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Mar 222017
 

Hanna-Barbera is best known for its animated shows with the occasional live action series. It turns out that there was an old series that combined both called The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968-1969). It’s about Tom Sawyer (Kevin Schultz), Huckleberry Finn (Michael Shea), and Becky Thatcher (LuAnn Haslam) ending up in an animated world while on the run from their nemesis Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy) in a mysterious cave. Their goal is to get back home to their hometown Hannibal, Missouri.

When I first saw this show on the Boomerang channel a while back, I was fascinated that it had live actors in an animated world like in such movies as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cool World, and Space Jam. I always liked that concept.

Another interesting point is about Injun Joe. The three young heroes always end up someplace different and the animated antagonist always has a very striking resemblance to Injun Joe, right down to the chain and handcuff on his right wrist. Ted Cassidy voices each villain. As much as I liked his role of Lurch from The Addams Family, it’s good to see him doing a different range of characters too. Despite that the live action version of Injun Joe is only in the intro of every episode.

In addition to that, after the villain is defeated (sometimes ending in death) Injun Joe easily comes back as someone else. This leads to number of theories, from the whole series being one long dream to Injun Joe having some kind of supernatural power we know nothing about. Whatever the reason, it makes for an interesting episode formula.

The only other show I know of that used that tactic was Back to the Future the animated series (1991-1993). Whenever the protagonists travel back to any time period, they always run into an ancestor of Biff Tannen, who always calls Marty McFly a butthead at least once. I always found that interesting.

Back to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I also would like to point out that even though Tom, Becky, and Huck are the only non-animated characters, there are times when they are animated at a distance. Particularly when a stunt double is required. It’s so clever how that works.

This was certainly a great series overall, especially with its unique method of real actors in animated worlds. What could’ve made this DVD set better was if there had been a special feature about how the series was put together. Unfortunately, there are none.

Jun 172016
 

Alan Oppenheimer

Here’s something special for my 800th post. The other voice actor I met at MegaCon 2016 was Alan Oppenheimer. It’s always an honor to meet a voice actor, who voiced characters on shows from my childhood and he has voiced many. When I mentioned that to Alan Oppenheimer, he thought that I didn’t look old enough. It was still an honor just the same.

Most of these classic shows were from the 80s and Alan Oppenheimer had voiced at least several characters from each one. Since it would take a long time to go over each character individually, I’ll try to be more discrete.

Let’s start with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, one of the first animated shows I ever saw. He voiced Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Mer-Man, Buzz-Off, Cringer, and Battle Cat.

That’s really quite impressive since each character sounded very different from one another.

Prime EvilFangsterLong John ScarechromeAirhead

Shortly after He-Man ended, Alan Oppenheimer voiced several villains on Ghostbusters (1986 version). They included Fangster the werewolf, Long John Scarechrome the pirate ghost, Airhead the mummy, and main arch villain Prime Evil. It wasn’t until I got the DVD sets when I noticed the voice similarities between these characters and the ones from He-Man.

The same goes with his characters from Bravestarr, which included Handlebar the bartender, Scuzz the Prairie henchman, and the evil bull demon Stampede.

You might find this interesting. Alan Oppenheimer also voiced characters from The Neverending Story. One of them was the Rock Biter. He was my favorite.

The others were Falkor the lucky dragon and Gmork the wolf.

Would you believe that he also voiced Vanity Smurf from The Smurfs animated series as well as Count Dracula from Drak Pack.

As great as his voice acting was, Alan Oppenheimer had some live action roles too. However, they were mostly guest appearances in one episode of a TV series. The one I remember best was on Get Smart as Agent 498 in the season 2 episode The Man from YENTA.

Meeting a voice actor behind the cartoons you enjoyed at a younger age is always a pleasure. Any other old favorites you’d like to add?

Mar 162016
 

Many of us remember Yogi Bear as one of Hanna-Barbera’s biggest icons. The smarter than the average bear had a series called The Yogi Bear Show – The Complete Series (1961-1962) about his misadventures in Jellystone Park stealing picnic baskets and driving Ranger Smith crazy. Yogi and his little pal Boo-Boo had also been involved in other animated shows in the 70s and 80s, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The focus right now is on Yogi’s first movie, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!. It’s the first day of spring and Boo-Boo is very excited. Apparently, Yogi’s only interest is snatching food from tourists by going back to his old tricks again. It’s so typical of Yogi.

However, Ranger Smith manages to outwit Yogi a lot easier than before and enforces “Do Not Feed the Bears” signs all over the park. That drives Yogi to live like a hermit, even though he was believed to have been sent away to the San Diego Zoo.

Reoccurring character on The Yogi Bear Show, Cindy Bear, is more prominent in this movie. She truly loves Yogi. At first Yogi is against the idea of having a relationship, but eventually he realizes that he does love Cindy after all. That’s when Yogi finally decides to think with his heart instead of his stomach for a change.

