December 30, 2014


It was reported that Christine Cavanaugh had died on December 22nd when her obituary ran in the L.A. Times today.

Christine had a long and varied career both on camera and behind the microphone until she retired from acting in 2001. She has the distinction of being a part of the very first show covered here on SMF for her portrayal of Bunnie Rabbot on Sonic the Hedgehog. Additionally on Saturdays, she had starred as the voice of Gosalyn Mallard on Darkwing Duck and an episode of Raw Toonage, Rosebud on Beethoven, Bamm-Bamm Rubble on Cave Kids, Oblina and other roles on Aaaah!!!! Real Monsters, and Wizzer and Dumpling on 101 Dalmations: The Series. She was also Ritchie Raccoon on two episodes from ABC Weekend Specials, Kevin on Bobby's World, Badger Boy on The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper, Alcides on Hercules, several guest voices on Recess and Tasha on the Weekenders.

December 13, 2014

SMF IN 2015

Howdy, folks. Your blogmaster here with some announcements.

First up, I want to thank everyone who has come by week in and week out to check out what I'm doing here. Saturday morning was an important part of my childhood, and I hope I've sparked some memories of your own with what I'm doing. And for those of you just joining us this week, or next week, or the week after for the first time, WELCOME! Hang your hat, stay a while.

Second, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays upon us, this busy time of year has prompted me to take a little vacation during the time when programs were usually in rerun mode anyway. But, fret not! New entries will be back before you know it beginning JANUARY 17TH. And boy do we have some fun in store for all of you! 2015 will begin the reign of the THEME MONTH here on SMF. Each month we'll be presenting shows that tie together with a particular theme, so you'll have a pretty good idea of when some of your favorites will be coming around (but be sure to check out the rest, as you might find something new to like).

In February, we begin with BLACK HISTORY MONTH where we'll look at shows that prominently star black characters. And believe you me, when some of these shows aired that fact was a VERY big deal.

March will bring us the DISNEY AFTERNOON MONTH, where we'll look at programs that aired on both the beloved weekday syndication block AND Saturday mornings.

Remember when your favorite shows would come back and feature younger versions of the characters? Betcha didn't know that was called BABYFICATION, and in April we'll take a look at some Baby-fied cartoons.

With Avengers: Age of Ultron due out in May, what better time to look at the stable of Marvel Comics productions? That's right, it's MIGHTY MARVEL MONTH in May (hey, an M-month...that worked out nicely!).

It's power to the players in June when we do VIDEO GAME MONTH.

Back to the Future turns 30 in July, so we're breaking out MOVIES MONTH to showcase the programs spun off from various movies.

Crime doesn't pay in August when the best (or worst) crime-fighters in the world take on the best (or worst) criminals ever in LAW & DISORDER MONTH.

Jem and the Holograms are getting a movie in October, but we'll be celebrating that in September with TOY TOONS MONTH. Why? Because...

...October will be our second HALLOWEEN MONTH as we explore more creepy shows with things that go bump in the night.

The Peanuts feature film lands in November, so it's time to explore its comic strip roots with COMIC STRIPS MONTH.

And with Star Wars 7 on the horizon, December will take us to a GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY MONTH as we journey to the final frontier with programs set in the vastness of space.

Lastly, you can check me out once again on the radio, WGBB 1240 AM out of Long Island, on Sunday, December 21st on It Came From the Radio at 4PM, eastern. Don't live in the area? You can stream it live from the station's website.

Have a great holiday season, and we'll see you again in 2015!


While watching on Saturday mornings around the holidays, you probably saw these:

It's a little-known fact that being an elf gives you the power of The Force.

Can't skate? Let a clown and animated animals help you.

Because you're probably sick of watching the M&Ms meet Santa every year.

Bringing family together over a cup of coffee.

The lesser-known of the Peanuts Christmas specials.

And since this is a Saturday morning blog, a Saturday morning Christmas promo.



(ABC, September 22, 1979-January 5, 1980)

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Don Messick – Scooby-Doo
Lennie Weinrib – Scrappy-Doo, various
Casey Kasem – Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, various
Frank Welker – Fred Jones, various
Heather North – Daphne Blake
Pat Stevens (episodes 1-11) & Marla Frumkin (episodes 12-15) – Velma Dinkley

For the history of Scooby-Doo, check out this post here.

