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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.

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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?

May 182016

We all enjoy a good audio book once in a while. Back when I was a kid the only kinds I preferred were the ones where you could follow along in a storybook while listening to a cassette tape or sometimes a vinyl record.

The main ones I still have are based on 80s pop culture I grew up on. That’s what made these books on tape so interesting and it’s very helpful that there’s always some sort of chime that lets you know when to turn the page. Usually audio books don’t have a book to follow let alone a signal to turn the page.

Let’s start with the series sets where each book was sold separately. The Smurfs had four different stories based on certain episodes; A Winter Smurf, The Smurf Champion, There’s a Smurf in my Soup, and The Smurf-Eating Bird. What really kept these interesting was the nice tune that played at the beginning and end of each story as well as the three-second tone that signals to turn the page. No other books on tape do that.

Ducktales had several stories as well based on particular episodes with the original voice actors and musical score. My favorite is Scrooge’s Treasure Hunt, which is basically from part 2 of the series pilot Treasure of the Golden Suns.

There was also a set of five stories on The Gremlins. I don’t remember these too well, mainly because I’m not as much into The Gremlins as I used to be. Moving on.

Next is a series of books based on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Unlike any other books on tape based on popular shows that stay loyal to their series, this group is nothing like the actual He-Man animated series. The stories and action are edgier. Some of which are featured in comic book style format. At first I struggled to get into these because they were so different, but now that I’m more into the fantasy genre these storybooks are awesome.

It wasn’t just TV shows that became books on tape. Movies have too, like The Muppets Take Manhattan and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Of course due to time, the story lines were trimmed down quite a bit, but still remain faithful to their source material.

There are other books on tape about 80s classics I’d like to blog about. So check my blog for part 2 for more.

Apr 112014

Those lovable Smurfs are back again in The Smurfs 2. In the first film, the main focus was on Clumsy (voice of Anton Yelchon). This time it’s on Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry).

As Smurfs fans would know, Gargamel (Hank Azaria) originally created Smurfette to be an evil femme fatale to trap the other Smurfs. Then Papa Smurf (voice of Jonathon Winters) cast a spell that made her good. Lately, Smurfette has been having nightmares about it, and on her birthday.

I had wondered what became of Gargamel after the first Smurfs movie since he didn’t go back with the Smurfs through the blue moon portal. As it turns out, he is a famous stage magician in France. No one realizes that Gargamel is using real magic with Smurf essence. Of course Azrael is with him, but he doesn’t use as much cat humor as before.

On top of that, Gargamel has created two other evil Smurfs called Naughties. They are Vexy (voice of Christina Ricci) who is smart and mischievous, and Hackus (voice of J.B. Smoove) that’s funny and unintelligent. These two characters must be brand new because I never saw them on the animated series.

Even though Gargamel is living the high life in Paris, he has an evil plan to get rid of the Smurfs. It includes kidnapping Smurfette and forcing her to give him the formula that Papa Smurf used to make her good. Smurfette is no traitor, even if she is confused about whom her true family is.

The other Smurfs quickly find out about Smurfette’s capture. Luckily, Papa Smurf has a plan. He has some magical crystals to travel to the human world. Papa Smurf originally intended for Gutsy (voice of Alan Cumming), Brainy (voice of Fred Armisen), and Hefty (voice of Gary Basaraba) to come along, but due to Clumsy’s klutziness he ends up going instead, along with Grouchy (voice of George Lopez) and Vanity (voice of John Oliver).

At MegaCon 2014, I got to meet Tom Kane. He’s the voice of Narrator Smurf as well as Professor Utonium and Him from Powerpuff Girls.

Upon arriving, the Smurfs meet up with their old friends Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) and ask for their help, which is no problem. Also helping out is Patrick’s stepfather Victor (Brendan Gleeson). It’s sad that Patrick never warmed up to Victor, even though he has always been such a jolly guy.

Throughout this adventure, Grouchy tries to become Positive Smurf, but it’s a real struggle. Can you believe that?

This certainly was a good sequel with plenty of adventure and humor, as well as a real positive message about family. I heard that there’s a Smurfs 3 movie in the works. It makes you wonder what that will be like.

