January 19, 2019

TEEN TITANS


TEEN TITANS
 (Cartoon Network, WB, July 19, 2003-September 15, 2006)

DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation

           
When Sam Register became Senior Vice President, Original Animation for Cartoon Network, he had one dream goal in mind: bring the Titans back to television (they were previously done by Filmation as part of an alternating segment of their Aquaman cartoon). A fan of the Marv Wolfman/George Pérez era of the comics, Register approached then-DC Comics President Paul Levitz about the rights to the franchise and was able to secure them; minus a few members tied into other DC properties. Unlike the then-ongoing Justice League, Register wanted to do a series that skewed younger and looked different from the established Bruce Timm style to stand out as much as possible. That meant there was a moratorium on anything involving the characters’ respective secret identities and backstories, allowing the kids watching to project themselves onto their favorites. Producer Glen Murakami was brought on board from Justice League and proposed rendering the animation in a blend of Western and Anime-style, which had never been done on a DC-based show before.

The Titans: Beast Boy, Starfire, Robin, Cyborg and Raven.

The producers toyed with the Titans line-up for a while before settling on the established Wolfman/Pérez team of former Batman sidekick Robin (Scott Menville), athlete-turned-cyborg Cyborg (Khary Paton), fun-loving anamorph Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), literal demon’s daughter and empath Raven (Tara Strong), and Tamaranian refugee princess Starfire (Hynden Walch). Robin was initially on the chopping block, but it was felt that since he was most recognized through his association with the Batman franchise that he could serve as a familiar gateway into the show for audiences. In designing Cyborg, Murakami took some inspiration from both The Micronauts and the Japanese show Kikaida in order to find a way to simplify his appearance for animation while also making it look like he just had robotic limbs. Beast Boy was made to look a bit more beastly in his standard form, rather than just the green-skinned boy as he appeared in the comics, in order to better fit his name beyond his ability to transform into different animals. Raven was treated as a goth character to lighten up on the inherent darkness in the character’s background. Her costume was left pretty much intact, except simplified into a leotard rather than a slit dress. Starfire was given pupils in her eyes (except when she was charged up) and lost her flaming hair; deemed a bad idea for a children’s show. Largely, Murakami tried to keep each member of the team with a distinctive color palette in order to allow them to stand out with each other.

Of course you gotta make some time to listen to some tunes.

Teen Titans debuted on July 19, 2003 on Cartoon Network, with reruns airing on the Kids’ WB! programming block starting that November. Although it garnered a lot of mixed and negative reviews, the series had strong ratings and was one of Cartoon Network’s highest-rated programs at the time. The main theme was composed by Puffy AmiYumi, (for whom Register also made a cartoon about) while the series music was composed by Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis. The show ended up running for a total of five seasons, before it was cancelled for a variety of unconfirmed reasons (Mattel not having the toy license, ratings drop after a dark 4th season, no plans for a 6th by the network, etc.). Following the movie Trouble in Tokyo to officially end the series, it was revisited in 2012 as a series of shorts for the DC Nation programming block, however those eliminated all dramatic storytelling in favor of pure comedy and reimagined the characters in chibi form. These shorts eventually led to the spin-off series Teen Titans Go!

NINJA TURTLES: THE NEXT MUTATION


NINJA TURTLES: THE NEXT MUTATION
(FOX, September 12, 1997-March 20, 1998)

Saban Entertainment, Mirage Studios


For the history of the Ninja Turtles, check out the post here.


            The black sheep of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was a loose continuation of the live-action movie trilogy that began in 1990. Franchise co-creator Kevin Eastman had been working on the fourth movie since the release of the third, but nothing had ever materialized. Saban Entertainment acquired the rights to the franchise and produced the show utilizing ideas that would have been seen in the film.

The five (yes FIVE) Turtles: Venus, Mikey, Donnie, Leo and Raph.