            By the time the fourth incarnation of the Scooby-Doo franchise rolled around on his tenth anniversary, the formula that made it so popular had begun to wear thin. Not only had there already been three previous Scooby programs, but an endless series of clones and twists on the concept produced by Hanna-Barbera and competitors to try and duplicate the magic. ABC, taking note of the declining ratings, constantly threatened to cancel the show every season, forcing Hanna-Barbera to insert a new element to keep things fresh each time.

Shaggy and Scooby terrified while Scrappy is ready to fight.

            Enter Scooby’s plucky new sidekick: his nephew Scrappy-Doo (Lennie Weinrib). Where Scooby (Don Messick) was cowardly, Scrappy was brave and headstrong, always ready to charge into a situation fists first (often to the point of needing to be saved from an impending threat because he wasn’t willing to recognize when it was too big for him to deal with) while shouting his battle cry “Tata-ta ta ta-ta, Puppy Power!” Scrappy would also attempt to set his own monster traps, usually resulting in his capturing Scooby and Shaggy (Casey Kasem) instead of his intended target. Scrappy would always push Scooby into situations he would rather run from, offering what he considered encouragement.

Scrappy carrying Scooby into danger.

The concept for Scrappy harkened back to Joe Ruby and Ken Spears’ initial ideas for Scooby before he evolved into the more well-known incarnation. Series writer Mark Evanier had stated that when rumors floated around about ABC executives being sold on ideas that were similar to classic Warner Bros. cartoons, he patterned Scrappy’s personality after such characters as Henry HawkSylvester Jr., and Chester. That inspiration prompted Hanna-Barbera to approach Mel Blanc to assume the role, as he had played Henry, but he wanted too much money. Frank Welker was auditioned and even supplied them with the “Puppy Power” catchphrase. Although Messick was deemed the best audition by far, they decided that Weinrib had the voice they were looking for. 

"Enjoy that ice cream, guys. May be your last good meal in a long time!"

The character was not well-liked by fans to the point of constant ridicule, but the ratings managed to stabilize enough to have Scooby continue to be ABC’s schedule stopgap every season. While all the familiar characters were present on the show, the focus of the series began to shift heavily onto the comic relief of Scooby and Shaggy’s cowardice more than the spooky weekly mystery-solving. Gradually, the rest of Mystery, Inc. faded into the background of the stories to the point of irrelevance. In fact, the final episode featured only mere cameos of Fred (Welker), Daphne (Heather North) and Velma (Pat Stevens, who left for health reasons and was replaced by Marla Frumkin). Mystery, Inc. was dropped entirely as series regulars with the next incarnation of the show.          

The Neon Phantom of the Roller Disco.

Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo debuted on ABC on September 22, 1979. The villains of the show were heavily influenced by the culture of the time, with such spooks as the “Neon Phantom of the Roller Disco”. The series was written by Evanier with Glenn Leopold, Diane Duane, Willie Gilbert, Duane Poole, Tom Swale, David Villaire, Mark Jones, Bryce Malek and Bob Ogle. While maintaining the Hanna-Barbera laugh track, the series did feature an all-new musical score by Hoyt Curtin, finally retiring the score it had used since Where Are You! The theme song was a reworking of The New Scooby-Doo Movies theme. 

Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood DVD cover.

            Before Stevens departed, she participated in a prime-time special with the rest of the cast called Scooby Goes Hollywood, produced at the same time as this series but omitting Scrappy. Shown December 13th, 1979, the plot of the movie poked fun at the increasingly stale format of the Scooby franchise with Shaggy and Scooby desiring something new and better than their typical Saturday morning pratfalls and trying to make it big in Hollywood on prime-time TV. Ultimately, they’re convinced to return to Saturday mornings. Although the movie was made available on home video, the series has yet to be fully released on DVD. Seven episodes had been released as part of four compilations called Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales.


“The Scarab Lives!” (9/22/79) – A cartoonist’s superhero, the Blue Scarab, comes to life as a villain and it’s up to the gang to stop him.

“The Night Ghoul of Wonderland” (9/29/79) – The gang treat Velma to a Sherlock Holmes mystery at an amusement park when the crime ends up being real.

“Strange Encounters of the Scooby Kind” (10/6/79) – Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy are kidnapped by aliens, leaving the rest of the gang to save them.

“The Neon Phantom of the Roller Disco!” (10/13/79) – The gang help the owners of Sparklers Roller Disco by finding out what the Neon Phantom wants.