Oct 042013

The Smurfs are back again in the Halloween special, Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow. One evening in a forest, Clumsy (voice of Anton Yelchin), Hefty (voice of Gary Basaraba), and Panicky Smurf (voice of Adam Wylie) sit by a campfire and tell ghost stories. Of course Narrator Smurf happens to come along to tell the tale of the Headless Horseman of Smurfy Hollow.

Like The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, this feature uses the more classic style of animation as the story is told. Just though I’d point that out.

During the Smurfs’ harvest festival, Smurfs compete in a Smurf berry hunt. Brainy (voice of Fred Armisen) wins every year and Gutsy (voice of Alan Cumming) is jealous. Brainy’s gloating only makes matters worse with Gutsy and that’s only asking for trouble.

Gutsy discovers that Brainy has a secret stash of Smurf berries just past the bridge to Smurfy Hollow and decides to teach him a lesson, using a fake Headless Horseman. Unfortunately, it goes too far and Brainy ends up captured by Gargamel (voice of Hank Azaria).

Gutsy feels guilty, so he and Smurfette go to rescue him, but get captured themselves. There’s no telling if the legend of the Headless Horseman is real or not, so who should the Smurfs fear more, the horseman or Gargamel?

I must ask. Did we really need to see a close up of Gargamel’s nasty teeth? That was a little creepy, even if his grooming was up to 16th century standards.

This is a good straight to DVD feature with Smurfy excitement. I think I should also point out that Hackus and Vexie from Smurfs 2 make a brief appearance too. That does indicate that this feature takes place after the events of both Smurfs movies.

May 212013

The Smurfs were big favorites of mine back in the 80s. You can definitely tell by the old merchandise I have collected over the years. Does anyone remember any of this stuff?

Since the cartoon series ended in 1990, they had not been seen or heard from in a long time until their triumphant return in The Smurfs movie back in 2011. They were also on Robot Chicken, but that’s another story.

In this modern feature, the evil but hilarious wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) plots to capture the Smurfs as usual, but this time he has an edgier plan to use their blue essence to become the most powerful wizard in the world. Meanwhile, Papa Smurf (voice of Jonathon Winters) receives a vision about the Smurfs’ impending doom and Clumsy (voice of Anton Yelchin) is responsible. Clumsy is like the underdog in this movie because nobody believes he can do anything right for he is always clumsy.

Soon, Gargamel finds the village and the Smurfs manage to escape. However, Papa Smurf, Clumsy, Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry), Brainy (voice of Fred Armisen), Grouchy (voice of George Lopez), and new character Gutsy (voice of Alan Cumming) get separated from the others and end up in a portal to modern day New York City. If that wasn’t bad enough, Gargamel and Azrael follow in pursuit. I guess that means we don’t get to see Jokey (voice of Paul Reubens) use his exploding boxes more than once.

While the Smurfs figure out how to get back home, they meet Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his wife Grace (Jayma Mays) after traveling on top of a taxi. Actually, the Smurfs traveled that way several times but always manage to blend in because there always happens to be a blue ad on top of the cabs. What are the odds of that?

Patrick is a father to be and the new vice president of marketing at a modeling agency, who struggles with self-doubt. His job is on the line because his strict boss Odile (Sofia Vargara) demands a new ad campaign in two days. The Smurfs try to help Patrick out whether he likes it or not, but it’s really Papa Smurf who helps Patrick understand that true success comes from the heart.

Meanwhile, Gargamel sets up a headquarters at an old castle. Azrael manages to get some of Smurfette’s hair for Gargamel to use, despite that it was from a hairball he hacked up. In fact, Azrael is hilarious with his many cat-like behaviors he never did before like licking his butt and jumping on the dinner table during a meal.

Papa Smurf comes up with a plan to get back home. First get a stargazer and then find a book of spells to make the full moon blue in order to open the portal. Such things are hard to find in this world, but the Smurfs manage to find them while dodging Gargamel and other people.

This was a great film with these classic characters. I heard that a sequel is coming out this summer. I wonder if it will feature other reoccurring villains from the cartoon series like Big Mouth, Hogatha, Clorhydris, or allies like Yohan the knight and his squire Pee-Wee. Only time will tell.