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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.

Jun 172015
 

Even though many of the old Hanna Barbera cartoons were before my time, I still remember watching them when I was a kid. It was also highly nostalgic back when the Boomerang channel used to have them all the time. I miss that.

Hanna Barbera Record (Reverse Side)

Anyway, it wasn’t until fairly recently when I discovered that there used to be a series of record albums about the various Hanna Barbera characters from the 1960s like The Flintstones, Snooper and Blabber, Top Cat, The Jetsons, and others. Each contained a couple of songs and a full story like a radio show, performed by the original voice actors from the cartoons.

I first found out when I found the album Monster Shindig at a thrift store. It was a real interesting album with a story about Snooper and Blabber visiting a haunted house where the Gruesomes are having a party with Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Wolfman. It was put together so well that I could easily picture it on TV. The only thing that disappointed me was that the record was all scratched up.

Unfortunately, none of these albums are available on CD. On the bright side, this reminds me of the 3 CD set called Cartoon Classics and Wacky Sounds by Hanna Barbera, which was released in 2001.

Disk 1 contained the theme songs of Hanna Barbera Classics. They include Magilla Gorilla, Peter Potamus, The Flintstones, Johnny Quest, Scooby-Doo, and other shows from the 60s and 70s.

Disk 2 had Terrific Toon Tunes. This included main titles, sub-main titles, and end titles from Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw, The Jetsons, and quite a few others. This even includes the original album version of Meet the Flintstones, which I never knew about before getting this CD set.

Disk 3, which was about Hanna Barbera Wacky Sounds, has the most tracks because most of them are just single sound effects. This disk also has some newer comedy skits that feature Fred Flintstone, Quickdraw, Snagglepuss, Hokey Wolf, Peter Potamus, Wally Gator, and Snooper and Blabber. There’s no mention of who does the voices since the original voice actors from the old shows (Alan Reed and Daws Butler) had passed on.

There you have it. Not only are these classic Hanna Barbera characters nostalgic on TV and DVD, but in music form too. Are there any classic albums you might remember?

May 062015
 

Down under the sea lives a race of small intelligent beings. No, I’m not talking about merpeople or the various creatures on Spongebob Squarepants. I’m referring to The Snorks (1984-1989). These colorful beings live in the undersea world of Snorkland and have snorkels attached to their heads that are used to swim swiftly. The snorkels double as their noses, which explains why the Snorks have no noses on their faces.

The main Snorks the series focuses on are the athletic Allstar, the artistic Casey, the comedic Dimmy, the beauty queen Daffney, the quirky Tooter, and Occy the dog-like Octopus. Together these teenage Snorks have misadventures as they lead normal lives.

Tooter was my most favorite. He’s the only Snork that’s verbally challenged, but his friends can understand him very well. I’m not sure how that is though.

Whenever there’s a big adventure to go on, the group seeks assistance from Allstar’s uncle Galeo, the wise inventor. His contraptions often help them succeed, especially when the group must leave Snorkland. That’s labeled as “Beyond the Limits”, where Snorks are forbidden to go. Of course, doing the right thing is more important.

The most common antagonist of the series is Junior Wetworth. He always tries to outdo Allstar and his friends in everything for personal glory, even if it means getting them in trouble. Junior’s snobbish attitude mainly comes from the fact that his father is the governor of Snorkland. You’d think that Governor Wetworth would not approve of Junior’s schemes, but he’s always all for it, until the scheme fails.

In later seasons, new reoccurring villains join in the series. The first is Dr. Strangesnork. He’s a mad scientist intent of taking over Snorkland. Dr. Strangesnork is an interesting villain, but it’s so annoying when he can’t remember his own name.

Big Weed and Little Seaweed

Next is Bigweed and his sidekick Little Seaweed, a duo of seaweed creatures with magical abilities. They often scheme to enslave the Snorks and take over their homeland. It’s unclear where they came from.

Then there are the most dangerous of enemies, the Snork Eaters. I believe the name speaks for itself, which definitely makes them frightening. The only thing that can scare a Snork Eater is a Snork Eater Eater. This certainly brings the food chain on a simple level.

This is a classic series. One thing I find unusual is that even though the Snorks are underwater creatures, they can breathe just as easily out of the water. Isn’t that strange?

Snorks

One last item: Here are some old Snorks figurines I had for a long time.

Mar 182015
 

Of all the superheroes Hanna-Barbera featured, who could forget one of the true classics, Captain Caveman (Cavey for short). His amazing abilities include super strength and hidden objects that he keeps in his fur, which include live dinosaurs big and small. I always found that strange. Where does he keep those?

