kinds of great acts together. Acts like; the Electric Mayhem singing “Jingle Bell Rock”, a home movie of the Muppet Babies at Christmas, Ernie, Bert, and the Sesame Street monsters perform “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Even Fozzie does a comedy routine with a Snowman. Only to get heckled once again by Statler and Waldorf, who are good friends with Fozzie’s mother. The only problem is if there’s enough room for everyone. The farmhouse isn’t exactly the “Holiday Inn”. Soon a blizzard approaches the area. Although it’s safe inside the farmhouse, Miss Piggy still hasn’t arrived yet and Kermit really gets worried about her. Meanwhile, the Swedish Chef wants to cook Big Bird for Christmas dinner, but has a change of heart when they become friends. Kermit and Robin also find a Fraggle hole in the cellar and meet the Fraggles. Christmas is what truly brings people together. In this case, several groups of Muppets. Isn’t it great?

#4) Mickey’s Christmas Carol: There have been many versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This was the very first version that I’ve seen, which made me familiar with the story. Various Disney characters play the different roles. Scrooge McDuck plays Ebenezer Scrooge. I’m pretty sure that this special was where he got his start before starring in his own series Ducktales. Other Disney characters include; Mickey Mouse as Bob Crotchet, Donald Duck as nephew Fred, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Daisy Duck as Isabelle, and Goofy as Jacob Marley (That’s a twist). Even characters from Mr. Toad and Robin Hood are a part of it. I still find this version of A Christmas Carol a favorite, as well as the shortest and simplest. Which made it more of a favorite when I was a kid.

#3) The Christmas Toy: This Jim Henson classic is much like Toy Story. When no one is looking, all of the toys in the playroom come to life. Including Mew, a cat toy. It’s Christmas Eve and Rugby the tiger remembers being the top toy last year. So he sets out to the living room to relive his glory days. Not a smart idea because if a toy is caught out of position, it becomes frozen forever. In other words, the toy dies. Even if it’s caught by the cat. What Christmas means in the playroom is that new toys will arrive as part of the “community”. Some toys feel that the new arrivals are replacements. As far as I can tell, the only way an old toy is replaced is when they’re put in a yard sale or donation. They should be grateful if they’re still kept. It was really creative how the hallway and living room appear spooky and dangerous from a toy’s perspective. When Apple the doll organizes a rescue mission to save the stubborn Rugby, it becomes an adventure of a lifetime. I wonder if this was the actual inspiration behind Toy Story.

#2) Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas: This other Jim Henson classic, based on the children’s book, is along the lines of “Gift of the Magi”. Emmett Otter and his Ma have money problems and try to get each other a Christmas present. Opportunity knocks when a talent contest comes along and first prize is $50. Emmett joins a jug band and made a washtub bass out of his mother’s washtub. Ma Otter also enters, but sells the tool chest to buy something to wear for her number. The talent contest was a neat setup, much like the various performers on The Muppet Show. The competition doesn’t seem too intense, except for the River Bottom group as a rock band. Let’s face it. In many talent shows the rock band always comes out on top. Now “Battle of the Bands”, that’s another story.

#1) It’s a Wonderful Red Green Christmas: ‘Tis the season for creativity and this special has lots of it, much like the series. In fact, this actually inspired me to use red and green duct tape to wrap Christmas presents. It’s especially helpful when you only have a little bit of one roll of wrapping paper that isn’t big enough to wrap the whole gift. With the right amount of duct tape, it will fit perfectly with other wrapping paper. That was my own idea.

Duct Tape Present

Like The Red Green Show uses old appliances, there are at least a couple of segments that feature an old version of Christmas lights. Remember the ones where if one bulb goes out, they all go out? A real pain in the butt. Red (Steve Smith) even has an interesting philosophy about Santa. He’s just an average guy who is much like the other lodge members. So of course he exists. One of my most favorite segments is the “Handyman Corner” sketch on how to prepare a Christmas feast with your car while it’s running. Not very sanitary, but hilarious.

There you have it. Christmas cheer by the ton. Happy holidays.