Like the movies, the Turtles were portrayed by actors in full rubber suits with voice actors providing their dialogue. Along with Leonardo (Gabe Khouth, Shishir Inocalla & Michael Dobson), Donatello (Richard Yee, David Soo & Jason Gray-Stanford), Michelangelo (Jarred Blanchard, Larry Lam & Kirby Morrow), Raphael (Mitchell A. Lee Yuen, Dean Choe & Matt Hill) and Splinter (Fiona Scott & Stephen Mendel), the heroes were joined by a new fifth turtle: Venus de Milo (Nicole Parker, Leslie Sponberg & Lalania Lindbjerg), who was also in the jar with the others but ended up in Chinatown where she was raised as a mystical ninja. The Foot Clan and the Shredder (Patrick Pon & Doug Parker) appeared in the series’ opening episodes, but were replaced by the Rank: a group of evil dragons led by Dragon Lord (Gerald Wong & Christopher Gaze). Other changes included the Turtles no longer being blood-relatives (so as to allow a potential romance between one of them and Venus), minor alterations to their weaponry, and the lack of their usual supporting cast, reporter April O’Neil and vigilante Casey Jones.

The Dragon Lord.

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation ran for a single season as part of FOX’s Fox Kids programming block, plus a crossover episode with Saban’s other program at the time, Power Rangers in Space. However, the series failed to perform well in the ratings. Since FOX didn’t own the show or the characters and didn’t receive as much profit from airing it, they saw no reason to continue financing its production. It was the first time the Turtles had been off the air for an extended period of time since the debut of the first animated series in 1987. The show has largely been ignored in Turtles continuity, and co-creator Peter Laird has gone on record with his hatred of the Venus character. In the years since its cancellation, it has aired internationally almost consistently, finally returning to the United States in 2013 when the now-defunct Hub Network aired it on Saturday mornings.

January 17, 2019

BRADLEY BOLKE DEAD AT 93



You can read the full story here.

He starred in The New Casper Cartoon Show as The Ghostly Trio, Witch and well over a dozen minor characters; Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales as Chumley Walrus, Flunky, Jerboa Jump, Peanut and Platypus; and The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie episodes “The Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters” and “The Red Baron” as Norman and Shmitzel, respectively.



 

January 15, 2019

CAROL CHANNING DEAD AT 97




You can read the full story here.


Known primarily for her stage and musical roles, she did star as Grandmama Addams in the 1992 version of The Addams Family and provided additional voices for Where's Waldo? She also appeared as herself in two episodes of both Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street and guest-starred in an episode of the original Magic School Bus as Cornelia C. Contralto II.









January 12, 2019

MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE


MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE
(Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior, May 5, 2006-November 6, 2016)

Walt Disney Television Animation/Disney Television Animation, DQ Entertainment


For the history of Mickey Mouse, check out the post here.


            Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was the first computer animated series from Disney Television Animation. Developed by Bobs Gannaway, the series was aimed at pre-schoolers. It was designed so that the audience could solve basic problems along with Mickey (Wayne Allwine & Bret Iwan) and Minnie Mouse (Russi Taylor), Donald (Tony Anselmo) and Daisy (Tress MacNeille) Duck, Goofy, Pluto (both Bill Farmer) and a mechanical assistant called Toodles (Rob Paulsen). They summoned their clubhouse with the chant “Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!” via the theme song by They Might Be Giants, which housed the Mousekadoer, a giant Mickey-head shaped computer that distributed the objects needed to solve the day’s problem, called Mouseketools.

Daisy, Donald, Pluto, Goofy, Minni and Mickey in computer animation.

            Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ran for four seasons over a period of ten years; during which time the Playhouse Disney network transitioned into Disney Junior and Walt Disney Television Animation saw “Walt” removed from their name. The show spawned two spin-offs. The first was Minnie’s Bow-Toons, which followed Minnie’s adventures running a business making and selling bows from 2011-2016. The second was Mickey and the Roadster Racers, following the Sensational Six as they participated in races around the town of Hot Dog Hills.

MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY / THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW


MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY / THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW
(ABC, CBS, September 29, 1953-April 27, 1964)

Marterto Enterprises (1953-62), T&L Productions (1962-64)


            Make Room For Daddy was a sitcom starring Danny Thomas as successful comedian and nightclub entertainer Danny Williams. The series centered on Williams’ always being constantly busy with work and away from his family, leaving his wife Margaret (Jean Hagen) often raising their children Rusty (Rusty Hamer) and Terry (Sherry Jackson) alone. This was often the cause of tension between Danny and Margaret. Louise Beavers appeared as the Williams’ maid, Louise, and often sided with Margaret in their arguments (she would be replaced by Amanda Randolph when she became ill). The show was only a modest hit. Hagen, who didn’t get along with Thomas, left the show at the conclusion of the third season once her contract expired. Knowing a divorce wouldn’t be tolerated by television audiences, Thomas and producer Sheldon Leonard had her character die off-screen; the first death of a character in a sitcom. The show was also renamed The Danny Thomas Show for the remainder of its run.