Cavey also has flying ability that comes from his club, but it’s very limited. At least he can easily activate it with his battle cry, “Captain CAAAAVEMAAAANNN”.

Cavey started out in Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977-1980), which is one of many mystery solving spooky adventure cartoons that came from the success of the Scooby-Doo franchise. However, this one always stood out to me because of Cavey’s lovely companions.

The teen angels are a trio of mystery solvers. They are Deedee the inquisitive leader, Taffy the brilliant excitable beauty, and Brenda the coward. Although she doesn’t run and hide like Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, she tends to dwell on the scary situations.

I’d also like to point out that the teen angels make mystery solving look easy. All it takes is finding a few clues and they already know who did the crime, or who the monster behind the mask is. Then when the crook tries to run off, it leads to an exciting chase as Cavey goes after him.

Cavey and the teen angels were also part of the Scooby Doobies team on Laff-a-Lympics (1977-1978). They have always been the characters I most looked forward to see compete. However, there are episodes when Cavey doesn’t talk. He just grumbles and growls like a caveman. I find that confusing sometimes because he talks just fine on his own show.

In later years, Captain Caveman became part of the Flintstones franchise, starting with his own segment on The Flintstone Comedy Show (1980-1982). This version is more on the level of Superman and Cavey has a secret identity, Chester the office boy. The disguise isn’t much, but requires an elaborate transformation sequence behind a coat rack.

Another big difference was that Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble were often the damsels in distress Cavey ends up rescuing from peril. As exciting as that is, I end up wondering where the teen angels are. Then it dawned on me. This series takes place in the Stone Age long before the teen angels found Cavey in that block of ice. So maybe these were Cavey’s past adventures before joining the mystery solving group.

After that, Cavey had a segment on The Flintstone Kids (1986-1988) called, Captain Caveman and Son. Here he was a TV superhero instead of a real one and has adventures with his son Cavey Junior. Although these adventures provide good lessons to learn, they’re not as exciting as before.

There you have it, another classic superhero that stands out as one of the greats in both crime fighting and comedy. Do you suppose there’s a chance of Captain Caveman ever making a comeback after having such a long run?

Feb 182015
 

Among the Hanna Barbera cartoons I grew up with was Hong Kong Phooey – The Complete Series (1974-1975). When I was younger, I had no idea what it was about, but now I do.

Hong Kong Phooey is a superhero dog. His secret identity is Penry Penrod a clumsy police station janitor. Even though nobody knows that Penry is Hong Kong Phooey, he’s still the only talking dog around, so wouldn’t that seem obvious?

 

When it comes time for Penry to go into action, he has quite a setup. First he goes into a secret passage behind a vending machine, and then changes into costume in a filing cabinet. It’s clever, but the top drawer always sticks. He never seems to get around to fix it.

Hong Kong Phooey’s sidekick is Spot the cat, who seems to be a lot smarter than he is. In fact, Spot always ends up helping Hong Kong Phooey capture the crooks since the heroic dog is not able minded. That’s right. Even as a superhero he’s a klutz, but because he’s world famous, no one cares if he messes up, most of the time. If only Spot could talk, then maybe Hong Kong Phooey won’t always assume he did it all.

Of course there are times when Hong Kong Phooey succeeds on his own, but it’s always by accident. He also has to frequently check his Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu to get out of jams. I’m surprised that the enemies give him time to do so during battle.

Then we have the Phooey Mobile. This vehicle can transform into a variety of things just by ringing a mini gong. Hong Kong Phooey doesn’t set the gong, so how does the Phooey Mobile become the desired vehicle without a setting of some sort?

There are only two other principle characters that work at the police station with Penry and Spot. First is Sargent Flint, who Penry drives crazy when he bumble his duties. I’m surprised Flint has never fired Penry from all the mishaps.

The other is Rosemary the lovely telephone operator. Whenever she gets a call, Rosemary always gives an elaborate introduction like; “This is Rosemary the telephone operator, the lovely lassie with the classy chassis.” Rosemary is fascinated by Hong Kong Phooey. As for how she feels about Penry, Rosemary sees potential. At times she tries to convince Penry to enroll in the police academy so he won’t have to work as a janitor anymore. However, Penry keeps declining, probably as an attempt to keep his secret identity a secret.

I should also point out that Hong Kong Phooey has no arch nemesis. Every enemy is different and never makes a second appearance in the series, but they all seem to know him like everyone else does.

This was certainly a classic series. I can also remember when Hong Kong Phooey was on Laff-A-Lympics as a member of the Scooby Doobies team. He hardly participated and when he did, he never talked. I wonder why that was.