Tag Archives: CotD

Cartoon of the Day: Watch Out! The Willawaw!

Watch Out! The Willawaw!

Watch Out! The Willawaw!

The fifth incarnation of Scooby-Doo began on this date in 1978 with Watch Out! The Willawaw! from Scooby’s All-Stars. WHen the series started, no one thought it would go to five shows, much less the thirteen shows it has spawned to date. Five curious teens and their dog and going on almost 50 years.

Grey Fox perpetrates the legend of The Willawaw with a hot air balloon painted like The Willawaw to frighten people away from his smuggling operation. He kidnaps Velma’s Uncle Dave Dinkley, a lawman, when he gets too close to the operation. Red Heron, with the help of his friend Snapping Turtle, follows Grey Fox’s trail and releases their friend Dave, while Shaggy Scooby-Doo, Velma, Daphne and Fred capture Grey Fox and prove to the frightened Chippewas that the Willawaw is literally just a bag of hot air.
It all began in 1969 as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? The traveling companion of four hep-cat teenagers, Scooby-Doo helped solved mysteries while simultaneously murdering the English language (though the fact that he could even speak should count for something). Scooby’s best friend was the skinny, goofy Shaggy, with whom he shared a love for Scooby snacks, among other delicacies. Also along for the ride was the much hunkier Freddy, the babeslicios Daphne, and Velma, the brainy girl who did most of the mystery cracking.

The inexplicable fivesome tooled around in the Mystery Machine (a groovy painted van), ending up in some pretty creepy towns menaced by ghosts, ghouls or mummies. Freddy would “take the girls,” leaving Scooby and Shaggy to fend for themselves, usually ending up in each other’s arms out of fear. After an extensive chase scene/musical sequence, the villain would be caught, reveal his true identity and curse those meddling kids for foiling his plans.

This incarnation lasted for two seasons before reruns took over. From 1972 to 1974, the show became The New Scooby-Doo Movies. This format had the kids meeting up with such guest stars as Mamma Cass, the Globetrotters, Sonny and Cher, and Don Knotts (all playing themselves) to solve more mysteries.

For one season in 1976, the gang became half of The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Show, sharing the bill with the “robonic” Dynomutt and his human superhero partner, The Blue Falcon. Scooby’s gang was joined by Scooby’s cousin Scooby-Dum, who (you guessed it) was dumb.

From ’76 to ’80, Scooby was granted ninety minutes under the title Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics (later renamed Scooby’s All-Stars). This show featured a plethora of Hanna-Barbera characters—dating as far back as the 50′s—engaged in a variety of competitions.

In addition to rerunning Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? in 1978, ABC paired Laff-A-Lympics with a new show, Scooby and Scrappy-Doo. This show introduced Scoob’s short and confident nephew, who, though younger than Scooby, had much clearer speech. In 1980 the cowardly elder Doo was paired with a famous mini-millionaire in The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show.

Scooby and Scrappy were still together in 1982, but now they split their time with another canine in The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo/Puppy’s New Adventures Hour. Joining these new shows were airings of reruns now called The Best of Scooby-Doo. In 1984 The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (which brought back the teens as well as holding on to Scrappy) were aired, as were a bunch of reruns, this time called Scary Scooby Funnies.

In The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985-86), Scooby, Scrappy, Shaggy and Daphne were joined by 9-year-old Flim Flam. The group, helped by warlock Vincent Van Ghoul (Vincent Price), fought off wicked sorcery. That season the Great Dane could also be seen in another rerun collection, Scooby’s Mystery FunHouse. In 1986 Scooby could only be seen in reruns of Laff-a-Lympics.

The airwaves were deprived of Scooby for two years. Then, in 1988, a new show called A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was produced. Like many cartoons of the time, this show took familiar characters back to their early years. Thus, Shaggy, Freddy, Velma and Daphne were now preteens. Scooby, of course, was but a pup. This version had the kids constantly running into the character Red Herring (wink, wink), whom the gang always suspected of committing crimes. This show ran in reruns until 1993, when it finally left network television.