“Shiver and Shake, That Demon’s A Snake” (10/20/79) – While on vacation in the Florida Keys, Daphne buys an idol cursed by the Snake Demon the gang encounters.

“The Scary Sky Skeleton” (10/27/79) – Daphne’s friend, stunt pilot Wendy, is getting ready for an air show when the Sky Skeleton appears.

“The Demon of the Dugout” (11/3/79) – A demon interrupts the baseball game between the American team and the Japanese team for the Baseball Diamond.

“The Hairy Scare of the Devil Bear” (11/10/79) – The gang stumble upon the legendary Devil Bear in the Grand Canyon.

“Twenty Thousand Screams Under the Sea” (11/17/79) – The sea beast of the Aztecs rises in Acapulco and scares away all the divers.

“I Left My Neck in San Francisco” (11/24/79) – A Vampiress that resembles Daphne stalks San Francisco, leading Shaggy, Scrappy and Scooby to think Daphne is the vampire.

“Where You Wish Upon a Star Creature” (12/1/79) – A Star Creature appears to frighten everyone away when the Green Hills observatory discovers a new star.

“The Ghoul, the Bat, and the Ugly” (12/8/79) – The gang attends the Batty Awards where the Shadow Creature destroys the best horror film of the year.

“Rocky Mountain Yiiiii!” (12/15/79) – The ghost of Jeramiah Pratt interrupts the gang’s ski weekend.

“The Sorcerer’s Menace” (12/22/79) – The ghost of the Great Haldayne is the prime suspect in the disappearance of the Black Pearl of Tonga Lei.

“Lock the Door, It’s Minotaur” (12/29/79) – The gang investigates why a minotaur is scaring everyone off the Greek island of Helos.

“The Ransom of Scooby Chief” (1/5/80) – While visiting Scrappy’s old neighborhood, Scooby and Shaggy end up kidnapped and it’s up to Scrappy and his friends to save them.

Originally posted in 2014. Updated in 2019.

December 06, 2014



(ABC, September 18, 1993-October 22, 1994)

Children’s Television Workshop, Film Roman

Max Casella – Cro
Jim Cummings – Phil, Ogg, Murray
April Ortiz – Dr. Cecilia (aka Dr. C)
Frank Welker – Gogg, Bobb, Earle
Ruth Buzzi – Nandy
Laurie O’Brien – Ivanna
Candi Milo – Pakka
Charles Adler – Steamer, Mojo, Big Red
Tress MacNeille – Esmeralda
Jane Singer - Selene

            Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), the producers of Sesame Street, decided to try and reach a broader audience with its educational programming by making the move from stalwart partner PBS to the widely popular Saturday morning arena on giant network ABC. Their proposal was to adapt David Macaulay’s popular 1988 book, The Way Things Work, into an animated series.

Wheel and Axle explanation from The Way Things Work.

            The Way Things Work was an illustrated guide to everyday machines for children. It used playful imagery to cover simple elements like pulleys and levers and delved into more advanced things like telescopes and even light and sound. With words by Neil Ardley, these things were explained in diary form from the perspective of a Cro-Magnon man discovering them for the very first time. Aiding in this journey of discovery were woolly mammoths, which had been domesticated to serve multiple functions as pets, workers and inspiration for many future inventions. 

Cro, the star and focus of the show.

With 18 months of production time from ABC, a $7 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, and along with Film Roman, CTW produced Cro. The series followed the adventures of Phil (Jim Cummings), a talking wooly mammoth who ended up frozen during the Ice Age and reawakened in the 20th Century. He was found and thawed out by Dr. C (April Ortiz) and her assistant, Mike (Jussie Smollett). Phil ended up staying with them and regaled them with stories about the more-evolved 11-year-old boy named Cro (Max Casella), who often used his brains to get his adoptive family of Neanderthals out of sticky jams. Those stories would be inspired by a problem in the present that required the use of physics to solve it, and were often similar to a situation that Cro had faced and solved through simple engineering. In a departure from the book, it’s often the mammoths that guide Cro and the Neanderthals to their solutions, rather than being the domesticated servants of the humans as they learn. 

Phil being thawed out by Mike and Dr. C.