Danny Williams and his family Margaret, Rusty and Terry.

They decided that Danny needed a new wife when the ratings began to decline, so Irish nurse Kathy O’Hara (Marjorie Lord) was introduced in the fourth season to take care of Rusty when he was sick. She and Danny fell in love and became engaged. ABC, who originally aired the show, cancelled the show at the end of that season. CBS, looking for a replacement for the just-ending I Love Lucy, picked up The Danny Thomas Show and put it in Lucy’s timeslot. Danny and Kathy were married between the seasons, and Danny adopted her daughter, Linda (Angela Cartwright). Jackson, who had a close friendship with Hagen, left the show when her contract ended in the 6th season. She was replaced by Penney Parker for several episodes before the character was written off entirely.

Danny Williams' new extended family, including Kathy and Linda.

The Danny Thomas Show enjoyed an 11-season run by the time Thomas and Lord were tired of their roles and Thomas ended the show. During that time, the show had crossed over with several others including The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Joey Bishop Show, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. It also led to the creation of two spin-offs: The Andy Griffith Show, starring Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor whom Williams had run across in his travels, and The Bill Dana Show after Dana appeared several times as his most well-known character, Jose Jimenez. Along with reruns, the cast returned for two reunion specials on NBC, The Danny Thomas TV Family Reunion and Make More Room For Daddy as part of The Danny Thomas Hour. A third reunion, airing again on CBS, called Make Room For Granddaddy led to a one-season revival of the show before it was cancelled during the rural purge designed to draw in younger viewers.

January 07, 2019

WILLIAM MORGAN SHEPPARD DEAD AT 86



You can read the full story here.


He portrayed Lawrence Limburger in both the original and the reboot of Biker Mice From Mars; King Kenneth, Odin and Petros Xanatos in Gargoyles as well as a security guard and Radar in an episode of the follow-up, The Goliath Chronicles; Asteroth in The Mighty Ducks; Captain Bloodbeard in Timon & Pumbaa; and Sardath in Young Justice. 









 



January 05, 2019

GRAVITY FALLS


GRAVITY FALLS
(Disney Channel, Disney XD, June 15, 2012-February 15, 2016)

Disney Television Animation


            While a student at California Institute of the Arts, Alex Hirsch created an 11-minute low-budget student film which was inspired by his childhood summer vacations with his twin sister. Disney called Hirsch in to pitch a show based on the pilot and greenlit Gravity Falls. The series centered on Dipper Pines (Jason Ritter) and his twin sister Mabel (Kristen Schaal) as they are dropped off to stay with their Great Uncle Stan (shortened to Grunkle Stan, voiced by Hirsch) for the summer in the town of Gravity Falls. There, they helped run Stan’s “Mystery Shack”, along with handyman Soos Ramirez (Hirsch) and Wendy Corduroy (Linda Cardellini). While there, Dipper discovered a mysterious journal in the forest that led to him and Mabel to begin to investigate the strange mysteries and supernatural occurrences in the town.

Dipper, Wendy, Soos and Mabel on the trail of another mystery.

            Gravity Falls initially began airing on Disney Channel in 2012, with animation done by Rough Draft Studios, Digital eMation and Yearim Productions. As each episode took six months to complete, Disney opted to air each completed episode as its own event rather than waiting for a backlog to build up and air it on a regular weekly schedule. As a result, there were often breaks between each new episode. For season two, the show moved to Disney XD where it aired until its completion in 2016 and continued to air in reruns, as well as on the Disney Channel. Despite the show’s high ratings and critical acclaim, Hirsch chose to end the show with “a real conclusion for the characters”, however he was open to doing more episodes or specials. In 2018, Hirsch announced that he would continue the show in a new graphic novel, Gravity Falls: Lost Legends.