And then, the Scooby dry spell. Ten years of now new Scoobs. OK, sure, we had the occasional direct-to-video releaese with the Mystery Crew, but no more reegular television. Ninally, in 2002, we got What’s New, Scooby-Doo?. This is also the first show since Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo to contain the gang in it’s original format: Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo.

Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! saw the first real redesign the crew has ever seen. The best way to describe the new look is to just avoid it altogether.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is the most recent version of the show. Back to the original models (thanks GOD!). Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and their talking dog Scooby-Doo are back, solving mysteries in the spooky town of Crystal Cove, a sleepy coastal village that boasts a long history of ghostly sightings, werewolves and glowing deep sea divers.

It’s interesting to note that while the show itself underwent many changes, the characters did not. Aside from a modified Daphne appearing in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, the gang retained their late-sixties garb well into the eighties and nineties. This included knee-highs, a mini-skirt and lumpy turtleneck sweater for Velma, a rockin’ minidress and head scarf for Daphne, and groovy bell-bottoms for the guys. Scooby remained in his natural canine glory.

Scooby-Doo may have left Saturday morning, but his work is far from over. Scooby continues to answer the call, appearing semi-regularly in direct-to-video cartoon features. As long as mysteries need solving, Scooby-Doo will come through (and then he’ll have himself a Scooby Snack… that’s a fact).

 

Cartoon of the Week: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

Disney is quoted as saying, “It all started with a mouse.” Disney was always inventing, always trying new things, pushing the animation envelope. Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, and while it was not the first animated feature film, or even the first in full color… it was certainly the first commercially successful animated feature film, and it’s legacy is still being felt today.

In her effort to be “fairest in the land,” a jealous and evil queen attempts to be rid of her beautiful stepdaughter, Snow White. Frightened and scared, Snow takes refuge in the forest cottage of the seven dwarfs. The queen, disguised by magic as an old peddler woman, tempts Snow White with a poisoned apple, which puts her into an enchanted sleep until the spell can be broken by love’s first kiss.

The first animated feature film to be nominated for an Academy Award.

In 1989, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs was the first cartoon to be added by the Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board to the National Film Registry (it was the registry’s inaugural year).

In England the film was deemed too scary for children and no one under 14 could go and see it by themselves.

This film was released to video in the United States in 1994 (beginning its “Masterpiece Collection” line) and in 2001 (a DVD of this film was also released that year).

Cartoon of the Day: The Emperor’s New Groove

The Emperor's New Groove

The Emperor’s New Groove

I am REALLY on the fence about The Emperor’s New Groove. Sure, it has it’s moments… it has Eartha Kitt… it also has Patrick Warburton and Wendie Malick. On the down side, it does have the barely one-dimensional David Spade in the lead role, and it was directed by Mark Dindal who was still perfecting the art of really screwing up an animated film here (his Masters thesis was Chicken Little in 2005, easily the worst film ever from Disney.)

The Emperor’s New Groove began life as the much more serious in tone and epic in scope Kingdom Of The Sun. Originally, the music was done by Sting, and Roger Allers was the director. Sort of a Prince and the Pauper story at first, Allers just could not bring the story to life.

To breath new life into the project, Disney execs hired Mark Dindal, who brought in the comic element. This resulted in a very uneven production… half light and half dark. In the summer 1998, under a time crunch for a 2000 release date, Allers was forced off the film. Dindal retooled the film, dropped the Sting songs, and retitled the film.

In this comedy, the vain and cocky Emperor Kuzco is a very busy man. Besides maintaining his “groove,” and firing his suspicious administrator Yzma, he’s also planning to build a new water park just for himself for his birthday. However, this means destroying one of the villages in his kingdom. Meanwhile, Yzma is hatching a plan to get revenge and usurp the throne. But, in a botched assassination courtesy of Yzma’s right-hand man Kronk, Kuzco is magically transformed into a llama. Now, Kuzco finds himself the property of Pacha, a lowly llama herder whose home is ground zero for the water park. Upon discovering the llama’s true self, Pacha offers to help resolve the Emperor’s problem and regain his throne- only if he promises to move his water park.