Things really get mixed up when Cindy hears about Yogi going to San Diego and gets herself sent away to be with him, not realizing that she’s going to the St. Louis Zoo. While on the train, Cindy meets a group of other bears that sing and dance while playing around with the other luggage. To me, that’s one of the most memorable scenes with the fun singing and how heartbroken Cindy gets when she discovers where she’s really going.

On the way, Cindy ends up lost and captured by greedy traveling circus owners. What really stands out here is their dog Mugger. He has a very striking resemblance to Muttley, wheezing laugh and all. Now this was back in 1964, several years before Muttley became an official Hanna-Barbera icon.

Once Yogi finds out that Cindy is missing, he and Boo-Boo head out to find her. Even after they do, the three bears are still lost and end up in quite a few different places with all sorts of humans seeing them as threats, even though they’re actually nice bears that would never hurt anyone.

This was a good movie with it’s brand of kid friendly humor and catchy musical numbers, with the exception of that slow song Ven-e, Ven-o, Ven-a. When I first saw this film years ago I thought it was just another episode of The Yogi Bear Show only longer, since the animation style is no different. Looking back now, I can see the difference, which makes it much more memorable.

Oct 142015
 

Over the years, classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Wolfman have been featured as horrifying creatures and as party animals. But who would think of them as superheroes? Well, it has happened in the animated series, Drak Pack: Complete Series (1980-1982).

The Drak Pack is a trio of teenage descendents of the classic monsters, Drak Jr., Frankie, and Howler. To atone for their ancestors’ wrongdoings, they devote their lives to fighting crime. The Drak Pack’s identities are kept a secret, but what’s the point of that? They go by the same names in both human and monster form, their enemies already know who they are, and they always drive the same vehicle, the Drakster, even while in human form.

Drak Jr. is the team leader. He can shape-shift into a variety of forms as well as a bat or mist and can walk up walls. Amazingly, Drak is unaffected by sunlight. Frankie has enormous strength, even more so when he gets mad. Sometimes he needs to be provoked when that level of strength is needed. Howler’s main power is his super breath. That’s definitely a useful skill to have in battle.

Dr. Dred

The Drak Pack’s arch nemesis is Dr. Dred, a criminal genius that uses cliched evil plots to become rich and powerful. Sometimes Dr. Dred summons Drak to a secret meeting to explain his evil plot and it always ends with Drak getting caught in a trap. Of course, Drak manages to escape every time.

Evil Henchmen

Dr. Dred’s henchmen include the overly loyal Toad, the sneaky humanoid Fly, the massive mumbling mummyman that has unlimited bandages, and Vampira a female vampire with the same shape-shifting abilities as Drak. Together the evil group is called ORGE, which stands for the Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises. That’s an interesting acronym.

OGRE has an island headquarters called Dredquarters and an airship called the Dredgible. Both often end up destroyed when an evil plot backfires, but somehow is fully restored by the next episode.

When the Drak Pack needs counsel, they turn to Drak’s great uncle Count Dracula himself, who is nicknamed Big D. He is helpful sometimes, but often complains and tends to unknowingly slam the lid of his coffin on his hand. I’m just glad that Dracula is on the side of good.

I really enjoyed this series. I’m surprised that I didn’t know about it before since many of my favorite cartoons from the 80s were from Hanna Barbera. I would’ve enjoyed it just the same back then. Though I should point out that if you’re expecting this show to be a horror theme series, you might be disappointed. Scooby-Doo used more horror elements than this.

Sep 022015
 

I’m sure many of you have seen the Hagar the Horrible comic strip in the Sunday morning newspaper each week, but did you know that there was a TV special based on it? I can remember back in 1989 when Hagar the Horrible premiered on primetime, but it only aired once. Luckily, it was part of a DVD set called Cartoon Mega Pack – Advantage Collection.

As the story goes, Hagar makes his living by traveling to different places and plundering them, the same as any Viking. While he heads back to his home, Hagar imagines his wife Helga greeting him at the door with open arms, his son Hamlet as a top student at the Viking Academy, and his daughter Honey engaged to a great Viking. Unfortunately, when Hagar does get home nothing is what he expects, especially with the children.

First off, Honey is engaged, but not to a Viking. It’s to a young man named Lute, who is a minstrel and a gentleman. Personally, I think Honey has good taste.

As for Hamlet, he flunked out of the Viking Academy and has an interest in reading and writing.

Of course not everyone can pass the Viking Academy. Hagar’s friend Lucky Eddie flunked out too, but does meet Viking standards despite being an unintelligent klutz.

Since true Vikings are supposed to be illiterate barbarians with bad manners, Hagar won’t stand for it. So he tries to set his kids straight, but even that takes an unexpected turn.

This was a great TV special for its level of hilarity and toned down in comparison to other features about Vikings. Although Hagar the Horrible is still a popular comic strip today, it’s too bad that it never returned to television or had a movie. That would’ve been swell.