Cro’s family consisted of Ogg (Cummings), the selfish and bossy leader; Gogg, who was more sensitive and often translated for the other adopted member of the family, the less-evolved Bobb (both Frank Welker); and Nandy (Ruth Buzzi), the matriarch of the family who believed in a lot of urban legends. They lived in Woolyville with Phil’s herd of wooly mammoths, which included Esmeralda (Tress MacNeille), the oldest female an matriarch of the herd that ensured order was maintained and didn’t particularly care for the humans; Steamer (Chares Adler), the youngest member whose hyperactivity and playfulness often landed him in trouble; Ivanna (Laurie O”Brien), a southern belle that Phil had an attraction to; Earle (Welker), an elderly mammoth who preferred tradition and hated humans; Mojo (Adler), Earle’s younger brother who shared his views; and Pakka (Candi Milo), Cro’s best friend who often regaled him with mammoth facts.

Cro with Gogg, Ogg, Nandy and Pakka.

Cro debuted on ABC on September 18, 1993. Writers for the series included Sindy McKay, Jeremy Cushner, Len Uhley, Rich Rogel, Mark Seidenberg and Mark Zaslove, who also served as story editor and voice director. The music was composed by Stacy Widelitz, with Bill Trudel and Josef Powell performing the theme. Animation duties were handled by Plus One Entertainment, Sunwoo Entertainment and their subsidiary, Anivision America. Although the series had high critical praise for its material and presentation, the show failed to find a suitable audience and only lasted two seasons before it was cancelled. Since its run, only three video collections have been released by Republic Home Video, featuring two episodes each with bridging narration from Casella.

Compact Disks from The New Way Things Work.

In 1998, Macaulay wrote a sequel called The New Way Things Work, which added the workings of computers and digital technology while removing two pages from the previous volume. He also led the production of an animated series named after the book with a modified premise on the BBC in 1999. This show featured modern people living on an island inhabited by mammoths, who used outlandish contraptions to work through daily life. It debuted in 2001, but failed to find an audience or keep to a timely production schedule and was quickly cancelled after only 26 15-minute episodes in 2002. It was the shortest-run program, and the last educational effort, by the BBC.

Season 1:
“Just a Stone’s Throw Away” (9/18/93) – Phil shares the story of when Cro and the others used levers and catapults to save the lives of Bobb and Steamer after an earthquake.

“No Time For Steamer” (9/25/93) – Hem and Haw get tired of taking care of Steamer and insist everyone take equal turns.

“Destroy All Buckies” (10/2/93) – Og protects a discarded invention that the rest of the town demands be destroyed.

“It’s Snow Problem” (10/9/93) – Cro devises a new invention to help the mammoths gather wood for their annual hot tub soak during an extremely cold winter.

“Let Me Help” (10/16/93) – Phil helps Cro and his family put a new window in the cave—with disastrous results.

“The Legend of the Big Thing” (10/23/93) – Cro and his family set out to find a savage creature.

“Laugh Mammoth, Laugh” (10/30/93) – Earl and Mojo have the humans build a bridge for a prize.

“Pakka’s Cool Invention” (11/6/93) – Dr. C’s new invention reminds Phil of the time Pakka invented a fascinating new invention.

“Here’s Looking At You, Cro!” (11/13/93) – Cro and Pakka discover reflective rocks while Gogg and Ogg end up in a competition for tribal leader.

“No Way Up” (11/20/93) – Cro ends up trapped and his family has to save him.

“Adventures in Miscommunication” (11/27/93) – Failing to pay attention to Dr. C leads Phil to tell Mike a story about how important it is to always listen closely.

“Escape From Mung Island” (12/4/93) – Phil recalls when he and the others had to escape from Mung Island.

“Pulley For You” (12/11/93) – Falling through the floor reminds Phil of when Cro used a pulley to save Ogg after he fell into a tar pit.

“Things That Eat Mung in the Night” (12/18/93) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

Season 2:
“Meal Like A Pig” (9/17/94) – Cro and his family save the life of a pig that’s being hunted.

“What’s That Smell” (9/24/94) – Og’s foul stench has all of Woolyville determined to give him a bath.

“Play It Again, Cro…Not!” (10/1/94) – Big Red wants Cro to help him play the violin as a ruse to get close to Steamer and capture him for dinner.

“Lever in a Million Years” (10/8/94) – Cro discovers how useful a lever is, but Ogg doesn’t like it and kicks Cro out of the group.

“Turn Up the Heat” (10/15/94) – Cro plots to get Phil some heat for his shower in exchange for letting Cro ride him so that he can pass his growing-up test.

“They Move Mammoths, Don’t They?” (10/22/94) - NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

Originally posted in 2014. Updated in 2020/