So what do you think? Would you like to have seen Allers original film, or do you like the comedy version by Dindal?

Cartoon of the Day: A Very Merry Cricket

A Very Merry Cricket

A Very Merry Cricket

One of Chuck Jones’ specials from the 1970′s, A Very Merry Cricket featured Les Tremayne as Chester C. Cricket and Harry the Cat and Mel Blanc as Tucker the Mouse. Chuck wrote and directed this sequel.

Harry tells of Chester, a famous cricket who plays the violin to soothe everyone. With all the hustle and bustle about New York around Christmas, it’s become commercialized. Tucker and Harry have to find Chester in order to put the spirit of Christmas back into the citizens.

This TV special was a sequel to “The Cricket in Times Square.”

Cartoon of the Day: Frosty The Snowman

Frosty The Snowman

Frosty The Snowman

What would the holidays be without great Rankin-Bass animated specials like Frosty The Snowman? 43 years young today, Frosty The Snowman is not that horrible sequel Frosty Returns (which was cel animated), but proper stop motion animation and narration by none other than Jimmy Durante.

A discarded silk tophat becomes the focus of a struggle between a washed-up stage magician and a group of schoolchildren after it magically brings a snowman to life. Realizing that newly-living Frosty will melt in spring unless he takes refuge in a colder climate, Frosty and a young girl who he befriends stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back. This animated short is based on the popular Christmas song of the same name.

June Foray was recorded as the voice of Karen (along with the Teacher), but only her voice as the Teacher remained in the finished cartoon, as she was replaced as Karen by another actress. “To this day, I am unsure of the reason,” Foray recalled.

The story of Frosty the Snowman had earlier been animated in a five-minute, black and white cartoon originally shown on “Garfield Goose and Friends.”

One of the sequels to this cartoon, “Frosty Returns,” was not produced by Rankin/Bass.

Cartoon of the Day: La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet)

La Planete SauvageEnglish Title: Fantastic Planet

La Planete Sauvage English Title: Fantastic Planet

A cartoon we get asked about a lot (and I do mean a LOT!) is La Planète Sauvage (English Title: Fantastic Planet). Not one I saw when I was growing up, but many of you obviously did. This joint production by French and Czechoslovakian filmmakers was seen as a metaphor for Soviet oppression of Czechoslovakia, and pressure from the Communist government.

On the fantastic planet of Ygam, located in a far solar system, a race of huge blue creatures called Draags keep Oms as domesticated pets. Oms are the descendants of the human survivors of Earth, comparably antlike in size and mistreated by the Draags. With the aid of a Draag knowledge device, an escaped orphaned Om manages to unite a society of wild Oms to revolt against their oppression. The wild Oms attack the Draags in their most vulnerable spot, a mystical moon orbiting around their home world: a moon which holds a powerful secret to the Draags’ existence.

Originally brought to America in the early 1970s through Roger Corman’s New World Pictures “European Acquisitions,” the film was wildly successful on the B-movie circuit with the “post-hippie trippers,” seen as a metaphor for class struggle.

Production design based on the artwork and drawings of Roland Topor.

First shown publicly at the Cannes Film Festival, May 1973. Commercial release: December 6, 1973. Re-released in February 1977.

Also known as: “Divoká Planeta” (Czechoslovakia), “The Fantastic Planet”, “Planet of Incredible Creatures” and “The Savage Planet.”

So when did you first see this sci-fi social commentary animated film? Does it still hold up today?

Cartoon of the Day: Pioneer Days

Pioneer Days

Pioneer Days

Let’s go way back in time for today’s CotD… on this date in 1930, Disney released the Mickey Mouse cartoon Pioneer Days. Directed by Burt Gillett, it was one of the earliest “costume dramas” featuring Mickey and his gang.