I LOVE LUCY


I LOVE LUCY
(CBS, October 15, 1951-May 6, 1957)

Desilu Productions


            When CBS wanted to adapt their radio show My Favorite Husband to television, they naturally sought to bring that show’s stars to the small screen. However, star Lucille Ball saw it as an opportunity to finally work together with her husband, bandleader Desi Arnaz. I Love Lucy focused on the misadventures of New York housewife Lucy Ricardo (Ball) who had delusions of stardom and did whatever it took to try and achieve those dreams, despite not having a single marketable talent. She often tried to become part of her husband, Ricky’s (Arnaz), nightclub show through any means necessary; a constant source of headaches for him. They were best friends with their landlords, Fred (William Frawley) and Ethel (Vivian Vance) Mertz. Fred was a cheapskate who would end up becoming Ricky’s manager, and Ethel was Lucy’s sidekick, often ended up involved with her various schemes.

Lucy, Ethel, Fred and Ricky conversing during a meal.

Husband writers Madelyn Pugh, Bob Carroll, Jr. and Jess Oppenheimer, who also produced, set about adapting the radio show for television. Original sponsor Philip Morris wanted the show to be filmed in New York so that the larger Eastern audience wouldn’t be subjected to delayed and inferior quality kinescope recordings. Lucy and Desi worked out an arrangement to keep the show in Hollywood for Lucy’s pending childbirth by having the show recorded onto more-expensive film in exchange for their taking a pay cut and majority ownership of the show. They also produced the show through their new production company, Desilu Productions. Oppenheimer had the show filmed before a live audience to provide Lucy with the energy she needed for her performance, and the show pioneered the use of a three-camera system for sitcoms that would become the industry standard. When previous episodes were aired to give Lucy recovery time after her second childbirth, they effectively gave birth to the concept of the rerun when the episodes received high ratings.

Lucy up to one of her schemes.

I Love Lucy ran for 6 seasons on CBS. Lucy’s second pregnancy was incorporated into the show, cited as her being “expecting” at CBS’ insistence, and gave birth to the character of Little Ricky (James John Ganzer, Richard Lee Simmons, Ronald Lee Simmons, Michael Mayer, Joseph Mayer & Keith Thibodeaux at different periods). The show was a ratings success, taking the top spot for four of its seasons. In 1957, the show was retooled into the hour-long The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and showed extended hour-long episodes as part of an anthology series for the next three seasons. An emphasis was placed on big name guest stars at the expense of the Mertz characters. To make it up to them, Desi offered to do a spinoff centered around them, but as Vance and Frawley barely got along, she ultimately declined. Beginning in 1955, CBS began airing reruns of Lucy at various points throughout its schedule, with reruns hitting Saturday mornings in 1959. These reruns introduced the familiar “heart on satin” opening, which replaced the original stick figure caricatures of Lucy and Desi introducing that episode’s sponsor created by an uncredited William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and animated by Gene Hazelton (they were under exclusive contract to MGM at the time and had to keep their involvement on the down-low). In 1967, CBS began offering their syndicated rerun package, resulting in the show still being seen on various networks to this day.

January 02, 2019

BOB EINSTEIN DEAD AT 76




You can read the full story here.


He was primarily known for the recurring character of inept stuntman Super Dave Osborne, who was given his own short-lived Saturday morning program, Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire. He not only voiced the character and portrayed him in live-action segments, but also served as a writer and producer.


"MEAN" GENE OKERLUND DEAD AT 76




You can read the full story here.


Known primarily for his time with the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE) as a prolific ring announcer, he was one of the featured personalites in the animated series, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. He appeared both in live-action segments and as one of the characters featured in the animated segments, however he didn’t provide his character’s voice. 



December 31, 2018

DON LUSK DEAD AT 105



You can read the full story here.


His career spanned from early Disney through Hanna-Barbera's later output. He provided animation for The Secret Squirrel Show, The Atom Ant Show, Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears and Droopy: Master Detective. His work was also seen in a short included in Mickey’s House of Villains direct-to-video movie. He served as an assistant director or director on Shirt Tales, Monchichis, The Dukes, Pac-Man, The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, The Biskitts, Pink Panther and Sons, Snorks and The Smurfs, Galtar and the Golden Lance, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, The Flintstone Kids, Foofur, Wildfire, Popeye and Son, Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, Pound Puppies (1986), The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, Tom & Jerry Kids Show, Rick Moranis in Gravedale High, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Yo Yogi!, The Addams Family (1992), and The Pirates of Dark Water.