Mickey and Minnie are out West and are attacked by Indians. Minnie is captured. Mickey comes looking for her, and is captured instead. Meanwhile, Minnie escapes and rescues Mickey. Later, they disguise themselves as the Cavalry and scare the entire tribe into the hills.

Whoo boy, does that sound like a load of Black and White fun and frivolity! Want to watch it? You are in luck- this baby is on BCDB today!

Cartoon of the Day: Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000

Released on this date in 1963, Transylvania 6-5000 was the last Bugs Bunny cartoon directed by Chuck Jones. And this cartoon is thoroughly Chuck. From the backgrounds to the character design to the timing, this short is a one-stop lesson in Jonsian cartoon directing.

After taking a wrong left turn, Bugs ends up in the castle of a bloodthirsty Count. Luckily, Bugs knows the secret work, and confounds the Count’s attempts to retrieve Bugs’ blood.

Note that when Bugs rings the castle doorbell, the chimes play the opening notes of the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

A fitting climax to Jones’ career at Warner Bros, or a cardboard epitaph- what do you think?

Cartoon Of The Day: Hittin’ The Trail For Hallelujah Land

Hittin' The Trail For Hallelujah Land

Hittin’ The Trail For Hallelujah Land

Released this day in 1931, Hittin’ The Trail For Hallelujah Land is a founding member of the infamous Censored Eleven is also one of the least seen… I guess that is the point of being censored.

A kindly old Uncle Tom brings Fluffy down to her sweetheart Captain Piggy’s riverboat. As he drives back in his horse and buggy, Uncle Tom ends up in a graveyard where various skeletons come to life singing the title song. Uncle Tom flees the graveyard but falls in the river where Piggy saves him. As Piggy comes to Uncle Tom’s rescue, a villain tries to make off with Fluffy.

In 1968, United Artists (then owners of the A.A.P. library of pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons) compiled the cartoons they considered too potentially offensive to be shown on television, and withheld those cartoons from distribution. AT that time, UA felt that these eleven cartoons should be withheld from broadcast because the depictions of black people in the cartoons were deemed too offensive for contemporary audiences.

This cartoon is one of those withheld from distribution, one of the so-called “Censored 11.” (The “Eleven” are: Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (MM,1931), Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (MM, 1936), Clean Pastures (MM, 1937), Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (MM, 1937), Jungle Jitters (1938), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (MM, 1938), All This and Rabbit Stew (MM, 1941), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (MM, 1943), Tin Pan Alley Cats (MM, 1943), Angel Puss (LT, 1944), and Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (MM, 1944)). More recently, when Ted Turner became owner of the library, he continued the ban, and refused to allow any of these cartoons to be shown or released on video. To date, these shorts have not been officially broadcast on television since 1968.

Soundtrack:

  • Hittin’ the Trail for Hallalujah Land,” Music by Rube Bloom, Lyrics by Joe Young, Sung by Various Characters
  • De Camptown Races,” Music by Stephen Foster; “Mysterious Mose,” Music by Walter Doyle

So watch this one today, and let us know what you think- rightly suppressed or much ado about nothing???

Cartoon of the Day: Treasure Planet

Treasure Planet

Treasure Planet

On this date in 2002, Disney released Treasure Planet. Sort of a Disney version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” set in outer space.

This movie opened in both 35mm and a specifically-formatted 70mm IMAX version. This marked the first time that a film had concurrent releases in both formats.

After the September 11 tragedy, Disney decided that people being held at sword-point just wasn’t funny, so the animators were instructed to remove as many swords from the film as possible.

The film was a major financial disaster. Budgeted at $140 million, it grossed only $38.2 million by the time it left North American theaters. The loss reportedly resulted in Disney downgrading its earnings estimate for the last quarter of 2002.

So what did you think of this later Disney film… good retelling of a classic story, or overblown CG-Fest?